Wednesday, 25 June 2008

June is the cruellest month

This month marks the anniversary not only of my miscarriage, but also of my mother's death.

It is seventeen years today since my mother died. She had just turned forty-four. I was nineteen.

In the first few weeks and months after her death, I thought that I would somehow sense her presence, or hear her voice. It took me a long time to accept the finality of death, that my mother had gone and was never coming back. Even now, I still dream about her. In those dreams, she hasn't come back to pass on some significant piece of advice or family lore, instead she is just simply there - sitting at the kitchen table drinking a cup or tea, or else stirring something on the stove. I wake up and, just for a split second, I am able to believe that she never really went away. But then the fact of her dying registers with renewed violence, and suddenly I am reduced not even to a young woman struggling to find her way in the adult world without a mother's guidance, but to a little girl who wants her mummy.

As many feminist psychologists and psychoanalysts have suggested, the experience of motherhood inevitably stirs up a woman's memories and fantasies surrounding her own mother. In becoming a mother herself, a woman identifies--whether consciously or unconsciously--with her mother. She tends to use her childhood experiences as a blueprint for her own mothering. For the motherless woman, motherhood thus holds out a particular promise: it enables her to re-enter the mother-child relationship, and hence to reconnect with her own mother.

Infertility has robbed me of that chance. Instead, as I mourn both the mother I once had, and the child I might have had, I feel that my links with what Jungian analyst Naomi Lowinsky calls the "motherline" have been irrevocably severed. I feel lost. Cast adrift. And it is at moments such as this that it seems that all I am ever going to feel is grief, loss and emptiness.

12 comments:

Meghan said...

I'm sorry. The two anniversaries together have to add a whole bunch of salt to an already open wound. Thinking of you and sending some good thoughts your way.

luna said...

cruel indeed. these dates are so hard to face, and when they're intertwined like that it adds a whole other dimension to each grief. so sorry this has left you so sad and empty, with the absence of what's missing magnified in this way. none of it is fair. I wish so strongly that you will renew that 'motherline' again.

this is a really beautiful and heartbreaking post.

btw, I used to have dreams about my dad and wake up with tears in my eyes. it was just his presence, the wanting to give him a hug, to feel his love. every once in a while they come back, but the thought/realization that he's NOT really with me is a tough one. (just to share: one of the strangest sensations was when I realized, 16 years after he'd been gone, that I'd lived withOUT him as long as I'd lived WITH him...)

Lisa said...

I'm so sorry. I so wish I had some words of wisdom to give you. You're right, June is a terrible month, one I wish you didn't have to experience year after year. I'm glad the month is almost over and maybe July will bring you better things.

annacyclopedia said...

I'm so sorry for both these losses, and for the fact that they landed in the same month. Cruel, indeed.

Thinking of you and praying for peace and comfort for you in these last days of June.

Lisa Rullsenberg said...

Our individual experiences of grief and the 'motherline' all vary so much, but please know we are all thinking of you and sending you our thoughts and love.

Shinejil said...

My dear Mrs. Heathen, my deepest sympathies.

Deborah said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Deborah said...

Barging into say that I am sorry to hear about all that you are going thru. The loss of one's parent is heartbreaking and that bond can never be replaced. The wish to replace it is understandable, but it will not be the same, it maybe wonderful in it's own way, but it will be different and that's what makes each relationship we have sacred and special. Please know that I will be continuing to read your blog. It is wonderfully written. Take care.

Malloryn said...

Ms. Heathen, I am sorry for your losses. It's cruel indeed that both occurred during the month of June. You're in my thoughts during this difficult time. I hope that the next months bring you better things.

Lisa said...

I'm so sorry for each of those senseless losses separately . . . and sad for you that the anniversaries, not to mention the painful memories, are linked like this. Sending hugs your way.

Lisa from IG

the Babychaser: said...

Not to suggest that I have ever lost the way you have, but in a way I understand why it's hitting you now.

My mother is alive and well, but no longer someone I can really let into my life. She's mentally ill, incredibly narciccistic, and increasingly paranoid. For me, she's toxic.

We were really close when I was a child and a teenager. Very very close. And I've pretty much come to terms with not having her in my life in any meaningful way in the past 10 years. (She knows I'm struggling with fertility, but she doesn't know about the treatment, or the surgery, or the four miscarraiges.) But now, while I'm desperately trying to experience motherhood myself, it's so much more painful not to have a mommy to lean on.

I am so sorry for your loss. It's funny how trying to do the most adult thing there is you can do (have a child), can make you feel the most like a child yourself.

Hang in there. July will be better.

rosemary said...

I'm so sorry. Those two anniversaries together really do make a terrible connection.