I am thrilled to welcome my friend Laura Columbatto as the guest blogger on today’s “Tell Me More Tuesday!” Laura and I share a special bond–her son and my daughter have been sweethearts since they were three years old. Fate brought them together in preschool, and going to separate elementary schools didn’t slow them down! Case in point: Laura’s son’s handmade Valentine to Maryn, followed by an entry I found in Maryn’s journal (and I am totally saving these papers for when they go to prom together!)
Our kids brought us together initially, but Laura’s “no BS” personality, great sense of humor and our shared love of margaritas has kept us connected long after our kids graduated from preschool. Her story of changing lanes is a difficult one, and it’s not a story that ends with everything wrapped up in a big bow. It’s a powerful lesson of learning what is most important, knowing your own worth, and being willing to make difficult choices to protect the two–even if it means risking being judged or misunderstood. I am so grateful she agreed to share her story with our community. It’s one that every daughter–and mother–needs to read.
You know the lyrics to that amazing Greatest Showman song, “Never Enough?”
“All the shine of a thousand spotlights.
All the stars we steal from the night sky. Will never be enough…
Towers of gold are still too little. These hands could hold the world, but it’ll never be enough. Never be enough.”
That’s the way I feel about choosing to not have my mother present in my life. With each passing Mother’s Day, Christmas and birthday I’m reminded that she’s not around. It was my choice to end my relationship with my mother, but it truly doesn’t make it any easier that she’s not here.
I always wonder what my friends are thinking when I share with them that I don’t have a relationship with my mom. Some lost their moms to cancer, some never knew their moms, some cry daily for a chance to see their mom again. And others…some others have their mom as their best friend, and I’m over here just an awful shade of green.
It’s really hard to explain my decision to friends or family members that do not have an emotionally abusive parent. It sucks how taboo it is not to have a relationship with your parents. Nobody wants to ask. Nobody knows what happened. Nobody really gets it.
Having a difficult home life was never discussed when I was in school. As I have navigated through this situation and have become more confident in myself, my situation and my life, I hope that sharing my story could possibly help someone else.
I know what it feels like to go to school with puffy eyes after crying all night because of something she said to me, to wait around long after everyone else’s mom had picked them up because she forgot to come get me. Of feeling like even though I was the child, that I was the one making her do and say the negative and hurtful things that she did.
Yes, she brought me in this world.
Yes, she raised me by herself.
Yes, she is sick.
“But she’s your mom. I mean, that’s your family…”
No. No she’s not. While she may fall under that definition in its purest form, “family” is a subjective term.
For much of my life, I continued in this abusive and harmful relationship with her because she was my mother, and I thought that was my role as a “good daughter.” Until I was given the role of being a mother to my own child. That’s where I found worth I had never known.
I have to think there are countless ways that my children saved my life, and the decision to end my relationship with my mother is one of them. Had I not become a mom just shy of my 25th birthday, and then again three years later, I can say with the utmost confidence that the very toxic relationship with my parents would still be an active part of my life.
Once I become a mother it wasn’t about me anymore. It was about that new human whom I’d die for, live for, and love forever. Shortly after the birth of my son, I remember my mother saying, “Now that you’re a mom, you’ll start to understand the choices I made and just how hard it is to be a mom.” She was half-right. I now know how undeniably and incredibly difficult being a mom is. I truly believe it’s the hardest job in the world.
However, the first half of her statement was such delicious deception, “you’ll start to understand the choices I made.” Having my own child did not make me recognize her choices as being just, moral, or beneficial in any way. Quite the contrary. It’s because I became a mother I saw how harmful her choices were.
At that moment, those manipulative phrases and tactics she’d used throughout my life to control me broke free in my subconscious, and looking down into my newborn baby son’s eyes, I knew I could never speak to or treat him the way she spoke to and treated me.
And on one decisive July afternoon, it was just over. I ended the 25-year relationship with my mother.
Even though this decision was the right one for me, it doesn’t alter the realities of a girl still needing her mom. Even though it was best for me and my family, there is (and surely always will be) a mom-shaped hole in my heart. And as hard as we all try, it will never be filled. My mother-in-law and I try (and she’s the closest damn thing, and I’m lucky to call her mine); I even look to my aunts-in-law for motherly advice and love. The family I have now, along with my close group of friends is quite possibly the closest I could ever be to filling the mom-shaped hole. But it can’t. Like the song says; it’ll never be enough.
It’s impossible–for me anyway–not to feel guilty for the choice I made. Even though I know it was the right one for my family. And because when I was growing up I was made to feel that her negative actions were the result of something I did, I sometimes enter into this hellish loop of feeling guilty about feeling guilty because there’s still a huge part of my heart and mind that just wants to run back to her because I surely did something wrong, and “I’m so sorry.” The choice to be away from her is so hard, and it’s necessary, but the decision doesn’t come without pain. Pain that will always be there.
And yes, my kids ask about “mommy’s mommy and daddy.” Our family’s philosophy is transparency, so in little kids’ terms, they know my parents exist, they’ve seen pictures, and they know they are not nice people. And they know that because we work hard to surround ourselves with positive relationships, we’ve chosen not to have that one. And I hope that they are able to maintain that philosophy as they grow.
Someone else who saved my life and made me uncomfortably realize my own self-worth was my therapist. We’d sit there in silence, and she’d let me process through tears and rage before I truly understood I’m worthy purely because I’m here and human. That it’s not my fault. It wasn’t my fault. And it never will be my fault.
And that is so important for victims of abuse to remember (physical, verbal, all the above, doesn’t matter). It’s not your fault. You did not cause this. You were a victim of circumstance, and while it’s easier said than done, you can do better. Be better. Love better. Live better.
It sounds cliché, but life really is too short to spend your time with people who tear you down, rather than build you up. This includes your relationships with members of your family. It doesn’t matter if they are family. Blood is NOT always thicker than water. Sometime blood is toxic and clogs up all things good.
Because even though your relationships with other people can mimic that of your mother’s; even though you can find so much comfort and warm butterflies in stomach with your surroundings, it never will be enough until you find it within yourself.
Find worth in your own doings.
Find worth in people you love.
Find worth in the burned bridges.
Find worth in yourself just because you’re alive and deserve it.