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10 May 2009

Just a little sigh

Ok, i thought i was "over" the Mother's day angst, but i was wrong.

The blogging world has opened new vistas to me: new friends to make, new ideas to contemplate, new insights to life & God, new mamas, new wanna be mamas, new pain. So, it has its good & its bad. Right now it seems to be full of tributes to wonderful mamas.

I wrote a post on my mother a few days ago. I don't know if it made her sound demented, or just me. It felt weird writing it, tho i have done so before (in private journals).

My mother had a very sad childhood. She was seventh of eleven children & she never felt loved or wanted. Everything she ever had or wanted was taken or broken by a sibling. Her parents did not know how to create a family that worked together, they were all rivals.

At age 13 my mother was raped by a brother in law. She kept that a secret until she married my dad, & for many years he was the only one who knew. She said that had she told her dad he would have killed the BIL; her sister would have been a widow with three small children; grandpa would have gone to jail & her family would be fatherless. She kept silent. Until, about 10 years later the BIL did the same to one of her younger sisters. THEN it came out, although it is my understanding that the family may have doubted younger sis. So my mother told her story then to support younger sis.

My parents deliberately planned their family. There are 3-1/2 years between myself & Sis #2, 5 years between Sis #2 & Sis #3. Mother said that she wanted time with each child so that they would feel loved. But that turned into time with each child for abuse that no one else could report. And each of us became rivals, feeling that the other was more esteemed than herself.

What happened?

I don't know. Except somehow my mother didn't have or avail the resources to make pattern changes. She told me many years later that she "read all the psychology books" & that they "were lies & didn't help me." One of the things she completely overlooked is that psychology well done is about healing relationships. Seeing a therapist is about learning how to have a healthy relationship & then go out & recreate that. It is much like religion vs God. Religion or simply reading the Bible is head knowledge or actions to "look good." Knowing God is having a relationship.

In retrospect, i believe my mother went thru severe postpartum depression after Sis #2 was born. She did some really strange things in that time. And, about the time she started coming out of it Sis #2 was walking, talking, needing her attention, & she was showing her developing personality. Sis #2 is very much like mother in personality, & i think mother hated that. I think she tried very hard to either ignore Sis #2 or beat it out of her. Sis #2 endured far more abuse than Sis #3 or myself.

By the age of 3 or so i no longer wanted my mother, no longer wanted to have much to do with her. I developed independently of her tho i managed to do things that would please her enough to make her let me alone. Sis #2 somehow couldn't do that detachment. She was needy of mother's love & demanding. So she kept going back again & again for the abuse.

I know there are children in the world who were more severely abused & had it worse. I know it was not as bad as it could have been. I know that my mother tried the best she thought she could do, & she believed she loved her daughters.

I'm just remembering the sad little girl in the church pew years ago who had to listen to a pastor tell her that parents are a gift from God & God chose those parents specifically for me. I'm remembering the girl who came down the stairs one school morning. Her mother closed the Bible & stopped praying when the girl said, "Good morning Mama."

The mother stood up & screamed "Don't you EVER call me that! EVER!" (It is typical Southern to call a mother "mama." I always had. I suppose that morning she was remembering her own mama in a hateful way . . . but i always felt i lost any mother i ever had at that point.)

It did occur to me earlier today that maybe God doesn't give us children so that i don't repeat the pattern.

Someone earlier left me a very sweet, encouraging post. She also mentioned forgiveness setting me free . . . or words to that effect. I appreciate the comment & the thought, but i have to honestly say i believe forgiveness has occurred. I'm still shaped by these things & they still hurt. But i too feel sorry for my mother. I feel she missed so much. There are so many things, beautiful things we could have shared & she missed them, every one. I still am sad & mourn what could have been, what should have been & was lost. I don't believe (tho i could be fooling myself) that i say these things with an unforgiving heart. I say them with a sad heart.

And God promises to wipe our tears away.

And i'm so very imperfect.

I think this year, this Mother's day, has hit me hard because we are going to see my parents & other family in a few weeks. Forgiven or not, visits are still hard for me. And i think this year is hard as well because i'm coming to terms - or trying to come to terms - with the fact that we won't be parents & this year is what will be for our future.

But the day wasn't all bad, even if i've spent much of it in tears. Check out my next post for the rest of the story!


1 comment:

Rosemary said...

Oh, Kathryn, I wish somehow I could be erudite enough to have words that could be of greater comfort than what I can offer here, but I know I'll fail. However, I will try.

You are an amazing woman to be able to clearly analyze the things that have happened to you and to your mother and still be so forgiving. You are incredibly resilient to get through this and have a measure of compassion for what your mother endured. It doesn't make up for making your childhood a misery, but it shows that you realize that she was who she was partly because it was a physical/mental issue and partly due to her own abusive past.

I hope you realize in your heart just how deeply you have conquered a lot of the things that may have weighed heavily on your heart.

A big hug from your old East Coast pal!