Ambivalence, thy name is mother
I am feeling… ambivalent. It is my mom’s birthday tomorrow, her 78th. We have been estranged for over a year since my birthday last March. Long story, which I have told elsewhere, but she was given information from an aunt that went a long way to confirming I had been sexually abused by my dad. I waited for her to contact me and she never did. Then, come to find out, she got angry about me not wanting a relationship with her. I know, I know, I got abused and she’s the hurt one but I think she’s trying to protect herself. Unfortunately, it’s once again at my expense. But I also get how very difficult it would be to face that the sexual abuse actually happened to me.
I called her and left three phone messages asking if we could talk, but she ignored them. In the last message, I told her that I would not call her again, but if she was ever ready to talk, I would be willing. The only contact since then has been my sending her a birthday card last year and I mailed another one last week. At this point, I am utterly certain she already received the card, which simply said that I wished her a Happy Birthday and I wanted her to know I loved her and was still willing to talk if she was ever ready.
I have gotten no response. Nada, zilch, zip. And it’s sinking in that mom is pretty serious about this and I am grappling with the fact that she may take this to the grave, that I will not see or hear from her again. I am at times very relieved by this. My life is easier, less complicated and less painful for not having to interact with her. Holidays are WONDERFUL, because I no longer spend them dreading the fact that I should call her. And not picking out a mother’s day card? Sheer bliss. I actually felt anxious sending the card, because I am not sure I really want to be in touch with her.
But, and you knew there was a but, this is my mother. And no matter what else I feel about her, it hurts to know that she would turn her back on me so completely. This is rejection on a very deep level. I understand her hurt and pain and that she probably sees this as justifiable based on my behavior (our relationship had been rocky and intermittent for several years leading up to this), but at the same time, I know that nothing, NOTHING, would cause me to turn my back on my kids this way. Oh and to add insult to injury, she is also ignoring my kids.
As I have mentioned before, I am dealing with a lot of shame in therapy. Even though in a cognitive sense I can see that this is my mother’s choice and says a lot more about her than it does about me, on a primitive, inner child level, it is being experienced as a very deep confirmation of my belief that I am not worthy of love. I mean, doesn’t something have to be wrong with you to have your own mother turn her back on you? I know it’s not the truth. I know that my sense of shame is wrong (BN has certainly told me that enough times to sink even into my skull) but its the feeling that is so hard to shake. It’s corrosive and eats away at me and I am struggling to keep a balanced view of myself. In one direction, I slip into being overwhelmed by the shame and believing I am utterly worthless and repulsive, how could any decent person care for me? And in the other direction, there is the drive towards a perfectionism that would deny any of my faults and stop me from owning my own stuff (which would be to walk in my mom’s footsteps, not a direction I want to walk in).
Struggling with this is also exacerbating the angst I feel about BN. The shame keeps whispering to me that he’s had enough, he’s fed up, he wants me gone (all evidence to the contrary; he’s been steady as a rock, gentle and compassionate and incredibly patient. If he’s fed up, he’s hiding it really well). Which is bad enough. But my mom abandoning me leaves me with the stark realization that BN is the closest thing I may ever have to a loving parent who is interested in a relationship with me. But he will never be my parent, he will always be my therapist. I am so grateful for what he is to me; but so grieved that it is the best I will have. So I am simultaneously feeling like I want to cling to him right now because he’s all I have (ok, in terms of a parent, I have other loving relationships) but terrified that I need to back away to not wear him out.
The worst part is that the shame keeps telling me to hide when I most need connection. So I’m fighting back against the shame to write this. And am very glad I did because I didn’t realize half of this before I started typing. Thank you for giving me a space to say this in.*
*And yes, I plan on talking to BN about this, I see him Friday afternoon. Nothing like a little humiliation with which to end your week. 🙂