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Everybody’s reaction when I tell them my Mum doesn’t love me is the same:
“Of course she does!”; “Oh, don’t be silly”; “It may not seem like she doesn't but she’s your Mum. She loves you.”
This doesn’t help. It doesn’t make me feel better. If your partner breaks up with you because they aren’t in love with you anymore, then all your friends tell you “They still love you!”—what good is that? You need support in moving on, not clinging to the possibility of the relationship continuing. It’s the same with my Mum. I do not need people trying to convince me I’m wrong when I know the truth. I expect it’s just because they feel uncomfortable hearing this.
I accept that she doesn’t love me. It’s OK. Of course it hurts, of course I wish she loved me, of course I’m not happy that this is our relationship, but I’m OK with it.
As a child, I was so desperate for my Mum’s affection. I wanted to be just like her. I wanted her to be proud of me. I wanted her to like me. I wanted to make her happy. I wanted to make life easier for her. I would go to the supermarket with her whilst my brother stayed home and played PlayStation, even though she went to the supermarket almost every day. I felt guilty if I didn’t go with her even though she put no pressure on me, she made it entirely my choice. I would help her cook and bake all the time, whether it was peeling the shell off of eggs for my brother, peeling carrots for the Sunday roast or baking brownies for everybody to enjoy. I would clean and tidy the house for her (not saying I did a great job at ten years old but I tried!). I used to love sorting the washing out into piles for each person, I nagged for a long time to be allowed to iron, I would make the bed for her and wait outside her door with her pajamas ready when she said she was going to bed soon. I did all this because I just wanted to help, I wanted to make things easier for her, and I remember thinking those words exactly.
But she favoured my brother. He did no housework. He never went shopping. He wouldn’t help cook. Now, there’s nothing wrong with that, most boys wouldn’t want to do any of those things with their Mum. The only time they spent together was when my Mum joined in with his activities, like the PlayStation or watched a film he liked. My brother was doing well at school, but I was doing significantly better. I was a perfect daughter, even in my opinion now. I had healthy hobbies too. I loved writing letters and stories, I spent so much time drawing, painting, doing arty activities. But my brother was her favourite, and other people knew it.
Fast forward to my teenaged years after my brother had moved out and I was living with my Mum, her new husband, and my new baby half-sisters. It felt as though my Mum was starting a new family in a new house with a new guy and I was just a reminder of her old life that she hated, therefore she hated me. She kicked me out twice, once when I was 15 and again when I was 16, although now she will deny doing any such thing. She was never a "girly" person, which is fair enough, but she never taught me how to do makeup, how to tweeze my eyebrows, or spoke to me about sex/relationships. I have grown up embarrassed for not knowing how to do the simplest "female" things. At 24 years old, I am still deeply self-conscious about my eyebrows because I’ve never really known how to do them. My Mum saw any form of self-care as vanity and limited me to two baths a week. Now, as a teenager, two baths a week really isn’t enough. I will always remember a boy at school saying “Do you ever wash your hair?” and this bitch called Gabrielle laughing next to me. I was so embarrassed. I had greasy hair, spotty skin, probably smelt like BO, uneven eyebrows. I looked awful and felt awful because of it. I hated my appearance, more than most adolescent girls.
As a teenager, my Mum only saw me as three things: a ticket for extra benefits, a babysitter, and a housekeeper. She did not ask or care about my GCSEs, maybe because she knew once I finished them I was leaving to move in with my dad. The night before one of my exams she left to "commit suicide." My stepdad went out looking for her, and I was left alone to look after my two baby sisters, not long after I received a text message from her saying “I love you x,” and I couldn’t breathe for that first minute. I rang my dad not knowing what else to do, thankfully he was up despite it being around midnight, and he reassured me. Eventually, my stepdad returned with my Mum and essentially told her off downstairs for scaring him whilst I sat in my room listening. They went to bed, not checking on me or if I was OK, and the next morning carried on as normal. There was no apology, I still sat my exam, and there was no mention of what had happened the night before.
One school night my Mum knocked on my door with a sense of emergency in the early hours of the morning saying she and my stepdad had to go somewhere, asking if I could watch over my baby sisters for her. I had no idea what was going on but it sounded urgent, so as they left I sat in their bedroom watching over the cot, and a couple of hours they returned and sent me back to bed. I got up the next morning for school, and, again, they never explained or apologised for whatever that was. I later found out that they had left so my Mum could slash her mother’s new partners’ car tires. Urgent. My Mum had fallen out with her Mum (my Nan) after her dad had died, and the family was never the same again. She hates my Nan still to this day, wishes her dead even.
Throughout university, my Mum’s drinking got worse, and I could see the impact it was having on my half-sisters. I hate myself for never saying anything about it, but I know that if I had done she would have banned me from speaking to/seeing my sisters, and that would have made things worse for them. So I grit my teeth and kept quiet. I avoided arguing with her. I never criticised her, because the only way she reacts to any form of criticism is defensiveness.
When I came back from university, one of my sisters smelt like B.O. She was nine. They were only showering once a week at the most. They weren’t washing their hands after using the toilet. They told me Mum didn’t tell them to. The house was grubby, dog fur everywhere. I never saw my Mum shower in the two months I was there, never saw her vacuum, polish, tidy up, anything. I saw her asleep on the sofa at two in the afternoon, I saw her drinking brandy at nine in the morning, I watched her shout at the girls and contradict herself, leaving them very confused, and I heard her having a go at them for the most ridiculous things.
I argued with my Mum. I finally told her the truth. She needed to stop drinking. She needed to sort herself out. She needed to stop badmouthing the girls’ dad in front of them. She needed to stop blaming all of their behaviour problems on autism, the school, their friends, and accept some responsibility. But no. I was wrong. She was right. She didn’t have a drinking problem. She didn’t have any problems. Their dad was a "dicksplat" and she wasn’t going to lie to her kids about him. My sister had autism and that was why she behaved how she did, the school was shit and their friends taught them swear words. OK.
During this argument, I asked my Mum why she wouldn’t hug me. During my three years at university I visited once a month and every time I left she stayed sitting down at her table, not getting up to wave goodbye at the door, not dropping me off at the train station, not even standing up for a hug. I awkwardly walked over to her, kissed her on the cheek and said “it was nice to see you,” and she would force a smile back but say nothing. She would never hug or kiss me back. I asked her why. Why won’t she hug me? Why did I have to kiss her goodbye for three years whilst she remained still? Why couldn’t she hug me? You wanna know why?
“Because you resemble your fucking Nan too much.”
At 24 years old, that still hurt quite a bit.
I phoned Social Services on my Mum. I told them my concerns. They visited Mum and said they saw evidence of every single one of my concerns, and that Mum was aggressive and defensive to them, claiming she "didn’t need help." This was no surprise. Mum stopped me from seeing my sisters, saying that if I wanted to see them I shouldn’t have reported her, but I knew I made the right decision. Somebody needed to do something.
My Mum has pushed away every member of family, every neighbour, every friend, every professional. For a long time, I refused to let her push me away. I was the only person who continued to put up with her nonsense, in the hopes that one day my support could get through to her and she would seek to change. But she didn’t. The fact that my Mum won’t hug me because I look too much like her own Mum is pathetic, but it is enough for me to realise that she doesn’t deserve my help. I hope the professionals will continue working with her and force her to get help. But being the person she hates the most right now (as it’s my fault the girls are no longer with her), I know our relationship is done. She can kick her own mother out of her life for eight years, I’m sure she won’t struggle to keep me out of it too.