I heard an old song today, and it made me cry. It was a song my mother used to play when I was a little girl, and some memories came – memories of a time I could love her without caution.
For a moment, my heart filled with dread and I thought I missed her. I mistook the sadness I feel for not having a mother to trust, and I confused it with loss.
The truth is, I do not miss my mother.
I miss the who I wish she was. I miss the who I always imagined her to be. I miss the game we played, before I knew it was rigged – that I was always meant to lose. I miss the space I held for her, for years, in hopes she would step forward to fill it. I miss the hope I had that she might.
I do not miss my mother.
I’ve reached a point of apathy where she is concerned. I have reached the other side of mourning. I have fully conceded to the fact that I cannot miss something – someone – I never had. I have let go of the anger and heartache attached to the absence.
For years I set boundaries and reinforced limits and edges. I kept believing the lie that I was under obligation to tolerate the oversteps. She’s my mother, after all, and I had to make it work. I would take space and regroup. I would get healthy and decide I could handle it now. And every time I loosened the reigns even a smidge and let her back into my life, she’d play on my need and inevitably settle right back into the sick routine, and I would find myself holding the bag-o-shame. I felt guilty because I couldn’t live up to her expectation or shame because I wasn’t _______ enough. I was left triggered by some “innocent” or “supportive” comment about my weight, and feeling culpable for her feeling terrible for making me feel terrible.
After some serious trauma-focused therapy, I started to thinking of my mother like a sharp razor. I know what she’s capable of, and if I forget who and what I’m dealing with – even for a moment – I will get hurt. If I’m not careful with her, she will slice me wide open, and I will have no one to blame but myself.
After a moment I remembered the song wasn’t real. The memory, much like a myth or urban legend told so many times I believed it true — drifted away — and the sadness sunk, like quicksand, into the past.
I cannot have a relationship with my mother and feel worthy at the same time. I cannot trust her not to manipulate my desire for her to be something she never was, could, or will be.
I know this.
I do not miss my mother, because I am a better me without her.