The Death Mother
This post isn't pretty or cute. It's not what you're used to hearing from a pregnant woman, or a mother.
Last night, I went to a wonderful Womb Awakening gathering. There were 24 women and one baby in attendance. I'd been noticing my own impatience with the loud sounds the baby had been making the whole night, as well as his crawling around the room. Within me, a voice was sternly saying to the mother, "Why is your baby even here? Control your child." This voice disturbed me, and I felt great embarrassment at its surfacing. I thought, "With all the work I do, I know that this is exactly the attitude that creates shadow. It's precisely what disconnects human beings from their authentic selves, and makes them feel shame for who they are. I of all people should know better. My dad behaved this way towards me, and I've done nearly two decades of healing around that relationship."
In one of our meditations near the end of the evening, we connected to our wombs, and listened. After many minutes of numbness, immense fear began to surface, and take me over. It was primal fear laced with absolute rage, all directed at the life developing in my womb. Rage at this being coming to destroy the delicate life I had so carefully and painstakingly constructed for myself through all these years. I had it all in place, and now someone was coming to kill that life as I knew it. Everything was going to change, and it would be excruciating. There is the pain of birth itself, but that's nothing, I was imagining, compared to the pain of my whole life becoming for this creature who has no way of seeing or appreciating what I'm doing for it. It's here to take from me. It's very existence depends on taking from me, and creating a pure chaos out of that which has been exquisitely curated and controlled.
The aspect of myself that was thinking all of these things was screaming, "I DON'T WANT THIS BABY. THIS CHAOS. THIS NOISE. I WANT QUIET. I WANT TO DO WHAT I WANT TO DO, WHEN I WANT. YOU WILL TAKE IT ALL. EVERYTHING I'VE SPILLED BLOOD TO BUILD."
Here I am, growing my own death within me.
There is an archetype that we rarely talk about- the Death Mother. Jungian analyst Marion Woodman first gave her a name. She is the shadow mother, who wishes death upon her children, and who takes life as freely as she gives it. I was seeing it within me for the first time. It was terrifying. She exists within every mother, but in most, she is buried beyond retrieval, and results in passive-aggression, subtle manipulation, and other sideways forms of violence.
Then, a new fear took over. This one was paired with profound shame. I began sobbing, as I fully recognized the agonizing fear of being the "bad parent" - the one who controls and raises the child in shame, who wants them seen and not heard, just as my father treated us. I feel an agonizing knowing in my bones that being a parent was going to be a challenge for me, and that even after so many years of intensive personal work, there would be times that I would see my father in me, and weep. "I DON'T WANT TO BE A FASCIST ASSHOLE," this fear screamed.
I was so grateful that the group was large enough for my agony to be inconspicuous enough. My dear friend Veronica was right next to me offering loving support. Looking into her wide open eyes was acutely painful, but I tried, with great effort, to receive her acceptance of these impulses, which seemed to me punishable by death. I didn't want to exist, and wish the death of my child. I didn't want to become a parent, knowing that I would hurt the child.
I went to sleep in the swirl of these dark and complex emotions. Because of my work, I know that the more I am consciously aware of these feelings, the less they will actually control me. I know that my father was completely unconscious to the impulses that controlled him. I would be different, which does not mean perfect.
One thing is for sure: Choosing to recognize and embrace the presence of the Death Mother within me will make me the safest mother I can possibly become.
And this morning upon waking, I heard the song in my head, "For everything (turn, turn, turn), there is a season (turn, turn, turn)".