As a teen, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting some great moms! Those mothers were their daughter’s friends. After collage, I worked under some amazing boss women in the corporate world. Smart, well-dressed, commanding, yet kind; oh the pleasure of worenterprising, inspiring women! But I never saw my mother be like that… until now.
My mother says, at less than 12 months old I told her “No More” to breastfeeding. It surprised her that a baby would say no, and go cold turkey so fast, so easy. This whole time I was hating on her, the irony (or it seems like) is I detached from her first. HA!
a backstory ..
For the first 10 years of my life we lived in a one bedroom 400sqft house . It must’ve been when I was 5 or so when I asked my mother where my sandals were. She told me the exact location in a blink and I found them! That moment is so vivid because in that moment I wanted to be like her. I thought she was so clever, so confident of knowing the exact solution to my (then, big) problem! I would feel that positive about her again.
Well, until now.
I was 9 when my little sister caught Meningitis – there’s vaccines for it now, Praise God! Because it can be fatal, I can’t imagine the heartache my parents felt during this time. They were with her at the hospital, waiting outside intensive care unit (ICU), straining to see if she’ll ever wake up. Waiting for all those tubes come out of her nose and mouth.
Me? I didn’t feel any of that pain, only childish desires. I just missed my little playmate and wanted all the candy left untouched by her hospital bedside. Meanwhile, neighbours cared for me. Took me to school, made my meals, cared for me. And in essence, became my new family. The first mother wound.
When my sister returned from the hospital, she became Elsa. She wouldn’t come out to play with me. Always by herself, quiet and detached and this went on for a very long time. Decades later, the relationship with my sister is still healing.
My parents were busy caring for my little sister and a newborn brother. I felt neglected. An abrasion. Can you imagine the danger to a neglected prepubescent child though? between 10 houses, three safely housed peadofiles! That statistic is staggering to me.
Do you want to see a puppy? He said. Don’t tell anyone, they said.It’s our secret, they said.
Tell whom? In my little childish mind I figured my parents would blame me so why bother? A laceration on the existing abrasion.
Tell my neighbours? and risk losing the one loving relationship I had at the time? No Thank you.
As the trauma and tension built up I became angrier with my parents. In my head though, my mother wound was only scarping the surface. At 14, I told my father about his friend molesting me. I thought he didn’t believe me because I didn’t see any ‘fights’ like in the movies. Good men beat up bad men in the movies, no? No. That did not happen in my real life.
In hindsight, my father woke up and choose kindness. That “friend” was never again seen at gatheringsand I haven’t seen him since. Well except at my wedding at 24 – and it triggered all those memories – on my wedding day! It’s been 10yrs and we’ve never celebrated our wedding anniversary – well, more on my marriage later.
the little detail of the predator being out of my life failed to register in my pre-teen brain. So typical, no? By this time, I had stopped speaking to everyone in the family. I mean every single person. Instagram is the only place I can be myself BUT I have the courage only because I am facing a black mirror. I am working on this… anyway.. I digress.
Growing up, you’d find my face buried in books or my blank face plastered on TV. Always reserved, I had no one to speak in my own mother-tongue language (Malayalam). You’ll never believe I’ve spent so much time alone and devoured English content that I now “think” in English! This way, the first language barrier between my mother and I puncture the existing laceration on my mother wound.
I didn’t see the point in communicating when I couldn’t actually express anything without offending anyone in the family. At 16, they lost me to substance abuse and groomed by a 26yr old. (More on “grooming” in another post. Lord please help me tell all!) I went down and down a dark rabbit hole. Those abusive episodes just punctured my existence, cutting my mother wound deeper and deeper.
At 27, Jesus pulled me back up! He gave me a BRAND NEW LIFE, saved my wounds from an avulsion! This is the new me you see today. In hindsight again, my mother didn’t have a chance to get close to me. She tried. But after years of my rejection, would anyone keep trying? But She did!!! She never stopped trying and that is what I admire her the most now. Always forgiving, always there for me. I SEE IT NOW but I was blind then.
Identifying the source of indifference
I wanted to break the wheel. This cycle of neglect and abuse so when I became a mother, I looked at my mother again. That didn’t go well at first, at all. So naturally, the first thing I did was turn to God because by now, I had come to Christ. My Life Application Study Bible helped me so much!
10 They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. ~ Hebrews 12:10 – This verse hit me. My mother and father did their best as they thought best. Without the awareness, knowledge, social media and google, how could they have done any better?
So to explore my mother wound, I did not read self-help books. But one of my best friends sent me this Daughter Detox workbook; he’s a big advocate for therapy and thought it would be helpful. This book has intense exercises and deep reflections which I 100% could not bear to do. So I only flipped through the pages and in doing so, I stopped at one page in the middle. The exercise was an empty page with a question on top that read:
What are the most positive things you remember about your mother?
For years and years my one-track-mind focused only on her negatives. How she wasn’t there for me like my friend’s mothers were. How we never went bra shopping. Why she did’t educate me about sex or how to protect myself against predators? She did not, not do these things because she clearly had a different upbringing than I did. Times were different then. Information was limited.
I shudder at the thought of asking her about her past experiences! I wonder if she felt the same wall between us too. After she read my testimony the first time, she called me on the phone sobbing, and said she didn’t know any of these nasty things were possible. That’s when I realized, she didn’t know, because I never told her!
It takes two to clap!
One by one the missing pieces of the puzzle came together. What a revelation! Her upbringing, her story, her experience made her who she was. Without a formal education on psychology or Google or Instagram posts like mine in your face, how could any mother prepare like we can today?
So I focused on the positives and it smacked me in my face. Reminding me that growing up I always had warm home-cooked meals. The best meals! In fact, plopped on the couch with my book or watching TV, a warm plate was always handed to me. That was my mother!
She cooked, she cleaned, I always had fresh laundry folded neatly in my wardrobe. My wardrobe that was always on the floor (on purpose!). Always sleeping on fresh bedsheets and pillow covers. School uniforms always clean and pressed and ready for me. I did not lift a finger.
For a while I also hated her for giving me an easy life. Because oh the trauma and the struggle of doing all these chores after my marriage was real! The punctured mother wound resurfaced here. I almost went suicidal with the pressure of working outside and doing the chores, LordyLord! My 2021 goal is to be proper housekeeper .. to be continued!
False Mother Wounds
I took her for granted thinking all mothers have to do that. Umm no, no mother has to do anything for ungrateful children but some do it out of love, voluntarily. I say voluntary because here I am today arguing with my husband sometimes. Refusing to do housework because it’s not my job… Breathe Liz, breathe.
The books and movies showed me mothers with daughters shopping, in salons, on lunch dates. Mothers who were also friends. Those who kissed on the forehead and tucked you into bed. Who read bedtime stories, everyday. Mothers who hugged and said I love you even in the toughest times. LIES!!! I’ve spent years thinking why my mother didn’t love me like THAT?
Because her love language was different.
Her love language is “acts of service” So when she loves, she shows her love by doing things for the people she loves. I learned this from the book ‘5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman‘ Please get one, gift one! Books make the perfect gifts!
Through acts of service. It was never words, or quality time. Think about it. Who would be so selfless, so tireless to someone who did not love or care about her? This was Jesus shining through her but I was BLIND to appreciate any of it.. well, until now.
There is another ‘5 Love Languages Of Children‘ too and these books made my life so bright! Praising God for people who write, publish books and show us the way. With this new knowledge I now have a glimpse of my mother’s love for me. Yes I do love her now, finally, at 33. Because she loved me first. I see it now, with my eyes wide open.
Thank you for reading my mother wound story. Please leave a comment here to share yours, I would love to know (or am I alone in this?)