Mothers (Who Can’t Love)

How thoroughly disturbing to dare to talk about the world’s greatest taboo: Unloving Mothers.
I was born to a woman who could not love.
For long, I have been urged to reconcile with her in many different ways. I have been criticised by many people around me. I have heard the classical “but she gave you life” and the more traditional “honour thy mother”. I’ve been advised to try to understand her because of her very difficult childhood, to understand her because she lacked love herself, because she lacked education….
But most of my life, I’ve been told to suck it up because I need to be positive, go forward, and at the end of the day, everyone else does (!).
My mother suffers from a “narcissistic” syndrome.
I have talked about that many times here (and there). I have worked quite intensively on myself. Followed different types of therapy. I have read a lot and I am trying to write a lot (also as part of the therapeutic process). But it is an endless subject and there is a huge black hole in my heart and soul that needs to be feed with understanding, research and process.
My mother has been desperate and depressive most of her life (and now she is getting old a little more) but she has also been very up (and high). One thing was constant, she was in need and when in need, she was abusive. This came probably as a response to all the above mentioned …
I was always confused as to why my mother could (occasionally) be loving and why everything went down the drain almost the next moment.
The queen mother of all criticism and threats was: “I hope when you have kids, they will not do this to you.”
(quoting a piece which I found somewhere on the net, sorry for not mentioning the source – I cant trace it back) “These kinds of mothers don’t mind you as long as you do what she wants you to do, as long as she has control over you, and most of all– as long as you don’t become a woman. In a lot of ways, I was no more than a piece of property to her. I was deprived and pruned so that I could one day be given away like property then people would see how amazing and strict she was. Thus, she would gain other people’s fear and respect. That was her ambition all along and it didn’t sit well with her that I refused to be treated like a trophy. My world came crashing down when I realized her need for fear and respect from a bunch of faceless people meant more to her than my life and happiness. She had no qualms about trying to break me, thinking I would eventually capitulate. Like many unloving mothers, she wreaked havoc on my conscience. I felt horrible for not obeying her commands. I felt so guilty whenever she reminded me of all she did for me. Like many daughters of unloving mothers, you break in another way be it physical illness or in my case: depression.This book also made me aware of how every experience with an unloving mother will mold the way you go through life. I’ve been on the receiving end of my mother saying: “I wish you were never born” and “You should have died a long time ago”– all in the same breath. However, her destruction did not start when I fell from grace. The tendency to feel responsible for other people’s happiness, feeling guilty if you don’t comply with other people’s wishes, and chasing approval all steams from how your mother raised you. It was such a shock for me to read that love does not have to be earned. I still remember my bridesmaids’ speech during my wedding. They called me loving. They said they loved me. I was speechless and felt that I didn’t deserve it. Sure I love my husband but I never expected much of it back. How bizarre it was for me when he was always there for me and took care of me without a second thought. How bizarre it was for me when a friend pointed out that my husband loves me more than how other husbands love their wives.”

Yes, I will never have a loving mother but that is okay. But I can be a loving mother myself. And just because I never received the nurture I needed, it doesn’t mean that I can’t be a loving mother to my child. On the contrary, I am very conscious and trying to do a lot to be there, to be loving, to be giving.


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