Mother’s Day is a day of festivity, joyful reflection, and special moments between mothers, their spouses, and their children.
For some, it is a time of sorrow and pain.
As a global community, we’re now discovering that many of our wounds and triggers can be traced back to childhood. Some of us grieve over our lost early years, having had parents who were ignorant in the ways of insightful child-rearing. Perhaps they married and had us too young. Still being kids themselves, they made many mistakes that, sadly, left us scarred in some way. They emulated the ways of their own mothers and fathers, which typically included physical and/or corporal punishment and expected us to be small adults. You know… the whole “I’m going to give you something to cry about” routine. Believing things such as “Don’t pick the baby up when he or she cries because then they’ll expect it every time”, “Children should be seen and not heard”, “Spare the rod, spoil the child”, and similar parenting approaches that virtually left entire generations finding the need to seek out intense psychological counseling and anti-depression/anti-anxiety medications.
Others weren’t subjected to the above offenses, but were left alone while their parents worked. Their whole childhood spent with babysitters, nannies – or in some cases – as latch-key kids. They may have had a “decent” childhood on the surface, but didn’t receive the warm, nurturing acceptance and acknowledgement that their counterparts in the aforementioned scenario also desperately wanted and needed.
Still yet, some had parents who were narcissistic. If you had a narcissistic mother, she likely not only engaged in all the above-mentioned transgressions (which were mostly done out of ignorance in the case of the young and inexperienced), but many others that left their children in a particular state of abandonment grief and emotional turmoil – generally out of spite and malice.
By all accounts, Mother’s Day can bring with it a renewed sense of guilt and obligation, which some mothers take advantage of to the fullest, whether narcissistic or not. Some ACONs and survivors of a painful childhood have mustered up the courage to go No Contact with their Narcissistic mom or dad, that being the only way they could stumble towards their own survival.
As you read this, there are also mothers out there who are struggling to live up to the expectations of motherhood, especially if they had painful childhood experiences. These mothers slog along, doing the best they can with what they know, over-stressed, under-supported, and feeling a desperate sense of failure. In many cases they are being narcissistically or emotionally abused inside of their current marriage or relationship.
A common concern I hear from women is, “I feel so disconnected from my children” or, “I feel so badly because I want to show my children how much I love them, but I just don’t have the time, strength, or emotional resilience”.
I know what that feels like. I remember times when all I could do was lie on the couch or on my bed, only getting up to give my children a meal, and then I’d go back to lying down, unable to muster up the energy for anything else a mother is expected to do. I was utterly exhausted from all of the emotional and biological processes going on inside of me within my own abusive marriage. Even more challenging, my wounded inner child vied for my attention, making it hard to determine whether I should meet my own emotional needs or those of my children.
On rare occasions, I’d force myself to take them out to eat or to the park, but then we’d settle back into days of my not being fully present with them. Admittedly, this could have had the same emotional effects on my children as if I’d willfully left them to their own devices. It was inconsistent mothering, just in a different context.
This is a common situation for women who are involved in narcissistically abusive relationships. Generally, they have been abandoned by their abusive partners and left to take care of their children alone. Even in shared custody situations, the woman tries to counteract the negative effects of their children being under the toxic influence of their disordered father. On top of that, when the children are with their father, she is bombarded with harassing text messages, phone calls, and last-minute changes in plans (on his part), never really having the opportunity to heal or self-regulate.
So, what does this all mean?
Regardless of whether our mothers were raised by ignorant parents or are narcissistic, our main commonality is that we all hurt. The dynamic between our younger self and our mother plays itself out through the course of our lives. When the element of basic trust in one’s mother is unstable, it can negatively influence the expectations for all other relationships in our lives.
However, whether you are a mother or not, we all have a younger self that lives inside of us. One that needs acknowledgment and nurturing. Take this day to reflect upon what changes you can make in your life in order to stop simply surviving and be able to enjoy life and your relationships. What might that entail? Only you can answer that. You might consider leaving an abusive relationship, going No Contact with an abusive parent, making time for yourself so you can meet your own emotional needs; perhaps all of those things.
Turn Mother’s Day into Your Day
Some of you may have the opportunity to improve your relationship with your mother; while others of you are coming to the realization that you can’t fix what your mom has no intention of fixing. Maybe you should back away and improve the relationship with yourself.
You are a marvelous being. You don’t have to do anything to be worthy of love, though you still need it. One first step you can take is to start showing yourself that love. Rescue yourself. Make a plan for a better life and then get to work. It’s not going to happen on its own.
Some of you are already doing what you need to do – standing up for yourselves while scared or despondent. I recently spoke to a woman who is living out of her van because she made the decision to leave a situation that wasn’t honoring her as an individual.
In fact, when I decided to change my own life, I made some very risky moves and at times didn’t even have money for a cup of coffee.
It’s scary as hell, but only by going into the unknown can you have a chance for a better life. Often, your circumstances will get worse before they get better, but it’s just another step on your path to transformation. It’s your bridge to yourself.
If you’ve been considering making changes in your life, get your digital copy of How to Do No Contact Like a Boss!, which is a hand-guide for going No Contact – whether it be with an abusive partner or parent.
(Copies are also available from Smashwords, Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, OverDrive, Flipkart, Oyster, Scribd, Baker & Taylor’s Blio or Axis360).