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  • Writer's pictureSuely Rivera

The Mom Guilt


When people read this title, there may be this subtle eye roll of another mom blog post LOL

I promise this isn't the typical post. So just check it out.

Let's back track to a few days before toady to see where this blog post began.

"I don't feel appreciated" I mumbled. (Cue the dramatic tears rolling down my eyes and my husband and daughter paralyzed by the onset of tears.) Friday continued with more frustrations with things not flowing well. I had taken a few days and felt like things just weren't meshing. I began this time off feeling so off. I sat by my pool and asked myself "What is it?" and left with the persistent internal nagging of wanting to shutdown. Saturday I sat by the pool again trying to decipher what I was feeling. My daughter Selah was having a blast with school friends and I just kept my nose in a book to try to ignore the pit in my stomach.

Fast forward to this morning. I sat crying to a trusted friend and spilled 2 main themes that were running in my mind and heart. With one prayerful moment and image she shared, I knew my mom.

I preface that mother's day is so difficult for other reasons. But in recent, the questions I get are more like "How is your mother doing?", "Oh you don't speak to your mother still?" "Oh so no update on your mother?" Those innocent questions trigger a silent but haunting guilt.

Two years ago I had to take some firm boundaries because of the toxicity of my relationship with my mother. Being that she has a severe mental illness, I tried so hard in 2018 and 2019 to "fix" and "save". I took on her finances. I took on her medications. I took it all on while finishing Grad school and starting my first year as a counselor. When I hit my breaking point, I had survived a summer of nightly calls from police, an apartment fire, constant hospital admissions, and watching her cycling through multiple prescriptions to be constantly berated.

So the guilt began the day I said no more. I listened to her berate me (yes, she was stable at this time) and while on the phone with my aunt I silently sat listening to a completely different person with her. Manipulation, gaslighting, you name it it happened. So I made the hardest decision then still forms a lump in my throat. I said to my maternal family I can't do this anymore. She had a fulltime caregiver and I needed to walk away for my own mental and emotional shape. Pride held her in an unhealthy place of torment. My mother's perspective was the only truth and what did it do? Alienated her daughter. I did some necessary moves to severe the ties. Yet two years later, the mom guilt is real. Every holiday, birthday, every major moment in Selah's life I am reminded of the disconnect with genuine melancholy. This weekend was no different. It felt stronger for many reasons but at the core it was this gnawing guilt. The reality is the grief of this loss lingers. Yes, I have processed it through counseling. Yet, I can recognize not fully accepting of what remains of us. It is a place that many can't relate and the ones who are in this "club" wish we weren't apart of it.

Perhaps you have a friend or spouse who has a toxic/critical parent, a parent with a mental illness, or your the adult child with one of those scenarios. There are times difficult decisions don't fit in a perfect box that appeases what is a considered culturally (faith included) appropriate. Leave room for them to share without trying to give advice or the "you shoulds" (you should do this or that). One of the best things anyone can do is allow the individual (or yourself) a safe space to acknowledge all emotions that may arise. Validation and empathy can bring comfort to an aching heart. Lastly, don't assume that forgiveness has not occurred but possibly remnants of grief lingering in their hearts.

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