(This was my Mother’s Day cars from my son this year. I guess his list of top needs from me as his mom)
I wasn’t going to post today. I’m actually fairly tired and the dishes are dirty, the floor needs mopping, I should be packing for an overnight out of town with my son…
I’m compelled today due to several people having a very hard time with mother relationships lately, and I’m hoping they will read this today as I can’t individually say it to all.
The biggest, hardest, and most painful part of my trauma recovery has been the relationship with my mom. If you haven’t read much of my blog, I’ll simply tell you that my mom literally told me I was evil several times a day, did weird things to prove how evil I was, and no matter what amazing things I was doing, she told me I would fail every time. She told me “no one will ever love a person like you”. It’s gets much uglier and disgusting from there, but that’s a basic picture, and I’m not interested in traumatizing anyone with my trauma. Besides, enough people have heard my story and life is focused on gratitude for me now, not making sense of a horrible past (I should note that I’ve had some of the best of the best trauma therapy, including dedicated trauma programs, residential treatment for PTSD, and a whole lot of dedicated mental health professionals for 20 years).
When I was in my early 20s, I had an incredible therapist, SL. We worked a lot on my trauma. I would vehemently deny and scream at her that there was no way anyone could love me if my own mother didn’t. She would say it wasn’t true and stay the course, and I was absolutely convinced that no one could love me if my own mother couldn’t.
My cure was to find a mother. I found a couple, but they ended in disappointment in huge ways that only validated my unworthiness of love. I probably had placed huge expectations on them and their failure wasn’t theirs, but in my own cognitive distortion that you either had a horrific one or a perfect one. Back then, I didn’t talk to anyone about their relationship with their mom. That was too painful for me. In my own exploration in more recent years, I found there is no perfect mom. Moms are held to perfection, but anyone who has ever been to therapy, for even relatively benign reasons, has complained about their mom. My friends with incredible moms even complain!!
So back to my mom journey. My mom died in 2006. For most people, the death of your mom is incredibly hard to deal with. My world became a little lighter that day. If you think it’s terrible for me to say, maybe this isn’t the post for you, but this is for people who can’t make sense of a world when your mom was/is terrible.
I didn’t grieve the actual person my mom was. I had grief that ever having a mom died with her.
In the past few years, I realized that I don’t have someone to call “mom”, what I do have are constant instances of getting from a variety of people what I wanted from a mom.
The friend who questioned my safety and sanity when I told her I booked a trip to Thailand and was leaving in 48 hours gave me the scolding of my life. That was some serious momming. Her serious concern was pure mom love. Even when she called me the other day and gave me a lecture about doing things physically that didn’t match my ability, she kept apologizing for being harsh, but I was smiling on the other end for her mom type concern.
I had serious health problems since childhood that my mom ignored as I was being “dramatic”. Every time I see a doctor who validates my health problems, even if not readily apparent, makes me feel mommed. My primary care is amazingly strong, brilliant, and validating, and even if she’s younger than me, I feel cared for like my mom should have cared about my health long ago.
When people call to check on me or bring me healthy food or stop by or send random gifts and cards in the mail—momming!
I don’t call any of these people mom, nor would I want to, but I once did a concrete inventory of what I would want from my mom. The short list was concern and validation.
I’m trying to say that having a bad relationship with your mom doesn’t make you a terrible person as I thought before. I think it makes you even better. I managed to figure out how to live as well as possible and see the glass as half full and love and be loved without any kind of example from her. Says I’m pretty strong in my opinion, and you are too.
Where do you get glimpses of mothering in your life?