I’m having a difficult time facing the truth of what really happens between my mother and I. I want to pretend I had a normal childhood. But I didn’t, and normal mothers don’t force their 14 year-old daughters to go out with pedophiles – and then forget about it and refuse, years later, to even listen to what happened, because it hurts too much. It hurts you? What about me?
Everything winds back to my relationship with my mother, my experience of her, how impossible it is for me to get my needs met with her, and how much I keep trying, butting my head against that brick wall. The person holding me back is me. I don’t want to admit to the truth of her.
I’m torn between knowing that she’s subject to the same responsibilities as everybody else, and fearing that she was so wounded as a kid that normalcy wasn’t even on the cards for her. My expectations of her seem cruel and unfair in the light of that possibility. But where does it leave me?
I’m fighting a war I can’t win. How can I accept the way she is, when my experience of that way is exploitation of my vulnerability? How can I make my peace with it in the face of what still feels like abuse to me?
I’ve spent my life saying “she doesn’t mean to hurt me” but it doesn’t change anything. Intentions don’t hurt us, actions do. Can she become aware of what she’s doing and thus be accountable? I don’t know. I have to stop hoping for it.
The past is still alive between us, not because of her, but because I’m still vulnerable. How can I be in a real relationship with her, how can I have conversations with her – in which she steals all the strokes, where she’s always the talker and I’m always the listener – without it hurting?
I’ll never be able to breach that solid fortress which is her refusal to acknowledge that she’ll sacrifice me rather than face her truth. It would be easy if I hated her but I don’t. I still love her – is it love, or is it a raw, very small child’s need for love? Every time I pick up that phone, no matter how well I prepare myself, no matter how well I try to keep myself behind safe boundaries, she always gets to me.
Every time she turns up the vulnerable volume I’m crushed. I want to say “it doesn’t matter that you hurt me, so long as you’re okay. I know you don’t mean it. Please don’t hurt, Mom.” I’m the sacrificial lamb and I get slaughtered every time.
How do I stop wanting her to meet my needs in a clear and unconflicted way, one that doesn’t include making me pay emotionally? How do I stop wanting her to just tell the truth? There’s a little, innocent girl alive in me, watching her. Hoping. Maybe this time it’ll be different. Maybe this time it will have changed forever.
I wish I could stop loving her but I can’t. I wish love was simple, but it isn’t. I can’t change her, and I even recognize that she has the right to be who she is. My challenge lies with me, not with her. Not to understand her better and not to prove her sane or crazy, because I can’t, but to look elsewhere for my needs.
So I don’t depend on her. So she can’t hurt me. I have to learn to strengthen my own boundaries. Or else walk away. But how do I close the door on my mother?