My mother has never been good about meeting my needs. She has an uncanny way of making me feel unimportant. It’s always been about her. This I’ve known but it dawned on me how much this is so when I went to her house over the weekend. While helping prepare for her move to a retirement home, she and I perused copious amounts of memorabilia from her past.
I have very little memory from my own childhood, a term psychologists refer to as “selective amnesia,” at least with regard to sexual abuse survivors. Anyway, I’ve lived with an empty affect and lost memory of my early and middle childhood. Not a big deal, as I’ve learned to cope with that. But, wouldn’t you fucking know it? As my mom pulled out stuff from her old jobs, long unseen art that she created and her Master’s degree diploma, I could remember all of it. I recollect the name of where she worked and I remember having to help her compile and sort papers; I recall her painting the picture she showed me and I knew the name of the college she went to. This might not seem surprising, except it’s all about her! I don’t recall my elementary teacher’s names, my girlfriends from age 5-10 years old or what I liked. My mom showed me a photo and asked where this was. I answered correctly and she swooned, “good girl.” The picture was her undergraduate college campus where we regularly returned for alumni weekends.
It was like being hit with a ton of bricks. She was (and is) an egotistical person who was driven by her own needs. When my parents divorced, I was 9 or 10 and my mom went back to school and work. I suppose she had to but my world became all about her. I remember her crying at night and hating my dad. My dad tried to be civil but he was all business without warmth or physical contact. My mom also didn’t touch me. I was pretty much abandoned to figure things out on my own. At least that’s how I feel. I don’t even know if what I feel is what happened.
Where is this post going?
I acknowledge that in my mother’s old age, she needs more from me. I willingly accept that role, but whereas most children feel their moms did a lot for them when they were younger so it is rightfully their turn to care for them as they age. Quite the opposite for me, I feel like she is sucking more of the life out of me, just as she did when I was a child.
I shouldn’t feel this way. It’s selfish and ungrateful.
The reality is so different. My mom embraced me on her visit. She introduced me to all her friends. We went to lunch, we shared her past and she gave me numerous valuable items that she felt it was time to pass on, including my parent’s silver from their wedding 40 plus years ago. That is not a small, inexpensive gift but it lacks the warmth of a warm hug and a proud smile. I feel empty even with loads of boxes that I need to unpack.
I know the real baggage I carry is the dynamics of my childhood. It weighs heavy and when I’m confronted head-on with it, I’m left dragging on the floor. Fortunately, my mom and I are a few hours from each other so visits are infrequent. I’m grateful for that because it takes a few months to recover every time I see her. I feel like such a horrible daughter to think that. Sigh.♥