I spent all of my high school years trying to get away from my mother. Our relationship was so strained that the only way we knew how to be around each other was to either yell our heads off, or pretend the other person didn’t exist.
Growing up, I was sexually abused by her father. I kept it a secret (because he told me to) until I was sixteen. I blurted it out one winter Sunday afternoon out of nowhere. It wasn’t something I expected to tell anyone besides my best friend.
I’m not sure what triggered me to tell her. All I knew was that I couldn’t stop the words from exploding out of my mouth. Maybe I couldn’t handle the fact she was talking about him all the time because he was sick in the hospital. Or maybe I figured he was going to pass away and I didn’t have to hold onto this secret any longer.
My grandfather ended up living for another twelve years. Our “secret” spilled into the rest of the family and instead of siding with me, my mother had her father’s back and I was left to try and process that on top of what had already happened, alone.
That was so long ago and I’m ready to move past it. That doesn’t mean I want my mother to be a big part of my life though. I have let go of the big grudge and anger I carried for so long but I did it for me, not her.
It took me a long time to get there and I still have to work on it.
When I had kids, she very much wanted a relationship with my children and I was able to let her into our lives a little bit at a time. My mother knows how I feel. She knows she broke my trust. She knows she failed me when I needed her the most.
But, I am not able to have a close relationship with her. I’ve tried and there are things I can’t get past and I know I need to protect myself and my boundaries.
My daughter is now sixteen and loves her grandmother, as all my kids do. She wants a closer relationship with her than her siblings do. She always asks to spend time with her and loves going over there to spend the night.
I want to encourage this because I never had a great relationship with my parents and I don’t want my daughter missing out. My kids have no idea what happened between my mother and I while I was growing up, nor do they know about my experience with my grandfather. I don’t want that to get in the way of their feelings for their grandmother.
She’s apologised to me many times and I know she’s remorseful and wants a do-over. I believe everyone deserves a second chance and my kids need to live their own lives without their mother being too controlling of their relationships.
I can’t lie and say it’s not really hard though. I’m glad it makes my daughter happy. However, she also knows there is tension between me and her grandmother and she’s not sure why. She knows it’s easier for me to have her come over here while I’m busy with something else, or when we have some other place to be so we can cut her visit short.
I’m happy my kids have a much better relationship with my mother than I did. They deserve that and I do believe my mother deserves that.
That doesn’t mean I have to fully let her into my whole world and have a close relationship with her if it has an impact on my mental health too much, which it does.
I’ve learned it’s okay to let my children have their own experiences with people they love and they don’t need to be punished or held back simply because my mother and I had a lot of conflict.
After all, this is how cycles get broken. In this case, even though it’s hard for me at times, I trust that my daughter’s desire to be close to her grandmother is happening for a reason. And what’s so bad about one more person in her life who loves, and values her in the same way that I do?