Of Mothers, Daughters and The Struggle to Live…

Sense of Existence by samuelanwar ( Catching up..)
Sense of Existence, a photo by samuelanwar ( Catching up..) on Flickr.
Expedition... by samuelanwar ( Catching up..)
Expedition…, a photo by samuelanwar ( Catching up..) on Flickr.

Since learning of the death of Whitney’s Houston death, Saturday, February 11th, 2012, I held little patience with those who expressed sincere shock and amazement that she no longer lived with us in the world of life on planet earth.

Even as our elder daughter posted comments on Facebook offering condolences I cautioned her to not become so caught up in what I termed, “…one more example of the media bastardizing a very real and human loss in the effort to make headlines and money…”

On Monday I zoomed in my criticism on the fact that while people may miss Whitney, no one’s loss could compare with that of her and Bobby Brown‘s daughter,  Bobbi Kristina.

During the drive to school on the morning of Valentine’s Day, our youngest daughter said, You didn’t like Whitney Houston.”

Startled, I said, “I don’t know her well enough to like or dislike her.”

But you seem upset every time someone speaks or you read about people’s reactions to her death.”

She was right.

And then I realized the roots of my actions.

Whitney Houston was in pain,” I softly spoke. It was just me and our youngest. “She was most likely depressed.”

You’ve been depressed too, Mommy.” Compassion filled our daughter’s astute and truthful words. “You’ve also been suicidal.”

While not the worst childhood anyone could experience, the occurrences I underwent sent me spinning in a way reflective of my personality as much as the abuse that was perpetrated.

My mother, very angry and most like depressed herself, believed in corporal punishment.

But even that went beyond the limits of what her mother felt was necessary to teach a child the importance of honoring authority and recognizing the difference and significance between right and wrong and the importance of choosing and behaving accordingly.

When appropriate and with as much respect and careful judgment as I could offer, I have told my daughters about my childhood, the emotionally and physically abusive nature exhibited by my mother, the bouts of depression I have and continue to experience lest I take my medication and attend to my health.

I have also told them of my struggle with suicide.

Not until I participated in a study group, the focus of which was to prepare us for taking our oral examinations towards becoming licensed as a Marriage and Family Therapist, did I realize that much like alcohol and substance abuse, there also exists an addiction to suicide.

I am addicted to suicide.

It has been my weakness, my plan D, should all else fail.

Crazy as it sounds, it has also given me comfort in a world where the lack of control abounds in the sea of individuals who comprise our society–a culture that values control as much as wealth.

Like bulimia and anorexia, the latter, which I also suffered as a teenager, suicide allows for the illusion of control.

If people get too mean and difficult to handle, the threat of pain and oppression, or the actual experience of it and exploitation overflows, you have the choice to step out of the game of life–to take yourself from the oppressor.

What is an abuser without someone to abuse and hurt?

When asked what they hoped to gain by ending their life, a client once said, “…that my mother will walk in and lose her mind on seeing me dead…”

It was at this time that I realized two major truths of suicide, that both suicide and homicide occupy two sides of the same coin, and the act of suicide possesses immense rage.

People who seek to and successfully commit suicide are extremely angry.

We are full of rage and lack the words to state our case, to articulate the pain of the contradictions roiling within and tearing us apart.

The roots of the conundrums that perplex our hearts and souls most often lie within the relationships we hold with those we love most–parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins–those who comprise our family of origin.

How can you do or say this if you truly love me?” forms the question that lies still upon our tongue, an interrogation, we are never able to launch at those who oppress us. And so we suffer, or worse, we exit this life, knowing little, if not less than when we entered.

The sad aspect of suicide is that it is not an escape. It simply embroils us further into the cycles of maya and samsara.

A Native American saying concerning right and moral live states, “You can do anything [and not undergo negative consequences] as long as your actions do not harm anyone from seven generations past or seven generations into the future.”

The pain of suicide never dies leaving a mark that stains those living, dead and yet to come.

The web of suicide reaches wide and deep.

Jungian psychiatrist and groundbreaking Family Therapist, Carl Whitaker, stated, “…that when someone commits suicide in a family, another family member wanted them dead.”

Our actions speak louder than any words we can and will ever speak. And yet our words carry a substantive weight all their own.

Together words and actions committed out of anger and disguised as love can wreak damage greater than the explosion of seven atomic bombs.

The essence of what Einstein proposes in his Theory of Quantum Mechanics holds that the observer provides an additional and important variable in any reaction where two or more components come together and form a new whole.

The role of witness is never a passive action.

Michelle Alexandre’s February 16th, 2012 blogpost @ Michelle Alexandre ~~Just Another WordPress Site~~, that I read today, A Piece of Us: To Whitney and All the Millions of Invisible Black Girls and Women Who Struggle With Addiction, could easily have been entitled, To All of Us Who Fight to Live and Think We Can Only Succeed Alone.

Everything we see is a shadow cast by that which we do not see. ~~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Whitney Houston was most likely unconsciously suicidal,” I said to our youngest daughter as we I turned onto a street leading to her school.

Addiction to an action or substance that we know will harm or kill us speaks to something beyond a desire to end the pain.

It is a most futile of contradictions, one that causes the very thing we seek to avoid.

The knowing look that had glossed our youngest daughter’s brown eyes during the statement that opened our discussion returned.

Promise me you won’t take your life,” our daughter said to me. “And please let  me know when you get depressed.”

I have too much to live for. And yes, I will let you know when I feel down.”

Those words of the latter sentence were hard to speak.
Reaching out for help is something those of us who struggle with addictions find difficult to do.

And yet the ability to acknowledge our need for assistance, that despite the mentality and image of “…the rugged loner conquering all upon his/her own power… ” that so pervades the thoughts and values of our nation, is the very medicine that saves us.

But this cure comes from a perception that only the addicted and ill person can create within ourselves–a willingness to bend according to our vulnerabilities and frailties as humans.

After nearly 3 decades of psychotherapy, a strict adherence to taking my medication based upon the realization that I can only do so much, and learning to open my arms to those willing and eager to love me has brought me to a point where I could make such a promise.

That our 12-year-old daughter cared so much for me shifted the earth underneath my feet.

At age 12 and taking a handful of my mother’s prescription medication and some rat poison, I made my first attempt to extinguish my life.

Noticing my sweaty palms and unsteady gait my mother asked, “What was wrong with me?”

When I spoke my truth, that, “I took some of your pills so I could die,” my mother simply responded, “Well if you want to die, then do so.”

The prayers and meditations I have offered up, the work of searching for my true self in my own psychotherapy, all my efforts in clawing to stay alive, my struggle to live, served as preparation for the opportunity of hearing the words of our youngest daughter–a voice of healing.

Like others, I wish peace upon the soul of Whitney Houston.

For her daughter, Bobbi Kristina, and all other daughters who have lost mothers to the demons of mental illness and the inability to ask for help, I pray God’s assistance and divine blessings.

May we all one day, learn to walk and rest in the splendor of our humanness, and need for others.

 

 

 

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2 Responses to “Of Mothers, Daughters and The Struggle to Live…”

  1. Toni siravo Says:
    March 8th, 2015 at 1:03 pm

    Woman….. Mothers….. Daughters.. I am all of these and have a very strong faith… I love the truth In “it takes a village” that is so deep, I don’t even think anyone gets the importance. If we care for the woman we support her and guide her,we don’t entertain her husband because she is beautiful, talented and we are jealous. Her daughter is loved and nurachared while she is gone so she never misses a beat, because she is loved… If she falls into hell we all grab a hold and pull until she is out safely…notice how I dident say we try? Because we just don’t have an option… The mother daughter bond is so strong it can give us everything we need to be whole and secure to face any and all things… I was lucky my mother lied to me or spoke positive over me which ever you think true. She said “you are beautiful smart and you can become anything you want. I believed her. Thanks to her and my aunties in spite of the insecure woman in this world who lacked the beauty of strong secure loving woman I was raised by, I was able to leave an abusive man and save my three daughters from hell. Everyday is another day to overcome but my eyes are open to the truth I have always understood” if you destroy the mother you destroy the child. Respect starts with you! Mental illness, insecurity, addiction, if they are all met with the same kind of strength, love, and compassion given to me by my mother and her 6 sisters I was blessed to call my aunties, Whitney and her baby girl would be here making music together like god intended their gifts to be shared. Think about how it would feel to see your mom so in love but so in pain she couldent get passed it, addiction is a choice we choose when we feel we have nothing else…

  2. Profile photo of Anjuelle Floyd Anjuelle Floyd Says:
    March 8th, 2015 at 2:49 pm

    Thanks so much for such a touching comment.
    Peace and blessings to you and yours.
    And may God shine upon you.

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