[Mago Circle members discussed and answered the question, “What do you think of this (the topic article below)? If you are a feminist, it is something that you would promote? If so, why? If not, why not?” The discussion took place on May 15, 2017 and shortly thereafter in The Mago Circle.]
Everyone talks about a mother’s unconditional love. But what if it doesn’t exist? Daughters are socially expected to be close with their mothers. But are you one of the women who aren’t?
Mother’s Day isn’t just for celebrating moms. It’s a day some of us dread because we are reminded we grew up (or are still) unloved, not good enough. (Read the whole article here.)
Barbara Gravelle I loved my Mom but I still dislike Mother’s Day!
Michelle Wood-Capolino I like Mother’s Day, but don’t give a crap about my mother.
Kamilla Vaski It depends on where you are in your spiritual journey. I would not pass judgement on anyone who carried justifiable anger towards her mother, or try to tell her that everything happens for a reason, if she’s not ready to hear such a thing.
Helen Hye-Sook Hwang I am a feminist who reconciled with my Mom, which is one of the greatest things for me and my mother as well as the whole family. My feminism urged me to do so in my thirties.
Trey Capnerhurst I loath my mother. She’s a functioning sociopath, and all that “spiritual journey” crap only f-ed me up more. She tried to pressure me to give her my eggs so she could have a baby with her husband. She’s evil. And I am worth never forgiving someone *who doesn’t believe they ever did anything wrong.*
I am not a lesser spiritual being if I don’t forgive or stop hating her. It took me this long to realize that she would never love or cherish me, and that isn’t my fault, and I can stop trying. It’s not about being “ready”. Its about what happened to me in my appalling childhood and early adulthood being *worth getting angry over*. I’m f-ing worth it. And it took me a long time to get there.
Meghan Roberson I can relate. This is totally where I am with this.
Elizabeth Gillespie I was never neglected or abused but neither was I mothered. I healed much of my relationship with my mother in my thirties. I was studying massage, and I found that when I gave her massages (I first had to overcome a strong aversion to touching her), we were able to talk openly and without judgment. Much was healed. But a decade later I found that our relationship was finally smooth due to my effort, not hers. She had not matured at all. When I was weak or weary, all our progress was lost. In other words, the effort had to come entirely from me. I’ve reconciled to never being mothered by her, as much as one can, I suppose, and she’s just been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s so my role as the mother in our relationship is likely to continue. I taught my own daughter the true origin of Mother’s Day, and we both ignore the “holiday.” It must be a very painful day for so many people, and my heart goes out to them.
Helen Hye-Sook Hwang Did anyone see your mother’s pain as well? I saw that. She was suffering more than me, which made me stop whining. Understanding the patriarchal family dynamic helped me understand her. I hated patriarchy in proportion to the pain of women in my family.
Trista Hendren I think it takes time to see your mother as a full human being – and even more to understand and acknowledge her pain. I’d like to see more focus on this. Mother hatred is much more common – very acceptable – and much easier. Everyone has a right to tell her own story – this is one I don’t personally care to read though – especially not on Mother’s Day.
Kamilla Vaski I had an appalling childhood as well.
Elizabeth Gillespie I didn’t see my mother’s pain, I’m ashamed to say. I understand she had and has rock-bottom self esteem and limited self awareness. However my family was not patriarchal. I have an amazing father and brothers, gentle, accepting, not controlling or condescending in any way. That’s why, I think, I was so shocked to see how the rest of the world functioned. I thought patriarchy was a media caricature, and it was awhile before I stopped reeling and said, no I will not participate in this (watch that movie, read that book, be quiet, back down…). As a teenager I used to walk out in the middle of movies and vomit, and think How did I not know about this?
Helen Hye-Sook Hwang Thanks for your conversations. I don’t know how to go about this discussion in public. It is too personal, culturally and ethnically shaped, generationally differed, and depending on one’s attitude toward the self and others etc. If we narrow down the scope to “feminists”, we may have some common experiences? How does your feminism affect your relationship with your mother? That is closer to my original question.
Amina Rodriguez From a feminist perspective it makes much sense to try to understand your mothers experience and perspective. My childhood was completely dysfunctional but I can see now that it is counter-productive to blame our mothers for the damage done by the dysfunctions in their own lives. It is a cyclical thing that continues endlessly until we learn to forgive all things. For us to become empowered as women collectively we need to see our mothers humanity but before we can do that we need to see and acknowledge our own. This is not to say that you should not defend yourself in cases of abuse or any discomfort. I moved to another city to make some much needed space between myself and my mother in my case for many reasons but I do believe that forgiveness is necessary for our own personal evolution.
Trey Capnerhurst It’s also feminist to learn to love yourself and put your own needs first, and not necessarily defer to your family’s, or be the peacemaker or nurturer. It’s very important to learn to take up your own space, which women are rarely encouraged to do.
Charlotte Juniper Archer I agree Trey.
Helen Hye-Sook Hwang I would say that Goddess feminism embraces all beyond the border. Ultimately, loving oneself is no different from loving others. That is what Magoism is guiding us to.
Anique Duc I feel loving oneself is completely different to loving another. You cannot possibly know EVERYTHING about another, so you can only love what you know. We know ALL about ourselves, the good and the ugly, and sometimes it is much harder to love ourselves. Goddess Feminism informs me to not judge others precisely because we just don’t know them completely. Yes? And therefore to advocate “loving everybody” is perplexing to me?
Charlotte Juniper Archer I feel we can see someone’s pain, and understand and empathise but it’s important to have boundaries if that person refuses to take responsibility for how they behave towards us especially if it’s so damaging. Sometimes that boundary includes physical space, even if it’s our mother.
Helen Hye-Sook Hwang I am thinking loud. What do you think of the consciousness of WE? Does that make sense? The consciousness of WE is derived from the Great Goddess, Creatrix. We can love all; that is necessary in order to overcome patriarchal thinking/division. I am not saying that there is no boundary between individuals. Loving myself opens up room for loving you and all others for me. The word, love, can mean differently. Back to mother-daughter relationship: if a mother or a daughter accepts herself, she can embrace/love her mother or daughter. It is experiential, there is no right or wrong.
Lila Moore I didn’t have time to read it and you comments properly, but I feel that it’s okay not to celebrate Mother’s Day in a conventional way. As women we don’t share the same ideas or feelings about mothers or motherhood.
Jacqueline Rolandelli I went through an enormous healing process with my mother and now I love her so much my heart hurts. I respect everyone’s experience and views, especially their pain but there is a few things I would say. Breathe this might feel like spiritual bullshit bit I stand by it. Womb by womb women have transferred enormous pain, shame, rape and lack of nourishment. And if you don’t heal it you will continue to pass it on and never have peace. You can do this process by yourself without them physically partaking. But if you don’t forgive you carry it. It has nothing to do with them but your own happiness. People do disgusting things who also have not been loved. Thousands of years of patriarchy has left us all with the enormous wounds we have. Women’s bodies have become ridden with fibroids and cancer.. anger babies.. because they were never nourishes from their mama’s. But those women didn’t get the nourishment either. It’s illness being passed down. So why not go on the journey of liberation and meet the pain and grief and transform the hatred. That shit is so heavy.. who wants to carry that around? We need to mother ourselves now and rescue all the parts of us that need love.
Joanna Kujawa Sad
Sandy Archer Martin This is a subject I have deep personal feelings about. My mother was mean to me in covert ways and I always thought she was a witch (in that negative, patriarchal view) though I longed and longed all my life for her to show her love for me. She died a month ago, and was never able to resolve her own fear and bitterness, but I finally came to terms with the fact she was never going to change. I had a deep insight, though, that I still needed her love and that I could love her for having me, even though she was young and didn’t plan her pregnancy. I was able to sincerely tell her how much I loved her and I meant it, even though we were never able to repair our relationship. Tragically, my own daughter, who I loved and wanted with all my heart, has rejected me and is more hateful to me than I ever dreamed anyone could be. I do believe it’s a sad legacy of patriarchy for these women, whether they’re the daughter or the mother. I’ve been on both sides of the equation, and it’s the most devastatingly painful thing you could ever imagine. Women are pitted against each other and most haven’t learned yet how to love each other and resolve differences in a good way, despite the labels and expectations that are put on us by the dominant culture. I am heartbroken.
Cynthia McGowan I am so sorry you’re heartbroken. I wish I could heal your pain. I am still struggling with my own. I wish you all the best in the future with your daughter.
Sandy Archer Martin Thanks for your kindness, Cynthia. I’ve tried so hard all my life to resolve this issue and it just won’t quit. I guess after 20 years of mistreatment from my daughter, I need to keep walking further and further away. It’s so hard.
Trista Hendren Big hugs.
Sandy Archer Martin Trista Hendren Thank you. I need all the hugs I can get!
Sandy Archer Martin I do wonder if there are other mothers out there who have had the experience I have. I’m a therapist and have read studies that say people who experienced parental rejection/abuse as children tend to be more vulnerable to rejection by their own children. The pattern seems to repeat itself in the most painful ways, and I tried so hard to end the cycle.
Elizabeth Gillespie Sandy, I can identify. I thought I had avoided perpetuating the patterns of competition and disrespect and mistrust. It seemed I had a wonderful relationship with my daughter. But when I divorced, it took very little for my ex to bribe her and then re-frame her perception of me and our lives together. She left to visit him for Thanksgiving and never returned. A year and a half later my grief is just starting to abate. Because I had nursed her through various illnesses and was homeschooling her, her leaving created an enormous void, and I have yet to figure out how to fill it. I have a newfound freedom, it’s true, but as yet no idea how to use it. I have to rethink all of my ideas about parenting, family, myself, societal patterns…but first there was such intense grief to go through. The idea that people who have experienced parental rejection tend to recreate the experience with their own children is very interesting to me. From one mother who loves her daughter with all her heart to another, I send you hugs.
Helen Hye-Sook Hwang Thank you for your parts of sharing above. Now the topic is fully opened up for the depth and scope that causes the deepest emotion in us as women. Some mentioned how patriarchy pits us against one another as women, of course. It has helped me to see the cultural patterns that affect female familial relations. To be continued.
Amina Rodriguez Beautiful.
Louisa Calio When one looks more deeply they understand the abuser has been abused and it passes through generations, lifetimes…eons of suffering.
Sandy Archer Martin So very true. And I’ll dare to say that whatever anger/control they’re acting out was modeled by a patriarchal figure, maybe going back several generations and more.
Dau Epamynondas Thank you for sharing so beautiful and lovely poems. Have a blessed day.
Sara Wright I think this perspective is limited. It doesn’t take into account how important it is to complete the work around dealing with a mother who was unable/unwilling(?) to honor her daughter. When we are willing to go through that dark door we begin to see, that troubling/difficult as it might be we will eventually need to forgive our mothers. This is not to say that we don’t hold them accountable, or that we don’t feel rage, or grief, because of course we do, we must. But I think we need to do something constructive with those feelings. In my own life, I chose to become a woman’s advocate, working with other women who suffered from abuse. I also taught Women’s Studies at University, and became a Jungian therapist. Each of these acts helped to neutralize some of the pain, and eventually helped me to forgive my mother. I hope this helps…
Helen Hye-Sook Hwang Thanks Sara for chiming in. This is a central topic not only for mothers/daughters but for the wellbeing of the whole terrestrial community, that is how I look at.
Andrea Nicki Helen Hye-Sook Hwang I just read the article you posted now. Thanks for sharing that. I can understand the worry that such an article might just fuel all the mother hatred and blaming and devaluing of motherwork that currently exists, but I appreciated reading about the author’s personal experience and perspective. I think for many people who have had a generally loving mother it can be hard to imagine what it can be like having a parent who is moderately to severely abusive. In the case of serious abuse or neglect, there may be really no mother-daughter relationship to reconcile. If I tell someone I do not speak to my mother, they usually say, “I’m sure you will reconcile and talk again.” What they don’t understand is that we never really spoke, never had any meaningful conversations; she was just not interested in my life. I have some female acquaintances who keep trying to get their mothers to have a conversation with them–to get them to take an interest in their lives–to their great detriment, so the author’s article would be a helpful one for them to read. (One friend told me that her mother couldn’t even remember what her degree was in and what her job field was.) Patriarchy and other social problems can explain why some mothers are unable to be loving. I could always see my mother’s deep pain but I could also always see her deep coldness and finally admitted, with the help of a counsellor, that it was self-destructive to keep trying to connect. I forgive her in the sense that I understand now the reasons for her inability to mother and feel some compassion for her. But I care about my personal safety and well-being and so stay far away. Finally, I’m not sure if Mother’s Day itself actually helps improve the situation for mothers; it may not as people who disrespect their loving and hard-working mothers might just think, “I’m great to my mother; I take her out for Mother’s Day.” Or “Mothers are treated well in society. We have Mother’s Day.”