(Edited and re-posted)
On Mother’s Day, many of my friends will post status updates on Facebook about how wonderful their mother is….how supportive……how loving….how accepting…. They’ll post about how a mother’s love is forever and unconditional.
There is joy for my friends that they were able to experience a mother’s love, but sometimes people talking about their wonderful mothers causes a twinge of pain while I grieve my loss.
I sit here thinking about that while looking at an elaborate cross-stitch gift I made for my mother when I was about 15 years old. I had spent many months working on this piece for framing, and I have a picture of when I gave it to my mom at Christmas. It said:
A Mother Holds Her Children’s Hands For Awhile…
Their Hearts Forever.
I believed it at the time. I did not judge my mother for the mistakes she made in life because I believed she did the best she could as a teen mom who had endured a lot of tragedy and abuse in her own life.
You know… don’t judge someone unless you’ve walked a mile in their shoes, and stuff like that.
But as I got older, I started discovering that much of what she had told me when I was a kid was either a lie, stretched truth, or emotional manipulation. Funny how things that were “best for me” conveniently ended up being best for her, too.
She had manipulated my father out of my life, complete with taking scissors to all my baby photos and cutting him out of them. I never knew him as I was growing up. I never knew that he was a war hero, having lost both legs to a land mine explosion in Vietnam. I never knew my father’s large family and how they missed me.
My mother led me to believe my father didn’t want me. She would nurture her deception by saying, “What kind of man gives up his own child?” As I got older, it tormented me that I couldn’t remember what he looked like, except for the wheelchair. Any questions I asked about him would be greeted with rolled eyes or a tongue lashing or be made to feel guilty for thinking about him.
When I was 18, she “allowed” me to reconnect with my father. I visited him a few times and met my grandparents and many other relatives. I discovered a huge, loving family that wanted to embrace me, but I had no idea who these people were or what their names were. I just felt like an outsider.
After a summer visit with my father, when I got home, my mother and step-dad nearly insisted that I have no more contact with my father. It was almost as if they had said, “Okay, you’ve met him, now go back to pretending he doesn’t exist.”
Well, that just seemed foolish to me.
So a few weeks later, I told my mother I was going to the mall with a friend, but instead, my friend dropped me off at the airport. There, I got on a plane and flew across the country to live with my father.
My mother chose to take my relationship with my father as a personal betrayal. She didn’t talk to me for months, including over Christmas. She cut me out of her life just like she had done with my father.
At that time, my emotional vulnerability set things in motion for me getting ensnared in an abusive relationship. My mother had disowned me, and I didn’t feel like I fit in with my father. Where else could I turn?
Eventually things improved with my father, but they never got better with my mother. At one point, I had moved back to my childhood home to live with my step-dad and go back to college. One day, she had left a bag for me. Inside were childhood keepsakes, old drawings, school report cards, holiday cards… and even my baby teeth….along with the cross-stitch gift and other things I’d made for my mother through the years.
She had taken anything that reminded her of me and discarded it like trash. Another time, she gave me an umpteen page diatribe about how I was a horrible person and outlined a litany of transgressions of how I had wronged her over the years.
Imagine that. She ripped my father from my life and kept him away from me even when she knew I was longing for him, but she can’t forgive me for getting on a plane and for stating in court that she was unable of unconditional love.
Yeh, I’m the bad guy. WTF ever. She’s the one who has three grandchildren who don’t even know who she is. How fucked up is that?
Anyway, now that I am a mother myself, I look at my children and feel so many things and understand a FOREVER kind of love, one that I’ve never experienced before. Mainly, I know that it’s not my children’s responsibility to make me happy; they are free to pursue their own goals, and I want to support them. It’s very important to not repeat my family legacy of ignorance, abuse, manipulation, and isolation.
And if any of my kids ever traverse across the continent to get away from me, you can bet that I will be on the very next plane to put my arms around them and say,
“Hey, we need to talk, but whatever you do, wherever you go, I will always love you, forever.”
If you liked this post, you also might like: Rot in Prision You Perv which continues on this topic.