Mom-this is a loaded word. They are our first love- literally. We are dependent on them and often the place of our biggest wound. Many of us have what is referred to as the “mother wound” defined by Project Lotus as “the pain, wounding, and trauma that’s carried by a mother and inherited by her children, with daughters facing the brunt of this wound. Even if a mother is physically present, having a mother who is not emotionally attuned and available to you when you were a child can still cause pain.”
This defines my relationship, growing up with my own mother, in a nutshell. She was emotionally unattuned to me because of the traumas that she herself carried being the adult child of alcoholism and the victim of violent crime.
As I sit here today, it is the 10th anniversary of her passing and none of that matters. I love my mother. As a child, she couldn’t see me because of her pain so I thought my job was to get her to see me. I became her caregiver at 5 years old and by 13 I was her judge. I had come to erroneously believe that I knew better than her. You know the pride of a teen can be savage. Add to that an Enneagram 2w1-forget about it.
Pride is our sin and for most of our life we can’t even see it because we think that we are right and judging for others’ good. The truth is, I was hurt but did not know how to tell my mom. Instead, I blamed her for it. I blamed her for my pain- isn’t that always the way. We don’t like something in our life, we feel a certain way and then we make the people we care about most pay for it. I think I may have inherited that too.
The reality I am only now learning, with some really great help (yes, therapists, coaches and mentors), is- it was actually what I was thinking and believing that caused my own suffering, my own mother wound. Mom was mom-she was doing her best and loved me to the extent that she was able. No more no less.
I thought she was not doing what was right because it was not what I would do. Yes, my 15 year old brain had me thinking I knew it all! No, she did not, she did what she thought her personality told her to and what her training or lack there of taught her. But because I was at odds with what was, I thought mom was wrong. I was angry, sad and felt unloved- none of which came from her at all. I can see that now so clearly. My pain was caused by my thinking and judgment of her, not her at all.
As a mother now myself of three young adults from 18 to 24 years old, I really am doing my best. But I have done a lot of unintentional damage. I took them to the zoo, the parks, was the stay-at-home mom for years. I baked cookies, went to the school awards ceremonies and all the choir concerts and basketball practices. But I also did not listen to them, I blamed them, freaked out when they did not listen to me. I yelled and said things that impacted them.
I did my best, but I am human. Sometimes my pain spilled out on them even when what I was feeling had nothing to do with who they are or what they were doing. That has been a hard pill to swallow. I am human and a work in progress. I hope one day they will see that they did nothing wrong, and see their own childhood experience clearly as I am beginning to see my own.
My mother’s name is Sharon, a free spirit who loved music and people. My mother loved her children- me and my younger sister Meghan. She loved family and was a beautiful person who would give you the shirt off her back. A social worker at heart and a cashier by day. She was a beautiful singer whose dream was to sing back up for someone like Aretha Franklin. My mom had a lot of soul and loved her friends. She taught me to love others, to think beyond myself and to accept everyone.
My mom always fought for the “underdog” and loved a good comeback story. My mom loved the Lord and as she aged, I got to see her cultivate a spiritual relationship. She taught me one of the most valuable lessons I have ever learned- to forgive. She forgave her own mother and I got to see the evolution of that relationship first hand. It was beautiful to see two women, so different in their approach to the world, develop intimacy and respect for one another.
My grandmother passed away in January of 2012 and only 13 months later, my mother in March of 2013. I believe my mother died of a broken heart because after forgiving and understanding her own mother, she became her best friend.
I am grateful for my mother. Not because she was a perfect mother, like we see in the Hallmark movies, but because she was perfect for me to heal and learn from. I choose to see my childhood now for what it was- perfect for me. Loved by her and many others, I had exactly what I needed to be who I am today. I have hope knowing that who my mom was for me and her mother before her, I am for my children- the source of their pain that will lead to their own healing and evolution. Thank you and I love you mom.
Sharon K. Melton 10/10/1950-3/27/2013