Listed below is a bit of Chattahoochee Child:
PROLOGUE – Rhythms
There is a rhythm to life, moving us at a pace we control by the decisions we make. When I was lost, and alone, I embraced the Chattahoochee River while listening to the melody of rhythms created by the symphony of dancing waters. As a child, I was fearful of the rushing waters of the Chattahoochee. Once, while standing on the banks of the murky waters, my mother shoved me, laughing deviously, reminding me of a witch.
“Mom,” I shouted. “You pushed me. I could’ve fallen into the waters. You know I can’t swim. I could drown.”
Her laughter reminded me of Boris Karloff. Evil. Cruel. Conniving.
“Well, if you drowned, I’d have one less child to worry about. Not that I worry about you, ever. You’re so independent. You seem to love being alone. But I know. You’re a stupid girl. Stupid girls cause trouble. You’re the thorn in my side.”
I crossed my arms and walked away while listening to mother’s hateful laughter.
Water has always held my passion. On the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, I feel embraced in the hands of God when I slowly allow my body to enter the sanctity of water in Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina. While the water soothes me, I dare to find the courage to allow my body to float in the water so I can travel with the current to faraway places.
It feels a bit strange to breathe oxygen into my lungs after my mother’s lungs no longer needed the breath of life. A part of my being was swimming in the waters, drowning, anxious to touch the bottom depths of the riverbed, to find the grief missing from her death. My mother failed to share her life with me. Now with her death, I realized we could never make amends. Although I made many attempts to bury our emancipation, she refused to move forward. Over 20 years ago, I cried from the loss and rejection of my mother. I did not feel a wall of grief pounding down on me after her death. Instead, I felt an incredible need to confront my sister and embrace the shores of the Chattahoochee River in Columbus, Georgia.
Now that she is gone, I’ve discovered I loved my mother, not because she was a good mother. I loved her for giving me life. Never did I approve of her mind control strategies, or for the emotional guilt she used to punish me by being so cruel. She was quick to remind me that I ‘wasn’t a good girl…I behaved badly…I asked too many questions, defying her authority.’
When she was angry at me, she called me ‘Little Miss Goody Two Shoes.’
’ She twisted her words and actions, making me believe I was worthless of love from anyone. I loved her because I wanted to love her. She was my birth mother. Without her bearing the pain of childbirth, I would not have life, and I am thankful for the precious gift of life she bestowed to me. As a child, I dreamed of her returning a mother’s love; instead of sharing it, she tortured me with the supremacy of her dependence. Once, she stated to me that actions meant more than words. Without a doubt, the actions of my mother spoke volumes! The more I grew up, the more she pushed to control me and never let me go. I retaliated in the manner safest for my sanity. I broke away from her web of destruction. As a grown woman, I lived with ‘survivor’s guilt,’ the guilt of surviving and escaping the misfortunes that were due to me just by being born.
“Life’s never a bed of roses,” Mom said to me as a child. “You and your silly big girl dreams ain’t nothing but a joke. You ain’t never gonna find no one to love you…NEVER!”
Before her death, I chose not to reopen the cycle of bitterness delivered by the hands and poisonous tongue of my mother. Rehashing my childhood would do nothing to help our situation. She was a melancholic, unkind woman who lived life in the dark shadows of her past. I wanted to move forward with her, to make peace with her, regardless. My fondest wish was for Mom to learn to love me. Most of all, I wanted her to learn to love herself.
The true test of life is how we educate ourselves to forgive our parents for the trials and tribulations of life’s disappointments. As children, we are born into the life we live. As adults, it is our decision how we choose to mold ourselves into the person we desire. We can take a step forward, to build our life into productive, respectable individuals, or we can reflect on prejudices of the past, living our lives in a shell as a mirrored imitation of our parents. I chose to break the mold, refusing to look back with regret.