My mother will always fall very short of what I want, need, and deserved her to be.
I am working on coming to terms with this, alongside the understanding that she does wish she could be better.
This desire, this staring her flaws in the face and being pained by them, does not actually change the current situation.
Her ability to empathize is severely flawed by her own pain and a lack of role models. Even as she responds to expressions of pain from her children about her lack of empathy, she responds not with empathy but with explanations, justifications, and hopes for the future.
I have been in a process of healing my own inner parent for a while. As a male, I have been working on fathering my own inner child, making up for a father who was largely absent.
Compensating for a missing mother is harder because I don’t know what a good mother looks like. Having been raised in a patriarchal, gender-segregated society, I was exposed to almost no healthy femininity in my entire upbringing.
In my adult life, I have encountered strong, middle-aged women whom I deeply resonate with as mother figures. In my mind, I adopt them as my mother, they just don’t know it.
My current exercise for self-healing involves imagining them, these female figures I have collected later in life, embracing me, accepting me as I am, and creating safety.
I had one real-life amazing experience where three strong mothers held me while I balled my eyes out on a dance floor. I let myself go back there and re-experience that.
Feel what it feels like to be held.
The softness of a woman’s touch.
Feeling seen. The acceptance, in energy and word, of who you are, as you are.
Feeling compassion. What you are feeling makes sense, is accepted, is allowed.
You are safe. You are here.1
You are loved. (Damn, that’s a dirty word, that one)
Later on in my healing, I’ll probably immerse in this by age. Nurturing my six-year-old, 10-year-old, and teenage selves, respectively.
For now, just inviting myself to feel this at all, as a whole, feels very painful – and very right.
Your mother may fall far, far short of where you need her to be. This may not be her fault, but it’s also not your problem. As an adult, you can be your own mother (and your own father). The one you deserve, that one that gives you what you need.
If you are a mother to others, the better mother you can be to yourself, the better everyone else will benefit.
If you’re looking for a female romantic partner, you can fill the void that desperately wants to be filled by other women – but in reality, can only be healed by you.
Be the mother you want to see in the world.
- A thank you to the Lily’s in my life who have helped guide me toward healing.