Mental Health

Mother’s Day for the rest of us

Mother’s Day is a difficult day for me. It’s a conflicted day. There’s very little celebrating going on.

Those of us who experienced childhood trauma due to our mothers and the things they may have had going on or struggled with, may only have memories of pain and woundedness. Maybe our automatic and unconscious coping mechanism was/is dissociation.

How do you celebrate the person responsible for your trauma or the one who saw it happening and did nothing? How do you celebrate the person who you fear, are angry at, or don’t feel anything for at all?

On the flip side, there are those of us who are survivors of childhood trauma who, despite our best intentions and efforts, parented (or are parenting) in ways which traumatized our own children.

We may love our children deeply, but have been cut from their lives because the found us toxic. Some of us understand and accept it. Many of us don’t because we’re unaware of our own toxicity and need for healing and trauma recovery.

My mom died from suicide when I was 12, nearly 34 years ago. I had already been dissociating for years and didn’t really act like I cared…because I didn’t. I couldn’t. I didn’t know how.

The last memory I have of her is one where we had a physical conflict, instigated by me and initiated by her.

I’ve since come to understand and realize that she battled undiagnosed and untreated mental illness. That knowledge doesn’t remove the pain or alter my experience. It only puts it into context.

Sadly, I put my, now adult, children through similar experiences. The past 10-12 Mother’s Days have been spent alienated from one or both of them.

Things have turned around and we have better relationships with each other now. However, old habits die hard. So, I’m not anticipating more than a brief phone call or text.

The next time you wish someone a “Happy Mother’s Day,” and you should feel free to wish away, just be aware that those of us with less than enthusiastic responses have our reasons and we may be struggling.

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