I understand that gratefulness is the way in and through. The Buddhists, the Jews, the Christians, and with special mention, the New Age gurus all preach about gratefulness. Keep a journal – keep score – keep counting your blessings.
And I get this. I really do. There is a large part of me that is grateful for all that I have, and I have a lot. Great kid, great friends, great hair. But what about that small part of me? The non-grateful bitchy pissed off part. The small dark part of me that says “Really? God/Spirit/Universe/ This is all I get ? This is your best game plan for me? ” I am pissed. Royally totally pissed. I WANT RESTITUTION!!! I’m not sure exactly what restitution should look like for me, because my feeling of wanting (love, safety, a good and present mother) has been with me since I have been a child.
My family was very wealthy, we were definitely in that exclusive 1%. We had a huge house in the city, and an even larger one in the country. We took semi – annual vacations to exotic locations. My sister and I had the latest clothes/cars/toys. I dated in my station (Jew/ upper middle class) and had a big showy wedding.
Then it all went to hell in a handbasket. When my daughter was just six months old, my father had a major stroke. My husband, unbeknownst to me, started taking steroids for his Crohn’s condition, that made him act out so violently that the police had to be called to our home. I had always harboured the illusion that when I needed my family they would be there. Admittedly, this was truly an illusion, since they had never been there even in the easy times, but I still had harboured the hope that when push came to shove, my mother/extended family would be there for the tough.
I was feeling overwhelmed , dealing with the police, the lawyers, and my daughter Jessica. I just wanted to give my daughter some happiness during this tough time. Jessica’s 10th birthday fell on a day that the Toronto Raptors had a home game. I asked my uncle, a season ticket holder , if he would mind giving me two of his six tickets to the game. He replied in the negative. Wow. I was shocked. Actually still am. But I was the demon daughter/niece, and I was born to be denied. I had almost resigned myself to that fact, but my daughter? According to my family, I was the demon seed. Why demon seed? I did not follow “the rules” without question, and I questioned constantly the status quo, and didn’t I know good girls should be seen and not heard? Clearly I did not get that memo. In my family’s collective mind Jessica and I were a package deal, hence she was the daughter of the demon seed, and that was that.
So I let that go (right? clearly not!) and focused on my divorce which was dragging on and turning nasty. This time I turned to my mother for help with my mounting legal bills. When my father died he had left my mother millions of dollars from the sale of his business , surely she would help me out financially with the lawyer bill? Nada. Zip. Zilch. Zero. She told me she had ‘been advised’ to not help me. By whom? Her accountant? Her financial advisor? More than likely she spoke to my sister and her Machiavellian husband for guidance, who probably said “Don’t give her anything! Katharine can’t be trusted with money, who knows what she will spend it on!” More money for him and my sister when my mother eventually dies.
So I was on my own, and did the best I could go given my abilities. Jessica, despite my mothering and her lack of fathering (her father had performed a disappearing act long ago, right after our divorce.) is doing well now , working hard to fulfill her dream of becoming the next Don Draper.
So if all is mostly well in my world, then why am I dreaming of restitution? Because ironically the healthier I get, the more I sink deep into the safety of my own body, the more old memories come up for release. Here is the truth that I hid from myself until only a few months ago. I was not a great mother to Jessica. I tried my best, but given my abusive childhood and cruel mother, I was not able to ‘hold the space’ for Jessica, for Jessica to be her own person. I wanted her to be a little me, a fey flower child wisp of a girl, but she wasn’t. She was strong and bold and clear on her needs. I often couldn’t hear them for my own little girl unmet needs were drowning out hers. I am so sorry for all the hurt I caused my beautiful child. I have apologized to her for all the pain I caused her both intentionally and inadvertently. But what is done is done. I am calm now, I can separate my needs from hers , but the damage is done. I have produced another generation of unmothered untethered daughters. My fervent wish is that I have healed myself in time for Jessica to have a good enough mother, so that she can mother in a way that I was not able to.
I still want a good mother. I need a good mother. Someone to wipe my brow when I am fevered, someone to cheer me on when I feel like giving up, a mother whose eyes light up when I walk into the room. And that will never happen. Ever. The absolute finality of that statement sends shivers down my spine as I write these words, because I can’t reconcile this truth with my profound need.
And it feels, in this deep dark place, that I will die without this restitution that has no name and no form. I feel moored into the pit of it, tethered to the restitution dragon with its big devouring teeth that threatens to destroy any fleeting happiness that comes my way. Rilke wrote “Perhaps all the dragons in the world are princesses who are only waiting to see us once, beautiful and brave. Perhaps everything terrible is in its deepest being, something that needs our love”. With Rilke’s advice in mind, I will do my best to love the beast with the big sharp teeth that is my deepest wound.