84: Unconditional Love

84: Unconditional Love

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: For Mom, with Love

Unconditional Love

There came a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.

~Anaïs Nin

My mother and I have always had a strong relationship, one of understanding, friendship, and trust. We have been there for each other through the most difficult of times, including our escape from our home to a battered women’s shelter where we stayed for three months. In our old home we shared a room; my mother was (and still is) my greatest confidante. Although my mother and I have such a strong bond I had always questioned whether a parent’s love truly is unconditional, as many say. Deep in the recesses of my mind was the notion that a parent’s love could indeed be conditional if her child were to do something horrible enough — and at the time I was harboring a secret that I felt could be the end of our relationship.

It is safe to say that in the very small northern Maine town where I reside, my secret would not be very well received. The repercussions would be inevitable. Although I feared the reaction of those around me, most of all I feared hurting my mother. You see, for the better part of two months I had been in a passionate romance with someone — another woman. I was elated. I would spend nights composing sonnets and love letters.

In the beginning I had no plans to come out to my mother, a woman who is very strong in her Catholic faith. My girlfriend also had no plans to come out to her parents, who were known to be outwardly homophobic. However, fate had different plans. On a rainy Tuesday afternoon the summer of my first year in college, we made the mistake of allowing her next-door neighbors to see us holding hands, and of course a prompt phone call was made to her parents.

I went home that night in tears, barely able to form complete sentences. It was then that I knew I could no longer lie to my mother about why I did not have a boyfriend. I could no longer hide from her this vital part of my being. My mom was staying at her friend’s house so I called her there.

“Mom, I don’t know how to tell you this. I think I might be gay,” I attempted to say through my tears.

The silence lasted only a few seconds, although it felt like hours, as I waited for the outrage and disappointment that I expected.

“I think you should be an actress; you’re so dramatic. It isn’t that big a deal. I love you and nothing can change that,” she responded.

Suddenly, years of secrecy, years of feeling as though I were an abomination, an abnormality, evaporated. It was as if my mother’s warm words melted the ice that had surrounded my heart for so long.

The road to self-acceptance continues to be rough, however I no longer doubt that a mother’s love for her child is unconditional. My mother has been one of my biggest supporters. Whenever negative thoughts about myself creep up, I think back on my mother’s words: “I love you and nothing can change that.”

~Angel Therese Dionne

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