My mother and I enjoy a warm, loving, and respectful relationship with each other, but it wasn’t always that way.For the first fifty years of my life our relationship was pseudo. Even though I was an adult I was still a little girl wanting my mother to be the mom I needed and wanted.
How I related to my mother began to change in the late 80′s when I started weekly therapy sessions. I was looking for a way to make sense of my life and was identifying my dysfunctional and co-dependency issues. I also was learning the process of individuation, of setting boundaries, and of seeing who I was and what I needed in life.
During this time I decided to leave my twenty-one year marriage. I called my mother to tell her and instead of being heard and supported she questioned my decision-making abilities and was very angry with me. I wanted to lash out at her, but instead I hung up and cried as I wrote my feelings in my journal. My long-buried anger for not feeling supported and championed by her my entire life had finally made its way into my consciousness.
As I worked on this issue with my therapist I was able to see the hurt I carried. I always wanted my mother to take up for me and believe in me, but she didn’t seem to be able to do that.
Grappling with my anger I distanced myself from her. She could not understand my anger and I was not able to speak any of my truth to her. The inevitable happened; we drifted apart.
As I continued in therapy I came to see my anger was not just at her. I was an adult and I still had not learned how to stand up for myself in a healthy way. I didn’t know if the decisions I made were good or bad, and I didn’t have a clue who I was or what mattered to me. I’d lived all of my life behaving and responding to things that I was finding didn’t even matter to me. I was so used to doing what I thought was right and what I hoped would win others approval, I didn’t realize that I did not approve of or accept myself. But then, how could I? I didn’t even know myself.
At the same time I was working on these life issues, I was also transitioning from a patriarchal belief system into a matriarchal one. I was learning about goddess energy and embracing this compassionate feminine energy in my life. I also was researching women’s history and seeing clearly the plight of women in this world.
As I understoof the need for women to support women, I developed loving and compassionate relationships with a lot of women. I no longer viewed females as competition, instead I saw them as sisters paddling the same boat in the confusing and overwhelming sea of patriarchy.
In the midst of this unfolding in my life, my eyes opened and I saw my mother as another woman on the path who was struggling with all the issues other women face. She was no longer just my mother. She was like me, scared and insecure, and longing for love, acceptance, support and empowerment. I knew she’d given life and her children the best she had. In that moment, I forgave her for her lack of emotional availability.
We drew very close to each other and this time our relationship was real. It no longer lacked substance and I did not have to pretend everything was okay. I confided in her and spoke my truth and she listened to me. We were both different and our relationship blossomed.
Last year we had a horrible, life-changing family event that wreaked havoc on our relationship. In my desire to help her I lost her, and I knew I could not fix it. I stepped back into a safe space for healing, forgave her and let it go. Every day I thought about her and cried, and every day I blessed her and let her go. I thought she was gone forever and we would never reconcile.
One night about seven months ago, she called. Over and over she told me how she missed me and needed me in her life. I heard her loneliness and knew she was missing me as much as I missed her. I didn’t have to think twice about what she was asking. I was ready to pick up where we left off and be present to her again.
We now share many intimate moments where she speaks her pain and we cry together. Then there are those times when we play cards and recall family incidents and laugh till we pee our pants. I am interested in all facets of her life and encourage her to talk to me.
I love my mother very much and I treasure our relationship. I love sitting with her and listening to her stories. I consider myself blessed beyond belief because I’ve had two opportunities to experience authentic healing with my mother. I accept her for who she is and where she is and I consider her one of my closest friends.