Journey of a Braid Logotype

How we deal with our personal history is how we deal with the world.

By Danié Gómez-Ortigoza

May 15, 2020

This year, Mother’s Day in the United States is braided with the Mexican celebration that always takes place on May 10. I wake up with cards from my children, and breakfast in the balcony, and the promise of my six-year-old son to build a magic wand to bring my grandparents and my dog ​back ​to life. Few things I value more in life than this. The path to reach this moment and this peace has been turbulent. As a child this was the most difficult day of the year for me.

Journey of a Braid
Journey of a Braid

In Mexico, a country of contrasts, mothers are the two extremes: absolute deities for which the country is completely paralyzed on May 10, and at the same time the target of all the rudeness we know: chinga tu madre, hija de la chingada, puta madre. And given that mothers are above all women, they are also the victims of violence that is out of control.

In the United States, mothers are set in a different place: they are less of a deity, and therefore there’s a bit less darkness around their position in society.

The celebrations that normally take place in Mexico on days like today, go beyond anything you can imagine. Every school in the Mexico I knew before this epidemic prepared shows and festivals. Hours and hours spent creating something unforgettable.

For me it was a total nightmare. I took part of all this when I was a girl with no real objective, and avoiding questions about where my mother was, because when I was six years old she stepped away from my life.

Sometimes we talked. Sometimes we didn’t.

There is a notable difference between death separating you from the nuclear family than separation being the path they choose to take. The first reaction when my parents got divorced, and my mom disappeared from my life was guilt. The feeling remains. It is a direct response to trauma. But little compares to the vertigo that I experienced when it was my turn to carry out the same role without having a point of reference.

My defense mechanism is to block memories. When I found my first child in my arms in another country, I carried all that pain and that accumulated guilt from the past in my arms at the same time I carried him. My world was transformed. Hand in hand, I walked with a postpartum depression that now appears from time to time, making me feel drowned in the responsibility I know I have for the emotional development of my children. They are the most beautiful thing that exists but I also understand their fragility, and at the same time my own.

There is an incredibly sarcastic heavenly humor, so sarcastic that it has made me pay special attention to the ancestral healing mission that we all carry. Throughout the time that my mother separated from us to find herself in her spiritual and artistic life, she dedicated her time to develop healing tools that, by helping her, could help us as well.

And that has been the common thread in our current relationship. At the same time, her quest and mine are so similar that they feel like a reflection in the mirror. We both seek the visual and creative expression of our minds: transmitting the messages that we perceive but that are so abstract that they can only be expressed through what we call art. For her, in her youth, trying to achieve this, is what destroyed our family. For me, it presents itself as a second opportunity to give flow to that same expression without hurting the remaining elements that make up my life. This parallelism of our lives has become the Wabisabi of our history.

Journey of a Braid

It is clear to me that to be able to carry out my role as a mother in the best possible way has a lot to do with having found that line of communication and healing. In time and experience I know there is too much that I cannot understand. And in that realization, there is peace.

There are two clear roles for each of us: one is determined by the story we tell ourselves about who we are, and the other is what we consider our mark in this planet, which is a collective past braided with many stories that we carry even though sometimes we don’t want to see it. If you pay attention, there is a common search with that of our ancestors, that goes beyond guilt, what is well seen, and what is frowned upon.

We must understand our passage through this world with a greater meaning. What are the slopes that keep repeating themselves? Why are we here? Where are we going?

Our days at this time are linear: we lose the concept of time, as routine and lack of novelty reign. At first I was paralyzed to consider being with my children all the time. Balancing my emotions is easier when I have the parallel universe that their time at school allows me to have for myself. However we are more resilient than we seem to be. We get used to everything in time. We manage to make sense of whatever happens to us, and we make it work.

We can also find ways to rewrite our personal history. How many things that you never imagined have become a part of your life in the past weeks? It is in this silence where we can also consider a new social structure.

Just as we have healed our personal pasts, let’s heal our past on this planet.

We don’t want to return to normality if normal means anxiety, depression, value crisis, and money as the ultimate goal of our existence, without thinking about the consequences of consumption. I think we can plan and achieve a new and better reality.

Just as we take the time to heal our personal pasts, we can heal the footprint we are leaving as a society. Let’s give ourselves space to create a more human world that allows for a better future with more understanding the we are one.

Join the newsletter and follow the journey.