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My mother was a complicated woman. She died when she was 47 of breast cancer, about 25 years ago now. On the one hand, it was important to her to be a good mother. On the other, she was emotionally not very supportive, particularly when it came to my feelings about my dad. She also intercepted letters and gifts that he sent over the years, because she said she thought it would confuse me and that I was better off without him. Her anger towards him was incredibly profound. When she had cancer and was going through chemo, she would puke in a bucket with his picture super-imposed on a cancer cell in the bottom of it. I believe that the anger at him was sometimes acted out on me, both because I have some similar features to him, and because I loved and missed him so much.
When I was a teenager, she went back to school to do an MA, and at that point she all but stopped parenting me, except to discipline me when I did something wrong (and I did do wrong stuff worthy of discipline). She tried to get me into therapy a few times, the last time it helped.
I think that in general I can say that you are right, I did not have a loving, attentive mother. I find this all the harder to grapple with, because I know I am neither loving nor attentive with my son. I want to be, I just don’t know how. I am taking steps to repair our bond, but it feels so forced. My greatest fear is that he grows up to be just as anxious, depressed, and traumatized as I am.
Thank you so much for talking to me. I am finding this really helpful.
I don’t remember a time when I didn’t hate myself.
My father walked out when I was three, and I didn’t have any contact with him again until I was 10 or 11. I believe that gave me the idea that I wasn’t worthy of love or respect. I hated the way I looked. Instead of dark curly hair I wanted straight blond hair. Instead of hazel eyes I wanted blue ones. I wanted to be tall instead of short. I wanted to think like normal kids and fit in socially. I felt dumb and did poorly in school. I did really well in university, but before that I was not a good student, and compared myself with others who seemed to effortlessly write good essays and do well on tests.
I was always so scared, especially of being murdered or kidnapped. Everyone laughed off my fears, and no one talked about my father. No room was made for my devastation about his disappearance. My mom would tell me we were better off without him, that she had given him an out and he’d taken it. But I would cry at night and ask why he left me and why he didn’t love me. I don’t remember ever being reassured that I was good enough, that I was worthy of love, even if he wasn’t there.
These wounds are so old and yet so deep. I am really hopeful that the work I am doing in and out of therapy will help me to heal. I want a second chance at a happy life. I can see it, but it’s on the other side of that mountain I don’t know how to climb. I think that by writing this, and interacting with you is a concrete step I am taking. But there are just so many of them that need taking…
It’s just so hard. My whole life I have hated myself. The only thing I ever appreciated about myself was my intellect, and now it feels like that’s gone. When I look at my life all I see is sadness and addiction and chaos and loneliness. I see nothing worthy of love and acceptance. I am trying to take a leap of faith that doing therapy, sharing on this message board, and reaching out to people in my life will help, but I’m so sceptical. I can’t imagine what it would be like to love and accept myself. It’s such a foreign concept.
Thanks for responding.
I know that my substance use is unhealthy, and that I do it to numb my feelings. I have tried to quit but I struggle with it. I also know that my substance use is not helping my cognitive issues. It just feels so overwhelming to contemplate stopping. These have been my crutches for so long, I don’t know how to deal with my feelings without them. I feel like self-acceptance is where I have to start.
I really appreciate the responses. It feels good to be seen, even if only virtually.