The Adult Survivor: Remembering the Truth vs Longing for What Could Have Been

Mourning the loss of a mother I never had…”Sometimes I feel like a motherless child, a long way from home…” and a home I never had. I have been mourning all my life, but only conscious of it for the past 30 (thirty!) years. Still I have gone back and back, tried and tried to appease with accomplishments (such a good, talented daughter), gifts, flowers, baskets (such a thoughtful, generous daughter) but what is lacking here? “Such a loving daughter.” Why? Because, in essence, since I don’t have a real mother, I can’t love her like a daughter. And that, too, I mourn, especially when I see mothers and daughters who are close, who share their feelings. My mother always told me, “I’m your mother, not your friend.” And now I think she regrets that. She wants me to be her friend, to like her, to love her. But since she was never a mother to me, there is no basis for that. And since her cutting tongue and unpredictable rages have caused me to always be aware of my boundaries and try to keep a healthy distance even when in her presence, she feels my distance as coldness, rejection, and as we know, certain people are extremely sensitive to rejection, real or perceived. So then she gets very sad, and cries, and I feel bad. But I know from bitter experience that the first minute I let her inside my boundaries, WHAM I will get smacked, verbally, or subjected to a screaming fit, belittled, mocked…so I keep my distance and mourn for the mother I never had.

The Invisible Scar

Some of the best content on The Invisible Scar can be found in the comments section of the various blog posts. In reading them, I’ve seen myriad themes emerging. One of the most powerful ones is an adult survivor’s longing for a loving family vs the truth of what their family is really like.

The desire to be part of a loving family; to have parents who are loving, supporting, and caring; to have siblings who love you and care for your well-being; to have family members who listen to you, who share themselves, who make your life happier by being in it (and who are happy in your being in their lives)…. All those are very human desires. Everyone wants those. Who doesn’t want to be loved well and loved for who they are?

However, as readers of the Invisible Scar can attest, not everyone gets that family. Yet…

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4 Comments

  1. bpnana

     /  September 24, 2013

    A very sad subject, but unfortunately, not uncommon. The mother/daughter relationship is the one that can define a girl, for better or worse, for the rest of her life. I found healing through forgiving my mother. It wasn’t easy, but well worth the time and pain. The last three years of my mothers’ life were spent in peace because we worked on our issues. I don’t forget, but in order to find any happiness in my life, I needed to forgive my mother. Forgiveness was necessary for me to move on. My daughters have forgiven me, as well for the pain I’ve caused them. It was a long journey. It’s not easy, but for many mothers and daughters, there can be healing – and that happens when one forgives.

    Reply
    • I’m so glad that forgiveness has been successful for you. My mother refuses to acknowledge that she had any part in the extreme trauma that she inflicted upon me, and insists it is all my fault “for being a bad child.” I have tried countless times to try to bury the hatchet and repair the relationship, start over, forgive one another, whatever, but she will not budge–it is all my fault. Personally, I think she has Narcissistic Personality Disorder, and people with that disorder cannot see that they have contributed to any kind of damage. I have been in therapy for thirty years, most of them trying to find a way to forgive my mother, but at last my therapist told me, she’s not going to forgive you, so there’s no point in trying to forgive a toxic person who damages you the moment you become vulnerable. So the only thing I can do is to face the reality that a) my mother at age 86 still refuses to forgive me for running away from home when I was 16 to escape her abuse (thereby causing her all kinds of worry) and b) my job is to let go of trying to recruit her into the forgiveness relationship and instead, to learn how to love myself as I am, and finish the business of mourning the mother I never had. Those of you who have real mothers who will engage with you and work on your issues are fortunate indeed, but usually unable to understand that there are some people who do not have the insight necessary to forgive, and who don’t want to forgive. They would rather hold on to bilious anger than to admit that they had a part in the disfunction and make an effort to do the necessary work to arrive at a mature adult parent-child relationship. Take good care and enjoy your family!

      Reply
  2. savemefrombpd

     /  September 24, 2013

    Not an easy subject for you and me and others. But such an important one. It’s the root of things in most cases.
    I haven’t really written about my biological mother but it’s a messed up relationship since she left the family home with a family friend when I was 15 years old. So it’s been on (hardly) and off (mostly) with her for the last 13 years. Things’ll never be resolved or anything with her and I’m not thinking of cutting all contact because I just keep getting hurt from her and I only really feel pity towards her to be honest. She never showed me love and I can say it’s reciprocal to be honest, as much as I tried.

    Something I’ve got to deal with that bothers me more than I realise. More issues with her. She was and is sick (mentally) so it’s no simple.

    All the best to you in your healing process. x

    Reply
  3. interesting timing for this. today, I am so hurt by my mother. it’s like you said, you let her in for a moment and wham. My mom (as it seems yours as well since they could be sisters in behavior) does have Narcissistic Personality disorder as far as anyone who knows her can tell. She of course would never go to a dr. Most with NPD are diagnosed in retrospect because their kids are on a therapists couch. It’s just the way it is. In order for these people to change, they have to admit they are part of the issue. For my mom, she is always the victim of the issue. period. It’s hard to think about forgiveness for yesterday (and all the yesterdays) when there is today and tomorrow of more. If it’s not stopping, how do you say “I forgive you for now…and tomorrow I’ll just have to forgive you again…and the next day…and the next day.” If the pain continues there is not a stopping point to begin the forgiveness from. Therein lies the problem.

    I feel your pain. I understand it as well. My mom hurt me so much today…

    Where do you start when that’s the way it is so many days a week. I am 58. Is it a choice to allow yourself to be hurt. How do you just brush it off day after day? How do you ignore it without eventually knowing it will only stop upon her death. and then. how terrible to feel that in a way you are waiting for that in order to begin to heal? no win.

    Reply

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