Do you strive for love from your mom? Beg for validation and affection? Sit alone and cry because you want so badly to be good enough, worthy of her attention, hear something other than condemnation and shame? Perhaps there’s the longing for words of reassurance and sweet moments of connection. Hope lingers for something different, but different never comes.
Social media highlights the moms who are fully present while leaving it almost taboo to say that you have a mom who appears one way in public while manifesting something completely different in private. Emotionally absent mothers. Narcissistic mothers. It’s not something that gets talked about and the pain can easily leave any daughter feeling all the more alone, confused, and empty. Is this you? It was me.
It’s a long journey to work through the pain of being discarded and overcoming a childhood absent of maternal nurturing. I’ve come to believe that it truly is a life-long process — Accepting the limitations of mom, learning to validate one’s self instead of seeking it externally, self-parenting instead of begging from an empty cup. These are all skill sets that time, patience, and learning how to love yourself in the kind of way your mother never did.
Recently I found myself in the hospital having surgery to put a tube in my ear. A simple procedure that I would drive myself to and get a ride home from. As I lay in post-op I heard the nurse say to the young girl across from me, “your mom is waiting right outside.” As the doors opened and her bed was pushed out, I realized it was now just me and the two nurses in what felt like a large stale, and empty room. As the nurse put pain meds into my I.V. everything quickly began to feel warm and the physical pain disappeared like magic, but not the pain in my heart. That was still there. The reality that there was no one on the other side of the doors waiting for me — I felt that and the feeling was strong as ever.
At first, I tried to hide the tears that were quietly busting from the corners of my eyes. I wanted to push the hurt back inside as if on auto-pilot. If there’s one thing this ministry has taught me, it’s that it’s okay to grieve; safe to grieve. And only by allowing myself to in the very moment that it’s stirred up, is there ever really a moving forward. So there, even in my drowsy state, reminded myself that I didn’t have to hold it in. A funny thing happened when I said those words to myself — instead of feeling worse, I could actively feel the release. I think that’s what moving forward looks like, finding your authentic self, in the good moments and the painful ones, and choosing not to hide or strive. This is where freedom is at.
Questions to ponder:
Do you strive to have the love your mom? Do you feel like you need to hide your pain? What would it look like to walk out your authentic self through both the highs and the lows? Does it feel safe to grieve?