by Christina Enevoldsen
I’ve been divorced from my mom for over 9 years now. I’ve gotten used to my mother’s rejection and her not being in my life. It doesn’t always bother me, but that doesn’t mean the feelings of loss don’t come up from time to time.
I have a close friend who’s been estranged from her mom for about the same number of years. Living in a world where it’s “wrong” not to have a relationship with your parents, it’s good to share the struggles with a friend.
Recently, my friend’s mother phoned her out of the blue and asked for help in a crisis. I’m still amazed by how much I envied my friend. HER mom actually thought about her and reached out to her. (Never mind that it was only to ask for help!)
I was invisible to my mom and even now, she doesn’t see me. She misjudges my motives and even though she’s been in my life longer than anyone else alive, she doesn’t have the first clue about who I really am.
My mom has never shown much initiative when it comes to our relationship. My dad was the one who always reminded her to call me. I chased after connection with her for years. I sought her attention, approval and love. I didn’t realize how much until she ended our relationship. When she walked away from me, it was a relief not to run after her, not to strive to please her, not to worry about what she thought of me.
Except it’s not always so easy to walk away.
There have been moments over the years when I’ve considered calling my mom. Did I get something wrong? Have I misunderstood? Is there some simple thing that could be cleared up to make her want me again?
But I’m the one asking those questions. I don’t see my mother asking them. I feel like I’m on the other side of an impossibly high wall and I’ve tried and tried to figure out how to get to her. But she hasn’t lifted a finger to get to me.
I thought for a long time that if I could convince her my dad really did molest me that she’d want me back. But that wasn’t even the reason she left me anyway.
She walked away from me and shamed me for asking for a healthier way of relating. If I wanted to go back to the old way, I suspect she’d accept me as her daughter again.
Just writing that feels oppressive as though I’m betraying myself to even consider that. But that’s where I go in my heart sometimes.
The little girl in me still desires a mother but thankfully, my adult self can see what will happen if there is a reunion. So I hold my boundary.
My only connection to my mother is in a Mother’s Day card I’ll never send:
Hello from the daughter you threw away. Eight years later and the little girl’s heart in this 50 something year-old’s body is still trying to understand how any mother could do that.
As a mother myself, I don’t have the slightest idea how you don’t do everything in your power to have me in your life. I can’t imagine any circumstances that would allow me to leave a relationship with my child.
My struggle is, and has been for years, how do I leave you? I have this image of you. I see myself as a six or seven year old girl, running through the streets in a city under attack. You’re shot, laying dead in the street, but instead of running away from the threat, I’m clinging to your lifeless body.
I lay next to you, wrapping your limp arm around me as it falls aside again and again.
You are no shelter for me, yet I cling to you. You have nothing to offer me, yet I stay. My life is in danger as long as I’m there with your corpse but I struggle to extract what I never had from you.
How can I leave you behind? How can I accept once and for all that there is no warmth from you? Whether because you don’t want to offer it or because you don’t have it to give, whether intentional or unintentional, you have nothing to offer me.
Yet I still want it. I’ll probably still want it long after you really are dead. Maybe until I’m dead. I guess that’s okay that I want it. It’s so painful to want something so much but to know that it’s forever denied.
It seems I can’t walk away from you as easily as you walked away from me. Oh, how I wish not to be haunted by a desire for you!
But even as I write that, I know it’s not true. I hate the torture of wanting a mother who doesn’t want me, but to let go of the desire for you feels like a final goodbye. Like I’m closing the door to the hope of ever being truly loved by you.
I know that about myself now. In the past, I’ve felt pathetic for that, but I’m fairly certain I learned to feel that way about myself partially from you.
I can accept my feelings about you and have compassion for myself. I want you. You don’t want me. That doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with me.
How could you leave so easily? How are you so hardened against me?
I know this is part of grief to be struggling with these questions. But I’ve come to realize understanding the pain you caused me is part of my healing, but understanding you is not.
I understand me. I understand how tender my heart is. I appreciate how open I am to love, even if it makes me vulnerable to pain.
You’re missing out on a wonderful person. But that’s your choice and I accept your right to choose that.
Happy Mother’s Day from your
Disposable Truly Remarkable, Amazing, Completely Lovable Child
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.
What to Do With the Pain of a Mother’s Rejection
It’s Not About You, Mom
Rejecting Dysfunctional Family Rules
Feeling Guilty For Leaving My Abusive Parents
Stop Telling Me to Forgive My Abuser