Fully knowing I was in for trouble, I still logged into Facebook on Mother’s Day and allowed myself to be assaulted by the myriad of posts thanking and glorifying mothers, which in itself is a profoundly beautiful thing, though admittedly one I personally find very painful. As I watch people and I see the relationships they have built, it fills me with an unspoken joy– that others have the support systems to know they are always safe. It also fills me with envy and sadness for something I do not possess. There is a special place in our hearts for people who have lost their mothers, but it has seemed socially taboo to allow room for those of us who have never had moms or have estranged and toxic relationships with our mothers.
I have never known what to say on mother’s day; it seems unacceptable to approach the subject of moms with bitterness or anger, and even the truth itself can come off hateful enough to be looked down upon. How do you tell others that your relationship with your mother is non-existent? How do you say, “my mom doesn’t love me and abandoned me a long time ago,” or even harder, “my parents abused me and kinda really fucked me up, so…” There is absolutely no easy way to divulge those painful facts of life, and lying or pretending as though it isn’t truth is no more healthy than full-on delusion. For myself, I have simply grown accustomed to saying, “I have no parents” and leaving it at that rather than going into the hours-long tirade of exactly why I have not spoken with my mother in years and remain in non-contact with the majority of my immediate family. Granted, claiming no parents also saddles me with a different kind of pity I never asked for and want no part of. Sadly, sometimes we choose the easiest paths.
I once wrote a piece about what it’s been like for me to live my teenage and adult life without a family, though focusing more on the positives I’ve gained in the family I have chosen and created along the way rather than the actual struggles I face in my day to day life. Those loved ones of mine have watched as I’ve fallen, over and over, when it comes to managing my feelings against the truths of my past, present and what will be of my future. Not only do I believe so firmly in loving yourself enough to protect yourself from harm, but I simultaneously believe in loving each other so strongly that we open our hearts and learn sincere compassion. At times, this has shown to be an incredibly contradictory place to be in. In the recent months I have found myself tested in this area, and have failed horribly. There is something to be said about people who are willing to sacrifice themselves for the comfort and happiness of others, even those who have harmed them; but perhaps that sacrifice should never be made to begin with.
It’s no secret that I believe we have to fully love and protect ourselves in order to love and protect others; sometimes that comes with the price of seeming cruel, harsh or bitter. It is very easy to look at someone’s decisions and assume you know what prompted it; it is not so easy to let go of our own bias enough to give others the benefit of the doubt when it comes to choices we’ve deemed to be ‘mean’ or unnecessary. With our insecurities and self loathing comes a subtle idea that everything affecting us is done with a cruel heart, and… that’s not necessarily the case. I am still learning the difference between unintentional betrayal and maliciousness; no doubt this will be a life’s struggle.
There was a time in my life when I was so filled with anger that I could barely function– every relationship I had was toxic, fulfilling a self-perpetuated prophecy that I was unloveable. There was another time in my life when I was so overwhelmed by worthlessness that I internalized everything– something that did not even involve me suddenly became my fault and the thoughts revolving in my head forced me into thinking it was best if I were to leave this world and stop burdening everyone. And there were times in my life when I was a complete fool, approaching pain with open arms and inviting myself to be hurt again and again the exact same ways as before; wondering what I had done wrong to keep the cycle repeating.
A friend of mine gave me a piece of advice that sat with me for a while; he said, “abusers rarely ever see what they do as wrong, because if they did, they wouldn’t be able to do it.” This was profound to me, and though it seems as if it would be common sense, I had never really broken it down that simply before and allowed its true meaning to settle into me. If someone can’t see their abusive behavior enough to stop it or even acknowledge it, they can’t seek forgiveness and you can’t give it to them. If someone views themselves as without fault, there can be closure. If someone is unable to repent for their wrongdoings, intentional or not, there can be no relationship. I have said often that it is not so important whether you meant to harm someone or not, but rather it’s more important that you harmed someone in the first place. Love stems from a place of wanting what is best for someone at the expense of our own personal gain, and anything else, in my opinion, is not love but instead is guilt; and guilt is as empty an emotion as anger, hatred or sadness.
All relationships are give and take, a balance of what we give and what we receive in return. If you are giving someone your forgiveness, you should be taking away their regret. Should you find yourself in a relationship where that regret is not present, there is no room for you to openly forgive and accept abusive or painful behavior back into your life. Maybe you can build up a facade of a mended relationship, but the emptiness inside you will remain there, and when the pattern inevitably repeats itself, the repercussions could be severely damaging. Choose not the route that is solely based on appearances, but rather the one that provides you the tools and peace to prosper and progress happily through the mess of life. And if no one has told you this yet today, you are far more worthy of love in all shapes and sizes, than to placate your own or the guilt of others.
Photo Source: www.thetimes.co.uk