Tuesday, March 20, 2012

more about my mother and myself

When I was 18 and first started going out with my now husband, I wrote him a song that contained the following lyrics:

"I was at the bottom of a river,
trapped, bereft of joy,
sinking through the dirt and mud,
just the dark fiend's toy:
then a strange and mighty current
came - I could not fight -
by your Sun I was drawn into the light.

And on the surface now flow sparkling waters
covered with the Sun's bright icing
the Universe is a drop of pure gold
and life to me seems quite enticing."

You see, I was a dark, cynical, depressed teen. I hated love and life. My new boyfriend was sane, stable, and generally happy. He showed me it was OK to open up to nice things in life. To smile and love and trust. I felt a change and it prompted me to write the song.

My mother found this. She was concerned.

She wasn't concerned about the obvious references to feelings of depression, despair and hopelessness that I'd been having for who knows how long.

No, she was concerned that I'd made myself vulnerable to my boyfriend by calling him my savior, and that he'll now start abusing or controlling me. I lied and said it was dedicated to God. I'd also just found religion, and the song could be interpreted in that way, too, as can many love poems and songs. So she left me alone, although she wasn't convinced.

Only now do I realize how sick this is. It's OK to be depressed but it's not OK to be helped out of it? Really? It's not OK to thank the person who helped you out of it? Because you made that mistake with your narcissistic husband, and think everyone is like him? Or because you'd like to keep me controlled and depressed, so you're threatened by someone who actually makes me feel better?

The song ends on a note of despair, though:

"I am but a shadow
and I'll melt in your light
maybe it is best to
leave me to my night."

This motif haunts me. The idea of being a dark shadow with no substance, which will either melt in the light of love or, like the figure from Gnostic myth that I keep naming myself after, Pronoia, the daughter of death, devour all the love and light and still remain a hollow abyss.


  1. From a writer's point of view, I'll say that it's a brilliant bit of writing there, PA. Just a fantastic set of verses.

    And, yes, so many solidly good love poems and songs can be interpreted as love towards a lover or towards God. (The Song of Songs does that, too, so it's tradition...)

    Isn't it astounding what our own writing shows us? At 18, I also wrote deeply depressed poems, but mine fixated on finding a perfect lover, someone who would give me unconditional love and make me feel good, physically, emotionally.

    Your mother's concern is so misplaced, though. I'm sorry, PA, for that sad memory.

    One thing, though ... I read the last part like someone was left to the night, an abandoned person, someone who is hurt and fading ... *not* as someone who is causing the darkness all around her. In your poem, it doesn't read that Pronoia created the darkness or that she is devouring everything around her...

    You didn't cause yourself to be abused. You didn't cause the darkness around you. You didn't make people treat you that way, Pronoia.

    Remember what you wrote in your explanation of your name, sweetie. It's Providence, too ... You've found yourself a way out of the darkness, and let those who would devour the love and light to stay in the shadows. You aren't a prisoner there anymore.


  2. Wow, Kiki, what an insight! I still couldn't have read it that way, after a year of knowing rationally "it isn't my fault". Thank you for that! You made me all warm and mushy inside :)


  3. I am impressed that you caught that your mother's words were a sad commentary on her own life. She didn't want to protect you from depression since she was probably depressed herself. But like a crab she wanted to pull you down and keep you where she was. I love your picture of yourself the Phoenix rising up and OUT of the ashes. You are recognizing where you are going. You want to be out of the shadows because you know the difference. I agree with Kiki. You are not a prisoner. Love is so freeing.

  4. Wow. Maybe your mom could only understand dangers to you if they came from outside the family?

    Or maybe it's that she would defend the family system but not you individually, so that it wasn't a problem for you as an individual to be depressed so long as you were securely contained inside the family, but you being lured out of the family by a boyfriend would be a problem for the family?

    The shadow thing reminds me of C.S. Lewis' *The Great Divorce* -- the image of people in sin, which he views in part as lack of self-understanding, as shadows who are not substantial enough to bend the grass or break the surface of the water when they visit the countryside of Heaven on a bus trip, but who can become substantial, and incidentally turn their worst qualities into their best, by realizing their whole selves in what he calls salvation.

    For what it's worth, I think C.S. Lewis served his time in dysfunctional relationships with older women.

    - GKA


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