While at the grocery store yesterday, I walked by the mother’s day cards during my trek to the frozen section. On my way towards the registers, I decided to stop and pick up some cards. I chose one for my godmother, the grandmas (from my son), and then perused the cards for something for my own mom.
As I mentioned in the “About” section, my mom died when I was ten, so when I refer to my mom I am actually talking about my step mom. When I was younger, I remember striving to find the perfect, most meaningful card. I wanted so badly for her to love me, like me even, and I thought this was one of the ways to do so.
When I was in my early twenties, I decided that I needed to go to therapy. I had experienced a bad breakup and all of the other internal emotions that had built up over the past ten years suddenly came to a head. During therapy, I learned that children who suffer from loss and are thrown into a new relationship often go one of two ways: they yearn for the person to like them OR they hate the person and put up a wall. I clearly chose the first of the two.
As I got older and became more in tune with my grief and feelings of abandonment, I was able to see more clearly the emotional abuse that I had been put through during a very vulnerable period in my life. In this time of clarity, I became less interested in trying to please, impress or earn the love of my step mother and more in line with accepting the hand that I had been dealt.
Many years have past, yet I still feel that sting of pain (knowingly or not) when I think of all I missed out on because of my mother’s death. I say knowingly or not, because a sadness still sweeps over me during certain times and, though it always comes–like the summer heat and winter snow– it blindsides me as though it’s something new. It almost always happens near her birthday, her death day, and Mother’s Day. More recently, I’ve felt the pang of loss as I’ve experienced major life events. My wedding, the birth of my child, Mother’s day as a mother, with a newfound understanding of the depth of love a parent, more so a mother, has for a child.
This past week, I’ve felt so heavy and yet could not put my finger on the reason. In searching for a mother’s day card, it suddenly hit me. It was mother’s day…no wonder I’ve felt so full of gloom. I became full of frustration and tears as I looked through the poetry of each card, reminding me of this great and powerful love, almost an enigma, that I am lucky to have experienced for a little while, but am so unfortunate to have lost so young.
The death of my mother is so much a part of my identity that I often forget the power it has over me. The moment I acknowledged and recognized the reason behind my sadness, it was like a thousand bricks suddenly began to crumble from the depths of my soul.
I still work hard, almost daily, to find a “place on the shelf” (as my husband calls it) for my step mother. Like a puzzle, I struggled for so long to fit her into a spot where she was not meant to be placed. In recent years, I’ve become less disappointed by what she’s not and have learned that she, herself, has many of her own underlying issues that cause her to act the way that she does. She has done the best with the tools she was given. And though I’ve accepted that my puzzle will never be complete due to a missing piece, I’m still working on reminding myself that this “new” piece was never meant to fit in its place.
For any other motherless daughters out there, here is a link to a great book. I’ve read it numerous times throughout my life and each time, something else has spoken that I hadn’t noticed before. More importantly, it’s helped to remember I am not alone in my feelings.