In general I am not the biggest holiday enthusiast. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter mean absolutely nothing to me (especially when three out of the four are religious holidays and I’m an Atheist). Moreover, since growing up I’ve never established any traditions surrounding them and quite frankly do not care if I ever do.
However, Mother’s Day (and Father’s Day to be honest) always send me spiraling into the emotional doldrums. As a child I was raised by a Woman who would have been better off never having had children. My Mother was an abysmal failure at the one job that you should naturally strive to succeed in, child rearing. Whereas millions of Mothers around the country will be celebrated for their: sacrifices, warmth, love, and care there are those of us whose experiences were antithetical. Many of us, myself included, do not love their mothers. As a matter of fact some of us grapple with feelings of hatred and animosity because of our mothers.
My Mother was extraordinarily: selfish, self-absorbed, narcissistic, vain, emotionally abusive, emotionally void, and manipulative. If I had to describe my mother she would be an amalgam of: Ingrid Magnussen (White Oleander), Chiron’s mother in “Moonlight”, and a less dramatic version of Joan Crawford in “Mommy Dearest.” The extent of my mother’s “love” was limited to the fact that she gave birth, fed me, and gave me shelter. Outside of that, nothing. My greatest act of defiance was surviving her and managing to become a good person in spite of. She was a failure and an unusually cruel woman who literally made me believe that I was the cause of her abuse and emotional distance. My mother’s love was always with caveat and condition, it was never offered freely. Moreover, as a child, I felt absolutely responsible for her and all of the horrible choices that she made. I was essentially my mother’s little husband, denied a regular childhood because I had to be certain that she did not fuck up too bad.
I personally believe that my mother hated me for three reasons…
1.) I was born too late – She was almost 50 when she had me. She probably resented having a child when she thought she was finished. I know because she constantly reminded me that she could have aborted me growing up.
2.) I wasn’t born a girl – She always wanted a girl and I came along and gave her one more boy.
3.) I was born gay – This is the cherry on the top. She persecuted me throughout my life for not being “Like the other boys.”
When I was growing up I thought my mother treated me the way that she did because she loved me. Growing up all children were beaten by their parents and talked down to, so I believed. The levels of cognitive dissonance that were implored in my child’s mind were gargantuan. I had to psyche myself out just to be her son.
I’ll spare you the details and specific instances where she continually tried to destroy me throughout my life (I am not ready to go there, even on my personal blog); however, I did want to share this to let you know (who maybe dealing with the same thing) that you are not alone…
So, for all of my fellow motherless children out there I want to leave you with a few tips about how to deal with this most peculiar of celebratory holidays…
1.) Unplug if you have to – Tomorrow I am deactivating my social media accounts and recusing myself from family. I don’t want to see my timeline filled with selfies of adult children with their happy mothers, nor do I want to see any “Happy Mother’s Day” tweets. I am just now, for the past couple of years, really dealing and learning to cope with my mother’s madness, and how it has impacted me as an adult. So I don’t need any reminders that my childhood was anymore fucked up than it already was. Those people maybe celebrating but I’m sitting there being triggered by their exhalations. I know that my mother was trash and I have to sit there and witness people share in something that I never had. No. Please do yourself a favor and care for yourself.
2.) You don’t owe her shit – Piggybacking off of the first point please know that you do not owe your toxic mother a goddamn thing, nothing. People will attempt to guilt you with the all too common refrains of, “Oh, that’s your mother! She raised you the best way that she knew how!” or, “Kids these days are just really selfish! Your mother gave you life!” Please do not dishonor yourself and your process by falling into that okie doke. Your experience was real. Your feelings towards your mother are completely valid and crucial to your healing process. You cannot heal if you don’t deal. Acknowledging that your mother was a terrible parent is important. The only person you owe anything to is yourself as you walk the path towards becoming better.
3.) Self Help & Counseling – If you can please read “Toxic Parents: Overcoming Their Hurtful Legacy and Reclaiming Your Life” by Dr. Susan Forward. This book has helped me so much in cleansing the toxicity that came from my mother. This, in addition to sporadic counseling sessions, has been the reason why I’ve been able to finally establish an identity outside of my mom’s dark and crippling shadow. Seeking help is not a weakness or a sign of diminished mental capacity. It is about you needing to reclaim your life and making sense out of what it was that you survived.
Admittedly, I am still very angry about my childhood. All my toxic mother left me with was: Fear, Shame, and Rage. That is every single thing that I took from her. And it is every single thing that I focus on in my healing process.
It won’t happen in a day but you will be all the better for it.
4.) Feel free to vent and rage – If you have to write a blog (like I’m doing), write in a diary, call up your therapist, or rage to a friend who will offer an ear, do it. When you have been the victim of maternal abuse, manipulation, and emotional withholding it informs who you become as an adult. Most of all it hurts when you are emotionally devastated by the woman who gave you life. You have that RIGHT to be angry. Anger is a valid emotion. Just like all other emotions it should be expressed. Never deny emotion at all cost because that will only wind up costing you more.
5.) Don’t Fall Into The Forgiveness Trap – Forget the shit you’ve heard on Oprah or Iyanla Vanzant. Forgiveness should be the end result of a healing process and NOT a perfunctory catch phrase to make your persecutor feel better about themselves. Hearkening back to point number two, you don’t owe your mother shit. You owe it to yourself to heal. When you forgive without doing your emotional work then you are IN FACT doing it for everyone else. There is nothing etched in stone that says you should love and cherish your mother.
My mother, despite her insanity, would hurl that garbage biblical passage at me about, “Honoring your mother and father.” Well she was a dishonorable person unworthy of respect, much less honor. Admittedly, I can’t stand my mother. I use to hate her but it has dissipated. Again, these things take time and I am not going through this process with her in mind. It is all about ME. Even though my mother is currently dying of Alzheimer’s related dementia I refuse to absolve her of anything because of that. I hold her fully and totally accountable for everything that she’s done.
Yes, one-day I will forgive her but today is not the day. I know it will come but I’m not in a rush.
To all of my fellow Motherless Children I would like to say that I love you this Mother’s Day. Never apologize and never explain to anyone why you feel the way that you feel. Make mother’s day all about you, not her.