Mary Our Mother
by Patricia Keane
Eight-year-old Elena had just witnessed her parents have a loud and aggressive argument. Her parents had tried to shield their children from their warring words, but they weren’t always successful. “Even though I was only eight I always knew when a storm was brewing. My father liked to gamble, and throughout the working week he went straight to the Casino from work, spending the much-needed family income,” Elena explained. She overhead too many arguments and would be awakened from her sleep by threats from her father saying that he would kill her mother and her mother responding that she was going to leave him. Then one day Elena found her mum on her knees packing her case. She knelt beside her and asked her mum what she was doing. “I’m leaving your father,” her mum replied. “You can’t go mum; you have to stay! Are you not taking us with you?” Her mum explained that she didn’t know where she was going and that when she found a place to stay, she would be back for her children. “Mum, you can’t leave us with Dad, he doesn’t know how to take care of us,” she cried. Her mum began crying and said that she’d stay for their sake. Elena watched her mum unpack her case and put her clothes back in the wardrobe. “Every day I checked the wardrobe and the leather case to see if her clothes were still there. I think that was the moment my fear of my mother abandoning me and my siblings began and the cause of many insecurities and anxieties,” Elena told me when I met her in Medjugorje several years ago.
Over the course of many long conversations, I shared with her my life story and encouraged her not to give up on her healing. I knew the pains of making bad choices through the wounds of insecurity, rejection, fear and anxiety. Longing to be loved, Elena had a history of going from one bad relationship to another, and each failed relationship wedged the wound of rejection and failure wider. She sought approval from all the wrong sources, and she wondered why she accepted such bad treatment from others. Elena wasn’t aware that the only person’s approval she wanted was her mothers. Her mother had struggled to cope emotionally in a home where addiction was swallowing up the family resources, and she turned her focus to saving the family home and properties. Her mum’s energy went into building a business and keeping her husband buoyant and free from gambling after he made a confession and took the advice of the priest and promised to stop visiting the Casino. Her mum worked very hard, was always stressed and got angry with her children, giving them little encouragement or confidence. Elena’s homework was poor which led to being ridiculed and punished in school. “Elena”, I said “the first thing you need to understand is that your mum will never be able to give you the approval you seek because she’s too broken herself and craves the same love and approval that you do. The second thing you need to know is that if you want to get well, you will have to turn to our beautiful, loving mother in Heaven who will shower you with love, blessings, gifts and all the graces you need to make a recovery and make a new life for yourself. Before you do any of that, you’ve got to stop making bad choices regarding the men you get involved with because they are a constant source of destruction as they reinforce the pain of low self-worth, bleed you dry emotionally, mentally and financially. They enforce the belief that you’re worthless and not unworthy of being loved”, I explained. “Our Heavenly Mother loves her children very much and wants only the best for us, and that includes a suitable life-long partner that will support us along the right path to God and not cause untold levels of stress. We need proper working conditions where we can grow in confidence and self-belief, and friends that won’t pull us down or negatively influence our decision making.”
I knew Elena was struggling with the idea of how to go about the major changes she needed to make. I directed her towards a message that Our Lady gave to Locutionist, Jelena Vasilj on Sunday, October 30th, 1983 when she said the following: "Why do you not put your trust in me? I know that you have been praying for a long time, but really, surrender yourself. Abandon your concerns to Jesus. Listen to what He says in the Gospel: 'And who among you, through his anxiety, is able to add a single cubit, to the length of his life?' (Mt. 6:27). Pray also, in the evening when you have finished your day. Sit down in your room, and say to Jesus, 'Thank you.' If in the evening you fall asleep in peace, and in prayer, in the morning you will wake up thinking of Jesus. You will then be able to pray for peace, but if you fall asleep in distraction, the day after will be misty, and you will forget even to pray that day."
Elena fully embraced the road to recovery. It took her many years to understand the behavioural complexities that derive from growing up in a home with addiction. Despite the many setbacks, she has never been discouraged, and her life has been imbued with the love she encounters in sharing her story with others and in new Medjugorje prayer friends. She has brought healing to her family, and sibling relationships have been restored through love and forgiveness. Praise be Jesus.
Patricia Keane is the author of the critically acclaimed book Journey Of Ten Thousand Smiles and is an inspirational speaker and witness to her inner healing in Medjugorje. She co-hosts a weekly programme, Health and Faith Matters on Radio Maria and blogs at journeyoftenthousandsmiles.org. She received two International Awards for her humanitarian work with the ethnically displaced families of Bosnia-Herzegovina.