Mothers Day can be a rough time for survivors of dysfunctional family relationships. The key to overcoming all the emotional baggage that comes up with the pain of mothers day has been to take a look at what that pain is where that pain originated.
We are told from a young age that our parents know best. We are told and convinced that they love us and are doing their best and that they always do what is best for us. We are taught that they are right. The problem is that when we are dismissed, devalued or discounted by these same parents we don’t know how to reconcile those two polar opposite teachings. On the one hand, we have been brainwashed (convinced) to believe that that there is nothing as beautiful as a mothers love. On the other hand we are hurt by the dismissal of our mothers. Our pain has been minimized; we have been told that we exaggerate, that we outright lie, that we are too sensitive, that we are crazy, that we are don’t remember what “really happened”.
These are deflection tactics motivated by the need to cover up the truth. Mothers will jump straight to saying that we are ungrateful. “After all I have done for you, this is how you treat me!”
My mother would say; “Oh Darlene, you think you are so hard done by!” I never once thought about what that meant, I just felt the burn of shame for being ‘that daughter’… the daughter that thought her own mother was selfish. That daughter that thought her own mother was unloving and shame on me, for not understanding how hard it had been for my poor mother. I felt guilty for feeling frustrated. After all, my mother went through a lot in her life. And the whole world teaches that there is nothing as strong and protective as a mothers love.
The whole world teaches that a mother does the best she can.
A loving mother does her very best.
So I had to take a look at what a loving mother is. What does love do? What does love look like?
Does love ignore? Does love dismiss? Does love turn a blind eye to a child’s fear or to a child’s feelings? Is a parent entitled to follow different rules when it comes to love?
Is it possible that just maybe not all mothers are ‘loving’?
Since I was looking at the belief that Mothers always do the best they can, I had to take a look at what is ‘best’.
Why was it best for me that my mother didn’t hear me and that she didn’t want to hear me? Why was it best for me that she didn’t protect me? Why was it best for me that she didn’t want to treat me with mutual respect? Why was it best for me that my mother didn’t validate my needs or that she communicated to me that my needs were a burden to her? How could that have been her doing the ‘best’ that she could?
And I told myself that my mother didn’t know any better. I told myself that that is just how it was ‘in those days’ and that there wasn’t any good help in those days. But those excuses didn’t hold much weight as I grew older because they don’t make logical sense. Why would a loving mother not realize that her actions were HURTFUL? Isn’t it part of love to consider the one loved? Is it part of love to convince the one loved not to bring shame on the family by talking about our pain? Isn’t it a bit of a truth leak when we are groomed to keep those deep dark secrets? Doesn’t that actually prove that they DO know better? What is the real motive behind being told not to tell and not to expose the truth?
Mothers who validate the truth have to take action against abuse therefore we can see what their motive is for ignoring us. They don’t want to do anything about it. It is so much easier to cover it up, either to protect herself or to protect someone else. But the problem is the message that it gives to the person that was harmed in the first place! It communicates that the abuser is more important than the victim.
As I struggled to reconcile how my mother could do her best verses the truth about the way she actually regarded me, my self-esteem got lower. I was an adult and she was still ignoring me, telling me that the problem was me. She was still communicating that the problem was and always has been, me.
Their main objective is to make sure that they switch the focus from themselves back on to you. When my mother brought the focus back to me, my actual grievance was lost and ignored as I was forced to defend myself once again. Every time that my mom pointed her finger at me, I started to think about my actions and I had been so brainwashed to believe that I was ‘nothing special’ that I immediately felt ashamed of myself for trying to have my own feelings validated.
How does a child do that?
When I really thought about the way that my mother taught me love, it was always about her. She didn’t love me the way she asked me to love her. I was supposed to put her first. I was supposed to be understanding of HER difficulties. I was supposed to submit to her wishes and to agree that HER value was greater than mine.
I thought perhaps that I was the only daughter in the world that felt this way and that perhaps I was the only daughter whose mother couldn’t love her. I believed it must be something to do with me, because she told me it was me.
My Mother would jump straight to reminding me about that one time I did something or said something wrong in her eyes. They will drag up anything that they can to bring the focus back to you and take it off of them. One time on the day I was released from the hospital with my newborn baby my mother brought up a whole list of things I did when I was a teenager. I was sick and weak and she chose that time to bully me. How is that love? How is that best?
Is what I was asking for from my mother, wrong? Is asking to be loved and accepted for who I am, asking for too much? Is it unloving to feel sad or even angry that although I tried my hardest, and even though my mother said she loved me, her actions show a different truth? Does love hurt others? And if you are one of those people that will point a finger at me and say that I have hurt my mother by standing up to her I ask you this: Is it loving to accept abusive treatment? Or is it MORE loving to say no to abusive, dismissive and disrespectful treatment because accepting that treatment gives a type of permission to the abuser.
Am I a disrespectful daughter because I finally stood up for me and said no to being discounted? I don’t think so.
Am I an ungrateful daughter because I don’t worship the person that birthed me? Am I a bad daughter because I don’t want to accept all that disrespect and blame anymore? I don’t think so.
Does it make me a bad daughter because I said no to the never-ending pain caused by the untrue and unfair judgment from my mother and said yes to me? I don’t think so!
I don’t believe any of those lies anymore.
(P.S. This post can easily be applied to fathers and other relationship partners as well. There is only one definition of Love)
This mothers day I am celebrating the freedom and true love I have in my life today! I Celebrate the fact that in spite of the upbringing I had full of false teachings about love, I became the loving mother that I am to my 3 grown children and that I have a wonderful mutually respectful relationship with all of them.
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Exposing Truth; One snapshot at a time
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