All of us have some kind of interpersonal issues regarding people we call “family.” The kind of abuse we will put up with from a family member would probably never be done to us by anyone else. Why is that? Why do we feel the need to please people who either gave birth to us or had some part in our growing up? If you have a healthy relationship with a parent or family member, one that enriches both of your lives, then that’s a very special blessing indeed. This is not an article about that kind of reciprocal relationship. Not all of us have such a precious connection and as I get older and I’m faced with my own five little girls who are watching me constantly, it makes me think.
My mom and I were always at each other’s throats in some way, shape or form. Her and my father should never have been married or chose to have children because neither one of them really wanted to be spouses or parents. It’s a hard pill to swallow to think back to an entire childhood full of sexual, mental and physical abuse but it’s real and true and painting another picture there only serves to destroy the work I’ve done about confronting my past. Now that isn’t to say that a realistic perspective on things is a wholly negative situation. Realism is a balance of positive and negative with the extremes put aside in favor of the pursuit of knowledge. Here’s what I know.
My mom was a person of intense emotional extremes, belief in the divine, an accomplished belly-dancer and a taste for different cultural experiences that sometimes dwarfed my own adventurous spirit. My earliest good memories of my mother involve her enjoyment and passion for middle-eastern style belly-dancing. I would sit, transfixed for hours and watch my mom perform all sorts of exciting moves. Our old console record player was loaded with Arabic, Indian and ancient-folk music that my mom would move to so expertly, it was like watching water dance before my eyes. As I grew older, my own passion for dancing came in the form of Siesta Key Beach, Florida Drum Circles where I emulated many of the moves she taught me.
My mom was also very much a reader. She would often talk to me about all sorts of different spiritual paths that she was reading about and how different history books painted those tales. I first heard about Hinduism and Her Gods – the Pantheon from which I most identify with – from my mother. It’s possible at some point during my early years, I heard about the one Goddess who changed me at the fundamental level – The Goddess Kali Ma.
I’ve written a few things in this blog about Kali but there is one thing I have never stated before until now. Kali is my mother. I have tried DESPERATELY to supplant other women in the role that my birth mother told me she “never wanted” and failed to repeat the same mistakes in misery. After I was done having those expectations of anyone else except myself, I became even closer to Kali and serve and recognize Her as my only Mother.
When my mother had her ischemic stroke about four years ago, she never recovered to be the person I knew as my birth mother. Her personality, understandably, had changed irrevocably and all of my chances to ask questions died that very day. Questions that could have very well saved me from a lot of heartaches had I only listened to the answers and accepted them as truth when I was a teenager. She recently drove off to Texas with her very loving boyfriend. A chapter was closing in my life…or was it? It was then that Kali helped me make a valuable and positive connection.
When my mom could not be the mom I needed, wanted or could even live near – she gave me Kali. It was many years ago, just before my dad turned quite sick and died when my mother came home with a bronze statue of Lord Shiva. She plopped it on my computer desk and with a “clink” on my desk I looked up from writing. I stared at the statue for some time and looked at my mom. She told me, “this is Shiva,” and walked away. It was later on during my studies of Hinduism that I discovered that the Goddess Kali danced upon Her husband’s chest, whereever Shiva laid down, His Shakti would be along the path. It was the dance of death and rebirth as I later learned for myself.
My birth mother danced as rhythmically as the eternal Mother of Time, Kala. She often told me to be independent of other people, to lay my emotions aside and to not put so much blind trust in others. My mom was every bit a Pagan in her words but unfortunately, I believe her experience came from her own failings. Memories she never told me about but in their place, the lore of Pagan cultures. This is the greatest gift you can ever give a child – to prepare them for what the world really is, not what they think it is in front of their eyes. My birth mother made many mistakes and they are long beyond fixing but she did one thing right. The Goddess whose destructive extremes have been Her victory and failing and whose lessons strip away the impurities of ego and expose the raw, pink flesh beneath where truth exists. It’s as painful as it gets but when Shiva laid down beside my computer screen where I was surrounded in a world of ignorant bliss, it was then Kali would find Shiva and dance would now involve me.When she couldn’t be the mother I needed, she gave me Kali.