Intermezzo

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.

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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.

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.”

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.