May 7, 2022
Today I would like to set aside the resentment, frustration, disappointment and hopelessness that comes with civil commitment and talk about the one subject that brings joy and hope to my life, and that is my Mom. Today I want to honor all the mothers, be it our sisters, grandmothers, girlfriends, or wives. The women who brought us into the world and nurtured us, taught us, and put up with our never-ending dramas. The women who love us unconditionally no matter how dysfunctional we became. The women we lied to, mistreated, stole from, and abused, yet they continue to support us and pray that one day we will become the men that many of us today have become, despite the world’s judgements. I’ve met some here that only a loving mother and God could love. Once, I too was that man. The one constant, the one thing I could always count on was my Mom.
That may not have always been true, but for over the last three decades it has. I can only assume that mothering involves a lot of trial and error, a lot of poor choices, and a lot of regrets. Mothers share the burdens of our failures and blame themselves when we are less than successful. The saddest day in my life was shortly after my civil commitment trial, and my mother just broke down and cried. She told me that it was her fault that I hated women. I told her, “Mom, I don’t hate women. That’s not the problem, and it’s not your fault. I made those choices, and I knew better.” She was the one person who changed my belief about women. It was the many men in her life that influenced my beliefs about women and how they should be treated. I patterned and internalized their behavior as a young man. She got pregnant at 14 by a married man. He was never really a part of my life, and she had to carry the burden of raising a child as a child herself. He never provided one nickel of financial support and when he was around, he abused her, as did many men that followed. These are the things I witnessed as a child. The one man that was supposed to be there and teach me how to be a man never was. But, I don’t blame him either. Many have had it worse than me and never went on to do the things that I have done. I wish I had been one of them. My mom did the best she could with what she had to work with. Her own mother, my precious Grandmother Dammy, at the time was working three jobs to support her family because my grandfather died when my mom was 10. So, mom didn’t have anyone around to teach and guide her.
My dad lost his dad when he was only 18, so the cycle began. Kids without fathers, mothers without help, and kids with a lot of free time and no guidance. I recently lost my father who I wasn’t close to, but I did get to listen to some of his memorial. At least fifty people were there, which surprised me. And the people who had something to say about him had a lot of nice things to say. Unfortunately, I was robbed of the last six years I could have spent with this man, who later in life changed and came to the same conclusion about women that I have. I would have loved to have spent a few of those remaining years with him as the men that we both have become. I know this is about mothers, but I wanted to throw that in because it was hard not being resentful about coming to civil commitment after serving 25 years in prison, day for day, paying my debt to society. The reason I mention it is because it was always my mom who encouraged me to write and call him. The stubbornness in me wouldn’t allow me to do it. Every year at his birthday she would call me and tell me it was his birthday and ask if I was going to send him a birthday card. “Why should I?” I would ask, as he never recognized mine. I doubt he even knew when it was. She would say that I was a bigger man than him and tell me that one day he would be gone and I would regret it. So, his last birthday in March she elected to forgo my yearly prodding after mentioning it a few weeks prior. It was my sister this time that called and said, “You know your dad’s birthday is today, are you going to call him?” My reply was that I hadn’t really thought about it, just like he hasn’t thought about my last 52 birthdays (keeping score, I know). Sounding like mom, she said “You’re a better man than him.” I told her I’d think about it and as soon as we got off the phone I called him. His health had been failing and he sounded bad. Four days later he was gone. I have no regrets, thanks to the thoughtful caring women in my life. This is the same man who used to punch my mom in the face. I’m not trying to dishonor his memory. I know that men can change and the things he did in his life pale in comparison to the lives I’ve destroyed. I know he had many regrets and things that he wished he could go back and change – just as I do. The thing is … I forgive him today because my mom taught me how, not by telling me but by showing me.
Another woman I want to honor is my girlfriend who always puts her daughter first. She has been a single parent and sacrificed so many things so that her daughter always has the best of everything. That’s one of the first things that I fell in love with about her. That and her beautiful laugh. One time I asked her why she wastes her life with a man civilly committed. She said, “I’m not wasting my life. I love you,” and punctuated it with, “Quit saying stupid stuff.” Again, there’s that unconditional love that at times is hard for me to grasp.
One thing that hasn’t escaped me is that most of the case managers and therapists here are women. I don’t know what draws women into this line of work, working with many men society has deemed to be monsters. I must admit I do find them more understanding, empathic, and forgiving. And I can attest that when I have gotten out of line, they haven’t been pushovers.
So, having said all that I want to take this time to say thank you to all the women who gave us life and put up with us, endured our burdens and helped us to become better men. I truly know what it means when I hear someone say, “I’d like to introduce you to my better half.” I’m a better man today because of the many women I’ve come to know in my life who have encouraged me, supported me, and shown me love, in spite of the horrible way I treated women in my youth.
May God Bless all the mothers. Happy Mothers’ Day! I LOVE YOU.