For the longest time, I have been so ashamed of the relationship I don’t have with my mom. I can count the number of people I’ve shared the truth about my mom with on one hand. I have never felt comfortable talking about it. I’ve even gone so far as to pretend I can relate when others are talking about how wonderful their moms are.
I have always let fear and shame keep me from sharing my story, my truth. Until now.
Growing up, sharing my feelings in any matter, big or small, always led to conflict with my mom. In our home, my feelings were not valid and my opinions did not matter. I learned at a young age that in order to protect myself from being belittled or ostracized, it was best to not say anything at all. Always hold it in.
The few times I was honest with my mom, I always regretted it. I would cry myself to sleep at night wondering if I would ever be good enough for her. This taught me to intensely fear sharing my heart. I couldn’t be myself. I learned to hide all traces of my true self. I learned to hide my heart not only at home but with everyone in my life.
My own mother doesn’t like me, how could anyone else?
My mom was not a kind mother—she was a mean, angry mother. She was a hurting mother. I never had a conversation with her that didn’t end up being about her wants or needs. There was no connection, no comfort. I existed solely to please my mom. And for the first 19 years of my life, I thought this kind of mothering was normal.
Everything changed at 19. Until then, I had loved my mom fiercely and would defend her to a fault. She could do no wrong in my eyes. But at 19, I learned about emotional abuse, about childhood neglect. I put the pieces together and was completely crushed. How could this be possible? My mom loves me, doesn’t she? Had I been striving in vain my entire life? I was heartbroken and angry. Unknowingly, shame over what I had experienced as a child began to take hold of my life.
For 10 years, I buried my issues with my mom. I wanted to forget about all of it.
Other people have had it far worse than I did, I would tell myself. Be grateful for what you had and move on. How unkind of me—to dismiss myself so easily and for so long.
But now, at 29, I am healing. I’ve given myself permission to accept that none of what happened to me was my fault. That I was never meant to be held responsible for my mother’s happiness. Believing that has given me the freedom to no longer be ashamed of something I had no control over.
Now, at 29, I see how her own pain kept her from mothering me. My heart breaks for her. But I can no longer live my life battling her pain for her . . . or even with her. I hate that I have to choose my well-being over my mother. It feels selfish. But when I’m with her, she pulls me right back into her pain, her darkness.
Distance from my mother is the only way for me to heal.
Step by step, every day I am healing. Friends, shame is powerful. But love is more powerful. I am loving myself and who I was created to be for the first time in my life. There is so much healing and power in that. Love is truly healing a lifetime of pain, fear, and shame.
I am allowing myself to heal from the pain I buried for so long. I spent so many years never feeling worthy of my mother’s love. Healing from that pain is intense work. But so necessary, so worth it. My joy, my happiness will no longer be robbed due to someone else’s pain. I will not repeat the vicious cycle of being a mother in too much pain to mother.
This path of healing and learning to love myself and love my truth has not been easy. But it’s what I need, what I deserve. Everyone deserves to be loved simply for who they are. I will no longer neglect myself the way my mother neglected me. I will no longer dismiss my feelings, my thoughts, my truth. I will be kind to myself. I will love who I am. With open arms, I will embrace who I was born to be.