Healing the Mother Wound
Deep inside a wound seeps the inner child’s longing to heal, to be loved, seen and cherished. Some of us grew up wrapped in the safe haven of a mother’s protection. Some of us needed protection from the very woman who grew us inside her womb. I was one of those. Fed on the breast of rage, fear and manipulation that bred a fated wallow of despair I could not shake. I was ripped to shreds by a wound that didn’t belong to me. Inevitably, that wound became my own. I carried it inside a cradle of hollow, a slow drip filling with grief that would promise to swallow me whole.
I couldn’t breathe.
I hated my mother. She was a flaming beast of anger who twisted me into knots. If someone told me I looked like her, I cringed. I wanted to strangle the life out of every one of my mannerisms that echoed her, and deny that my cells were made up of her cells.
Her legacy of torment ran through my veins.
My inner child was encaged inside the woman I was becoming. I used every tool available to me: therapy, meditation, visualization, denial, rebirthing and hypnotherapy. I wrote my anger onto a thousand pages with my left hand, my right hand; I wrote until my hands cramped into a fist and the pages ripped. I wrote until my words went up in flames.
I had to break this chain.
My mother’s only way out was to take her life. A barrel in the mouth by her own hand offered her release from the grips of her demons.
And there I was. Left with mine. Every breath a gulp and gasp for air. They were my demons now, swimming in the bloodstream of my belonging.
I had to find my way home.
One day I asked my grandmother to send me photos of my mother when she was young. I knew that if I could just access her innocence, I’d be able to forgive her. We all start out innocent, until something comes along and twists our souls into torment, like it did with my mother. Her only way out was to take her life. My only way out was to go in, to become the woman that my mother was meant to be had she been strong enough to be it.
I have come a long way to be able to write what you are about to read, to cellularly feel and breathe these words as deep as any truth of mine can be. After years of excavating the darkest caverns of my broken heart, I reached into hers and found my way home, healing the both of us through her eyes inside a photograph.
I found a photograph at the bottom
of an unopened box
Crackling cardboard dried out from
being rained on
I reached in
Sifting through old letters,
scrawls of random thoughts,
poems that turned into
a thousand-page book
I poured it out
onto the open floor
let the air in
let the stream of yellow light
and wrap around each keepsake
At the bottom,
under the fold and crease where the box
holds itself together
was a picture
At first I thought it was me
But it was you
as a young, budding woman
in a black and white capture
of your innocence
How hopeful your eyes gleamed
how deep the longing for what’s ahead
I held the photo in my hand
sat under the window and let the light
magnify your face
I saw myself
The face of the womb in which I grew
before I was even a thought
in your world
So long before an injection of insane
came in and corrupted your radiant youth
and the palpable wisdom
held in the cup of your hand
So young and ivory-skinned
Plump in cheeks and heart
And even though the picture was black and white
I saw the rosy tint of freshness
on your face
Your rich light almond eyes
I could see right through
You were lovely.
To the core of my holding
Soft before the world you inhaled
made you bitter to a pucker
Your hands mirrored mine
The shape of your brow
the shine of your lips long before
they dried out from all the salted cries you swallowed
You were beautiful.
I looked deeper in
aching to abyss to understand
And I understood
That somewhere along that paved line of your life
your heart caved
and shattered into too many pieces
to pick up and put back together
and you had to pretend
to be unbroken
pretend to love the man you married
and bore three daughters with
that you pretended you knew what to do with
And all you could do
was raise them inside
the shattered chamber you held together
for the sake of their survival
praying they’d thrive
in spite you
and I did.
I can speak for myself and say I did
And I took what was good in you
sane and whole in you
and I found my way
with what you did give me
and eyes so deep they blink
off the stillness of a photograph
and shed a tear so fertile
it grows life
mends and heals and breathes into
my whole life
within and without you
my life in honor
Leslie Caplan is a fiercely courageous heart who has found her way whole through the alchemy of writing. She is a powerful advocate for writers, and uses the depth of her skill and innate abilities to guide writers deeper into their stories. An editor, writing coach and internationally published writer, Leslie brings it to real with an unwavering passion for relentless authenticity. You can find her at her website.
This piece originally published on Rebelle Society.