She is my Mother

She is my mother, and I only have one! I miss her. I miss her every day. As crazy as that sounds, it is the truth. I hope that she found some happiness in her life, even if I wasn’t there to witness it. I hope that she didn’t suffer in death. I hope that she realized how much I loved her. Just like she wasn’t the mother I wanted, I probably wasn’t the daughter she wanted either. But we don’t get to choose who we are connected to. She is forever my mother, and I am forever her daughter.

I used to blame my mother for our disconnect. If she had been able to stand up to my father and move out on her own, I would have been able to have a relationship with her. She was always so caught up in my father’s histrionics that she wasn’t able to be there for me. I embraced her kind heart and her childlike hope for a better life, and I blamed her short temper and cruelness on my dad. He brought this out in her because he treated her with disrespect and humiliated her.

As I got older, I started to realize that she played a part in the chaos and abuse in our family. Whether she realized it, wanted it, or knew it, she had become a part of the problem. She kept waiting for my father to treat her better, to ‘love’ her more. She was sad and withdrawn. I felt helpless to make her happy, so it made me angry. I would try and tell her to leave my dad, to get a job, to take a trip by herself. She would listen to me and sometimes it would seem like she was going to take action. But she couldn’t. As sad and as hurt as she was, she couldn’t leave my father.

She got married when she was 19. She started a family shortly after in England. My parents immigrated to America before I was born. They didn’t know anyone here, and started a new life. I always admired them for that. For all the confusion I had as a child, I admired my parent’s intelligence and courage to move to a new country with the hope of a better life. There was something in them that believed in themselves enough to make a change, and they believed that the world was fair enough to give them a chance at something better.

They valued being recognized for achievements. So, I tried my best to do something well enough so that I would get their attention, but there always seemed to be a disconnect. I felt like I was an observer in my own family, trying to figure out what they wanted so that I could do that and be loved, or at least get the warmth of their affection for a minute or two. I never did figure out what they wanted me to do. Affection would be given randomly depending on their mood, and other times I would be punished for no clear reason.

As I became a teenager, I started to feel resentment, confusion and anger towards my mom. I started to withhold affection from her. In my early 20’s I told her I didn’t want to see her anymore because when I saw her, she would bring me back to the feelings of the powerlessness of the child that I used to be. I wanted to forget that and move on. It hurt my mom when I didn’t want to see her anymore, and a part of me was glad. I finally hurt her the way she had hurt me. My siblings tried to talk to me about it, and understand why I would cut off my mom. My father, who never called me, called and tried to convince me to talk to my mom again. My mom was hurt, so it showed me that she must care about me. My family was finally giving me attention, even if it wasn’t the attention I had craved my whole life, it was attention. The action of rejecting my mom brought out more emotion then all my actions of trying to gain her love, so I started to embrace my role as the rebel of the family. I was no longer the invisible powerless child.

But as I got older and more removed from my family, I started to see my mom’s pain too. I realized that many of her actions came from being overwhelmed and abandoned emotionally by her own parents and my dad. My father treated her unkindly which added to her already low self esteem. She was trying to find peace and hope in a situation that would never allow that. I know that she became depressed, sad and hopeless. It made me sad for her, and for myself because I knew she would never be well enough to actually be my mother.

I had tried to completely cut ties with her over the years, as it was just too painful to have a relationship with her. But she was always in the back of my mind. I would do things in my life in hopes that she would hear about them and be proud of me. I pretended not to care, but the truth is I cared too much. It broke my heart to not have a mom. I didn’t want to feel the pain of it, so I pushed her away. She was my mother, but her cruelness and coldness hurt my heart. It made me feel unloveable and disconnected. It made me close off to my own emotions and become sarcastic and distant in friendships and relationships.

And when she died, all my hopes of reconciling or having that relationship I never had, died with her. I couldn’t accept the way she was in life, I couldn’t accept her as she was. But when she died I had to accept that she was never going to change. Her death ended my hope of having the mother I wanted, but it also changed my life. I stopped drinking and got a divorce. I stopped waiting for other people to change in order for me to be happy. I started to try and make myself happy instead. It has been 6 years since my mom passed, and some days I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that she is gone. I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that we will never have the relationship that I so desperately wanted and needed. When I see women my age hugging their moms and calling them their best friend, my heart hurts. What did I do wrong? Why didn’t I get that?

I can read books about the reason why my mom was the way she was. I can go to therapy, and I can intellectually know that it was nothing to do with me. I can scream into pillows, work out to exhaustion, and talk to sympathetic friends, but it doesn’t change the fact that my mom couldn’t show me unconditional love. It doesn’t change the fact that when I stood up for myself to her I was bad and selfish. It doesn’t change the fact that the only way I could feel any power and sense of self was to hurt her.

I wish it was different! I wish with all my heart I was writing a blog post right now about how my mom was always there for me, and that she was my best friend. But, I am not. I am writing about a woman who brought me into this world and who I had an antagonistic relationship with. A woman that I never really understood, but who I wanted to love and understand me. A woman, that no matter how many friends I have who love and understand me, cannot be replaced. She is my mother, and I only have one! I miss her. I miss her every day. As crazy as that sounds, it is the truth. I hope that she found some happiness in her life, even if I wasn’t there to witness it. I hope that she didn’t suffer in death. I hope that she realized how much I loved her. Just like she wasn’t the mother I wanted, I probably wasn’t the daughter she wanted either. But we don’t get to choose who we are connected to. She is forever my mother, and I am forever her daughter.

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    1. Really? The mother daughter relationship is one that was elusive to me my whole life, but I have my daughter and she makes everything better!