I Cut My Mom Out Of My Life Because It Was The Best Choice For My Family
As a little girl, I felt anxious and confused most of the time. I didn’t understand that the way I felt wasn’t normal, and I figured it was my fault.
Years later, after lots of therapy and expanded self-awareness, I connected these feelings to my relationship with my mother. Thus began my attempt to negotiate what had always been a relationship fraught with tension and unease, a relationship I thought was supposed to be easy.
I know, I know: The mother-daughter relationship isn’t easy for many people. But ours seemed particularly hard.
In my 20s, when I started therapy and began to see the dysfunction in our relationship, I did the only thing that made sense at the time: I cut my mother out of my life. It was hard—really, really hard. It was hard pretty much every day, but especially on holidays and birthdays. I wrestled with huge amounts of guilt and grief as I worked to make sense of the situation. Was I a horrible person for not talking to my own mother? Why did everyone else seem to get along great with their moms? What was wrong with me?
Over time, as I worked on myself, I eventually was willing to re-enter a relationship with my mother. But I did it with my eyes wide open, knowing what I was getting into, purposefully setting boundaries and approaching every interaction mindfully.
Being back in touch with her definitely assuaged my guilt, and it helped me feel more normal. But when I was honest with myself, I realized that I was emotionally exhausted. My guard was always up, and even though things seemed “better” from the outside, I was once again trapped in a constant state of hypervigilance, the one I knew so well from childhood.
But I told myself things were better. Right?
Last summer, we traveled to visit with my family, and I suddenly found myself in the unexpected position of feeling completely trapped. As our trip went on, I felt worse and worse. It wasn’t anything new to me, but I was a different person than I was in my 20s. I had a family who needed me. I couldn’t just shut down and check out. So instead, I took a stand.
I ghosted my mother.
I’m not going to say it was easy, but it was a lot easier than when I did it in my 20s. Honestly, it was an enormous relief to finally let go. I let go of trying to set boundaries just right. I let go of trying to force a healthy relationship. I let go of trying to make her into the mother I needed. I just let go.
There are definitely days when I feel sad about it, but most of the time I have a deep acceptance of the situation. When I am sad, it’s feelings of loss around not having an emotionally available mother for most of my life, especially now that I am a mother myself. But it’s not easy dealing with a toxic relationship that’s emotionally draining and potentially detrimental to your own mental health. I’m not a confused child anymore; I’m a responsible adult with a family of my own.
When I found myself in that situation last summer that felt overly familiar — a situation that left me feeling confused, crazy, ashamed and broken, even though I had done nothing wrong and it really had nothing to do with me — I knew it was time. I blocked her number. Spammed her text messages. Unfriended her on Facebook. I don’t respond to cards or gifts.
In the last year, my self-esteem has skyrocketed. I went into business with my best friend. I’m writing again. Without my mother in my life, I feel lighter and free to be who I really am. I feel like there is enough room in the world for all that I bring to it — big emotions, fierce loyalty, deep empathy, strong business sense, and even some sparks of creativity.
Since ghosting my mother, I’m free to truly be me.
This article was originally published on