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?

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.

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.”

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.