My Mother's Voice

Nelson Mandela

The voice of my mother lives deep within my head,
Taunting my heart with self-loathing, anguish and dread.
The reason of an adult becomes the pain of a small child,
Searching desperately for a self-esteem that isn’t contrived.

“You’re bad”, “cause I said so”, “you haven’t got a clue”,
“You’ll never amount to anything”; “no one will want you”.
“You’re a dreamer”, “you’re lazy”, “you’ve got a bad attitude”,
God, even I can’t even conjure the occasional platitude.

“You’re hopeless’ “stupid”, “is that the best you can do?”
”You deserved that”, “stop crying”, “that didn’t hurt you”.
It seemed the harder I tried the less approval I received,
And so I grew up (sorta) believing the things she believed.

Now fifty years on it’s to those self-beliefs I’m addicted,
As I reflect on the pain I have both endured and inflicted.
I try hard to see that her approval no longer needs to be won,
That I can stand in this world as a man, not simply her son.

The voice of my mother lives deep within my head,
As I try carefully to interpret the words that are said.
To understand she hears them too, and has for so long,
Without any malice intended she has simply passed them on.

Geoff Mooney