Phantom Pains

“Pain is a feeling. Your feelings are a part of you. Your own reality. If you are ashamed of them, and hide them, you’re letting society destroy your reality. You should stand up for your right to feel your pain.”

[ Jim Morrison ]

I’ve said in my “About” that the reason I have taken up blogging about being a motherless daughter is to find “kindred spirits”.

Last night I was laying in bed talking things over with my boyfriend who is so empathetic it’s scary (although my choice in men is a whole nother post on its own) and he phrased it quite well. What he said is:

” Losing your mother to you is like losing an arm or a leg. Of course you can function without it and you will find methods of cooping and maybe even improving other skills that you usually wouldn’t have, but you are still missing that arm or leg. And yes, people won’t be able to relate because they have two arms or legs. All they see are the advantages that come with it like someone open- ing a door for you because you can’t, but they can’t see that you would give all of this up in exchange for just having two arms or legs.”

See, I told you: He is eerily empathetic! This is exactly how I feel. He nailed it.

Since I lost my mother at such a young age, I was able to develop certain skills that I wouldn’t have had to otherwise. I have become incredibly independent (although I am incredibly needy at times too), I’m very empathetic to everybody else’s feelings and emotions and usually tap on to them quite easily without them being voiced, I was/am always really mature (although I do regress in certain situations), I have become an analyzer and a thinker with a highly acute emotional side.

Would I have been able to obtain these skills without the loss of my mother? Yes! Of course I would have (at least I think I would), but I don’t think it would have happened so fast or in such an intensity. It is almost like the blind person that has incredible hearing. Maybe he had a great hearing to start with, but not being able to see forced him to develop this natural ability even further. To perfect it.

Did I have any other advantages in life? Is someone always opening the proverbial door for me because I can’t? Yes and no.

In elementary school I was doted upon by my female teachers (and somehow I only had fe- male teachers). They paid a lot more attention to me than to the other little boys and girls in my class. I didn’t get a free ride, but I did get more attention and more incentive to do good. Obviously this helped me to progress as a student and essentially served as a foundation to my further schooling. So yes, that was an advantage.

Also, especially grandmotherly figures, would try to make up for my loss with sweets, treats and attention (although not so much my own grandmothers, neither paternal nor maternal – but that again is another post). So yes, I guess that was an advantage too.

I also believe, that if my father were writing this post he would point to many other advantages: financial (I received a sort of “half-orphan pension”), emotional (attention from the entire family – always being the special child) and a lot of leniency in discipline and parenting from his side. I can’t bluntly disagree with those, but I don’t fully agree with them either, but again this is another post (gosh, I’m saying that a lot today).

However – yes there were advantages (internal and external) for me through the death of my mother.

Would I trade all of those for the chance at having a “normal” life with a mother, MY mother? In a heartbeat!

No advantage of any sort would ever make me reconsider this.

I miss her painfully. I long for her constantly. Sometimes I break down and have this intense need for her, that it catches my breath.

Now, obviously you can object to this easily citing the age I was when the loss occurred. You could argue, that me being so young means, that I don’t know what I am missing, I don’t know what I am longing for. I hardly got to say hello, before I had to say goodbye.

Agreed, I can’t mourn the person my mother was because I didn’t get to know her, but I can mourn exactly that. I can grieve being robbed of getting to know my mother. I can long for the ability to look into her eyes or smell her scent or touch her hand. I can have the need for a motherly touch.

Also I believe that having lost her so early on in my life, I might not know what exactly I am missing out on, but I DO know that I am missing out on something. Maybe I hadn’t gotten used to having two arms and two legs yet and so I don’t know what it feels to have them, but I do feel something vital is missing and it hurts.

This hurtful feeling that stems from her absence is almost like phantom pain. It’s gone and so it shouldn’t hurt, but my heart and soul remembers her from when she carried me in her womb and this nervous memory triggers pain. Denying me this pain is denying my reality.

So now I come full circle once again. Although I am blessed with this amazing man in my life, I feel the need for other “motherless daughters”. Women who will not only empathize with my phantom pains, but know them as their own. Know the feeling of longing, hurting and feeling lost and maybe even those moments of feeling alienated to friends and family because they don’t feel this way.

I believe that pain is a message your body, mind or spirit sends you to let you know something is wrong. To search inside yourself and to mend and grow stronger from it.

It would be so much easier to mend whilst learning from others who have travelled down that path before me.

And even if it were just to compare battle scars.

Beginn At The Beginning

“Begin at the beginning,” the King said, very gravely, “and go on till you come to the end: then stop”

[Lewis Carroll]

The beginning of my story is the end of my mother’s. Even though she didn’t die giving birth to me, this rings truer to me, than any other sentence used describing the connection between the death of my mother and my life.

My mother passed away on her 30th Birthday on April the 20th 1984.She was an epileptic and had a seizure whilst taking a bath, hit her head and drowned. I found her, although I can’t remember that.

At that time my parents where sharing our appart- ement with another married couple and their young daughter. We called all of them by the first name, there was no “mommy” or “daddy” and the other girl and I were raised like sisters for the time being.

The story I have pieced together through many, different tales by various people goes like this:

“On April the 20th 1984 my mother was getting ready for her big 30 party. My father (Jay) and my parents friends (Be and Ce) took me and their daughter (Enmi) out to prepare everything and give my mother some breathing space.

Upon our return, they thought it would be sweet to send me into the bath- room baring thirty long-stemmed red roses.

Girl Holding Dead Flowers

Image by This Is A Wake Up Call via Flickr

I returned after a while and very seriously ordered everybody to be quiet because “mom was taking a nap”. Obviously everything happened very quickly after that. Be and Jay rushed into the bathroom and got my mother out of the bathtub and did C.P.R. on her. Ce called 911 or rather the german equivalent to that (yes we were living in Germany) and then gathered up Enmi and myself and took us to a near playground as to have us out of harms way.

Everybody did what they could to save my mother. In the end nothing could save her. She had left for good.”

A bit more than a year later Be, Ce, Enmi and their new baby boy (Bema ) packed their bags and left for France. I lost my “other mother” and my “sister” that day. They left for good and their was nothing I could do to stop them.Actually my first real memory is a snapshot of them driving off.

Years later I found out that they had discussed taking me with them, but my father veto-ed the idea because he didn’t want to lose me as well. I understand and I don’t. This might sound weird to anybody reading this (and at this point, I know it won’t be too many), but I believe my father made a very selfish decision that day in keeping me with him. He is an attorney and was just preparing to sit his second bar exam (yes, in the german legal system you sit two) at that time. He literally had no time for me. Even though almost 28 years have gone by and so much has changed this hasn’t. There is no place for me in my father’s life, but that of a spectator.

My father never got remarried, but he did have long and longer relationships in the past. Some women had kids, some didn’t. Some were significantly younger than my father, some more the same age. Some had a career of their own, some were housewives. Not one of them was a mother to me. Their relationship was always exclusively with my father.

To be fair, once I hit my teens I became the poster-child of girls gone wild – running away from home, boys, parties, skipping school, lying, stealing, smoking – I was not a pleasure to be around and I didn’t make anybody’s life easy – especially not my own. Even though I have moved on from that stage of my life and more than outgrown my “terrible teens” a lot of what has happened during that time severely wounded me and my family. None of those wounds have healed.

I have been in and out of therapy throughout my life, without it having the desired effect. I am currently in therapy again, but this time it’s different. This time I am in it because I want to be.

So the big question remains: Why blog about it?! Well, it’s not an easy answer. A lot of aspects have gone into my decision to write for the world to see (even though I know – at least presently – nobody is looking). The main reason is, that apparently (at least in Germany) there are no self-help groups for adults that dealing with a deceased parents. Maybe because society has not yet fully understood the long-term effects this trauma has on women of all ages. Also I don’t know anybody who has lost their mother; – divorce yes, death no. So sometimes I feel like an alien to my friends and family. My hope is, that maybe this will help me find people who have gone through similar things in their life and in the meantime, maybe “writing things out loud” can help structure some of the turmoil in my head and soul.

Here’s to new beginnings!