Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A Mother-Daughter story

I was motivated, or perhaps, triggered to write this personal story and I hope there's a message here that will be understood. There is not a day that goes by that I do not whisper to my mom with the hopes that she hears me...."I love you, Mom, and I miss you". Her bond of love was and could never be broken or forgotten.

authored by Talia

A mother-daughter story told from the perspective of the daughter. If only I knew then what I know now. I am the daughter.

It begins with a love story. A handsome young man enlisted in Air Force stationed in France meets beautiful young Italian girl who is in France on holiday. Neither can speak the other's native language, but know the language of love. This love produces a child, my older sister, born in France. The young couple are both Catholic, so naturally, they must marry.

The marriage couldn't survive the complexity of issues they struggled with. My mother suffered from serious physical and psychological ailments. Due to ignorance of the medical community and my parents at the time, the problems became insurmountable. I was to have a twin. Due to complications the twin did not survive, What I know now, thanks to my healing from the NPD'r experience and my delving into psychology, was that my mother had borderline tendencies and my father had some narcissistic traits.

A custody battle ensued when I was 9. My mother had threatened to return to Italy with me once again, so my father stopped her by winning the custody battle. I wanted to live with my father because I craved stability. My last stint in Italy had been spent in a catholic boarding school in Pisa. I'd been instructed to lie, telling a story that my father was dead.(Divorce is a sin and I wouldn't have been accepted in the school, had this been known) I spent 9 months in this boarding school with one visit from my mother. While other children went home on weekends, I remained the sole child at the school on weekends. I was ridiculed because I was different, an American. It wasn't until the age of 45 that I disclosed to my father that I'd had a secret, one my mother never knew as long as she was living. Previous to my boarding school stay, my mother and I lived with her married sister. Her sister's husband molested me.

Unbeknownst to me at the time., my mother attempted suicide after the custody battle. She returned to Italy on the advice of her doctors. She had a brother in Sicily who would care for her. He provided a home for her and years later upon his death would continue to provide for her financially.

Over the years, I wondered why my father had fought for me. There was no love in this narcissistic family with my father and his new wife. It looked good from the outside, but the inside was another story. This, along with my early childhood, laid the foundation for my being vulnerable to someone who was NPD years later.

Twice, as I recall, my mother came to the states to visit my older sister and I. By this time, I was a teenager. I had no understanding of my mother's emotional needs. I cringe now at the pain I caused my mother. She couldn't compete with the material things my father provided. I had no interest in staying with my mother in her modest apartment in another part of town. I didn't want my friends to see me at her apartment. On another attempt to connect with her daughters, I was again, more interested in MY life. I didn't want to spend my free time with my mother. It wasn't that I wanted to be at my father's, either. It was hell there. I guess by this time, my priorities were ALL about me.....My friends had the most import and what they were doing, where they were was where I wanted to be. I didn't want to miss any parties, functions, etc.....I didn't want to take time out of my life. I felt the guilt. Of course, now I realize how important it was for my mother to make up for lost time, how great her emotional needs were....I hated being burdened with guilt.

Years later when I was an adult my mother came to live permanently in the states. She came and helped me when I went through my divorce. My divorce devastated me. All the pain was magnified as every childhood wound surfaced. Again, it was years later that I understood where all the pain was coming from...Years later that I understood that I'd been experiencing PTSD. As I struggled to come to terms with life as a single parent my focus was on my daughter. I had learned much, remembered much from what my own experience had been as a child caught between two parents. It is with pride that I can say I didn't repeat the mistakes that had been made with me. It was not my daughter's job to take care of her parents on any level. My daughter was 5 at the time of the divorce and she was impacted by the changes. Her life changed as she knew it. I was helped by a child therapist. This was also the first time I sought psychological help. It was the first time I'd heard the term "dysfunctional" applied to my family of origin. The first time I came to understand just how negatively I'd been impacted. Sadly, complete healing didn't happen as I was to learn years later when the NPD'r entered my life....That's when I really dug in my heels to uncover all, learn as much as I could. I wish the knowledge that I gained was known to me at the time my mother was still living...

Two things. One, my mother was caught in the past. Two, she suffered greatly from borderline issues. Not understanding that, I didn't deal well with the push/pull dynamics. I didn't understand the behaviours that were triggered by her own abandonment issues. What I know now is I was trying to establish some boundaries. The more dramatic things became, I became more hardened in distancing her. I just didn't understand what was going on....So much pain could been avoided had I known. Again, though, my focus was on maintaining a healthy life for my daughter and surviving myself. 

I absolutely cringe and will always live with the guilt of knowing how much my mother suffered. There is nobody on this planet that loved me as much as my mother did. I loved her, too. She seemed to experience that proof of love only when I'd been pushed to the limit and would break into a puddle of tears and screams of anger. A display of emotion that no other has since been capable of triggering. One that would bring her peace and leave me puzzled and distraught.

In summary, from the perspective of the daughter I have learned that we are all trying to take care of ourselves the only way we know how with the experience and knowledge we have at any given time. Whether we're the young teenage daughter or the mother, also, wanting to be loved and accepted for who she is...All of us desperately needing/wanting the unconditional love that, perhaps, none of us had when we most deserved it, in childhood. The teenage daughter is caught in her perspective of her world, the mother in her own.



Article reprinted with author's permission
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