This is a picture of my mother.
I don’t know this beautiful woman in the flowers. I don’t think I’ve ever known her. I found this photo in a pile of negatives which I developed after I had to completely disconnect myself from her in my late twenties. I was shocked by this photo. This was a photo of some unknown woman, whose beauty, and grace I had never known.
I was so intrigued by this photo that I kept it, framed it and put it up. If you know my story and the pain I suffered at the hands of my mother, you would know this was very uncharacteristic of me. And yet, it is, I believe the little girl in me, still looking for her mommy, with wonder and curiousity and a deep need to understand, why, she was so unloving and cruel.
Last week when I decided to put this photo in my art journal, I painted around the photo and for about three days, I couldn’t think about what else to do with this entry. Then, suddenly, young words rose up within me very clearly, “mommy, where are you, why can’t I find you, are you lost in the flowers?” I typed these words up and taped them to the art journal page. They felt quite accurate. I don’t where she is, despite attempts at finding her in the last two years. I also don’t know where SHE is or WHO she is. And I wouldn’t know what to do with her if I found her. I don’t know what to do with her, with the memories of abuse, with her mental illness, with the compassion I feel for her inability to mother me, with all the grand pain I feel about her and our non-existent relationship.
The truth for me is, it is never finished… this thing, this fractured bond with one’s mother even if 11 years, with only silence between us. The silence is loud. The silence contains moving images, nightmares, anger, and broken heartedness. The silence says something. For me it says I don’t know where my mother is, literally and figuratively. Something happens to you when you don’t know your mother. You feel lost, unsure of your place in the world.
So while she is the first person I thought of as this topic of forgiveness came up, it seems massive when I think about some – thing, I need to forgive her for. Too much to count, to much to bear, to much to still recover from. And the question that arises, is “how does one forgive, when each day you find yourself battling and accomodating for the alterations made by the most important and devastating relationship of one’s life?
I am all over the spectrum on this one. Some days, I believe she did the best she could with what she was given (a mentally ill mother and a pedophile father) and on other days…I am screaming and weeping inside at her undeniable cruelty, at each slap, kick, punch and strangulation. Some days I wonder who I would have been if she had loved me.
I guess I need to forgive my mother for…well, for being my mother.