When we have been lied to, especially by a loved one, the betrayal is quite deep and damaging, to begin with.
Even more so when it’s a betrayal from one’s birth mother.
The deep and painful sense of betrayal towards a daughter who grows up being lied to by her birth mother, being deceived and manipulated — and repeatedly — is severely wounding and damaging.
It is a form of emotional abuse.
Eric Erickson’s model of psychosocial development states that from infancy to eighteen or twenty-four months, the interaction that a child has with the parents [or primary caregivers] leads to trust and mistrust. [This also corresponds to the development of the root chakra in the ancient chakra system.]
Erickson defines trust as “an essential trustfulness of others as well as a fundamental sense of one’s own trustworthiness.”¹
When a child is wounded at the infancy stage — in my case, when my parents, particularly my mother, rejected me at birth for my gender, how I looked, and the color of my skin [see related post here] — trust becomes the child’s core issue.
I already had the trust versus mistrust issue [whom to trust, lack of trust in oneself and others or being too gullible], which was formed during my infancy, to begin with.
Add to that, my father’s endless womanizing ways began even before I was born [I am the third of five] — and continued until my parents’ eventual separation, after 34 miserable years — miserable for both of them, as well as us, children.
And top that with my mother’s ill-chosen involvement, which I wrote about in my previous post. It started during my early teens, and which I had already intuited at the onset, but she had denied it for the longest time, despite the obvious. Plus, other on-going secrecies, manipulations, and deceptions.
Is it any wonder that I would grow up with a distorted concept of faithfulness, dependability, and trustworthiness?
“They may assume erroneously that everyone will hurt or betray them, and believe they are alone in a dangerous world. That can lead them to undermine closeness and intimacy by becoming fearful and suspicious, and often expecting the worst of people. After all, if you can’t trust your mother, why should anyone else be different?
Or, paradoxically, they may swing to the other extreme and become overly trusting, feeling so desperate to find someone who cares for them that they may ignore warning signs and find themselves involved with people who will victimize them again.”
Source: Forward, Susan. Mothers Who Can’t Love: A Healing Guide for Daughters (p. 114).
Oh, countless are the times when I have wrongly trusted and have been betrayed — by so-called “friends” and romantic relations.
It wasn’t until the past decade or so when I began to trust myself and inner guidance fully.
Nowadays, I’m still finding a reasonable center and balance when trusting people and situations.
Trust has become a life-long lesson.
And healing my mother wound, a life-long endeavor.
My mother’s ill-chosen involvement would not have ‘succeeded’ or lasted for so long had it not been for the participation of some family relations and friends.
Those who enabled it. Those who were in cahoots.
They allowed my mother to use and manipulate them — so she can carry on with her involvement.
Some of us, children, were also used by my mother!
The thought, not so much only of my mother’s involvement but of how a mother could think of using her children for her to continue her involvement, still makes me shake my head and cringe in disbelief when I think about it! To this day. Especially the twisted justification that she used!
But, yeah…. Sadly, not all women who become mothers are prepared or fit for motherhood — and what a huge task and responsibility it is, far beyond just carrying the child in the womb and giving birth to them! [See related post here.]
In 2008, my mother finally acknowledged to me her involvement — something she had lied about to me — directly to my face, and with so much conviction — when I was only eighteen, as I shared in my previous post. [None of my other siblings experienced that — the outright denial and the acknowledgment later on.]
I wish I were able to tell my mother so much more. I wish I had expressed how deeply hurt I had felt all those years with her lies and denials. The betrayal. Her betrayal.
Why all the lying and the hiding, when she would, in the end, admit it to me?
And why use us, her children?
Well, I see the need to lie about it and hide it. After all, it isn’t something to be proud of, especially considering the circumstances.
But what I couldn’t wrap my mind around is how and why a mother would use her children to perpetuate an impropriety! And how she did it — the blatant manipulation!
What had also lingered in my system after that pivotal conversation was how it took my mother almost thirty years to admit finally!!! That’s a veeeeery long time for a child to be betrayed by her mother!
Almost thirty years to wait for her mother’s admission.
To wait for her mother to ask for forgiveness.
Which never came.
“See, I knew it! I told you so….”
The vindicated part of me wanted to shout that out after my mother’s admission, which was immensely healing for me, I will say. And perhaps — hopefully — for my mother, too.
But what had put me off at the time was it seemed to be so trivial and uneventful for my mother. Her acknowledgment, that is.
My mother’s admission was so matter-of-factly. No apologies. No signs of remorse. No repentance.
I didn’t sense any regret from my mother. No guilt feelings. No feeling ashamed.
Perhaps my mother had thought that with the amount of time that had already gone by since her ‘involvement,’ it would have been a non-issue.
Or maybe she was — as usual — pretending to be unaffected by it all. Perhaps she was just very good at hiding her guilt and embarrassment for self-preservation.
Or maybe she has forgiven herself.
Or perhaps she saw her involvement as justifiable, considering how she had suffered because of my father’s unfaithful and abusive ways.
Who knows, eh? Only my mother knows.
As I wrote earlier, I have long ago come to embrace that healing my mother wound is a lifelong journey.
And I am choosing to continue focusing on my healing, releasing, grieving, and recovery — to work through the harmful effects of the difficult relationship that I had with my mother —beginning with acknowledging that she was anything but loving and motherly to me, and to state that openly, even as I run the risk of being judged by society [as an ungrateful daughter].
Part of my healing, I have come to realize, is not being afraid, ashamed, or guilty to speak the truth of my unfortunate experiences with my unloving mother.
I choose to create new patterns of authentic relating and interacting — especially discerning and being trustworthy, learning who, when, and how to trust — myself, others, and the Divine Intelligence, and make wiser and healthier choices.
All these, despite my mother’s betrayal, unloving, unmotherly, and emotionally abusive ways.
¹ Erik Erikson Compiled by Wendy Sharkey (May 1997) https://web.archive.org/web/20121127075544/http://www.muskingum.edu/~psych/psycweb/history/erikson.htm