10 April 1957
As I think again of my mother, with Mrs. Gorzyinski’s death – some understandings of her nature are slowly coming to me.
Kurt and I have agreed – Kurt suggested it – my mother had many fine qualities – but she did not know the meaning of love, for whatever the reason. Actually, she could have been a more effective person, accomplish more, and had a happier family, if she had known the meaning of love.
For instance, she took all direction of our lives upon herself. This extended into every phase of our personal lives. With myself – and this I know best – she wanted to handle and control all my money, decide without consulting anyone but herself, how it should be used. She wanted full control over my friends, my actions, my way of life, my love life. My mother’s ideas on marriage or non-marriage. She would have preferred me to stay with her as Ceil Gorzyinski did.
My mother did not recognize me as a separate entity. She did not distinguish between Helen O’Konski and her daughter. She lived as though they were one. Danny Marolt does that with Francine and Geraldine. Geraldine is not permitted to express anger toward her mother’s domination into every phase of her spiritual, physical, or mental life.
This is a vicious, unhealthy kind of living, as I well know. It is an attempt to make the child the mother, and the mother the child, with no allowance for the individual as a separate God created life. It acts as though two lives, or three lives, are only one life, with people like my mother or Danny ruthlessly and without any resemblance of mercy crushing out any semblance of individuality.
When my mother thought during the closing years of her life she was a failure – she was a failure only because she did not, or could not, crush us completely as individuals. Insofar as her ambitions were concerned, and since she all her life wrangled, exploited, and without pity firmly wanted to impose her will, she was a failure because she did not succeed. What she did not know was she could never succeed in the way she wanted us to accept what she decided was best for us. You can take two blossoms growing on a bush or vine; you can twist them together, pound them together, you can destroy one of them, but nothing you can do will make of them a single blossom. Even when the blossom is destroyed you always know you have failed, no matter how hard you try to convince yourself your goal has been reached – they were created to blossom. Nothing can refute the creation of both. Trying to take two created objects, no matter how similar, no matter how you fuse them together, never can you deny the fact of a separate identity which was original. Therefore, in such an attempt, failures for doomed.
By exerting all her efforts toward destroying any singular identity, my mother neglected to establish responsibility – cause-and-effect – she was absolutely unacquainted with any form of logic. She was headstrong and believed only that by the sheer force of her will she could go against all creation. She assumed responsibility for my actions, only she did not think of them as my actions. To her it seemed it was she who acted, she who controlled, because she could not recognize me as a separate created entity.
When she took my first paycheck, she took away from me my right to learn responsibility for myself. She only knew it was part and parcel, an extenuation of her larger self. I had no rights as an individual being. She finally met her Waterloo when I refused to let her dictate my friends to me. When I finally cut the umbilical cord and said I would not go back to college when the conditions are controlled by her unquestioning control of my life in full acceptance by me, she touched bottom in that, for the first time, she must have known completely [that] I rejected her rule over me. After that quiet rejection on my part, she was never sure of controlling me. She blew Dragon smoke, tried all her personal brimstone and fire, all her powerful personality against me during the remaining years, but she lost. She had to lose, when she attempted to deny me my life and try to dominate me and forced me to live as a Helen O’Konski identity and no other.
Actually, I don’t know whether or how much we benefited from her. Her ambitions were good ones and, in this respect, she led the way to education. In so doing we became exposed to a better way of life with the possibilities of self-growth. In all other respects, she was a failure, and what I am is because I could not, with such a fierce example before me, be like her.
To me, it is very important for my family to know responsibility for themselves – to learn cause and effect, to know their studies are for their fuller life, their handling of their own finances a necessary learning to their existence in an economic world, their selections of activities and friends to be there is to learn from so they know selection of what is best for them.
If they go astray from sound principles, I will call it to their attention. If something does not truly have meaning for them, let them learn the meaning or the importance in their own way. I can guide them, I hope not with a violent crushing anger, but with the presentation of alternatives. To them selection will be their own. I want my children to be influenced by my guidance if they believe I am right in the my views, but the decision will have to be theirs. The responsibility for selection and decision although I may exert a little pressure, will have to come from within themselves.
Either I am right, or I am wrong. If my children reject as parts of my guidance, they have been exposed to it, and if they feel I am wrong, and they are right, I hope I will always understand that each of us must make one’s own way through life. I have made mistakes, my children will too. My hope is that knowing my way of life, my outlook on life, will help Billy and Nancy find a good way of life for themselves.
But, let it be the way of life that suits them best, as individuals. There seems to be plenty of variety in this life of humans for all kinds of variations. It was individuals the evidently necessary to have it so in human creation. We are what we are because we cannot be otherwise. Thus my mother, too, had to follow the voice of her own self.
I am only what has it has been given to me to be, and that is all I am