This post is a tribute to my good friend Angela, who manifests courage in all aspects of her life.
As you may know from our blog, she recently ended her relationship with her stepmother. I deeply respect this, but it is not something I can bring myself to do with my own biological mother. The reasons for this are many (surely some of them weakness), but that is fodder for another post.
I interact with my mother a handful of times a year, and each one ties me up in knots for days on end. I have tried for many years to heal the wounds of our shared past, but I have come to accept this is not likely to happen. I, too, struggle with how to buy a Mother’s Day card.
My mother is a scientist by nature and by training, and she doesn’t communicate well verbally. In other words, talking makes her tense and nervous and she avoids it at all costs. I, too, think better through numbers than through words, but I have consciously and actively fought against this, have struggled long and hard to develop an effective means of verbal communication through which to navigate my various relationships.
I often fail.
I don’t hold my mother accountable for my inadequacies, even the ones she inflicted. That neither she nor my father were capable of loving or tending to any of their children is not, entirely, their fault. They are products of a long line of unfortunate teachings. I am just beginning to unravel these.
The truth is, there are many suppositions my mother ingrained in me, that her mother likely ingrained in her, ideas I absorbed over the years of my unconventional upbringing, that I would like very much to unlearn. I don’t want to pass these liabilities on to my own children; I want them to be more open and direct and self-confident than I am. Perhaps this will be more likely if I acknowledge that there are some things I inherited from my mother that I have been unable to shake.
I trust that no one who is in contact with my mother knows that I contribute to this blog; so I will share here what I will never say to her.
Mom, thank you for bequeathing me self-discipline, a strong work-ethic and indubitable energy, but I genuinely wish you hadn’t ingrained in me:
…how to be so damn strong under pressure, how to hide emotion, how to overcome the femininity you perceived as weakness.
…how to keep myself in the world, but not of the world.
…how to hide myself from men, to distrust them, to fake interest and allegiance to stroke their egos.
…how it’s never, under any circumstances, permissible to let a man see that you are smarter than he is.
…that I have no legitimate needs, that my desires and and my body are sinful, something to be ashamed of.
…that it’s unacceptable to be vulnerable.
…that love is a weakness.