“My mother sacrificed her freedom at the altar of security. She paid the price in shame.”
My mother wrote this line about my grandmother. I look up and back to the prior generations and see reflections of my rebellion. I see the same mistakes. The same patterns. The same struggle for freedom.
Does that mean my fate is written?
My mother had me at 40. Her mother had her at 40. What is the legacy of shame that I carry? I have not yet birthed children of my own – I’m 31. I fly around the world about once per year and question, what would need to change…? When I come home, I stand in line for the grocery store and look at houses to buy in a cozy suburb north of NYC.
What illusion of freedom am I holding on to? Is it shame that drives me towards family? Is it shame that drives me away?
I don’t talk about the moments when people ask me if I’m married or if I want children. I find it difficult to open up about my home life. I tell a different story for every audience reflective of my current mood. Each story is layered in a thick coating of shame, questioning or hope.
At 12 years old, I chose to live life without regrets. I felt I only had one so best to live it fully. I made a scrap book with thick pieces of duck tape glued to the front, spelling out the letters, “Why Not?” The scrap book first contained ticket stubs and postcards, then quickly began to fill with freeze frames of relationships, chronicled by pictures, letters and stories written out by hand. It was a way to collect and contain. It was a way to frame. To shine a light on a little budding life.
I know my friends, the ones who have cared enough, look at me the way I looked at my mother when she was married. They ask about the patterns. I can see it in their eyes. Why? Why give yourself up? Why sacrifice your freedom? Why channel your incredible light in four walls? “For the children,” we reply. I feel my ancestors in my answers.
I wake up after reading my mother’s quote. The sun is not yet up. Sleep feels far away. The words, “find balance,” echo in my brain. I breathe into the dark. For now I, with a nod towards acceptance, work towards balance.
For more of my mother’s beautiful writing on the topic of Exposing the Legacy of Shame, visit sMotherShame.com.