Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Dreaming Mother

My son began second grade yesterday, he is confident, secure, happy, excited. All good thing. In second grade, I first told about the abuse, I was threatened by my father who stood naked and looming over me. He told me I had ratted him out and had better go back and tell my grandmother that my mother-long gone by then-had put me up to it. I saw his naked body and his angry face and I did just what he said. He also had a gun. Thus my grandfather labeled me a liar, there was screaming and blood, and I was shamed to the core, again. There was so much abuse at 7 for me, second grade. This was the age when he fed me shrooms. I was terrified, tripping with my molesting father. Here's the thing, healing happens, it's a dynamic process, but this is what amazes me. I have been reading Healing the Shame That Binds You by John Bradshaw. Next to The Courage to Heal, it is the most life-altering book I have read. I am aware of things that have been in my unconscious forever. I had no idea about some of the things I thought about myself. Last night I finished the book and had an amazing dream.

In my dream last night, my son, who is 7, was playing the in the surf. On a beach with white sand. I kept walking out to him, brushing his blonde hair back from his eyes, the warm breeze blowing all around us, asking,"Are you doing okay? Do you need Mama for anything?" He said he was ok, just playing, and I kept walking back about 10 feet to the edge of the water. Suddenly, the lights went out as it were, the sun literally went out. It was dark, pitch black, parents were screaming.
I stood up, and a profound sense of knowingness washed over me. I closed my eyes, yes, in the dark, and listened for him. Once he said,"I'm over here". I heard him, but I already knew where I was going. I listened, not for auditory sounds necessarily, but for the pull in my belly, in my heart, the magnetism of him. There was a feeling of being wrapped in something and gently pulled by it. Yet, I felt it from the inside, and I knew I could only access it by closing my eyes, that the seeing I needed was INSIDE of me. The feeling was so deep, so real, and it drowned out all other noise. I put my hands out like a sleepwalker, and kept my eyes closed. I was guided right to him. I never once lost it, or felt one bit of fear. I did not open my eyes until we got back to shore, and the sun came back on.In this quieting of all the screams around me, a silence in my own head, in my self was louder, and it pulled me inward.. My mother radar just clicked. I felt no fear, nor did he. He knew I would find him. Closing my eyes in the dark to find him, yes. The seeing that I needed was inside of me, that vibration, that knowingness, the pull of mothertochild.
It's weird to explain, but this dream reminded me of the mythical tale of the handless maiden, the girl who regains her hands after having her baby, the healing that children bring. Here is a synopsis:
My first experience with the "Armless Maiden" was reading a powerful Xhosa version of the tale, "A Father Cuts Off His Daughter's Arms," performed by Mrs. Nongenile Masithatu Zenani, a Xhosa storyteller from South Africa, and translated by Harold Schueb. In this version a widowed father chooses not to remarry and relies on his young daughter to perform his wife's household duties of cooking and cleaning. When the girl reaches puberty, he attempts to coerce his daughter into filling the sexual role of his deceased wife as well. The girl steadfastly refuses his advances, bursting into noisy weeping that threatens to alert the neighbors. The next day the father takes her into the woods. Once again he demands that she have sex with him. When she again refuses, he cuts off her arms with a knife and leaves her in the woods to die. Bleeding and in tremendous pain, the girl suffers in solitude until hunger forces her to her feet. Dazed, she begins to wander through an "endless forest, ascending and descending." Symbolism, anyone?
The armless maiden is required to relate the story of her father's crime three times before she is rescued and brought into the homestead. Once bathed, the family realizes that even without her arms the girl is beautiful, and she is soon married to their son. At first this seems a resolution, particularly when she gives birth to a child, but gradually problems arise. Without her arms, the new mother can not care for her infant, what will she do?
The young woman returns to the woods and begins a second journey, ascending and descending the endless forest until, weary and thirsty, she comes upon a lake. Having lived in the wood for many days with her child, the woman stops by a stream to rest and refresh herself. As she bends over the water's edge, the child slips from her back and falls into the water. The handless one, knowing it is futile to reach into the waters to save the baby, shoves her stumps into the cold depths. When she does so, her hands instantly grow back.

My therapist related this to me years ago. That is so powerful. That is what we mean by healing for or through one's child. It can apply to partners too.
The line between what we do for ourselves to heal and what they do to help us is barely tangible yet indelible all the same. "And if there is a way to find you I will find you....threads that are golden don't break easily.." Horses, Tori Amos. My boundaries are not just about keeping people out, or having healthy relationships with others, or letting them in, it's also about knowing myself, knowing that I am good because I exist, and seeing through the internalized shame shell I inherited and was given by my parents through their abandonment of me, physical, sexual, spiritual. I feel into my cells that I AM a good mother in ways I never could allow myself to believe before. We tell our boys all the time,"We love you because you are YOU." The shame I have carried over my own mother's maternal inadequacies, my father's outright betrayals and abuse, this dream pierced through that and I awoke with a knowingness, a belief not just in, but ABOUT myself that I have not fully experienced before. Instead of fearing I will repeat my parents trauma, neurotically so-"Will I traumatize them, am I doing this wrong, did I do that too much, did I say that too much, If I do this will they feel abandoned..." I have been carrying the shame of my parents and it has masqueraded as my own voice. It is not. I am vicariously reraising myself through my boys. And I am what I and My husband tell them they are, strong, radiant, capable of anything, kind, self aware. I am believing on a deep level the very love I give to them, I believe it about ME. A dream come true indeed.