I’ve started reading The Emotionally Absent Mother. So far, while it is not necessarily an easy read, I’ve found it helpful. I’ve found it helpful to be able to split a mother’s role into multiple parts. I didn’t have an abusively neglectful mother, but I didn’t have and don’t have an emotionally satisfying relationship with her either… one where I felt I could go, where I felt contained. And she didn’t keep me safe from my brother – in fact, she actively advocated that ‘he didn’t know better’.
But I have fond memories too, and I have always found this confusing – so one thing the book has done is make it less confusing. I am also though trying not to read through it at the speed of light, and I’ll probably go back through the beginning and maybe blog my way through some of the questions.
But one thing I’m really considering is this feeling of scarcity – this belief that there was not enough Mother or not enough resources to go around as a child – and this has really resonated with me. I can’t remember anything negative from prior to my brother being born – I do remember an absence from my Mom for a period of time but nothing negative.
Then I remember having to share my brother and suddenly my mom not having enough left to give me. And then regardless of what I needed if he needed anything, he got it. And it was rationalized that he was ill and not in control and that I could take care of myself – but it was in those moments I needed Mother and did not get her.
And it wasn’t just emotional connection, it was also food and belongings. Whatever my brother wanted he got. I would go to work and my mom would leave me a dinner at home and he would eat it. Or there would be appetizers before a family dinner and there wouldn’t be any left for me. Everything became a race.
I think it’s partially why I am so clingy, why I was always ALL IN with my friendships and convinced if they weren’t hanging out with me they would end. I think it’s also where all my food issues come from. I SCARF down food, I eat the whole package or bag of chips, I drink the whole bottle of wine, as if I put it back in the fridge it would disappear again.
This feeling of scarcity, of there isn’t going to be enough left for me – it’s important, I can tell.