This post deals with sexual assault and abuse and might be triggering for some readers.
I don’t love my mum.
I can already hear the choruses of people asking, "Surely you still love her just a little bit?" But no. I don’t love her. And I don’t feel bad about that because she didn’t love me first.
It wasn’t until I heard of another estranged child say "they didn’t love me first" that I realised my feelings were valid.
Watch: The Mamamia team confess the weirdest thing that's brought them to tears. Post continues below.
He’s right. Our parents started this. We spent our entire childhood loving them in the hope they would love us back.
Often, people spend their entire adulthood trying to win their parent’s affection too. And it’s okay if the time comes when you can’t take anymore and you realise you never loved your parent either.
How could you love them? They never let you. What happens is we love the idea of our parents. We love their potential to be good, even if that potential is imagined.
I feel judged for not loving my mother. I can understand this from other people’s point of view. They have a healthy template for relationships that was handed down to them by their parents because they loved them. They are trying to put themselves in my shoes, but they can’t. They can only imagine what it would be like to not love the sort of mother they have.
My mother is not like those mothers. In fact, she wasn’t a mother at all. I was the parental figure.
I looked after her. I protected her. I regulated her emotions. I made excuses for her. I loved her.
But it was not the love of a healthy mother-daughter dynamic. This love was laced with desperation, anxiety, duty, and a constant feeling of not being good enough.