Estranged.

I find it a difficult sentence to say. Even now, when the words have almost formed a script that I go to time and time again. An off-hand comment said quickly and casually. It invites less questions that way.

“I don’t have a relationship with my Mother.”

The raised eyebrows in response call for elaboration. I never give it.

Because how can you elaborate on something you can’t quite understand yourself?

I’ve written about my childhood before. The story that forever follows my every step, unknowingly. A story of closed doors and uncertainty. The shadow I can’t quite seem to let go of.

Since starting therapy 8 weeks ago, it’s the one I’ve finally started to shine a light on. And that light? It’s a glaringly bright one. Because taking yourself back to the memories you fought so desperately to suppress is long and it’s painful.

I always come back to the same question.

Am I happier having her in or out of my life?

It’s always been a back and forth race. For over two years I didn’t see her at all. I didn’t have a choice in the matter. And still I longed for her in the same way I longed for her love and support as a child. I wanted her to be everything I needed her to be.

When the time came that I couldn’t stand the cut ties any longer, I wove the threads back together. Slowly. Bit by bit.

I tried to forgive her. Tried to let go of the weight I was carrying around like jagged rocks pushing into my chest.

Tried.

She had changed, I told myself. Maybe it would work this time.

And she had. For the most part, anyway. The darkness that had crippled my younger years was gone. She was trying, in her own disjointed way.

So why is it I still found myself in a position where I couldn’t let her back in?

My Mother was a stranger to me. Is a stranger to me. When I looked at her all I could feel was immense sadness over the years lost and the fact she would never look at me the way my Dad did.

She wasn’t my Mum.

And I couldn’t forget. As much as I wanted to, it was impossible. The second a situation arose where I felt her darkness was coming back out, I pulled up the walls and shut my eyes.

I had tried. And I had failed.

I realised I wasn’t ready to let her back in. I never would be until I could accept that she would never be the Mum I wanted.

And that realisation? It brings a tidal wave of emotions.

I feel sorrow when I imagine how different it could be. Brokenhearted at the thought of a future without her in it.

I feel guilt over how little she has in her life. How perhaps I should be the one to help her fix it.

I feel shame over being estranged by choice when so many have that choice taken out of their hands.

I feel confusion over whether to follow my head or heart. Whether I’ll ever be ready to let my heart lead me.

Yet… I also feel certainty that, at least for now, I am not strong enough to follow that path.

One day the heartache will subside. I hope. Perhaps a time will come when I can let her back into my thoughts and back into my life. We will create our own version of a Mother Daughter relationship and it will add happiness rather than toxicity into my inner being.

Or maybe not. I just don’t know.

But right now? It’s a truth I need to own.

Without the shame that tries to sneak along beside it.

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