I am my mother’s daughter.
…She reminds me of this. In her way, she is proud of me–I am the daughter she can brag about. The one she can show off. The one that, to the public, or to social media, makes her a better mother.
But, it is not reality.
I may have been born from my mother. I share her blood. I may look like her.
But, I am not LIKE her.
Growing up, my mom was the queen of gaslighting. She would frequently do really crazy things to me–and then she would spend time convincing those around me that I was the crazy one–the liar–the over-emotional one.
She tried to show me love, but it was always love that would make her feel better. She could never consider just ME–no–life was not about me, it was about her.
And, unfortunately, it still is.
SO much of my counseling journey has been a realization of how unhealthy our relationship is. Of how I can learn to set up boundaries. Of how I can learn not to take on her reactions.
I have realized that, as much as I desperately want someone to love me the way I love my own children—I will never, ever have that.
I JUST WON’T.
I have cognitively *known* this for a while. But, emotionally knowing this is a totally different story.
Loyalty is deeply ingrained into who I am. Still, to this day, I protect her. In many ways, as I grew up, I had to protect her in order to protect myself–my siblings, my home, my comforts.
Learning that it is okay to blame her…to be angry with her…to actually admit that what she is doing is not normal…that has been a difficult path.
Everyday, I ask myself, HOW do I live with this knowledge and still continue to interact with her? How should this relationship look?
I’ve put the boundaries in place. I don’t react (in front of her). But, in my own safe spaces, I quietly unravel at her harsh words, her complete disregard for my needs, and her continual unhealthy behavior.
My mother is here, in my life, alive and well.
But she has never been, and never will be, the mother I have wished for or imagined.
That–that causes deep, deep grief. Deep mourning.
Made more difficult by the fact that I am mourning a person who is still here–in my life, continually trying to drive the knife deeper…while finding a way to blame it on me.
Made more difficult by having my own children–seeing and feeling what unconditional love is like.
This is a cycle of grief that I do not know how to overcome.
I’m sure that, someday, I can.
But today, I do not know what that looks like.