Being a mom without a mom

Being a mother without your mother is really hard. Every woman who has given birth to a human being without her mom by her side can relate. Wishing her mom was there for support, advice and simply just taking the baby for a cuddle.

But…here’s the spoiler alert: My ‘mother’ is still alive but not in my life.

I would hate to do any type of comparison or diminish someone else’s pain and grief but this situation somehow just feels more painful than when a good mother has passed on. A good mom in heaven can be thought of in a loving way, and missed on special occasions.

Mine is best avoided at all costs. That doesn’t mean I don’t wish things were different. But my mother is a covert narcissist, and no good can come of having her in my daughter’s life. I went ‘no contact’ a few years before I was pregnant and it would have been nice to reconcile ‘for the sake of the child’, I knew that my child would be nothing but a trophy to her.

‘Mom-ing’ without a mother, especially when yours has been toxic, is a confusing journey. You wish you had that maternal shoulder to lean on, especially in the early days when you have no fucking clue what to do. But you are also struck with a horrible realization. For many years, many of us in the struggle can and will find many ways to justify the behaviour. We justify the way we were treated in many ways. ‘Oh she had a hard life’, or ‘I’m sure there is a reason why she is this way’; and then you have your own child. And you’re scared.

You’re fucking scared shitless because you worry that you carry this evil in your DNA.

But then you look into your child’s eyes…and a horrible awakening overcomes you. And you ask yourself ‘How could my own mother have treated me that way?’.

I am not a perfect mother. I’m human. I get short tempered when I have had broken sleep. I get cranky after the 50th ‘why this, why that’ from my now ever curious four year old. But the love I have for my daughter is deep and real and like no other love I have ever known.

And I’m scared. I’m still scared. I’m scared I raise her with a whole different set of issues. I’m scared I spoil her too much. I’m scared I discipline too much or too little. I’m scared because I feel I have no idea what ‘normal’ motherhood is because I have no frame of reference. I’m scared of the day she asks me ‘Where is grandma?’ and doesn’t accept ‘far away’ as the answer. I’m scared of the day my ever psychotic mother tracks her down as a teen and fills her head with so much lies and manipulation about me. I’m scared.

Some days I live in the moment. I exist as the person I am. Wife, mother, coworker and friend. And other days I feel like I’m drowning. I don’t know how to do this. Am I capable of doing this on my own? Should I just give up now because I’m going to fail anyway?

The love I have for my daughter comes naturally. There is no switch for that. But all the years of manipulation are hard to switch off. I still hear her voice in my head. You’re not good enough. You will never amount to anything. You will never find someone to love you. You are overweight. 

And while for the most part I feel I have succeeded, my inner child keeps tripping me up.

There are moments of clarity I have as a mother. Those moments mean so much more to me than the average mom. When I get home from work and my daughter comes running to me with the biggest smile on her face. When she leans in for a cuddle and tells me ‘I love you so much mom’, when the house is full of friends and family and she chooses to sit by me. Small things that mean so much to someone who grew up in a house with no affection.

As women we all have a very skewed view of motherhood before we actually have children, and I’m sure I can speak for everyone when I say that the first week is a rude awakening. I haven’t lived up to the ‘ideal’ I had in my mind. I’m not 100% patient, my child doesn’t eat 100% organic (fuck I’m lucky if she eats an apple), I went back to work much earlier than my heart could handle, and the ‘love hate’ phase of toddlerhood really tests me at times.

But I am proud of the mother I am. My husband is proud of the mother that I am. My child loves me. And chooses me over everyone when she is hurt or ill or heartbroken. Even on my worst day, I am not my mother.

Many people look at my life and may find my parenting style weird. But I know why I do what I do. And having lived the life I have lived, I’m not going to explain myself to anyone who isn’t open to understanding that not everything is all sunshine and roses.

Motherhood is a different ball game for me. I do not deny it. I actually own it. And anyone who doesn’t respect my choices as a mother for my daughter can actually fuck right off. I waited for these moments, I earned my stripes, I have come out the other side much stronger than I ever thought I would. I am fucking proud of that and won’t allow anyone to take it from me.

The questions have started. (‘where is your mommy?’) And the questions will persist as she gets older. For now I am enjoying the untainted time I have with my innocent, beautiful, emotionally in tune child.

I’m not sure when the day will come, but it will. And we will sit down side by side, and I will have to tell her the tale of my childhood. The scars, the pain, the abuse, the blood, the tears.

Until then, love.

I’m looking forward with love.

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Blood may be thicker than water but it doesn’t always taste good

As this blog continues you will get to know my family a bit better,as well as my relationship with them and without them.

My ‘mother’ is a covert narcissist. My father is part enabler,part self absorbed and part Bible basher. My one and only sibling is estranged from me on and off,very socially awkward and generally just not well adjusted because of the emotional abuse that stunted childhood development.

I am just in the middle of all this mess because I decided I couldn’t live in the dysfunction anymore.

I remember the first time I discovered that my family wasn’t ‘normal’. I was over at a friend’s house and she had been a bit clumsy and broken a glass. I sat back in fear,trembling from head to toe,my heart beating out my chest. The rage I was expecting never came.

Her mother rushed over and asked her if she was okay. Made us both sit very still while she cleaned up the glass. And even gave her a hug and some ice cream afterwards.

In my house I wasn’t allowed to break anything or lose anything unless of course I wanted to feel my mother’s wrath in the form of silent treatment,a solid grounding and the sweet satisfaction of her having a good enough reason to beat me with a belt.

I had many of these awakenings from age 10 to 15. I felt trapped. I felt like I was living in a prison. I felt alone because no one knew what my life was really like.

Everyone thought I was extremely shy and socially awkward because I never went anywhere without my parents present. When in actual fact I wasn’t allowed out anywhere. This was in part to prevent me from having any fun and part so that I wouldn’t create any strong bonds with anyone and blab the family secrets.

I had many dark days. Many. This type of abuse was hard to explain and still is. Very often we don’t have physical injuries. Physical injuries serve as proof,and when you don’t have proof,well you need strong emotional ties to someone to make them believe you. So as you can see,this is all part of the abuse,it keeps you locked in.

The family I have now don’t keep secrets. They don’t isolate me and make me feel afraid of offending them and being punished for challenging their authority in any way.

The family I have now aren’t related to me by blood at all.

They are however the people that I have come to depend on and who also depend on me. They have seen the darkest corners of my soul and led me back into the light when I was too weak to walk.

They are people who believe me and believe in me when I can’t summon the strength to do it myself.

I have found them in the weirdest ways. Mom groups on the internet,clients turned friends,coworkers, and a few on support groups.

Though my journey is still a difficult one,the kind souls I have met along the way have saved me in ways they don’t even realize. The hardest part of not having a family is feeling isolated. Having a few good friends can make the world of difference.

I often tell my friends that I love them and that I appreciate their friendship,this world can be cruel,you never know what those words can mean to someone.

Regardless of whether your relationship with your blood family is good or not,don’t ever take your friends for granted.

Photo credit: flowers from one of my besties

Spring Cleaning – House and Soul

So I find myself living between two extremes, wanting to reuse everything in order to recycle and save the environment, and the polar opposite being please dear God I can’t live in all this clutter!

Every 3months or so I ATTEMPT to declutter my house in order to make cleaning more efficient. Halfway through I kinda lose interest and shove everything back in the cupboard but nevertheless, 3months down the line I swear to get rid of everything. How is it that we accumulate so much junk every week? Receipts and tiny knick knacks, it never ends. To complicate matters even further I am a crafty person and a keen gift wrapper. So very often my little treasures are useful and then I am thankful I kept some of other random oddity. But I am in a transformation phase right now, so I guess my cupboards are in for a shock as I try to reinvent myself and the way I do things on a daily basis.

Everyone knows that the key to a good spring cleaning is a strategy. Start in one room, or even one corner of a room (depending on how much crap you have) and work your way from there.

Easy Spring Cleaning Tips:

  • Have three separate piles, one for trash, one for charity and one for storage
  • Find a place for everything
  • Be ruthless, if it hasn’t been used in the last 3months then chuck it
  • Clean as you go

And Separate Tips for People Who Procrastinate:

  • Stay focused on the task at hand
  • Only take a break when you’re done with one section
  • Don’t shove it all back into your cupboards after 3hours
  • Don’t justify keeping anything just because you paid for it

I must admit when I pull it off I feel pretty damn chuffed with myself. The house instantly looks neater and more inviting. And I always promise myself in that moment that I will maintain this beautiful clutter free existence. But little by little everyday, I get home after a long day at work and I don’t have energy to sort through my daily clutter and it just accumulates all over again. Oh well, better to have tried than never to have tried at all right?

Is spring cleaning your soul a thing? i think it is. And if it isn’t the I’m making it a thing right now. As you’ve read in previous posts I was stuck in a dead end job for many years, taking this new job was a HUGE change for me, like ENORMOUS but I find myself now wanting to change other things. namely my personal life and relationships with people and how I interact with them.

When you are generally unhappy it is hard to pinpoint when you are genuinely unhappy about something. Reason being that your life just sucks in general so you can’t really point fingers at the source. But when you have a huge shift towards a happier space, suddenly every negative vibe is a threat to your happiness.

I go to work every day so amped to get started (yes even on a Monday) and I find myself looking at certain negative things bringing me down and every day my resolve gets stronger. Like I don’t need this shit, I deserve better.

Whether people in my life know it or not, I have made a promise to myself to make next year and the future in general, a better one for myself. For years I’ve put the needs of others before me but I really feel like I need to be selfish and take care of me in order to stay sane.

So I’m cutting the dead weight. I’m cutting out people who drain me, people who don’t support who I am and where I’m going. As harsh as it sounds I feel it needs to be done. I don’t want to wake up one morning 20years from now with regrets. It’s corny as fuck but it’s true ; you only get one life, so live it well.

I have wasted far too many years already, and I don’t plan on wasting anymore. So whether we interact in 2017…is all up to you. Add to my life, don’t tear it down.

Now excuse me while I walk around the house aimlessly in order to avoid the pile of laundry, dishes and 4year old treasures that need to be packed way.

For the house I recommend this book: Ditch your glitch by Kate Emmerson

For the soul..I suggest having a look online at various self-help books that best suit you but one of my favourites is The life changing magic of not giving a fuck by Sarah Knight.

Happy Cleaning!

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The Biggest Decision of my Life

Reading the title of this post you probably assumed – marriage, kids, changing jobs or buying a house…these are all big decisions we make as adults and very often it feels like this huuuuge undertaking and then six months down the line you’re like okay I was being a bit dramatic. but no, I’m not talking about any of those. I’m talking about the fact that it has been roughly 8 years since I last spoke to my mother.

I say ‘roughly’ because I never set a date to do this. It kinda just happened. (yes,how does something like this just happen) well, after years of emotional and sometimes physical abuse I had to choose between me or her, and I chose me.

I packed my things with my heart racing in my chest. I stood in my room going back and forth between “this is a bad idea” to “I need to get the fuck out of here NOW“. Trying to pack your bags when you are running away from life as you know it is really hard. Mostly because you’re doing it in panic mode and you don’t have enough bags for all your crap.

Surprisingly I didn’t actually have much of value. Nothing in the house belonged to me or carried any good memories so I literally packed my clothes. (Years have gone by and I still have those weird moments where I look for a certain trinket or item of clothing like ‘damn why didn’t I pack that?’)

And then I left. And the world didn’t come crashing down and no she didn’t pull up and demand that I come home. This is a fact that not many people are unaware of. Just in case you missed it SHE DID NOT FORCE ME TO COME BACK HOME.

Her story for the record was that she respected me as an adult and so let me go be my own person. (insert sarcastic cackle here) but she and I know the truth. On my 18th birthday she literally told me “now you can move out”. She was happy to see me leave BUT she also had no idea that I would be gone for good. In her mind it would only be a matter of time before I’d had enough of the cruel world and come running back so she could say “I told you so”. The irony of it is that I had already suffered all the cruelty at home so the cruelty of the real world was not a factor for me.

I won’t lie though. It was hard. Giving up the financial benefits was hard. Living on 2min noodles, living in a commune with strangers and walking to work rain or shine was not easy. But I was free, so regardless of my living arrangements I had succeeded.

My ‘mother’ and I never had a true relationship beyond pretending with other people. So to answer the question that is bothering you right now; no I don’t miss her. I miss the feeling of what having a good mother feels like but I do not miss her one bit.

What’s to miss?

oh you mean besides the constant insults and belittling and lies and aggression?

Not for me, no thanks.

Years have gone by and even though I stand firm in my choice, it still stings.

I miss having a mom but I don’t miss her. There is nothing to miss, unless you consider abuse to be a fond memory of your childhood. No, I don’t expect you to understand, I don’t expect anything from anyone anymore. I have set the bar really low so that when someone ‘gets’ it I’m super chuffed and share my story in order to educate them.

Contrary to her belief, I don’t tell the truth in order to create a smear campaign. I tell the truth to lift the silence on this heavily guarded secret. If my story can save one person, just ONE from living the life that I had then I will feel relief. Society guards maternal abuse in a bank vaulted safe, away from reality. But the truth is that this is an everyday reality for many people. And as long as it stays hidden this abuse will continue for generations to come.

I think I speak for all my people when I say that the path to recovery and freedom is a lonely one. We meet in the shadows, on private closed groups on Facebook, we blog anonymously, for fear of the flying monkeys. And it really sucks but it’s okay, we have each other. Until society accepts this as a real issue, in the shadows we will stay. But I feel that soon this perception will change. We made some headway with the dead beat dad situation, so surely we will graduate to a point where mothers will be seen for who they are. (I live in eternal hope)

Being a mom without a mom has been challenging. And will continue to be challenging. I am relying on books and the internet and my gut instinct to guide me. because I do not have a responsible and nurturing maternal figure to guide me. I’m four years into my parenting journey and I don’t think I’ve done a bad job so far.

But doing this alone is truly a slice of heaven instead of heaven in comparison to what it would be with her being a part of it. Constant criticism, disappointment, gas lighting, lying and forced interaction.

So all in all I think it is a fair trade. Rather no mother than a narcissistic one.

Photo Credit: www.dekeldesigns.co.za

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I have become a ‘selfish bitch’

Okay, let me explain what I mean.

After years of living in an emotionally abusive home, being told what to do and what to eat, and who to talk to etc etc I am finally making a stand and realizing that I have more options than my parents made me realize.

Back then I never had the option of saying NO. And for a long time after I left I never used the word no because that sense of obligation was so ingrained in me that I never considered it an option. Until all of these obligations started weighing on me like a ton of bricks. It gets hard to breathe. Each day is a struggle. You sit waiting for the next request to come up and drag yourself to wherever you need to be.

It is an exhausting way to live. It is not a life, it is an existence.

I waited many years for this ‘storm’ to pass. There I was like a fucking idiot standing in the rain waiting for it to stop when all I had to do was go inside. But when you are a victim of abuse you are so accustomed to not having a choice, that long after you break free from your abuser, the habits live on.

Whether it is in my mind, or just the way it is, I have become somewhat of a selfish bitch. I make time for my immediately family (my husband and child) before I schedule anything with anyone else. And if any social engagement does not suit my schedule I just decline.

I am an introvert of sorts. I love being around people but I equally love being at home in my own space. I do not like spending time with people who do not add value to my life or people who disrespect me.

Many will claim that my ‘issues’ are standing in the way of me having a larger group of friends and family but I disagree. It is all about quality over quantity is it not? So why am I branded as this selfish bitch for wanting to make the most of my time with the people I prefer?

You know what it is? Social obligation. Society hands us this set of ever changing rules that everyone just blindly follows.

You MUST be close to your family.

You MUST be seen out every weekend surrounded by a group of people.

You MUST do everything you can for anyone that asks.

I call bullshit.

I now handle my life the same way I handled my wedding guest list: If I haven’t seen or heard from you in the last 6 months AT LEAST then you’re not welcome. Life passes us by so quickly. I blinked and suddenly it’s almost Christmas. I can’t make up for the lost years of my childhood but I can work towards creating a better present for myself and a better future for my child by living for myself and not others.

I have a few close friends that I consider my people and for them I always have time, a shoulder, a cupcake, a glass of wine. But I don’t interact with them out of a sense of obligation. I interact with them because they add value to my life and they are invested in me as a person.

So no, I won’t be making it to your house next week, I’m just a little busy taking care of me.

Your mother is a what?! Part One

Hi. My name is blah blah and my mother is a covert narcissist. Say what now?

This is a conversation that every single child (adult or not) dreads to have with anyone who is not aware of the narcissistic parent. And just my luck, I happen to have a complete set.

My early years were confusing to say the least, always wondering what I did to provoke such an intense level of anger from my mother. Strongly believing that if only I was pretty enough and skinny enough and smart enough, then she would love me. She was clearly capable of love because she doted on my younger brother. (Actually this is a lie, the love shown towards my brother was just part of the tools in her arsenal, but at age 10 I didn’t know this)

For the longest time I thought I was adopted. Looking through photo albums and discreetly questioning family members I discovered the sad news that yes, I am biologically linked to this woman. So scratch the escape and look for my ‘real’ parents plan. Ask me about my childhood and I clam up. I’m not interested in reliving the worst part of my life. I don’t want to think about the sadness and the isolation and the suicide. No let’s not mention the suicide. Never attempted but always contemplated.

I don’t understand that little rhyme we were taught as kids: Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.

Words hurt. They fucking hurt to the core.

Words that will stay with me forever: Why is your nose so flat? You will never find a husband being this fat. Why are your lips so big, can’t you keep them in?

These words were not thrown at me by school yard bullies. These words and many other were gifted to me by Mother Dearest herself. She only told me she loved me on birthday cards. Happy Birthday. Love M (for mom) She never showed any physical affection unless we had company over (Keeping up appearances are crucial) She made me beg for everything. Everything was a huge sacrifice. Doing the family laundry was a sacrifice. Making us food was a sacrifice. Buying said food was a sacrifice. Paying for my education was a sacrifice. Basically my entire existence “drained” her financially and I was a burden.

If you ever have the honour of meeting Mother you will love her. You really will. She draws people in and most people think I’m insane or have a vendetta against her because she’s so friendly and lovable and kind hearted (insert eye roll here)

Satan and I have not had contact since 2008. And while it hasn’t been easy, I am experiencing a better quality of life since she is no longer part of it. To the person blessed with a wonderful NORMAL mother that is reading this with confusion,shock and horror, I do apologise but this story needs to be told for the many silent sufferers.

Society is very willing to accept the dead beat dad with ‘oh he is such a pig’ or ‘don’t worry you are better off without him’, but mothers are sacred. Anyone who decides to disown their mother is met with ‘but what did she do?’ or ‘Surely it couldn’t have been that bad?’ or ‘Where is your spreadsheet proving that she did these things, she is your mother, you can’t do this’

This blog is about my life, and a huge chunk of what shaped my identity as a person is growing up with a narcissistic mother. If this offends or confuses you…tough shits. This was my reality for 21 years. 21 long, miserable lonely years.

The story of MD (Mother Dearest) cannot be told in one blog post. I am not sure how many posts it will take but keep your eyes peeled for the next one. You might just learn something.

While you are waiting do a bit of reading:

Books:

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Spring

So I started this blog with not much direction. I was planning on using it as an online diary, a virtual abyss for me to just dump all my thoughts into the universe but life got the best of me and somehow I ended up in the abyss instead of my thoughts.

It is October now, and supposedly spring and yet the scarf around my neck and my thick socks beg to differ. But I am feeling a very strong spring vibe in my life right now. I started a new job on the 12th of September and things are going so well to the point that everyone that sees me asks what I have been doing differently.

Let me rewind a little bit. I was in a dead end job for 8 years (insert collective gasp here) No I was not lazy, I was anything but. Scared, anxious, not qualified enough for certain jobs but definitely not lazy. It is hard to find someone willing to give you a chance these days. Even more so to find an employer that is going accommodate the ‘disadvantages’ that come with hiring a mother.  I don’t understand the discrimination though. Mothers are responsible. Yes we drop everything when our children are ill but we never pitch up to work hungover and highly ‘medicated’. We are multi taskers and very reliable as well as self motivated. Employers need to open their minds to the benefits of hiring mothers.

So anyway, back to the story I started feeling depressed. I would constantly ask my closest friends if they saw the warning signs of depression. All of them said no. Obviously this was about more than just a shitty job. I do not have a supportive family, I have had to fight for almost every single thing in my life, and the daily grind at a job that was draining my soul was just escalating everything.

I was about to throw in the towel when I saw a vacancy being advertised in the most extraordinary fashion. They wanted someone competent, but it wasn’t crucial for the person to have the qualification or the experience.  SAY WHAAAAAT NOW? They were looking for someone with a great attitude and to slot into their team. I took the chance. What did I have to lose right?

So after 18mnths of job hunting I scored my second interview out of the hundreds of emails I had sent out.

Nervous is an understatement.

And as I’ve said…I GOT THE JOB!!!!

This job has truly changed my life. It has given me back my sense of self worth, it has eliminated so much stress, I am once again positive about my future and my capabilities.

Depression is a real thing. And it doesn’t always have to be a chemical imbalance and it cannot always be fixed with medication. Sometimes the only way you can dig yourself out of the pit is to make a change or cut a toxic person out of your life. This is sometimes easier said than done, but when you eventually make it to the top of that hill it is worth it.

This is obviously not the whole story, after all this is a blog post and not a short documentary hahahah, but stay tuned to my blog and you will uncover this story layer by layer. I hope whoever reads this sees that you can overcome that burden in your life. Even if you only take one step at a time, take the first step.