My mom died. She died, but I became free. For the very first time in my life, I’m not worried about what stories and lies she’s spreading about me.
Even though we lived thousands of miles apart from each other, she had everyone around me in the palm of her hand. They believed her. I was a horrible child, rebellious teenager, and spiteful adult.
You see, I was never good enough for her. Her fantasy of what she believed a daughter ought to be is something I simply could never live up to.
When I realized the behavior was transferring to my own children, I took a stand and broke the sacred bond of mother/daughter. The bond society has us believing is so sacred—Mother must always be respected and right.
But, what if she’s wrong? What if she is the result of a bad mother/daughter relationship herself and doesn’t know better than to continue the viciousness, the vindictiveness, the plain cruelty, and manipulation?
When I decided to put my children’s well-being first and saw that no amount of reasoning was going to make a difference with someone who doesn’t see reason, society came for me. They brutally came from every corner.
“But that’s your mother! How can you deprive her of her grandbabies?”
The guilt from outside, as well as inside, was all-consuming. It drove me to seek therapy. Was something wrong with me? I was able to see I had made the right decision in going no contact. I found out she was a narcissistic mother with both mentally and physically abusive patterns. She was a product of a similar upbringing and passed the torch of scapegoat on to me.
And I put the torch down.
That heavy, ever-so-consuming torch was on the ground in front of me, but it wouldn’t move from my feet. It would still impact everything I did, everywhere I went. Self-doubt, anxiety, low self-esteem—her voice followed me everywhere, disapproving.
I flew to her for what turned out to be her final week. I held her hand as she hallucinated and called for her own mother. Yes, it broke my heart.
I stroked her hair and sang her favorite songs. I made decisions about her pain management that her golden child just couldn’t make. I was there for her final breaths. It was excruciating. It was hard. But I feel oddly free now.
As I stepped inside her apartment and noticed she only had pictures of me at 16 years old—when I was barely eating due to the stress she caused, when I was still trying so hard to please her, wear the outfits she wanted me to wear, have my hair down to the length she loved most. Not one picture of me as an adult. Me or my husband or children.
She told people she left clothes for me (that’s all she left for me), but she was three sizes smaller than me. Knowing they wouldn’t fit me and knowing how hard I’ve been fighting with my weight since having kids and health issues, she told people she hoped me seeing her pretty dresses would serve as a motivation for me to lose weight. And all the memories of never being good enough came back.
But at last, when I look down now, that scapegoat torch at my feet is gone. And I felt pity for this lady as I looked through her closets and saw her color-coordinated clothes, folded so incredibly straight that you can put a ruler next to them. Her storage room was filled with shoes she had never worn before, which she bought simply because they were heavily discounted. I see the labels on everything. The forks and spoons neatly in their place, from large to small.
And my pain finally dissolved and turned into pity. What an exhausting way to live. And how exhausting it must have been for her when her daughter just didn’t want to fit into that mold anymore.