Some time ago I started a board at Pinterest and titled it Momma. Collecting pictures that reflected the good mother has helped me in my healing process from mother-daughter sexual abuse. Today I honor the mother in us all.
A member of European Parliament Licia Ronzulli took her 1-month-old baby to the Parliament session in Strasbourg. She wanted to make a point about the difficulties women face in trying to juggle careers and child care.
“I have learned that a woman can be a fighter, a freedom fighter, a political activist, and that she can fall in love and be loved. She can be married, have children, be a mother. Revolution must mean life also; every aspect of life.” ~ Leila Khaled
I hate Mother’s Day. It has never been a good day for me. It has always been a triggering day for me. Considering the mother that I had, I don’t see how it could be any different. When your own mother is your sexual abuser, Mother’s Day is a loaded and negative day, one that keeps on giving.
I want this year to be different. I want to set myself on the road on this day that I want to walk in my effort of healing from mother-daughter sexual abuse. I want to make things better for myself. I want to heal. I want to honor mothering in the world; in me, in others, in the world, from the earth.
Today I honor my ancestors, whom I came from, and without them I would not exist. I honor all the women who bore all the children of the world. I honor all the good mothers. I honor all the women who mother others and/or themselves. I honor all the men who mother others and/or themselves. I honor all the children who mother others. I honor all the animals and creatures in the world who mother others. I honor all the pets who mother us all. I honor nature who mothers and sustains us. The honor the Great Mother Earth who mothers us all. I honor me and all the mothering that I/we give to one another in our system and all the mothering that we lovingly give to others. Today I honor us all!
Good and healing thoughts to us all.
Besides being a mother-daughter sexual abuser, my mother was an eating disorder. As a baby she would sometimes refuse to feed me. She would stop me before I got enough food.
Later she would give me soured milk in my bottle and then take it away when I wouldn’t drink it and say, you don’t drink it, you get nothing, like it was my choice not to have food. No one else was there to notice or to stop her. I knew. I remembered. My body remembered. I was underweight. I was underweight all my childhood.
As a toddler she would take away my naptime bottle from me and give it to my brother. She would offer me food if I would sit or lay still while she abused me or if I would do whatever she instructed me to do when she was sexually abusing me. I abhorred what she wanted to do to me.
As a pre-schooler she would deprive me of food. Any time there were family members I would get food. I could have breakfast each morning. Whether or not I could keep it in my stomach was another matter.
I hated being touched by her. I hated everything about her body. I hated her with a passion. I remember being three and four years old and being consumed with wanting to beat her to death with my bare hands. She would make me vomit up breakfast if she did not think I was cooperating, or sometimes even when I did everything she asked when she was enraged as revenge against some imagined slight or wound, and then she would refuse to give me lunch. The evening meal was often the only meal that I had.
At times I was so gnawingly starved that I did not fight her. Sometimes I did not have the energy to do it. She was huge and powerful. Or I did not have the will to do it. I was tiny and powerless. Or I did not have the mind focus to hide from her or to avoid her or to become invisible right after all the family members left the house and she would catch me. I was a pre-schooler. I was a little child.
At no time have I ever blamed myself for being sexually abused by my mother, not to me, not to us. Some of us inside our multiple system have blamed and some still do blame themselves for not being loved by her, for not being nurtured and cared for by her, for not being protected and fed by her, and for being physically, emotionally, verbally, and sexually abused by her. She constantly blamed us. It was inevitable that her words would become our own inner critic voice, word for word.
Weekends were good. I had witnesses. I am so thankful to my father and family members for being there. I am thankful to them that they were not keeping food from me and I believe that they would not have cooperated with that if they had known. Everyone expected food. Food was a big part of our family life. It was a joy that we all took part in.
She was the person to dish out the food for each person at our table, for every meal. She controlled food in my life, completely.
I cannot express the joy at getting out of that house and going to school at age five. I could eat three meals a day. I was ecstatic. I wasn’t being raped. I wasn’t being beaten. I wasn’t being starved. It was a safe haven. And I was learning. Knowledge, my new obsession.
As a teenager she tried to make me fat. I was deathly afraid of being fat and cruel like her since I was very tiny. I had gained about twenty pounds around age fourteen as I was developing. I stopped eating treats, started running and doing exercises every evening and she went breserk.
She confronted me alone and threatened me. She said I would eat everything she gave me in my lunchbag or else I would regret it. She was hysterical about it all. I told her I wouldn’t and there would be nothing she could do about it and from now on I wouldn’t give it away to anyone else on the bus for my brothers to see and rat me out to her, so she would never know if I was eating everything or not. It was one of the times that I had answered her back and stood up for myself around food.
I didn’t have an eating disorder. My mother was an eating disorder in my life.
I do have disordered eating, at times, and have a very skewed concept of eating, portions, nutrition, and food preparation. She refused to teach me cooking or baking. She would describe the process in magical terms, always reminding me that I wasn’t good enough or smart enough to do what she did with food. She did that whole pinch of this, a handful of that, to taste sort of cooking. That, she made a huge point to always tell me, was way beyond my capabilities.
Everything about food had become over-shadowed with her and all the ways that she stopped me and abused me and used me around food. Since everything about food was consumed by my parental sexual abuser and with my supposed inadequacies and undeservedness of food, it makes food a very negatively charged topic. And the fact that you have to eat every day, with that heavy load in your mind and heart, to help your body be sustained, it is very hard, a very real challenge, at 2 and 6, and 14 and today.
I realize that I have developed a number of ways to have and work on connectedness. But I do not have a connection to food. And that would seem pretty elementary of a thing for someone to have. I have always been afraid that being more connected to food will make me gain a lot more weight.
Being overweight to begin with fuels my fears. I have to deprive myself so much, because I gain weight easily and due to my health limitations cannot walk much or run at all, which are usually necessary for keeping my weight down. Being starved as a tiny child means that my body is in self-defense mode each time I eat and don’t eat, and it compensates to keep me alive.
It’s very hard to lose weight. I have to deprive myself, but it is sort of necessary in order to lose weight. I hate to do that. It is so much like living with my mother and being abused and starved. It can be so triggering. It feels as though I am abusing myself.
The kinds of abuses my mother did to me around food in the furtherance of her sexually abusing me has made food an integral part of child sexual abuse. It disconnected me from food. It was a way of coping. It was a way of surviving.
It is normal for someone to have a strong connection to food, but we don’t have one. So starting today, on Mother’s Day, I will start working on establishing my connectedness to food. I am planning on posting more about my weight loss efforts, my small indulgences that glory in food, my continuing efforts to make food, and my gluten-free cooking and gluten-free foods I have tried and hated and tried and loved.
This is all about the abuses my mother perpetrated against me, both sexual and otherwise, and the damage and aftereffects of mother-daughter sexual abuse. I will be striving to make food a central and loving part of my life, one that is loving and life-affirming, one that is healing, one that sings of nurturance and joy, one that allows me to maintain a more healthier weight.
I wasn’t going to write at all on this subject, but someone came to the blog on Friday from a search engine search, quotes about what mother taught me. I was very disconcerted to see that someone came to my blog from that search and went to my post Truths My Mother Taught Me.
I’m sincerely sorry to the person who came to this post. No, you didn’t find some ultimate pretty truth about a loving mother. No, this is not a place to think good thoughts about mothers and all the good that they do in the world or in one child’s life. Really I am sorry. But I really had nothing to do with the kind of mother I had. My female parent did. I hope you find what you were looking for, elsewhere. I hope you have the kind of mother who deserves to be honored this weekend.
No, my parent wasn’t a mother. I usually don’t call her one either. Usually I refer to her in as accurate a way as I can, she was the female parent. I don’t usually use the word mother, sometimes I will say my mother to say something about her mothering, not that she was a mother, but that she was a lousy mother. She was never really a mother to me.
Many years I refused to have anything to do with her on Mother’s Day. Once I told her why. I said, you were not a good mother to me. I thought that she should get in return what good she had given to me, nothing.
This time of year, since her death, has been hard and triggering, well it’s always been hard and triggering. Last year I don’t recall how it affected me. I was too busy dealing with the chaos and dysfunction run rampant in the whack job house I was living in, with the nut jobs that lived there.
I’ve been thinking about Mother’s Day this past week. My thoughts are usually very dark. This year it seems as though something has shifted. I’ve been feeling and thinking more positively.
I can, even at this time of year, feel happy that there are good mothers out there, that they mother or have mothered a large portion of our population. For that I am truly thankful. I will try to celebrate the holiday in my heart and feel that today.
So many survivor friends have told me I would make a great mother. I would say no way. I’ve been saying no way since I was four years old. Saying no to it was a way of saying no to my mother. It was a way to humiliate her and take control of my own life. It was a way to say what an awful mother she was, so much so that her own little girl would refuse to replicate her life. It was the biggest insult I could give her.
I’m finally at a place in my life where I don’t immediately dismiss the concept of my being a mother, having mothering skills, or ever being a mother. I was talking about that recently with my best friend. She said that I would make a great mother. It was the first time in my life where I could truly let it in, where I didn’t immediately say no. Not that I am going to become a mother.
I have been mothering to many survivor friends. I know I was doing that, but liked to live in denial of that. It was just to easy too call it something else. I can admit that now. I love my survivor friends and feel so protective and tender to them and about them. Giving to other survivors fulfills my deepest need and purpose in life. But we don’t really need to call it mothering.
The Littles have been telling me how much they value the mothering that I have given them. They have been awed by all that I have given to them, my acceptance and love of them, how protective I am of them, and all that I have done for them over the years.
So many inside the system mother and care for one another. It is the hallmark of our system, we are so engaged in caring for one another. Mothering, in this case, really is self-care to the system. So even though I ran from being a mother, I/we have been one for many years, I am one now.
Today I celebrate us all.
It’s that time of year again. The time when the companies are gearing up for Mother’s Day. We all know it, they are telling you, be a good kid, buy a gift, send some flowers, make your heart sing, bring a tear to your eye to remind you, maybe to even guilt you into it. After all they are in the business of making money by selling you stuff for your mom, stuff you would never normally think to buy at this time of year, if not for this pretend holiday.
Yes there are mother’s worthy of being valued, gifted, treasured, thought of. Mine was not one of them.
So when I see those sappy commercials that sometimes wring a tear out of me, despite myself, they probably don’t make me feel what the companies intended. It also wrings out the shame and pain that I am not normal, that I am a reject, that my mother raped me instead of protected and loved me.
There isn’t a commercial out there for me. Not one that makes me a part of the group, an accepted member of our mother loving society.
In years past I often tried to stay away from television this time of year. I would inevitably watch some show, perhaps forgetting for a day or an hour that I could be free from the reminder. Though if you watch more than an hour you are usually caught, like I was, in seeing the highly vaunted motherhood commercials and how much we owe them for all they have given us and given up to mother us.
For years I refused to see my mother on that day. And years before that where I might see her but refused to give her a gift. Back then I didn’t remember the sexual abuse.
Then she died. It took me four years after her death to start remembering and feeling about the sexual abuse. Four years dead and I was still terrorized. Ten years dead and still the same.
Last year I wrote a poem for mothers day. It is called “Mother is Another Word for Rapist.” It’s a catchy title. Catchy poem too. I think an appropriate tribute to my mother.
This year I have no tv. One night while watching it, I heard a click and it turned a sicky color of green. After a year and half of that I finally threw it out.
I usually manage to see what I really need to watch online. No mother commercials so far. Good. So far, so good. I can breathe out completely for this one moment.