What To Do With the Pain From the Rejection of a Mother

Mother's Rejection

by Christina Enevoldsen

I knew it wasn’t the wisest decision to meet with my mother after seven years of no contact.

The time without her has been the happiest of my life—despite being sued by my parents, four months of being homeless, suffering a miscarriage, the death of my father, all while healing from the wounds of my childhood abuse. I fought to rid myself of the toxic beliefs of my dysfunctional family and was finally thriving.

Logically, it didn’t make sense that I would even be willing to talk with my mom or see her again after everything she and my father did to me. But despite all reason, in my heart, I still longed for a mom.

For a significant portion of my healing from abuse, I didn’t struggle much with wanting her. When my parents walked away from me, I felt a huge sense of relief, not pain.

Then when I started to recognize all the ways they betrayed me, I was aroused to anger. My anger shielded me from the agonizing loss of not having true parents.

I was conscious of the conflict that arose as my anger subsided. My child-self still wanted a mommy, but my adult-self was wise enough to maintain appropriate boundaries.

I dealt with that desire by nurturing myself in the ways my mother never did. When my child-self cried out, my adult-self reminded me, “The mother you have can’t provide the things you long for. It’s right to want to be nurtured and loved by the woman who gave birth to you. But by pursuing the phantom love from her, you’ll sacrifice something you want more—mental and emotional health. You can have the love you want, but you can’t have it from her. I’m providing you with the love you seek.”

For the most part, my internal wrestling between what my child-self wanted and what my adult-self wanted was fairly subdued.

Until my mother interrupted my peace again.

My mom sent my daughter, Bethany, a Facebook friend request. My mother had betrayed Bethany six years ago and since then, they’d been estranged.

Bethany was indignant and hurt by the unexpected invasion to her otherwise happy life. It wasn’t the request itself that was so invalidating—it was that it came alone. No acknowledgment of any responsibility, no apology, no sign of any change of her grandmother’s heart.

As Bethany’s mom, I was outraged that my mother would dare to cause my daughter even more hurt than she already had. But I had another internal response that was completely different: I envied Bethany. I wanted my mom to reach out to me. I wanted her to want to be friends with me.

Facing My Pain

I’ve learned to accept my feelings, whatever I feel, but I was completely discouraged to realize how much I still wanted my mom to love me. Before that moment, I thought I’d settled that. I thought I’d moved on. I knew that I still occasionally grieved her loss, but I’d never come face to face with this level of wanting.

I listened to Adele’s song, “Someone Like You” one day. I silently wept as I related to the tragedy of wanting someone who didn’t want me.

I believed the desire would eventually fade away, as it seemed to be doing. It was too painful to think I’d always want what I could never have. The desire was a constant reminder of my mother’s rejection and betrayal.

I pictured my conflicting emotions like a duel. I wanted the desire for a relationship with my mom to be shot dead and my more rational adult-self, who stands as a guardian to my well-being, to walk away as the only survivor.

In my despair, I shared my feelings with my husband. He provided some perspective that I’d somehow missed. He asked, “Have you considered you might need to accept that your desire might never go away?”

That made so much sense. My healing has enabled me to connect with my true self. I feel on a much deeper level and I’ve awoken healthy desires in place of the ways I’d coped. Why would that desire for a mom go away? That’s a natural, healthy feeling.

The desire for a mom and the desire for safety would have to coexist. I would have to honor the softer side of me who wanted a mom and the stronger side of me who kept me safe from her. That meant facing another layer of pain.

Expressing My Pain

Writing has been a powerful tool I’ve used to help me move through the stages of healing. I decided to write a letter to my mom to express the pain of her rejection. The letter was for my benefit; I didn’t send it.

Dear Mom,

When I heard that you sent Bethany a friend request, I felt so left out. I don’t know why everyone else is so much more important to you than I am. Nobody has ever caused me as much pain as you have. I didn’t think it was possible for you to hurt me any longer or to cut me any deeper, but you did.

I so badly want to have a mom to feel safe with. I want to be able to talk to you when my world collapses and to be comforted by your sweet words to me. I want to be able to fall into your arms and be wrapped tightly.

I feel so much loss that I can’t have that now and that I never had that. Your tongue is like a razor and your arms like barbed wire. Now is one of those times I wish I had a mom. A real mom would help me through this agony. But you are the one who caused this.

I’m sad that even if I send this to you to give you yet another chance to be there for me, I’d subject myself to more pain. In the past, you’ve responded to my pleas for love by telling me how I failed you or by reminding me that I’m only the daughter. My heart was so tender toward you and you broke it.

I wish you would hear me. I wish you would see me.

If there is any goodness inside of you, that’s the part of you I want to appeal to. Is there any part of a mother’s natural love inside of you that has room for me? You haven’t given me much reason to hope for that, but putting that hope to death seems too painful to face right now. For now, I have to believe that someday you might be capable of truly loving me. I feel like a fool for hoping, but I hope anyway.

Even if you were to reach out to me like you did with Bethany, even if you wrote me the letter that you eventually gave to Bethany, I can’t have a relationship with you like we had before. I don’t think you’re ready for a healthy relationship with me. I don’t know if it’s even possible.

But I want you to want a relationship with me. I want you to want it enough to work at it. I want you to want it enough to develop some courage. I want you to be willing to see the truth of what Dad did to me and what you did to me. I want you to love me enough to admit those things and change. I want you to want me badly enough to risk my rejection.

I pursued a relationship with you all of my life without much reciprocation. Will you pursue me? Will you for once come through for me?

Now that Dad is dead, what is keeping you from seeing the truth? Have you been down this path of denial so long that you need to validate your poor decisions? By insisting that I’m the liar, do you feel excused from facing the lies you’ve told yourself? Do you pretend that I’m a horrible person so you don’t have to acknowledge any of the ways you let me down or betrayed me?

Oh, how I wish to be free of any desire for you! I wish I could so easily dismiss you from my life the way you did with me.


Facing the Truth

When I met with my mom, I laid out the truth of the ways she’d abandoned and betrayed my daughter. The more my mom lied to herself about her role in Bethany’s pain, the further she positioned herself from the relationship she wanted. The truth seemed to break through, at least a little, and my mom gave Bethany what looked like a very heartfelt and sincere apology.

There doesn’t seem to be much hope for reconciliation between my mother and Bethany, but for there to be any chance, it had to start with the truth.

In all my efforts to present the truth to my mother, I didn’t see how I was hiding it from myself. In spite of all the reasons I gave myself for talking with my mom, it wasn’t for my daughter. I met with her to avoid facing my mother’s rejection. Without knowing it, I hoped that a reconciliation would end my pain.

But my meeting didn’t end the pain of abandonment. Through it, I experienced more pain, not only by my mother, but by the way I abandoned myself.

The truth is that I can’t avoid pain by reconciling with my mother. (I don’t even want to think about how much more pain I’d invite into my life through that toxic reunion!) My mother is a broken person who can’t fill my mother-shaped void. Even if she magically became the mother I always wanted, there are significant losses I’ve suffered over a lifetime of her abandonment. I had to continue to face that pain.

Pain that is denied isn’t diminished. It lingers; it lives. Accepting the pain allowed me to nurture myself in those hurting places and to heal my wounds.

I’m doing much better now. I gave myself permission to feel a new level of the pain I uncovered and I worked through a lot of the grief. It may not have been the wisest thing for me to have contact with my mother again, but I made the most of it. My intention was to bring my mother the truth, but I really delivered the truth to myself.

Have you faced the pain of rejection of a mother or other family member? How have you handled it? Please share your experience with me below and remember to subscribe to the comments so you don’t miss any of the discussion. You can post anonymously and emails are never shared publicly.


I’m Christina Enevoldsen and I’m the cofounder of Overcoming Sexual Abuse and the author of The Rescued Soul: The Writing Journey for the Healing of Incest and Family Betrayal. I’m a Strategic Interventionist and Certified Professional Life Coach with a specialty Life Story Certification.  As a survivor of incest, sex trafficking and a 21-year long abusive marriage (now remarried to an emotionally healthy, loving and supportive man), I bring personal experience, empathy, and insight as well as professional training to help childhood sexual abuse survivors thrive.
Related Posts:
What If My Family Rejects Me?
My Parent Are Dead (To Me)
5 Dysfunctional Family Holiday Tips

What To Do With the Pain From the Rejection of a Mother

39 thoughts on “What To Do With the Pain From the Rejection of a Mother

  • November 22, 2015 at 3:55 am

    Your words are such a comfort to me. I feel the same way about my mother.
    I was abused by my brother, and she ignored it as it happened. My dad was largely absent, but I learned recently that he has abused his own siblings, when he was a teenager. And my mother was told about it. She married him, anyways. I think he might have abused my brother. My dad is an alcoholic and was cruel to my brother. Shit rolls downhill.
    My mother is a complete, manipulative narcissist. She builds phony relationships with friends, to mask her lack of a relationships that matter. She was so cruel, always making jabs at me. When I speak of the abuse, she can only say how much it hurts HER. She maintains a relationship with my abuser, and would not speak up, to tell his fiancé with children, that he is a predator. No one stood up, but me. Everyone just smiles like Cheshire cats. They must, lest they also be cast out of the family. And heaven forbid we don’t jeopardize our chances at her Thanksgiving dinner invitation! That’s more important than me, or those stepchildren of his who are at risk. My mother has manipulated herself as the victim. I am a horrid daughter, who keeps the grandkids away from her. But she was insufferable. Once, she announced to a group of my acquaintances, that she hoped my husband would beat me. When challenged, she either rages, or goes into a silly silent retreats, hiding in her room for days on end. She hoards food, in this case, to sustain this shit show.
    Worse, she has manipulated my entire family. All of my cousins and my aunt walked away. My cousin scolded me, “Anger won’t solve anything.” You know what? Neither will silendezžaw My dear grandmother, who is 97 and feeble, has said some awful things to me, in which I hear my mother’s voice. “Why are you talking about this now? You never complained about it at the time…”
    I yearn for a mother to soothe me. She should have protected me then. She should protect me now. Instead, she attacks. We have been no-contact for about 4 years. But she still sends Christmas and birthday gifts to my kids. I admit, it hurts to see her reach out to them, and never to me. She never fought for me. She never will. I hate her.
    And yet, the holidays make me weep for a mother.
    I get it, Christina. Unfortunately, I get it.

    • November 22, 2015 at 8:25 am

      Your mother (and grandmother) sound horrible! I’m sorry you’re in such a painful position of not being validated or defended or comforted by your own family. The abuse is hard enough without being rejected for it too.

      I get the “Anger won’t solve anything” crap too. Did you read my post from last week? Warning: Abusers Will Shame You For Being Angry About Your Abuse

      Thanks for sharing your comment!


  • November 22, 2015 at 8:05 am

    I can barely think of the words to express not only my gratitude for this post (because I can relate) but my own frustration over not having a mother to run to.
    I envy those who take the healthy relationships with their parents for granted. I keep wondering if my own mother will ever “grow up” and become what I need. Unlikely. I have to learn how to truly mother myself.
    I hope to one day have the courage you continually show. Thank you for sharing, Christina.

    • November 22, 2015 at 8:29 am

      I feel your pain! I’m sorry you can relate to this so well. I, too, wonder if my mother will ever be what I need. I’ve been journaling about hope vs. false hope and that’s really helpful in sorting it out. Very painful, but helpful. I hope we both find peace with this.


  • November 22, 2015 at 8:24 am

    Thank you! So good to hear someone else acknowledge the longing for a mother’s love! I am in my late 50’s now and have always longed for this. My mother is deceased and has been for 30+ years. There are many “holes” in my history but I do not think she ever wanted me….this was not just about the abuse in the family. What I did not realize is that all along I have been seeking a mother’s love in every relationship I have attempted. Not only that but also seeking the loving family relationships that I also still very much long for and are not there for me…in my extended family. The hurt from this cuts deeply. Unfortunately, I get it too.

    • November 22, 2015 at 8:31 am

      Yes, the hurt cuts very deeply. I’m sorry you’re in pain over this too. My heart goes out to you.


  • November 22, 2015 at 9:50 am

    I can totally relate to all of this. Last year was the hardest because it was the first time I went a holiday season without seeing my family. In the end, it felt so good because I wasn’t subjected to their abuse. And especially when estranged family members try to invade your personal space, speaking of which when my sister tried to “reach out to me,” (words from the Cleveland Division of Police, no less) there was no concern in her words at all; as if none of what I spoke of ever happened. Needless to say, since my sister came after me on my own blog, I took it back to her head on. Haven’t heard from her since. I hope she understood the message; if not, I’ll put it in (financial) terms that she could understand.

  • November 22, 2015 at 10:02 am

    The holiday season was really rough for me the first few years. It wasn’t even that I usually spent my holidays with my parents. We lived 400 miles away from them by then and didn’t usually see them for the holidays. But the trigger was that it’s usually a time for family gatherings and love and good cheer and I felt left out.

    It’s gotten much better, but this year I realized that tradition=control so I don’t like to do traditional celebrations. This Thanksgiving, we’re doing a Thanksgiving picnic at the park. It helps me so much to know my pain points and to figure out what I can do.

    Thanks for sharing!


  • November 22, 2015 at 11:48 am

    These holidays are difficult as are many times throughout the year. Over 2.5 yrs No contact but my whole life was.

  • November 22, 2015 at 10:42 pm

    Unfortunately, I can relate too. My father grew up to a single mom… my father let my mother have all the power in the home, to avoid him to live in a dog house… to my greatest despair.

    Not only she was unfair, but she was mean, too. Always showering others with kind words, while STARTING arguments with me.
    I was trying everything to avoid those arguments, cause she’d go to any length to beat me had I the courage to stand for myself.
    I felt relief when she was at the maternity when my younger siblings were born. It was my guilty pleasure, I did feel no anxiety, no stress of having her around.

    As a young boy, I took great proud of who I was. I was the smartest, the brightest. I was perfect. My behavior was perfect. I was responsible too. Yet, my mother always found a reason to beat me. I wasn’t perfect enough.

    When I was 20, I had a gf that I really liked… but I screwed up everything because of my lack of self trust, self esteem. I sabotaged the relationship because I thought I was undeserving, and that if she knew what kind of shit I really was, she’d never love me.
    She had boundaries, was balanced, and left. Great for her, in fact. But, I always tried to explain her. To talk to her. When we were dating, I lied when she asked why I was covered with a big scar on my leg.

    How can someone explain to his gf that he was beaten, humiliated, covered in piss by his own mother when he was just a barely 10years old.

    As I always knew my mother would never love me, I tried to get it from my ex. She had to love me. Understand that I was an awesome person and did not mean to hurt her feelings. But emotional abuse was the only thing I knew. I don’t know how to love, or care. I’ve never been cared for, less again loved.

    Like Tommy Sotomayor says, I did not leave with my mother, I “survived” her.

    Her unability to love (me), to care (for me), to listen (to my basic needs and my emotional needs) to protect (me from being hurt, and teach me self esteem), nurture (me). Everything you expect from a parent. From someone who is blood-related to you. From someone who has legal obligations toward you…

    And, as a way to heal that injury, I had to be able to be loved by an awesome, beautiful woman to show her “you see, I’m worthy of love, too, mom” but that feeling never goes away.
    Maybe that’s her I’m trying to convince. I’m trying to fill that gap she left in my needs.

    And, like I read in the previous comment, I’ll have to learn to live with the pain that, whatever I do, might never apologize for hurting me on purpose. Neglecting me, starting fights with me on purpose. Looking for pretexts to hit me.

    She’ll never be the mother that I long for. She is like she is. And I’ll never get better (from her) than what I did during 18 painful years. She can’t change. I’ll have to deal with that.

    • July 3, 2018 at 1:58 am

      There’s so much to take in here. First of all I want to say you are not alone brother and I relate to you so much. I understand how you felt abandoned and rejected by your mother and that in turn created low self esteem problems for you so therefore you was looking for that motherly love In a relationship with your girl friend. I dealt with that exact same issue that you went through. I wanted my gf to fill that void of the female love that I missed from my mother. Although I was 17 and she was 16, I placed so much emphasis on the relationship, was very insecure, and used to sometimes lash out on my gf because of how angry and broken I was internally. Being 20 years old now, and still having internal issues because of my mothers rejection, I’m still trying to figure out myself as a man and exactly who I am. I always imagine that my mother might change and I can open up to her but then I am disappointed when she lets me down like she’s been doing for years. Although I’m away at College and haven’t lived with her for years, it hurts more because now I see my sisters going through what I went through as a kid. My grandad always tell me that I must accept that she’s not going to change and the best way to move on is to do the best that I can do to better myself. With all that being said just know you’re not alone in this and you have my support. Personally, I plan to seek professional help and counseling and I think that you might want to look into that as well. I really pray and hope we all can overcome the trauma we’ve been forced to deal with as children and become the greatest version of ourselves. Nothing but peace and blessings.

  • November 23, 2015 at 12:21 am

    I could so relate to the pain of rejection of a mother – an abusive one. And by abusive, I mean mentally, psychologically and emotionally. (My mother fits the bill of someone with NPD – Narcissistic Personality Disorder). A friend asked me years ago (my mother hasn’t been in my life for about 15 years now) if I would ever be ‘over it’. I kindly told her, I will never be ‘over it’ – I will always want having a mother who loved and accepted me as I was, but I can be over it enough to no longer think of her abuse 24-7 and I can live my days for many days now without even giving my mother a thought. My mother is now merely just someone I used to know. She didn’t, couldn’t, and likely never will love me for me. I still wish it was different – that she could see the insane hurt she caused me, but I know she won’t – it won’t change and I have accepted that. For me, even though I have ‘let it go’, the pain is so deep that there would never be, and thus there could never be, reconciliation. I could never ever ever trust her again. The abuse and betrayal was more than I could take. She shredded my very soul – I cannot risk that again. To this day, my mother lies about why I am not in her life. She plays the victim while vilifying me – me who is really her victim. As I told my one sister years ago, ‘Our mother is dead to me.’ And she is. I mourned the loss of the (loving) mother I never had 15 years ago and I don’t expect to do it again. And after all these years, omitting her from my life was one of the best decisions of my life. It allowed me to heal and become a better woman, a better wife and a far better mother than what I had. Healing over the years has given me ‘me’ back, it’s given me the ability to pass on an amazing legacy to my children that far surpasses the one I was given.

  • February 25, 2016 at 12:10 am

    I’ve been searching for a long time (25yrs+) to loose my pain. I felt minimalized by my mother, as though my value was close to nothing. That I was an inconvenience to her. I was so severely ‘sheltered’ by my mother that I only gained the courage to run away from home at 23yo. My mother didn’t prepare me for my adult life – not one bit. I was routinely criticised as a child, youth and early adult. It was part of our family’s culture.

    I have always felt anger in my life. Deep seated bitterness. I have anger now as a 40yo mum with a young son. I want to let this go, to never go back to these feelings and although I’ve tried all my life to be a better person, to let go of hurts I’m not finding lasting solutions.

    I’m concerned that this part of me will negatively impact the development of my son and the person he will be.

    My mother can’t be trusted with my heart and I do my best not to let her in. She still wants to be a part of my life and be in my son’s life. I feel guilt if I was to shut her out. She tries to guilt me into ‘helping’ her and I think most of the time she doesn’t know she is even doing it. It is almost instinct to her.

    I long for another person to talk to about this as my husband can’t understand. I am in an unfamiliar town (interstate) with few people I can actually talk to about this stuff. I would love to get the help I desperately need. I need to sort out my life.

    I’ve searched the internet (over the last decade) with many good suggestions but few that have thoroughly helpful. I continue to search. I have a psychologist who I seen occasionally. My last psychologist was very helpful but she has disappeared somehow. I search for her too. Can anyone help me?

    • November 14, 2016 at 8:32 pm

      Do not give up on your own healing. Keep working on it, seeking answers, and you’ll find them I would also be very careful to not give your power away by letting your mother get too close to your kids. I made that mistake and it cost me.

  • February 26, 2016 at 1:47 pm

    Hello. I read your letter to your mother with a broken heart for you. I, too wrote many letters to my mother without resolve. My 3 older brothers molested me, my mother shamed me many years ago when I finally had the courage to tell her. I was 16. She shamed me for speaking. She still shames me.

    Ive done well to hide my pain and make a life, but those hidden feelings erupt in me at key points in my life, such as recently. I’m now in my 50’s, my mother bought my younger sister a house and told me I’m not needed, there’s no room for me to visit….she broke my heart and tells me it is God’s plan. She’s giving my late dad’s money to my unworthy sister. And she keeps me away. Her door is shut.

    My mother is a hypocrite. I finally wrote to all of my molesting brothers, first individually to find out if they cared about me at all. And then I wrote an email directed to all three. In this mutual email I disclosed in detail what each brother stole from me and how they reacted to my pleas for help. I made it “their problem, not just mine”. This was extremely scary….but freeing that I no longer protected my brothers from their dirty secret.

    I continue on this journey for healing from my pain of incest, and a mother in constant denial. “Your brothers are good people”, “they were young and inexperienced”. “You need to forgive”. Those statements she tells me rip through my heart. My mother, in her constant denial of the extreme and long lived pain I encounter by being molested and not protected by my mother, have left me scarred.

    I haven’t spoken to my mother for months. I don’t intend to speak with her. She will never fully acknowledge her role in my stolen innocence under her watch. She will never love me like a normal mother loves her daughter. My mother’s love for me is “conditional” not “unconditional”. What I mean by that is this: when all is well in my life and I talk of good experiences and achievements, my mother listens intently. But when I speak of what happened to me as a little girl, she closes her ears and clenches her teeth….and becomes defensive. When I need her most is when she continues to shame me.

    I have known how to love “unconditionally”. When I give my heart I give all of my heart, though careful who I give it to. But with my mother, I can only love her “conditionally”. That is, I love her for putting band aids on my scapes, and food on the table when I was young. And when I tell her about my achievements, she’s my biggest fan. But when I need her most, she pulls away. She loves me “conditionally”.

    • August 22, 2016 at 3:41 pm

      “You need to forgive.” Those may be four of the most painful words in the English language. Thank you for what you wrote. It is something I will remember when I start to doubt myself and the choice I’ve made to end any relationship with either of my parents. With my mother this is especially painful. It’s taken years to recognize the abuse and neglect that were so much a part of my childhood. I have read that our parents cannot love us anymore than they are able to love themselves. I know that my mom is deeply wounded and while she does love me, she is at times wonderful and other times awful. It is a nightmare to be her daughter. Even writing that anonymously on a website feels like a terrible thing to do. I love her, and I have to remember that she is not the “nice mom” who shows up every now and then for a few minutes or hours. She is all of who she is and it hurts too much to have her in my life. It’s like throwing yourself at a wall of sharp blades and letting them slice away while you bleed and bleed and bleed and calling it love. “You need to forgive.” I did forgive. But I need to LIVE. And that means not subjecting myself to all that in the future. One or two good moments can do months of damage to the work I’ve done and the happiness I’ve found. I often wish I was strong enough to accept her just as she is. But maybe no one is that strong, or should wish to be. I wish you, the author of this post and the rest on this site all the best. I know the pain of lonely holidays and the torture of wanting to be there with them and having to wake yourself up and remind yourself how it really feels to be in that house with those people. Maybe your heart will always be torn if you have a mother you can’t have. I am determined to protect the little girl inside me who didn’t have that protection, that validation and that love. And for now I must protect her from our mother. Here’s to all of you fighting impossible monsters with such courage and humility. Keep fighting.

  • February 27, 2016 at 6:56 pm

    To all who have posted on this page — thanks! It is comforting to know others have experienced this level of rejection. Coming to grips with having a mother who does not believe me or is not there for me is very difficult. Much like you, Christina, I’ve dealt with it by not wanting a mother. I have no memories past 5 years old of ever wanting her. Instead, she was repulsive to me. It took many years for me to begin to understand the grief behind the rage. I watched my dad physically and verbally abuse my mother and siblings, but he is a righteous man to her. She grew up in a home with an even more abusive father, so perhaps my dad really does seem good to her. But when I wrote a letter to my family informing them that my dad sexually abused me, she chose him over me. She did not see how she could believe me and be a godly woman. It hurts and it makes me mad, but I find compassion for her in thinking about what it must be like in her shoes. It must be devastating to face that our home is very, very broken. I can have compassion, but not if she is actually in my life. Anyway, below is something I wrote while trying to find my compassion:

    If you were not my mother, I’d defend your happy-go-lucky passivity against those who might criticize your inaction. I’d explain to them that smiling and laughing is a form of survival. Your giddiness to be gullible, to demean yourself by wearing his degrading names, ensures you will not have to wear bruises and burns as a sign of your disgrace.

    If you were not my mother, I’d empathize with the danger of obedience. I’d understand the need to find comfort and security in blindly following the only god you see. I’d recognize that all humans find it difficult to resist an authoritative voice, even if it causes harm to somebody else, and that as long as somebody claims responsibility, we will believe that any pain others feel is justified; God must purify our wayward hearts by making the flesh suffer.

    If you were not my mother, I’d count you as one of the nameless, faceless 1.3 million women who are victims of domestic violence, women who are imprisoned physically, financially, and emotionally. I’d advocate for your cause, speaking words that might even break a lifelong enchantment, affirming the tiniest of doubts that whisper concerns about the way he treats you. I’d create safe havens when you were ready to flee, places where he could not touch or threaten you, places where you could rediscover your voice, find your real smile, and embrace your grief.

    But because you are mother, and because you chose to baptize yourself into his religion, I must leave you behind instead. I will redirect my desire to defend and protect to those who want to escape and need a strong hand to pull them to safety from the raging, violent waters. I will help them to escape the army of men who trample generation after generation in their own attempts to build a stairway to heaven, to become gods of their own domestic universes. And while I may never see you again, I will look for you in the face of others.

    • July 22, 2016 at 4:53 am

      Thank you for this. I resonate so strongly with your words. There is something big coming forth – the misyogny of several thousand years playing out.
      As painful as it is on a personal level to have experienced what we have, I see our generation in an unprecedented place – able to actually stop the abuse from continuing unexamined and unchallenged.
      It heartens me to connect with other women who are cleaning up their ancestral lineages. We are healing more than ourselves.

  • May 7, 2016 at 1:59 am

    My mom died 10 months ago. We were estranged. She died the way she lived, in denial. The mother wound is a powerful one… I’ve learned to mother myself but still feel sting of envy when I see other daughter/mother relationships that are loving and supportive. I want them to adopt me!

    My mom is no longer emotionally threatening to me now she’s passed, and this feels like freedom. But had a setback on my healing recovery on my birthday just passed. I was born on her birthday… and every year it is horrible for me… as a child I wasn’t allowed to celebrate ‘me’ and the day was always about what she wanted. Never a birthday party or me at the center of it… this year I thought would be different… but it turned into a day of mourning. I don’t know if I’ll ever reclaim that day…. my mom was my abuser and facilitated abuse….

    I grew up feeling not good enough, and deeply unlovable as I never received unconditional love or support from her. In fact, I was born to care for her and the needs of others to her bidding and my detriment. Abandoned by her at age 14 I was violently raped by her friend… and I was denied safety and protection in response. I was called a whore who asked for it…. I digress.

    This year was also complicated by my two siblings which I am also estranged. Whilst they share posts of praise and remembrance for our dead abuser/mom, I longed for them to wish me happiness…. that didn’t happen and it hurt. I have been rejected by my family of origin for being truthful about who she was…. and creating boundaries. I’ve been rejected for healing.

    Mom died alone, in a hospice, with no family by her side. She failed to make end of life affairs and I had to pay for her cremation. It was the final cruelty…. and my siblings refused to help and took what little money was in my mom’s bank account and left me holding the bill.

    After the heartache of my birthday I decided to perceive my siblings as dead as well with her. Not to be hateful but to give myself the freedom of caring about them like I do. Maybe next year will be better.

    • May 7, 2016 at 7:12 am

      Brenda, I hope next year will be better for you too. I’ve noticed for me that every anniversary of either my dad’s death, a holiday, or a birthday feels different. Sometimes nothing comes up and sometimes there is sadness or longing or something else. I’m sorry you’re hurting right now.

      P.S. Belated Happy Birthday!


    • July 22, 2016 at 11:56 am

      Oh, Brenda … this is so heartbreaking. I know what it’s like to have such a mother. I am waiting for my mother’s death because I know that when that day comes, my hope is that I will be able to breathe easier. The cruelest of all abuse is when it’s done by a mother. I am like you too, when I see adult daughters and the amazing bonds they have with their mothers, I am in awe. I always, right in the moment, wonder what that might be like.

      I cannot believe they left you ‘holding the bag’ – this is so typical of a narcissistic family. I am so sorry they did that to you – putting the burden of her funeral and burial on you.

      I am so sorry you never got your own birthday … now that she is gone, perhaps it’s time for you to claim that day as your very own and do something amazing for you on that day. Like, go for a horseback ride, treat yourself to a mini-retreat at a spa or some place like that. It can be hard at first and a false guilt may sneak up on you – and if it does, remember it’s false guilt.

      I too am estranged from my siblings who refused to see or deal with the reality of my mother’s abuse of me. It doesn’t help that my mother, who abused me, vilifies me making me look like the abuser. (She’s a piece of work!) Even my father who has been divorced from my mother for many years, even sided with them. I have been six years strict no contact now.

      I still hope that one day my siblings eyes will be opened – but I am also pretty sure that this will never happen while my mother still lives. So yeah, I am waiting for when she’s gone – I just hope someone notifies me, someway, somehow.

    • August 7, 2016 at 7:14 am

      BRENDA my heart goes out to you I too deal with rejection by my siblings and all extended family of origin for disclosing abuse in our family abuse by my mother on all levels covert. I am never welcome for the rest of my living days their words still cut me to remember. It still shocks me this has happened 5 yrs ago now. It’s with me forever I accept this pain as no choice now I could never turn back and live that lie that would be sickeNing but the reality of being left to live a life unwanted unsupported by family is a hard road but its better than being reduced to succumbing to being treated as not even of value of a human being

    • November 14, 2016 at 8:44 pm

      Wow. Please be kind to yourself. It may take time, but now your birthday should be your day. I bought a beautiful bouquet of flowers for my birthday this year. To be able to give to yourself, as well as receive, can be very healing.

  • June 13, 2016 at 3:40 pm

    I walked into my boyfriends’s apartment and was about to start looking through emails when I saw that he had the page “how to overcome sexual abuse” because he was abused for year and years AND we both have cold, distant mothers. I looked through more pages and stumbled on this post and I am so happy I did.

    Reading your words made me sit down and think more. I just finished crying and had to tell you that you just wrote every single thought I’ve had about my own mother. I feel anger, stress, and mostly pain because my mother emotionally abandoned my older sister and I and I am the only one who chose to break ties with her this past December. I left her a 5 page letter expressing the pain i felt throughout my childhood and ended with “I won’t be back” My sister encouraged us to speak and on Mother’s Day I called her. Her only words were, “Hello” followed by silence. That broke my heart all over again and reminded me that what I was anticipating will most likely never happen. She isn’t the warm-hearted mother you see in movies or hear your friends talk about. I wanted her to almost beg for me back into her life or ask why or how or what she did or how WE got to this place but she didn’t. I don’t know that she cares enough.

    So thank you, I’m 21 and these are the hardest years of my life so far. Those uncontrollable zits in high school are a complete joke compared to the real pain I face being a young woman living on my own and being shown the dark side of the world without my mother to guide me and protect me.

    Enjoy your day

    • June 13, 2016 at 5:25 pm

      Kay, I’m so sorry that you’re experiencing the same thing. Know you’re not alone.


    • June 13, 2016 at 6:42 pm

      Kay ~ So many of us know your pain – I mean, we really know. Abusive mothers. I grew up with one too – and be glad you have it figured out at 21. Most of us don’t get it figured until much later and after much more damage has been done. I’m 50 years old and I don’t think there is any pain worse than the abuse and rejection of our own mothers. My mother fits the description of someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder – and they are cruel personalities. My mother hasn’t been in my life since I was 34 and because other family members sided with her – I have had no contact with them for the past 6 years. It’s painful – I think it’s the worst heart ache there is. You are not alone. ~ Saoirse Quill

  • June 28, 2016 at 10:01 am

    You all will probably see me post a lot on this entire website. It is new to me. It speaks to my heart. I can do this anonymously without any repercussions.

    I too, find that in writing, I am able to express how I feel more clearly. There is no threat of someone belittling or scaring me. All the emotions I feel through writing are where I can deal with them, without intrusion. I can change what I wrote & re-write it to get it exactly how I want to word things. After writing, then I find I can actually, though fearfully, verbalize what I want to say.

    I too, had written my father many letters in the past, but I was afraid to even send them! That is how great the fear was. So many letters I had thrown in the trash, never to be read by anyone at all. But all those discarded letters ended up preparing me for what I felt I would have to do. I eventually confronted my dad after many years or torment & just recently at that. But I had to be in a place for myself, where I could talk as an adult instead of lashing out in anger & using nonsensical terms because I was so shook up I couldn’t even verbalize. It would always come out very hateful or just a bunch of jibberish like a child does when then are crying. Just because I decided to handle my situation in this way, doesn’t mean it is that way for anyone else. I believe each situation is different.

    My mom had passed away last year. I didn’t even go to her funeral. She was not the sexual abuser, she was the enabler, I feel. I may never know truly my mom’s heart. I sensed this ‘hatred’ from her for even bringing up what dad was doing to me. I felt ‘pushed out of the nest’. Indeed, I was pushed out of the nest, not only by my mother, but by my siblings & other family members as well. When I did go around them, it was bittersweet – getting to see them but seeing how things really were.

    I had decided the situation was toxic to me, but yet there was always this yearning. This pain. A sad cry from afar that needed to be comforted. Sometimes it takes years to come to grips with. For me it was 35+ years. After reading several posts, I realized that this was quite common. It amazes me truly how long it actually takes to come to terms with everything.

    I am still working towards healing & as I heal, I will share where I have been, what I did to overcome, the mistakes I made, etc.

  • June 28, 2016 at 5:21 pm

    Thank you all for the support. I’m trying to move forward and get to a place where I can release my anger without lashing out or demeaning her although that’s all I want to do. It means a lot.

  • July 16, 2016 at 11:57 am

    Narcissistic personality disordered mother passed away four weeks ago. Before that, I pushed her out of my life for 16 years. Now, we’ve discovered a diary in her house showing how deeply mentally ill she was. I always knew that she was incapable of the love, nurturing and acceptance that I craved every day of my life and still do. I do not remember one tender hug or loving expression from her. It was all insults, humiliation, sarcasm and beatings, and awful rejection and abandonment. But strangely, when she passed away, I was shocked and I am grieving. Most of all, there is a huge sense of emptiness because of a mother that never was, and the terrible life she had because she clung to her many delusions. I’m 56 and though I understand what her mental illness is all about, I cannot untangle the havoc it has created in my brain.

    • July 21, 2016 at 11:50 pm


      I can relate to so much of what you wrote. I’m sorry you’re dealing with all of that now. My heart goes out to you.


    • July 22, 2016 at 11:59 am

      Mimi – this sounds so much like my own mother who hasn’t been in my life either now for 16 years (the last 6 being extreme strict no contact.) NPD is something that totally destroys it’s victims. My mother still lives … and yes, there will always be that place in my heart that will always be empty – it’s that place where a mother’s love should have been.

  • July 21, 2016 at 5:09 pm

    One night when I was 9, my father came into my bedroom after I’d gone to sleep – and anally raped me. Although he had used his finger before – as an adult now I think he was grooming me – this time he used his penis.
    I didn’t have language for what he did – but it hurt like fire. I smelled scotch. I couldn’t see him because he turned me on my stomach. Some time passed after he left the room. My mother came in. She moved me to the other twin bed, stripped the bed I’d been in, and helped me put on clean pajamas. She gave me some kind of pill.
    She said to me, “Honey, I’m so sorry you were a girl.” That was her idea of comforting me. I never questioned what she said – just took it at face value. There was nothing I could do about it.
    I believe this made me passive and submissive around men as a teenager and younger woman. If they were coming on to me with unwanted attention, I would go numb and play dead til I could get away.

    That night, I was out of my body. I was in shock. I didn’t want to come back. I wanted to be dead.
    as an adult on my forties, I went into recovery – quit smoking pot. That’s when my suppressed memories started to get clearer.
    At the time, I talked to my mom about Dad having abused me. Also my older sister thought she might have been abused. Mom told her that she herself had been abused by her older brother.
    Mom said to me, “whatever happened to you, whatever happened to me or to your sister – there’s no sense talking about it. ALL GIRLS HAVE TO GO THROUGH THAT..”
    I was so dumbfounded, I said nothing in response.
    I’ve had compassion for my mom – her own childhood was very challenging. It’s been hard to wade through all the feelings even in this one incident.
    No one came to check on me the next morning when I didn’t come down for breakfast ready to go to school.
    The woman who cleaned our house came into my bedroom and found me curled up in a ball, terrified and frozen.
    She held me and rocked me in her arms while I slowly thawed. She showed me love and compassion. I believe she saved my life.
    I wanted her to be my mother.
    As an adult, I reconnected with her. We talked about that day she found me. She told me “I held you all day.”
    I have lived with terror and rage at my dad, rage, revulsion and hatred toward my mom, and deep gratitude to B.
    I think I gave up on my mom – I felt contempt for her.
    Underneath all those feelings was a fee longing for my parents to love me. To feel safe in my own home.
    It want until I divorced my 2nd husband in my late 40’s that I began for the first time on my life to feel that I had a home. And my home is safe.
    My home is now a sanctuary to me – and to others who come here for spiritual therapy. At age 61, I haven’t fully recovered. I still grieve. I’m learning to be kind toward myself and have self compassion. This is a sweet practice and very rewarding.
    I agree with you that we can become the loving mother-father we never had. This level of work feels so powerful to me. I am less and less reactive to triggers and have gained the capacity to self soothe, which we lose as young children who were not soothed when we were hurting.
    Thank you for your beautiful blog. Very healing to read. Blessings to you and all your readers.

    • July 21, 2016 at 11:35 pm


      Thank you for sharing your story. It really touched me. You sound very gentle and loving to yourself, which is wonderful. I’m glad you’re here.


    • July 22, 2016 at 12:05 pm

      Nancy … this destroyed me to read this! Cried all the way through it. When abuse is covered up – is it any wonder that your mother behaved as though this is ‘normal’?? I could cuss and swear in your defence right now – but it’s language that would get my comment deleted!! I hate how people cover up and dismiss abuse – HATE IT! I hate that there are people who abuse, who treat their victims like appliances – and they are actually more fond of their appliances! I am so sorry you endured this … but it delights me to know, how far you have come in recovery! You are a warrior, Nancy!!

  • July 22, 2016 at 4:01 pm

    Thank you. It is so healing to read this blog – to hear from others who are healing in all the phases – and to be read. Few people want to hear about these experiences. Having these conversations and supporting each other is a potent way to bring about change.
    My mother didn’t heal because her mother didn’t protect or support her.
    I’m grateful to live in an era where our stories are coming forward. Silence is being broken. We have awareness and healing resources available to us that didn’t exist 30 or 40 years ago.
    In was in 1977, in a women’s consciousness raising group that I first learned that rape was illegal – that it wasn’t the victims fault. My parents didn’t believe that.

  • January 30, 2017 at 2:35 pm

    Christina thank you for your painfully pinned words. My heart aches for you and the love you and all the followers long for in their mothers. I learned much insight into your healing from all your thoughts.
    I was not abused. But my Daughter-In-Law was and still is by her Mother. I was hoping you or your followers might have some words of wisdom of how others did or didnot help in your healing? Thank you G

  • February 16, 2018 at 8:52 am

    I know that ache of longing, calling, calling, calling for a mother who doesn’t come. I felt that I was hemorrhaging to death, bleeding from an open wound of wanting, begging, needing, for something that was not going to come. I felt I had to cauterize the wound. Cut off that limb and sear it shut. Stop the bleeding. Over and over I’d tell myself, firmly, but with such kindness. You must stop bleeding for her. She is not coming. She is not coming. She is not coming. Stop. Just stop. It’s interesting to see how you’ve recognized the child self that wants a mommy, and misses her, and the adult self that protects you from that woman, and provides the kind of mothering you both need, and grieves the loss even as you know it’s life-giving salvation, that she’s gone and it’s a good thing. Wonder what your thoughts on the “cut it off” versus “keep it open but acknowledge you have multiple needs”. I think there’s an element of grieving I haven’t done with tears – or sadness – I tend to go into a pit of dry, brutal reckoning of the reality, facing it, but it doesn’t create grief or loss, just a breakdown of being.

  • February 16, 2018 at 2:10 pm

    Hi Wendy,

    Thank you for sharing. There are so many ways to express the grief and so much to the process in working through those emotions. I can relate to the “pit of dry, brutal reckoning of reality”. I’ve been through that too. And every stage I go through, I think that’s all there is! HA!

    My thoughts on the boundaries are that I think there is much room for different boundaries at different times. Relationships change: our needs change; our other options change. I don’t think there is a “one size fits all” way to handle toxic relationships. What do you think?



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