Skip to main content

When Your Mom Is Not a Good Mom

They are everywhere on social media, those sentimental memes about mothers. But because I was  abused, to me they read like my worst nightmare:

 My mother actually does stalk me. I cut off contact with my mother over ten years ago because I did not feel safe, and because I decided it was more important to protect my child from her manipulative behavior. Whenever I move, she finds my address. She will send cards to my children, acting as if everything were normal. Two of them were born after I cut off contact, yet she knows their names and when they were born. She will not engage directly with me, or address any of the issues, but she will let me know she is there attempting to control me. Recently she sent me an email with "Urgent -Response Needed" in the headline. It was not urgent. It did not need a response. It was an attempt to manipulate me once again. "Hoovering" is the term, borrowed from the vacuum cleaner, whereby a person tries to suck people in to their drama. She does not ever express any remorse over what happened, because to her, the problem never existed. In her eyes, if there was a problem, surely it wasn't that big a deal, and surely it was my fault.

I spent the first thirty years of my life exhausting every possible way to be a good girl and play nice. I used to think it was my fault that the relationship was dysfunctional. I had been trained since birth to take responsibility for their feelings and behaviors. I was hypervigilant about empathy, yet never once was empathy reciprocated.

Good mothers protect their children. Good mothers are interested in their children as individuals, not just extensions of themselves. Good mothers want to understand. They want to nurture. They want to listen. They want to connect. I did not have a good mother.

For too long I've held on to guilt.  If I admit that I did not have a good mother, I would be perceived as ungrateful. A complainer. A victim. I am so used to taking responsibility for the faults of others that my default coping skill is to remain silent. Even now, the worry that I would be perceived as being negative about my mother makes me hesitate.  My motives aren't  to be mean or get revenge. My motive is simply to tell the truth. My motive is to let go of a burden I've carried too long.

My motive is also to start a conversation for those who also see the meme above as a horror movie synopsis. Here is a place you will be heard and understood.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

No, There Are Not Two Sides

I was in a meeting where a mediator was trying her best to stay impartial to a situation where a large volume of well-documented verbal and emotional abuse had occurred. She was a trained professional, but professionally speaking, she didn't want to be in a position to take sides on the issue. She offered the worn-out platitude, "Well, there are two sides to every story..." I let it slide the first time she said it, but when she said it again, I stopped her.

"Actually, when it comes to abuse, there are not two sides. There is abuse, and there is the recipient of abuse. The recipient of abuse is not at fault for the actions of the abuser."

Her jaw dropped a moment, then she nodded slowly. She knew I was right, and in this moment, a light went on. The situation she was mediating was not about two people having a disagreement. It was about a serial abuser attacking someone else who had done nothing to provoke the attack. She couldn't stay impartial. It was h…

Codependent or Empath?

There are a number of resources and articles for survivors of narcissistic abuse, and taken in all together, are extremely helpful in better understanding the abuser and our own role in the abuse. There is a certain type of person narcissists, psychopaths, and Cluster B abusers tend to seek out. Terms like "codependent" and "empath" are tossed around, sometimes interchangeably, but they are not the same.

A codependent's core issue (like the narcissist) is low self-esteem. They attach themselves to an alpha personality for their identity, and are constantly looking outside of themselves for validation and definition. They are helpers and fixers. Many people in the caring professions, such as teachers and nurses, tend to be codependent. They crave external praise and will go to great lengths to enable others in order to be liked. A codependent's sense of happiness and self-worth can be entirely dependent on the moods, actions, and feelings of the alpha. Code…

Ten Tools for Trauma Survivors

A couple years ago, I hit a serious wall.  I was emotionally and physically exhausted, but didn't understand why. Sure, I was a mom, wife, graduate student, and ran a business, but this exhaustion went much deeper than my chronic state of busyness and hypervigilance. Sure, I knew I had a rough childhood and had gone no contact with my parents ten years prior. I got on with my life. I made many positive and deliberate changes so I didn't repeat their patterns, but I hadn't fully unpacked just how vast that black hole of childhood trauma was. For me, awakening to the impact of my childhood trauma has happened over many years, with thousands of tiny steps toward recovery. But one day, the truth of it hit me so hard, I had to drop everything to process it. I had no choice because my body and brain simply gave out. I had to grow or succumb. I chose to grow.

I threw myself headlong into the task of really looking at my issues. You could say I was hypervigilant about trauma reco…