I have finally put a name to what has been the hardest part of my grieving process. In a word, it is Insecurity.
A mother is often (and was in my case even more than I knew) the loudest voice that speaks the most truth to us about how valuable we are. There are of course exceptions of mothers who are, sadly, not a source of love, but even if a mother’s love isn’t verbal, even if her children don’t recognize it, chances are she is the one person who will ALWAYS take them back no matter how loudly they slammed the door on the way out.
For me the love was completely obvious, but I didn’t truly understand its depth until I was left with the void. The love stays with you in many ways, but oh how the space is felt. As Hope Edelman, author of Motherless Daughters, says, our mother represents comfort and security no matter what our age – losing her is losing your emotional caretaker. No matter how old you are, this so clearly marks the end of “growing up”. I am now on my own in a sense; though I’m surrounded by amazing maternal figures and wonderful women, I have to pick up on my own where she left off.
It is so scary.
Her lacking voice leaves me with lacking security. I find myself weak in purpose, in knowing my value, and in driving myself to be the most I can be. Partner that with a first year of marriage and it can get pretty confusing to recognize myself in the mix.
Edelman says, “Adulthood, marriage and motherhood are significantly different adult experiences for a woman with a maternal void and memory of a dramatic loss. You have to learn how to become a mother yourself. You have to become that person who says ‘don’t worry, you’re doing fine. You’re doing the best you can.’ …Hearing it from the person who taped up all your scraped knees, and consoled you… and watched you take every step and really knows you, that’s the one you count on. That’s the one you keep looking for.” (Motherless Daughters, pg. xxviii)
I do keep looking for her. I keep waiting for that phone call that tells me I’m okay. I keep catching myself about to send her my latest project at work. I keep forgetting who I am. I keep wondering how to be myself without her holding the mirror.
I don’t know how to do it without her yet. I have, however, put a name to the ever-stirring confusion inside myself. I begin my quest to fight Insecurity in all its forms; to listen to the still-small voice inside of me, reminding me of her words in days gone by.
I have a feeling this will always be the toughest fight.
I’ve shared this song other places before and here it is again. When I listen to it I hear her voice cheering me on from the sidelines.