Why did this happen? Estranging myself from my mother.

Why did this happen?

There is no answer to that question.

There are too many answers to that question.

If your childhood was unhappy, if there was someone who hurt you when their role was to protect you, you may never know why it was that way. It may not be possible to reconstruct how their weaknesses and angers and sorrows were weighed, over and over, against their strengths and sense of responsibility and their love for you – and why they all too often came up short. It is dead weight you will carry on your back, in your mind and your heart, without ever seeing it in full. It is dark matter pulling unseen at the stars in your sky.

If you estrange yourself from them, you will grieve this loss for years, like the death of a beloved. Giovanna Calvino, daughter of Italo, spoke of timelessly mourning her father’s death: “For me, at the very best, only four-fifths made it through… The rest of me is trapped in a space-time loop where I am forever reeling from the loss of my father.” Estrangement is the loss of a beloved. You lost who they might have been to you. You will slowly learn to accept that some fraction of yourself will always be fearful, heartbroken and ashamed.

You will be called selfish when you pull yourself away from them in an effort to keep yourself safe, and it will make you feel like everything they said about you was true:

Continue reading “Why did this happen? Estranging myself from my mother.”

How to Predict the Future

How to Predict the Future

I’ve got a new piece up over on The Toast’s Gal Science column this morning about climate change, which aims to unpack some of the jargon you see around this topic. It’s an intimidating topic! It can seem overwhelming to consider the cascading effects our activity is having on the planet. I talk a bit here about how the scientific community has been able to approach it, defining some of the terminology and concepts that have been put in place, and I hope it gives a better understanding of how this problem is being studied, and more importantly, that we can do something about it.

My degree is in sustainable development, which encompasses environmental issues such as this. As I continue to write I imagine there will be a good amount both on estrangement and on issues like this that I’m passionate about, among other topics.

Happy Friday, all!

Contact form, translations, and some thoughts on forgiveness

Hello all! I had a wonderful and extremely busy weekend, with both a favorite cousin and a dear friend in town, and am just now getting back into the swing of things here.

First and foremost, I wanted to note that I have added a contact form on the About page of this site. Inquiries sent there will be routed to my email. Please note: this form is primarily intended for media and business inquiries. I will make every effort to respond to other messages, but I cannot guarantee a response, given the volume of messages I have been receiving and limited time. As ever, though, your comments and tweets are deeply inspiring to me; thank you so much for choosing to share your thoughts and experiences with me.


 

Over the past week, I’ve twice woken up to mysterious emails in languages I sadly neither speak nor write – Portuguese and German. A quick trip to Google Translate informed me that translated versions of “Motherless by Choice” were appearing on Brasil Post (link) and Huffington Post Deutschland (link). I feel very fortunate to be able to share my writing across different languages and cultures, so thank you very much to the staff of both publications!


 

As I said above: thank you for all your comments and tweets! I mentioned in my interview that no one wants to choose to be motherless; I certainly didn’t want to be. It’s inspiring to read about how those among you who have had similar experiences have manage to grow and find strength and love elsewhere. The vast majority of comments have been positive, but there are a few which call me out for supposedly spreading a message of hate and lack of forgiveness. I am expanding this discussion into a new piece of writing I hope to share in the near future, but for now, let me say this: 

As I have said throughout, I do not hate my mother. I do not wish anything bad upon her, and writing this piece was not revenge toward her, but catharsis for me. I have specifically chosen not to name her and to give as few identifying details about her as possible. Her last name is different than mine, which helps with that. What I want more than anything for my mother is for her to live a happy and peaceful life, however she chooses to define it. It will just not be a life that overlaps with mine, because from childhood through my mid-twenties, whenever we did come into contact, those interactions gave rise to abnormal, unhealthy levels of pain and stress. People do not change simply because we wish they would, or because (as in my case) we bend over backward trying our best to accommodate their behavior, until we are too twisted to function healthily. Sometimes, as much as we don’t want to, we have to let go.

Please know that to be motherless is to be grieving a loss, whether death or estrangement. Commenter Kathleen Blair put it beautifully a few days ago: “The hole will always be there and you will not fill it because it cannot be filled by anything other than a mother’s unconditional love, which you are fully entitled to, which your mother owed to you, and which you were cheated out of.” You are not happy when you choose to be motherless because of your trauma. You are just choosing to survive a terrible injury, bravely.

My Interview About Being Motherless By Choice On HuffPost Live

Yesterday morning I spoke with Caitlyn Becker on HuffPost Live’s “What’s Trending” segment about being motherless by choice. You can watch the interview in the video embedded at the bottom of the original HP post here. “What’s Trending” covers the stories capturing their readers’ attention. Thank you so much to everyone at HuffPost for giving me this platform!

I’ve been so moved by all your responses coming in here and on Twitter, and at how quickly this conversation developed. I knew I wanted to give voice to this experience too many people go through, and the turbulent and ambiguous emotions it causes in us to choose to be motherless. I especially wanted to write it now because I’ve been fortunate enough to build a better life for myself, and to know others that have done so in their own ways.

I write on a variety of topics, but I plan to continue writing about this in some way. It means a lot to me to be able to connect with others in the same boat, and hopefully let them know they’re not alone.

On a much more prosaic level: I have a day job, so I’m not always able to make updates as quickly as I’d like, but I hope to make a few revisions to this site very soon. Stay tuned! And thank you.

“Motherless by Choice” up at HuffPost!

“Motherless by Choice” up at HuffPost!

HuffPost Women asked recently to share my piece “Motherless by Choice” with their readership, and I was more than happy to do so. The post went live this morning, and my phone has been buzzing nonstop with notifications since then! Welcome, new readers, and thank you so much for all your comments. I’m very moved by your thoughtful responses, and sympathetic with those of you who have been through similar experiences, and glad it was able to resonate with you in some way.

I chose to share my story because there is not a lot of writing out there about this highly significant and emotional experience that affects so many people. It is not something that is easy to write about without rage and grief coloring your words, but I wanted to make that effort. Reading or writing about something deeply affecting you can be a good way to help work through it; at least this is my experience, and a major motivation for me in sharing it with others. While some might question sharing something so private and personal, it was a decision that was many years in the making, and was not made lightly.

I’ll have a less personal piece up at The Toast in the near future, and more to come soon; thanks for stopping by! Be well.