Mother’s Day, for me and many like me, is a complex mine field of emotions; the guilt is so deeply at odds with the relief you feel when you take charge of your life and remove toxic or abusive people from it. Mental illness is difficult to live with, whether it’s your own or someone else’s. It takes patience, effort, trust, love, reliance, resilience- both for yourself as a sick person, from yourself to others, and from others to you, especially in your lowest moments. It takes patience and understanding. It takes courage.
It also takes courage to stand up for yourself and admit that if someone will not help themselves, you cannot help them either. And for your own safety and sanity, you have to leave.
This is not something forgiveness can solve, sometimes. I may not hold the same grudges. I have a deeper understanding of her issues now that I am a mother with mental illness myself. I constant battle the fear that I will become her, that I am already becoming her.
Mother’s Day is hard for kids like me. Your memory is filled with competing narratives. Love and shame. Abuse. Joy. Laughter. Tears. Pain. Fear. Love. It’s a mess. It’s hard.
I know a lot of you are right here with me. Stories of broken or strained parental relationships are a common thread woven throughout the lives of many people I know and love. Some of you have been able to build a carefully crafted relationship with your mothers, filled with strict boundaries, and stress. Some of you have found ways to heal from your pasts and move forward and find love and understanding.
Some of you are like me. Permanently separated from the person biologically closest to you. The promise of protection and love broken time and again, until you realize that just because she may be incapable of expressing it, feeling it, sharing it, acknowledging that you deserve it, you are worthy of both of those things, and so much more. And maybe like me, you’ve pushed and scraped and dragged yourself through, and you are building yourself on a new foundation. It has been four years, give or take, since I’ve spoken with my mother. It has been a much longer than time healing. Some of you took this journey before me. Some of you are taking it now.
I have room here for you. I have spread my foundation deep, thick, sturdy. You can build your home here next to mine. We can be a village of orphans helping to raise our children and each other to be the kinds of mothers (and fathers) the world needs. The kinds of parents the good hearts of children deserve.
I will help you find safety in the maelstrom. You can come to my island. The water is clean. The breeze is nice.
There is love here.
You are worthy of so much more than you were given. You didn’t deserve that abuse, those words, those wounds. You are stronger than you feel in your weak moments. You have survived so much. There is more power in you than you know.
Be safe today. Be kind to yourself. Do not let your emotions or anyone else make feel guilty for ensuring your own health, safety, and happiness. Give yourself the kind of motherly care which deserved as a child.
From one emotionally orphaned child to another, I love you.