Mother's Day is always hard for me, and it gets harder the older I get. Over the last few years I've chosen to use my pen and and decompress by being sarcastic, or by diverting attention onto other mom figures in my life, But this year is different. I have a different agenda. This year, I am going to try a different approach.
This year I am going to grieve the mother I never had.
We discovered my mother had been deceased for over a week in April 2012. But in reality, the woman who was my mother died long before I was born.
If you knew my mother, you found her to be a hard working but distant single mom. You might have been tempted to pity her, even, having to raise a disturbed, truant, teen age girl by herself; especially if you knew that the older daughter was a wild child and their dad mentally unstable himself. You would have been impressed at her tenacity, her uncanny ability to work her way up from WalMart cashier to small business owner in 8 years. You may have called her driven. Focused. Disciplined. You would have admired Mary, but you would not have called her friend. She kept her relations with her employees professional, blurring the line only when it benefited her financially.
At home she was cold. One of her live-in boyfriends called her frigid, something every teenage girl wants to hear about her mother. Being home with Mary meant keeping the peace, keeping everything on an even keel. She worked 12-14 hours a day, and frankly as long as I had the dishes done when she got home, nothing else seemed to matter.
And no one.
The passion and dedication Mary had for her job ended the minute she walked in her front door. She had nothing left for me, and if I dared ask for anything, I would be punished.
My counselor and I have posthumously diagnosed my mother with narcissistic personality disorder. I think that's going to be hard for some people to see about Mary, but had she been a man you wouldn't have liked her so well. I'm not going to rehash the ways in which she hurt me over the years, I've written about many of them in previous posts.
Today I'm simply going to try to grieve.
When you live with a narcissist you live in an altered reality, the reality that the narcissist devises. Whatever you think is true, or right, or valuable is wrong. The only truth is that of the narcissist. The only answer is the one you are given. If you choose to have an opinion other than the one given you, you are crazy. Unstable. Mentally ill. Weak minded. And when you grow up being told these things....
My life has been a series of conflicts. I enjoy spending time with my friends, but am told friends only bring you down. I love watching my friends' parents interact, and am told that they are all dumb and beneath us. I am raped, and am told I need to be on the pill. I fall in love, and am told I'm not good enough for him. I become independent and self-sufficient, and my mother stops talking to me altogether.
In reality, my life improved greatly when my mother and I became estranged, when I no longer allowed her toxicity to invade my space. It took a decade for my husband and mother-in-law to see Mary's true self, but in the end they both apologized to me for not understanding things sooner.
I really have no idea how to do this. I don't know what it's like to have a mom, that female parent who makes everything better, who comforts and supports you. I know I've been blessed to have many mom-figures in my life who have been my comfort and encouragement over the years. But I don't know how to grieve what I've never had.