Five Things I Wish Someone Would Have Told Me When My Mother Walked Out Of My Life
In life, especially when you are young, many minor inconveniences feel as if they will end your world. I’ll never forget the day in fourth grade when a seemingly innocent “friend” turned against me entirely and said gross things about me. That was one of the many, many, countless times my fragile prepubescent life was over as I knew it. I got over it, though. At least I learned how to cope and function as normally as I could, being ten years old and all. A moment that will always, always stick with me will be the day my mother told us all that she decided to live with her current boyfriend, following a prison and rehabilitation sentence. Which turned out to be entirely useless, but that’s a different story for a different time. Nothing could possibly compare to the way my heart sank when I learned she wasn’t coming home with us. I still can’t decide if the feeling was heartbreak, hopelessness, or just sheer shock. I still don't completely know how to feel about it, even today, eight years later. As a twelve-year old, this was the real end. If my mother didn’t want me, what use was I to the world? What was my point in living? I’d like to preface this list with saying that I had a very supportive, sympathetic family that tried their best to help, but without experiencing it, without actually being me or my brother, how much could they have known? Through the years following my mother’s departure, I learned a lot of tough lessons about the true impact on abandonment, and what it means to forgive, and maybe forget.
1. You’re going to feel completely numb at first, and that’s perfectly fine.
When my mother first left my father, brother and me, I didn’t exactly know how to react. I remember standing in the shower, trying to cry, trying to force some of the emotion out of my body, but all I could do was stand there in disbelief. It wasn’t until months later that the weight of it finally sank in. At first it was this cloud hanging above my head. I was just waiting for the storm. But it was never that simple. The realization has never taken full effect. When I hear it replayed in my mind that my mother didn’t want me, it’s still too real for me to completely grasp. Now that I think about it, maybe it’s not something that can completely be come to terms with. And that’s completely alright.
2. It will leave you feeling more empty than you can ever imagine.
My mother abandoning me was my first true heartbreak. When she had been arrested in the past, sent to prison, sent to rehab, etc, there was always a date that she would return, there was always an end to it. But this time, it was truly, truly over. This was like a shot to the heart for me. I can’t even begin to count the nights I laid awake, just wondering why she left. Nothing filled that void no matter what I tried. Now that I’ve grown a lot since that, I’ve been able to suppress it much more, and very rarely do I seek out a way to fill the void. I would have been so grateful to know when it happened that, it’s going to take ages to fill that gap.
3. It comes in waves.
I don’t dwell on my mother very much these days. I try not to dedicate the time to the thoughts about her and let it get to me very much, but I have my days. Never is it a constant state of sadness or anger, it’s sparked by the simplest things. It still physically pains me sometimes to see a happy mother and children, as selfish as it may seem, it’s how my brain is wired to think. When the feelings do surface, they they come like a freakin’ tsunami. They can be overpowering, and knock whatever strength I have left in me, and leave me curled in a fetal position sobbing into my stuffed animals’ fur, my inner child aching and praying and cursing at God. When this first started happening, I didn’t know how to feel, especially as it was three damn years later. I’ve learned to tell myself now, though, that it’s only healthy to deal with the emotions as they hit.
4. You’re going to grow to feel intense hatred.
I always have failed to see my mother’s demons, despite the way she treated me as a child, despite the neglect and the times she exposed my siblings and me to drug deals and various crimes, the times we saw her get arrested, the list goes on and on. I was never, never, ever able to hate my mother, no matter what. After she left, I spent the first year feeling forgiveness, and even sympathy for her. I noticed though, as I got past my teenage years I hated her. I hated her for her neglect, I hated her for her abuse, I hated her for abandoning me. Even now, I haven’t fully forgiven her, and I don’t know if I ever will, and I don’t know how to forgive a parent who can so easily leave their children’s lives and not look back. And as far as I’m concerned, it’s better to feel the natural angry emotions that come along with the emotional trauma, rather than force myself to forgive.
5. You are not your mother.
When I turned fifteen and moved in with my step mother, she would frequently compare me to my mother when I did something irresponsible, seeings as she knew of my mother’s past, and maybe wanted to use that against me? I don’t really know. For years, and even now I struggle with the fear that I’m going to turn out like her. What if I have my own children and turn out like her? She’s a shame for a mother, no matter how terrible it sounds, she’s the most sorry excuse for a parent I know. In therapy and many conversations with myself, I’ve forced myself to realize that I am not her. Just because she is my blood, doesn’t mean I have to be anything like her.