Do you know her?

I’d like to tell you about somebody.  Maybe you know her.  She’s not uncommon.  It is perhaps why we don’t talk about her that much.  Maybe she’s your mother, your aunt, a sister, or friend of the family.  She calls on Christmas.  On the rare times you visit, she’s always good to you.  She’s getting older now and she’s tired much more than she should be for age.  Still she keeps going even if she herself isn’t always sure why.

She was raised in a pretty traditional household.  Raised on Christian values, but not too overtly as there was too much work to do during the day to worry too much about it.  She learned good morals in her upbringing, she learned to work hard, and she learned what love is.  But she never knew herself really.  Normal was that a woman didn’t get that many choices in life.  Women, as far as she could tell was for others.  She wasn’t the oldest of her siblings either, so never got to do anything first.  She flew below the radar most of the time, but never really made any special attempts to get attention.  She just accepted her place in this world.  As a result of remaining in the background and assuming she belonged there, she never really got to know herself.  She was probably a bit smarter than her other siblings, or at least had her talents.  Maybe it was cooking, decorating, or sewing.  She would learn to use them, but never really thought they were anything special.  Never really let them be a source of pride for her, even though you could tell that it made her happy to do them.  Her true talent was probably much further than what she showed.  Cooking could have easily turned into a career in nutrition and diet, decorating could have turned into interior design, sewing could have turned into fashion.  Those jobs were for people with big dreams.  She was in no kind of position in life to have big dreams.  And for the most part she was just happy to be close to family and love the people in her world.

She was good at loving others, but never really good at finding someone to love her.  Even at the best of times she never felt as pretty as she was.  Love was something you’d probably just grow into.  She got married when she was young, because that’s what you did.  Someone was paying attention to her and it felt nice.  His drinking problem?  Well…everybody drank.  But eventually it did get too bad, and her family who always loved her helped her to get out before it got worse.  She did, with child in hand.  She kept looking for love, but hadn’t really learned what she did wrong the first time.  She knew that life was hard being a single mom, and a fear of being alone kept creeping up on her.  So she found someone else.  Someone who paid attention to her that could help her financially and lighten the load.  She believed once again that if she just loved, good things would come of it.  This time there were bruises, and the family helped her get away again, a second child in hand.  It was best to go it alone for a while she figured, it was even harder now.  If she wanted to get to know herself, she’d have to find the time.  With two children and a full time job to support them who has the time to find themselves?

She still had her family, and she loved them a lot.  Siblings and nephews and nieces, she always gave love without question.  She was never the cool aunt, she was never the funny sibling, but she knew how to listen and she knew how to laugh.  Her children were the world to her, even if they didn’t quite understand why she couldn’t always be there for her.  The mystery that all children whose parents are always working live with.  She’d do anything for them, except perhaps be tough with them.  When they hit their teenage rebelliousness she couldn’t follow through with the discipline.  What if they hated her?  What if they abandoned her?  How alone would she be then?  She loved them and never wanted to push hard.  She traded their respect for their company, but she never stopped loving them.  And even if they had a bit of a tough road, her kids turned out to be good people, but perhaps still feeling a little lost, without really knowing why.

With children grown and gone she was once again alone.  She was older now…certainly not as attractive.  Years of hard work, with only food as an indulgence had taken its toll on her body.  But she put on her hope cap, and the young girl inside her went looking for love again.  Still not really knowing who she was, she couldn’t find anybody who really appreciated her.  Just another man who was once again happy to have a quiet, compliant partner.  For just a little attention she didn’t need to be respected.  She seemed content to just have another living human being in the house so she didn’t have to be alone.  And maybe she would have walked away again, but that body who worked hard and was still trying to work hard didn’t have much energy for walking once the day was done.  And who had the energy for trying love once more?  So she resigned herself to just the emotional bruises every now and then, to have somebody else’s voice to talk to every once in a while.  She wouldn’t die alone.  She still believes in God, but mostly out of habit.  She’s really not sure if any other options make any more sense.
She still loves others well, whether they deserve it or not, and it is still uncertain how much she loves herself.

I love this woman.  She’s not uncommon.  Perhaps you know her. Perhaps you remember her.  Maybe she has always loved you.  Don’t be afraid to love her back.  It can only make her happy.

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33 thoughts on “Do you know her?

  1. Swarn, this is so beautiful. Truly beautiful. This is my aunt, all of it except the second child and final marriage. The rest…spot on. So amazing to be reminded that while we are all unique, none are so unique to be alone or unknowable. What a lovely tribute to your own beautiful mother. How fortunate you are to have her and her family. How fortunate she is to have a loving son. You are quite the poet at heart 😭❤️

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Indeed Pink. I was just listening to a podcast where a scientist was talking about prediction. He said the same thing. That we can best predict our experience by what another human experiences rather than relying on our imagination for prediction.

        Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you skirt! My mother is lucky, but this isn’t about her. It is about someone in my life but specifically left it somewhat ambiguous to hope to connect to more people. Thank you for your kind words. I’m glad you connected. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for reading and for leaving your thoughts and kind words. This of course is with mixed feelings that I say I am glad that you connected emotionally with my post, even though it comes with some sadness. But this post was my way of saying that you and others like you are noticed, and although it is by no means the same as a real hug, I give you as warm a virtual hug as I can. You are welcome here anytime. 🙂

      Liked by 4 people

  2. With your closing lines you’ve got me thinking if it’s actually possible to be afraid of love, Swarn, as I’ve always assumed it not to be. I know you’re using it as a figure of speech, but it seems that love makes its own mind up as to when it appears, and whilst the conscious mind can put up a fight of sorts, it’s rather throwing punches at shadows, don’t you think, and those shadows are themselves merely the fixations of love, but not the love itself which is antithetical to fear. Maybe I’m wrong; maybe some can fear love itself?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I am of the same mind, that one can put a fight, but that it is a bit like punching at shadows. I do think there are some people who fear the consequences of love gone wrong, more than they love love, but that is of course not the same as fearing love itself. I think most of the time it is this fear that prevents people from loving. I guess you could say that love inherently includes the risk though and if you aren’t willing to take on that risk then you do in fact fear love.

      I sat in on a class taught by a colleague of mine in the psychology department called love, lust, and attachment. Love is a biological drive, and anything that it’s physiological can of course go wrong. More than that how we think love works is a very learned behavior. The examples of love we see when we are children shape our views quite a bit. We can literally believe abuse is love, but of course we naturally have an aversion to being abused, so it that sense we might also fear love because of what we think love entails.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. People can fear loving, as the active participation in, and expression of, love, and I think that’s the relevant distinction. Those feared things are what I previously referred to as the ‘fixations’ of love – every rose has its thorns, eh? Anyway, whoever you had in mind when you wrote this must be deeply warmed and comforted by your love for her, but clearly also themselves highly deserving of it. Good for the two of you say I!

        Liked by 3 people

        1. Thank you Hariod. And yes perhaps you are right. Love is a big word encompassed by only 4 letters (at least in English) and I don’t think it is so easily negated by another 4 letter word like fear. 🙂

          This story was also a call to action to myself to more actively love the person this is about, because it’s easy to take it for granted when that person has been in your life since you were born!

          Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you Professor for your kind words! Empathy yes, but I was even looking less at trying to illuminate differences over painting a portrait of a woman that too often goes unnoticed in our lives. They are meek perhaps, sort of just go about their lives and yet have been constants in ours, and have given us kindness. Somebody who maybe just doesn’t stand out, even for some of the shit they’ve been through, and so we simply pay less notice to them. I guess I just wanted to take a moment to celebrate that person. Somebody Dostoevsky might just describe as the common woman.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Exactly Swarn! And you did very well!

        Some of the greatest joy and gratitude can certainly be found in the ‘less obvious’ people as it can in the pop-culture celebrities, yes? I imagine degrees of humility and acute curiosity play significant parts in that how and why. 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

  3. This is really moving Swarn, as many above have noted – you’ve tapped into how often everyday love can be over-looked, and yes taken for granted. We are all so very similar, yet at the same time I believe there is not one person alive who does not have something unprecedented that has them stand alone from the crowds. Some are more unique than others mind you – *points at some of the commenters and laughs* – but that is a fine thing. Vive la difference – yet love deeply the kindred links we have too, rooted within. (*gives Hariod a warning glare*)

    – esme thinking on upon the Cloud

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Well said Esme, and thank you. Maybe it all starts with the true belief in our own value, but I also know that I look for value in others even when they themselves don’t see it. The person I wrote this for deserved someone who saw her beauty even when she didn’t. Maybe some of us are just lucky, and others get lonely to the point where they just take what’s available. I don’t know. It makes me sad though.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. This is so beautiful and heartbreaking. This story happens all the time, whether people know it or not. It’s hard to keep fighting when you’ve been through that kind of abuse several times. You’re right – the only thing you can do is to love her. Don’t pity or judge. Just love and be there for her. Thank you very much for posting this. Wish you all the best – speak766

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Speak for your comment. It was a wonderful gift to wake up this morning and not only see this comment, but others as well as a new follow and to see that you read numerous pieces of mine and liked them.

      One of my themes for writing whether it is poetry, prose, or even a more philosophical piece is to try to write about things that connect us and hope that people connect to my writing. I’m glad that you did. 🙂

      Like

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