Mar 8, 2011

Call for Stories

Have you or anyone you know ever found yourself feeling as if you're living from one crisis to another? Does this describe your childhood, or maybe your adult years? When interviewing women for Motherless Daughters and Motherless Mothers, I was surprised and disheartened to discover how often mother loss was only one in a series of adverse events for many women, and that they felt they'd been shaped for better and for worse by periodic crises which they had no way to anticipate and therefore no way to prepare.

I've been thinking about this for a long time, because this was very much my story after my mother died. For the next 23 years I had a deeply kind and well-meaning father who also drank heavily and was prone to intermittent breakdowns related to the alcohol and the toll it took on his health. The pattern of leapfrogging from one difficult event to another, and feeling that my life could only be enjoyed in between his exclamation points, came to characterize my adult life. After he died six years ago it took a long time for me to release the feeling that the next crisis was somewhere around the next corner, just waiting to erupt.

I imagine this must be the case for many of us with loved ones who suffer from addictions, chronic health problems, mental illness, eating disorders, or just garden-variety difficult behavior. (And very possibly other conditions. Please feel free to chime in.) Also, those of us who have protracted strings of just really bad luck.

My belief is that children raised in these kind of environments (as many motherless daughters are) get wired in a very specific way that in part determines their behavior patterns in adulthood, and also that adults who encounter such situations later in life (through marriage, parenthood, or other relationships) have to develop their own strategies to find fulfillment in between the episodes. And yet I've also met many women who have been able to transcend this and live happy, fulfilling lives not just in spite of, but sometimes because of, the exclamation points pushed into their paths.

I'm wondering if this might be a worthy topic for a future book. What do you think? And if this sounds familiar to anyone, and you'd be willing to share your story, please email me at for more details. Confidentiality and anonymity assured.

Many thanks,


Inner-Expression said...

Hi Hope

Will send you that email.

Looking forward to the possibility of a workshop in May or June.

Have the best day possible.

In kindness

Hope Edelman said...

Thanks, Colli. Workshop will hopefully be May 13-15 in Santa Monica. Just waiting for confirmation. Hope you can be there!

kario said...

"Waiting for the other shoe to drop" and "house of cards" were my mantras for decades. It's only been in the last three years that I have been able to be more optimistic and relax a bit. I don't know if it's the "motherless" phenomenon or not, but it's definitely a strong tendency in me. I've written many a blog post about it (especially in the early years of my blog). Let me know if you want specifics.

Hope Edelman said...

Yes, Kario, I'd love to know more. Please email me at

Samantha said...

Hi Hope-

This topic is so close to my reality. Wondering "what's next?" I guess I've had a string of losses (I'm not sure I would call them crises or bad luck-not sure what to call them?) beginning with my mother at age 8 and the latest, my 4 year old niece's diagnosis of brain cancer.

I am now the age my mother was when she died but with a 3 year old. I try try and try to keep my overwhelming feelings to myself and save the rest for my support group. I ask other women who have also had their share of crap, how to have faith and hope and keep moving....all I can say is it's work for me. I want to give my daughter the best life possible...I want my daughter to have hope and faith about her future...I think my brain is hard wired a wonky way...

I think the book topic would be very interesting and helpful to those who have experienced numerous losses of one kind or another.

I met you many years ago in Cleveland at a benefit for Michael's House...thankful you are still writing on the topic.

Let me know if I can be of anymore help.


Hollye Dexter said...

Great topic for a book, Hope. I have always lived "waiting for the other shoe to drop". My therapist described it as hyper-vigilance ( and anxiety disorder).

I'd buy this book!

Unknown said...

Hope - I think you should write it and would be willing to tell you my story. My mother died when I was seven, and I believe that I have always waited for disaster to strike. When it happens, it feels horrible though normal. The people I love or the pets? Their mortality is on my mind 24/7. I've tried all kinds of help including lots of therapy, but I seem hardwired.
Author of the yet-unpublished "Longing for Louise"

Kelly said...

Yes, yes, yes. This sounds soooo familiar. Even now, nearly 13 years out, I feel like I'm waiting for the next bad thing to happen. I'm not sure if my story would be any good, but I'd be happy to talk with you.
Thank you for your books. They have been a lifeline for me.

Anonymous said...

I just came across your web site looking for grief quotes. I have no idea when you first posted this, but I am very interested in sharing my story. I had a chapter published in a book entitled, "Mother Stories, Through our Mother's Deaths and Dying edited my Carol Ann Drick. I was a birth mother who was forced to give my son up for adoption in the 1960's (by my mother) and ended up attending her hospice death in 2002 and my sister's death in 2005..of course there's lots in between, but have been trying to figure out life since! I know I have a book inside of me somplace, just can't pull it together to write it. I have written a ton of poetry around death, and after doing hsopice nursing myself, am now a bereavement counselor for a not-for-profit hospice. Please let me know if you are still putting writers together for your new book. Pam Parsons or

Anonymous said...

what about motherless daughters whose mothers abandoned them by choice and how they cope in order to before productive citizens and not repeat their own history of abandonment