Happy Mother’s Day, Self

Dear KJ,

I know it hurts your heart. Not just every Mother’s Day, but every day you wake up. What is written on your heart is pain, left there by the woman who was supposed to be your mother. I’m not sure that pain will ever go away. I’m not sure she will ever even acknowledge how much she has hurt your heart. But that’s okay. You realize it. You know it.

I know it’s hard. I know it hurts. But you’re still standing, broken-hearted, without a mother, but still very much alive.

The things in this card are things your mother should have taught you. A hug should have never been painful; it should have been full of love and care. But you have that now. It may have taken long, but now you have people to hug you without the pain and the hurt, rather with the love and support you deserve.

I know you still feel weak and lost. You are still trying to find your way in the world. Your mother should have taught you these things, but she didn’t. She didn’t know how to be a good mom. But that’s okay. You are learning now. You are starting to trust people. It’s not at all like she told it was, You can trust. Keep trusting. You may have had a late start, but you are making your way. You’re doing it, even without her. You had to build your own foundation, with the help of others, but it’s getting so strong and solid and stable now.

You taught yourself how to be strong. You had to in order to survive. And you survived. You stood alone most of your life, when your mother should have been the one standing beside you, it was just you. But you still survived. Because you were born with a strength that could never and can never be taken away. That strength came from within you, and now you are sharing that strength with the world. You are so so strong.

You had to learn ways to survive that no child should ever have to learn. She wouldn’t let you be successful, but look at you now. You’re in graduate school with a 4.0, you’re a successful writer, and most of all you are a beautiful person inside and out. And you did that all on your own.

She did not teach you kindness, only cruelty. Yet somehow, some way, you learned how to be kind, you learned how to love. You didn’t need your mother for that. You have others there to support you now. You had (and have) yourself. So many people have been touched by your kindness. Listen to them. Remember when Sarah told you how you were so intelligent and so caring and so kind, even when you came from a place where none of those things existed? It’s the truth. You did that. Somehow you did that.

You spent your childhood having no one care about you, having no one believe in you. But you cared, and somewhere deep down, you believed. That’s why you kept going. That’s why you tried to stay alive, even when it was so much easier and so much less painful to die.

There are angels on this earth. You are one of them. I’m sorry your mother wasn’t. You deserved that angel. You deserved that mother. But even though you didn’t have it, you did it yourself. You became your own angel, your own teacher, your own believer, your own mother.

You deserve this as much as anyone else. Love yourself. Celebrate the mother inside of you that you had to be when no one else was there, when she wasn’t there. You were your own mother. You helped yourself survive, through love and care. Remember that.


KJ Continue reading

She didn’t deserve you

I was feeling rather confident going into my therapy session on Monday.

After all, I made it through Mother’s Day relatively unscathed. I felt a small sense of pride in being able to handle the holiday as well as I did. Mother’s Day is one of, if not the most, difficult holiday of the year for me.

Mother’s Day is not a pleasant holiday when your mother is a narcissistic sociopath. Mother’s Day is a horrible, painful reminder when your own mother was also your abuser.

I felt like writing those cards to myself and to my egg donor that Saturday night really put me on a better path. I got out most of what I needed to say. I read the card I wrote to myself over and over, trying to absorb its truth. And I think, in some ways, I did.

I brought the cards with me to therapy on Monday, just in case there was nothing else to talk about and I needed to fill time (Who am I kidding – there is ALWAYS something to talk about and there is NEVER enough time). I mentioned them to my therapist. She asked if I would be willing to share the one I wrote to myself. I hesitated a bit, and then downplayed the whole thing as lame. After all, who writes to themselves? It’s such a weird thing.

I got over the weirdness and took my card out of my bag. I managed to read the card all the way through without getting overly emotional. I had already read it to myself so many times within the two days prior, that the words were starting to become me. I told my therapist how I spent the day, the positive steps I took, the negative ones I avoided. She was proud of me.

But even with all of the positive things I did on that day, I found myself still missing, still grieving the absence of a mother. I laid in bed that night and stared at a picture of my egg donor for a good half an hour or so. It’s the only picture I have of her. I found it on Facebook on another person’s page awhile back and saved it to my phone. I don’t know why I did it; I don’t need any pictures of that woman. But I can’t seem to find it in my heart to delete it. So I stared at it, and went through a plethora of emotions, from sadness to anger to just feeling…blank. Here was this woman who no one really knows, pretending to be normal and decent. She even cracked a quarter of a smile. It wasn’t genuine, but at a quick glance, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.

After a while, I made myself put my phone down. I was not going to torture myself any longer. It wasn’t fair to me.

I told my therapist about that moment, about all of the emotions I was going through, about my lack of understanding on why I did it. I told her about the card I wrote to my egg donor. My therapist then asked if I would be willing to share it with her. Whew. I don’t know. My emotions were running pretty high when I wrote it. It actually took me awhile to write it, as I would write a paragraph and then put it aside and decompress for a bit before starting to write again.

I took a deep breath, got the card out, and showed my therapist what I had written on the front of the card. A little twisted humor, maybe, but truthful humor at that. I started to read it out loud. As I got closer to the middle of the card, talking about how I thought something was wrong with me, I felt the emotions starting to come up. As I read the words I lived in fear of my own mother, I started to cry. I remembered what it was like to live in fear. As an adult, I realize how unfair that was to my child self. No child should have to fear their own parent. But that was my normal.

Through tears, I continued to read the rest of the card. By the end, I was a bit of a controlled emotional mess. I was angry, sad, lost, and empowered all at the same time. I was able to recognize that I didn’t need my mother anymore, but that didn’t change the fact that I needed a mother before and never had one.

I wanted it to be my mother that I was reading the card to. I wanted her to hear my words, to know how she has affected me. I wanted it to be her feeling for me, and not my therapist. But that will never happen. And even if it did, it wouldn’t matter. My mother is incapable of empathy. She doesn’t think she has done anything wrong. If it’s not about her, she doesn’t care. I can’t change that.

As I wiped my tears away, my therapist said “she didn’t deserve you.”

For how much of a decent human being I am, how caring and good-hearted I am, and all of that, my mother did not deserve me as a daughter. I never thought of it that way. All of this time I had been focusing on the fact that I deserved a real mother; I never thought that my mother didn’t deserve me. But my therapist. That woman didn’t deserve me. She doesn’t now.

She will never deserve me.

Mother-Yourself Day

I woke up Sunday morning to a card, a bouquet of flowers, and gifts wrapped with a bow.

They are gifts I gave to myself. They are the gifts I would have given on Mother’s Day had I had a real mother. But I never had that, so I had to improvise. In many ways, I had to be (and continue to be) my own mother. And I’m accepting that now. As much as I long for a real mother, the opportunity has passed. It’s my job now.

I went to work that morning with Courage by my side. He comes with me whenever I’m going through difficult times or doing something I’ve never done before. I didn’t know how my day would go, so I brought him just in case. He was a good coworker-for-a-day. I was able to keep myself together. I text an old friend Happy Mother’s Day without getting upset. My therapist sent me a text and it reminded me of my importance, to myself and to the world. I was okay.

After work, I changed out of my uniform, into a nice shirt, and took myself to an early dinner. It didn’t matter that I was alone. I knew I deserved something special. I knew I deserved to eat. I was going to treat myself, and I did. Surrounded by families celebrating the holiday, I sat at a table by myself, with Courage sitting in the chair next to me. I didn’t have to force myself to eat. In that moment, all of the conflict I usually experience around food was gone.

I sat and read the card I wrote to myself the night before.


You are your own mother. I know it’s hard because the woman who gave birth to you did not know how to be a mother, or maybe she just didn’t want to. The reasons don’t matter. You have had to parent yourself. You protected yourself when no one else would. You are learning to take care of yourself in the ways your mother should have (but didn’t) take care you.

I know it hurts. It hurts in your heart. It hurts in your mind. It hurts in your soul. A pain you can’t explain, because your mother isn’t dead. But she might as well have been dead, because she was never really there for you, ever.No one ever taught you how to love because your mother never loved you. No one taught you how to take care of yourself because your mother didn’t any worth in you.

But here you are. Surviving. Trying to love yourself. Recognizing your worth. Seeing all of the things your mother refused to see in you. You’ve done a great job keeping yourself alive. You got out. You mustered up all of the strength and courage you could, even when no one agreed with you or understood, and you left your mother for good.

And now you need to keep mothering yourself. It’s time to take care of you. You deserve to be cared for. Whatever that woman told you was a lie. All of those times she hurt you, that had nothing to do with you. You were just a child. It’s not your fault that she could not be a mother.

Now it’s your chance to be a mother to yourself. You can do it. You deserve it.

This Mother’s Day was the first time I didn’t break down. I didn’t dread the day, because I made it about me, not the woman who gave birth to me.

Sometimes we have to break traditions. Sometimes we have to bend society’s rules a little bit. I am my own mother now. That other woman just gave birth to me.


An Open Letter to the Children of Toxic Mothers

If you are reading this right now, I want you to know some things.

Everything you are feeling is valid.

You are allowed to be angry. You are allowed to be sad. You are allowed to be frustrated, pissed off, and mad at the world. You are allowed to feel any way you want and need to feel.

You don’t have to love your mother. Despite what society tells you, some mothers aren’t all that great. Sometimes, they are downright toxic. They may have hurt you, abused you, maligned you, or made you feel worthless. These mothers don’t deserve your love and respect. They didn’t earn that yet, and they possibly never will.

You are not a bad person for not loving your mother. Sometimes, it takes as much strength not to love as it does to love.

And if you do love your mother, even after all she’s done to you, that’s okay, too.

You know why? Because everything you feel is valid. Your heart and mind know the truth; the truth that people on the outside can’t see (or choose not to see).

Never let anyone make you feel bad for how you feel.

Go ahead and let out that anger. Go ahead and cry. You are allowed to grieve the loss of the mother you should have had, the relationship you deserved.

You are not obligated to anyone but yourself. You don’t owe your mother anything, despite what she or others may tell you.

You deserved more than a toxic mother.

I know it hurts. I feel the pain every day. I feel the emptiness within my heart where my mother should be, but isn’t. It’s a pain that only those of us with toxic mothers can understand. It’s a pain that lingers and never quite goes away. A piece of you feels like it’s missing.

You can still find that missing piece. You can still find that love and care you should have gotten from your mother. Sometimes, you find it in other family. Sometimes, you find it in friends. It may already be within you. You just have to connect the pieces.

You are worth it.

Take care of yourself. Be your own mother. You deserve it.

Mother’s Day Card

As part of my therapeutic Mother-Yourself Day weekend, I decided to buy two Mother’s Day cards: one for myself, and one for the woman that gave birth to me.

I know that woman doesn’t deserve a card. Don’t worry – I’m not sending it to her. I wanted to get the card so I could write the things I wanted to say to her but never could.

Finding an appropriate card was near impossible. They don’t make Mother’s Day cards for horrible, undeserving mothers (though really, why can’t someone do this). I must have picked up at least 50 cards. Honestly, it made me a little sad, because I realized so much of what I missed out on by not having a good mother. Finally, I came across a card that was definitely not true, but something I could easily edit to make it appropriate.

I sat at my desk last night, opened the card, and started writing. I could have written so much more, but I couldn’t fit any more words on the card.

I almost wish she could see what I wrote. I wish she could know how I feel. But even if she did, it wouldn’t matter. And I have to accept that.

To the woman that gave birth to me,

I guess, by some definitions, you are my mother. But you don’t deserve that title. Being a mother is more than just giving birth. It’s about loving, caring for, guiding, and nurturing your children. You never did that. Ever. You pretended to love your children in public view, so everyone could think you were a good mom. But you weren’t. You don’t know how to love anyone but yourself. You never cared for me. Even my most basic needs were always such a burden for you. You neglected me, physically and emotionally. You abused your own child, your own flesh and blood. You took away my childhood, and I can never get that back. You broke my heart. Why? I didn’t ask to be born. You didn’t need another child to torture.

I don’t know what you saw in me that made you hate me so much. R got your love and attention (perhaps a little too much) because he followed your every command. He didn’t know any better. But I did. I knew you were wrong all along. It just took me 29 years to figure out how to stop you. I dealt with your torture for 29 years.

I used to think something was wrong with me. Everyone else seemed to love their moms, and I never felt that connection. The only thing I could feel was fear. I lived in fear of you, my own mother. And no one could understand why, because you took us to Church every Sunday and you send us to private school and you took us shopping like any normal family would. You were the perfect mother. No one saw how evil you really were.

You ruined my childhood. You ruined my adolescence. You ruined my 20s. You will not ruin my life anymore. Because despite everything you’ve done to me, I am still standing. I am still surviving.

I’m not perfect. I’m still afraid of you. That’s how deeply you’ve affected my life. I still have nightmares. I still shake when I check the mail. I still have the memories. I’m still grieving your loss.

But I am better without you. I don’t need a mother now. I  needed one before and you chose to do what you did, you chose not to be a real mother. So I had to learn how to mother myself. I had to fill in the gaps that you have always left empty.

I do have to thank you, though. I tell myself that going through hell has been for a greater purpose. I am not the weak, worthless person you wanted me to be. I am strong. I have worth greater than you will ever get to see. I am going to make a difference in the world – because of the hell you put me through.

So thank you for forcing me to be a better human being. Thank you for showing me exactly how not to be. You are the worthless one. And you are no longer my mother.

Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day has always been difficult for me for understandable reasons.

I’ve been dreading this weekend. I didn’t get a chance to talk about it much in therapy because some other more pressing issues have invaded my life.

My therapist said to treat myself. Buy myself flowers. Do something nice. Much in the same way I re-celebrated my mother’s birthday back in January (which ended up being a celebration of PAFPAC reaching a milestone in Facebook).

So I think that is what I’m going to do. I have to work this weekend, which is good to keep me busy somewhat. But I still have unoccupied time to fill.

I want to do all of the things I wish I could’ve done on Mother’s Day had I had a real mother. Maybe I will take myself out to dinner. Maybe I will buy myself a card. Maybe I will buy my mother a card, and write all of the things I feel like I want to say to her. Maybe I will buy myself those flowers and my favorite chocolates.

Because in truth, I was my own mother. I had to take care of myself in ways that my mother wouldn’t.

There is no special day for all of the children and adults who had to grow up with absent or abusive mothers. So what are we left to do? We have to make our own day. We have to celebrate something different.