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Holidays, birthdays, and special events have always been painful. I can’t say the pain has gotten less or more since my childhood. Perhaps it’s just changed forms. Or, perhaps it hasn’t. The fact is, you’re not here. You weren’t there then either.

Back then, I couldn’t take my eyes off of the auditorium door waiting for you to show up to my elementary school program, or science fair, or when I was crowned queen at the spring formal. But, you never came through the door.

I honestly can’t remember any of the excuses for why you weren’t there. I don’t know whether I blocked them out because there were just so many or because I deep down knew they just weren’t true. Either way, at 45 years old, that pain still feels anew.

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Today, however, much of that absence is by my own choice for my own protection. When holidays or birthdays or other special events roll around, I silently grieve on the inside that you’re not here. I feel the guilt you were hoping for when you don’t acknowledge the card I sent because it wasn’t enough, because I don’t call enough, because I don’t give you what you need enough. But that’s really how I’ve always felt—that I wasn’t enough.

If only I were enough, you would have been there for those special events in my life. If only I were enough, you would tell me you’re proud of the things I’ve accomplished. Instead, they’re either barely recognized and/or quickly followed up with something someone else did better. Or, just something about you.

The guilt doesn’t just come from just one direction, however. I also get to hear how I should just be happy I still have my mother. Deep down though, I don’t know that I ever really did. All I ever wanted—all any child ever wants—is to just for one day feel like I’m the most important person in your world. I’m still longing for that day.

RELATED: I Was Never Good Enough for My Mother, So I’m Done Trying

I also hear that I should just forgive you and make amends. How do you forgive someone who won’t acknowledge your pain? How do you make amends with someone when they can still inflict so much pain?

It’s so lonely when no one understands how you can grieve for someone still here. When, at this point, you know there’s no chance of having that mother-daughter relationship you’ve always longed for.

I don’t know that the sadness will be less or more when you’re really gone. But, then again, perhaps it will just change forms.

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Kara Gate

Kara Gates is a freelance writer and former blogger navigating the seas of mid-life.

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