Saturday, May 8, 2010

Turned to Stone

”Mother’s Day”I do not doubt you would have liked one of those pretty mothers in the ads: complete with adoring husband and happy children. She’s always smiling, and if she cries at all it is absent of lights and camera,makeup washed from her face. 

But since you were born of my womb, I should tell you: ever since I was small like you I wanted to be myself -- and for a woman that’s hard --(even my Guardian Angel refused to watch over me when she heard). I cannot tell you that I know the road.

Often I lose my way and my life has been a painful crossin navigating reefs, in and out of storms, refusing to listen to the ghostly sirens who invite me into the past, neither compass nor binnacle to show me the way.
 
But I advance, go forward holding to the hope of some distant port where you, my children -- I’m sure --will pull in one day after I’ve been lost at sea.~ Daisy Zamora ~


I know it is not easy being a mother, believe me, I have a twenty-two year old son and while he has brought me my greatest joy, he also has caused my greatest sorrow. My mother used to say to me when I was young, ”Just wait until you have a child of your own, then you’ll understand” as if she were casting a curse upon me. I remember vowing to myself, “I swear I will never be like my mother when I grow up” and what happened? I catch myself being the mother I loved, hated, feared and admired. She passed away over fifteen years ago, but I live with her ghost. She visits me in my dreams, I’ll smell her perfume out of no where and I’ll have a memory of us that’s so strong, it’s as if, I was reliving that moment over and over again.

 Other people envied me for having a mother who was sensual, intelligent and full of live. They didn’t know the dark side of her. All I wanted was ”Mrs. Cleaver;” a mother that was soft, nurturing, always pleasant, etc..The type of mother that only lives on television is created in our personal fantasies. Instead I had a mother who abused me physically, verbally, and emotionally. I’m not writing this to get sympathy or tell you my “poor little me” story. I’m writing for greater clarity and as a tribute to my mother which I was never able to give her when she was alive.


"Myths are public dreams, dreams are private myths."
~Joseph Campbell~
My mother taught me about magic, witchcraft, mythology, anthropology and a love for great literature. Speaking of mythology, when my mother was in college, she went to lectures by Joseph Campbell, and if you don't know who he is, and are interested in mythology and world religions;learn about him. This famous quote was written by him;  

”When you follow your bliss... doors will open where you would not have thought there would be doors; and where there wouldn't be a door for anyone else.” 
  
She said that attending his lectures changed how she viewed the world and introduced her to a world of mythology and magic she had never known before. My mother read me myths, fairy-tales and amazing childrens books every night when I was little, and at the same time,she had an envy of me that was strong and bitter. My mother's relationship with my father was painful and stormy which eventually ended up in a divorce. Even though they were so unhappy, my mother and father wanted a daughter because they believed that would bring them closer together and complete the family as they already had two sons. Another one of my mother's sayings to me was; ”Be careful what you wish for, because you might just get it."


 My father adored me and I became the princess of the family my mother resented because the love and closeness she wanted so much with my father was focused now on me. Sound like a fairy-tale? didn’t achieve the closeness she wanted from my father. If we're not aware of those parts of ourselves that we view as destructive, shameful or scary, we try and shut them out which only ends up giving them a strength robbing us of our desire for love and happiness. For example, when I was a little girl, my favorite move when I was a little girl was ”Snow White."   I could identify with this young girl who had and innocence and a fear of a witch who wanted to kill her. Not that my mother actually wanted me dead or tried to act upon it, but I know on an unconscious level her unhappiness in her marriage which I became the scapegoat for created a huge emotional rift between us that makes my heart clench in sadness even today. As a child I wasn't able to understand the antagonism between us and stop me from believing that I was a bad, horrible child. I wish that she had the peace and love for herself that may have healed all the hurt that came between us.

I could identify with this young girl who had and innocence and a fear of a witch who wanted to kill her. Not that my mother actually wanted me dead or tried to act upon it, but I know on an unconscious level her unhappiness in her marriage which I became the scapegoat for created a huge emotional rift between us that makes my heart clench in sadness even today. As a child I wasn't able to understand the antagonism between us and stop me from believing that I was a bad, horrible child. I wish that she had the peace and love for herself that may have healed all the hurt that came between us.

When she was dying of cancer, she became this fragile, vulnerable and scared woman which scared me even more than I was of her as a child. I wanted her strong and alive, able to form a friendship now that I was an adult instead of losing each other in such a final way. I asked her in the last few days of her life, was I ever good enough for her. She replied how much she loved me and how proud she was of me. She told me that she would have left her marriage much earlier than she did because she was afraid of the effects it would have upon me. Oh mom, how much we missed.

I went through my anger phase with her and now only compassion, understanding and love are present when I think of my mom. I am like my mother in a lot of ways. I started to do a lot of inner personal work before my son was born so that I wouldn't have this tortured relationship as mine was with my mother. Of course, I made and still make a lot of mistakes with my son and he'll be the first to tell you how flawed I am as WELL as how much he loves me and is proud of me. I asked my son once what he learned from me that was positive. He told me, that I gave him a love of books that has made him who he is today. The circle keeps going around, doesn't it? I can't celebrate mother’s day tomorrow with my mother, but I can celebrate her and thank her for what she gave me in little ways every day. This is one of those ways.




SERPENT-HAIRED MEDUSA
I saw you once, Medusa; we were alone.
I looked you straight in the cold eye, cold.
I was not punished, was not turned to stone.
How to believe the legends I am told? . . .
I turned your face around!  It is my face.

That frozen rage is what I must explore –
Oh secret, self-enclosed and ravaged place!
That is the gift I thank Medusa for.         



~May Sarton~ “The Muse as Medusa”

5 comments:

Debra She Who Seeks said...

How many of us dance with the Mother of Light and Shadow! And how many of us are the Mother of Light and Shadow ourselves. Thank you for a beautiful -- and real -- Mother's Day post.

Lisa said...

Thank you for this post. Becoming aware of our Shadows is so important. What a beautiful gift you have given your son just in recognizing that. Happy Mother's Day.♥

Mother's Moon's Message said...

Debra said it well.. I think in some way we as daughthers all have those times of dark and light... some are more intense than others... Such experiences are what make us who we are and who we will become... Happy Mother's Day Wendy... hope you have a good day.. blessings to you

JJ Beazley said...

First of all, I so dislike those saccharin sweet depictions of motherhood in the commercials. I've long realised that motherhood is a tough, multi-facted vocation.

That aside, I found this moving. There's no doubt we are all influenced by our parents. Some people follow their parents to the letter and without thought. Others, like me, rebel aginst them and go entirely our own way. I think what you have done is absolutely right - examined the role model and re-assembled it into something better. Well done,, Wendy, if you don't mind me saying so.

Reader Wil said...

I wonder if Medusa actually loved her children. Anyway her hatred of her husband was greater. How sad...
My mum was a caring and loving mother who did her best to keep us alive in the concentration camp. And she succeeded to keep us alive! Of course we also had our differences, but we loved each other.
Your post is interesting. Thanks for sharing.

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