For much of my life, I could make friends just not keep them. Something would come up and rather than assert my needs or voice them, I’d feel taken advantage of, and further helped in the process offering myself up to be used over and over again. And why not? I was taught that even my body was not mine. And, to love those attacking it… be quiet, be ‘nice.’

It’s not even what siblings did that stole my voice. My mother’s fear of those outside the family knowing the sordid details of what her sons scourged onto her daughter, swept all voice away permanently; a voice that rises in written word only. Details too horrific for her to ever hear throughout her 91 years.

If a mother really listened, held her child as she relayed details, the horror abates in the sharing. The child, even the adult child, feels held.

How many mothers hold their child as she spews out muck, scrapes her tiny soul, and relieves the pain by sharing? This mother had many chances, because the tiny soul came with me through my 30’, 40’s and 50’s. I needed her to know the truth of what her son’s did.

She never did take my details and hold them for me, to then finally disperse those killing evils into the universe so we could both be safe from them. I protected her from it because that is what she expected me to do— because her life was so tough. Because hearing my horror was too hard for her. My mother, for all how I loved her, was a coward.

At times the birthright to speak out against injustices, insults, or attacks against me travels from gut out of mouth exactly at the moment my spirit rises up like a wildly rearing horse, “No!”  But mostly it speaks much later through actions, over the phone or in a letter. Directly relating my own feelings that may differ from yours is too threatening and overwhelming. I will be abandoned.

This was to be about relationships, and how miraculous it is that after making friends and losing them, I have managed to maintain a group of women friends for the past 10-15 years. This is not by chance, but by my determination to have those that I can rely on and who can conversely rely on me. The second part seems most important. How can I be a friend? And in striving to reach that goal, friends come and stay. 

But did I veer from topic? My relationship with my mother is so closely entwined with every relationship further in life. She set the tone and is the example. I can change the grooves in the record. I can have and maintain deeper relationships than the one we had, or the ones she had with her own friends. And I have. I lack her charming smile that draws others like a bee to honey, her spark for fun. But I have a quieter charm. If you dig past the seriousness, a sweeter balm blossoms in the safety beyond the garden gates. 

8 thoughts on “RELATIONSHIPS

  1. I love this Patricia! I know you’ve been posting and I’ve been missing a lot these days. But you’re in my thoughts always. “My relationship with my mother is so closely entwined with every relationship further in life.” I think we can even say that this relationship profoundly impacts the relationship we are able to have with ourselves and how good of a friend we can be to ourselves. Don’t you think. I like you’re gentleness and the kindness you express towards yourself. It makes me so happy. And this makes me ached, “If a mother really listened, held her child as she relayed details, the horror abates in the sharing. The child, even the adult child, feels held.” I never had that and I think I’m finally learning to do that for myself. I get that from you too; you do that for me when I’m brave enough to write about my childhood trauma. thank you. You are a good friend indeed!

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    1. Your comment made me chuckle with warmth. Though I’m sorry you understand so well.
      Yes! I do think how my mother responded to the knowledge of what her sons did greatly impaired my ability to be my own best friend. That caused critical damage.
      One would hope that special relationship would have the opposite effect; to learn to love oneself and feel proud during the formative years, not mired or cemented in self-hate. The deal was, I love you as long as you keep quiet. No wonder my fears of abandonment abound to this day. Something to work on for sure.
      I thought of you when I wrote this because of the concept of ‘being held.’ I heard that from you.
      You are brave. You have your real name and photo attached to your blog which I admire. I’ve thought about it, even tried it, but I enjoy the freedom anonymity gives me. I don’t have to answer or explain to anyone. I’m accountable only to me. Takes less bravery too! : )

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      1. Oh I so so hear you: “The deal was, I love you as long as you keep quiet.” What a loaded concept and how despicable. Makes my blood boil. My mother’s relationship with me was all about her. Never about a mother’s unconditional love for her child. It’s gross actually. But thankfully I see it for what it is now — her unwellness not mine. I think being brave is being willing to examine our old thoughts, beliefs, baggage … and to keep showing up however we can and trying to change them. To make them our own. Not our mother’s or anyone else’s. Thank you for your kind words! I do think a good measure of bravery is our willingness to be in a real and loving relationship with ourselves and if anonymity gives you that then you, my friend, are mighty brave!

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        1. You’re right. I like that you remind me of my own courage. Whether it’s my entire name or not, I do put myself ‘out there’ probably for the first time. I dig deep, beyond the superficial game I seem to have been playing all my life; the one where I react like a puppet to belong because fear of abandonment is too great. Instead, I settle down and try to access the inner depths, a place that has been in accessible because the pain was too great. There is more than pain there. I can take and handle it all.
          You are a friend because you will stand up for me. That is a bit scary and miraculous at the same time!

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  2. Relationships are complicated. I agree that if a mother had listened….so much would be so different. I’m sorry she wasn’t able to listen and see the truth. I’m glad that despite the hurts caused from your early relationships, you are able to be kind to yourself. Xx

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