I’m on a journey. I guess you could call it a daughter journey. Some days I forget that I’m a daughter (I also have no contact with my biological father). Yes, I have supportive people in my life like my mother-in-law, the man I call my dad who helped raised me, and I still feel the enveloping, lasting love of my great-grandparents. There’s just something about a mother’s love, a mother’s approval that I still yearn for. I just turned the big 3-9 but there’s days when I feel like a lost child.
If you are a parent, think of the nightmare of losing your child in a big supermarket. You’re frantic. Should of’s and would of’s run rampant in your mind. You fear the worst. But you won’t stop searching. That’s how I can best explain how I feel – frantic, searching, with awful thoughts and worries and fears racing through my brain. How long have I felt this way? For as long as I can remember. My behavior points to a lifetime of “frantic searching.” At the peak of my searches were failed friendships, failed classes, substance abuse, suicide attempts and too many men. I have always been searching for the feeling of home. Unfortunately, and this is my personal belief, this feeling of home comes only from a mother’s pure, nurturing, unconditional love. It boggles my mind that moms like this exist, but they do. My husband’s mother is one of them. He has no idea how lucky he is. However, relationships between mothers and daughters are just…different. Different from brothers, from boys. There is a deep friendship between a mother and daughter – you were both once a part of each other. You are bonded by life, for life. And to not have that relationship, holy cow – what a significant loss that is! I know I haven’t fully grieved my mother, if you can “fully grieve”; it’s an ongoing journey imo). It was Dr. Mary Ellen Collins who asked me a question I’d never once even thought of: “Have you grieved your mother?,” she asked me during one of our phone calls. She sometimes texts me to check in, and this woman hasn’t even met me. She’s one of the Motherless Daughter Ministry ladies, as my husband calls them. The nurturing I missed, and still miss, isn’t gone. It still exists. It’s just I have to find the nurturing now whereas when I was a child it was given to me. I felt a very uncomfortable emotion arise when she asked me that, an emotion I cannot identify or name. Maybe it was grief revealing itself, who knows? But I knew the answer was “no.” No, I have not grieved my mother. She is still living. Why would I grieve her? And that’s where my grief journey began and ended. I haven’t explored it any deeper. Until now. It came up in my journaling for RFT.
I am feeling so thankful for my great-grandmother Mam-ma. She passed away when I was 24. She almost was able to watch me graduate college. But I took the scenic route in college and missed her by a couple of semesters. I would call her after one of my classes during senior year of college. Once a week, we’d talk as I walked home to have lunch or “study” (again, scenic route). Looking back, I bet those conversations meant so much to her. Pap-pa (obvs her husband) passed away about 8 years prior. So she was alone in her home for the first time in 49 years. They almost made it to 50 years! Knowing how challenging marriage can be, that woman is a saint to me. I feel a yearning for her – I think yearning is part of grief. I don’t feel a yearning for my mother, most of the time. There are moments where I just wish she would make some changes in her life so we could have a relationship. But she doesn’t appear to be seeking help. And genuine relationships built on mutual understanding and trust don’t include contingencies, and there are requirements that she, and anyone else, has to meet in order for me to allow you into my life. If you have a mental illness which my mother told me she does, that’s not an automatic no but you need to be stable and well, as well as you can be. My mother chooses bad. She chooses drama and dysfunctional behavior. And immature behavior, damn that woman seriously stopped maturing in her thirties. I used to think she was so smart when I was in middle school and high school. She is also a “frantic searcher.”
I went to two elementary schools, three middle schools and two high schools. I didn’t have long-term friends, or really any short-term friends either while I was in school. My mother moved us schools, which she blames on me for causing problems in the family . I was a child and I affected the family so much so that you would pack up and move our home…all because of me? Wow. I wish I knew I had that kind of power sooner. I had no guidance. My mother was frantically searching for love from men, and the next best self-made business (selling supplements, beauty school for nails, court reporter). Court reporter – I can’t make this shit up. I’m so much like her I despise myself. I start and stop things all.the.time. I am not consistent. You cannot count on me. These are the negative thoughts I have about myself, but I think they are true. Honestly, I believe I cannot be counted on. It’s better to pass over me than include me. How sad? Where does that message come from? I’ll give you a wild guess. Mi madre.
One thing I struggle with is imposter syndrome. I can’t possibly be a motherless daughter because my mother raised me, and she’s still alive. How can I miss something that isn’t gone? But that’s just the thing – she is gone. Her nurturing, her unconditional acceptance of me was missing. It doesn’t exist to this day. My mother did not give me what I needed to be a fully functioning, healthy adult. Isn’t that one of the many jobs of a mom? Raise your children to be able to function in society. I think that’s a pretty basic standard for a mother. So this “daughter journey” I’m on, I’m encountering unexplored grief, challenges finding stability, finally living from a place of my great-grandparents’ love and acceptance of God, of me…all pretty big important paths to navigate. Important paths? Let’s say critical paths to navigate. This daughter journey I speak of is windy af. Bring your raincoat and boots because sadness rains from above. You’ll be hungry. You’ll be exhausted. You’ll be confused. And what’s so incredibly distressing about the crossroads I’m facing is I don’t have a fucking mother to call and say, “Hey, Mom! I don’t know what the fuck to do. I’m not well and I need help.” And if I could do that I imagine my mother would come to my rescue at the drop of a dime, despite any financial, work, time constraints. She has done that before actually when I had a bad breakup with a boyfriend. But she acted so obligated, so put out by having to help me. She made sure to tell me how inconvenient this all was for her. Meanwhile, I’m 20 and like wtf is going on with my life. I’m in college, trying to do classes, trying to do well and make good choices, failing horribly but SHE was inconvenienced. What was I to do at that age? She didn’t nurture me during that traumatic time. In fact, and I truly hate to say this but she made the situation worse by being there. Just like I feel it’s better for her not to be around, I believe that about myself – it’s better for me to not be around.
My thinking is dysfunctional, no doubt. But there is hope. Recently I’ve been going to church and going to a women’s life group one evening a week. The ladies even invited me to brunch – which I accepted and attended last week with no issues! I was anxious a little bit but my anxiety medication was able to quell my stomach from the loops it was doing. When I was at brunch, I just was myself. I didn’t try to be fake nice or fake upbeat, I was just chilling with the church ladies enjoying listening to their stories. Like I said, I have supportive people in my life, but there’s just something about a mother’s nurturing love that can never be replicated.