June 23, 2024
P.O.Box 613ER Gombilla House, Lamashegu Market, Tamale, Northern Region

I Erased My Mother From My Life

I’m on a path in life that is so different from what I ever imagined growing up. It’s a path I’m not even sure I consciously choose. And it’s a path that exhausts me.

I grew up with a narcissistic mother, and I was the scapegoat.

No matter how I tried, I just simply could never gain my mother’s love. It was love that was tainted with conditions and taken away at any time — and that was very often.

Instead of giving up, I tried harder — needing to get the best grades, be on my best behaviour, and have the cleanest room.

But it never worked. In my mother’s eyes, I was too fat. She would regularly remind me that my thighs were huge and make sure they were always covered up.

Now looking at the few remaining pictures of my childhood, I don’t see it. I don’t see what she saw. I see a regular child, with long blond hair and blue eyes trying so very hard to smile for the camera.

In my mother’s eyes, I wasn’t as smart as my brother. I got all As while he got Cs, yet, I believed it.

I spent my free time submerged in books. They were a welcomed escape from reality. I read about young girls who had a great relationship with their mothers, all into adulthood. And I wondered what was wrong with me.

When your own mother just doesn’t love you, doesn’t even like you, something has to be very wrong with you, right?

I was the kid in school who’d stick up for the bullied and make groups for the weaker kids to have a place to fit in. I couldn’t pass a bug in distress without having to help it.

But I just could not get through to my own mother.

She always looked at me with coldness, grooming me for the role of the perfect housewife, which I couldn’t live up to, no matter how I tried. There was always a speck of dust, a spot missed, a dish forgotten. She’d make sure of that.

I’ve lived most of my life trying to fit into her mould. Yet, everything I did sparked anger in her.

I’m now 37, and a wife and mother myself. I decided four years ago to completely stop all contact with her.

I saw that dangerous behaviour being projected onto my oldest child from very early on.

I tried talking to my mom about her obvious favouritism and difference in attitude toward each child but it did nothing.

It wasn’t until she plain out told me that she just didn’t “like” my oldest, that it hit me: She’s not going to change, but I had to.

I had to change in order to protect my children. So I broke off any and all contact.

It was dramatic, a climax to an explosive chapter of my life that made up so much of who I am. Or was. Or am. I’m not even sure at this point.

She never once reached out to reconcile. No interest in her only grandchildren.

Everyone who’d ask me how my mom was doing, was shocked when they found out we no longer spoke.

“But that’s your mother!” were the cries. “How could you keep her grandbabies away from her!” and “That is so wicked!”

The guilt that set in for me after that very difficult decision, drove me to speak to a psychologist. Was I wrong?

Taking that step and sharing my burden with a psychologist was by far the best thing I’ve ever done. She was able to make so many puzzle pieces fit.

Suddenly, I was able to see that it was not me. I was not undeserving of my mother’s love. I wasn’t a bad child. A horrid teenager. A stupid adult.

I was the scapegoat of a narcissistic mother.

Foreign terms to me, opened up my whole world of darkness and melted away so much of my pain and self-doubt. The more I researched, the more I started to understand.

The more I understood, the more my self-love grew.

Years of self-doubting cautiously started growing into confidence. I’m 37 now and slowly trying to figure out who I am without her unrealistic expectations of what she wanted me to be.

She had a health scare earlier this year, and since we live on opposite sides of the world, I decided to extend a palm branch.

Conversations have been on WhatsApp only, very shallow (if we go past any shallowness, the attempts to hurt me start), and she hasn’t once asked about her only grandchildren.

There’s no interest. And that’s fine with me. Because now I know:

It’s not me. It’s never been me. But it’s always been her.

And the cycle stops with me.

Story By Your Tango

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