Authentic Sisterhood...where does it all begin? Each week I will share my personal experiences around topics that will be presented at the Beyond This Moment 2019 Conference. This year's theme: Authentic Sisterhood! I chose to start with Mothers and Daughters because I truly believe that it all starts there!
Last night I shared my experience via live video on my belief that, as women, we first frame our relationships with other women by the relationship we have with our mother or the woman who raised us. When I think about my own relationship with my mother and how my view of sisterhood began, I think about the journey that my mother and I have been on for my lifetime. Some of it is beautiful while other parts are very painful. Throughout my journey there was growth, and where we are now is a new space where we have recreated a relationship with each other with forgiveness being an important part of that process. This was important to me because out of my Tribe of Five, I only have one daughter and I have always been determined to get it right with her and for her. In order to do that, I had to begin a journey toward healing with my own mother from the past hurts and misunderstandings which left us with many years wasted. I also had to learn my mother's story which I feel is critical in our development as women. If we don't learn their story, how can we expect to really and truly understand ours. Knowing that many women don't have this opportunity because of various circumstances, if going on that journey can happen, it should. For some women they've had to journey this life without their mother; many are in dysfunctional relationships with their mother while others have been hurt in relationships with women that have raised them; those entrusted to mother them when their mothers could not be present. What I do know is that if we have the opportunity to learn the history of our family, especially our mother, it will begin to help us understand the pathology surrounding our journey and how we interact with one another as women. For me, it was listening to my mother's story and understanding the joys, pains and the struggles that she endured throughout her life and how that impacted her and how she mothered me. I was also able to reflect on how she was in relationship with other women as I grew up and watched those bonds created. Although loving, there were times I can recall not witnessing shared vulnerability around various life situations. Just the notion to be strong and to get through whatever was going on because there was work to do. Strength as a woman, even in relationship with each other, is what was understood.
When I began to see my mother as a layered woman not just as my 'mother', I was able to understand her better, understand her struggle and so many things that life brings to only us, as women. In doing that, I was also able to address my own pain, my fears, my inadequacies, and the isolation that I've experienced in my relationship with women. In many cases, presenting just the strong side of who I am, never really sharing the vulnerability that we all have within us, especially in moments when you need a sista girl to pull you out of the downward spiral of isolation, to depression, loneliness, etc. Once I was able to unpack all of it and address my wounds, also confronting areas that I needed to hold myself accountable, I was able to truly live authentically in spaces, not only in relationship with women but in the relationship with my husband and children. It's also important to understand that sometimes its painful to come to the realization that the way in which we desire to be loved or be in relationship with our mothers, that our desire may not be what is actually fulfilled, even during the rebuilding. Because healing looks different for each person, the capacity in which we require love or how that relationship should look, may need our closure. For me, it required mourning the loss of a relationship that I wanted, allowing the "inner" little girl that was, to mourn what could not be, but when ready, embracing a new relationship, as an adult daughter and the beauty in that. It took a great deal of work, but because I was able to do that, I was able to truly get to enjoying the newness of a mother/daughter relationship that we both may have missed out on.
Healing is continuous. It's not solely about confronting those things that have brought us pain but it's also about embracing the true beauty of who we are and being on the journey of healing for a lifetime.
When there has been broken trust, absence, neglect, abuse, dysfunction in relationships with our mothers, we all have a responsibility to identify, uncover and move toward 'continuous' healing from all those areas because we carry them in relationship with each other often looking at other women in our circles (or those not in our circles) as the cause for all of the issues (not that this may be true sometimes but if you are the common denominator in every issue-in every space you are in with women, there's an area of unresolved internal pain). I encourage every woman reading this piece to learn the history of the woman that raised you; to understand the history, not just from your own perspective but for what you learn about them. If you are able, learn about your mother, learn her story, even if you are not able to be in relationship with her. Reflect on your experiences as a young child, through your adulthood whether your mother was present or not. Allow her that is within you, to heal. It is only in that spirit, that we will truly be able to understand who we are and why we maneuver in relationships the way that we do and how that can be to the best of those relationships or contribute to the toxicity that some women face when they are in relationship with one another. I can't express enough how much we need each other. My hope in building authentic sisterhood is that we all come to this realization and do the work required to not only live emotionally healthy, but to live a life that is one of love, honor and respect for each other and for those young girls entrusted to us biologically or by heart connections. Embrace the journey and no matter the history, know that you can recreate relationships with women that are life-giving and that you can receive it in a way that is authentic!
To learn more on this topic and to experience a piece of my journey view my video here