If you could go back to when you were a young girl, what would you say, in one sentence, to yourself that you now know? … My answer, “It’s not your fault she doesn’t love you … be ‘you’ anyway!”
I was about 14 years old in this picture at the time it was taken. Looking at it now, I see a pretty young lady. But at that time in my life I did not ever, ever feel pretty. I didn’t feel it and I didn’t think I looked it either. I saw ‘ugly.’
And its no wonder you know. When you have a mother who makes you feel that way – its easy to embrace that belief. She conditioned me to believe that I was ugly, of not great worth and, yes, even unloveable.
While we lived overseas, our grandparents – both maternal and paternal – came and stayed with us a whole month. Upon my one grandmother’s return home a relative asked how it went. She said she didn’t like how I was treated. She said she’d lost all respect for my mother. And to my knowledge, nothing more was said about that.
Being ‘treated’ differently became quite noticeable to me when we moved back to Canada, living without servants and a busy social life. By the time I was 17, her abuse started to become painfully obvious. My mother also had a favourite and it wasn’t me. I always felt, growing up, as though I was always on the outside looking in and this intensified the older I got. I was never close to any of my siblings either – looking back, I really was kind of alienated from them. It’s like I was put up with, tolerated, nothing more. I became close to my youngest sister for awhile – but looking back I know that had I not been in a certain place when a certain incidence took place, I doubt we would have ever been close. In fact, I am sure we would have never been. But, that closeness waned the last few years she was still in my life.
As I got older and especially after I got married and had children of my own, this is when I really became painfully aware of her ‘treatment’ which I didn’t know was actually abuse until, after praying, the Lord led me to a book called, “Healing the Scars of Emotional Abuse” by Gregory L. Jantz in a Christian bookstore. I wasn’t sure why, but I felt compelled to pick it up and thumb through it. Right there in the store, I started crying. ‘Abuse’ never crossed my mind. But there it was, in print, a book telling me all the things my mother did and was doing to me and it was called, ’emotional abuse.’ I didn’t want to believe it. I suppose that is why I was so upset. For many, many years, I was convinced the problem was me – not her.
I really thought that upon having children of my own, I suspected that I would then understand why my mother ‘treated’ me the way she did. I expected to have this amazing epiphany that she was actually a wonderful mother. I really did. That didn’t happen. The opposite happened. As I had kids of my own I could not, for the life of me, understand how she could abuse me the way she did. How can a mother do these things to their child?? And yet, I still tried so hard to love her into loving me – but it just made things worse. It’s like the more I tried to love her, the more she pushed me away and hated me.
At a celebratory event in my home over a decade ago is when she humiliated me for the last time … I was so hurt. And when she left, I heard God say to me, “There is nothing you could ever do or say that will ever make her love you.” I broke. I felt like I’d been shattered, stabbed through the heart … again. I did not want to hear that. But, deep down in my gut, I knew it was true.
I had tried so hard over the years to be the daughter she wanted. And in doing so, I lost who I really was along the way. I became way too focused on pleasing my mother. I became confused when trying to be who I thought she wanted me to be, only to find out years later that it wouldn’t matter who I was or who I tried to be – it would never be enough. No matter who I was – she had no affection for me (unless it was for show, which wasn’t often.)
In my gut I have always known that she didn’t love me. When I was growing up I always thought the abuse was my fault. It wasn’t. It just wasn’t in her to give. And, no matter how hard you try, you cannot make someone love you.
About three years ago, I changed my name … and how I felt about myself has changed drastically. Now when I look at that picture – I have no longer have that feeling of self-loathing, but a great love for the girl whose mother couldn’t love her. Check out: https://afreckledlass.wordpress.com/2014/01/01/a-good-name/
So now I strive to live those empowering words I would have told myself so many years ago … Strive to be who God made you to be – its gonna be a lovely adventure!
“It’s not your fault she doesn’t love you … be ‘you’ anyway!”
~ Saoirse Quill