Warning: triggers, child abuse, child rape, incest
This morning, Thursday, July 16, 2014, I was doing my favorite morning thing: not talking and just sipping coffee and perusing news and posts from friends. I was quietly slipping into daily life and the busy day ahead that included posting one of the pre-conference posts post I like to put up about now every year, before the annual BlogHer conference, because I like to have the information myself, and once I collect it all, I might as well share it, right? A job interview later in the day was going to be the shaping force for a much as usual Wednesday.
Then I stopped scrolling and fixed my gaze on an image of the cover of a book I read-re-read, lent lost,and repurchased through the years. After a few moments, I realized I was holding my breath and that the coffee sloshing around in my cup in danger of spilling. Apparently this news has been out there since mid-June of this year, but I do not follow the genre news as closely as I once did. Marion Zimmer Bradley’s daughter , Moira Greyland allowed a friend to post on her blog emails from her about Marion Zimmer Bradley’s sexual abuse of her and of many other children.
I was reeling, literally. Such evil. Sometimes when I hear about the torture of a small child, I lose focus, and I feel as though I’m sucked into the back of my head and looking askew at everything as though I’m in the back of my skull looking out through my eye sockets and not seeing without awareness of my physical self. I realized long ago that this feeling was a type of dissociation or the beginning of it. I halt it as quickly as I can. I have tremendous self-control. A steel door in my brain slams shut and I stop feeling anything, I do not picture the abuse. Then I don’t cry, or vomit, or go into shock. I think, “That is horrible.”
Yesterday a bit more integration within my self happened as I read Deidre’s blog post and a Guardian article in which Moira Greyland, Marion Zimmer Bradley’s daughter is quoted as saying,
Greyland, a harpist, singer and opera director, said it was now clear to her that “one reason I never said anything is that I regarded her life as being more important than mine: her fame more important, and assuredly the comfort of her fans as more important. Those who knew me, knew the truth about her, but beyond that, it did not matter what she had done to me, as long as her work and her reputation continued.”
This bit of Moira’s sharing pierced me. It shot right through me. “I regarded her life as more important than mine…it did not matter what she had done to me, as long as her work and her reputation continued.” I could have said these words about my mother.
Somehow, in the space of a few minutes I understood more about how I grew up and continued to live my life up until very current times. The people who enabled my mother’s constant revision of what is fact, and what will be ignored and is nonexistent, were more evil than she was. She was sick. She was mentally ill. They were not mentally ill, at least as far as I know, they were just lazy. It was easier to go along with the lies than to confront her and then deal with the web of deceit.
Because of her conditioning of me, I am prone to crying out, “The Emperor has no clothes!”, because I understand deceit, with the exception of the most intimate of relationships in which I have been drawn to powerful, controlling people similar in many respects to her. That most basic of human relationships, the mother–child dyad, is called up throughout our lives to define unconditional love. But where that love might be called conditional, it does not exist at all. There is no such thing as conditional love.
When children of mother abuse, more than abuse at the hands of other adults, mature into humans who then go on to create intimate relationships, these relationships are built with people seem familiar at some level and behave in expected ways. The pigeon holes we build early in life are filled with pigeons later in life as these are the creatures we know fit into those holes.
I suspect there are many adults out there who in the last month have been reminded of a type of abuse that our culture up until quite recently has not wanted to admit exists: abuse at the hands of mothers. I hope this acceptance continues. This acceptance goes right along with increasing cultural acceptance of women as fully human citizens.
When women who are not yet mothers are categorized as either virgins or whores, and the language of dichotomy does not continue on into adulthood, you know there is a conscious suppression and inequity in the cultural roles at play in these descriptions. There is no word for bad mother in our language unless it would be witch or something like that which has a much broader definition and implication. So essentially women who are under male control are good, and are either virgins or mothers. The lack of the ability to even discuss a bad mother shows how tightly controlled the status of women is in our culture.
As we move toward equality of all people, there will be a break down in rigid classification of roles. The acceptance that Moira has been shown in the further revelation of her mother’s perversion shows that culturally change is happening. We believe women, such as Moira, who come forward and speak out, and rationally we also simultaneously accept that women are human and are often incredibly flawed and even warped people, just like men.
There will soon be a huge number of accounts brought to light of abuse by mothers now that the taboo of speaking ill of your mother, even when she was or is a psychopath, breaks down. When gates open we can never be sure of all the things that will come through.
Nancy, I know the box instructs me to comment, but I have no words. In fact, I am hardly breathing. I am so sorry…for you, and for the others. Your voice will join others, and shed a light. Thank you.
It takes words away, that is true. But my silence is broken, and I know I have touched others to speak, and most importantly, to hear what continues to be veiled in talk about abuse and families.
Nancy, your words are powerful. Please continue to speak for those who can’t.
Thanks Elaine, words are powerful, and we are changing the world in subtle but powerful ways with each word typed and each word voiced. Thank you for recognizing this and encouraging me to speak for those who cannot, it is hard at times and I retreat into intellectualism too often. But I tell the stories. That is all we can do to change what the language allows us to speak.
I am not happy that this abuse exists but I am happy that we talk about it now.
Me, I lived it and I’ve seen it. I will always speak up when I know it is or see it happening.
I’m sorry you experienced abuse, but we grow stronger as we speak and support each other!
My heart goes out to all who have been affected by this. It is indeed horrific abuse. Thank you for raising this difficult issue.
My role in life as an old soul is to assist where I can. I can speak when others find themselves unable to do so.
Phoebe Wulliman Graber
Wow, I’ve never thought about the fact that “there is no word for bad mother in our language…” Your words are powerful. Thanks for your truth-telling, Nancy!
Phoebe, I haven’t been in contact with you enough lately. Yes, among all the other stuff I try to follow, I am a linguistic nerd. We can tell a lot about stuff about culture by what we do not allow ourselves to say. Are you going to BlogHer? If not, you will be missed!