The Pain of Not having a Mother vs Being a Mother on Mother’s DayBy
I have three amazing and wonderful children. They were all under the age of 12 when I started this specific type of emotional healing journey that I write about here in Emerging from Broken.
I have worked at being close to my children. I decided when each of them were born that I would be intentional in the way that I did relationship with them. I was intentional about what I communicated and how I showed them love and acceptance. My main goal in the beginning was to inspire them to be who they are in spite of living in a world full of people living a dream someone else had for them. I had a slight concept of the millions of kids (like me) who tried to “fit in” by being what they perceived others wanted and by being / doing what they thought others would “love” them for.
Mothers Day articles and dysfunctional mother daughter posts along with dysfunctional and toxic parent child relationship posts are the most popular posts that I write when it comes to the search engines like “Google”. (not so much when it comes to sharing with social networks such as Facebook) My blog posts on this subject are found in search engines hundreds of times a day. There is a lot of pain in the world around toxic mother and child relationships. This year I became aware of some new things about motherhood; the emotions I had to face as a mother caused me to reflect even MORE deeply on the way that my own mother treated me. And it was painful.
This year my oldest daughter Katie (she is my middle child) went off to the University of Lethbridge to study Neuroscience. Although it was an exciting time for both of us, feelings of pride and love mingled with fear and insecurity. There were so many unknowns! But life ~ at least life without restrictions has a way of going forward in spite of those fears.
The University of Lethbridge is only a three hour drive away so my daughter Katie was able to come home on many of the weekends. During mid terms and finals however, she would stay at the University to study and then sometimes I didn’t see her for almost 3 weeks straight. And I could “feel it”. I felt an absence and a longing. Sometimes my chest would ache with missing her. Sometimes I would get up and pace the room, rubbing that empty spot and marveling at how my heart actually hurt with missing my baby.
Both Katie and I were surprised at the degree and depth of the homesickness that she experienced. I was scared that she wouldn’t miss us at all actually. Without realizing it I had braced myself for rejection. I was afraid that she wouldn’t need me anymore and that she was all grown up and independent now. Perhaps she would even rejoice in “getting away from me”. I thought university kids were supposed to be celebrating their freedom from parents and calling their parents “lame” and all that sort of thing. I realized that I had been really afraid that Katie would go off to University and never think about me again. And that fear came from the experiences that I had with my own mother. Not because I left home at 17 and never wanted my mother again, but because my mother never wanted me. My mother didn’t pursue me, but in my mind I blamed myself for that for so long that even when it came time for my daughter to leave home deep down I believed that she would not want me anymore either.
Katie wasn’t shy about expressing her homesickness which also surprised me. She wrote status updates in facebook about it all the time. She even posted a few screen shots of our text conversations. I had feelings that I had never had before such as an unbridled excitement that perhaps I had succeeded in achieving a really loving and mutually respectful relationship with my daughter!
Katie and I had this one conversation on text messaging during her finals in the second semester where I told that I missed her so much that my chest hurt and she said that hers did too; she told me that it felt like her heart was crying. YES ~ that was the best way to describe it. Another time I told her that it felt like something was missing in my chest and she said “It’s me! Its me that is missing” and YES ~ Katie was exactly what was missing.
As time progressed I became aware of other thoughts just niggling below the surface; thoughts about my own mother. I wonder why my own mother never missed me? I moved out when I was only 17 years old. I moved across the country when I was 19 years old and my strange mother never seemed to give me a second thought. She made “keeping in touch” my responsibility. She never showed any kind of vulnerability towards me by any sincere expression of missing me or having even in having any interest in me. I saw this all in a new light when I missed Katie so much my heart ached. I had to face the pain of being rejected by my own toxic, seemingly narcissistic mother in a new way when I acknowledged how much I missed my own daughter. The “why questions” came flooding back. How could my own mother have been so cold?
This is a very painful truth. The deepest and most painful truth that I have had to face in order to overcome depression, dissociation, post traumatic stress disorder and all my other struggles with self esteem, living fully and finding freedom and wholeness has been to face that my toxic mother didn’t care and my emotionally unavailable father was never interested in me. By their actions, they didn’t love me. This realization came in layers over the years that I have worked on setting myself free. I have to constantly remind myself that understanding the people who hurt me is not part of the solution in the way that acknowledging and healing from the damage is.
I missed Katie and acknowledged the pain of those feelings quite a few times this past year before I allowed myself to think about that pain in relation to my own mother. The deeper realizations are still so painful that sometimes I just don’t see that new level of acknowledgement right away.
It has been painful to comprehend that my own mother did not love me; my mother doesn’t LOVE me, the way that I love my own kids.
BUT it is also a reason to celebrate! I love my kids and I have learned how to have relationship with them based on equal value and mutual respect! I broke the cycle of neglect and parent child dysfunction! I don’t expect my children to fill a hole in me like my own toxic mother did. I don’t emotionally neglect them or neglect them any other way. I went a step farther in my healing and broke the belief that parents have more rights and more value than their children have. I have modeled equal value for all people in my own family and my kids want to have a relationship with me. Not only am I free of the oppression I used to live in, but they are free to live in wholeness too.
This Mother’s Day I am celebrating BEING a mother! ~ A real mother; a functional mother, a loving mother. I had to re-parent myself for several years in this process of healing. I had to become the mother I never had (to myself) in order to become the mother I am to my own kids. I am proud of my kids and today I am proud of myself too!
Happy Mother’s Day! Even if this year you are only celebrating the mother that you can be to yourself, please share your thoughts.
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