Quilt Comfort

When I wrote The Angry Quilt yesterday, I had no idea of the response it would bring. Not just the good ideas–and there were so very many of those. What moved me was the tremendous community that has gathered here.

Heart in Hand by John Derian. Paperweight.

Smart, compassionate, giving people. Self-aware people who are wandering the same road and who will offer comfort, wisdom, lessons hard learned. That’s a rare and wonderful thing, and I need to sit with the incredible wonder and gratitude is has brought to me.

What moved me so deeply was the honesty of the comments–the offers to make the Angry Quilt whole, and the offers to make me a whole new quilt. Offers to lead a team to leach out the energy and to gather stories about mothers. And the amazingly frank idea to create a ritual to burn the quilt, and end the quest for something that may never have existed.

For now, I need some time to re-evaluate my emotions about the quilt. There were good, thoughtful reasons for creating a ritual to lay the quilt (and my need to have it complete) to rest. Other reasons to make it into something else so I could keep it. And, of course, offers to finish it. As a coach, I was moved by how many of you were open and raw with me over this. Not fearful of talking about your own relationships with your mothers, or mothers worrying about your daughters. It’s complex, isn’t it, the dance of mothers and daughters?

Right now, I’m thinking through my options to reach a choice that is as honest as all of your suggestions. My deepest thanks go out to you. It’s a little overwhelming to see all of you gathered here, holding out your hands. And looking closer, seeing your hearts in those outstretched hands.

It reminds me of a quote from Brené Brown, who wrote The Gifts of Imperfection and I Thought It Was Just Me.

The root of the word courage is cor — the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word courage had a very different definition than it does today. Courage originally meant to speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.  . . .

Heroics are often about putting our life on the line. Courage is about putting our vulnerability on the line. If we want to live and love with our whole hearts and engage in the world from a place of worthiness, our first step is practicing the courage it takes to own our stories and tell the truth about who we are. It doesn’t get braver than that.

Thanks to all of you who showed real courage in your comments. I’m proud to stand in the company of such brave women and men.

–Quinn McDonald is refreshed and renewed by the spirit of supportive people.

11 thoughts on “Quilt Comfort

  1. Pingback: The End of the Angry Quilt | QuinnCreative

  2. Hello Quinn,
    Kaisa makes some very good points. Perhaps writing more about your relationship with your mother would help to heal your spirit and resolve the “issue of the quilt”.
    I appreciate that you are willing to take the time to allow yourself to think all these ideas through. Whatever you do with your quilt, is most certainly up to you.
    I would like to take a moment amid all these heartfelt ideas to remind you that doing “nothing” is also a option. You can do nothing about the quilt. You can keep it just as it is, in a box, in a trunk or drawer or in the attic or in plain site. You can do nothing until you figure out what you want to do or you can do nothing….
    Finishing it or destroying it will not change the relationship you and your mother lived.
    The quilt is a reminder of that relationship. You may even find the love you missed as a child there at some point or not…
    This will be hard choice and one that can’t be revoked.
    Take your time…

  3. I read the previous post yesterday but I couldn’t figure out what to say. So instead I sat with you and the quilt in my heart for awhile. May you (and beings) enjoy happiness and the root of happiness. May you be free of suffering and the root of suffering.

    The relationships with mothers and daughters are so mysterious. My mom was not angry, not as such, but she was secretly awfully fearful. She never said anything about it out loud in front of us kids but I somehow tuned to it instinctively and internalised it myself too – though in a different way. Her fear was so strong that our dog too saw it: it often ‘guarded’ mom when she was gardening. Musti, the dog, would sit some 10 m away from my mom and keep an eye on her and the surroundings. I think Musti wasn’t entirely convinced that mom could take care of herself 🙂 As an after though, I find Musti’s behaviour comforting: it wasn’t just me who felt and reacted to mom’s emotions so intensively. It wasn’t just me but something that really was there.

    And I think Pete’s idea about a novel is certainly something to think about. First of all, it has the makings of a great story, not just good but great in its meaningfulness. Secondly, and more importantly, it could be YOUR way of finishing the quilt. Your mom quilted, you write, but basically its the same – creating patterns that come fully visible only as a whole. The quilt has its energy, but your novel would have a different energy. It could become the room for the bed on which the quilt would come to rest, if you know what I mean. But do take your time. Like someone posted previously, we’ll all be here when you’re ready.

    • Fear is not less destructive than anger. And the passing on of fear does its own damage. The story of your mother is very interesting, and knowing you have the tendency must be hard to sit with. OK, I have to admit, your last paragraph blew my mind open. It makes so much sense, and it stitched together (sorry) the gap between my mother’s skills and mine. It’s a scary thought for me–I’m a non-fiction writer, I write shorter pieces, but there was a flash of recognition in what you said that is a big truth. A huge truth that has been shadowing me for years and I didn’t want to look at it.

      • You’re absolutely right, fear is definitely not less destructive, and it is usually fear that lies behind anger. And it has been really hard to learn to see my own fear working in me. And I’m still learning. Every day. There are many things that I have inherited from my mother both personality-wise and others (my hands are just like hers which I sometimes find disturbing for some reason) that are really hard to see and accept. The anger in me doesn’t want to recognise that there are lots of good stuff in me that come from my mom like cooking, organising skills, love of books, drawing (she very rarely draw, but she was good!). In fact, I owe a great deal of my creativity to her. It is difficult not to let all the dark stuff stain what ever good there is, and to understand that I am not my mother – no matter how many similarities there might be. But I will get there eventually. It just won’t be today, this week or next year but one day. (it’s not as easy as it sounds, though.) So will you. I will keep you in my thoughts when I do my loving-kindness and compassion practices. And I’m sure there are many others who will too in their own way.

        • It’s a lifetime of work, creating who we are, not making the same mistakes, owning our own mistakes. Being imperfect and growing to be comfortable with that, while still trying to be a bit better. I have a lot of my mother in me, too. I remember one day I was putting on a coat, and I saw her hand coming out of the sleeve and was horrified that it was mine! And my mom was strong (she came to this country and started her life over at almost 40 years old, with nothing left from her old life except nightmares) and at one point creative. She was just undone. And yes, like you, I fear the stain of similarity creeping over the land I’ve built from new experiences. And I think that has a purpose, too, although some days are harder than others. We can both practice compassion, and keep each other in our thoughts as we travel the same road in different countries!

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