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“And all along I was focused on her, feeling empathy for her and none for me, feeling and believing I was worthless and undeserving.” – I thought about what you said over the weekend.. its uncanny how your words echo what I went through and feeling now.
I used to hate making her angry. After a big fight, when we used to go into our respective rooms, I used to come back and knock on her door to see if there was any chance of a reconciliation before we slept. I did this because I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep with the feeling of sadness that I hurt her. I cannot remember even once when she responded positively to that, sometimes, not even opening the door.
It was such an awful cycle of sadness and guilt. With her gone, I don’t miss that but as you said, I focused so much on her, trying to empathise with her, that I now feel empty, with no where to focus except my mind telling me that I probably wasn’t upto her standards.
Thank you for so much insight into what I wrote. I appreciate your time.
What you said about how your mother’s behaviour made you feel guilty is exactly what I was facing. My mother used to often remark that I was a “problem child” compared to my brother. In hindsight, I feel that I was more expressive than my more introverted brother.
How you described expressing her misery in dramatic ways is what I would call my mother too. I don’t know at what point I started to see becoming angry, yelling and creating drama was normal. Admittedly, I have carried onto become all those things myself. Its funny that I almost became her the past few years.
Now that she’s gone after battling a lengthy illness, I am having trouble dealing with grief. Sometimes I feel overtly sad missing the few glimpses of maternal love I experienced from her and at other times, when I am angry remembering her, I feel guilty for not grieving for her properly. What was the point in being angry with her now?
Over the last year when she became very ill, I began to see a softer side of her. Yet, I couldn’t find myself letting her in and always having my guard up. She used to say that I don’t like her anymore and I wasn’t sure if I did. I was torn between loving her as a mother unconditionally (she did work to provide me with financial security) and liking her as a person after the regular drama she put me through.
It is interesting how you bring up the comparison your mother made with other daughters, that was a regular feature in my relationship with my mother too. I always felt I was doing something wrong, never good enough and that she was “stuck” with me unfortunately.
The culture I come from also has an enormous pressure of being a good, valuable component of a family. My role in my family got reduced to being dramatic and emotional. I think it may have been due to a childhood of not being heard or validated.
Grief can be so complicated.
Thank you for your words.
Looking back at when I was growing up, I cannot remmeber times that I did not upset my mother and the consequent silent treatment or hitting that came from her. As I child, I never knew what upset my mother, what triggered her to dislike me. I usually tried to band-aid it up with a quick apology in the form of doing chores, crying for her apology or making sorry-cards for her. When I reflect on this, it was coming from a place where I yearned for validation from her.
As I grew up, I feel like I upset her intentionally with words to get attention. And then the cycle of silent treatment and my apology started yet again. Neither of us acknowledged this as a repetitive behaviour or enquired why either of us were doing this. I always just felt I was never good enough (compared to my brother) and that pushed me to always try and excel at school and whatever else. Then I would get burnt out and take it out on her and it all starts again…
I don’t think my mother ever liked me as a person. My mother is from a more conservative upbringing where there is a distinction between males and females but I have grown up to be assertive and opinionated..and this understandably didn’t sit well with her core values.
To answer your question, I feel guilty because now I am left with never having been a good daughter although I am aware that her validation would not heal any wounds anyway. I feel guilty because I didn’t know any better to break this cycle of abuse. I feel guilty that I was not empathetic enough towards her to see what was prompting her behaviour. This guilt is not allowing me to process my grief towards her. I also feel guilty that I have anger towards her for destroying my childhood by denying me the validation that children need to grow and consequently I have trust issues and never think I am enough.
This is made worse by what people see on the outside. I am a successful medical professional, satisfied by my purpose in life, married to a great husband and seem to enjoy my life. But at the end of the day, I cry tirelessly because I don’t know if I ever figured her out. If I actually just made mothering me very difficult that all she could do was dislike me.
I know how much worse others have it. And that also adds to my guilt..as if I am too priviledged to feel so strongly about something that is in the past and cannot technically hurt me anymore. I am not someone who is subjected to abuse every day like my others do.
I was handling this duality in my life fine until she passed away and these unexpected feelings of guilt and anger have come up.
Sorry if that seemed like a rant anita.
How does your mother’s behaviour towards you make you feel guilty? I am hoping to feel like I am not the only one and that it is ok to give it the value it deserves.