Sunday, March 09, 2008

generational legacy of wounded women

when i decided to write today*, i intended to write about this topic, one of my "to-come" posts:
3) the ways in which a lot of women's reluctance to reject and deferment to the desires of (especially hetero) men is not only a sign of her own individual woundedness, but also indicative of our shared woundedness. i also want to discuss how "the patriarchy" (and everything that goes along with it) contributes to our own individual woundedness, how the oppression we feel is rarely capital-p Political, and how healing from it doesn't need to be Political. (healing, though, is inherently political, inherently an act of social change.

i thought about it, thought about Gerry, the (much older hetero male) customer at the cafe who seems to think that i want him to be more than just another regular customer i'm friendly with. i thought about my huge, huge difficulty with saying no to him, with refusing his gifts (...he gave me pearls. and a half dozen roses on valentine's day. i know, i know.) i thought a little about what that meant, given my own personal history and my socialization as a "nice girl."
i was about to write a long, well thought out post about the implications of my woundedness on my present life, how my past wounds carry on and continue wounding me exemplified by this situation with gerry.

and mother left me a message on my voicemail.
and, unsurprisingly, the direction of this post shifted dramatically.

this seems like a trivial anecdote, but it epitomizes the codependent, dysfunctional woundedness of my relationship with my mother (or, more accurately, of her relationship with/to me).

i recently changed my voicemail message. it's now much calmer, more peaceful, more mellow. a couple friends - friends who are part of this healing community of mine - have commented approvingly on it. they like the calmness, adultness, maturity of the new greeting.
my mom called today and left a message on my voicemail.
it started with a halting, seemingly distracted, uncomfortable: "you changed your voicemail. it' throws me off every time i hear it."

of course it does.
because when i recorded it, i felt at peace. i wasn't in excruciating, life-impeding pain. the person on the voicemail isn't the daughter that you've grown used to, that you've cultivated. the person on my voicemail isn't a slave to the pain that you have created / rely on.

when i heard her remark, i laughed out loud. shook my head.

at some point, i know, the grief will set in. i'll mourn for the woman my mother never was, for the mother i never had, for the peace she's never felt, for the healing she will probably never feel.

but for now, it's funny. sad-funny, definitely. that kind of funny where you laugh, but you think that maybe you should also be crying. but still, funny.

the point of this anecdote? it's a generational thing, this pain. the generational legacy of abuse, of trauma, of woundedness. my woundedness, even if it weren't directly caused by my mother's wounded actions (and a big ol' chunk of it was), would still have a lot to do with the legacy of my mother's woundedness. because when a woman as wounded as my mother tries to parent, she inevitably passes on that woundedness to her child.
so, yes, in a way, my wounds are hereditary. my depression is hereditary, my PTSD is hereditary, my addictions - to unhealthy relationships, to self-injury - are hereditary. but it's not the hereditary that's passed along in genes (or maybe it is). it's a different hereditary trait.

this all means that generations of women are still wounded, grow up wounded, because they were raised by wounded women. these girls, raised by wounded women, will also raise wounded women...unless they address their wounds. acknowledge them. try to heal them.

this woundedness, this generational's sad. it's sad to see women, just about everywhere, in so much pain. my heart goes out to the women i see with unhealed, unacknowledged wounds. but it also makes me angry. because this legacy of woundedness is another one of those things that supports the continued prominence of patriarchal structures. it's this woundedness that, on an individual level, enables patriarchal dominance over women who are too wounded to embrace their power, who can't see that they deserve something better than what they have.


*"today," at first, referred to monday, march 3rd. but i didn't get around to finishing the post until today, sunday, march 9th. noted just in case the chronology of these events matters...even though i'm pretty sure it doesn't.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"this all means that generations of women are still wounded, grow up wounded, because they were raised by wounded women."

This is so true. I'm a mother of girls, myself, and I am trying to avoid the handing down of hangups. It's such hard work, because not only am I dealing with personal, family history and relationships, but also, the world at large. Past, present, future.

Anyway, I wish you well. Take care.