What does it mean…

Written by on November 11, 2010 in The Healing Journey with 0 Comments

…to be Miyasan’s daughter?

For so long I had seen my mother through her wounds, her needs. And in my way, I related myself to her through my own. But now, as I’m engaged in a writing challenge, (NaNoWriMo – a novel in 30 days) I find that I’m seeing her in more and more a different way.

It’s not because as I’m writing I’m appreciating her as an artist more, although I am. It’s that as I’m writing, I’m uncovering – and not altogether happily and certainly not consciously – those things that have been holding me back.

Writing in this way has reopened doors long since closed, and uncovered the trapdoors lying hidden under well worn rugs and heavy furniture. I didn’t mean for this housecleaning to occur, but it’s happening. Creativity is like that. It leaves nothing unturned as it seeks out the images and connections in subconscious places – within metaphors and similes, made up or pieces of your life – doesn’t matter.

The writer never knows she’s talking to herself, doesn’t realize that as she’s crafting some seeming unrelated story to anything real in her life she’s really hanging out pieces of her psyche for everyone to see. It’s not always so pretty.

So I had an emotional meltdown this morning, crying in the shower, sitting on the couch with my depression comfortable against the cushions next to me.

And I realized as I was talking to my youngest child that this emotional upheaval had nothing to do with anything that had occurred within the last 24 hours, although it was so tempting to connect the dots and just stop where they ended before your eyes.

But they don’t stop before your eyes. They continue past the point of vision to where true seeing occurs. And I realize, sitting here with my tea and chocolates that my emotional upheaval had everything to do with what had transpired since my first breath of feeling guilty.

And my reaction against it wouldn’t have been so strong, had it not been for the fact that this feeling is still haunting me after all these years.

I have felt guilty my whole life for having more…being more, at least as perceived by the ones I loved most.

And as a result, I’ve always been trying to make up for it. What “it” was, I’m not sure. But what I am sure is that my life was an attempt of an apology for taking up space, for breathing, for being Daddy’s favorite, though that carried its cost. Out of the price everyone paid, it might be argued I paid the least, though it still was costly enough.

And I still apologized. Probably one of my drives for years of activism was not only for the justice of it for others, but the redemption of it for me.

With no right to really be here, what right did I have then to write, to sing, to create? Borrowed at times, stolen at others, I piecemealed my creativity while doing what others needed or wanted more. And when I left my family of origin, I made sure those who entered my intimate circle would admire and resent that which attracted them to me in the first place, so that I would have to choose.

It’s noble to be of service, it’s wonderful, a good and right thing to do. But if you serve others because you don’t deserve anything yourself, then it’s not.

And as I fought the voice in me that told me I had no right to write in this NaNoWriMo thing, especially something as impractical as a fantasy novel, I realized how hard it was for me to give myself permission. And when I did grant that permission, and felt so good and proud, I did not anticipate the horrible backlash within me that would assault me for my impunity.

Until this morning. I did not escape the backlash, but I was mindful of it. And I listened, and I heard. And as I spoke the words, I felt a lightness descend and a weariness lift.

And I thought of my mother who had wrestled with her own creativity and the frustration of creating only in between the scrubbing of floors of other people’s houses or the feeding of her children or the heaving of her chest as she cried over my father again.

And the jealousy she felt and hated herself for at seeing me having so much more than she ever had – the chance at life she thought she’d given me, that she wanted so much for me and that taunted her as never being able to have herself.

And I told my youngest child, if her Nana had lived, she would have evolved and grown to where I knew she would have a different perspective, and the love she did have would have strengthened, and the insight of time and the lessening of it would have brought balance and peace to her heart and to the words she would speak.

This is not wishful thinking. Miyasan had that capacity and she had already traveled far so that no one who experienced less could judge her. There is no reason to believe she would not have traveled farther or taken back what she had once said or done; no reason to believe she would not have sown gentler seeds or created more beautiful art through her paintbrush and life.

What does it mean to be Miyasan’s daughter?

It no longer means being a survivor.

When I pick up my pen or sit at my laptop, I can sense her hands. I look at my hands, they are dry and aged, wrinkled with fine lines and calloused with knuckles ever so slightly growing larger. They even look like hers, and I am fiercely proud of them.

Miyasan was an artist. Even the apology that was her life did not change that. And it does not change it for me either.

Because I am an artist. I am my mother’s daughter.

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About the Author

About the Author: Demian Yumei, author, singer/songwriter and artist activist, uses spoken, written word and original songs in her human rights activism. "For the Sake of Love” is her collection of songs written on Demian's healing journey, and “Little Yellow Pear Tomatoes” is a children’s book she wrote for her daughter about the interconnectedness of life published by Illumination Arts and endorsed by Jane Goodall. Currently, Demian is working on recording episodes for her podcast and writing on the "Where There's Smoke Series on Covert Abuse". .

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