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.


7 thoughts on “Scarcity

  1. It’s so confusing when your mother wasn’t a “bad” mother and good memories of her exist. It makes things so confusing. It’s hard to hold such different ideas. Hugs. I’ve been working through similar things since Mother’s Day. It’s not easy.

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  2. I started reading that book and found it too upsetting, so I returned it to the library after chapter one. (I may revisit it at some point but I can’t deal with too many things at one time.) May I say anyone who has the courage to keep reading and grappling with that intensity has my utmost respect!!

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  3. Ps I also dealt with food scarcity thanks to my brother. I would hoard and hide food / leftovers in my bedroom. My mom also would. If my brother found it, he would fly into a rage. I ate more than I needed at dinner, quickly, just because I knew he would take the rest. Seriously fucked up.

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  4. I’m still working through this book, too (just finished Part 1) and it’s bringing up so much that I had to stop for a while. Think of what people do when there’s a scarcity of food – they do whatever they can to get it. And so do we, with attachment and love. This isn’t “bad” – it’s instinct. And that’s what this book is showing me so far, as painful as it is to uncover what has happened, is happening, and will continue happening in regards to my family. Sending you a hug xx

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  5. It feels so important. Both the emotional aspect and the food/belongings.
    It’s difficult to be like, “I didn’t get ___ from my mom but I did get these positive things”. Reconciling all of this is hard.
    The concept of scarcity feels relatable to me too. I guess, as I look at it, I wonder, how do we fix it? I don’t know if you’re wondering that too or if that’s just how my mind works. I don’t have an answer, I don’t know how we let go.

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