My Mother made me do a lot of housework and dishes when I was a teenager. I cooked supper almost every night from the age of 13 years old. I didn’t get allowance. I didn’t acknowledgement unless it was because I was grumbling against being the one that had to do it all.
But that is not what I am talking about in my blog when I talk about dysfunctional family relationships and mother daughter relationship difficulties.
I am not blogging about how life was unfair because my mother took advantage of me, didn’t let me stay for after school events because she needed me to cook and didn’t give me an allowance. That was a very minor part of my difficulties. Although those were the resentments that I could recall easily, those were not the real roots of the problem.
The real roots of the problem were much bigger than that. The real roots of the parent child dysfunction were about things that I could barely remember and the things I could remember ~ I couldn’t think about long enough to really comprehend the truth that they pointed to. There was lots of confusion to work through first.
My mother used me as a magnet to attract men when I was as young as six. My father watched her do it without saying a word. I don’t think that my parents did the best they could. When I was seventeen, my mother took me to bars with her where we got “picked up” and hit on by business men who were looking for some action. She put me in danger. Those are the kinds of things that leave a real mark. My mother taught me my value was in how Men reacted to me. That doesn’t sound like “doing her best” at all.
My mother advised me that losing my virginity was a small price to pay to get everything I wanted in life. I was seventeen and being groomed by a 32 year old multi millionaire when she told me that. She was really interested in the “millionaire part”. Instead of realizing or being concerned about the danger I was in, she only saw the benefits that she might have if I had a relationship with him. I can’t see how that shows that my mother did the best she could.
And speaking of my being a “virgin” She didn’t believe that I was a virgin anyway… she had been publically accusing me of being promiscuous since I was 16. She had been accusing me of flirting with her boy friend’s since I was 14. That doesn’t sound to me like things a person who is “doing the best she could” would say to her daughter!
Those kinds of things leave a mark. Self esteem doesn’t grow in that environment. My parents didn’t do the best they could.
I have been labelled as a difficult daughter ~ selfish and self centered and those statements cut me deeply and they kept me trying harder. I wasn’t difficult when I was going out to bars with her, helping her pick up men. I remember this one time; this married man took me out to the lobby with him to make a phone call home to his wife. He had his arm around me and rubbed the small of my back, while he told his wife that he missed her and loved her and asked about their children.
Where the hell was my mother while I was leaving the bar with this guy?? We were in a hotel bar. He was staying in the hotel. Why did she let me walk out of the bar with him? Was that BEST for me?
I was seventeen and these men were in their forties; married with kids! These men were away from home on business, hitting on an underage teenage girl who had been snuck into a high end bar by her own mother. What the hell was my mother thinking?? Well it is obvious that she wasn’t thinking about me. I don’t think I was the difficult one. I don’t think I was the one who was selfish and self centered. She knew I was a minor. She knew the drinking age was nineteen where we lived. She knew how old and how married those men were. I wasn’t the problem here. I was the disregarded and devalued one. I don’t see how I can agree that my mother did the best she could! How could that have been the best she could do?
It isn’t my resentments about doing all the dishes and cooking and not getting any money, that is at the root of all this. It isn’t about her not going to parent teacher interviews, and not mentioning post secondary school or the fact that she never listened to me. Although these things are true, it isn’t about not getting the shoes I wanted or not going to the school dance or any of those “normal teenage resentments”.
It goes way deeper than that. It took me years to realize that having all the emphasis on all the wrong things was getting in the way of my healing. I thought it was me. I thought I was deficient. I thought I was a failure as a daughter. I thought that I needed to change. But it wasn’t that at all. When I looked deeper, to see where the foundation of this difficult dysfunctional mother daughter relationship really had its roots, then I started to see a different picture. I’d put all the weight of the relationship on my shoulders. I was filled with guilt for things that had been “DONE TO ME”. I believed that I was a bad person because she said I did something to attract these men. I believed that I was bad because I stole my clothes and forgot that I stole them because she wouldn’t buy them for me. I was 14 years old.
And where was my father while all this was going on?? My father ignored me. I can’t say that my father did the best he could. Very simply, the message he communicated to me was that I didn’t matter. He was emotionally unavailable, emotionally absent (and when my parents split up he was physically absent too) and disinterested in me and that communicated some very difficult messages for me to accept. He often mentioned that he paid child support. I guess that is all he thought he had to do as a father. He communicated that child support was the BEST he could do. Ouch.
I also believed that my emotionally and psychologically sick mother was too weak to carry any of the burdens of being a mother and in justifying her that way I believed that my mother did the best she could. I wanted to believe it. I HAD to believe it. The truth was too painful to face.
But my mother didn’t do her best. And the fact that she had fragile mental health or the fact that she came from a dysfunctional family and had abusive parents herself did not lessen any of the damage caused to me and that damage had to be faced. Emotional healing didn’t happen for me until I faced where I got broken in the first place. And although I can’t change the past, I can face it. I can stop lying to myself about it.
Writing about this hurts. It makes my chest hurt. I have a lump in my throat. It has been devastating to face this stuff. This is my mother I am talking about. These were my parents. They said they loved me. My mother said she wanted a daughter more than anything. She said all the things that I think daughters would love to hear. But the reality of it was very different. The truth was not in those words. The way she showed that love was not love at all. We were the definition of dysfunctional mother daughter relationship. There WAS NO relationship and there was no love. Her actions proved that. And her actions also proved that she knew better then she pretended to know. I can say the same for my father. My parents didn’t do the BEST they could.
How can I say and why should I accept others saying to me that my parents did the best they could? It is clear to me that they did not. I am not talking about perfect here. I am not talking about having “too high of expectations” of my mother and father. I am talking about being taken to bars and being offered to men and stealing my jeans while my mother bought evening gowns and diamonds for herself and my father built a new life with a new family oblivious to what was going on in my life and showing NO interest in me.
And actually, I am more upset about the fact that it got blamed on me, that I was labelled as the difficult one, the emotional one, and the over reactive one ~ than I am about the things that happened to me.
Today when I hear people say that their parents did they best they could, I wonder…..
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