The Wildfire of a Mother’s Love: No Escape. ~ Dawn Cartwright

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My mother, from the time I can remember, represented everything to me that was emotionally disheveled and unkempt.

She felt fully and expressed loudly every nuance of her inner world without apology. Her temper was quick and searing hot, her rage thick and palpable. Even in total silence. Even hundreds of miles away in my dorm room in college.

There was no escaping her. Though I tried.

I divorced my mother many times. First as an infant, learning to walk and thereby gaining sovereignty at seven months. Then later in primary school when I discovered (as many of us do) I was far more intelligent than she was. Then again in high school when I participated in every extra-curricular activity both sanctioned and unsanctioned and came home only to sleep. Then in college when I disappeared from her life completely.

No matter how many doors I closed, hers were always open. She sent cards, letters and care packages. She found ways to let me know how proud she was, and how much she missed me. If there was ever an injustice waged against me, she took arms and no prisoners. And she, a legendary cook born of generations of legendary cooks, begged me to let her make my favorite dishes on those rare weekends home. The woman never stopped, no matter how difficult I made it for her. Her love, like all her emotions, was a force unto itself and—prevail or not—would never ever end.

Last night I had a dream. It was a dream I woke up from and re-entered twice, something that almost never happens. It was a dream that stayed with me hours after I started my day; in fact, it’s with me even now.

I dreamt my mother had died.

I remember seeing her in the dream, curled up in her bed as if asleep. She was so still. Nothing moved. There was no emotion. No passion. Only a huge gaping space where all of that had once lived. A huge gap in place of my mother.

And I broke.

And I wept. And all that she, my mother, had ever wanted to give me in all my life came rushing in. Tearing me apart. All at once.

I might have expected to feel grief but I did not expect this. I did not expect my heart to be blasted full force with her. There was no stopping it. There was nothing to do but to feel her. And then to realize I’d never known her, not really, ever before in my life until now.

Yes, I knew intellectually she was passionate and untamed. Beautiful. Playful, sweet and giving. I knew she’d been a deep lover. A radical spirit. A red-head, in every sense of the word. A wildfire.

The chaos of woman—the unruliness of love in flesh.

But I’d never felt her. Never allowed her close. Never let her in. At war with my own fundamental femininity from day one.

She had desires. She had vision. She was an irrepressible woman from rural Tennessee who lived life like a Russian epic. For her, love, passion, friendship and family were the whole purpose for living. She saw love in every emotion—even in hate and fear. She knew love could never be tarnished or lost, because she knew love was at the root of all war and strife. She never gave up her longing to live that love with another. But in all her life, her love never had a place to land. Her love was too big and too loud for the world she lived in. And now that it was all over, her desires would never be met.

That morning I broke as I woke from my dream. The space I’d enforced between us was gone. I found myself face to face with her and all I could never accept. In the dream I’d begged her to come back to me. I saw her porcelain form still and silent. I felt her rage in every part of me. Searing hot and inescapable. It was all so clear.

Somehow she did it, her love prevailed in the end—she passed her flaming unkempt wildfire torch to me. She lit up my heart. Like a thousand suns. And now I know love like I never knew love before. Her love, at once and at last, had found a place to land.

PostScript: My mother is very much alive today and thriving. She’ll no longer burn in the dishevelment of love alone. By the grace of this dream and all it’s revealed, I’m here now, by her side, ready to add fuel to the fire.



Editor: Lori Lothian


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About Dawn Cartwright

Dawn Cartwright is a Tantric visionary, sacred writer, world traveler, and innovator in bio-energetic Tantra fusion. She discovered the path of Tantra by accident shortly after a period of life-changing mystical experiences in lovemaking. During her 20 years of teaching, she has integrated the Vigyan Bhairav roots of Tantra, Alexander Lowen’s teachings, the wisdom of Osho, and a microcosm-macrocosm approach to the body. Founder of the Chandra Bindu Tantra Institute in Santa Monica, California. You can also find Dawn on Facebook and Twitter. Dawn lives in Santa Monica, California.  


11 Responses to “The Wildfire of a Mother’s Love: No Escape. ~ Dawn Cartwright”

  1. Ivy Joeva says:

    Dawn, I'm in tears as I write this. You described so eloquently my own mother to a T… I feel you revealed her to me, everything about her I've resisted and needed to see. She just left earlier this week to care for her own ailing mom on the other side of the country. And yesterday, my cousin Joan made her transition….leaving behind her 16-year-old son. I've been reflecting on how he could possibly process a loss of that magnitude; how can I possibly be there for him? All too often, it's only after losing someone that we fully appreciate them. Love and gratitude for you~

    • Dawn Cartwright says:

      Dear Ivy,

      I just had that conversation this afternoon with a friend – how does anyone bear that loss? The dream itself devastated me, and at the same time, opened me to a love much greater than any I've ever experienced before in my life. I feel so fortunate to have my Mother still here with me and – she lives in Georgia and I haven't been able to call her since the dream because of the time difference and our work schedules – I cannot wait to connect with her with all this now blasting through my heart.

      Thank you for sharing, much love to you, your Mom and your Grandmother.

      Love you, Dawn

  2. Janice mark says:

    Dawn, you so eloquently and honestly spoke the words that lie hidden in the unlight caverns of our inner temple whereby all women, are looking for a place for our love to land! Thank you for being so transparent.

  3. Dominique says:

    This gave me goosebumps! As I read it, my daughter is on my lap, listening to a nursery rhyme book my parents recorded for her and her sister. I miss my Mom unbearably, and am SO grateful that I have a great relationship with her, despite physical distance. Thank you, Dawn, for reminding me of the strength of her love in return!

    • Dawn Cartwright says:

      Dear Dominique,

      You know you are, to me, the quintessential Mother. I love feeling you sitting there with your daughters reading a book from your Mother, while reading about Mother. And the love flows.

      Love how much you love.

      Love you, Dawn

  4. […] The Wildfire of a Mother’s Love: No Escape. ~ Dawn Cartwright (elephantjournal.com) […]

  5. Dawn,

    It's taken me quite a few days to sit with this piece and let it wash over me so that my response would be worthy of the depth you plunged into to compose it. I totally admire your union of the conscious and unconscious to peel back the veil and see the truth of who your mother is and what her love is.

    It might just be my sense, yet I believe that your epiphany was hard fought and hard won and perhaps continues to be so. For me, I eventually achieved some intellectual knowing of my mother's love, but never truly EXPERIENCED it on a visceral level. Her wounds were too great for me to feel beneath them. I've worked hard to heal my love wounds and continue to do so.

    On the other side, I can see and feel quite clearly the dance that my daughter and HER mother go through and see the parallels in your piece. I can only hope that my daughter can get to the place you are in, a little sooner, and I mean that with ALL respect to you.

    Love and more love,

    • Dawn Cartwright says:

      Good Morning Adam,

      The dream is still sinking in and still teaching me. Spoke with my Father yesterday, about this article and received another beautiful piece. My Father always felt his parents loved him and he always received their very strict ways with gratitude. Makes me ponder my generation and revere, even more deeply, the one that came before.

      I sense your Daughter has grown up with incredible love and mirroring through you and her Mother – can't wait to hear and see how she continues to blossom.

      Love you, Dawn

      • Dr. a says:

        I'll keep you posted on my daughter's continuing unfolding, I do believe that she received a great deal of love and THAT will make a world of difference in her life.

        How fortunate for you that ou have a father to help perhaps to balance the parental energies flowing.

        Have an incredible Boston journey!

        Love you,

  6. […] first seven years, a time in which I let my fear of being a bad wife overrule my instincts to be a good mother. Romantic trips when he was a baby, weaning too early, the roster of sitters and the sense that my […]

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