“Even after all this time the sun never says to the earth, “you owe me.” Look at what happens with a love like that. It lights the whole sky.” Hafiz
Reading all the posts from Carla and her Mom, Debbie, got me to thinking about my own Mother and all that has come and gone in our relationship. Sometimes I wish that she and I could mend this broken fence. Sometimes I miss my mother.
I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have this longing that I have labelled as “missing my mother” but it is a longing for something that has always been missing. It is a longing for love, a longing to have value in my mother’s life and a longing to feel like I mattered to her. That longing is a longing for something that has never really been there.
Sometimes I wonder where this longing came from if I never had it in the first place. Maybe my mother was an amazing mother when I was an infant; when I was a baby who was completely dependent on her. Maybe she was filled with love when she looked down at me, when I was so little, so fragile and perfect in my helplessness. I needed her then. Maybe she thought that my dependency on her was love. How was she loved and what did she think that love was? Did she think that this little baby would fill the void that was in her soul? And maybe when I was a little baby, with no verbal ability, no opinion separate from her, no will of my own, that was exactly how she wanted it and that was love. Well whatever it was then, somewhere along the line everything went terribly wrong.
My mom used to get mad at me and tell me that no matter how nasty her own mother was that they (her and her siblings) always loved her anyway. I realized that my mother was actually telling me that I did not love her “the right way”. I was expected to love her, because she was my mother. I remember even in my own brokenness, wondering why we feel that we have to love our parents just because they are our parents. My mother says that she did the best she could and after my parents split up when I was 12, she constantly stated that she never asked to be a single parent as though that was why she wasn’t a caring or loving parent.
And this isn’t just about my mother because I was expected to love other people who had no regard for me. Why “should” I love people who cause me pain, people who humiliate me and tell me by their actions that I am worthless? Why did I have to love people who only contributed to the pain in my life, people that never cared about me, never wanted to see me for who I was but only for what I could do for them? There was this deep down niggling doubt about the words “should” and why obligation was somehow connected to the word love, but I could not quite grasp the whole picture.
My mother taught me the wrong definition of the word love. I learned by her actions. I learned by her expectations. I learned that I was obligated ~ I was supposed to love her and that loving her meant doing what she wanted and never upsetting her. Love was about ME carrying the entire burden of the relationship. Love was keeping dirty little secrets. Love was accepting that I was not worthy of protection and not putting up a fuss about it because that would upset her. I could fight, I could express the unfairness of it all, but there was a price to pay for the fight and I was ignored. It was painfully clear to me that my feelings didn’t matter; only her feelings did. The problem was that by her definition of love, I was not loved and that is how I knew that I was not loved. My mother did not love me by HER own definition of the word.
I had a fantasy about having a certain type of mother. I worked very hard to earn her love and acceptance of me, believing that one day I would find the magic key. I finally accepted that it wasn’t going to happen because SHE can’t do it. It isn’t because I can’t be what she wants. The lack is not in me.
I feel sorry for my mother. She doesn’t know what love is. She never saw me as an individual. She doesn’t know that love is more fulfilling when it is mutual. She doesn’t know that obligation isn’t part of love. My mother is so sure that she is right about how it should be that when I finally said enough and that I was not going to accept her system anymore, she could not consider my feelings. She could not stop blaming me, she did not want to bother with trying to work it out with me because it had to be her way and I had the nerve and disrespect to ask for something more.
I miss and even sometimes mourn the idea of (one day) having a loving mother. When I told my mother that I had had enough and she closed the door, at first I felt this horrible fear. I felt like I could not function without a mother, that I HAD to have one. I think that abusive people teach us this lie ~ that without them we will die, so that we are afraid to stand up to them. It is all part of the control they have over us. Within about 3 months, I started to realize that the oppression that I lived under was lifting. I realized that I was not getting wound up all the time about proving myself. I began to see how toxic the relationship really was and I began to realize a new freedom. In my wholeness I have realized that I do not have to have a toxic relationship EVEN if that means that I don’t have any relationship with my mother.
The bottom line with all of this is that I had to determine and own my own value. I had to stop living under my mother’s definition of love, and find the real definition. I drew my boundaries with my mother as I was learning to love and value myself. I grew in my emotional health to the exact extent that I was willing to stand up for myself and to stand up for the truth. Today I know my value and that I am equally valuable to every other human being. If people treat me as though I am not equally valuable, (even if those people are part of my family) I no longer accept that. I am in charge of my self esteem and in the past I just told myself not to feel bad when someone devalued me but today I choose not to be around people who hurt me.
Because I am worth it,
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