My mother and I have been estranged for a bit over 5 years now. This is the third estrangement in my adult years. Each time I have reached the boiling point and have voiced my opinion of the pain she causes me. She retreats and decides if she cannot have the relationship of need that she wants there is no relationship at all. During each estrangement I have healed a bit more of the scars created by my mother’s need to be mothered by me. Below is the final letter I wrote her in an attempt to continue the healing process, but also leave a door open in case she would embrace any change:
October 27, 2012
I know you opened this letter with just a bit of trepidation. You wonder if the purpose of this letter is one of judgment or attack. Please know this letter comes from a place of compassion, peace and understanding; understanding and compassion for you and for us. Please know it was necessary to walk away to finally come to this place.
I thought years ago I had forgiven you only realize I never did. I held you to a different set of standards of judgment then I did everyone else. I now know, not only was this wrong, but my motivation was coming from my own place of scarring because of the nurturing and sense of stableness and security I never received in the home I grew up in. I have come to realize that this was truly no one’s fault but strictly circumstance. In reflection, I would not change a thing as every wound, every experience has brought me to where I am now and my realization of my true role and part I played in our relationship.
You never set out to ever hurt me. It was never about me. What I have come to realize is you brought the scared, un-nurtured little girl to your adulthood and she never healed. Your coping mechanism for survival was to find someone to be there for you and make things better. To give you a sense of being taken care of and being made to feel that no matter what this person, me, would make things okay. Without realizing this, you gave me and taught me this role. It was not right or wrong, it just was. I took this into my adulthood and even when I felt resentment towards you for placing me in this role, I always felt the need to keep my feelings suppressed and did what you needed me to do at the time. I know now it was wrong not to tell you how I felt every time you used the phrases “Can you” or “I need a favor” and how they made me feel. As you still had issues with your scarred little girl inside I too still had issues with my little girl. I am not telling this for you to feel bad. I know you did your best at the time and that you still struggle with your demons. What’s different is I have come to understand that your behaviors are not ever meant to hurt me and have never been about me.
I have come to a point where I am willing to let go of trying to plan and control my life. I surrender all that to God as he is better at it then I am. I believe I am here to fulfill a purpose and He will let me know what that is. I also know that I am not to judge you as He has a purpose for you too. Only you can find what that might be. I know you think your life is over and you can’t fix anything, but you’re wrong. As long as you get up and still have breath you have life. We all decide to be grateful and happy right where we are or we decide we are not happy. It is up to all of us.
I know you have suffered inside. I can’t begin to know what it must have been like for you to battle your illness and deal with your scars. I just want to tell you truly with all my heart that I don’t need to forgive you because there is nothing to forgive and I am sorry for holding you to a different standard than everyone else. You are living your journey as I am living mine.
What is different now is I am releasing myself from that role of feeling like I need to fix things for you when you call upon me. That does not mean I don’t love you, it just means that this is not a role that is healthy for either of us.
If you want to see me or call me I will welcome you. However, if you don’t call I understand that too. The choice going forward is yours. I know I will see you from time to time at family functions and I will always love you as my mother. I am still a work in progress, as are you, and I continue towards learning more about who I truly am and am slowly tearing down my defensive walls. Walls I created unknowingly as protection. I now know I don’t need protecting.
My wish for you is to truly find happiness and peace within yourself. I have come to learn the only person needed for nurturing is within you.
I have heard nothing since this letter and on few occasions of seeing my mother she is distant and cold. I know now that some relationships and scars are just not meant to heal, but lessons are to be learned and you are to move on. It is just more difficult when the person is a parent to be able to cut your losses and move forward.