During a search for support groups for daughters of borderline or emotionally absent mothers, I came across Motherless Daughters Ministry. As I read through their website, I thought, “This is exactly what I’m looking for. I need this.” Then I saw it – the ministry’s address – Ohio. Ohio! Really? I finally find exactly what I need to help me heal from my mother wounds and it has to be in a completely different state. So their support groups and classes weren’t options for me. This was before coronavirus and the subsequent relocating of all meetings and conferences to virtual formats.
So I started submitting some of my writing to the ministry’s blog they have on their website to be posted. “Maybe I was meant to find this ministry for my writing,” I pondered. This submitting of my writing is how I became connected with Mary Ellen Collins, the CEO of Motherless Daughters Ministry. To make a long story short, and it’s already quite a story that I will tell one day soon, I promise; it’s filled with nurturing and mutual respect and admiration – a wholesome budding friendship filled with God-like qualities and perfectly-timed intervention like you wouldn’t believe. Basically, through this woman taking me under her wing, along with others in the ministry (again, more stories I will be telling soon) I learned they would be doing a 6-week emotionally absent mother class virtually. Ohio wasn’t so far away after all! I registered for the class which brings me to where I sit tonight.
Tomorrow is the third class of the six weeks. My emotions have been a whirlwind. We are reading the book The Emotionally Absent Mother by Jasmin Lee Cori, which I’ve already read, but there’s now a new second expanded edition. So I’m reading the assigned chapters, remembering some of the content and experiencing what I can only describe as guilt and doubt. I didn’t feel guilt and doubt when I read the book the first time, about 10 years ago. At that time, I felt like the book detailed my childhood and my relationship with my mother to a T. I highlighted and journaled and blogged and felt really cleansed by what I was reading and the revelations I was having. But this time around, I didn’t expect to feel these emotions. Guilt and doubt. Guilt for identifying with the book’s content and doubt that I actually identify with the book’s content. I really have the tendency to put myself in unhealthy cycles. I feel guilty I’m even in the class.
My mother would go ballistic if she knew I was in a motherless daughter’s class. She would become unhinged, which looks like an ignorant, immature woman yelling and spitting and cursing, saying the nastiest, lowest things to try and hurt the person she is yelling and spitting and cursing at. I can just see her wild, shifty eyes as she would yell at me as a child, searching my face for a reaction, any reaction, any change in expression that she could point out and make assumptions as to its meaning. And the meanings were always negative and against her and against her great mothering skills and loving ways that I should be more appreciative of and less selfish and I should be a better older sister and good role model while I was at it. That’s a shitty record to have on repeat since childhood. I feel terrible ways about myself, way beyond the “not good enough” complex we’ve talked about in class. I feel like I shouldn’t even be alive. I’m disgusting. I’m wasting other peoples’ lives who spend their time with me. I’m not meant to be celebrated or thought highly of. I’m an imposter. I am mentally unwell and I’ve been to the psychiatric hospital twice in my life for severe depression and suicidal ideations. I’m a bad wife. I’m definitely a bad sister. A bad daughter. A bad employee. Just bad. Where does all of this negative self-talk come from? My mother did tell me I was “bad” a lot through my lifetime, from my earliest memories I remember her saying you’re bad” or “you’re being bad.” No matter what age I was when she would say “you’re being bad”, I never could quite understand what it was I was doing that was so damn bad.
She would talk about me sneaking out of the house. “You left your window unlocked, putting your little sisters at risk for someone to break in here and do something to them.” I once tried to talk to her about how I felt like she yelled at me a lot. “I yell when my daughter goes out and gets drunk and doesn’t respect herself. I yell when my daughter doesn’t respect me as her mother.” The wiser me knows respect, sobriety and good decisions are all taught to a child by his or her mother. My mother never told me anything about respecting myself, except once after finding some love notes between my high school boyfriend and I, she said “You need to respect yourself more.” I honestly, in that moment of being fourteen years old, didn’t even fully know what she meant by respecting myself more. “How does one do that?” I thought.
Guilt and doubt. I’m feeling guilty for sharing these memories, like I’m criticizing my mother who was just a single mom of three children trying to get by and be a good mother. And maybe that’s true. It’s part of the truth. But there was a whole concealed truth in our household. No, there wasn’t sexual or physical abuse. But mentally, emotionally, verbally, my mother could really fuck with me. And she did really fuck with me. So much so that I sought out a motherless daughters support group, registered for it, and I’m actually going to it and doing the assignments, for the third week now. And I feel guilty because I relate to the stories of the other women in the group and to the material I’m reading in Coris book. Wouldn’t it be easier for me not to relate to any of this? For it all to be nonsense. Wouldn’t that make my life a lot more happier if none of this were true…mother?