Grieving the Mother I never had.
I was just reading a post on The Imperfect Mum from a reader who had a toxic relationship with her mother. One of the other readers suggested she see a therapist so that she could grieve the relationship that she never got to have with her mother. It got me thinking.
I’ve always associated grieving with the loss of an actual person, when someone dies. It never really occurred to me to grieve the idea of something. But it makes sense, doesn’t it? Just acknowledging the empty space where something ought to have been…..
I wrote this post five years ago which explains a bit about my Mum. I touch a little on the resentment that stems from having a Mother with a mental illness but lately the resentment has been rising to the surface more often. Since we have come back to Perth, she has been able to need me more as I am geographically more available. She went into the psych ward whilst we were on our cruise in June and spent three months there. She would call me 3 or 4 times a day and expect me to come every time she cried, which was every day. I am an only child; she expected me to be her saviour, her punching bag, her penance, her sanity, her reason and I don’t want to be. I have my own family that I have worked hard for. We have had our own troubles and God forbid if things are going well and I actually get a chance to enjoy my own lot in life, just for a while. The trouble with saying No is the guilt. The guilt that had me throwing up the minute I walked in my front door from spending the day at the hospital with her. The guilt that had me breaking out in a full body rash and bed bound with nausea on the days I wen to visit. Guilt from not doing enough, not being able to do enough and worst of all, not wanting to do enough. I will tell you I came very close to changing my number and pretending I didnt have a mother. But I didn’t. I continued with the charade until the storm passed and she is finally out of hospital, this time into a nursing home, a whole new drama.
Its funny how we are obligated to our parents. I mean, we had no choice as to who they were. They raised us and we are expected to look after them in old age as they looked after us in youth. My mother idolises me; puts me on a pedestal and thinks I can do no wrong. She tries to be there by asking the right questions but I have never been able to tell her the truth. She reacts to things differently to you and I and takes everything personally. She absorbs everyone else’s problems so my troubles become hers and she frets about them as her own until she is in the psych ward again. She means well, but its suffocating. I am forever 8 years old. Even when she would tell me off as a child and send me to my room, within minutes she would be in there with me, sitting on the bed sobbing and begging for my forgiveness. Always about her and her feelings; never actually able to look after me and mine.
The first time I got married I invited both her and my father. She hadn’t seen my father since my 21st birthday, 8 years earlier but the mere thought of her seeing him again far outweighed the importance of my day and the day before I got married she was admitted to the psych ward. I didn’t have my own mother at my wedding. The result of that was I didn’t tell her when I got married the second time. I didn’t tell her when I went into labour with G Man or Master J and she doesn’t know that we nearly lost Mr Point Five last year or the real reason why we are back in Perth. I love her very much, but I shield her from everything that I need support with and I resent the hell out of that. I didn’t really realise how much I resent that until she was sick this last time. Why is she allowed to need me for everything when I can’t need her for anything? Her mental illness has robbed her and I both. It has robbed us of that beautiful mother/daughter relationship that I see so many people take for granted; with hot soups brought to them when they are sick or help around the house with a newborn. It eats away at me and the resentment grows.
SO, back to grief therapy for the Mother I never had. I wouldn’t describe it as harsh as toxic as we both love each other, but how can I learn to accept the relationship we have always had, without the wistful longing and jealousy?
What are your thoughts? Has anyone done this? Has it worked? Is it worth it? Are there any home remedies I could try instead?