My mama would be in her mid-eighties if she were alive today. I’ve been practicing my writing skills for an article, so thought to make a post of it, as it concerns my mother. It needs some polishing, which my tutor is going to help me out with in due course.
My mother being very gentle and benevolent was admired by those within her circles for her caring disposition. People warmed and confided in her very easily. If only they had known what she had gone through in her young life. She had even contemplated religious life whilst at boarding school, but that thought was dispensed with after she was constantly ferociously bullied by a nun for her lankiness. It left her deeply scarred thereafter. She was an introvert by nature. For example: she mostly didn’t divulge anything about her unfortunate circumstances to people throughout her life – especially not to her five brothers. to quote Mary McCarthy in ‘Memories of a Catholic girlhood‘ “She had been swept on by a moral need to preserve outward appearances and to live up to other people’s expectations of her’. She had always regretted not getting counselling much earlier on in life and sharing the burden, as she was constantly tormented in mind and spirit. She told me that she had cried for forty years. It saddened me greatly.
It was such a shame that I was incapable of deciphering Mama’s problems, but how could I have grasped her sorrow at the time, as I too had become an emotional wreck after learning that she was alive. I was utterly numb-struck. I was like a dried up sponge that could not produce water. The shock of that discovery was just something else to behold, and all I could do was act out and project the indescribable pain back on to her.
I would not have wished any survivor to have gone through the finding of a parent in the aftermath of being told in childhood by the religious that she was dead. It was one of the most nightmarish experiences that I ever had to go through in life. My mother likened it to ‘the phoenix rising from the ashes’. Alas, some survivors of Industrial ‘Schools’ did have to go through that mental and emotional anguish and never recovered from the discoveries of their mothers after being told similar stories. They simply melted with the pain because of all the years they had missed out on being loved and cared for by their mothers. Being loved by parents is considered a normal aspiration on the part of most children.
I pointed out quite unambiguously to the commission to inquire into child abuse that being told my mother was dead – when in fact she was alive was the most serious and damaging wrong-doing on the part of the religious that was done to me. It surpassed even my entire incarceration in the institution.
It was such a pity that I was not more together at the time of encountering my “dead” mother, as invariably I would have been able to have sat down and talked about how I came to be in Goldenbridge. The chain of recollection – the collective memory of life with my mother had been broken. It is ones parent/s, normally, who not only teach one about their family history, but who also sets one straight on their childhood recollections. Unfortunately, I had to learn in a hard clinical way upon receipt of records via a solicitor.
Finding my mother, despite the dark night of the soul desolation, gradually turned a new leaf in my life. I became less afraid of the world. I was able to permanently venture outside of hostel life. I became less of a wanderer. I now have so much empathy for those survivors who never got that opportunity to find their own mothers and roots, as it grounded me in that respect for the first time in my life. I felt a part of the human race, and not that invisible person, who was part of nobody and perpetually living outside of oneself. The pain and loss of a mother and family has never fully subsided, but I’m far better for knowing who I am, irrespective of that pain. At least I was able to grieve for real human beings belonging to me, as opposed to ones that were in the deep dark recesses of my child’s mind. The nuns were right when they said that I had pined my childhood away in Goldenbridge. It summed me up to a tee.