I write about my mother more than anyone in my life because she occupies my mind even when I don’t know it. She never really belonged to me in the same way that other kids could lay claim to their mothers. I never really had her when she was alive, and she refuses to leave me even after she is long gone. She was always elusive and outside my grasp – the most beautiful creature that I couldn’t call my own. So my mind wonders in circles, revisiting old memories and combing through them for the lost pieces to the greatest puzzle of my life: Who do I belong to?
I was the satellite orbiting my mother’s world. Always circling her, wanting to get nearer, but forces beyond my control always kept us at a distance. We coexisted and went through the motions of living but we never knew each other. There was never a handshake, a touching of hands, any inquisitive “How are you?”. We didn’t share the simple courtesies that even strangers share.
I watched her go through life. My perspective of life became a disassociation of mind and body as I spent my childhood studying her and studying me and racing to catch up to her. I have plenty of sad, sepia tone memories of watching my mother walk away from confrontations, unpleasant truths, and me.
And now I think I have caught up with her. I am going to be 37 in two months, and as I look in the mirror, I see my mother looking back at me. It is startling to see her face staring back. I do look like my mother but not as beautiful as her, and yet, more beautiful than her. I see a reflection of the love and hate from within for a person that I want to run away from but I can’t.
The love for her springs from the childish parts that yearned for her. The little toddler that remembered her leaving me behind and shoving me aside to make room for abusive men. The wailing, heart wrenching cries of a little one who begged for her mother. The young girl that needed a mother’s guidance and protection but got none. These parts of me longed for that beautiful woman, suffered from the rejection, and thought that they were never good enough.
But the woman in me rages with fire and fury at the injustice of it all. After living life a bit and having kids of my own, I often walk back in time and revisit myself.
I revisit the little 3 year old softly crying at the gate. Her mother was taking her little brother, but leaving her behind, to visit a boyfriend. As she stands there crying, I sweep her in my arms and take her with me on a journey to revise history. I wipe away the tears and we play.
I revisit the young 13 year old who doesn’t know what is to become of her. She is lost, unsure of her self, and doesn’t feel worthy of love. She is crying and wants to die. I take her hand and show her what her future is. She does find herself and become more beautiful than the person who made her.
I walk in this world but I live in other worlds. I shift in and out, and along this journey I find that I belong to myself.