What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here. Today’s guest post is by Monica.
Several years ago, I was seeing a therapist and started to see that my relationship with my mother was extremely unhealthy. Growing up in a divorced home, I lived solely with her for many years and had unknowingly ended up in a very codependent relationship with her where I was the 'caretaker.' I started to see that being in a relationship with her meant I had to do things her way or it didn't work. I had to give every last ounce of my energy to her and it was still never enough. Sadly, I came to the realization that I didn't even know what was normal in a mother/daughter relationship. I didn't know that it wasn't normal for a mother to ask you for money repeatedly and to shame you for not supporting her. I thought all kids took care of things for their mother. For as long as I could remember, I made sure she was ok without any reciprocation on her part. It was a tough realization that everything I had known my whole life was completely backwards in this regard. Around this time I learned I was pregnant, and It hit me that I would be unfairly taking from my child if I were to keep up this role of caretaker for my mother. My daughter needed a whole person for a mother, not one who was torn between taking care of her and taking care of a capable adult. It could be extremely detrimental to my marriage as well. So I chose to cut her off, giving her my reasons in a loving way that ended with me asking her to get help. My siblings chose the same route after having similar issues with her and we joined together, standing firm in our boundaries. That was years ago and what I want you to know, is that she has not changed. But what I have experienced since my chosen estrangement with my mother is extreme peace in many ways. I have learned that sometimes it's impossible to have a relationship with a difficult, unhealthy person even if he or she is a blood relative. I've had people ask me if I can maybe forgive and move on and be in relationship with her again? The answer is yes, I have forgiven her, but no, I refuse to put myself in that situation again. As a child, I didn't have a choice. But as an adult, I do. And I choose to put my husband and my children first. If I was still in a relationship with my mother, this would not be possible. What I want you to know is this decision does not come without pain. I have been through many a therapy session sitting in this grief, sadness and disappointment that I will never have the mother I deserve and that my kids will not know their grandmother. Yes, it is sad, but I want you to know there is hope - not that my mom will change - but that I am not her and I am doing a very different job parenting my own children. That is something that gives me peace daily.