No Strain, No Gain

Holidays are meant to be a time of celebration (and help Hallmark’s stocks). However, for many, there is a darker side to them. With Mother’s Day 2019 upon us, it serves as a grim reminder for those without their mother or for mothers without their offspring. These relationships are strained for a range of reasons from family conflict to death.

Mother’s Day, in particular, takes a toll on yours truly. My mom and I have had a, for lack of a better term, tumultuous relationship over the last three decades. Don’t get me wrong. I love my mom. I can never express enough gratitude for all that she has done for me. She endured carrying my fat ass in her belly for nine months and popped me out into this world. There are no words to express how thankful I am for the sacrifices she made when I was younger and being there for me when things got tough.

She was far from perfect though. When her Italian temper went off, my dad and I joked to get into the “bomb shelter” and just stay out of her way. She was far from the best when it came to handling money, which led to a lot of arguments between my parents. Eventually, other incidents took place that involved her stealing my money, drug addiction, and infidelity. Betrayal, mistrust, pain, guilt, and anger were just the beginning.

Ultimately, I struggled deep down with a serious internal conflict. My idealistic self still yearned for a mother that cared for me and genuinely loved me. Reality, on the other hand, was a bitch. My mom still had these positive qualities about her, but she also had some serious flaws. As much as I wanted to be close to her, I knew that bringing her in too close could pose serious risk to me.

It has been a delicate balancing act of when to trust her and let her in close and when to give myself some distance. I would be lying if I said it did not hurt. Here is the one person you should be able to trust more than anyone. She is meant to be the one who brought you into this world and teach you the ways of life. Instead, there are times when you feel more like the parent than the son. She takes advantage of you and makes you feel like you were the one to blame. This toxicity seriously fucked with my head.

There have been multiple times over the last ten years that I have had to cut my mom off. It was not permanent, but rather a method of self-preservation. Arguing with her affected my self-worth, depression, and anxiety. These breaks lasted anywhere from two weeks to nine months. It was an extreme, but necessary, form of self-care. It was the only way to manage the chaos generated by this internal struggle.

Throughout all of the mental and emotional torment though, there was surprisingly good that came out of it. I got myself to a stable enough point to finally examine the effects of the trauma I endured from my mom. I pushed myself to let down the walls and reach deep down. I learned what made me tick. I learned why I behaved, thought, or felt the way I did in certain situations.

I strangely gained a great deal from the relationship from my mom even if it was not in the traditional sense. I continue to work on myself and attempt to improve the communication between us. Although I have come to accept that it will likely never be perfect, I do believe that it will get better.

-The Caring Counselor

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