156 Of 365 (366) For 2012

[ All credit to andrew and hobbes, whose lovely picture may be found here. ]


“Fairness, does not govern life and death.

If it did, no good person would ever die young.”


[ Mitch AlbomThe Five People You Meet in Heaven ]

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.

Broken Time Machine

“We all have our time machines. Some take us back, they’re called memories. Some take us forward, they’re called dreams.”

[Jeremy Irons]

Growing up I realized a very peculiar thing and if you are a motherless daughter, I’m sure you will have no- ticed it too. Mentioning my mother’s death to other’s is a conversational weapon of mass destruction. When- ever mentioned, mostly en passant, it kills conver-sation. Faces go blank, followed by a split second of awkward silence, before hasty apologiesare spluttered.

As a child awkward silence is not something I could handle – I am not sure anybody could. I always felt ashamed, as if mentioning my mother’s death was committing a social crime. I didn’t want anybody to feel bad and I didn’t want to feel alienated.

Therefore I quickly adapted a little social mantra to deal with these reactions and try to smooth them over. When asked about my mother, I would openly admit that she had passed away and then quickly, before the other party had a chance to react, I’d say “but I was two and half when it happened, so I really don’t have any memory of her, so it’s not such a big deal because I really don’t remember it any other way. I’m not missing anything”. I know this helped people. It took some of the horror out of the four horrific words: “My mother is dead.”

It is almost like saying: “Oh don’t worry, I never really liked it anyway and it was already chipped”, when somebody breaks a plate/glass/cup of yours. It takes away the other person’s guilt. And yes, peo- ple do feel guilty. They feel like making me say the words out loud is going to cause me more pain. We are all raised like that. We want to make people feel happy around us – getting someone to say their mo- ther died usually doesn’t make them feel very hap- py.

The key point of the verbal defusing of the weapon was alway the “no memories”. Somehow people always felt this was a blessing disguise, as if not remembering her ment I was spared the pain of missing her. I believed that for a while myself – a long while actually. I felt that not having any memories ment I was not allowed to grieve. Now I understand that I am grieving my mom, that I should have had and that I can do that without actually remembering the person she was.

For a long time, I felt that lacking memory of my mother was almost like adding insult to injury. Not only was she gone and I couldn’t spend time with her building new memories, but also every random person knew more about my mother than I (her only child) did. It seemed unfair and it still does.

When I was 11 or 12 I heard that smells can conjure memories, so I stuck my nose into every spice container in our kitchen cabinet. No results. I spent hours in the basement, my nose buried in her old clothes stored away trying to sniff out anything, but dust and the irritating basement staleness. Eventually  I gave up. I won’t ever have my time machine in the past. My time machine is broken and only works one way. The problem with that is that driving is harder when you don’t have a rearview mirror and can’t turn around because you are going to fast. Dangerous situations can occur when feelings creep up on you.

I think that’s (in essence) what happened to me in my “horrible teens”. I hadn’t gotten around to setting my time machine on “future” yet, the present was unbearable and my past felt incomplete. I felt lost. Lost in time and space.

I’m trying to find myself again and working very hard at it, but I will always feel insecure about not being able to fully grasp the one moment that defined my life forever.

At times it feels like juggling chain saws blindfolded. It’s frightening and I don’t like being frightened. I guess it would be better to say, it feels like watching out for monsters under the bed.

You know they’re not there, but sometimes you can’t help checking.

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