“Though our childhood abuse left us feeling someone ought to make reparation to us, if we wait a lifetime for that, we may never receive what we need. We choose instead to face the idea that from now on, we are going to take responsibility for caring for ourselves.” Beyond Survival by Maureen Brady
Today on Mother’s day, I acknowledge myself ~ that I in the last 4-5 years I have been the mother to myself that I have needed.
When I finally drew the line with my mother, she walked away from me. Although I know that my mother had a very difficult childhood, and a tough life herself, I couldn’t let her take it out on me anymore. She had the same chance that I did to get help. She chose not to have a relationship with me because I told her that I would not carry the burden of the relationship anymore. I would not let talk to me in an abusive way or blame me for the abuse that I suffered at the hands of her boyfriend. Though I wish only the best for my Mom ~ on this Mother’s day, I celebrate that I no longer allow other people to devalue me or define me, and that I am an example of victory over a difficult past.
Even as an adult with children of my own, I could relate to feeling like I wanted to be justified. I wanted to be validated and told that the abuse was not in my imagination. I wanted someone to apologize to me. I wanted someone to tell me that I had not deserved to be regarded with such little value. I wanted to be assured that I was loveable, that I had not done anything wrong, that it was not my fault and that I wasn’t crazy or selfish for feeling like no one cared about me.
I was told I was a story teller, the little girl that cried wolf, I was taught to doubt my memories and was not always sure what things had happened to me and what were things that I might have dreamed up. Things were murky for me and I had learned to disconnect from my body where it was even harder to remember the real from the imagined.
But in adulthood, after years of living in a world of dissociation, depression and struggle, and within the safety of therapy I began to look at my upbringing from a different angle. I began to see what really happened and where they were wrong and I began to rebuild myself.
I still longed to be recognized and validated, especially by my parents. I thought that if my Mother would just come to me and say that she realized the harm she had done to me by not believing me and not protecting me, and if she admitted that she put me in very dangerous positions, and if she told me how sorry that she was, EVEN if she had to say “but I was so sick”… I thought that it would change everything, and that my life would just be all better.
Several things happened. First of all I learned to validate myself. I learned to believe in me and my own my truth and to know that I did not imagine what happened to me. I began to repair the false beliefs; I took them apart and I looked at them as though I was seeing through a new lens. I started to see the core person; the real me and acknowledge who I really was inside and started to like myself.
When I look at this process today, I realize that if my mother had made a grand effort to make it up to me and apologized for her part in the messed up upbringing that I had and for all the lies about myself that I had believed all those years and if my father had realized that he neglected me; that he had never been interested in me as a person and if he came to me with a sincere understanding of how that affected me, I know today that not much would have changed. The old beliefs I learned as a child would still be alive at the depth of my core. The false belief system that I developed which lay at the root of all my difficulties would have still been intact. I would have been happy for about a month or so, and then the old depression would have come creeping back; the voices whispering that I am an imposter, would have still been there, the identity issues and the insecurities would not have healed. All of this helps me to understand that the re-wiring I did with the help of my therapist really had to take place for me to become ME!
Happy Mother’s Day ~ to all our Mom readers and to those of us who parent ourselves! (That includes you Men too!)
Next years mother’s day post has been published~ “Mother’s Day and Dysfunctional Mother Daughter Relationships”