The ancestral influence on one’s life journey is significant. It moves beyond the physical and genetic to the more complicated psychosomatic recesses of one’s being. I have always known that my mother was a central influence. That’s innate, right? But as I near the age of her death, I am acutely aware of how her life has shaped mine.
There’s an unspoken expectation that a woman will “lay down her life” for her husband, family, friends, whoever is within her sphere of influence. Any woman who chooses to go against the grain, by putting her career first or God forbid, leaving her child with her partner or someone else who may do a better job, is vilified. How could she?
When I look back at my mother’s life, I see how she gave her life in sacrifice of all others. She paid the ultimate price: death at a young age. Cancer is described as a “lifestyle disease”. By inference, created by the poor choices we make. We “deserve” them. Stress is the main culprit as our modern lives pile on layers and layers of new things to stress about.
Don’t you find that once one issue has been resolved, another crops up, in its place, like it was always there? Will I find a husband? Get married. Will we have children? Have one. Will we have another? Have another. Have two boys. Don’t you want a girl? Will they be happy/smart/grounded/whatever? And so our stresses continue. Sometimes we don’t even recognise that they are stresses; we just learn to live with it. Poor Flo, she didn’t stand a chance.
As the eldest, I remember moments when she would lock herself in the bedroom, crying. Disconcerting to a child; you feel the pain and sorrow but since the adult never fully discloses, you never truly understand. Now I do. Cause I have those moments of sadness too. Sometimes you’re just frustrated, feel like a failure, a bad wife or mother. Sometimes you’re worried about work or finances, sometimes there’s physical pain. Sometimes you’re crying for past pain when your mother died. There’s no consolation for that. And we always need to do this within the confines of our private bedrooms because we must always be “strong”.
Now there’s a contradiction, if ever! We’re the fairer, more fragile sex. Can’t do this, can’t do that. Then we need to be strong, carry our families, just get on with it. Put your hand up if you’re as confused as I am. I’m not surprised my mother had her struggles. Unfortunately, she did not have appropriate coping strategies that could help her through.
If you’ve read The Anatomy of the Spirit by Carolyn Myss, you will understand the direct impact of our thoughts and attitudes on our physical bodies. The colon is referred to as the seat of emotion. What does your gut tell you? We’ve all heard that and often make decisions based on our feelings which are housed in our colon. Have butterflies in your stomach? It’s real and not imagined.
My mother died of colon cancer. The ravenous disease hit her in the cradle of her emotions. Gone within 11 months. She succumbed to emotional turmoil. A broken heart. How tragic. She would have celebrated her 76th birthday on 6 July; gone almost 30 years and the void will never be filled.
I love my husband, children, family, friends, colleagues and those around me. But not at my expense. I have to prioritise my health and sanity and be at peace. And I have to be brutal about it. My exercise, the sauna, eating and drinking well, reading and taking time out for me. That allows me to press the pause button. And invariably benefits those around me.
Woman, prioritise yourself! Martyrdom is not a measure of your self-worth.