I have a recurrent dream in which I argue, debate and scream. In this dream, I feel unheard and invisible. The dream varies in scenario and situation, but the core remains the same. I am in a bubble of some kind, where I’m talking loudly (or yelling, screaming, trying to make myself heard) to my parents, mainly my mother.
I don’t ever recall what I’m saying, but I know it’s to the effect of “Please, listen to me, you’re not always right, I have a point of view too, it’s not my fault, please, listen to me, love me, accept me for who I am.” I always wake up feeling sad and slightly out of breath when the vividness of the dream feels so real, yet surreal.
If you believe dream interpretations, I suppose you could conclude that I feel invisible to my parents, and unloved by my mother. I’ve said as much many times to my sister, my husband, and a few close friends I trust.
Is it fair of me? Because I’ve never discussed this with my mother. We don’t talk that much, maybe once a month. Our conversations range from short and practical, to longer ones where we exchange news about family members. I have never felt close to her. I have never enjoyed the kind of mother-daughter relationship I hear about. Perhaps the closest I’ve ever felt to her was when I had my first child, and I felt lost and alone, and I just wanted my Mummy. She was there for me, although just on the phone (we were geographically too far from each other). But when that passed, so did the moment.
In all my childhood memories, the good moments are filled with my sister, grandmother, cousins, a favourite uncle and his family. What I remember of my mother was that she felt distant. Yes, she did her motherly duties – driving us to school and back, cooking dinner, taking us for our various activities and extra classes. She took us shopping occasionally, and we went on vacations as a family. But I always felt slighted, my mother favouring her boys or my sister, the youngest.
I never felt ‘at home’ with my mother. I craved the kind of mother-daughter time I’d only heard about. Girls-only shopping trips, cooking and baking in the kitchen, she teaching me something she was passionate about, whatever that may be, having long talks about everything – life, boys, babies, dreams, the future.
When I was 17, I left home to study at a college two hours away. I didn’t miss home. I didn’t miss my mother. I’d come to realize by then, that my home would be where I make it, with people I choose to love, who chose to love me back. It was with people who believed me, in what I could be, what I could do. It was with people who stood by me, caught me when I fell, and propped me up when I was faltering.
When I was 19, I moved halfway across the world and I still didn’t miss her. She wrote me letters, sent me care packages. She may have even written, ‘I love you’ in those letters. I don’t remember. I didn’t keep any letters. In England, I felt further and further away from her.
I don’t remember being cuddled as a child, hugged as a teenager, and I don’t remember ever hugging my mother. We weren’t a family of huggers. I grew up with a huge need for personal space. I don’t remember ever being told, ‘I love you’, or saying it back to anyone until I fell in love the first time.
I know now that my mother loved me in her own way, though I still can’t shake the, I-don’t-feel-like-I-was-ever-loved feeling. I don’t bear her any grudges. I want to believe she tried her best, that I was not the easiest of people to love, to understand. I want to believe that she was feeling her way with a daughter, after two sons.
Will our relationship be better over time? Will we come to a kind of peace? Will I? I don’t know. As it stands, I have accepted that this, whatever this is, is what we have. This, is our relationship, imperfect as it is.
Now that I’m a mother, I don’t ever want my children to feel the way I felt, growing up. I want them to remember that their mother hugged them, told them that they are loved, that I’m someone they can talk to, always. I want to be their safe place, their home. Forever and always.
What was your relationship with your mother like?
Sharing this with Shell for Pour Your Heart Out.