Sunday, April 19, 2009

filling voids and finding love (and so on)

a new blog i've been reading on a relatively regular basis: Blooming Lotus. faith is using this blog to document her process of healing from child abuse, and while it's sometimes a little painful to read, it's comforting in the familiarity of the content. and the places that i still can't talk about (despite the hypocrisy of my dedication to speaking the unspeakable), faith goes there. she talks about it. and for that, i am thankful and in awe.

recently, faith posted about searching for something to fill that void of being motherless. not "motherless" in the straightforward sense; faith had a woman to call 'mother,' as did the commenter who inspired this post. "motherless" in the sense that neither of these women's mothers acted motherly. neither of these women's mothers fulfilled that role. and so, both of these women have huge, gaping holes in their hearts where a mother's love should be.
it's incredibly sad to see someone with such a void.
it's incredibly painful to feel that camaraderie.

faith's post is specifically about trying to fill that void, and is something of a follow-up to this post, about wishing for another mother.
a mother do-over, if you will.

familiar? that's an understatement.

i've searched for a mother figure in my life for almost as long as i can remember. i wrote a story when i was in 2nd grade about my teacher, Mrs. Osmon, adopting me and taking me away from my family to live a better, happier life. i was 7 years old. (i'd also recently read Matilda, which may have had an impact on the mother figures i sought out. thanks, Roald Dahl.)
i went from Mrs Osmon to Miss Clark, my 4th grade teacher. from there, i clung to other teachers, always female, always with a maternal, loving air about them. it went on through high school and into college. i gave up on searching for that maternal figure for a year in college, when i'd given up on pretty much everything else. ...and then i went back to yearning for it.

for all my efforts and all the different maternal figures i'd tried to latch onto, none of them stuck. not one of the 26 or so women - teachers, coaches, professors, deans - i'd hoped to make into my 2nd mother stuck around. most of them, i pushed away, consciously or unconsciously. most of them, too, i pushed and pulled and pushed and pulled until they had to step away. what i thought i needed was someone to take care of me, to hold all of the wounded little parts for me. what i was really hoping for was someone to do the work for me, to mother me without the expectation that i'd do it for myself.
and maybe, if i'd been able to voice it or really ask for it, i could've gotten that when i first started looking for it at age 7 or 8. but by the time i was in high school and college, i needed to be adult enough to take care of myself...i didn't want to. and so i hoped and expected that these caring females that i clung to would take care of me for me.

long story short, in the middle of a huge storm of intense healing (and pain), i realized, in my heart, that i needed to take care of myself. that i needed to be my own mother. that i needed to take responsibility for myself and stop trying to make other maternal figures take responsibility for me.

i attribute this to an incredible twist of fate, or the timely return of karma, or something of some power well beyond my own: almost immediately after realizing and accepting that fact, i found that mother figure i'd always wanted and needed. my boss, of all people.

she didn't take care of me in an unhealthy caretaking way, but she did (and does) nurture me and love me in exactly the way that i'd always craved. she sat with me through some of the worst memories, she made me laugh exactly when i needed to, she forced me to take responsibility for myself when i didn't want to, she let me nap on her couch in her house when i needed to be away from my roommates, she even drove with me halfway across the country when i moved away from new england. her amazing family, too, let me in and i came to love them as well, and i got to see what a real, loving family is like.

it feels like i've known her forever, but really, i've only known her for a little over a year and a half. in that year and a half, our relationship has evolved from employer to sorta-friend to mother to what it is now. i can't really explain it, but it's somewhere between and within maternal and one of the best friends i've ever had.

so, yeah. i have managed, somehow, to fill that void. at least, to fill it as much as it's going to be filled. there'll always be an empty spot where the woman who raised me should've been, and i grieve for that loss. but the rest of that emptiness, the vast expanse that needed to be filled with love? it's full. overflowing, sometimes, even.

i don't pretend this was anything i could've willed to happen. it happened because i got lucky, because the fates aligned, because whatever good karma i'd stocked up all came back in a rush, because some higher power allowed it to happen. and every time i talk to H or her wife or her kids, i feel that luck/karma/fate/higher power, and every time, i'm in awe of how incredible it feels to be a lot more loved and a little more complete.

Friday, April 03, 2009

sad, and true, and real

Melissa just posted "The Survivor Thread."

i maintain my linguistic issue with the term "survivor," because of the capital-S Survivor Story it implies, but in this case, i'm ok with using it.

because this thread over at Shakesville isn't about that mainstream idea about what survivors should look like and act like and be. this thread is about reality.

specifically, this reality:
And many of us who are survivors of repeat assaults will not speak of it; many of us will pick the "worst" one and talk about that in threads on assault, as if it's the only one. We do this for many reasons: We might feel embarrassed by being repeatedly victimized, as if it's indicative of a character flaw within ourselves; we might have trouble discussing multiple assaults without undermining what tenuous feeling of safety we have; we might have faced reactions of incredulity from people with whom we shared this information and thought we could trust; we might have been called liars or hysterics—accusations born of the silence about sexual assault.

Disbelief is the inevitable result of swimming in a culture which renders invisible the reality that enormous numbers of women—and men—have been sexually assaulted, many of them more than once.

as of the writing of this, her thread has been up for about 12 hours.
there are currently about 225 comments.
so many stories, so many stories within stories in conjunction with other stories.

it's powerful, and sad, and i don't know if i'll ever be able to read all of the stories in those 225 comments.
it's also true, and real, and for that reason, you really should go read it. if not all of it, at least part of it.
go read it.