Lies I Was Told About My Mother

Journal Date: Sunday, January 3, 2021

One thing that has been a relief is allowing myself to say goodbye to the myth that my mom “really loved me,” but she just didn’t know how/was “incapable” of showing it (or that I was unworthy of receiving it, according to some).

I don’t think my mom ever loved me.

I actually have begun to believe she has spent the majority of my life hating me, resenting me, being envious or threatened by all the things in me that reminded her of herself and who she wasn’t.

To be my mother meant having to continually confront me as her living mirror, reflecting back to her everything she was so determined to repress, deny, or destroy in herself.

It is only recently (in particular within the last year) that I have begun to understand the magnitude of my mother’s own pain, the depth of her suffering, her own inner torment, which was then turned outward onto me.

My mom hurt me because that is what she knew. Clearly, she had been abused– and it’s not over, it never ended, it continues to this day.

Abuelita, in her own misery, chose my mom out of her daughters to be her scapegoat, servant and supporter.

I don’t think my mom ever considered resisting this role that had been made for her.

When her mother criticized, critiqued, crushed my mother, she gave in, she complied, and accepted her fate.

Another existence was unimaginable to her. 

“That’s just the way it is,” she told herself.

When I was born, I disappointed them immediately by not being Andrew, by not having been born a boy, my first (and likely only) sin to have been born a woman.

But regardless, the role was there, ready and waiting for me. I would be compliant, obedient and submissive; penitent and ashamed, easy to control, to crush, to repurpose and use as they saw fit.

My mom had done it. There was never any questioning that.

So why couldn’t I?

To see me live the way I did was probably not just insulting, but also a great source of fear and insecurity for my mom.

What if that wasn’t “just the way things were?”

What if there were other ways to be a daughter, and a woman?

What if the true order of things was not what it seemed, and she had sold her own soul away for less than nothing?

Maybe it’s true that my mom was actually determined to crush me, the way it seemed back then.
Maybe she needed to, in her eyes, in order to maintain the illusions on which her entire life was based.

If I didn’t submit, and turn control of my entire self over to her, then… maybe there was another way.

Maybe she had actually wasted her life being a servant and prisoner to a pathetic, unhappy woman who only wished her harm.

Maybe that would mean my mother wasn’t “a good woman”– but simply a foolish one.

What a horrible prospect, to consider that everything you’ve ever known was a lie. To consider that maybe Abuelita wasn’t her savior, but her greatest oppressor.

Maybe the betrayal she would have had to admit experiencing seemed impossible to bear.

Maybe it was too terrifying to allow, so she never did allow any lapse in her prior judgment, no wavering of her appraisal of her situation.

Maybe she preferred to condemn me to a similar fate instead of run the risk of being confronted with evidence that her life was a lie. A complete and utter lie.

It seems likely, to be honest.

In my mom’s eyes, it would never be safe to question her own mother’s motives, and in doing so, allow the possibility of rage or resistance against her.

Instead, she decided to on the transference of all these confusing, fucked up feelings onto me.

She could never act out her anger at her mother for her own abuse, so I paid the price in her place.

All of the turmoil and antagonism she denied her mother then became my load to bear.

Everything my mom could never accept was transformed, and became the cross that I believed was mine, which I still carry to this day.

It’s strange to stop and consider: none of this was ever really about me at all, in all likelihood.

It’s probably true: I don’t think my mom ever saw me. 

She has hated me and gone against me without ever knowing a thing about me.

Isn’t that something?

None of my greatest complexes, insecurities, wounds, etc. ever really belonged to me.

The deepest parts of me, my most secret shame, what I believed was “too personal” to admit to another living being– it was anything but that.

It was entirely impersonal, in a way. It was a product of the struggles between two entirely other people, my mom and her mother.

And their struggles, in their own way, were shaped by the pain of those who came before them, by the relationships and social structures they inevitably found themselves in.

In some ways, the fabric of my identity was woven not by myself, but between so many others.

It almost seems like any girl could have taken my place in my family, and it wouldn’t have changed a thing.

I hardly existed for them other than as a rack to hang their dirty, soiled, shameful projections on.

I don’t know what’s worse:

  • The idea that my mom truly believed I was worthless, disgusting, a “lost cause,” a bad woman, etc.


  • The idea that it had little to do with me, and was more just a manifestation of power struggles that did not have their source in me, which have now molded and shaped my actual life to conform to projections that had little basis in my reality.

It’s pretty funny/sick/twisted to think that a lot of my horror at the second option is totally ego-driven.

It’s like, “What?! I’ve been faithfully performing this role for decades and you weren’t even really watching?”

“You missed the whole performance,” is what I’m upset about, it almost seems.

It’s like I would rather be seen, and hated for who I am, than ignored. I’m mad about the lack of real attention. My ego’s bruised– I thought I mattered, even if only in a fucked up, problematic, unforgivable kind of way.

Another major component is annoyance at all the time wasted.

It’s like, you’re telling me I could have just stopped doing this years ago and freed myself to live my own life, because they’re not even paying any actual attention to me here at all??



Then there’s also the disturbing idea that I’ve never, ever had a mother, in any way.

Part of me prefers an abusive mother who hates me than a complete absence of interest in me at all. 

It’s like I’d rather believe she has these strong negative feelings against me, and is truly “out to get me,” than face the fact that I just don’t matter to her at all. 

I hardly have any real existence for her– when I do show up by chance in her awareness, it’s just kind of an annoying little reminder that once upon a time I was born, and unfortunately had something to do with that.

Whether I’d never been born or I died today, it may not even make that much of a difference to her.

I’ll probably never know for certain what the deal is with my mom.

But it all seems pretty disturbing, no matter which way you look at it.

Rita probably had it right eight years ago when she told me one day in therapy: “Your mom is never going to be a mother to you. You need to be a mother to yourself.”

Honestly, that’s probably all I really need to know.

Getting all caught up in the why and how and what for may just be a waste of time.

Even if I were to somehow arrive at “An Answer”, it still wouldn’t matter. It wouldn’t change anything. I would still be the same person, in the same position.

I would still be a daughter who never had a mother, and who never will. 

Nothing can change that.

To continue to focus my attention on the details of my mother’s experience is just more of what I don’t need.

It’s what got me into this mess in the first place.

To do this is to place my mother at the center of my life story when she doesn’t belong there.

It is me, my own self, that deserves to be centered now.

It’s my life, and I deserve to live from the center of my being, not anyone else’s.

This time, I can choose to let everyone have their own story without getting caught up in it, or needing to make it my own.

My eyes matter too, and are worth looking through.

I can stop avoiding myself, and decide to live grounded in my own being. 

My existence needs no explanation from the outside to make sense and have meaning.

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