I haven’t seen my mother in a decade.
The last time that I saw her was when she was visiting me and an ex-boyfriend. Throughout her visit, we fed her numerous meals, some of which consisted of salmon and filet mignon. When she left, the last thing that she said to me (and the last words I have ever heard from her in person) was that she had been “starving” her entire visit.
My mother is an entitled, and often selfish individual who rarely reaches out unless I initiate contact. Though every now and then she messages me on social media (she lives in another country these days) we tend to have very limited interaction.
The pain from the broken relationship with my mother has caused me anger and frustration for most of my teenage and adult life.
Recently I got engaged to my partner, and we told our closest friends and family who were all ecstatic with the news. When I messaged my mother to let her know she responded with “nice.”
A few years ago, her lack of interest and response in life would have bothered me. This time, I am able to shrug as it was what I expected, but it took a long time to get here.
There are a set of truths I had to accept before letting go of the immense anger I felt towards my mother’s absence in my life.
#1. I reminded myself that I was not the reason that she ended up leaving
When my parents got divorced, my mother ended up leaving, and at the time, I was not an adult and still lived with my father.
It is impossible for me to truly comprehend the pain that my father must have been going through after the end of his thirty-year-long marriage. That being said, it doesn’t justify some of his actions towards my younger brother and me.
There were mornings when I would be getting ready for the day, and he would stand by my door and tell me that my mother had left because of my actions. His words only validated my fears and there were nights when I would crumble to the floor with my hands over my face, attempting to keep in the heaving sobs that stemmed from believing she hadn’t wanted to love me.
As the years went on, I realized that if it hadn’t been for her love of us, she would have left a long time ago because she hadn’t been happy.
It wasn’t until my later years that I accepted that the destruction of a marriage is no fault of a child.
#2. I reminded myself that although I was her daughter, I didn’t have to make her mistakes
Generational trauma is extremely complex and is continually being studied. The science behind it shows that it can manifest in strange ways and can be passed on from generation to generation.
My parent's marriage ended because my mother ultimately cheated on my father and claimed that she was incapable of ever truly loving a man. This stemmed from her childhood, but her actions and words caused me to wonder if we were destined to live the same life.
My mother was always extremely flirty and outgoing, resulting in numerous emotional affairs throughout my childhood. Her example caused a terror that I would never be able to have a healthy relationship or get married because I would be “just like her.”
As time went on, I told myself that I didn’t have to make her same choices, and I didn’t because I decided to be my own person.
#3. I accepted that I could allow myself to feel sympathy for her trauma and pain
My mother had a history of sexual abuse and a harrowing family life. Her father was an alcoholic who was struck by a speeding car and killed in front of her when she was ten, and her sister struggled with mental illness and taking my mother’s life several times.
For a long time, all I felt was anger towards my mother for her choices and how she treated me.
As time went on, I have been able to view my mother through a sympathetic lens while still accepting that she did make her choices.
It is entirely possible to feel sympathetic towards someone without allowing them into your life because of their behaviors.
#4. I reminded myself that many of us had/have toxic parents and that it’s up to us to break the cycle of generational trauma and set ourselves free
I tell my story to remind others about unhealthy family/parental relationships and that they are not alone.
For the first few years of her absence, I felt shame that my mother and I don’t have a healthy relationship. I used to cry thinking about future life events because I knew that she wouldn’t be there.
As time has gone on, I have realized that we cannot choose certain parts of our life and that just because someone is related to us by blood doesn’t mean that we have to let that relationship define us.
I am far from the only person who has struggled to heal from the mother wound, and I will not be the last.
If you had told me ten years ago that I would reach a point where I no longer felt hurt and pain whenever my mother's absence was brought up, I wouldn’t have believed you.
It took many years of hard work and personal growth before I was finally able to let go of the hurt caused by the mother's wound.
In turn, I have managed to break a cycle of generational trauma, and hope that my story reminds you that we are not defined by our predecessors.