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I’ve Never Really Had a Mom

This is something that I don’t speak about often because it can be a touchy subject for a lot of people. For a long time I didn’t even know how to express what I was feeling without also feeling like I was being disrespectful or insensitive. There are some people out there that never knew their mom, lost their mom too early, or lost her after a long life. Either way, most of the time these people will tell you to cherish time with your mom, always forgive her for everything, don’t waste a moment...

But what about those of us that were born with toxic mothers? What do we do when we have tried everything and the relationship just doesn’t work? What if there is another person that tried to step in and be a kind of surrogate mom, and ended up even more toxic than the original? Do you allow yourself to be swallowed whole and let the toxic people have you, or do you find a way to be at peace and happy with yourself without them?

For 39 years I not only succumbed to the destructive and virulent behavior, I didn’t even see it clearly. I spent a lot of time feeling like something was wrong with me because my mother didn’t tell me she loved me, or hug or kiss me, tell me I’m smart or beautiful, or support and empower me. The only time things I did were acknowledged is when I made a mistake or did something wrong. Then I got my ass beat and she told everybody that would listen how I messed up that time. With an absent father I sometimes wondered if either one of my parents ever loved or wanted me.

Please understand, I have always loved my mother with all my heart. Always wanted her to be proud of me, see me for who I am and still love me. The thing is, looking back at my life I don’t think she ever has and now I know she never will. In my teens I experienced her favor all of my cousins over me. She praised what they did, hung out with them and bought them gifts. It was kind of like I was the niece to everyone and the daughter to no one. Before they came along I didn’t even live with her.

I was living in my grandmother’s house being molested by the same man that molested her. Emotionally abused by an aunt that claimed to love me and want to be a mother to me. It took me a long time to realize that I never had to be put in that situation and never should have been. As usual, I thought I did something wrong and possibly deserved the abuse I was getting. I didn’t even realize that it was my mother that should have shielded and protected me, but she never even tried.

When I was going to middle school my mother brought me back into her household. I was very excited to be with my mom so we could finally be a family. I didn’t realize that living with her would end up being almost as torturous as my grandmother’s house. I honestly think she just doesn’t like me very much. She would get mad and go days without speaking to me, after beating my ass of course. I would listen to her get on the phone and just say terrible things about me to her sister and friends. She would leave to go hang out with my aunt and cousins and leave me home alone.

Eventually I stopped caring and started acting out. Cutting school and talking back to her and teachers. Sneaking out of my window to go see my boyfriend. Stealing. She caught on and nipped my bad behavior before I totally ruined my life, but she also allowed me to cry myself to sleep every night without ever asking what’s wrong. Later on in life she expressed being hurt because I never talked to her about anything serious, but she never established that type of relationship with me. She showed me that we don’t talk or effectively communicate with each other, so I didn’t bother saying much of anything.

We somehow made it through high school and graduation. Now it’s time for next steps, but we don’t talk so we haven’t discussed possibilities for my future. I honestly wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but I thought I had a little time to figure it out while I still worked. Instead she rushed me into a college program two weeks too late. One of the professors tried to embarrass me at school and I told him his behavior was unnecessary. He kicked me out of his class and I got so upset that I got a terrible nosebleed (that happened to me a lot). Next thing you know I was asked to leave the school. I didn’t understand why over something so insignificant but it seemed like my mother was accepting it without a fight so I left. I was more interested in a different school anyway. I expressed this to her and she seemed happy about it. She took me to the school and stayed while I completed entrance exams, spoke to the intake person and was told what a bright and intelligent daughter she has and how much they wanted me there, and started the paperwork for my enrollment. A few days later they called her and explained that my grants weren’t enough to cover my tuition and that she needed to take a parent loan. Thinking I wasn’t listening she told them she refused the parent loan and thank you anyway, she wasn’t putting anything in her name for me. I would also find out later that she told people that I dropped out of school.

I could go on and on about how she’s called me names, refused to help me when I was pregnant and homeless, took my ex husbands side when we were getting divorced, and sat back and watched me struggle for years. I think you get the point by now. We are supposed to learn how to love and live from our parents. Well my father was gone and what I was left with was a shitstorm. I have made so many avoidable mistakes in my life, but I have also learned from them.

Now I am a mother of 4 and my biggest fear is having my kids feel about me the way I feel about my mother. I had no idea how to be a mother with my first child and I’m sure I made a lot of mistakes. Again, my family loves to showcase mistakes and ignore successes so I’ve been told exactly what kind of mother they think I am. But one thing my children know is I love them more than anything and I would do absolutely anything for them from now till the end of time. At the same time that I taught them how to count and spell and read I also made sure I taught them love, compassion and empathy. I have decided not to let the vicious cycle that my family has created trickle down to my children and that is something I am very proud of.

It took me 39 years to love myself and my immediate family enough to walk away. She became a part of a situation created to steal one of my children from me and wreak further havoc on my life. So I decided to put 1,000 miles between us and change my number...because really, how many times should a woman cry herself to sleep in a lifetime?

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