My Mommy Dearest Strikes Again

I’ve written in the past about having a ‘complicated family’. However, upon reflection I’m thinking I may have made an incredible understatement. It’s the only conclusion that makes sense after speaking to my sister for the first time in five years last week; then late last night receiving a 19-word text message from my mother after hearing nothing from her for four months. For four months, it was complete radio silence. She did not answer the calls I placed to her cell phone or landline. She did not respond to my voicemail or text messages.

Text From My Mother

Text From My Mother

Because of her silence, I spent the past four months performing mental gymnastics trying to figure out what I may have said or done to offend her this time. I say ‘this time’ because our rocky mother-daughter relationship is peppered with endless examples of me conceding to her allegations: I was disrespectful to her, I was responsible for starting an argument, I chose my father instead of her when I was 12, or I somehow wrongly accused her of being a bad parent when I was a child. It felt and I had hoped – after a long absence from each other’s lives – that this time it would be different.

I have lost sleep wondering why at this time in my life when I need all the support I can get; my mother is incapable of offering me even the smallest comfort of being a voice on the other end of the phone. But I am wrong to have this or any other expectation of her. After all, we’ve never been close. In the strictest of terms, we never bonded. In fact, I once calculated how many years of my life I lived under the same roof with my mother. The number is somewhere in the range of seven years. I’m well into mid-life now so that’s a rather small amount of time for me to have spent sharing day-to-day life with my mother. Nonetheless, her silence caused many childhood insecurities and memories of experiences lived during that time to surface.

I was not a child that she wanted and she once told me so, but showed me that without words endless times. The seven years that I spent with her were full of abuse (physical and emotional) and neglect. She was quick to raise her hand or any object within reach to mete out what she felt was necessary discipline. Today when I look at my body, I can still see reminders of her discipline in the scars created by some of those objects. She rarely said anything to me that wasn’t angry or laden with words that pierced the flesh my small frame and clung to me like the smell of days-old mackerel on a fishmonger – I can still feel their impact. And she withheld affection and kindness as if she knew that those things, coming from her, would have made me too strong and confident for her withering glances and cutting tongue to dismantle me in an instant. Even today, I desperately long for her to stroke my face although I have no memory of such a thing ever occurring before, and I don’t know if she is capable of such an outward display of feeling toward me.

I say all this because for four months I have lost sleep and tortured my mind asking what, why or how I did whatever I did this time to deserve being shut out. In between the self-interrogations, I resolved not to care about the reason, knowing deep down that I do. She is after all my mother. More relevantly, she still holds the power to wound me. She’s skilled at creating illusions of closeness by briefly pulling me into her life then cutting me loose to fall apart. Now, when I have almost rebuilt myself and reclaimed the reality of what we are not to each other, with as little as 19 words sent to me by text message she makes me feel like a powerless child again.


Suzanne Vega – Luka


11 thoughts on “My Mommy Dearest Strikes Again

  1. I wanted to click “like” to acknowledge your powerful post, but I don’t like how you have been treated. My mother was brought up in a home like you describe, and was treated like you are treated. I wish there was an “I Understand” button vs. a like button. (((hugs)))


  2. I can’t tell you how often I come across other blogs posts about child abuse. I’m beginning to think I’m one of only a few adults who has never been abused, and I can’t tell you how sad I feel about that. What’s even more sad is that sometimes, the victims don’t see it as abuse. (And then they get mad at me for bringing up the fact that it was.) So, I’m glad you can at least look back and see how wrong it was for your mother to treat you like that.

    I realize that, as children, parents are usually the most important people in our lives. I understand the need to keep these relationships ongoing. But just like if I dated or married a man who abused me, finally got away and would want nothing more to do with that person, if the abuser was one of my parents, I would feel the same way. Abusive and one-sided relationships are not healthy, no matter if they are your family or your friends. Your relationship with your mother is making you ill — like rotten food.

    I have very strong opinions about child abuse, as my niece was killed by the abuse of her babysitter. I’m sorry if my response makes you angry, but I can’t be silent. These stories make me so upset and angry — I’m not a violent person, but I feel like punching your mother in the face.


    • I’m sorry for the loss of your neice.
      Your comments and advice don’t make me angry at all. I actually agree with your position about not keeping contact with your abuser regardless of who they may be.
      As I said in my post I hadn’t been in touch with my mother for a long time – about 10 years. But when I became ill one of my close friends felt that I should get in touch with her in case my condition became worse. Good or bad I took his advice. For about the first 6 months having contact with her felt positive and then I started to see some of the old behaviours coming back to the surface – this 4-month period of unexplained silence being one of them.
      As an adult I separated my life from her because a relationship with her was making me sick in many ways. Sadly, now she is back in my life and it is adding stress to an already difficult time.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Sometimes I think people treat their children like things. They never know the lifelong impact their actions will have on another human being. What a somewhat emotionless text message after 4 months from a mother to her child.


  4. Some people don’t have to ability to see the world from another point of view but their own. Most of them are husbands or wives, mothers or fathers, colleagues and ‘friends’. I don’t feel like judging people I don’t know, but I understand what you’re going through.


  5. Pingback: Gratitude and Creativity: Off-Balance with Mandala 1 | My Small Surrenders

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