If your mother was mentally ill, undoubtedly Mother's Day, for you, was not the
holiday it was supposed to be.
In fact, the very existence of mothers who are emotionally and
psychologically unfit to mother, as well
as the experience of having a mentally ill mother, is still taboo and most
commonly, a conversation left unspoken.
When a mentally ill mother "passes" as normal, often there is no one who reflects back to the
child that there is something seriously amiss in the behaviors and expressions
of the mother, and yeowwwww, that lack of acknowledgment and support hurts.
The kind of hurt that is lifelong and personality bending.
Dark secrets are held in the hearts of these children, self-esteem is
nowhere to be found, emulated or developed, and shame is deeply felt.
For every Mother's Day tribute urging a shout out and outpouring of
gratitude for Mom, there is a bellowing rebuke to those for whom celebrating
Mom would not only be crazy, but wrong.
For every sentimental essay and love letter to mother, the woman who "taught
us to be women and men", the message is a queasy reminder that no such
role model was present for children who lacked the loving reflection and
guidance of a mentally well mother.
For every Mother's Day article advising that we seek to be better daughters and sons, the missing piece is that if a mother is mentally sick, chances are
100% that the child has tried just about everything to win the impossible love
of that mother.
These children can legitimately be regarded as experts in the strategies of
being "the good child".
They were experts as children. They
had no choice.
Children who fail to be loved by the mentally ill mother become grown
children who feel that they, themselves, are at fault, for failing to be
"good enough" to be loved by Mom.
Today, on Mother's Day, I salute all those who were cast into this role as
"the good child", having to survive a mentally ill mother.
Your job has been to separate from your mother's illness, a heroic task;
and acknowledge the loss of the mother
you wanted to have, one of the hardest psychological truths in life to face.
I hope that on each Mother's Day, and the days in- between, you are able to
understand and celebrate the love you have to give, and the fierce strength in
you, that kept you alive!
Bravo, and remember:
The world is full of people who can and cannot love.
Choose only the lovers.
I am a writer, media analyst, and psychotherapist. I'm interested in comedy, satire, politics, entertainment, pop culture, and business; exposing how the media powerfully spins the news we hear, and how this spin creates our feeling states and (more...)