Wednesday, May 9, 2007

The dark side

I laughed when I saw this bumper sticker, and I smile whenever I think of it:

Come to the dark side
We have cookies

Maybe it's just my peculiar sense of humor, but to me this just works on so many levels.

I've touched a little here before about the struggle, inherent particularly in this craft blogging community, to determine what to blog about and what to keep private -- knowing where the line is, while at the same time acknowledging that it's not all ribbons and flowers and birdsong and light. There's even that whole thing about how so many craft bloggers just *seem* to have these perfect, ideally decorated, resource-rich and trouble-free lives. So then someone lets go a little bit, unfurls some of the darkness, writes about the struggle and the feelings of isolation and helplessness since it seems only they have that dark side bubbling up; inevitably they get heartfelt comments from people offering support and the reassurances that they struggle, too. This is all amazing stuff that happens, and I think it's what makes the experience and the community so incredible, so much more than "here's my latest project."

I was awestruck and teary-eyed, reading Kim's entry yesterday. The deep sadness and tragedy of her past, the purity of her writing, and the ultimate story of survival and determination and goodness that comes out of it all -- I don't know how to put into words the powerfulness of it. Her writing made me able to stop and reconsider my own story, my own relationship with my mother, and through that process -- just yesterday -- I came to a place I hadn't been before. I was able to break through to some insights about myself I didn't have before, while at the same time making me admire Kim and her work and making me feel so honored and privileged to "know" her through her blog.

Don't you wish, sometimes, that you could just hook something up to your brain somehow so that the thing you've been writing in your head for hours and hours could just come flowing right out, since you realize that once you sit down to do the actual writing it won't be nearly as good as it was when you were composing it in your head? Or is that just another one of those things that makes me weird/wired (Helen, really, either does apply!).

So here in the US, Mother's Day is this Sunday. And I am still fighting the demons of my childhood, and the demon of a mother gone terribly wrong. I've spent my adult life deciding very, very specifically to hold images like this one in my mind -- images of a woman who looks delighted to be a mother, and a child who looks happy and loved (if not also quite plump but that was how they fed us back then!). I reason that while I could dwell on the bitter disappointments and utter unfairness that it won't do me any good (other than to make me bitter) and that clearly, within all that was horrible and wrong, there were things that were wonderful -- I did, on the whole, turn out all right. This year I've even started a list -- things I learned from my mother -- so that I can focus on and honor the good while this woman is still alive. The step I'm having trouble with is presenting it to her; I'd had visions of a Mother's Day card along these lines but I couldn't do it. I know I have to do this soon because I will regret it if she's gone before I do. (I lost my dad to cancer 8 years ago and think about him every day -- he's another long post for some other time, but the reality of losing one parent is understanding what the loss of the other will mean -- I hope it hasn't happened to you because it's awful, but the thing no one tells you is that when you lose a parent, you lose not only that person but a whole part of yourself that just cannot be recovered.)

My own reality, which Kim's post helped lead me to yesterday, is that my subconscious need to appear, if not perfect, then certainly in control and successful and happy stems from my childhood defense system of putting up a front so that no one would know the shame and anger and frustration I felt at my mother's alcohol abuse and the whole ugly downward spiral that came with it. I spent a good part of my 30's realizing that I was subconsciously doing this -- trying to make people think I was more fabulous and on top of things than I was -- and I've been spending this first half of my 40's trying to catch myself at it and stop it. But now I suddenly understand where it came from, and why -- a miraculous new power.

The great news is that the good side has cookies, too. I'm even going to make some this weekend -- gingerbread, at Dean's request. And I'll celebrate my own Mother's Day in my own way and I'll call up my mother and try, deeply, to give her my best.

1 comment:

Marisa said...

Sounds like your mother's day plan is to do the best you can, so well done for that. Lucky me to have a mother that taught me how to quilt, and still amazes me on a daily basis. As I try to be a good mom myself, I hope to improve on what I've learned which is all I guess I can do.