Motherless by Choice at Christmas

“Perhaps I’m not asking whether estrangement is right or wrong, but instead: how can I truly celebrate togetherness and kinship and love without a mother in my life?”

This isn’t an easy time of year to be estranged from someone, even if you’ve made that decision purposefully. I write about the complicated feelings that come with the holidays over at The Frisky.

I’m really looking forward to seeing my family this year – in many ways it’s been a great year for me, but one with a lot of ups and downs, and it will be good to just be comfortable for a few days with the people I love. What are you struggling with at the holidays, and what are you looking forward to the most?


I’ve disappeared again! This will happen from time to time, I assure you. My brain will decide that right now the most important thing to focus on is my work, or job hunting, or dating, or eating well and working out. As such, writing will be shuffled around among all those other pursuits and will vanish from sight for a while, the housekeys at the bottom of the overstuffed handbag of my mind. (In this metaphor, “lying in bed watching Netflix” is represented by “a bunch of crumpled up receipts.”)

I’m also dealing with some heavy family shit at the moment, and trying to take care of myself and those I love. The worst has passed, thankfully, but I am still scared and sad for someone I love very much. Woke up this morning and a voice in my head said, “You know, calling in sick to work and lying in bed crying about how horrible [stuff that just happened] is sounds AWESOME.” Fortunately, my own voice responded with “nooooooo, fuck you, i’m going to work even if everything sucks.” And somehow, making that one little effort makes all the other little efforts of the day easier. Not fun or anything, of course, but easier.

Also: if you are having a day when staying in bed crying sounds alarmingly tempting, may I humbly recommend going out wearing a shawl instead? It is basically a socially acceptable way to drag yourself out in public still wrapped in blankets! I am wearing this one and it is so cozy and nice. Be kind to yourself, in any little way you can while still getting things done. It will help.


I am thinking and writing about holidays and estrangement. If you want to leave a comment or send me a message (via the About page) about how estrangement factors into the holidays and family for you, please do. We’re heading into a time of year where these issues may weigh particularly heavily on us; I hope you are doing well. I’m thinking of you.

Key Issues

Thursday morning, I remembered my glasses, my umbrella, my book for the train (Love Me Back, by Merritt Tierce) – and almost walked out without my keys. Fortunately I caught the door just in time before it locked behind me. An ordinary careless moment, except for some of the anxiety it triggered, which kept pace with me as I walked down the street, illuminating old memories floating at unseen depths.

We used to sit in the backseat of the car, my sister and I, and watch as my mother locked the door to the house behind her in preparation for leaving. Then she unlocked it. Then locked it again. Unlock. Lock. Unlock. Lock. Minutes passed. We watched in silence – it would have been risky to demand we get going. Lock. Unlock. Continue reading “Key Issues”

Reblogs and Q&A!

Hello, HuffPost and Freshly Pressed readers! I’m very honored by the attention I’ve received after publishing Why did this happen? – it was selected as an editor’s pick by Freshly Pressed, and is now reblogged over at HuffPost Women. I’m even more floored by all the feedback I’m getting directly from you guys. Your comments and conversations on the post blow me away with their thoughtfulness and insight, not to mention your strength in getting through similar experiences. I’m so glad to make these posts a place for discussion of a topic that so often goes undiscussed. The decision to protect yourself and your family from a harmful person should not be a forbidden topic, not matter how that person may be related to you.

If that piece resonated with you, you may wish to read my original post, Motherless by Choice, if you haven’t yet done so.  I’ll be doing more writing to explore some of the nuances of estrangement, and will use the same tags for those pieces as I have so far – motherless by choice, estrangement, etc. (A list of tags I’ve used can be found via the menu button at the top of this website.)

In the meantime, however, I want to know what questions you have for me. I’d like to do a Q&A for new readers within the next week or two, as a jumping-off point for further conversation. If you have any questions for me about estrangement, my life, my writing, or related topics, please leave them in the comments on this post or tweet me at @october31st, and I will go through and select some to respond to in a future post.

I hope everyone is having a good week so far. I can’t wait till the end of the week – my sister and cousin are visiting me in NYC for the holiday weekend! ❤ Talk soon, and take care of yourself.