I always thought that my relationship with my mom would get better once I got older. That we would have the magical kind of parent-child relationship you read about. Where you fight and don’t get along with each other through your teenage years, but after you get out of high school the two of you are BFFs! Unfortunately, that’s not the case with my mom and me. But that’s okay, because I have hope. Out of respect for my mom, I’ve chosen to leave out my name, but I still want to tell my story because I feel like, in a way, it is helping me heal. I also truly believe God wouldn’t allow me to go through this unless He intended to use it to somehow glorify Him in the end. I hope telling my story will help you if you’re in a similar, hopeless-feeling situation.
When I was little, my mom and I used to have lunch dates at our kitchen table before she would take me to afternoon kindergarten. We would always play a fun game like Guess-Who or Candyland while we ate. I loved those times and I cherish those memories. I’m not exactly sure when things started to change. Somewhere around age eleven I think. The woman I looked up to and admired, my best friend and my safe place, all of a sudden wasn’t. She’s always had somewhat of an anger problem, but now the anger that used to be aimed toward my dad and other adults was now being aimed at me.
My mom has a habit of calling me names like “weak” or “stupid.” She has told me things like “I love you, but I don’t like you.” When I was younger she would throw things toward me or push me. She does her best to exclude me when it comes to her and my younger sisters. It’s been five months since she has spoken more than four words a day to me. Most days we don’t speak at all. She hasn’t hugged me, or told me she loves me in that time, even though we live together. I still live at home because I am no longer in physical danger, otherwise I would leave. But honestly, I feel pretty invisible and alone around her.
It’s taken me over a decade to recognize that what my mom has done and is doing to me has a name—abuse. The way she treats me and the things she says to and about me aren’t “normal,” and it isn’t my fault. After doing my own research, and seeking wise counsel, I couldn’t deny it anymore.
Something I’m learning about people who hurt or even abuse others is that they’re usually people who have been hurt. “Hurt people, hurt people” as they say. And my mom certainly had a rough upbringing. Her father was angry and physically abusive to people most of his life. Her step-mother emotionally and verbally abused her. All things she has carried into our relationship. Her biological mother abandoned her, and even though mine hasn’t physically abandoned me, she has emotionally.
Not only that, but she deals with anxiety and depression. She also suffers from Lupus and other health issues. Even though my mom isn’t displaying love for me, I’m still trying to choose to have love in my heart for her. I’m choosing to have empathy for her. I am also working on learning how to set healthy boundaries. It’s okay to love the people who hurt you. Jesus tells us to love our enemies. But that doesn’t mean you have to continue to overlook what they’re doing. I have to remind myself not to believe the hurtful things she says to and about me, because her words do not define me, God’s do. Part of my boundaries mean I don’t talk much to her since I can’t control the way she reacts.
It’s hard for me to rationalize why God has allowed me to be in the situation I’m in. But thankfully I don’t have to. I just have to trust Him and have hope. That’s easier said than done, I know. Because some days I just don’t want to do that. I want to scream and cry and blame Him for all of it. And if I’m being honest, sometimes I do. But our God is so good. And with words laced with grace, love, forgiveness, and mercy, He draws me back to Him. When I am weak, He is still strong. His grace is sufficient for me, and His power is made perfect in my weakness. He is carrying me through this deep valley. He is teaching me how to love and forgive my mom, even when the pain is crippling. Pain is real, but so is hope. And I have hope because I believe God is good, even when life isn’t.
But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. Jeremiah 17:7 NLT