Let’s Be Bricks, Together

Image: Rory Bristol

Image: Rory Bristol

They say that there is no love like a mother’s love. That a person doesn’t know how much love and devotion they can possibly feel until they have children of their own. For some, I suppose that’s true. For me, it doesn’t work that way. This isn’t about how much or little I love the children. I love them so much my heart wants to break. It’s just that I once loved someone so much that they took some of my love away forever: My mother.

As a child, I trusted her in all things. She was my hero, my best friend, and my champion. I had no fear of rejection or failure. I was filled with absolute trust and confidence. It was nearly evangelical. I’d defend her against anyone, in any situation. I never built walls. I just trusted her.

This love wasn’t justified, however. My trust and faith in here was misplaced. Year after year, day after day, abuse after abuse, and tear after tear, I worshiped her. She ignored my being molested. She ignored the bruises and broken bones. She prioritized her husband and (later) drugs over her children repeatedly.

My mother failed me in every way, at every turn. If a person set out to destroy their child’s life in every aspect, she’d trump them at every corner. From days of missed meals to mold poisoning, she ignored our needs for basic safety and wellness. But I kept trying. I still ached with the love I had for her. I was still devoted despite the thousands of reasons I had to distrust her.

One day, that ended. One of my first actions as an adult was to press charges against her husband and remove my brothers from her home. That mostly worked, but she continued to see him after he was released from prison. The day I heard that they were living together again, I was done. The last brick in the wall settled into place, and like a great wave, an impenetrable wall closed around part of my heart.

I’ve been working for over a decade to remove that wall. Chip by chip I drill it away. Every day is better, every loving moment with my wife and kids. But it will take thousands of chips to remove the top layer, and thousands more to remove them all. I’ll get there.

For now, though, I mourn this broken part of my heart. I mourn the love I don’t know how to get back. I will never stop trying to get it back, never! But while I get there, I’m building another kind of wall.

I’m building this new wall under my feet. I pave the ground beneath me with the love and memories I gather every day. Brick by brick, I climb higher, and the wall in my heart seems that much lower every day. That’s my choice. That’s the decision I make every day. I choose to lay down new bricks to support me, while I break down the wall that binds me.

Every time I face heartbreak, disappointment, rejection, failure, depression, or any other obstacle, I place it in my heart with gratitude. I thank myself, the world, God, everything, for the gift of that moment. I tackle the challenge, and turn it into the stuff that will only make my life better. I beat it, grind it down, mix it with water and hay, and create bricks that will last forever.

But so much easier is building with bricks that have already been made. These come from small gestures, love, companionship, everything positive in the world. Every email I receive from you beautiful people, every hug from my children, every small moment with my wife where we sit silently, holding hands, and loving each other without doubt or fear, these things are the bricks easiest to lay.

Thank you. Thank you for reading. Thank you for the emails, and tweets, and the love. You’re a brick, every time I see your name. Another memory. Another touch of hope and compassion. Another part of me that will never go away. Go forth, be a brick to others. Freely accept the bricks they give you, and embrace the foundation of love that comes from sharing love freely with others. I hope I’m a brick to you. Come, let’s be bricks together.

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