It is so simple, yet it won’t be easy. The answer encompasses all areas of my life, and is completely within my control at all times. I need to do the right thing. Almost without exception, I know what that is. In almost every single moment, I know the best choice. Most people do. I know the habits and thoughts that serve me well and the ones that don’t. I have read “The Four Agreements”, a practical guide to inner peace written by Don Miguel Ruiz, and in addition to recommitting to my routine of yoga and meditation and eating whole foods, I have made the conscious decision to follow these agreements: Be Impeccable With Your Word, Don’t Take Anything Personally, Don’t Make Assumptions, and the fourth agreement, Always Do Your Best.
Ruiz’s agreements and his promise of personal transformation resonate with me deeply, into that pain of unworthiness that is a lie. I have sought the truth of my story, every detail that I can find; I have been in therapy, grieved and expressed anger, appeared back in my mother’s life and then pushed her away. I contacted her lover, faced my father and his part in the alienation, given birth three times and learned the unwavering love of a mother. But now my task is different, clear and certain. I do the simple, difficult thing day by day, moment by moment. This will make me love myself. I just do the right thing. And I believe without a doubt I will transform my pain into self-love.
I haven’t seen my mother since the day in the pink dresses that she didn’t come to get us. I don’t see her parents, my Grandmother and Grandfather Coburn, or my twin aunts, Lena and Lori. It is as if they have all been erased and no one talks about them.
I don’t question my father when he tells us we won’t see our mother anymore. His jaw is clenched, his eyes in a hurry. Is it pain, anger? I am numb and silent. He says it is too hard for us, going back and forth, torn between two families. Amy has been having bad headaches and the doctor says it must be stress.
The following spring, Amy is almost through with Kindergarten. The teacher says she bullies some of the other kids. It will be my turn to start Kindergarten next September. Our father says we will have a new mother by then.
Her name is Kate and we’ve met her a couple times. She looks nothing like our first mother. She has short, dark brown hair, in contrast to the long reddish hair of our real mother. Amy looks like she could Kate’s real daughter, sort of. Their hair is the same. I look like our mother.
My sister and I handled our mother’s abandonment in different ways, a difference that would reflect the tone our anguish would take for years to come. While my sister acted out, I withdrew further into my own world. Amy’s anger was no secret, and she quickly earned the label ‘bad’ as I became increasingly ‘good’. The only trouble I caused anyone for quite some time, was when I had accidents, urinating in my clothes, often wetting my bed at night. I also longed to be held by anyone, to feel small and adored, to be babied. I wanted to crawl inside baby playpens and cribs, to regress.
There was a lull in Amy’s naughty behavior with the promise of a new mother. We had repressed the loss of our mother, Lisa, enough to welcome the possibility of a new one with some enthusiasm. Amy, especially, was keen on the idea while I viewed it as a potential adult to baby me.
I remember my father and Kate’s wedding. Though both had been raised Catholic, they were not allowed to be married in a Catholic church because of my father’s divorce. The wedding took place in the Martha -Mary chapel, a small, pretty white non-denominational church in Sudbury, Massachusetts. The church has a simple wooden structure, with white pines in the background. It stands as part of the setting with the famous Redstone School House, of Mary’s Little Lamb. The reception was held on the same grounds, at the Longfellow Wayside Inn.
You could say it was a picture perfect wedding, and I remember feeling pretty myself, wearing a short, frilly pink dress. Memere had done my blond banana curls just right and told me that I looked adorable.
I made it a game to go from man to man, mostly uncles, some of them strangers from my new mother’s family, twirling on my patent leather shoes, asking them to dance with me. Such a simple request, a fun, easy way to get them to pay attention to me, to pick me up and hold me. In later years I would uncover pictures of the wedding, me looking just how I remembered, so tiny, my real mother a memory, buried deep beneath the perfect curls, somewhere in my little girl psyche, dormant but influencing me, always.