Last week I spent 6 days and 5 nights with women who had lost their mother’s at an early age. It was called a Motherless Daughthers retreat. I signed up last September. Honestly, it was a whim decision. I was sad and on the internet one afternoon, (always a dangerous combination), and there was money in my bank account. The retreat seemed like it was going to be in a beautiful location in Santa Cruz. You know, it’s always nice to leave Los Angeles from time to time. Plus, the program was led by these two amazing writers whom I’ve always wanted to meet. So I said fuck it and just forked over some dough and then kinda forgotten about it as time passed. Recently, I’ve been in less pain about my mother. (She was murdered when I was one). I mean, there’s always going to be an underlining sadness in me, but I’ve embraced it. This blog has helped. Being in therapy has helped. So I wasn’t really jonesing for a getaway. But alas, the time came, and I had to show up to this thing.
The retreat was held at this hippie resort where they didn’t believe in sugar, but not too hippy where they didn’t believe in bathing suits. They had other workshops there that included “ChiRunning and Yoga” and “Chant Camp.” And then there was my workshop…basically, THE DEAD MOM WORKSHOP. The thoughts came crashing down… Wait, why did I pay money for this? Am I always going to be grieving over my mother’s death? Is this workshop going to help me or just make me more sad? I’m actually doing okay in my life, so I don’t think I need this. I want to leave. This is dumb. But then I stared at a giant pine tree, took in a deep breath, and promised myself that I would try and be open. I wanted to learn something new this week or at least get my money’s worth.
And I did. I ate more than I needed to. Well, that part was easy. But the emotional, putting yourself out there part? That was harder than going back for seconds for the cashew quinoa.
The women ranged from 22 to 69 years old and flew from all over the country and one from Canada to attend this thing. It was weird and awkward at first. We all looked different, acted different, sounded different, but we all had this one thing in common. And some women, like me, didn’t have any memories of their mother since they were also young when their mother’s died. So, I felt less…freakish.
We laughed. We cried. We shared pictures of our dead moms. We all had different stories. Some mothers were nice, some not so nice. Some of us had good dads, bad dads, dead dads. Some mothers had a long and torturous disease ridden deaths, others caused by suicide or other tragic sudden deaths.
But there we were. Sitting in a circle. 31 of us. We were all living with a deep loss that no one wanted to sign up for. A type of pain that colors every area of our life. And sometimes that color floods your life, and you’re stuck in it…for days, months, years and can’t get out. Yet there we were. Out. We ALL willingly signed up for this workshop. Took a week off of work and our families, paid a chunk of money, and flew out to just look into each other’s eyes and be seen for who we really are… courageous, resilient women who have stories to tell.
At the end, I’m glad I went. Anything to put me out of my comfort zone is a good thing. I mean, if I can survive losing a mother as a baby, I pretty much think I can survive most anything…including 6 days and 5 nights with women just like me.