“I hope some day you can be proud of her,” a woman said to me on Facebook, in regards to my mother (in response to a version of this blog post, which I originally wrote on Facebook).
Who said I’m not proud of my mother? I thought to myself.
Given what I do and what I write about it, it’s easy to assume that I am not proud of her, that I don’t admire her, or that I dislike or even hate her.
For the record, I love my mother. I admire my mother. I respect my mother. I am proud of my mother.
And what you think that means is probably not what I actually mean.
You might think it’s dangerous to have those feelings. You might think it means I do things I don’t want to do, or that I gush and go on and on about what an amazing person she is, and send her flowers and mushy Mother’s Day cards, and we go skipping off under a rainbow hand-in-hand.
What I actually mean is that I choose to feel certain feelings, on purpose.
Not because of who she is, or what she has said or done, but because of who I am, and who I want to be. An adult daughter, with the emphasis on “adult.”
(I also choose to have amazing boundaries.)
It wasn’t always that way. The emotions I used to feel ran the gamut from heart-pounding trepidation and fear to deep wrenching sadness to face-prickling, throat-closing shame to white hot rage, punctuated by what I thought was love. Sometimes pity. Sometimes disgust.
Boundaries? They were non-existent.
I believed it was her fault that I felt those emotions.
I believed she deserved it.
I believed I was entitled to those emotions and that I was protected by those emotions.
I believed (without knowing it) that if I didn’t feel those emotions, I would cease to exist. Disappear.
My identity was so tied up in those emotions because I didn’t know who I was separate from her.
The journey from chronic fear, sadness, and rage to admiration, respect, and love has been a long and curious one, for sure.
Along the way I’ve found that loving, admiring, and respecting her doesn’t mean I always agree with her (because I don’t) or that I never think negative thoughts or feel negative feelings in regards to her (because I sure do). And it most certainly doesn’t mean that she controls me or any aspect of my life. Or that there’s gushing or flowers or skipping involved 🙂
When my go-to emotions were fear, sadness, and rage I had most definitely given her control.
There are some who might say my mother doesn’t deserve my love, respect, or admiration. Or that their mother doesn’t deserve their love, respect, or admiration. Or that your mother doesn’t deserve your love, respect, or admiration.
They might say she made her bed and now she has to lie in it. Or that she’s too toxic. Or too far gone. Or that it’s just too painful. I used to say the same things.
Here’s what I know to be true: what you choose to feel is what you get to experience.
Thoughts like: “she made her bed and now she has to lie in it” and “she’s too toxic” and “she’s too far gone” and “it’s just too painful” gave me the experience of anger, fear, and hurt. Those emotions seeped into all areas of my life because I was the one feeling them, not her. I was punishing myself, not her.
I didn’t just flip a switch to start feeling love, admiration, and respect. I cultivated these emotions slowly. I started with love. I noticed how it felt. And you know what? I discovered that I LIKE the way love, and then respect, admiration, and pride feel in my body. I get to have the experience of those sensations in my body and damn, they feel amazing. It’s not a fake, “evolved” thing…it simply comes from choosing to see her as “whole” rather than “good” or “bad.”
It’s a journey, for sure, and I have created a community for women who want to take this journey with me. Make It Real is is an online coaching community where you can take back your power in the true sense of the word and connect with other adult daughters who are doing the same.
Much, much love (that I am experiencing in my body as I write this),
Reveal patterns. Heal shame. Express yourself. Transform legacies.