Mother’s Day is a painful reminder, not of what I lost, but what I never had.
I know what you’re thinking, but no, my mother did not pass away from a battle with crippling illness, or a shock car accident. In fact, she’s alive and well still living in the family home.
My mother was emotionally abusive for the better part of the 20-something years I lived with her. She deprived me of all maternal love as a child and asserted control over me through stalking, isolation and vile name-calling.
For many, Mother’s Day doesn’t look as rosy and uncomplicated as it does in Kmart catalogues. But I learned that while it’s scary, it’s important to let go of toxic relationships, even if it goes against everything the world says is natural.
From the outside looking in, my mother was a saint. It was incredible how well she could balance her two personas. It was only natural for her to offer feasts to anyone who came over. Those who visited knew to come on an empty stomach because it was a sure bet they would get fed.
But before the latch on the door could clip closed on their way out, she would be verbally tearing my friends to shreds, telling me how my friends were “sluts” and ”bad influences”, and how they were the reason I had grown up “all wrong”.
My friends were the type to be on the debating team or passing on the latest Penguin Classic to read, by the way.
One by one, she banned those closest to me from entering our home.
Her vile tongue soon turned from my friends to me. I was now the “slut” when I wanted to go to birthday parties, or be friends with boys, or even be friends with girls, who had boyfriends.
To escape the criticism and maybe, just maybe, gain her affections for once, I plunged myself into study and sport. But not even lugging home a wheelbarrow of academic awards was an antidote to her abuse.
But she wasn’t incapable of loving – she adored my eldest brother, and she had a very different set of rules and expectations for him. The two of us doing the exact same thing would elicit two different responses.
My mother’s constant rejection was crippling. She made me feel worthless.
And it only worsened once I hit the age of 18. Her behaviour had become dangerous to my mental health, and led me to the precipice of depression. And as I realised that, her behaviour worsened.
My mother started stalking me.
Despite being legally allowed to drink, drive and vote, my mother would arrive at my workplaces in the middle of my shifts, just to ask my boss if I had gone to work that day lest, in her mind, I was lying to her and gone to take drugs and meet up with strange men. “We don’t trust you,” she would utter in her seemingly logical and reasonable defence to why she was following me around the state.