They say there is nothing like a mother/daughter relationship, but what happens when it’s not true in the traditional way? Follow me here; what if there is so sugar, salty, sweetness that sitcoms make you believe is supposed to happen? No closeness, no soft place to land? And the reason you need these kinds of things is because you are a giant ass marshmallow…
I will be the first to admit, I am a giant ass marshmallow. Soft and squishy, way too sweet for my own damn good. My mother is nothing like that, and for a long time I couldn’t figure out why. My siblings are nothing like me (less squishy, not as needing of affection) so I thought it was me who my mom had an issue with. I thought I was the reason she couldn’t hug me or tell me she loved me. I thought she was supposed to know what I needed. I thought she knew the kind of love I needed was the kind I could feel.
To make the stakes a little higher, my mom is a single mother. She’s all I had and there was a part of me that felt she should work extra hard to make up for the absence of my father. Little did I know it doesn’t and never will work like that. For the longest time, I thought I was worth no value because my mother couldn’t love me.
When I was seventeen, it occurred to me that if I just told my mom how to love me, she’d do it. So I told her, and in response she said:
“I’ve never been [affectionate] and I’m not going to change because you want me to.”
I was devastated because I knew that meant I would never receive the affection and comfort that most people received from their parents. I figured I’d have to wait until a romantic relationship for that affection, but I also hated that idea. I didn’t want to show up to my first relationship with abandonment issues as well as the fact that as a disabled person, I knew that my likelihood of a romantic relationship was a very small one. So there was this dred that I’d be unloved and alone forever, a fear that still ruminates in my brain to this day.
The idea of showing up to a relationship with abandonment issues has yet to have the opportunity to present itself. It has shown up in my close friendships, I latched on to the people who loved me in the way I wanted and when I felt them backing up, I got scared and tried to push them out before they realized I had no value. However, I forgot one thing about them, they weren’t the same as my mom, they saw and proceeded to teach me the value of myself and the fact that who my mom is has nothing to do with me and it never did.
People come as the people they are before you get to them, parents too. So what if I just kept being the person I was and stopped looking for a certain kind of reaction from my mom? And that’s exactly what I did (and continue to work on today) and as a result, my friends and I have become a family who supports each other. I’m angry with my mother less, and I don’t blame myself anymore. My need to be loved is there, even if my mom can’t see it in the way I want her too, but I now understand her show of love. It didn’t mean that she didn’t love/value me at all, it meant I had a hard time perceiving it and it’s something I still consistently work on. Since we’re all a work in progress, that’s perfectly fine!
The last thing that helped me realize my mom was who she was and that had nothing to do with me, was the concept of Love Languages by Gary Chapman. The Love Languages quiz tells you how you love, in what format of the five categories: Words of Affirmation, Physical Touch, Acts of Service, Giving Gifts and Quality Time. I realized that my love language: Words of Affirmation is probably not my mother’s love language and when your partner has a love language you don’t understand, you adapt. Parents may not adapt, some might feel they may not have to or maybe they just don’t know how and all of that is okay. The important part to remember that just because my language doesn’t match my mom’s or vice versa, doesn’t mean love doesn’t exist; it just different.