This is an intensely personal and painful story that a mother shared with me yesterday. With her permission (names changed), I am sharing it here.

“Susan” (not her real name) had always had a difficult relationship with her older son.  She admits that she freely prefers her younger daughter.  The boy, “Tim” is now 19.

Tim was brought up traditionally, with emphasis on education and proper meals. Susan said she did her best throughout Tim’s growing up years, despite being a busy, working mum.  She said she may have been harsh on Tim (“It is my character, I was brought up that way”) and she may have unintentionally made Tim feel unloved. She wrote this to me: “I read what you write and I cannot see how you can bring your children up with so little discipline and with too much softness. My own parents have NOT done all the things you do with your children and I grew up fine. But my way is not working for my son.”

Tim, though a filial and obedient son, has often found other ways to hurt his mother. Though polite, he treated his mother coldly. He would say awful things to his friends about his mother and then deny it.  Tim has never had a girlfriend and treated his younger sister  and their maid contemptuously.  He wrote in his essay that he is counting the days he can leave home and never to return again.

Susan is deeply hurt. She had done her best with providing him with a good house, good education and good meals.  She said she tried being softer to her son lately but it seemed to be too late. “Mother Wound?” she mused.

Over the weekend, Tim said something really hurtful. And as he stormed out of the house, he lashed out and pushed his mother away. His father jumped into action and grabbed Tim. A bit of shoving went on between Tim and his father, and Susan said she blurted out, with a voice that came from deep inside her, “My son, what have I done to you?”

Tim heard her words, and Susan said their world stopped and stood still.

Tim then went to his mother, collapsed in her arms and they both cried. It seemed that the moment Susan took responsibility for the situation and the past, everything changed. Tim said sorry for the first time ever and they began talking honestly, amid the tears, with Susan pouring out her pain and regrets without reserve. And Tim understood. He softened too, towards his mother in that moment, having seen her frailty.  It was as if he was waiting for the apology, for this crucial dialogue to begin, for the healing to begin. Sometimes, we need to be completely broken to let the light in. And we need tremendous courage and honesty to tackle deeply buried pain head-on, I think, to free ourselves from past mistakes.

I wish this family all the very best in their new future. Love lights the way ❤