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Mother’s Day always creates such a barrage of mixed emotions for me. There was a lot of trauma, abuse, mental illness, and foolish decisions that marked my childhood. My mother was far from a perfect parent. Luckily, she does admit to that and seems to be really trying to be a better person now, but being around her always triggers so many memories, thoughts, and feelings – some good, some bad, some funny, and some tragic.
I think part of the issue is that my brain has a tough time seeing how she acts towards me now and reconciling it with memories of how my sister and I were treated while growing up. I do believe in forgiveness (within reason), and I do love my mother, but I doubt there will ever be a day in her company that doesn’t create confusion for me internally.
I write this post today to recognize those of us who struggle on Mother’s Day to even know how to feel…
Check out the cute stuff my mom sent to me for an Easter care package! She did really good this year! It definitely helped cheer me up since I had been feeling pretty lousy lately between my depression and my chronic health issues.
Yesterday I had rather a bit of a breakthrough moment. Now, to most people with healthy backgrounds and relationships, this will likely be a bit of a “duh” moment, but to people like me who were groomed to be codependent caretakers, it is an immensely important realization.
My “eureka moment” can be summed up in one sentence:
I don’t owe anyone ANYTHING, and no one owes me ANYTHING.
Of course, this does not mean that I can’t give to others out of the goodness of my heart, or that they can do the same, but none of us should feel required to do so. I would say the one exception to this rule would probably be children. If you bring children into this world, you do owe them something – and that is to do your best at providing them a safe, stable, and loving childhood. I guess pets fit that category as well. If you sign up to take care of something that can’t care for itself, you are essentially accepting that responsibility.
Outside of that, I’m not sure if any of us should feel like we have to fully take care of others emotionally, mentally, physically, or materially. We all have a responsibility to do our best to meet our own needs, and while that may mean reaching out for help now and then, we have to realize that sometimes we may be turned down and that is ok. If so, we just need to keep looking I suppose.
As someone with disabilities though, I do want to say that I do feel it is vitally important to have public programs and assistance available (whether these be government or charity systems) for those of us who sometimes struggle more than others at being “functioning adults”. To me, it is just a simple matter of society welfare and empathy that should strive to help anyone who falls through the cracks.
Lately I’ve been dealing with a lot of resentment and anger towards my mother. To explain why, let me share a specific incident that kind of illustrates why I am upset.
When I was 14/15, my mother worked with a guy named Danny who met me and developed a huge crush on me. He was in his late teens or early twenties, but was definitely an adult already. I DID NOT share his romantic interest and made that plain. I had absolutely no interest in dating him or getting to know him better. He bought me an expensive bracelet as a gift, which I immediately returned to him to make it clear I wasn’t interested.
Even with my mother knowing how I felt and that I was stressed out by the attention, she actually egged him on in spite of how I felt or what I wanted. She even gave him our home address and told him when I would be home. So, he ended up coming to my house while I was there alone and banged on the door and called my name for what felt like forever. He yelled about how he knew I was home because my mom had told him so. I never answered the door or responded to his calls. In fact, I hid in the closet because I was scared at the aggressiveness he was displaying.
I felt like I was being stalked, and worst of all, my own mother was encouraging it. This is just one small incident that portrays an issue with boundaries and respecting my privacy that was even more disturbing in other ways which perhaps I will share someday if and when I am ready to do so. I know it might sound odd, but I almost have a feeling like my mother WANTED to whore me out for some reason. I can’t even describe what that did to me psychologically.
Although I am an agnostic when it comes to the actual physical existence of any kind of God or divine power, I am drawn to pagan spirituality. I love their connection to the earth, seasons, and the cycles of nature. I also happen to love mythology, whether it be classic Greek/Roman, Egyptian, Native American, Eastern, Celtic, Norse, or whatever else there happens to be. I’m not sure if I could believe in the Gods/Goddesses of these belief systems as actual living beings, but I can certainly believe in the archetypes and types of universal energy they represent and the various facets of humanity they project.
Greek mythology is my favorite pantheon and has several Gods/Goddesses I adore. Hades will always be a favorite, as the cool ruler of the underworld. His wife Persephone is right up there as well. Athena is brilliant, and Hecate is dark and mysterious – two things I adore! But my favorite Goddess has to be Artemis (Diana in Roman mythology).
I always loved how Artemis was tough and tomboyish. She determined from her youth that she didn’t need no man! She could take care of herself and find happiness with her nymph friends and beloved animals. The other day I came across a bit of knowledge on GoddessGift.com I didn’t know about Artemis though, which made me love her even more:
“Artemis’ mother, Leto, gave birth to Artemis after a short and painless labor. But then Leto’s labor continued, with her contractions growing weak and painful. Moved to compassion, the infant goddess Artemis, born only a few minutes earlier, became her mother’s midwife and delivered her twin brother Apollo. You could say that, of all the Greek goddesses, the goddess Artemis was literally born to serve as a nurturer and protector!
The Greek goddess Artemis was frequently called upon to nurture her needy and somewhat ineffectual mother. All too often she felt compelled to come to her rescue even though Artemis received little from her mother in return. As a result of her having caused her mother no pain in childbirth, and her successful role as midwife in her brother’s birth, Artemis naturally became the patron saint of childbirth, the protector of children, and the goddess who especially heard the appeals of women.
The goddess Artemis was always responsive to the needs of the vulnerable and the suffering. She was quick to defend the powerless from unjust treatment at the hands of the Olympian patriarchy; it is not surprising that in current times Artemis is seen as the “feminist” goddess.”
What a kick ass Goddess! Right after she was born she helped deliver her baby brother Apollo? And like me, she had an ineffectual (probably narcissistic) mother that she had to take care of all her life? I can totally relate to having to come to a parent’s rescue time and time again, when you get little in return. And being a feminist in a time of overt patriarchy (especially with a philanderer like Zeus for a father)? Artemis, you rock!
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- I don’t owe you anything!
- I’m nothing like you.
- You don’t own me and you never did.
- You deserve what you got.
- Sometimes I feel nothing for you.
- You are at fault for so much.
- You have no one to blame but yourself.
- You are lucky to have anyone who still cares.
- I’m a saint for forgiving you.
- Without me, you’d have nothing!
- I hate you sometimes.
- You’ll never break me.
- I’ll never crack.
- I am a much better person than you’ll ever be.
- I’m smarter than you.
- You fuel my creativity with anger, disgust, frustration, and grief.
- I’ve made something good out of your mess.
- I am superior – by actions and attitude.
- Your religion doesn’t hide the truth.
- I found love and success in spite of you.
- I’m the person you always wanted to be, but couldn’t.
- Toys have always been better company than you.
- You helped me find and lose faith in God.
- I will heal.
- I’m STRONGER than you.
*By the way, BetterHelp has a great article on emotional abuse, I would recommend it!
Ok, so in the past I already wrote a more serious post about the trauma I experienced when my mom ended up marrying the first guy I ever brought home (read it here). He was a friend of mine, two years older, going to the same high school. They got married on his 18th birthday, so there I was, 15-16, going to school WITH my new “step-dad”.
Yesterday, while my husband and I were out driving, I talked about how isolated I feel in dealing with the after-effects of this whole ordeal. I can find plenty of people who have experienced other things I have gone through or live with (autism, bipolar, chronic pain/illness, loss of a sibling to suicide, loss of a parent at a young age, physical and emotional abuse, etc.), but I have never ONCE found someone who understands the public humiliation and the just outright fucked-up-ness of their parent MARRYING a friend that they go to high school with (and even considered dating at one time)!
Maybe I would have to visit the Jerry Springer show to find something similar. I feel like no one understands how this whole event derailed my life severely at the time. I went from being a straight A, college bound honor student, to skipping school more than I went, and not caring about much of anything. It was a horrible time in my life. To make matters worse, when my mom’s messed up marriage finally blew up, it was shortly after I got married (at the age of 20), and since she had no resources of her own, I felt like I had to take her in, which was not an easy decision for a newlywed to make, especially given the messed up history between my mom and me.
I’m not sharing all this to look for pity, but more in the hopes that maybe someone, somewhere, has gone through something similar and could make me feel less alone. I think this whole ordeal made me feel like a real freak at the time it happened, and never finding anyone who could relate only reinforced that feeling.
*By the way, if you are looking for online therapy options, BetterHelp is a great place to start!