Question: Dear Luise: i’ve never felt very close to my mother. Not since I was a young child. When I was very young, I was diagnosed with p.t.s.d, depression and anxiety, this was attributed to my father’s near death with weeks in the hospital. As I grew older, my anxiety problems only got worse. I have to admit, my mother was always there to help me through it. She comforted me and encouraged me like any good mother would do. But my parents divorced when I was 9 or 10. It was hard on me, & my lil bro and sis. Slowly but surely, my mother transformed into a person I didn’t recognize. She started dating a man she had known since she was a child herself. She began to listen to everything he told her. She became obsessed with him, and began losing touch with her children. She began blaming her distance on me. She accused me and my anxiety disorder distracting her from raising her other two “normal” children as she so put it. And keep in mind I was no older than 13 at the time. I would have anxiety attacks, and like any child, I just wanted to be comforted a little by my mommy. I would cry for hours in my room just so she would maybe come check and see why. But she never would. My behaviour escalated into temper tantrums, where I would throw stuff at walls and break things of mine just for her attention. Negative or otherwise. She got to the point where she would bust into my room, belt in hand, and beat me into submission, all while screaming threats of taking me to the mental hospital to be “locked up” forever. (Yeah, and there SHE was the one whipping ME like a madman) I stayed in my rooms for days. Everything I ever said or did was because I was “crazy” as she rationalized it. My mom would always say things out loud and flaunt about how perfect my other younger siblings are in front of me. It made me cry and sent me running to my room in tears. She never followed with a sorry or anything. Which is probably where my horrible self-loathing and B.D.D. developed from…To this day my mother denies EVER have treating me that way. She acts like nothing bad ever happened between us. There’s this big empty void in my life between childhood and adulthood where she wasn’t there (Dad took over caring for me and my siblings) She was never there for all my most important milestones. My first serious boyfriend, highschool, prom, my 18th b-day, my 21st b-day. Now that’s all gone and past! And she doesn’t care! She never did anything a normal mom should do! That’s all I EVER wanted in my life was “Mommy!” She acts like we should be bestest friends or something. Whenever we talk and hang out in person, everything I have to say she ignores. As if i’m un interesting. Or she plain doesn’t care about my thoughts, hopes or dreams. I hardly ever get to see her and she can’t shut up about her stupid life (as if I was never there in it!) and listen to me. As if I don’t have a sentient thought in my head. Yet, I love my mom still. I’m always terrified that my mom will die soon (childhood fear) and if she dies she would die never knowing how I truly felt. I feel as though I had a mommy at one point in my life. But I lost her. it tears me apart everyday that I can’t resolve this. My mother has made me afraid of my feelings. I am now 21 and in college, and still live with my father and younger siblings. I still live day to day with anxiety and depression, perhaps some of my depression will lift if I just come clean with her…K.
Answer: Dear K.: By now you must have had a lot of counseling and input about your situation. My take is to just let it go. She isn’t going to listen if you when you decide to come clean with her. Don’t bother. It sounds to me like your life has been about your mother and her inability or refusal to focus on your issues. I think it is time to get that she is never going to make sense and you are never going to get through to her. She stopped listening a long time ago. She is how she is and you have made it in spite of her not because of her.
Maybe it would help to do something symbolic and dramatic like writing it all down, printing it out, burning it and tossing or burying the ashes. I did that once and it worked.
Now is the time to have your life be about you. Don’t get stuck in being right about being wronged. Self-pity will imprison you. You are a special person. You matter. You are not your past and you are not your anxiety and depression; you are so much more than that. Leave your mother to her attachment to denial and superficiality and self-absorption. They are hers, not yours. College and a better life are ahead…turn toward the future joyfully. It’s all yours! Blessings, Luise