Letter to My Estranged Mother (Part 2)

So three letters have arrived since my letter to you three days ago. And all filled with justifications, explanations and analysis of why our past relationship isn't the painful one I have experienced.

You've even backed your explanations up with quotes from eminent adoption experts to support your position. It feels like you are telling me that I have got it wrong all these years (even if I can see it might be an attempt on your part to make me feel 'better' about our relationship). But frankly, the way to do so is not by making my experience out to be 'wrong'. You're gaslighting me now as you always have done.

If I gave your words the same power now I have done in the past, they would make me feel diminished and insecure. But don't worry, that's not what I do anymore.

To put it clearly -

  • If your goal is to try and change my childhood experience, it is impossible. Past experience and emotion cannot be changed. The way I experienced it then, was real and always will be. My experience is that I lived in fear of you for years.
  • If you want me to support your belief that you 'have always been a loving, affectionate person, and [I was] not stinted of love' therefore, I'm afraid this is also impossible. My experience was far from that (and there's nothing you can do about this either).

But I also want to tell you - if you are interested - that I have no need to feel 'better' about our past, because it is impossible that I could feel more wonderful about it than I do.

You were an actor in my experience but it was mine and mine alone. I thank you for being part of it and for contributing so fully. And whilst my childhood experience may be painful for many reasons, it is at the same time this pain which has freed my understanding and broken my prison. I now am truly joyful and grateful for the experience. I am free. And more than many.

My contentment is the product of years of therapy, reflection and personal development. It is - essentially - the product of accepting who I am, instead of who you wanted me to be. I've accepted this truth and am easy about it. You would like to make yourself right about the past and therefore make me wrong in my experience. But I will not change my opinion of the past, even if I can reframe it.

We both had experiences which was our individual perception of what happened. Our experiences were vastly different. Life is indeed funny like that. Two people can experience the same event totally differently - it's called subjective reality.

I know this is hard to accept. I understand more than you know...

Because in order to move forward together I have to equally accept that your subjective reality was one where you were a loving parent despite my experiences.

I hate that but it's the truth.

Just as you cannot invalidate my feelings to move forward, neither can I invalidate yours. I cannot be 'right' in my judgement of your actions or events in our past. In fact I have to let go of any judgement. I have to accept what you say. That you did everything out of love, even whilst I experienced it very differently. I have to accept your subjective reality as your truth. That's a tough call, but I've done it.

So where do we go from here?

We will go nowhere if you persist in the explanations, clarifications, judgements, opinions, beliefs around what happened in our relationship. In fact the more you do this, the more it reinforces my experience that you are stuck in your past experience and this polarizes us.

We have each claimed our respective subjective realities to be 'the' one and only truth over the years, but as it turns out there is no one and only truth. We can't change our realities, only accept that my experience is true for me as your experience is true for you. I am not trying to make you wrong. But nor will I undermine my own reality to make you right which is what I did for most of my childhood.


The Maternal Narcissism Trail


Growing up with a maternal narcissist - a mother who views you as an extension of herself - teaches you to suppress your sense of self in order to be loved. It warps you, stunts you, in such a way as you may never recover. It makes you insecure, hypervigilant and highly susceptible to abusive relationships in adult life. It's horrific, but there is hope, recovery and validation together with others who have experienced it. There's far too many of us.