For the past few years I have not thought about myself as a daughter on “Mother’s day”, I have thought of myself as a mother instead. When I used to think of myself as a daughter the purpose of mother’s day was to celebrate someone who constantly reminded me that I was not the daughter that she wanted. I celebrated someone who treated me like I was lacking in some ways. I celebrated someone who seemed to be exasperated with me and communicated to me that I was somewhat of a pain in her butt. I celebrated my mother even though she blamed me for more things than I care to list in this post and I celebrated a mother who caused me untold grief. (Well actually, it was untold until 6 or 7 years ago. Now I have told…)
Mother’s day in the past was a time of great anxiety for me. It was difficult to decide ‘how’ to celebrate my mother; what kind of card, what kind of gift and what if she didn’t ‘like them’ and what if she didn’t show any appreciation and what if she made that ‘disappointed face’ which crushed my soul and spirit so many times on previous Mother’s days and on other gift and card giving holidays. I had so much anxiety over the fear of ‘that face’.
Mother’s day in the past was about celebrating someone who hurt me. It doesn’t make much sense to me today when I put it that way but back then I never thought about it that way. I was in the deep fog of conditional love, brainwashed to believe that mother is god and that parent entitlement rules over all else, no matter what…
I celebrated my mother on Mother’s day, yet my mother was someone who communicated to me that she was more important than I was, that only her feelings mattered, that I was somehow unworthy of the things that she was worthy of such as respect, equal value, honor, love, validation, comfort, my own personality, thoughts, opinions and choices.
In the past, in fact for the better part of 45 years, on Mother’s day I celebrated someone that taught me there were two sets of rules in life; one set that applied to her and a different set that applied to me. God help me if I got mixed up about those rules. I learned to prove my love and to prove my worth by trying to guess what she wanted and then trying to do it. Those guidelines did not apply to the way she loved me. She did not show me love in the way that I was required to show her love. She didn’t respect me in the way that she demanded that I ‘respect’ her.
There were consequences if I questioned my mother. I learned to try and avoid those consequences when I was very young. The worst consequence that I feared was of being rejected by her. I was afraid that if I didn’t prove my love in the way that she wanted, that she would withdraw her love from me. That seems a strange fear to me now; all of the ways that my mother regarded me and disregarded me were a rejection all along. All of the ways that she taught me to love her were withheld from me. All of the ways that I tried to show her how much I cared were not reciprocated.
The entire relationship between my mother and I was up to me to maintain; if it failed or if it succeeded (on any given day) it was up to me. Society agreed with this dysfunctional definition of mother daughter relationship. I was told all my life with statements such as “you only have one mother” ~ “I am your mother” ~ “I am THE mother” ~ “You will be sorry” and I believed every one of those statements although today I am not sure I knew what she meant by them back then. They communicated my disrespect, they put me back in “my place” (which was UNDER her) and they enhanced the ever growing fear of rejection.
And there were other statements aimed at me perhaps more blunt such as “you are so ungrateful” and “I can’t take it Darlene, you are going to make me have a breakdown” and “nothing I ever do is enough for you is it?” and I believed all of those statements too. They communicated my failure and that I was a burden when deep down all I wanted was to show her that I loved her and to be loved by her in return. I wanted to be seen and to be heard and to be validated by my mother.
When I was in my forties I got so sick emotionally that I had to face the truth. The truth was that rejection, my biggest fear, had already happened. My days were spent trying to figure out what was wrong with me so that I could finally be loveable in my mother’s eyes. I never considered that the problem belonged to my mother. And today I understand how I never could have considered that; all my life my mother communicated to me that I was the problem. I had no choice but to believe it and to try to fix me. Today I see it all differently.
For the last few years I have celebrated being a mother on mother’s day. I celebrate with my children; I celebrate my love for them and theirs for me. I celebrate the relationships that I have with them and how wonderful my three children are; each unique, each amazing, each with their own gifts and personalities. I celebrate my choice to be a different kind of mother than the one that I had. I celebrate knowing what love really is and how to express it and I celebrate the mother that I became for myself; I learned to sooth myself and validate my own pain the way a mother should which went miles towards my own healing.
This year my youngest daughter is graduating high school and going off to college in the fall. This year, perhaps because this is the last “Mother’s day” before I am an empty nester and there is a bit of sadness around that for me, I have been thinking about my mother a little bit more than I have in previous years.
I am feeling a little more grief then in past years. My mother walked away from relationship with me when I asked her for mutual respect. I will never understand how a mother could make a choice like that but my mother did. This year, along with a little more sadness I feel a little bit more sorry for my mother as well. I feel sorry for her that she didn’t find freedom from her own pain the way that I did. I feel sorry for her that she didn’t find the glorious fullness of knowing what love really is. I feel sorry for her that she lost me because I am pretty awesome, but I didn’t know that until I stood up to her definition of me.
I feel sorry for her but not at my expense anymore….
Happy Mother’s day to all of you who are mothers and to all of you who have become the mother you never had~ to yourself or to your children. Celebrate YOU today. (this encouragement includes men!)
In honor of Mother’s Day for each person who purchases a copy of my e-book “Emerging from Broken ~ The Beginning of hope for Emotional Healing” between the dates of May 4th and May 22, 2015 I will enter the receipt into a draw for a complimentary one hour consult or a conversation with me (valued at 125.00 USD per hour) either on the phone or on Skype. You can ask me anything you want. If you have already purchased the book, all donations for $10.00 or more will also be entered into the draw. Due to the nature of this website, the winners name will be kept confidential unless the winner decides otherwise or if the winner will allow me to post a screen name or first name only. (Click on the book picture in the upper right side bar)
The winner of the free one hour consult / conversation with me is KAREN R.
Karen has been a frequent participant and supporter of Emerging from Broken for several years! I am excited to talk to her in person.
Here is what Karen had to say when I emailed her to tell her that she won the prize!
“I feel like I know you already;
I think I started reading EFB in Nov of 2011. I wasn’t searching for it. It showed up on my Facebook as a “you might like” suggestion.
As I read thru the articles I realized pretty quickly that they described my childhood circumstances, upbringing, and family treatment throughout my life.
Within 3 months it radically changed my understanding of my behavior, coping and issues.
The many insightful comments by other posters were just icing on the cake.”
Karen has been a huge blessing to EFB and I and has regularly contributed both in comments and in donations and I am very pleased that her name was drawn!
Thanks to EVERYONE who participated.
Exposing Truth; one snapshot at a time,
More related posts ~ Honor your Mother and Father ~ Is drawing a boundary as sin?