There is no love like a mother’s love.
But what about when this love no longer plays a role in your life? What if this love is something you are grieving? And what if this love is something that never actually existed for you?
After witnessing years of alcohol abuse and enduring the emotional abuse that followed, I was estranged from my mother at the age of 12. We were reunited again in my early twenties, right around the time I met my now husband. With my husband, I was experiencing solid, loyal love from another human which jolted me to seek the biological love of my birth mother. Due to what I now know is defined as Mother Hunger, I reached out to her. My desire for connection, approval and love blindsided me to the reality that I was initiating contact with someone who had abandoned me for twelve years. In the high of the early days of my relationship with my husband, I felt invincible. Beautiful. Strong. Worthy. “Maybe now,” I thought, “maybe now she will be ready to love me.”
My mother and I were reconnected again for five years. Those five years were a gift to the young girl that I was. The girl that held out hope for the mother she knew she deserved to have. In the five years I had with my mother, there were good times. We did things I always imagined mothers and daughters would do together. We went to farmers markets and spent time on the phone before noticing it had been hours.
There were also times within those five years that brought me back to childhood again. Days, weeks, and sometimes months would pass and I wouldn’t hear from her. My mind would race off and I felt I was being abandoned all over again. At twenty seven years old, I felt the adolescent girl inside me still crying out for my mother’s nurturance, protection, and guidance. I also felt guilty for becoming a healthy version of myself without her. I felt guilty for thriving despite her lack of guidance. There I was, in my late twenties, and I had never felt more caught up in a relationship with someone who was lying, gaslighting, and emotionally abusing me.
While I’m saving the specific details of what happened for my memoir, last May, the weekend before Mother’s Day, it became clear that cutting off contact with my mother was the healthiest, safest way for me to continue living. Today marks the one year anniversary of my decision. It has been one year since I learned the most important truth of my life: I can offer myself what my birth mother cannot. I deserve to offer myself what my birth mother could not. I am worthy of nurturance, protection and guidance.
Through my lens as a therapist, working with adolescents and teens, I witness many young girls struggling to understand their relationships with their mothers. Whether a mother is present in your life or not, feeling disconnected from your mother can be excruciating. It is something that is not talked about enough and many girls grow up to be strong women despite the cavity this pain causes inside. Our society glamorizes motherhood and mother-daughter relationships. This can make some daughters and motherless women feel invisible and unseen.
While there’s no love like a mother’s love, it is important to recognize that sometimes the absence of this love is an enormous source of pain. The greatest gift my mother ever gave me was her absence: the opportunity to become the mother of my own heart. This Mother’s Day, I invite you to recognize and nurture the motherly love that exists inside of you.
Reflections to consider:
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Article originally published on the Wellness District Blog.
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