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. So....now 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