Countless are the times when others have said, “Your mother did the best she could.”
I, too, have said that. I have told myself that — in the hope of easing the pain.
Somehow, though, saying that a wrongdoer did the best they could excuses their ill behavior. It erases, if not diminishes, the harmful and damaging effects on the wronged party.
It even makes the aggrieved party feel wrong and guilty for feeling hurt and offended by the offender — considering the offender did the best they could.
That’s gaslighting at its finest!
And that is even more re-wounding and re-traumatizing!
The damaging effects on the child’s psyche, mental health, and emotional well-being run deep and are long-lasting — and long after the parents’ death.
Hurtful feelings and the harmful effects of abusive treatments do not simply and automatically dissipate when the parent dies.
And I am exploring further and deeper into those difficult emotions and moments as part of my healing and grieving.
After my mother passed away early this year, I’ve had those moments when I thought to myself,
“Good for my mother. Her [earthly/human] suffering is over. Too bad for me. Here I am, cleaning up the mess left behind, making sense of the difficult relationship that I had with her, overcoming and healing from her harmful and abusive treatments, the ill-effects of which are long-lasting — while dealing with the judgments and condemnations from those who have no idea what transpired between my mother and me and what led me to choose to go no-contact.”
It is the latter — dealing with the judgments and condemnations from those who have no idea what transpired between my mother and me and what led me to choose to go no-contact — that continue to trigger, anger, and hurt me.
This, more than my mother’s harmful behaviors and unloving treatments, per se. The manipulations and deceptions. Secrecies, lies, and all.
Oh, if only others knew…..
Despite the [wrongful] infallible archetypal image that our culture holds about mothers, I do not expect them to be ‘perfect.’ Faultless. Saintly.
We all make mistakes. We all make bad choices. Even mothers do.
I get that.
Often, such ill-guided choices are a byproduct of unhealed wounds and inner conflicts — wounds that are, quite often, rooted in childhood.
I know that, too.
Some mothers’ wrongful choices, inconceivable treatments, and unthinkable behaviors, though, are much worse than others. Their children are compelled to distance themselves for the children’s [and at times, grandchildren’s] sanity, safety, mental health, and emotional well-being.
As was my case.
Did my mother ask for absolution — for her ill-chosen involvement [see related post here] and all her other transgressions and failings — when she was still on the earthly plane?
I don’t know.
That’s on her. I leave that between her and The Creator. I choose not to be part of that conversation. I do not wish to be burdened with what the answer may be to that question.
The thought did cross my mind, I will admit, that perhaps it was my mother’s guilt [over her wrongdoings] that was keeping her bound to the earthly plane.
In the morning before my mother passed away in February , I wrote,
“Whatever ‘secrets’ she [my mother] has disclosed to me for which she continues to be guilty of, may she also make peace with that.”
I was composing my letter for the family friend who had the nerve to impose her opinion on me that “your [my] mother is just waiting for you [me]” — without knowing the root cause of my issues with my mother. [I wrote about that here.]
Oh, such know-it-alls, eh?
I took that statement out of the letter, though.
Instead, I shared it with my cousin with whom I got reconnected briefly during my mother’s demise. I said that I didn’t want to create any intrigue unnecessarily.
I stand by it, though.
Whatever ‘secrets’ my mother had, whether or not she had disclosed them to me [or to others for that matter], for which she continued to be guilty of, or whatever questions plagued her, for which she may not have been able to find the answers, hence, her holding on to her earthly life instead, I sincerely hope she was able to make peace with it.
My mother may have done the best she could.
So have I.
I, too, did as best I could to extend understanding and compassion, especially to what she may have gone through as a child, her challenges as an adult woman in the 1950s, and being in an unhappy marriage.
I, too, did as best I could to encourage and convince her to seek counseling and therapy, which she, quite sadly, dismissed with “Oh, I’m too old for that….” [See related post here.]
I, too, did as best I could to maintain a relationship with her — to the point that I was functioning like her therapist, neglecting my emotional needs in the process. [The epitome of co-dependency!]
But whatever I did as best I could, may not be and would never have been good enough for my mother to accept, value, and love me — no matter what.
And when the child does not receive the parents’ love and approval, society must not be quick to take the side of the parents — especially the mother — and outright dismiss the child’s cry for love and plea and longing for help, validation, and support.
Societal support will help ease the burden of the adult child’s task to work through and heal from the ill effects of not having been honored, valued, nurtured, cared for, and loved by their parents.
Societal support will help ease the process for the adult child to fill in the unmet childhood needs for acceptance, approval, attention, affection, and affirmation in healthy ways, including re-parenting oneself.
Societal support will help the adult child make sense of the challenging and painful relationship and traumatic experiences with abusive parents.
To move beyond the pain and find the gifts beneath the wounds is no mean feat.
And that, I know, I have been doing as best I could — even as I face the lack of support and compassion from mainstream society.