My newest hero

by Carolyn on September 4, 2009

My mom and my daughter

My mom and my daughter

I’ve got a few posts swimming through my head right now, but every time I sit down to write I come back to this.  I never really meant this place to become a personal journal.  I never wanted it to detail the day to day happenings of my life.  But today this post must be written, so bear with me.  It won’t offer any insightful looks into how to understand your child of divorce, but I hope you will be glad to have read it anyway.

My mom’s birthday is coming up.  Because of this, she’s been on my mind a bit more these days.  Thinking of what to get her and how we might celebrate her day.  And the other day, she gave me a book which I mentioned in my last post.  I think this book has changed me.  Has changed the way I see my mom.  I’m still trying to figure out exactly how one book did that.

My mom loves this site.  She’s been unconditionally supportive of my efforts here.  She’s never disputed a single thing I have written or asked me to shy away from any topic.  When I started this journey, I said to her “If you read something that upsets you, all I ask is that you talk to me about it.  Don’t just get mad and hold it in.”  Her response was simply “This is your journey.  You’re dealing with your feelings and writing from your perspective.  You are allowed that and I won’t interfere.”  Her answer and actions have continued to impresses me.  I’m sure she hasn’t found it easy to read all my posts.

This place has done incredible things for our relationship.  It’s like she’s found a window into my soul and although she may not have even realized she was looking for it, she’s utterly thankful for the view.  My posts have provided the doorway to discussions we should have had years ago, but didn’t. The process has been rather cathartic for us in that way.   She is so proud of me for doing this.  She tells everybody about it.  She tells everybody to read.  Her pride baffles me.  I’m in awe of her pride.

On Monday she gave me the book.  It was given to her and she thought I would enjoy it.  A compilation of short stories all written by Canadian women and I’ll tell you, this collection makes me proud to call myself a woman, Canadian and a writer; even when my writing pales in comparison with theirs.  Hey, we all have to start somewhere.

As she gave me the book, she was thumbing through it; pointing out her favorite stories.  When she ran across one called ‘Hiding’, she looked at me and said “Don’t read that one, okay?  Just skip it”.  So of course, like forbidden fruit I read it as soon as I got home.  It was the most difficult seven pages of prose I’ve ever read.  Written beautifully by Pamela Mala Sinha, it’s a first hand account of her brutal rape and the aftermath of her life.  The story is brave, gut wrenching, horrifying, heart breaking and haunting.  I fought through my tears, fighting to read each sentence, determined to reach the end.  This story was so well written, so beautifully conveyed that when I was done I felt like I had been an invisible companion in her life.  That I had silently born my witness to her horror.  That her story now belonged to me too.

My mom is a rape counselor.  It’s something I’ve always been somewhat proud of but you know, not ‘shout it from the rooftops’ proud.  I know her work is meaningful.  When people ask me what my mother does, I’m amused by the serious nods and the inquisitive faces.  To be truthful, I’ve often teased her about the ease of her job.  Not that her job is easy but that her workplace provides perks that I would love.  She gets her birthday off.  How great is that?  She works a four day work week and when a holiday falls on one of her days off, she gets the next one off too.  Lucky lady.  I’ve even said to my mom “If only we could all be so fortunate as to have your job.”  Obviously, I had no idea.

Because I think most of us have a perception of rape and the clients my mom sits across from each day.  I know I did.  I tend to think about date rape.  A guy going too far, maybe too drunk, not stopping after hearing the word ‘no’.  I’d never really considered the brutality it could involve or escalate to.  I never really pondered the evil someone could be capable of.  And hey, I don’t live in a cave.  I watch Law and Order and CSI.  But media doesn’t come close the reality of this.  It’s too ugly.  Too scary.  Watching someone be tortured physically, emotionally, spiritually and mentally isn’t entertainment.  It’s a violation of the worst possible way.  It is to be broken; objectified then destroyed.  Like a rag doll ripped to shreds or a crystal goblet dropped out of a hundred story window, breaking into a million diamond sized shards.  How does one ever piece that back together?  All the king’s horses and all the king’s men…..

I’ve never thought of my mom as a hero.  I’ve heard people say that, “My mom is my hero.”  And I’ve always thought it sounded strange.  My monkey wouldn’t let me get that close or trust that much to revere her in that way.  Until now.  Because she sits and listens to the darkest of tales.  Things that nobody wants to tell or hear.  And at the end of it all, to not be crying or crouched on the floor or running away or staring in stunned silence, is a feat worth celebrating.  To listen and bear witness keeping your heart and mind in check is a skill that I’m sure can hardly be taught.  To be able to look upon those millions of shards and formulate a plan involving crazy glue and tissues as opposed to simply grabbing a dustpan and broom, takes a strength that comes from within.  She is a hero.  Now finally she’s mine too.

My mom graduated with her social work degree when I was seven.  I remember it well.  One of her classmates, her best friend asked me on that day if I wanted to be a social worker when I grew up too.  My answer?  “No.  I want a real job when I grow up.  I don’t want to just talk to people all day.”  Seriously.  I’m not even joking.

If only I could talk to that little girl now.  Tell her how important her mother was and the difference she would make in women’s lives.  Oh well.  Better late than never.  Now if you’ll excuse me; I’ve got some rooftops to climb.

Love you, mom.


{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Thera September 5, 2009 at 8:46 am

Having talked to your mom several times now about this site you are right on the nose about her pride in what you do.
I will also tell you that I had a father who regarded me as disposable. I also have a son who was born when I was 16 and when he was 4 I married another man.
Through your soul I’ve seen him in another light and we have been having discussions on topics I would have never even thought would have bothered him. He is 15 and now I’m discovering more who he is because of you and your mom. Just through telling your story.

I am so touched just being witness to this revelation and outpouring of emotion.

Thank you so much for sharing


2 Carolyn September 6, 2009 at 10:59 am

Thanks Thera! Reading your comment makes me feel so good because that’s exactly why I wanted to start this blog. To help children of divorce feel better understood and to help divorced parents see the issues that sometimes are difficult to notice. You just made my day!


3 steve September 5, 2009 at 9:03 am

Very well done!!! Again I have to reach for a tissue to dry my tears and blow my nose, thanks!




4 Carolyn September 6, 2009 at 11:00 am

Thanks hon! I didn’t know I made you cry! Your welcome ;)


5 Tammy September 5, 2009 at 10:07 am

Great read Carolyn. You mom is a hero. I could not imagine doing her job. I doubt I would sleep soundly at night.


6 Carolyn September 6, 2009 at 11:00 am

To be honest, I don’t know how soundly she sleeps. I don’t think I’d have the strength to do what she does.


7 Michelle September 5, 2009 at 11:10 am

I too had to reach for the kleenex ! You are an amazing writer! It was my first time ready your blog… I will continue to read them from now on !


8 Carolyn September 6, 2009 at 11:01 am

Thanks and welcome, Michelle! I’m glad you enjoyed it. :)


9 Urchin September 5, 2009 at 12:20 pm

A huge “Thank You” to your mother. There are still people out there terrified of talking. Who go about the day to day, moving through the motions thinking that they’re OK because they’re pushing forward.

To a degree, yes, they are. But they need to talk. Eventually.


10 Carolyn September 6, 2009 at 11:04 am

It’s true. So many don’t get help. My mom says it’s quite complicated. That there’s fine lines around the therapy involving when to encourage clients to talk or not. She did share with me though something she says to clients when they have told her something that they’ve never spoken out loud before. She says “Look at that. The ground is still below you. The couch is still under you. I’m still here. The ceiling is still above us.” Somehow I find that really beautiful.


11 Urchin September 6, 2009 at 1:22 pm

That is really beautiful. It reminds the survivors that they ARE surviving. Perhaps not well at the moment, but they’re still scootching along.


12 Carolyn September 7, 2009 at 2:43 pm

That’s right. She says that sometimes survivors have an impending sense of doom around telling. Like if they tell the whole world will come crashing down. She says this to reassure them that it hasn’t. That they were able to let it out and yet the floor, ceiling, her and everything else is just as it was.


13 aussiemum September 5, 2009 at 8:47 pm

Your mum is definately a Hero, I don’t know how she does it!

Beautiful post Carolyn!
.-= aussiemum´s last blog ..A Quicky… =-.


14 Carolyn September 6, 2009 at 11:04 am

Ne neither, but thank god she and others like her do. Thanks for stopping by!


15 Kelly September 5, 2009 at 10:17 pm

Reading this made me cry, but in a good way. What your mom does is amazing. I have no doubt she is as proud of you as you are of her. And that is a great photo!
.-= Kelly´s last blog ..OPAH! =-.


16 Carolyn September 6, 2009 at 11:05 am

Thanks Kelly! I love that picture of them. Two of my favorite women!


17 Theta Mom September 5, 2009 at 10:43 pm

Beautifully written. I loved when you said, “It’s like she’s found a window into my soul and although she may not have even realized she was looking for it, she’s utterly thankful for the view. ” Your relationship sounds strong and your mother is one amazing woman, doing some amazing things. Changing the lives of women-what can be more rewarding than that?
BTW, because of your awesomeness, I’ve given you an award on my blog. :)
.-= Theta Mom´s last blog ..Blogging It Forward =-.


18 Carolyn September 6, 2009 at 11:06 am

Hey thanks for the blog love, Heather! And no, I can’t imagine anything being more rewarding than what she does.


19 Jeannie September 6, 2009 at 9:30 am

What a beautiful tribute to your Mom! I know she’s probably crying, because that’s what we Moms do!!! Great post!
.-= Jeannie´s last blog ..My Sunday Blessings =-.


20 Carolyn September 6, 2009 at 11:08 am

Well, I was crying writing it at points, so yes. I’m sure she’ll cry.


21 Frank September 6, 2009 at 12:01 pm

This is wonderful. All of it. I’m proud of you for standing up and shining a spotlight on your mom, who clearly deserves the praise (tell her I said “hi”).

I’ve known too many women who have experienced abuse of this kind. And not just the date rape variety. It’s horrifying. These things, their stories, haunt me daily. I could not imagine a life filled with such tales on an almost daily basis. Your mother has strength I can’t even imagine.

Bravo to you both. I’m so glad your writing is bringing you closer together.


22 Carolyn September 7, 2009 at 2:46 pm

Thanks Frank! It’s great to see you here! I hope you are feeling well. My mom has been worried about you as well. She was glad to see that you had commented on a facebook thing of mine.

I honestly don’t know how she sleeps at night. After reading that story, I had a hard time sleeping myself.

Take it easy, Frank. Seriously. Easy.


23 Betsy September 6, 2009 at 7:10 pm

Beautiful post!
One of the scary things about becoming a parent, I think, is realizing just how much your parents love you!
.-= Betsy´s last blog ..On Finding Out =-.


24 Carolyn September 7, 2009 at 2:47 pm

It’s true and it’s an amazing thing, isn’t it? The other thing that’s amazed me about becoming a parent is watching my parents become grandparents. It’s awe inspiring to see them love your children so much.!

Thanks for stopping by Betsy. I absolutely adore your blog!


25 Yaya September 6, 2009 at 7:48 pm

Well I’ll tell you what…I was raped, and my counselor IS my hero. So yes, your mom is probably a hero to SO MANY. You are blessed.


26 Carolyn September 7, 2009 at 2:48 pm

I know I am. And I know she has been a hero to lots and lots of women before she was a hero to me. Thanks for stopping by Yaya.


27 Mimi September 6, 2009 at 10:38 pm

Your mother must be an amazing woman. Kudos to her… and to you for seeing it!
.-= Mimi´s last blog ..Lunacy!? =-.


28 Carolyn September 7, 2009 at 2:48 pm

Thanks Mimi. :)


29 La Bell Mere September 7, 2009 at 4:27 am

What a lovely post Carolyn. Your mum sounds amazing.

I know my dad reads my blog because he’s a follower on Facebook. But he’s never ever mentioned it to me. Nor my mum. I’ve often wondered what they think.

I’ve got something for you on my blog!

.-= La Bell Mere´s last blog ..Noise Pollution =-.


30 Carolyn September 7, 2009 at 2:51 pm

Would you ever ask them what they thought of your blog? Or is it easier if everyone just acts like they don’t know. ;)

With my friends, I usually wait for them to bring it up. I don’t want to sound like I’m shamelessly self promoting. But it’s always so nice to have them say “hey, I’ve been reading your stuff…….”

Thanks for the awesome award LBM! I’m glad to offer you a view from the other side. ;)


31 One Sassy Girl September 7, 2009 at 12:07 pm

Aw, I love your mom now, too. I admire her kindness and compassion and her willingness to let you have this, to celebrate it with you and not make it about her. That’s something we, as women, often struggle to keep in perspective.
Your mom sounds fab, but keep in mind, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree ;)
.-= One Sassy Girl´s last blog ..The Proof Is In The Pecker =-.


32 Carolyn September 7, 2009 at 2:53 pm

Thanks Sassy Girl. I’m amazed too at how she’s been able to simply read and never say to me “but what about…..”. It’s awesome.

Love this last post. People who click through via commentluv will definitely get a good laugh.


33 hayley September 8, 2009 at 9:18 pm

Now that we’ve learned about your amazing mom, it’s no wonder that you’ve turned out to be the empathetic and caring person who writes this blog. You’re both wonderful women helping others.
.-= hayley´s last blog ..The Case Against Facebook =-.


34 Carolyn September 9, 2009 at 11:28 pm

Such a nice compliment, Hayley. Thanks.


35 Holly Ann October 1, 2009 at 10:53 pm

I don’t have a good relationship with my mom… i hope that one day i may be able to see her differently but i am not sure that will ever happen and it saddens me…

once again, i love what you do here… so thought provoking…


36 Carolyn October 5, 2009 at 10:02 pm

Thanks again, Holly. I feel pretty well the exact same way about my father.


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