Mom in Me: My Best Friend & Biggest Bully
I wasn’t a good mother. I wanted to be. I tried to be. But I only knew as much as I learned, and what I learned wasn’t good.
My mother screamed, and hit, and hurt everyone in our home. Especially me. I was singled out for being the only girl. Given rules and expectations that didn’t apply to my brothers. Years later, I’d learn why.
I didn’t hit my daughters, more than once. Yet, they remember every detail. All I remember is losing control. I promised myself I’d never hit them, and I lied. I was a failure, and a monster. That night I cried myself to sleep, and apologized to them in the morning, promising I’d never hit them again. I haven’t. Instead, I convinced myself that screaming wasn’t hitting, so it couldn’t hurt. Decades later, I can still hear my mother's screams in my head, preventing me from moving forward.
Where was my father, you ask? Usually home, or on business trips. But when he was home, he wasn’t. Unless you call sitting in front of a TV or computer screen with a beer in hand while tuning out the rest of the room, home? I didn’t.
And yet, I followed suit with my oldest daughters. I screamed, they hurt, I drank. They screamed, I hurt, I drank. We screamed, we hurt, we drank. Cycles. Recycling trauma, generation after generation, until…
I chose to face ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences). Sometimes it’s ugly, most times it’s uplifting, but every time… I learn something new about myself. Who I am, and who I want to be.
Since facing my childhood trauma, I’ve made sense of the whys, but still face others. I was clueless, living life with people, even creating three others, all while living with the lie that I could handle it. Handle what? I had no idea. I thought I knew myself better than anyone. I was wrong.
I was living with ACEs unknowingly. Hired to work jobs, interact with people, and even attempted to build relationships with those I thought should but never would love me. How could they? I was disgusting. My mother told me that when I was five and it stuck.
Which is why I invited my mother to join me in Facing ACEs. I’m ready to end the cycle of abuse. The one that has run in my family, on both sides, for generations. My relationship with my mother has been rocky my entire life. She has played the role of my best friend and my biggest bully. The latter only ending later. Much later. But... better late than never.
Still, we have lots of work to do. I’m mad at her, all.the.time. And yet, I’m not. She’s wonderful. Helpful. Thoughtful. Which has always confused the part of my brain that knows, my mother’s scolding went beyond groundings and takeaways. And what she took away is still taking me time to recover. My trust, my worth, my self.
Both of my parents have been hurt by their own. They’re both survivors of ACEs. They taught me what they knew, or thought would be better. They did better. I did better, and yet, I didn’t. It’s not easy. I get mad at how my parents hurt me. I get mad at myself for hurting others with my triggers and anger, both consequences of ACEs that I denied and hid. But I understand why. At least, I’m beginning to. We’re all healing, together.
Thankfully, biology and history are not destiny. Many of the effects of ACEs can be reversed. Relationships are key and having a healthy, supportive, reliable one with a Trusted Adult has an extraordinary capacity to strengthen people – children and adults – against the damaging effects of childhood trauma.
Like my mother and me. Regardless of the outcome, I’m proud of us for being ready and willing to Face ACEs. And I’m excited to see how our relationships, with each other and ourselves, evolve.