Mothers come in all shapes and sizes, with every personality possible.
We have all been blessed with one, whether they have been there for us or not, whether they have nurtured and loved, or neglected and abused, honoured and respected, or manipulated and disrespected, they have been there. Even if just to create us and bring us into the world.
The past week, as Christmas has been upon us and my lack of contact with my mother has been feeling ever-present, I have been aware of the pain of quite how alone I feel. And quite how painful that loneliness feels. But alongside this feeling comes the reassurance that in actual fact, no matter how much our mother is part of our lives, or how much they are not, we all have our own tie-ups or gaps of emptiness in our lives from our mum. I believe anyway. There is no perfect mother-daughter relationship out there. When you come from a traumatic and twisted relationship with your mother, it is easy to feel as though things are more painful for you compared to others, and the gaps of emptiness are in fact voids of oblivion that cannot see how could ever change. This might be true. But what I also know to definitely be true is that we ALL have our own issues and our own ways in which our mothers don’t meet us, and never have. In this past year of
emotional chaos growth, I have begun to really value and take refuge in finding ways to work out that we are all the same. We are not alone in this crazy world of emotions and life. In our weird and wacky and unique ways, there is an element of us that is a running theme throughout all beings. I find it takes away, or at least softens, that isolation and desperation the feelings or experiences can trigger. And trigger quite spectacularly too. Whether these hurts with our mother have been healed, or whether they are still running rampant, the fact is that each and every one of us has had, or does have, beef with our parents.
To normalise this – to see that everyone has it to a certain extent, for me, makes this process a heck of a lot easier. Sure, it doesn’t take the trauma away. It doesn’t take all the years of neglect, intense three-pronged abuse and let-downs away, but it does make you see that you are not alone. It helps you see that an element of this is ‘normal’ life. I flippin’ hate that word, but by normal I mean we all have it. We all have ‘stuff’ with our mothers. Whether it doesn’t surface properly until we are 40 and in the midst of bringing up our own children, and our childhood begins to hit us hard in the face; or whether we begin to divulge it when we hit 18 and get-hell-out-of-home only to go and sit in a therapy chair and watch our life we thought was normal, unfold before us as QUITE THE OPPOSITE; or whether it hits the pretty common route of surfacing in our twenties as we make our way with finding our own identity and looking back on all the shit that went down as kids. And then coming out the other side, at each of these scenarios (and all the others I haven’t described), is a more balanced and understanding perspective of where your mother was coming from, and you have come from. Or so I’ve been told. At 25, who am I to talk?!
Going through the motions and emotions of hate, anger, frustration, let-down, neglect and a deep sadness for what was or what could have been, to then come out with a sense of peace and acceptance, or at least understanding, of them/ourselves/etc, is to me a healthy, and pretty bloody normal, process. At least I think so. We can’t just go from one extreme to the other. We need to live through the motions of feeling the pain of what was, and all the rest inbetween, to then come to a point where we can love what is.
Just last week my therapist said that, in all the years of her work, my mother wins the worst-mother-award. This coming from a therapist with years of experience, added impact to this statement. Despite all the shit that’s been, this broke my heart to hear. All I responded with was, “really?” Despite how atrocious she has been. Despite the serious and twisted manipulation. Despite the hate that was spat at me consistently and constantly from an early age, I still love her. So so much. And I always will. Sure, it feels more like the kind of love you might have for a child, due to the reversed roles in our relationship, but this love is very much there and always will be. At the moment I often hate her with a blinding rage too, but I see this as a great sign of health. As any therapist would tell you.I see that I am very much in the midst of that journey of emotions I describe above – slap bang in the middle of the uncovering, processing, and then healing, all that’s been. And this kind of anger has been buried for years, when it surfaces is one giant leap in healing. Provided it is released in a mindful way. Like 100 lengths in a swimming pool (I wish). Or an angry stomp up a hill (that’s is more like it). And so I seem to be spending my days
What this post is trying to get at, is the fact that we are all in the same boat. No matter how different our story, no matter how deep and isolating the pain feels, we all share the same thing – we all have these hurts and big gaps of empty, when it comes to our mothers/parents. Some are much bigger than others, but they are all in relation to what has been in our life. I really believe this. And it is something so easily forgotten, and rightly so. But know that it is true. As someone who has lived through severe trauma with my mother, I often feel desensitised to others descriptions of turmoils with their mum, quietly wondering what it would be like to ‘just have something like that’ going on with mine. But this soon passes and I realise that it really is all in relation. Just like we can never get that person to truly know, even know in a small way, what it is like to experience what we have experienced, they cannot ever get us to fully understand what it is like to experience what they experience. One thing we do share, is that at some point in our life, for some people it is/was hourly and for others it is/was yearly, our mothers have hurt us, have let us down, and have caused complete havoc in our lives. Again, one persons havoc is different to anothers, but whatever it is, and whichever scenario it is for you, just know that despite the fact we can never live a day through someone else’s eyes or get someone to live a day through ours, we can hold comfort in the fact that we are not alone in feeling all these feelings towards our mothers. They just vary in intensity or severity.
Within this bundle of emotions and memories stored that bring sorrow and pain about our mothers, there is also joy in there too. Because you cannot have one without the other. That is just how life works – you get both. Always. No matter how far away that joy feels, or how deep it is buried, it will be some there, I promise. Sometimes you just have to go hunting. No matter how much pain life brings, so much joy comes with it too. Maybe it wasn’t directly from our mothers. Maybe it was. But whatever it was or whenever it was, there will be joy running alongside these memories of let-downs or memories of trauma from our childhood. So when you’re thinking of the things that make you sad, make sure you try to think of that joy you experienced too. Even if it was with your friends or something totally unrelated to your mum, the fact is that during those days or moments you spent in pain or hurt with your mother, there will have been something in those days that brought sunshine and grins to your heart. And this is something to be grateful for. Because that is just how life works.
And lastly, this is why we have each other. Because, in my eyes, friends are what help fill those gaps of emptiness from our parents. We all have these gaps, be them big or small, where our parents are not there for us how we would love them to be, or at all. But that is what friends are for. Not to be parents, but to simply be there. To share the pain of the grief of what is missing parental wise. To share the joy in your life when you don’t have a parent to turn to, to share it with. To be there alongside you in the rough and the smooth, and to know you for you. No matter how good or rough our relationship is with our folks, we all need friends in life. To me, friends are family and so I often feel as though I need my friends more than they need me, but this is okay. Because they will need me in different ways, as each of our needs are so unique. It is just getting to know our needs and getting to trust them too.
Share and talk with those around you and know that however different your story is to theirs, there will always be somewhere you can meet. And it doesn’t tend to be that far away.