When I was a very little girl, I absolutely adored my mother, as most little girls do. I remember one time when I was 3 or 4 years old and got lost, and a kind stranger tried to help me. "What does your mother look like?" she asked. I replied, "she is the most beautiful woman in the world!" And it was true, to me, anyway. I saw her like that.
As I got older, my relationship with my mother began to falter. She was rather obsessed with religion, and I tried so hard to be obsessed, too. Everything was about Jehovah, and pleasing Him, and devoting myself to Him like my mother did. But she was also becoming obsessed with food, and her figure showed it. In just a few years, she went from a svelte hot 70's chick to a very obese, sluggish mother. She was very possessive of "her" food, and I just could not relate. Even in my pre-teen years, I still tried to be like her: begging to wear her jewelry and shoes, toting my Bible with me everywhere I went, developing my odd sense of humor. But once I was a teen, subconsciously I think I was trying to outshine her. I knew more about religion than she did. I was far more physically fit and stylish than she was. I grew my nails out like hers, and I became more popular and happy than she was. And when we parted ways by her choice over religion, I moved on and away while she stayed and stewed in her own discontentment and unhappiness.
As I've written so much on this blog, I spent years trying to rekindle a relationship with her. I called, I wrote, I reached out to her and was rejected, but I never felt anything but love (and the accompanying hurt and disappointment along with hope) towards her... until she died. When she died, all kinds of anger and resentment and bitterness bubbled up out of nowhere towards my mother. I started having very angry, ugly thoughts towards her. Instead of the beautiful, loving mother she was when I was small, I saw and emphasized the bad. I focused on how she loved alcohol more than she loved me... on how she tried to commit suicide and take me with her. I became livid over her rejection and her accusations against me, and the way she hurt me and my children. And while I worked through a lot of that anger and hurt over the past 12 years, I also developed a sense of "I am not like HER" coupled with my own rejection of her, post-mortem, that became unhealthy and started to affect me in a way I never expected.
I rejected her after her death because she rejected me first. After she was gone, I decided that she was not my MOM because she decided I was not her daughter while she was still living. And while I consciously felt I had forgiven her and gotten past it, I have just recently discovered that I have not... not truly. Because in my rejection of her and all of her ways, I was also rejecting part of myself. And subconsciously, the little child in me has been screaming for re-connection with that beautiful, much-adored mother who rocked me to sleep in my footie pajamas. That desire for connection has taken the form of obesity and food obsession.
For all the choices, there has been a consequence.
I am not like you. You could not cook to save your life, but I am a wonderful cook and baker.
I am not like you. You were a promiscuous young woman, but I waited until I was married for intimacy.
I am not like you. You were obsessed with pleasing God, but I rejected Him to a great degree.
I did not acknowledge my angry rejection of God and religion and church, because I felt kind of bad about it. I stopped going to church a long time ago, began hanging out with mostly non-religious folks, and married an atheist. I put the Bible on the shelf and let an inch of dust settle on it. I am not like you, who prayed ten times a day. I didn't pray at all. I stepped away from the 'crazy' I saw you as and I decided I did not need any kind of religious nonsense in my life.
All of this, I was doing to reject my dead mother the way she rejected me.
All of this, to say "I am NOTHING like you!"
But the inner child wants her mother. The subconscious cries out for that missing bond, that thing that says "See? I AM like you, I AM your daughter, please love me... please accept me because we are alike." And the thing I subconsciously chose, the one thing I embraced into my life to be like her was weight. Weight and food.
All this time, I felt hints of it but didn't understand it. She struggled most of her adult life with her weight. She was probably in the range of 220 pounds (at 5' 3") by the time I was 7 or 8 years old, and she went up and down, back and forth between 210 and 250 for her entire life. She was ALWAYS on a diet.. always going to Weight Watchers or eating cabbage soup or counting calories (except for the times in between, when she was eating bags of chips and boxes of chocolates and taking me to McDonalds for Big Mac meals) yet she never lost the weight and kept it off. She died obese after decades of being on a diet, lamenting being fat, wishing for thinness, but never making the full changes to get there.
And this is the part of her that I somehow internalized and have been manifesting all this time.
I have finally come to accept that I do not, I cannot hate my mother. I cannot reject her without rejecting myself and my children and my children's children. There are parts of her that I can reject: the alcoholism, the emotional desperation, the extreme religiousness. But I have to let myself love my mother as she was, and forgive her and let her rest in peace.
I have to accept that there is a part of me that wants to be like her. Part of my healing is to examine all the things I have been shunning and the things I have been creating within myself and to CHOOSE the ways I am like her and am not. I have recently let God back into my life... not in a crazy, obsessive kind of way and not even in a churchy, religious kind of way. But I've started to pray again, started to talk about God again, started to let Him back into my life again. And with embracing that spiritual side of myself, I do relate to my mother in a way. Perhaps this is the way I can say it: "See? I am like you. I am your daughter. You taught me to love God, and to pray, and to forgive. We are alike."
I do not have to be an alcoholic to be connected to my Mom. I do not have to be promiscuous. I do not have to be obsessive about religion, or a bad cook, or a bitter wife. And I also do not have to be obese.
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