"The truth is that it is not the sins of the fathers that descend unto the third generation, but the sorrows of the mothers."
Why do women accept sorrow? No... really. Not every woman, of course, but in general, women accept it in a way that men do not.
Is it part of our essence? That along with the depths of compassion, intuition, and nurturing, we share that space with great pain, sorrow, and sacrifice?
Or is it social conditioning? Is it all part of the big patriarchal inheritance of oppression and repression?
Is it a combination?
What I do know is that many women accept it. I have spoken to several women recently. I have listened to their story and to their recounting the stories of their mothers, sisters, their women friends.
"She was the strongest woman I know, and yet she puts up with it."
"I remember she used to shine with her passion for X, and she gave up on the dream."
"She just figured it was better for the family."
"I'm not happy, but what can you do?"
"I've thought about making a change but that first step just seems impossible."
"Ah well, that's life, it doesn't work out as we hoped."
"Nothing's perfect, you just have to get on with it."
These are actual statements made to me. Besides my own storm, I am also feeling dismayed and angry for other women.
What book did we read, what models did we have, what lies did we believe?
Who convinced us that accepting crumbs when we hungered for the whole loaf was okay? That wanting more was indecent, unladylike, selfish, ungrateful?
Because I'm angry at the fact that it's not weak, timid, docile, or spineless women that I'm speaking to. It's strong women. Opinionated, vocal, confident. With dreams, goals, intentions. Spiritual women, educated women. Readers of Germaine Greer, owners of businesses, creatives.
painting: Debra Wolfe
But wait. What's actually at the root of my dismay is that they are also all mothers. They are the models for the men and women of the next generation.
They are providing the relationships, the lifestyles, and the personal journeys, that will be the first point of truth for each child.
I cannot stand the phrase a mother's sacrifice. I do not believe that what I do for my child is sacrificial. It stems from Love not from martyrdom!
We focus on teaching our daughters how to give, how to nurture. How to.... towards others.
And I keep saying they. But I am one of these women. I have fought and fought to not be one of these women. Yet all it takes is one weakness exposed. We become ill with the sickness of feminine acceptance. And we are sorrowful, or apathetic, but always we are less.
And the excuses we make to ourselves? Oh, there are so many, as many as there are women.
Even in the violence of my storm, I'm still allowing some exposure. I still think about compassion towards others. Compassion towards myself, to choose what is right for me, despite it causing pain to others, is not supported by our societies.
Where do we find that support within ourselves? Oh heck, it's there in plain sight.
The question is, what does it take to allow ourselves to use it?
For me, it has taken becoming a mother. I refuse to pass on Self-neglect in any size, shape, or form.