Sometimes tears just surprise me and its making me realize that joy and pain can and do co-exist.. As long as I am human and having a human experience I will be feeling, I will also have thoughts and memories and judgments and reactions and responses. The best I can do is to accept this humbling, messy and at times overwhelming human experience, that it is, so very often, far from perfect or ideal and that at times may have so much trauma shown into it.
I watched a very interesting Netflix documentary on the Asian writer Amy Tan last night, it went into her mother’s background and the struggles they had as a family after her father died at quite a young age.. At a very vulnerable time in her life following his death Amy was also abused by a priest who shamed and judged her and then tickled her under her clothes, the tickling led to sexual abuse which she carried around in silence and admitted she was very angry about..
After her father’s death her mother had a breakdown of sorts, she took the two children, Amy and her brother to Switzerland. In time Amy became a writer after being taken under the wing of an editor and the experiences in her family formed the basis for her first novel The Joy Luck Club. It turns out her mother’s erratic behavior triggered by her husband’s death hid a history of a much more troubled background, Amy and her brother found out she had been married before in China and abused herself by her husband and that they had several more siblings.. When her mother met Amy’s father he offered her a new life in America but the old one that has caused her mother so much trauma was there under the surface.. In time Amy started to listen to her mother, she asked about her past and this formed the basis for more of her writing..
I found myself crying a lot after watching the series, mostly as it bought to mind how much women suffer and then go on to try and live and give birth to children who may then struggle with the impact of their mother’s earliest experiences which shape them and may make their own lives confusing or painful Luckily Amy met her husband when she was in University and they remain together, he seems to have stayed by her side through all of her own trails in coming to terms with her mother’s complex past history of trauma.
I enjoyed very much many of the interviews with friends, actresses and other writers who supported or were inspired by Amy’s writing.. I am inspired myself to get a copy of her book The Bonesetter”s Daughter which is about the complex relationship of mother’s and daughters and to do with the painful issue of memory, loss, grief, past trauma and multi-generational legacies.
Sometimes we are made to feel that there is something wrong with crying or being sad.. but the truth is it the way empathy springs up and makes emotional truths that are buried more clear for us. This underlying river of feeling seems to flow through and most particularly from generation to generation but we do not always seem to be able to honor or understand it.
The truth is so many of our ancestors and parents knew great tragedy and loss, but in time they took steps to move forward and do all they could to give their children a brighter future, but still the wounds of the past dog them and us.
It was good to watch that series last night even with the tears.. I was also so interested to explore Amy’s astrology and see the grand cross in her chart in the Cardinal signs..What most struck me was Amy’s Uranus in Cancer (ruled by the Moon and mothers) in opposition to the planet of wounding and healing, Chiron in the sign of Capricorn. These two also square both Saturn and Neptune in Libra opposite Jupiter in Aries. The wounded aspect of the feminine (Cancer/Moon) as it was affected by that traditional patriarchy in China (Chiron/Capricorn/Saturn) with all of the resulting restrictions was not lost on me as it makes itself known in her writing..
Anyway I just felt moved to post about it.. Amy was born in 1952 and her writing about her own family memories (Uranus in Cancer) highlighted what the entire family endured as a result of past trauma. I also could not help but think about my sister (born two years later) who seems just so lost at the moment and to be carrying so much of my Mum’s own trauma..
The 50s were still a very repressive generation for the feminine and the wounds of the mothers did affect a lot.. I was also very moved to hear the author of the book Crazy Rich Asians Kevin Kwan share how Amy’s writing inspired him to share about his own Asian heritage.. It is so important that these stories are told so that people can read them and understand even more about the nature of the complex human experience as well as their own past.. For the past is always shaping the present in many ways and the more we can learn to understand it the less doomed we may be in repeating some of its most painful lessons.