This I Believe
Sometimes I believe I am my mother. This is not always a bad thing; at times, it can even be a very good thing; most of the time though, this belief frightens me to my very core. These days, when I look in the mirror and see my mother, or look at pictures of her and see myself, terror lurks darkly, deep within my heart.
This was not always the case. In fact, I really never used to think about it at all. I do now though, involuntarily and much of the time.
Not that my mother was not charming and extremely likeable. Sometimes. The face you saw though did not reflect the face I feared and loved; the face of rage and rancor; the face of enmity and envy; her face contorted by the need to control every aspect of her world and all who dared to or had to enter that world –the face of a person who feared life itself. That face – that is the one I fear I’ll see, the person I fear I could become.
My mother’s fears were well founded in reality, woven into the fabric of her life by terrifying and tragic circumstances beyond her control, perhaps karmic, perhaps not. It all depends on what you believe. But she was not able or willing to face those fears, and so she never bit into life and swallowed it – neither its joys nor its sorrows. I believe she was just too afraid.
I believe self-knowledge can and has to a great extent, allowed me to shed many of those fears. My mother was highly intelligent, creative, talented, athletic, extroverted and she suffered immeasurably from a lack of self-knowledge.
I believe she was a good person who could not face herself.
In many ways I believe I am my mother’s daughter. My fire and intellectual curiosity, warmth and friendliness, passion and compassion and the desire to help others – I believe all of these facets have been a direct reflection of my mother’s presence in my life.
My mother possessed all of these qualities as well, but she was just too afraid to give them full expression.
Yes, I do believe I could have become my mother. But my willingness to face the scared person behind the glass – both the imperfections and the qualities – has given me a choice. After more than a half century, I believe and pray I can embrace the best of my mother, overcome her many fears, and ultimately I may be set free.
This I believe.