Undertaker's Daughter

My life and death as spiritual path.

Location: River City, Northern California

Friday, May 06, 2005


I'm sitting here wondering if I should be apologising for so few blogs recently and realizing that you already have probably guessed it's the damn pain getting in the way. And the pain, as it often does, took me towards thoughts of Mother's Day and some of the miseries associated with that. And here we are.

I was diagnosed with severe rapid growing fibroids when I was 35. I had to wait three months for the surgery because I needed my mother's help financialy and physically with the recovery. In that time, the tumors grew just like a child so that by the time they took them out, I was experiencing pressure on bladder and on my stomach-- constant nausea, [why do they call it morning sickness?] and perpetual urination. Over ten lbs of tumor and vascular support was removed-- a small baby. That's as close as I've ever come to childbirth.

You know, even though I realized my upbringing had taught me to substitute instant anger for patience-- no way to raise any children at all-- and also to view any opposing response from someone weaker, like a child, as a battle of wills rather than a normal pattern of growing up and testing limits. Even given all these very logical, very rational reasons for never wanting to have a child, hoping against hope never to ever pass on this horrible method of child-raising. I still grieved for years over the loss of motherhood.

I don't suppose it has to make any sense at all. Grief is grief. I'm crying now as I think about it.

My religion recognises three stages that almost every woman goes through in some fashion in her life-- Maidenhood, Motherhood, and Crone. We can do these rites of passage and the years that prepare for them in any order and in the strangest of ways. The Maiden is about learning and testing who and what you are. Both clinging to boundaries and breaking them, an overattachment to laws, rules, morality-- Maidens can be insufferably self-righteous-- and at the same time throwing out all rules as phony and needing to be totally reconstructed so lets break em all and see what happens. The "It's My Life" syndrome.

I don't think it would surprise too many people to find that many women postpone true -- how shall I put it? -- graduation? Initiation? Passage out of this state until they hit peri-menopause. I did. My forties were my first real taste of physical and spiritual freedom. At last I was able to put aside what everyone else wanted -- society, family, community, my own ill thought out ideals-- and found out what and who I wanted to be when I grew up.

Just in the nick, so to speak.

My bout with Motherhood came almost immediately afterwards. I helped found a Non-profit religious order, did my time on the Board of directors, founded several spiritual circles for women, for couples, a long-standing Kabbalistic lodge, a workshop for sound and movement that targeted large women, and a shamanic drumming circle. Took 3 to 5 years.

Why do I call it Motherhood? Guess you had to be there, Herding all these people-- more of a community than this solitary had been around for ages-- into places they would not normally go, carefully, gently, without trampling on either their free will or their justifiable self-doubt. Helping others grow in ways they wanted to and needed to, and harming none in the process. Isn't that what Mothers do?

Then I burned out-- Mothers do that too. But I really wouldn't have traded those years for anything-- they give my life meaning. Oh, I was also nursing my mother through her death at 96 and having my only real, if hellacious, love affair at the same time.

It is probable that I am a better mother to adults or near adults than I am to children-- with one exception. I have a rapport with early teens. For some unknown reason they trust me and talk to me-- or did then-- I have my doubts now that I'm 60. I don't care how many people say I don't look it.

I'd like to honor this Mother's Day, in advance, by remembering one of my random children. I'll call her Carole. Our story doesn't end well. It doesn't even really end at all. The problem with these random connections is-- without blood connection, sometimes even social connection, you take the opportunities to help in the slap-dash way they occur and hope your actions don't fall on the one patch of rocky gound in a large meadow.

As far as I can remember Carole's parents were friends of circle members and we met once at her house. Since put simplistically, I'm a Pagan witch and Carole's parents floated in and out of Fundamental Christianity-- this puts me immediately in dark deep water that is far over my head. We talked as little about religion as possible. I talked about my religion, not at all. I'm not going to say Carole's problems didn't involve religion, some healthy respect to replace the shame she felt of her body would have done a lot of good. But you do what you can.

Carole was 11 when I first met her and leaving 12 when I last heard from heard from her. She was already an alcoholic and engaging in weekly sex parties. The two activities were linked as she hated sex and had to get drunk to engage in it. I don't know why she started calling me-- I never called her, or I'd probably be in jail, possibly some of you think I should be anyway-- maybe it's because, on our first meeting I took her completely seriously and spoke as I would to another adult who was younger and therefore not suitable for some topics or language. In person we talked about her dreams of college and a life that was rich and expansive. She had a good mind and the face of innocence. On the phone she told me what her life was really like-- well, as much as she could, I'm sure she spared me alot-- her dreams were never going to happen, in fact, unless her manner of living were to change drastically, I wasn't sure she would live till the end of her teens.

Her parents knew something drastic needed to be done-- they intended to send her to a very strict Christian boarding school. I don't know what your experience are with that kind of strictness applied to a growing mind, but Carole didn't need any more shame. She already believed herself completely lost and worthless. I spent every minute of my time with her telling her she was not and that at any moment she could choose to change and it would happen-- there never ever was a moment that was Too Late, and never would be.
My other experience with religious groups is that -- or dear-- the worst kids I ever met in my sheltered life were in Sunday School, if I'd followed their example, I'd have been a drunk at 12 too. I told Carole what parents have been telling their kids forever-- without being believed-- that what looks like popularity at 12 lasts about 2 seconds and then is meaningless. You have to have the guts to wait it out. She understood guts but not patience. Who does at 12? I don't at 60.

I've only been in a couple of situations as helpless as I was with Carole. One other that sticks like a unhealable wound was with a schizophrenic parishioner at the mercy of the welfare system. An adult in years, she was emotionally close to her early teens. She, too, went into a fundamentalist group home. She killed herself there. B wanted love desperately. I don't know what she got-- I pray it was not more venal than bad advice. I don't know if Carole-- obviously not her real name-- is still alive. Chances are she is, I hope she is. On Mother's Day, I think of her and "B" who died under the onslaught of her voices. All I could do for either of them was tell them they were not worthless, to me, to the world, to god. They were not bad, no matter who told them they were. All you had to do was listen and you could hear the child's heart of innocence still crying out to be heard and to live-- anyway and anywhere but in the hell they suddenly found themselves within. I told them that too, and that one step would take them away from that hell. "B" took the cruelest and, for all I know, the only step she was able to make. Her voices, she told me, never stopped and I don't know if her home encouraged her to keep taking her drugs or not. I think they preferred prayer. There's nothing wrong with prayer, but sometimes chemicals can give prayer a chance to come to fulfillment. And that's as kindly as I can put it.

Here's what I hope for "Carole" on this upcoming Mother's Day. That she is living a life she has chosen for herself, as much as any of us can choose. That she is strong and believes in herself, has dreams and is working to make them come true.

My god, I just hope she's alive. If she's just alive, then anything is possible.

Probably she doesn't remember me, I was a very small and essentially ineffectual part of a season in hell. I will never forget her. Just as I will never forget "B." Her name meant unconditional love. They were and are precious souls.


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