When I was younger, I remember looking up at the clouds and proclaiming, “God must live in the biggest cloud! That one right there!” My mother told me, “No. He would live in the smallest cloud so that others could live in the biggest cloud.” That was the first time I learned to make myself small so that others could be comfortable, but not the first time I would learn that no matter what I did or said, even if I was correct, my mother would tell me that I was wrong. I would spend the rest of my youth searching for something within the walls of my family home that did not exist: love and understanding. Instead, I would lay on the ground and “listen to the Earth breathe”. That’s what I called it. I would lay on the ground and feel the sun dapple through the trees to rest on my skin. As I inhaled, I felt as if the Earth inhaled with me, and as I exhaled, I felt peace. I spent my evenings chasing faeries as the sun set and catching fireflies just to watch them fly away again. These would be the only good memories from my childhood before the violence started.
After the violence, and even during it, I knew there had to be something more than the life I was living. I took my first women’s Goddess retreat and felt transformed. I felt inspired that I, too, could heal this mother wound within me. That if I just tried hard enough and spoke calmly, clearly, and compassionately, then everything would be fine. We would come to an understanding. But after almost twenty years of trying to build a bridge while someone incessantly lights it on fire, you begin to conclude that not all bridges are meant to be built and that sometimes you have to stand alone on the shore, disconnected from the life you once had.
In being alone, I found myself. In being with the Earth, I found myself. In learning that the Goddess could be my mother, I found myself. Knowing that I could be the start of a line of ancestral women empowered me to embrace the Goddess and all her gifts and heal every oozing, open wound that beckoned me back to sweat and labor over the building of a bridge. Now I know I don’t need bridges made of lies, violence, and heartbreak. Instead, I can step off the shore into the waters and initiate myself into the path of healing and mothering.
Photos by Yekaterina Gyadu