It comes every year and it always gets me by surprise.
This year I only realized on Saturday.
Mother’s Day is one of the hardest days of the year for me. While it does have a relatively long history, it feels like a recent creation thanks to its mutation to social media. What feels like a regular ol’ Sunday suddenly erupts into a frenzy of posts and pictures of people with their mamas. And it seems to last forever.
I get it.
But that’s not what makes this day unbearable for me. My difficulty is in this deep feeling of complete isolation and rejection. Erasure. I am one of the children (grown up or not) who will not appreciate their “Mother” today because her “upbringing” left my life in psychological shambles – for years. And for that, I feel society’s pseudo-superior scorn… Toward me and all of the people who have *disowned* their mothers: “But it’s Mother’s Day…” “But she’s your mom…”
No parent is perfect. But we have to believe the children on this day. And that is why I like all your pictures and posts. I am glad that you guys have wonderful mothers to love and hold dear. To tell the world about. As children, we see our Mothers as direct lines to GOD, or possibly as GOD herself. So although our mothers made mistakes all the time, we children often didn’t see these errors.
This is power. And that power over impressionable minds can mean the difference between mental health and illness. Many parents understand this, and use their leverage to raise compassionate and critically-thinking members of society.
But it’d be a cosy lie to believe that all parents do this.
There are many parents who abuse this influence. And children, lost in the haze of trust and impressionability, rationalize their parents’ wrongdoings by distorting it into their own fault… often in order to continue loving their parents.
What a cycle to grow up in.
30-40% of children who are sexually abused are abused by a FAMILY member. Yet more than 30% of these victims will never tell anyone, and 80% of victims asked initially deny everything. This kind of psychological abuse is not limited to sexual abuse. Physical abuse. Emotional abuse. Religious abuse. Should we judge these children for growing up in that environment and then refusing to send mom a card once in adulthood? Should we make them tell their stories in order to decide whether their pain is valid? And then pity them?
Because that is what I’m feeling right now.
Years ago I said enough to my mother, and like an abusive boyfriend or a backstabbing friend, I cut off the emotional and psychological cancer that she was in my life.
That’s my story.
Cutting my mother out of my life was one of the most beautiful risks I’ve ever taken. My life is happier. My life is (finally) stable. I am a better decision-maker. I think critically… which is something she almost took from me through her gaslighting, manipulation, and hypocrisy, all justified in her position as “Mother”.
It took good years and good therapists to own this part of me, to accept my mother’s inabilities, and to not feel shame that my family is not “normal”.
I am free. And if I had to take that leap of faith again, I’d jump and jump and jump.
I see my siblings still struggling to rationalize away the demons of their childhood that my mom introduced into our lives forever. We are of the millions of children who grow up and are disparaged for embracing the true reality of our situations: That our mothers fucked up BIG time and it could have all been prevented.
If your story includes a great mom, great. I’m happy for you. Buy the card and flowers. Post the pictures. I will like them. I support you. But support me too. Understand that for people like me, Mother’s Day erases the realities of millions of victims while bolstering our most sinister nightmares.
Dealing with social shame from people who don’t even know me or my family makes me steam with frustration. I have a problem with people assuming that I’m just some selfish, hateful, ungrateful person who couldn’t “suck it up” or “let it go” in order to carry on a relationship with (*queue angels singing*) MY MOTHER.
I have the right to disown my mother and to openly and honestly say that I do not celebrate Mother’s Day without having to justify this decision with my life story. The circumstances – the “details” – that created my (lack of) relationship with my mom are mine to share.
Not everyone celebrates. And it’s none of your business to wonder why or judge why not.
So for those of you celebrating today, be mindful. Don’t assume everyone celebrates. Watch your mannerisms and responses if someone tells you they don’t. And for those of you like me, who realized what today is with a deep soreness in your chest, with every social network a sudden trigger; and are now counting the hours down as they pass one by one, remember you are not alone.
You are not alone.
You have already survived.
Every one of your days.
And this one too.