Mother Courage

I’ve been through it all, baby, I’m mother courage.
Elizabeth Taylor

This quote reminds me of my mom.

We are not close, I haven’t set eyes on her in 9 years nor will I. We’re not good for each other.
She still needs a mom of her own and me, well, I don’t want to be that for her anymore.
To me, she’s a reminder of fear, instability and untreated mental illness.

To her, I’m a monument to her perceived failure as a mother.

I say her perceived failure because I don’t think she failed at it, I think her overwhelming guilt sunk her to the depths of anger and finally bitterness.

To say I haven’t seen her is kind of a fallacy, each time I speak or laugh or look at my own body, I see her.
She is in me, the good parts and the bad.

There are times when optimism and longing for a relationship makes me hope toward finding her, but I don’t think I could, even if I wanted to because I know the city she’s in and that’s it. She probably doesn’t have a phone let alone a computer.

As hard as I “think” I had it in my childhood, she grew up in a warzone where her life was constantly under threat; abuse, substance problems, loaded weapons all figured in her narrative. Her own mom was worried about survival and had no time to protect her own burgeoning brood.

As a young adult, she gave up her first born and was ostracised from her family, had two more kids and some time to think about her own trauma. As a counsellor now, I can see how PTSD was probably a factor and her own mental illness.

Thinking about starting my own family within the year makes me think of her more. My role models will be my aunt, my grandmother, my mother-in-law for certain. I hope some of the memories of our fun times together, and there were lots, will somewhere sink into the nurturing of my own children.

Universe, just give me a little of mother courage.



“…you have to use your failures as stepping-stones to success. You have to maintain a fine balance between hope and despair. In the end it’s all a question of balance.”
― Rohinton Mistry, A Fine Balance

I am wading, shin deep, in a hardening concrete called depression and the past couple of days, it has been dangling me over its gaping maw.

The harder I fight against it, the more momentum I lose and thus, no posts come – just tears.

No one succumbs to losing control of their life in small fragments or suddenly either I suppose.

Secretly chanting mantras in my head is helpful:

I go to the Buddha for refuge

Control is an illusion and clinging to desires is the cause of suffering, says the Buddha, things that give me peace.

If all I have is this moment, if I trust my beliefs that the consistent and dependable entity of life is change, then I chant…

This too shall pass.

It is difficult to wait for money, to wait for x-rays, to wait for help, to mark the days that melt into each other like a Dali painting.

But it is not the most difficult thing.

It isn’t that difficult in the timeline of my life, even in the past month, forget about the last 33 years.

Knowing this, bowing to the small shrine, with incense burning, to my small Buddha on the shelf gives me comfort, like any spiritual ritual.

So knowing that my mind is convincing my heart and my body to let my head be pulled
under the water and into hopelessness,
I will be compassionate to myself
and read the words of a great man:

Most important is knowing how to ride the waves of impermanence, smiling as one who knows he has never been born and will never die. -Thich Nhat Hanh


“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked. “Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat. “We’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.” “How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice. “You must be,” said the Cat. “or you wouldn’t have come here.” –Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

I laid in bed this early morning (it’s 4 am in my neck of the woods) thinking about the summer I turned nine.

There’s no real reason for it except I drank too much cola at supper and couldn’t sleep. Yes, sometimes I do things a six year old would do….Perhaps it’s just plain ol insomnia.

It was a pretty big year.

My little brother and I spent alot of time with my grandparents in a small Newfoundland town, doing what kids do: playing on the beach, spotlight in the forest, swimming, baseball games, it was pretty idyllic. And then it wasn’t too.

It would have been 1987 and our parents were divorcing and it was the first time I could remember visiting my mother in a psychiatric hospital.

She was moving half speed and seemed unable to keep her eyes open.

A while later she would show me the scar on her neck where she tried to hang herself and was unsuccessful. Our relationship was always turbulent, to say the least. I loved her and she suffered alot, it seemed through the eyes of her child.

Then there’s me, I was not left alone either.

My entire life, I cannot remember a time when I didn’t feel a persistent undercurrent of depression. Not just ‘blue’ a ‘funk’ or ‘the blahs’ but a persistent, to quote Melvin in As Good As It Gets, ‘what if this is as good as it gets?’

I tried so hard to run, to try a non-prescription, holistic method, then the alcohol and illegal drug method, the bury it method, the eat my feelings method, the meditation, exercise, vegetarian method, talk therapy, and the final, worst taboo for me = anti-depressants.

Some people think doctors give these meds out as though they kept them in a bubblegum machine in their offices. That’s ok. I’m not here to rail against others’ preconceptions.

For me, it was the last confirmation, I was indeed, ‘crazy’ like my mom, her mom, all the siblings, my brother, the entire clan.

I was brainwashed into believing it was a personal weakness, a flaw of character if you will. But medication…medication saved my life.

Before then, I thought the people I met saw me the way I saw myself, socially awkward, shy, weird, ugly, unlikeable, too quiet, maybe too loud, unworthy of friendship or sometimes, even respect.

This past couple of years has been the best of my life. I accepted medication, to take it daily, no matter how excellent or horrible I feel and it was the best decision I have ever made.

If there’s someone you know, maybe it’s you that’s scared that you’ll be thrown into the cuckoo’s nest or checking into the funny farm, I strongly recommend, when you’re ready, when you’re strong enough, ask for help, see a doctor, be your own hero.