Sunday, December 28, 2008

Finding my Voice--A Mother in Search of Herself

I debated whether to cut to the chase and just label my blog "Mothers Without Custody" and Mothers and Daughters, Heart vs. House. I did not. It has been more than just that, this journey through madness and maternal castration---perhaps there are insights, perhaps there are only shared experiences but hopefully there can be clarity in what continues to be a muddy pool of identity as a woman and as a mother--the two are inextricably linked. Can we be still be "women" if we feel we have "failed" as mothers? Have we failed if by circumstance, by the overpowering legalism of a patriarchal dictatorship if we are not the "Angel in the House" but have been relegated to the "Madwoman in the Attic" (more on this later)? I have searched for these answers and, perhaps, for myself --my identity apart from that of a mother or maybe in addition to that as a mother--as redesigned by my situation, which I must make clear is not a situation I would have ever imagined in my wildest ideas of how life would have turned out. How does one reconcile the two?

But, I must say, as matter of record, that mine is a mistake of misplaced trust and of incredible underestimation of my own worth and strength. Domination of the self by anyone whethere that is physical, psychological or by some external power such as the law or religion is lethal, at best. There is a way out from under, though. There are ways to claw your way back up. I hope this blog opens a forum of discussion for ways to "claw back up" from the deep wells of adversity--loss of anykind and triumph over said loss is a triumph shared if readers gain some insight or strength from shared experiences. Personally, I have gained tremendous insight from the pages of books--sounds cliche but it's true.

My story line failed miserably. I became the dastardly damsel in distress much to my horror. Locked in the tower of my own isolation, I looked to other voices beyond the mythical magical kingdom of suburbia I took on the words of women, and a few great men, and their experiences and I reveled in the language when I had no voice. That is the gift. That is everything when there is nothing.

We are not victims of circumstance, I believe. We are, in fact, not victims at all. Taking on or even playing with the idea of your self as "a victim" is the single most harmful cloak a woman, or a man I suppose, can wear. I have been a fashion maven for such cloaks at various times along the way. Those layers of the victim's adornment are tempting to drape around us to cloak all that is raw and exposed; however, we are, underneath, still naked and raw and exposed and suffering in our freezing conditions of a heart stripped bare.

I have not found answers, per se, as there are not answers to some things. How do we find answers when we didn't know there was a question to begin with? I never knew that I, Melanie as an individual worth preserving, would have to answer to and defend my very right to exist as a mother. The self is reborn with the birth and our identity as mothers are so profound, so pronounced that the image in the mirror, the inside reality of my "self" was rearranged to include another--an added bonus, if you will. what to make of the image in the mirror? The question of having to defend what has not offended seems foreign-a loud resounding babble of gibberish from some terrorist sect.

It seems the greater the grief the fewer "answers" there are to assuage the pain. However, there is the hint for a new self and a renewed heart. Something rearranged in the mirror, in the "self" that makes for a new identity--a way to reconcile the past with what the future holds for me and more importantly, for my daughter. I am still here---my voice is stronger.

*Pictured above: My daughter, Macy, Summer 2008


  1. This is so beautifully powerful, Melanie. I don't understand all that has happened behind it, but I don't have to. I can recognize and validate that although much has happened and has hurt, there is a new narrative that you are weaving of resilience, strength, forgiveness and hope--and that narrative is taking shape and allowing you to name that which must not be hidden, for in naming, we access our own voice and sense of power. I admire the strength that is so obviously growing and emerging in you. And you write so well--I look forward to recommending your blog to my friends. One of my friends, Jenny, has a blog at that is mostly about parenting teenagers.

    Although I live with both of my children, I feel more inept as a mother than in any other area of life. I have always felt very competent, that I could do anything....until I had children. Now I am sure that they will both be in therapy because of me. It is a very strained and difficult role for me. I desperately wanted to be an Earth mother, but she never showed up! Much affection, Brenda

  2. Wow, what a powerful message. I can totally relate to every last word that was written by you.

    I know that for every action that took place in the very moment in my life, was the result of my young decision making. When I was 25 years younger, I was almost 25 years old. I was a very young, naive, with a very strong exterior, young girl who really had no one to guide her, to be there for her emotionally, and to love her just for every thing she was. I know my parents did the best that they knew how but once you are affected by family it only carries over to the next generation. As a young woman and mother I did not always make the best decisions for my child nor myself.

    There have been reprecussions to some of the the decisions that I have made in my life. I really didnt have the tools that it took to live an appropriate life.

    I always had perseverence and that is what I used to keep putting one foot in front of the other. This happened even when I didnt think I could go any longer or any farther. I always found that last bit of strength to keep up the fight for survival in this world I created.

    I came to a point in my life where I could finally make peace with myself and stop the self loathing becuase I wasnt the perfect mother. I look at what my life is today and the relationships that I have with those closest to me and realize that I have become a woman, in all my glory, I have arrived. I had to grow up, accept responsibility for all my decisions, comfort my self and love my self (lots of threrpy, reading self help books, writing in journals and finding the right people to allow in my life) to be able to finally get to this point.

    From talking to so many mothers, I believe we all feel that we fell short in one area or another in being a mother. We just need to have the desire to change, not cover up our feelings any more, and work at becoming more at peace with who we were in the past and celebrate the mother and women we have become today.

    Life is one big process. We are all where we are suppose to be in this universe. Let us give ourselves a break and let's just live for today.