Posts Tagged ‘the mentally ill’

“Mother’s Day….Oh, the pain of it all!”

May 8, 2015

Mother in Law

Right now I am sitting on my back porch watching my five Easter hatchlings swoop and flutter around the yard. This is the second day they have been set free….instead of an 8×8 foot chicken yard. They run up to me, lifting their heads and extending their short wings. I guess I’m their mother now, and that is fine by me.

Mother’s Day is an uneasy time for many of us adult children of mothers who are mentally ill, neglectful, abusive, discarding, or just narcissistic. The last category probably contains all that goes before. So, we are left feeling uneasy, marginalized, because we don’t buy into the rosy ‘memories’ of our mothers and our childhood. We can’t march in step with the Hallmark sentiments, the other hoopla of this very commercialized holiday.

What to do? I think it depends upon the stage of our recovery. By recovery, I simply mean where we have come in our own minds, where we have confidence in our own abilities. (this ‘centeredness’ that Rollo May talks about). Of course it’s much more than that, but I am proceeding what to do on this ‘holiday’ by summing up where the last 5 years has brought me, and the last 10 years of therapy with a woman who was definitely a mother substitute. She stood by me as I worked out of a very dark place, and supported (and encouraged mightily) each point of progress. In the last 6 years I have published 5 books, the last to be published this July, and each book (except the first because it was full of sex…but I was flapping my wings…) she embraced as a major stepping stone in my development. I can’t help but compare her attitude to my own mother. At the publication of my third book, I received the last letter from her, the first in years, stating: “I can never be truly proud of you because you didn’t allow me into your artistry.”

Well, IF I was confused before what she was and is, (and at 95 she isn’t about to change) that simple statement certainly clarified her for me: This is the leitmotiv of a true Narcissist.

There is no winning faced with such a narcissist. They take up too much internal landscape and energy. I went No Contact 5 years ago, and I needed the time to work on myself without the constant slings and arrows of this woman. I had enough. And the process was liberating.

So, what did I do about Mother’s Day with her? I sent her a card. This will shock my friends, who know the history between us, but I did it for me. 90% for me, and 10% for her.

As my husband said: “At least you know your soul will be clean.” That went straight to the meat of it. I was not cowing to convention, I was releasing myself from her control and power. And this card wasn’t sentimental, and I just signed it “Cheers, Jane”. But I was stepping out of her shadow, though many might not understand this. She has not been the mother, ever, to celebrate. But that doesn’t mean that I must follow her anger, rage, hatred, contempt and vengeance. Life is too good to do that. People are too good for that. As the grave approaches her, and at 95 this will happen, at least I am cleaning my soul of her destructive psychic energy. That, I believe, is the part of the recovery process.

I received a card from some loving relatives from my Dad’s side: Wishing me “Smiles and admiration, contentment and peace, joy and love.” (And the best of luck with the new book.)

Now that’s what Mother’s Day should be about.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2015

MOTHER

 

I am always aware of my mother,

Ominous, threatening,

A pain in the depths of my consciousness.

My mother is like a shell,

So easily broken.

Yet the fact that I was born

Bearing my mother’s shadow

Cannot be changed.

She is like a cherished, bitter dream

My nerves cannot forget

Even after I am awake.

She prevents all freedom of movement.

If I move she quickly breaks

And the splinters stab me.

—Nagase Kiyoko (1906- 1995)

Nagase Kiyoko wrote poetry for 65 years. She never called herself a ‘professional poet’, but referred to herself as ‘a useless woman’. She was a farmer, and wrote her poetry at the kitchen table before dawn, while her children and husband were asleep upstairs. Because of her sensual and cosmic verse, Nagase Kiyoko is considered by many Japanese women poets to be the “Grandmother” of modern poetry. Just a short reading of her verse goes deeply into the heart of the reader. She is ageless in her verse.

Lady Nyo


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