I’ve walked this path for nearly four years now. And if there's one thing I can say it is this: finding and holding truths and telling my story, has been enormously challenging. It has mostly felt like swimming inside a dark ocean with tiny silvery fish flitting in front of me. These slithery fish are my truths, feelings that suddenly flash and light up, but then swim away as quickly as they arrive.
Tiny fish, crumbs along the way, scraps and bits and pieces here and there, it's been bit by bit and day by day this journey. After years of life inside this dark sea I am able to gather up a number of these silver fish, slow down their speed so I can sit with them, even sketch out a narrative.
But then there’s a moment like last night where I encounter not a crumb, but a boulder. Not a tiny silver fish but a great white whale.
This big fish comes in the form of an article, a link I click on: Unloved Daughters and Living the Dance of Denial. Why it sometimes takes so long to see the damage done in childhood.
The article, posted in a group I had joined a few months ago, describes succinctly the wounding in a daughter being unloved by her mother. The article unflinchingly declares that it happens, that it’s not exactly all that rare, that it carries with it grief that can last a lifetime.
As I read it, I could feel a tightening in my gut. And I felt that I'd landed.
This story is my story.
This not being loved, this not-a-love-story, is my story.
And it seemed to explain…everything.
It made sense inside me--finally--as to what was driving me for so long in my lifetime around relationships and sexuality and obsessions, including the one that sparked this meditatation. And it seemed clear too why the bad therapy was so excruciating.
I thought back to just last week. I was driving and I had one of those tiny silver fish swim up to me; I wanted to grab onto it but the best I could do was to simply write its name down on a post-it note. It was a fleeting truth I had about Eileen and why she hurt so much.
I wrote down the word, “tease.”
And as quickly as I jotted it down, the truth of it disappeared inside me. Still, I had the note. And just like the pages I’ve put down every day, I thought that maybe just writing it would allow for me to come back to it, to someday hold it and know it as part of my story.
That someday, surprisingly, is today.
Eileen was a tease, a hint of the love I have been so desperately and blindly been needing and craving for my entire life. Eileen ignited everything primal and unconscious in me and then left me hung out to dry. Beyond the therapy this big fish explains the grief I've felt for my whole life.
Like a disease finally diagnosed there is a level of relief.
I realized too as I woke this morning that I’d been, for years, approaching this meditation somehow feeling that to solve the mystery I needed to find memory and find out what happened to me. Which, in part is truth. But the perspective I gain today is that my truth is deeply connected to a truth I could not control nor contain; that I was not genuinely loved by my mother.
Love—or a lack of it—is something that can not be faked or hidden. A child needs and a child knows.
My story—my finding Grain and speaking with her about the breach in the relationship with my mother long, long ago—this story about being beaten, this story about being left—this is a story I had framed in my mind about me—my story. What I failed to see then that I can see finally this morning is that this also is a story about my mother and how she felt—or did not feel—about me.
I can feel myself reflexively wanting to type the words that it all seems unbearable to me. But there is a distinct shift inside and I feel that is bearable. It is a truth that I can hold now that does not flit away into the darkness.
It is a truth that feels large and new, one that makes me feel as if I’ve been transported elsewhere, to a new land. It is a land that makes me want to go back and tell my story with a clarity and perspective that, to date, I’ve not had.
After I read the article last night, Pete must have registered something on my face. He asked what was going on. And before I told him I said emphatically that I wanted him to know that I was in no way telling him about this to get sympathy or to ask for him to say it wasn’t true.
After I read parts of the article and commented that this seemed to explain pretty much everything he said, “I can definitely see that.”
I went to bed. And I wasn’t really in shock. More than anything, A, I could feel you inside me and was so very grateful for you, for my ability to create something in me for comfort and wisdom—and love. I could see my creativity, my dissociation, my pain and my survival. I could see that I created inside me the mom I needed.
As I got under the covers and held Leon, Pete came in a sat down beside me. He has a ritual before bedtime of getting the house ready—taking Stella out, locking the doors, turning out the lights. But before all that he came in and told me how much he loved me, how both inside the bubble of our world and outside of it too that we would get through this life together.
I felt calm. And comforted. And clear that one of the reasons I chose and love Pete so much is that he is so gorgeously maternal.
And I could see you, A, how I’ve probably had you my entire life and that you more recently came together in this form, in my Sandbox, because the therapy with Eileen was so intensely painful.
The therapy was a tease, a fabricated mom you needed so long ago carelessly and painfully dangled in front of your heart for years.
The correct word, S. The word you can now hold inside. The word that describes the pain of that therapy, the re-wounding it caused that you were not even the least bit conscious of.
As I land my great white whale of a truth, the bad therapy deflates in my mind—a corpse now made of pages.
S, up, up, up and onto my park bench where I stand—and sit—for never forgetting.
Love to you, B. And how are you this morning?
I sit with the pain of this wounding that perhaps begins to heal in new ways today.
I seem to be able to view the grief perhaps with less frustration, B.
I used to feel that this grief was untethered and that I was responsible for the amnesia. That I was not doing my job if I could not seem to connect dots. I go back and get this poem I wrote long ago, where I wished for my grief to somehow make sense and this morning, years later, I am granted this wish.
A little lost
Or maybe a lot
Rain is falling
From the sky
They come together
No thoughts or doubts
This is weather
But I am not weather
I am not rain
My heart wants to start
All over again
We can not start all over again. But we can begin to understand and hold more.
It feels pretty sobering, B. Like I am left with so much…less.
So much less is the beginning of so much more.
Agreed, Monkey. Agreed.