“She Flies With Her Own Wings.”
Lately, as I continue to reinvent myself, find myself, I have had a hankering for a ring to wear on my bare right hand. I grew up very proudly wearing my promise ring, and then adding a different kind of promise ring when Phil came along. In no way do I want to repeat that, but I crave something to call my own. I think this year that is my challenge to myself. I am creating, finding, claiming things as my own, my own special unique ‘Caleigh‘ thing.
I found this ring on Etsy. It has a Latin phrase on it and once I looked up the phrase, I knew it was for me. It’s this gorgeous, brushed gold coined shaped ring that says “alis volat propriis” on it. “She flies with her own wings.” This is me. I have flown with my own wings ever since I was first aware I was on my own. I have used these wings of mine to carry me through the darkest pits my spirit has ever known. I thought I could rely on various people throughout the years, only to be knocked down and betrayed, laughed at. I have gotten up, wiped the tears and snot off my face, raised my wings, and continued on, just a little more broken, just a little more strong.
I just picked up a book called Mothers Who Can’t Love: A Healing Guide for Daughters. I am no stranger to books like this. Two years ago, I went through a book called The Emotionally Absent Mother: A Guide to Self-Healing and Getting the Love You Missed. Yeah, it’s some heavy stuff, but that book has been very helpful in understanding how the lack of having a mom who was emotionally available and loving has played out in my life. I have also realized that there is this cultural taboo against talking about your mother unless it is only to say positive things. It is almost akin to a social sin to say anything bad about moms. The flip side of this coin is acknowledging how mothers play a very significant role in the emotional, mental, spiritual well being of their child, not to mention the physical well being, too. Somehow, if a mother keeps a child fed, clothed, and a roof over their heads, she’s a great mother. Yes, please don’t get me wrong, that is very, very important, but there is so much more needed when it comes to mothering a child/children.
[I feel like I will be misunderstood unless I put this side note here. No mother is perfect, no person is perfect. Yes, mothers mess up, I mess up as a mother to my son. I am not diminishing mothers anywhere. I am writing about what I have learned, what I have seen to be true, and what I am struggling to change and rectify as I begin mothering my son.]
Books like the ones I mentioned above are important to me. These books, and many conversations with my therapist, are important because I’ve had to mother myself. I have to be mother to myself, and to understand what I need, I need an outside voice (I trust) to guide me. I am in a much better place after reading these books and understanding the pitfalls that are normal for daughters who have not had mothering. I better understand why I react to something, or even how I react to Ender and why I fear doing (fill in the blank) to him.
It is harder to talk about what my mom did or didn’t do to me than it is to talk about my dad. I find it is all part of that cultural taboo about saying anything bad about mothers. The most difficult part is that her role in my life has damaged me more than anything my dad could ever have done to me. I have never had a role model, I have never had that person I could go to who would take me into their arms, and tell me “mommy’s here, I will not let anything bad happen to you.” I distinctly remember having bad nightmares when I was 4-5 and I would quietly walk into my parents room and stand at my mom’s side of the bed, crying, and quietly call for her. I don’t ever remember getting a hug, just a brief prayer, then I was sent back to bed. I figured out pretty fast she wasn’t going to be there for me, and then if I woke up from a nightmare, I would curl up as tight as I could in bed, and cry myself back to sleep.
At 10, 12, 16, I was her confidant, I heard all the dirt on my dad, but I wasn’t allowed or encouraged to tell her my problems. I was laughed at for being too sensitive, or told my problems were insignificant. It was no wonder I would spend hours on the phone with my best friend, pouring my heart out to her, crying and wondering why I didn’t feel loved.
[I know my mom is going to read this. And I’m sorry, mom, for what you’ve done. I’m sorry that your own past messed you up so much that you couldn’t see past it to see how you repeated the same mistakes your mom made with you. I’m sorry you still can’t see it. I can’t and won’t sugar coat the truth. It is even more important now to fully understand and process how I was raised as I am now raising a child of my own. I know you do not understand what you did or how it has affect me.]
I am starting new with Ender. I am learning how my mom messed up so I hopefully won’t make the same mistakes with him. At the very least, I will be informed, I will be watching to make sure I don’t crash and burn…too hard. I know I am going to mess up, heaven help the teenage years. I’m already mostly dreading those.
I can trace this cycle of unloving mothers back several generations. It is a cycle I have seen repeated to those around me. It is a cycle I am hell bent on stopping. If stopping it means destroying the rest of the whatever shaky relationship I have left with my mom, then I’m willing to do that. I want my son to know without a doubt that he is loved. I don’t ever want him to wonder in any way if I don’t love him. I want him to feel wanted, cared for, happy and content when he is in my arms and I’m kissing his fuzzy little head, and feeling his tiny hands on my face.
I deeply know the pain of feeling unwanted, not important. I have never felt sure of my mom loving me. I cannot remember a single moment where I was 100% sure she loved me. I have had to be that mother to myself, and it hasn’t been easy, and more times than not, I have had no clue how to do that. This still messes with me today, especially in new friendships. I worry that I’m too overbearing, that I am being a burden, or there’s some part of me that is unlikable and I should just stop talking because I will make it worse.
Now, I am claiming my wings, I am rising above, trying my best to keep mothering myself. In various ways being Ender’s mother has been helping a lot. It is settling a deep seated fear I have always carried; a fear of not being able to love or care for my child. I am a good mother, and I am capable of loving this child of mine with every fiber in my being. You will have to kill me first before I’d stop loving and showing that to my little boy.
So yes, I am going to fly with my own wings, the wings that have held me up and continue to do so. This bad cycle of bad mothering ends here. I will not continue this cycle, and I will continue to inform myself to I can do my best to eradicate the remnants left in me.