Growing up, my mother was not so "motherly." She was a young teen mom, and most of the time, I didn't blame her for being the way she was. It was often dismissed by everyone in my life, because “it’s just who she is,” or because “she’s had a hard life.” As if any of that were my fault.
As I got older, I noticed how abusive she was, not only to herself, but to everyone around her. She was an alcoholic, and a narcissist. That wasn’t hard to see. But it still took me a long time to realize that it’s almost impossible to have a healthy relationship with someone who has these traits.
There are a few things you should know about my past relationship with my mother. First, we never had a good relationship. Not even when I was young. As I mentioned, she was a teen mom. We kind of grew up together, but she didn’t “raise” me. Most of the time, I felt like I was the parent.
When I was a young girl, I hated her for that. I hated how mean she was. I envied my friends who had motherly moms who knew them well. My mother pretended that she knew me, she pretended that we were best friends. And maybe she really believed that, or maybe she only cared that others thought that.
Secondly, I was always afraid of her. She was an abusive alcoholic. Not that she would ever admit that. She was emotionally abusive to us all, and in my opinion she was even physically abusive to myself and my siblings. She was the worst to my father. She was even abusive to her other family members at times. Most of us feared her. No one wanted to upset her. We all walked on eggshells and did our best to go along with the false reality she lived in.
Lastly, I tried to have a relationship with her. I really wanted one, at one time in my life. I wanted the mother-daughter relationship that I have long envied in other people. But I couldn’t force something, and I wasn’t going to continue the abusive cycle, or unhealthy relationship.
Learning that some people actually DON’T change is really hard. It hurts. It sucks. But it’s true. Some people just don’t change, or won’t change for that matter. Like narcissists. They don’t know they are this way, so in their minds they don’t think they have anything to change or work on. Even when you tell them. Narcissistic people will blame this on you.
That’s what happened to me when I tried to talk things out with my mother. I wanted a clean slate. A healthy new start, so I could feel comfortable having her in my life as I was starting my own family.
Let’s just say that it got me nowhere. It actually made things a lot worse.
When I first decided that maybe it was best to live my life without my mother in it, I was afraid to admit that. I remember being nervous of what everyone else would think. I was scared that people would think I was a bad person, or that it was my fault.
Looking back now, I think these thoughts are silly, but that was how I felt back then. I was pregnant with my first child, and wanted to provide the healthiest, most stable, and nurturing environment for my baby as possible. Isn’t that what all parents want?
It took me awhile to admit that I wasn’t sure if I wanted my mother in my life anymore. When I finally brought this up to her, she (being a narcissist) only made it worse. She was unwilling to admit any fault. I kept trying, I wasn’t ready to commit to not having anything to do with her yet. But the thought was always in the back of my mind, and I remember always thinking how easy and nice my life would be if I could cut her out of it.
After giving birth to our daughter, I decided I needed space from my mother. A lot of it. I shared that with her, and asked her to respect my wishes and give me some time to process some things. Then I received The Letter.
Oh, The Letter.
She left it on our doorstep a few nights after I asked for space. It was bad. It was cruel. And I honestly don’t think she knew that it was. I read up and learned a lot about narcissistic behaviors after this, and was not surprised to find that they just don’t realize what they are doing. I was beyond angry. I was hurt, and already dealing with enough postpartum hormones and the adjusting to life with a newborn.
I read the letter, and threw it down, telling my husband that I had enough. That I was done allowing this woman to abuse and hurt me. I suddenly felt like the world’s greatest idiot for allowing someone to cause me so much pain, for so long. But she is your mother, the little voice in the back of my mind kept saying.
I finally asked myself the most important question: does that make it okay for her to hurt me? Just because she is my mother, does that mean I have to have her in my life? Does it mean I have to continually allow her to abuse me, and have someone in my children’s lives that is a bad example and influence?
When I answered honestly, the answer was no. It felt so freeing to decide that just because I was related to someone, I didn’t owe them anything. I shouldn’t have to be forced to have someone in my life based on blood and DNA. In my heart I knew that wasn’t what makes a family. At least that wasn’t how I was going to have my family decided. You may be born into a family, but that didn’t mean that you had to keep those people in your life if they only caused pain. I mean, we don’t keep friends when they are like that to us, do we? No. At least most of us don’t.
I had been pushed to my breaking point, I was finally ready to let go. I was ready to put myself first, for once. I slowly cut off all ties. Social media, phone number, and so on. It was gradual, but each step I took toward not having her in my life, the better I felt and the happier I became. So many people don't understand why someone would cut off ties with a family member, especially a parent. It wasn't easy, and on the road I have lost a lot of people. I learned that many of the people that I thought would always be there for me, were not. That was hard, but it was also okay. I was finding a new level of self-love, and respecting myself. I realized that I didn’t need anyone who would not respect my choice to be happy.
Putting aside what others wanted from me, or expected from me was hard, but worth it in the end. I can honestly say that I have never been happier and had less stress in my life as I do now.