This was not the blog post that I had planned for this week. but sometimes life presents a situation that changes everything. And I struggled with the idea of actually sharing this situation – it’s nothing that I am proud of and it saddens me greatly - but something kept pulling me to open up for the benefit of others.
I had to make a tough decision last week – I set boundaries with my mother and told her that I couldn’t have the type of relationship with her that we currently had.
Details don’t really matter other than I felt hurt over and over. Something about this visit was too much for me – maybe it’s because my children are grown and I don’t feel like I have to keep up something fake for them.
This had happened before, 19 years ago actually, the separation lasted almost 5 years. I thought I could move past the hurt, forgive and forget. Fourteen years later though and we are back to this place again – but maybe this time I am wiser and maybe a little less wounded.
Mother and daughter relationships can be complex and that I do understand that. It’s also complex when your children grow and and move on…there are questions as ato where you fit in their lives and who you are without them. I am there now and I am sure for my mother, her role in my life has been questioned – but sadly, I really wanted to have a mother in my life, to have a place I could be vulnerable.
But instead of a safe place my personal boundaries were crossed many times. And as I attended counseling, many times, I found myself applying armor just waiting for those little dings and digs that chip away at the self-esteem. And come on, at 48 years old shouldn’t I be healthy enough to withstand these things? I didn’t like the person I was with her and I was having a hard time liking the person she had become with me.
I know that my mother does the best that she can and I often feel selfish for wanting more. I have left our relationship in her hands but in many ways, I felt that I saw her for the very last time last Friday.
The purpose of me sharing this isn’t for sympathy. It’s more as a rally to say that it’s okay to not have that perfect relationship with those who you think that you should – your parents, sisters, brothers and maybe even your children. You may not share it with many people or even acknowledge your own hurt (aren’t we usually focused on the other person anyway?) but you aren’t alone in these feelings. And there is no shame in having them.
Don’t get me wrong, cutting ties is not my suggestion. But please talk to someone about your feelings and your situation: a counselor, clergy or a good friend. Learn that it’s okay to say no and manage emotional boundaries. There is little you can control in a relationship other than how you take things in and how you react to them. Knowing your own triggers is key to healthy relationships. Also, take responsibility for your part in the relationship’s shortcomings – I have in mine. I know that I wasn’t (am not) the perfect daughter (wife, mother, friend or woman – for that matter). Extend apologies when needed – even to yourself.
Where am I now almost a week later? After feeling everything from sadness to guilt to relief and restarting the cycle again, I know that I am grieving the loss of a relationship that I wanted to have and probably never will. It will take time to be okay with this – and maybe I never will.
The best that I can do to help the healing is to offer prayers to my mother, for healing and peace. Sometimes the best you can do in a negative situation is offer the most positive action you can make.