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Elle
Novelist
03.05.2011 (1276 days ago)
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The mother I knew

My mother died when I was a teenager. Many years have passed but I'm still learning about her, not from family or friends. When she married my father she distanced herself from the only friend she had and there is no family.

My mother is still a mystery to me. I discovered many things about her after her death, through letters and legal documents. Photos revealed a woman who was a far cry from the old-fashioned, prim and proper mother I knew.

Writing has helped me sort out my feelings and offered perspective. Friends never understand how I've forgiven her for the miserable childhood  I had.

As a mother I've struggled to understand the hows and the whys. I also missed the special bond most mothers and daughters have when a grandchild is born. Knowing this would not have happened didn't lessen the void. Seeing friends with their mothers sometimes hurt.

Life is a long path of recognition and learning. Not so long ago, it finally dawned on me that more than having just grown up in difficult circumstances, my mother was suffering from a mental illness.

It all came clear to me that morning. Why did I never even suspect it? I was raised not to question things, but I did. I kept it all to myself. But my mother, well, I was so afraid of her. She was so strong, indomitable.

All the crazy spells, smiling and screaming the next minute, throwing a basin full of water at me in public, trashing my room in the middle of night while raving.

Still, I didn't click. Because for years I lived with guilt, like many children who have suffered abuse, I thought it all my fault. I was conditionned to believe everything that happened was somehow my fault. It's not easy shaking those labels.

Her son from a previous marriage is schizophrenic. I wasn't told this until after she had died. It was not something my mother wanted known, another secret under the carpet. I didn't even find out he was my half-brother until I was 12. He terrorised me through my childhood. I remember my mother taking him to this centre, it was only years later that I learned what this centre was.

So here I am, all these years later, proud mummy to my gorgeous children. Who said life was easy? But one thing is for sure, you learn something every day, and with love you cannot go wrong.

Elle · 1276 days ago
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  •  Jossy: 
     
    Elle, you're not bound to your past in that it doesn't define you as a person, as a mother. You need not live in the worry of making the same mistakes or being terrible. The very fact that you think about these things shows how responsible, loving and mature you are. The way you write...I see strength, courage and a woman who has overcome adversity and processed the experiences so she is more aware, sensitive to others and capable of reaching greater and greater heights in life.
     
     1253 days ago 
    0 points
     
  •  Marta: 
     
    Elle, Thank you for opening up your youth. The youth that carries forward inside of us each day as we move forward. My mother had a nervous breakdown and was institutionalized for a year. It is a hard thing for a child to understand and a great thing when an adult can learn to love and accept that parents are people with their own problems.

    You are truly a wonderful healing person. Thank you.
     
     1272 days ago 
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  •  Elle: 
     
    Oh Ana, that must have been so hard.
    The biggest shock for me was to see my mother fall apart when she lost her hair. She went from this invincible lady to a weepy one, it was scary, heartbreaking and devastating.
    I agree with you, I can only hope I'm doing the very best for my children. Being a mother is the hardest thing I know, the sheer responsibility of it, the constant worry...Am I doing the right thing? Are they happy?
    Seeing them smiling and hearing them laugh, the sweetest thing.
    It's great finding something that helps, you're practising yoga and I write.
    The more I open up, the more I read about other people's experience, the more I grow, the more I understand.
    Thanks Ana, Xx
     
     1275 days ago·1 replies1 replies 
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  •  JennyleefromTN: 
     
    What a post that resonates with strength and moving forward with forgiveness.
     
     1275 days ago·2 replies2 replies 
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  •  AnaLewis: 
     
    Elle, I lost my mother at a young age, too. There are a lot of similarities in our upraising, as my mother once begged me to take her to a mental home and commit her, and I was too scared to do so.

    In a weird way, I think that she helped me to be a better mother, as I never wanted my children to experience the same things that I did.

    Since my mother has been gone for decades, I thought I had forgiven her, but actually, I had not. It was not until this past year, that I think that I finally have. I did a daily yoga routine that helped me forgive... I'll blog about it, as I think it would help so many of us.

    Thank you for being so brave and opening up your heart to share your childhood with us. You are not alone.

    xxxooo
     
     1276 days ago 
    0 points
     
Women on the Verge
The mother I knew