Mother’s Day can be hard on people for a myriad of different reasons. Some people have lost their mother, others are dreaming of the day they get to become a mother, some never knew their mother, some mothers have lost their children, and some have strained relationships with their mothers. Everyone who experiences a challenging moment on this day has their own story or reason why this day brings them pain.
Unfortunately, I am one of those people and today I am finally ready to share a little bit about my story. Well… honestly I don’t feel ready at all. But when it comes to my writing, that’s how I know it’s time to send it out to the world. When what I’m sharing scares me a little… or a lot.
This is the first Mother’s Day since my miscarriage last September, and I wish I was writing about my feelings on that. Alas, I am relatively healed from that event and have grown immensely as a wife and woman because of it. No, today I write to you as a woman with a strained relationship with my own mother.
As of writing this post, in this moment, I am not on speaking terms with my mother.
I’m not sure that’s a detail that needs to be included in this piece, but it felt relevant and I’m trying to stop editing out my true feelings about things and pretending they don’t exist.
It’s always been a challenge to try to talk to people about the relationship I have with my mom. Most of the time they don’t believe me. I’ve grown used to being told “but she’s your mother, don’t talk/think/feel that way” when I speak the truth about the ways she makes me feel or the events that happen. As if my thoughts and feelings are completely inappropriate because this woman gave birth to me.
To put it bluntly, I’m running out of fucks to give about all that. My feelings are valid and deserve to be true and real, no matter how raw they come across. I deserve to process ALL my feelings, not just the ones I know people close to me will have an easier time understanding.
Because having a relationship with the type of mother I have has never been easy for anyone in my life to understand. Especially me.
So for Mother’s Day, I thought I would finally share a big part of my life that I hide from most people because they just don’t understand. One of the biggest parts of my life that requires more vulnerability and realness from me than I am comfortable providing. I like to paint myself as the woman who can roll with the punches of life and keep going. Someone who is strong and someone who is able to provide an example for people to know that it’s okay to share their feelings and the shit they go through and come out a better person because of it.
But sharing this part of my story makes me feel small. It makes me feel vulnerable in a way that talking about depression, anxiety, my miscarriage, being psychic, or any other darkness I face just doesn’t make me feel. I still can’t quite vocalize why, either. My hunch is because I’m still in the midst of healing and, for me, I prefer to publicize my pains once I feel that I’m nearly healed and able to talk without being emotionally attached. I am not in that place with this topic. Every word I write is emotionally charged, full of pain and rage and sadness that I would rather keep hidden. It’s always been easier to hide this part of myself.
I despise Mother’s Day. It feels like it’s always been this way for me, even though I know it hasn’t. Mother’s Day has been hard for me, even before I could blame it on capitalism or Hallmark Holidays forcing people to buy gifts during months that lack gift-giving holidays. Which is still a real opinion I have, but one that I realize was rooted in something much more real.
Mother’s Day hurts me. Deeply.
The pain I feel on Mother’s Day used to be easier to ignore before social media came around. Social media has opened a window into the relationships of others that brought out a lot of my own insecurities in my relationship with my mom. Reading the beautiful words that others would write about their mother’s on this day really made me stop and think. Do people actually feel this way about their moms? Was I wrong for not feeling this way about my own mom? Why couldn’t I force myself to feel this way for someone who literally gave me life and nurtured me in my childhood?
I’ve felt stunted from a deep, meaningful relationship with my mom for many years now. But social media brought those emotions to the forefront and has made me painfully aware of the relationship I lack.
Now, I don’t romanticize any aspect of social media and I know that people post their “highlight reels”, so to speak. So I’m not assuming no one has problems with their moms. However, the thing that made me realize the disparity between me and other people the most was when it came time for me to write my own cute caption for my mom on Mother’s Day. I just couldn’t write it. I haven’t been able to write anything meaningful about her for many years now.
I stopped telling her “you’re the best mom ever” after she abandoned me, first at the age of 12 and again at the age of 13.
I stopped telling her how much I appreciate all she did for me when I realized my well-being was not the motivation for her actions.
I stopped telling her how much I loved and admired her when I realized how easy it was for her to choose men and other people’s approval over her children and their needs.
I stopped telling her I trust her, not the first time she betrayed me, but after about the millionth time. It’s taken a long time for me to learn that I cannot trust her.
One thing about my gift of the written word is that I, unfortunately, cannot write lies. It’s awful. Do you know how hard it was to b.s. a report for a book I never read? All my writing has flowed perfectly and beautifully when I write from my heart, with truth and integrity. Not only have my grades always reflected that, but so has the feeling of writing when it’s honest versus writing when it’s forced and false. I have access to all my thoughts, emotions, and words when I write the truth. I hit walls when it’s a lie.
I’ve been writing this post in my mind for so long, it’s causing so much emotion to be brought out now that it’s time to choose the right words.
I tend to think my experiences with my mother would be easier for people to understand if I gave them a label. A way to understand what I’ve experienced if they could just look it up in a dictionary and completely understand (which unfortunately, doesn’t work.) So far, the labels that seem to describe my experiences the best include having a “narcissistic mother” which includes plenty of varieties of abuse, mine being more in the emotional category. I’m skeptical to use labels though because, honestly, they lack the appropriate examples of all the ways she’s hurt me, manipulated me, and caused me so much pain over the years. But they’re the best way I can describe her, at least until I’m more healed.
I’ve always been drawn to psychology and understanding the human experience. Why we are the way we are, how we become anything, what motivates us on a deeper level. I’ve come to realize that many of us who have felt called to study psychology come from similar backgrounds. We all seem to have been exposed to situations that just didn’t make sense. And somehow, instead of turning into evil villains focused on destroying the world, we turn our gaze to understanding and helping those who continue to suffer like we did.
For me, a big part of what I believe pushed me toward psychology was my mother. So I guess thanks for that.
I’ve never been able to understand what I did to her to deserve to be treated the way I have. It’s never added up that having my own opinions, being my own person, dancing to the beat of my own drum was wrong until I realized the problem was never hidden inside me. Which, honestly, took a lot of time to realize.
I don’t blame my mom for our rough relationship, though. I honestly feel sad for her and the life she’s chosen to live as a result of her own issues and circumstances that shaped the person she has become. I’m able to objectively look at her and our relationship and know that there are certain things she simply doesn’t understand are “wrong” when it comes to being a mother. I’m her first child and like any first born, we are the ones that help develop the type of mother our moms become. We are the “test run” so to speak on everything she learns about motherhood. I don’t expect her or any mom to be perfect, not by a long shot.
However, her ignorance does not excuse her behavior and I am at a point in my life where I can no longer stay silent and pretend that everytime Mother’s Day rolls around I am not reminded of the deep, indescribable hurt that I feel over the lack of a mother’s unconditional love.
I’ve prayed so many nights to wake up and suddenly become worth loving.
I’ve prayed for every part of me that didn’t fit into her idea of the “perfect child” to melt away and never return.
I’ve prayed for her to be proud of me and the things I do and say and think.
Those prayers have never been answered, and I am beginning to realize that they never will. Not because God isn’t real, but because none of those things ever needed to be fixed in the first place. I have always been worthy of love regardless of the way our relationship makes me feel.
It’s been a long road to get to where I can comfortably talk about these kinds of things without emotionally shutting down and lashing out. I’ve blamed myself for years for not being the perfect child for my mother, something I still wish I could be.
But I’ve grown to accept all my perceived imperfections. All the things I thought were why she hated me. My inability to hold my tongue, the way I correct people when they use the wrong words, how I talk about something new I just learned and want to share my knowledge with other people, my love of all things fantasy, my inability to care what people think, my undying loyalty to those I love, my innate curiosity. All these things, and the things I can’t write about, have always been worth loving, even if my mother couldn’t see it.
So on this Mother’s Day, if you are someone who has a rough relationship with your mom, know that you are not alone. There are many of us out there that have lacked the picture perfect relationships we see being boasted about all around us. It’s okay that you don’t have a perfect relationship, and it’s okay to feel like you’re the only one struggling along on this day. You’re not.
I spent many years struggling through this holiday, drinking away the pain that I felt, suppressing my emotions and letting the shame I felt eat me alive. The one thing I’ve learned is that, eventually, it does get easier to accept the imperfections and recognize that no matter how deeply your mother (or anyone for that matter) has hurt you, they are still human. They are a person who makes mistakes and screws things up sometimes too. They are more than likely suffering from the exact same things they have put you through, repeating a cycle they don’t know how to break. These explanations of their behavior do not excuse the behavior though, and it definitely doesn’t excuse the feelings you are left with as a result. But for me, knowing that my mom has her own set of issues that have merely been projected onto me has helped ease the pain of it all. Sometimes, I really don’t think she’s ever fully known just how she makes me feel or how deeply her words and actions from my childhood have impacted me, even to this day.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the people who struggle through this holiday like I do. I pray you receive the strength to listen to that inner voice and do whatever it is that makes you feel better about this day. Maybe it’s a bubble bath, a hike, a batch of cookies, or writing about your struggles to connect with other people who feel the same way. Whatever it is, know that it’s okay to not be okay and the more that you explore your feelings, the more power you are ultimately tapping into to overcome this obstacle.