‘My mom died today. Even though she abandoned me 6 years ago, up until this morning, I still had a mom.’: Abused daughter reflects on love for her mother, despite physical, verbal, emotional trauma

“My mom died today. I’m not sure why I’m sharing this. A lot of my friends reading this probably didn’t know whether she was alive or not. It didn’t affect them, and I rarely spoke of her. I didn’t talk about her much because I hadn’t spoken to her in six years. Six Mother’s Days ago, she called and left me a voicemail and said she didn’t want anything to do with me anymore. I cannot count how many times I listened to that voicemail, and those words stung the same each time. It hurt that someone I love so much didn’t want me to be a part of her life. And I’m sure she couldn’t have even told you the reason she left me that message. She probably was trying to hurt me and manipulate me into whatever it was she wanted at that time.

But her plan to manipulate me backfired on her. Having some space from her gave me objectivity. Only being out of her striking distance allowed me to finally identify and name the type of relationship I had with her. Every day of my life, even into my adulthood – even into my marriage – my mother had physically, verbally, and, worst of all, emotionally abused me. She used me, controlled me, and treated me like a tool – an object absent of opinions or rights. Even writing these words seems too watered down for the confusion and hurt and damage she sought to do daily. Some people knew some of this, but no one really knew all of the story. I was embarrassed and ashamed of what my home life looked like and that I allowed myself to be treated less than I deserved. I carried guilt that if I shared too much, I was being a bad daughter, and I was also scared that things could get much worse. Every day, in a million different small and large ways, she told me I was not enough. I would never be smart enough, pretty enough, strong enough, successful enough in her eyes. When I got married to my amazing husband Will, she was threatened that my world was a little bigger, and she even told me that she was just waiting for the day that my marriage would fall apart and I would go crawling back on my knees to her.

Courtesy Samantha Pepper

But I didn’t go crawling back on my knees. The day she made that call was day one of me learning about who I really am and working on how to love myself right where I am while still working to be a better person. I’m still working on me, even though I still hear her voice in my head everyday telling me that I am not enough. But I try to remind myself each time that voice is a liar.

Courtesy Samantha Pepper

I know that my mom loved me in her own way. I’ve never doubted that. And I love my mom. I just had to learn how to love her from a distance. I’ve prayed for my mom every day. I got updates on her when I could, and I even paid some of her bills anonymously when I could. I’ve had many days that I fervently wished that we could move forward and be in each other’s lives, but I know that is not the relationship my mom wanted with me. The relationship I dreamed of, the one where we were a ‘normal’ family, just wasn’t possible and it never would be.

Courtesy Samantha Pepper

I’m not special. Everyone has to deal with loss, and most everyone has to deal with losing their parents at some point in their life. Not every moment with my mom was miserable and terrible. So, I’m going to try to hold onto the smiles and laughter I shared with her without romanticizing them too much. My mom wasn’t a saint. Neither am I. I know that I have a whole lifetime ahead of me of processing this loss and my grief. I’m sure I haven’t realized it yet, but I know that being parentless will change how I feel about myself as a person and probably change how I process feelings and make decisions moving forward. Because, the fact is that even though she abandoned me 6 years ago, up until this morning, I still had a mom.

I know this is not information people normally share, and I know this can be hard information to process. But I really hope that this message reaches someone who needed to read this today, whether or not they have been in an abusive relationship. If I can come out of the situation I lived in and have even a shred of self-worth and love, then I know you can too. You are worthy. You are enough. You are loved.”

Courtesy Samantha Pepper

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Samantha Pepper, 34, of Oxford, MississippiSubmit your story here, and subscribe to our best love stories here.

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