Today is Mother’s Day in the United States. My mother has refused to speak to me for many years. The last time we exchanged words, she screamed at me over the phone, refusing to go to her own mother’s funeral. That was in April of 2007. I could not find a commercial Mother’s Day card that matches my true feelings for my mother, which are full of conflicting emotions including love, but also much pain, sorrow, frustration.
My mother is a wounded person. She bandages her pain, her fears, her memories in anger, denial, blame, and control. By denying whatever happened in her younger years that caused her so much pain, she has chosen to live her life by carefully controlling her environment and the people around her. My younger sister is nearly fifty years old. She never married or had children, and she lives at home with my mother, just to keep her love and remain part of the family. My mother did not succeed in controlling me and my life, and therefore, rather than face her own painful memories and use her relationship with her daughter to help heal herself, she chose to disown me and to blame me for every single bad thing that has happened in her life.
This has been her choice, and her choice to choose fear over love has crafted her destiny in this lifetime. This was her choice, and it has affected me in many ways. Some good, some very painful. Ultimately, I do believe that as souls having chosen to incarnate on Earth to experience a human lifetime, we all (without exception) know before we come here what kind of life we have chosen. The pain, the challenges, the loneliness, violence, abuse…even murder or death by calamity. They are all part of the curriculum. These challenges are also opportunities, allowing us each time they surface, to make a choice: fear or love?
fear or love?
This morning, I woke up early. I am a single mom, and my only son is away at college, at the University of Helsinki, in Finland. He will be home soon for a few weeks, and I am very much looking forward to seeing him. But today, it is me and my dog, Ruby. Later today, I will meet up with friends. The Atlanta summer is beginning, and it gets too hot to get outdoors pretty early in the day. After showering and washing my hair, Ruby and I set out for our daily walk.
Ruby is a wounded dog. She is nervous and shy. She looks over her shoulder if someone is walking behind us on the sidewalk. She often barks at people or lunges at them if she doesn’t like their energy. Sometimes I honestly don’t know why she barks. She is afraid of ducks and flapping flags, and twigs that stick up out of the grass make her jump. She is a rescue pup, and despite lots of TLC, she is still wary and protective. She preemptively barks to keep people away, just in case. This preamble is for a purpose.
Little after we started walking, an older woman (maybe early 70’s) was walking in the opposite direction on the lake path, which is about four or five feet wide. I held Ruby’s leash with both hands. Ruby is a small to medium-sized dog, about 36 lbs. As the woman passed by us, Ruby very slightly lunged at her and she barked one time. The woman was startled and frightened. I had a firm hand on Ruby’s leash, and Ruby didn’t get anywhere near her.
The woman’s response reminded me of my mother. The woman first said that she was frightened, and I told her I was sorry. Then she said that Ruby is aggressive, and I told her, no, that Ruby is shy. She escalated, confirming to herself and to me that Ruby does not appear shy to her, that she is aggressive. Then she asked me for my first and last name. I told her, and I explained further that Ruby is a rescue and that people and even ducks often startle and frighten her. I could feel the fear and control energy coming off of this woman in waves. Generally, most people understand when dogs bark. Most people do not go to such lengths to express their unwillingness to live with any fear or discomfort in their lives.
I am always respectful of others, and I keep a distance from people, young children, and other dogs when I am with Ruby, because I know her well. She fears fearful people. With the instincts of an animal, she knows that fearful people are the most dangerous.
This experience got me thinking about my mom and about fear. I believe that most human beings on the planet today suffer from some form of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Child abuse and neglect as well as domestic violence and addictive disorders are so common, that there are few families that do not experience them to a certain degree. We live in societies where people pretend to be “normal”, but I have yet to meet a person who does not come from a dysfunctional co-dependent family system.
Therefore, almost all mothers are wounded mothers. Some may be on the mending path, but most are holding in their pain. We live in a society where women are still the underclass. White “privileged” women like this older woman I encountered on the lake path do enjoy the ability to put into practice active denial throughout an entire lifetime. They can afford to live in gated communities and to shelter themselves from a wide variety of experiences which could potentially help them out of their denial of their own pain and fear, and which would trigger the healing process.
The privileged people of our societies are those in the most need of help. Every layer of our societies are full of pain, abuse, denial, anger, and fear. Until we stop and think about things and realize that we do have choices that we can make, this will continue. The cycle of abuse exists in every social class, without exception. For the rich and for the poor, and all of those in between, fear is always a choice. As is love. We can all step out of being victims whenever we want. We can all learn to love our self, and to stop living with shame, blame, denial. When we are ready, we take the step.
I was a wounded mom, but I have slowly healed myself. One day at a time, and there will always be more ways to learn to love, to expand into more loving. But at least I am now ready to enjoy my life. I learned to love myself, at great cost. For so much of my life, I have felt unworthy, because my own mother did not or could not love me, and because my father never strongly stood up for me or my siblings. He was too needy, and she was his own surrogate mother. Because they never bothered to heal their own emotional wounds and bodies, I carried around their pain for a while. I suppose healing was not part of their culture or their time. Then, when I realized that their pain, their shadows, their grief was not mine to carry, I let it go. My entire nuclear family continued to blame me for all of their problems, but I simply stayed away and let it go. It takes a lot of time and effort to consciously heal from sexual abuse, emotional abuse, neglect, and from dysfunctional family systems.
By becoming consciously aware, we can choose love. I feel it is so important to stop perpetuating the cycle of abuse. Abusers are simply people who live in fear and who do not love themselves. They either passively become victims or abusers themselves. Conscious awareness of our thoughts, emotions, paying attention to our bodies, our dreams, how we choose our words and reactions in every single interaction with have with self and others is the only way to heal. We can heal our own emotional bodies, and we can release the abusive trend from our physical bodies, mental bodies, from our DNA, and from our ancestral lines. We can release all karma from our lives. All of this can be done by choice.
I cannot force my mother to heal. I can’t make her face her suppressed memories of abuse or of emotional pain or perceived neglect. I don’t know what happened to my mom, but my guess is that possibly her older brother sexually abused her and that her parents didn’t protect her, because they thought he was so smart, so amazing, that he could do no wrong. I don’t know this for a fact. It’s just a hunch. After all, why would a woman who is so smart, so pretty, who had everything going for her become such a bitter, angry, fearful, and hateful person – especially to her own child? Why would she feel the need to control her family if she didn’t feel the need to create a fortress of safety and predictability around herself?
In the third volume of Kristin Hannah’s book trilogy (Firefly Lane, True Colors, Fly Away), teen Marah has lost her mom to breast cancer. Marah is 16, and, a typical teen, she was often mean to her mom before she passed away. The guilt and fear she carries is translated into Marah cutting herself. She feels a sense of control when she cuts herself, and to be able to limit who hurts her and how she is hurt is why cutting herself is so cathartic to her. “I am the only one who can hurt me. Only me.”
If you come from a family in which there are secrets and hidden abuse, or if you keep wondering what happened to your mother and why it is affecting you, I highly recommend reading these novels. They are so insightful and full of love, pain, and redemption. I haven’t yet experienced the redemption part with my own mother, but just reading these books was very helpful for me. There are things I would like to know about my own childhood, and I wish I could ask my mother about them. I wish she would speak to me.
The wounded mother may think she is protecting her children by keeping her secrets close to her chest, but the children always carry and intuitively know these secrets. They re-embody the hidden trauma in their own lives, because light always seeks to emerge from shadows, and the soul always seeks healing and creates endless opportunities for us to learn to embrace ourselves and those who hurt us.
Being human on a third dimensional level of consciousness is messy, and it hurts. Wealthier people create a pretty veneer, an image of happiness and prosperity, behind which they can hide their abuse of self and others. Those with less financial prosperity may live lives full of crime, drama, drug or alcohol addiction.
Higher consciousness allows us, has allowed me, to extract myself from my past, from the victim mentality. From feeling worthless, from the endless self sabotage. My mother didn’t want her children to be successful, to be better than she was, and I’ve never held a great job nor have I had much of a career. For so many years, I believed (key word is believed), that I wasn’t good enough. Now I know that I am not a victim, and that I don’t have to always carry my mother’s wounds, or her mother’s wounds, nor even my own. Now I am finally making plans to do what I love and to know that I am not only capable, but that I have so much to offer. Holding back is depriving others of my gifts.
I can (and we all can) choose to set our intentions for our own destiny. To pick up the reins of our own life, and to let go of the past. We can forgive ourselves and those who chose fear over love. We can embody the type of life and love that helps to heal the world. Being a victim is not a destiny. It is a choice. Yes, we have been hurt. Yes, people have abused us when we were young, vulnerable, didn’t know any better. But on some level, we all chose these experiences, and we can choose to use them to make us stronger and more loving to self and others.
To all moms, to my mom: I love you. I know you are hurting, and I know society has told you to suck it up and to hold it in. I know society has told us all that men are superior to women and girls, and this, for now, still holds true. But this reality is collapsing as I write these words. The divine feminine is making her comeback, and the feminine in all things will be loved and revered once again on this planet. Sooner than you think.
To all children of abusive, depressed, angry, alcoholic, drug addict, incarcerated, self-destructive, violent, controlling moms: I love you. You are worthy, you are beautiful. You deserve to be loved. You deserve to do work that you love, and to be well compensated for that work. You deserve to be in relationships with kind, caring people who are responsible and well grounded. You can choose love every time someone tries to hurt you or take advantage of you. Be the captain of your destiny. You are an empowered, sovereign being of light.
We are all one family. Let’s heal together.
Happy Mother’s Day!