I am not going to get what I need from my Mom.
She is always going to be in disarray. She is always going to be unable to see me for me. She is always going to be in the thick of her own emotional and mental turmoil, with a sticky layer of alcohol, and she is never going to be able to see things from my perspective.
I am never going to get what I need from her (and fuck that hurts) and I haven’t decided what to do about that and her presence in my life. I don’t need to know right now.
But I can get pieces of what I need elsewhere.
And it is never going to be enough. There is always going to be a hole where only the directive and attuned love of a mother should live. But right now the hole is SO large that all that can fill it is grief. I have to patch that hole.
I had a phone conversation yesterday with the Aunt who made my wedding miserable. We haven’t spoken about it, the fact that her telling everyone else she was upset messed with me for months amidst the chaos. But, she did reach out and send me a package for Valentine’s day. She sent me a letter and a card. And then some emails. So I reached back. And yesterday we connected on the phone for an hour and a half. And she listened to the story of my life, to the worries. She identified and only related back to her when appropriate. In essence, we had the conversation I always want to have with my mother. And at the end when I said I should call her more she said “oh darling, you go live your life, and call when you can. Don’t feel like you have to make me a check mark. I don’t want to be a source of stress for you.” S’cuse me what? I’m under no obligation to talk to you?
From my Aunt, I can get someone in my real life to tell day to day stories.
I crave kind and loving touch. Not from a lover, that’s my husband’s job and he does well at it. But from a mothering perspective my Mom’s touch has always been borderline aggressive. Like she doesn’t know how to do it. Her shoulder squeezes are too hard, her pats just a little off. She is really good at the hair stroking but that’s not something I expect to get from anyone at 28. Replacing that touch is hard. However, my physiotherapist, C, is really kind and gentle and you can tell she cares. My massage therapist, R, is a trauma focused massage therapist and I swear love emanates from every pore of her body with everyone. I get hugs from N (yoga therapist) and A that vibrate with care. As N says I have to surround myself with people who give me what I need in a way that changes the harshness of the hurt. It dulls the ache. And this will never be able to be fulfilled by my mother – but I can have some form of positive touch from my practitioners.
From my practitioners, I can get positive, mothering-esque touch.
I have been scared to go back to the doctor since I was sexually assaulted. It’s time for my pap (OK I’ll admit its way overdue) and I find myself panicking at the idea of it. My doctor is an adorable stout middle aged Asian man who is lovely – but he is a man. And I don’t feel like going to see a new doctor solely for a pap. So I’m returning to my naturopath. I remember wanting her to be my mother two years ago when I first met her. She is warm and nurturing and kind and I cried and she listened. And I feel like she will hear my worries and assist with the sudden overwhelming fear I have about my pap.
From N I have a partner in my therapeutic care. Someone who holds space for me and allows for the messiness to emerge. Someone who is a bit of a straight shooter but understands the difficulty of what’s going on. Someone who has walked the path I’ve walked and reframed her relationship with her mother and has survived.
With A I have an incredible relationship. One designed for me to attach to her. She offers corrective (although fucking painful) experiences to the experiences I had as a child. I genuinely believe her when she says she cares for me.
So from these three I soak up the idea of being held in a safe container of care. And yes, I do pay them all, but in my head that’s how I take care of them, and appreciate them. Because for the relationship to work in a way where it’s modeling the care I would have received as a child, it can’t be about them. For it to be safe for everyone, there have to be boundaries.
From A, N, and Dr R. I receive the gift of unconditional love based on my worthiness simply as a human – where I am free to be me, in space held specifically for that purpose. Space nobody else is allowed to invade.
And that last one, having space held for me and my needs, is what I was missing the most as a child. Privacy and space with my adults. Space and time to connect with them that nobody else was allowed to be a part of. To form a relationship that didn’t rely on the actions of others to exist. To form a relationship that was about me. And not about me supporting them in their relationship with my brother.
Because ultimately I have to find it in myself to believe that I’m worthy. I have to create that nest within – that home, inside of myself. But it was never modelled for me. I never had the ‘fly from the nest’ moment where you know the nest is safe to return to and even though you may need it less you trust that the nest will be there. That it will be safe and warm and welcoming.
I was pushed out of the nest too early and spent 18 years trying to claw my way back in, occupying whatever space I was allowed but craving more. And when I got the first chance to fly, I flew as fast as I could away from the nest. But that home base, that anchor point of ‘home’ has never really existed. I never did the returning to home when I felt unsafe dance. I never did the push/pull of coming and going. Because home was never safe. So I just left it, and never experienced safety and belonging in an environment designed to allow my growth.
So I will allow myself these replacements without judgment. I will call my Aunt when I need to, I will take the positive touch and soak it in, reminding myself I’m worthy. I will attach to N, and A, and Dr. R and let them love me, and I will continue to try to trust them.
I will build my own, adult sized nest. It will have holes, but the structure will be sound. It will be made up of a mish mash of materials from multiple sources. And I will stay in it, and emotionally live there, until I feel safe knowing that it exists and is solid and isn’t going to leave. And then I will test the waters. I will step away from these providers and come running back when it doesn’t feel safe. And they will be there. And I will do that over and over again until I trust in my new nest. Until I’ve made a patchwork quilt of love over the grief hole in my heart.
Because the old nest one wasn’t big enough for me, and nobody made room, and that sucks, and that will always hurt. Because as much as I want it to be possible, nobody can change that.
But I’m building myself a new home. One with space held for me, people to listen, people to care, and unconditional love despite what I believe about myself.
It may not be the prettiest nest. But it’s mine.