Truth Roars Like A Lion

(Baby steps, friends. Exactly 2 months ago today, I wrote my first new blog post in ages. Then I recoiled. This started as a draft… nine months ago. Baby steps.)


Huntington’s has robbed me of so much, but the hardest thing it’s stolen is truth. Losing my grandmother (70), my mother (68), and my aunt Pam (at only 49) were visceral losses–– concrete in their finality. Now, watching my younger sister struggle with it, keeps that loss perpetually in front of me. But before these three powerful women in my life died–– before they disappeared in bits and pieces, we lost clarity and truth. We lost the potential for healing through honesty. Huntington’s Disease cheated me of the chance to heal that, by robbing me of the chance later for honest exploration and putting some pieces back in place.

As children we speak honestly, with truth, unless we are scared or silenced. As a very young child, I knew truth. I knew sweetness, and the security of people who held me close and loved me deeply. For a short time, when I was young I felt cherished. I trusted the adults in my life; I felt safe and loved. And then so much changed, and I lost all of that–– lost to lies and trauma. I grew up with people who loved me, in a place that became my home. But, there was another family, and another home, that has followed me all my life.

Several months ago we saw the movie Lion, a 2017 Oscar nomination for Best Film. (I will not give anything away here, as this is a film really worth seeing.) I went into the theater thinking I was prepared; I thought I knew the story. As a huge movie fan, I go for many reasons, but often it is about escape. This looked like a great movie to get lost in. Lion was just stunning! Stunning. Everything about this film moved me. It was visually gorgeous. The story is heartbreakingly beautiful, and I was swept away on so many levels, for two hours. But I also left the theater completely shaken, and thrust into many nights of hard dreams.

In Lion, Saroo Brierley (the main character) faces memories he’s pushed down, through recurring flashbacks, which eventually lead him to the truth. For all of my life, I have experienced nearly daily pieces of memories–– flashes to moments, scenes, images, experiences–– many of which didn’t fit with the stories my mother told me. The math never added up, and I’ve struggled to make sense of it all. Like Saroo, it took a triggering event to send me on a similar journey to find the missing pieces. Saroo then goes on a journey to find the truth. I’ve been seeking the same thing for most of my life, but the journey changed directions two years ago. The movie Lion crystalized so many details that I’ve been grappling with since spring 2015.

Before Huntington’s robbed my mother of the chance to live out her days and find honesty, or let me unbury truth, she was already a broken woman. She was broken as a girl, and she never healed. Instead, Huntington’s dealt her one final blow, and robbed her of the chance to ever really heal. When she was diagnosed, in her fifties (as I am now) she was already deeply lost in dysfunction and lies. She deserved better, and I wish she could have learned that in her life. No child deserves to have their childhood stolen, for that I have enormous compassion for my mother.

But, she in turn stole my childhood. She robbed me of safety; she took me from the arms of sweetness and love, and took it all away. She lied to us, and led my brother and me to believe our father didn’t love us… enough. She abandoned us, literally (for 18 months) and metaphorically, just as she’d been abandoned by her mother. She was not there for me when I needed protection, so buried in her own history that she missed the one unfolding for her children. She did to us, exactly what she herself had spent a childhood and lifetime trying to recover from. At 54, I still struggle with the cruel irony of it all.

I’ve spent most of my life trying to understand my mother. I wanted to heal her and protect her, when I was a young child and should have gotten those things from her. I tried to forgive her, as the years went on and I watched her slowly die, though she never really heard my pain. Without knowing any better, I emotionally buried truth to preserve a false reality that she pressed on us. As children, we deal with trauma in the only ways we know how to. We push it down; we hide it; we create stories to help us feel safe. As adults, we either stay stuck in those patterns, or seek to move beyond them.

I’ve spent most of my life trying to move on. I’ve looked for the truth, to fill in gaps that have haunted me. I struggle with the knowledge that my fractured past, and broken pieces, have in turn impacted my own three children. I went into marriage and parenting knowing that I wanted to be a very different mother than my mother was to me. I wanted to break cycles of abuse and neglect that have been a part of my family history. But I didn’t have the tools or knowledge needed. My kids are grown now, and I have discussed much of this with them. It’s not easy; I don’t want to burden them with old pain, but I want them to know their mother as a fully fleshed person. I want them to see that I keep moving forward; I keep trying to change, grow and heal. If we don’t heal from trauma, I know we are bound to pass it on.

Sadly, many of the people who might have answered questions for me are gone. I’ve asked myself over and over: does it matter? Does the truth matter anymore? It all happened so long ago, and I am where I am. I struggle with how to let go of all the lies and simply embrace the truths I’ve learned. The truth has allowed my brother and I to finally begin to heal. I now know that he’s spent an entire lifetime feeling lost to the same lies I buried. Now that we can talk about them, and untangle all the knots, we realize that we were simply children, doing the best we could… albeit very differently, and without realizing we could have helped each other.

As I watched the final scenes of Lion, my response was visceral. I was no longer watching a movie, where a young man unwinds his own knots, but reliving my own fears and loss. I found myself talking to myself, reliving painful times that happened forty-four years ago. I cried and cried, and cried some more. Later, my husband told me that watching this same movie scene was the first time he really felt like he could understand what I’ve described for our entire life together.

I wish I’d heard the truth when my mother was still alive; I would give anything to ask her some questions that follow me everywhere. I wish she could have seen this same movie, and maybe realized what her lies have done to my brother and I; we all might have found some healing sooner. I wish she and I could have explored those truths, and maybe both healed… if wishing made it so. Instead, she took her pain with her, and I am pulling apart knots, and seeking peace. A movie reminded me that healing is always possible. I am a…



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GIPYPlease share your thoughts in the comments. I want to hear what you have to say.

KAPOW!  I didn’t meet the 2016 goal for Likes on the Tales From the Motherland Facebook page; missed it by 14! So this year, I’m not setting a goal. I’m grateful for each Like I get. Have you stopped by to spread some fairy dust? Follow me on Twitter, LeBron James does (yes, for real)! Most importantly, if you like a post I’ve written, hit Like and leave a comment. Honest, constructive feedback is always appreciated. Click Follow; you’ll get each new post delivered by email,  no spam.

©2011-2017  All content and images on this site are copyrighted to Dawn Quyle Landau and Tales From the Motherland, unless specifically noted otherwise. If you want to share my work, I’m grateful, but please give proper credit and Link back to my work; plagiarism sucks!

About Dawn Quyle Landau

Mother, Writer, treasure hunter, aging red head, and sushi lover. This is my view on life, "Straight up, with a twist––" because life is too short to be subtle! Featured blogger for Huffington Post, and followed on Twitter by LeBron James– for reasons beyond my comprehension.
This entry was posted in Aging, Awareness, Honest observations on many things, Life, Personal change, Trauma and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

32 Responses to Truth Roars Like A Lion

  1. I relate to so much of your pain. Somewhat different circumstances, yet still pain. For me, turning to alternative forms of healing allowed my heart to heal a thousand times faster than when I worked with traditional counseling. But I recognize and honor that everyone has their own path to walk. So proud that you’re aware and making progress. As many decades as as my mom saw a therapist, I never got the sense that she made any progress forward.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. 143coaching says:

    ❤ beautifully written and thank you for sharing it. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Carrie Rubin says:

    I can see where that movie would have been intense for you, Dawn. It’s a wonderful film, but if it touches too close to home, it opens a whole new can of worms. But at least it helped your husband better relate to your experience. May your healing continue.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I so admire your frankness and ability to share and your strength. Lion is a powerful film on so many levels. xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much Lisa. Admittedly, I haven’t felt very strong through this, but I am determined. Some days, that involves the sofa and blondies, other days it big hikes on my own. 🙂 Thanks for the support! xo


  5. jgroeber says:

    So good to hear you out there in the world speaking your truth. A wise woman on a beach somewhere told me something about balancing out my tendency to constantly look back with being wholly in the present. I may have reminded her that I am a work in progress. 😉 It’s so hard to be both at once, present and truth-seeking, but still, wishing that for you, that in all your looking back and finding your truth you are making plenty of time for the present (and continuing to plan amazing things for your future.) With love. xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jen, I’m sure that “wise woman” also said: “do as I say, not as I do;” she’s fond of that one! But thanks for the reminder, of a magical day on a beach, when the sun was shining and horses ran wild. It is worth holding on to, when my brain goes dark. Thanks for reaching out; it means so much. xo


  6. Dear Dawn,
    I hadn’t seen anything from you on Friday Fictioneers and wondered if you were still blogging.
    Your post is touching in so many ways. The first and foremost is in your ability to write so eloquently about a painful upbringing. All of us have issues from our past that we need to heal from. My mother was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia after my handicapped brother was born. She rarely spoke – to anyone – only yelled and berated her children. No need to say more but wanted to share a tidbit of my painful issues. I struggle everyday with a feeling I can’t explain. One I self-talk myself through. If genies were real my wish would be for this to cease. Instead, like you, I go day by day into healing practices so my life could be realistically more whole. My hope is that you find a place of peace that you can go to everyday. We are all works in progress. Some of us at a different level than others.
    Thank you fro sharing your story.
    Isadora 🙏🏻
    p.s. I wrote this post just yesterday(Thursday) I thought you might like to see it:

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Sadness comes in waves, in sequence of four, each one stronger. When the fourth crashes over you and pulls you down, you resurface knowing there is a small window to pull through.
    Sometimes I stand on the edge of the ocean, turned to stone. Other times, I let go and dive into deep blue sea, not knowing what I seek. I stopped writing months ago and it is so hard to find a way back. But I think we will…we came this far, didn’t we? {{ ❤ }}

    Liked by 1 person

    • Loré, I’ve been extra remiss in reading. Until a short time ago, I kept up with other bloggers, even though my own writing was floundering. Now I’ve fallen behind there too. Ugh. I’m sorry. I’ll have to go back and see what’s happening in your life, that you would stop writing too. I hope you’re well, friend, and that you find your words again soon. The world needs more beauty, and as seen in this comment, your words are always beautiful! Thanks for stopping by, and for encouraging me to dive back into the blue water. xox

      Liked by 1 person

  8. TRACEY S LEVINE says:

    Dawn- thank you for sharing your story. It’s beautifully written (as always) and just reminds us all that everyone has a story, their story. As I get older I realize you can’t walk in someone else’s path nor judge how they are handling their life. Hugs and love for your strength.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tracey, thank you so much for stopping by TFTM and for leaving such a caring, supportive comment. I think we all judge far more too often than we should. It’s so wonderful when we pause and connect with someone else’s experience. Thanks for taking the time to connect; it means so much. xo


  9. Valery says:

    The work of healing may never be finished, but the work itself is a beautiful goal. You embrace that work with such fierce compassion. It is truly a privilege to read your words, and travel along with you on your journey towards truth. 143❤

    That movie soaked up quite a few of my own tears, too. So well done.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. mamaheidi60 says:

    As you often do, you touched on life experiences we share. I so appreciate reading your description and analysis of how our families of origin impact us, day after day into our 50’s and 60’s and beyond. I think you and I have both raised our children differently because of our childhoods and we both are so proud of our kids. Did we do it perfectly? Heavens no. Would we go back and do anything differently, sure. One of the things that I have had a hard time reconciling is how much my mother either hated or feared (who really knows?) her mother and her mother-in-law. My mother never left unsaid what her thoughts were when she knew her mother was coming to dinner. That’s one of the things that I feel so sad about. She didn’t allow us to worship our grandparents. And she told us stories of discrimination of our grandma who was my dad’s step-mom. Of comfort to me is that my brother and sister know what went on behind closed doors at our house. My mother was an introvert and actually pretty shy. She lost her father when she was 14 and she was definitely daddy’s little girl. She hid behind the shadow of my father’s gregarious personality, everyone loved my dad, everyone wanted his approval, advice, ear. She could’t compete with him. There are so many things I wish I had asked. Not that I would have gotten answers, but they would have been asked. Well, I’ve run on with my story, in commenting on yours! As always, I love to read what you write, because you touch on thoughts and emotions I have.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Heidi, I’m always grateful for your feedback and thoughts. We connect in shared experiences and in our willingness to keep moving forward. I’m grateful for your spirited wisdom, and loving heart. Thanks for sharing!


  11. Pingback: Some Words of Grief and Hope | TALES FROM THE MOTHERLAND


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