Meredith Whitefield


I have been trying to locate the inciting incident, but my journey has been a slow burn to authenticity. My memories up until this point are fragments strung together like lyrics by a female singer/songwriter whose melody soothes, but if you listen closely, the lyrics are violent and sexual.

My lyrics include:

We never wanted a third child but your father wanted a boy so he forced

me and we had to love you once you got here.

You’re the pretty one.

You must be a slut to be hanging out with all of those boys.

You’re nothing but a dirty whore.

That's where you should be, on your knees.

I'd like you medium rare on plate.

Why are you so angry? Is it because you haven’t gotten laid in a while?

Most of my lyrics come from my narcissistic alcoholic borderline mother who owned my early identity. Others from men and women who attempted to take it and define it for me. Being pretty, small, hard working, filled with conviction and empathic made me a target and a threat.

I have always known my mother was a drunk, she was emotionally and sometimes physically abusive. As a teen, some of these moments were incited when I shared a piece of art or poetry and she would use that as an opening to berate, belittle and humiliate me. She took my creative spirit, held it up and laughed at it like an evil jealous queen.

Therapy introduced me to the archetype of the narcissist mother and how that functioned in my personal narrative. I wasn't ostracized by my sisters because they hated me or were jealous of me for some unknown or unseen reason, a narcissist mother divides her children and puts them against each other in competition so they can not join forces. My sisters thought I was after their lovers when I was actually only after their unconditional love. My wedding day was not even my own. But I refused to be a victim. I was a survivor.

Desperately wanting connection and validation, I lost my virginity at 13. My vulnerable psyche made me a mark for rape and repeated sexual assaults. The only connection I could make was also deemed dirty and it made me a slut and a whore in the eyes of the judgmental. Yet I always acquiesced because I knew it made them happy and other’s happiness was more important than my own. My submission to unwanted advances while privately screaming resulted in my daughter. I survived it like everything else: not unscathed, with a high functioning camouflage.

In my journey to owning it, I floated untethered in and out of relationships with friends and lovers, always feeling wrapped in saran wrap, a film of something nasty, dark and dank holding me together, but keeping me apart. After having my second child, that film got thicker distancing me further from these people who I loved more than myself. My tiny perfect happy children. My husband would come home to find me crumpled on the floor sobbing and pick me up and point me to another distraction. Some days he would come home from work and I would disappear upstairs into bed and cover myself with the

blankets knowing he was on the next shift. Most nights I fell into a routine of being completely disinterested in everything and self medicating in the basement of our tiny house.

Even in my psychic exile, I always thought the role of those who loved you was to help you and love you unconditionally. I recently sobbed through a piece by comedian Sarah Silverman who wrote, and I paraphrase, “when the clouds rolled in and she became the Sylvia Plath of twitter, a friend would reach out and check in. A friend even found her a therapist once at 2 am.” I felt like I was screaming to those around me to help me, but no one listened or no one cared because maybe my family was right all along. There was something inherently wrong with me, I was too flawed to be loved and saved.

Last year I decided to do something I was never willing to do - fast track my wellness for the sake of my children. I tried medication to see if it could lift the foggy film from my life, to finally unwrap myself and actually be. I wanted to be the best mother, wife, friend and me I could be. The unintended consequence was understanding how much I compromised to fit into what was “normal” in my quest to convince myself and others I was loveable. I had no intention or wish to blow up that “normal” until an old friend saw what I had hoped people would see in me for years: that I was not ok and my veil of high functioning “ I’m fine” was not my truth.

I’m not sorry for owning it. I’m not sorry for struggling with anxiety and depression. I’m not sorry because now I can name it and therefore I can become empowered and emboldened to deal with it in a healthy way. I’m not sorry for owning that there were people in my life who don’t, can’t and will not love me unconditionally. And I’m not sorry for choosing to surround myself with only those who do.

About the photo:

I was photographed bathed in the window light of my apartment as a single mother, pregnant with the person’s baby who has loved me unconditionally since I was 17 years old.