“It’s okay to let go of those who couldn’t love you. Those who didn’t know how to. People who gave up trying. It’s okay to outgrow them, because that means you filled the empty space in you with self-love instead. You’re outgrowing them because you’re growing into you. And that’s more than okay, that’s something to celebrate.” ~Angelica Moone
My family taught me to love them and accept their love. This unquestioning love became less evident as I got older. My youngest daughter was born and I began to see the stress inflicted on my mother’s relationship.
It was impossible to avoid and accept an unhealthy relationship without emotion or affection. The dysfunctional family relationship I had with her began to change when I saw it through the eyes of another parent.
I started asking myself questions like “Would I ever purposely treat my child with such indifference and disregard them so callously?” So many more questions I asked myself were met with “no.” So, why would I just accept this behavior? What was the point of allowing constant stress to consume so much of my life’s energy?
Looking back, I realize that while I was longing for the grand gesture of love from her mother, I felt the need to be surrounded by maternal security and love. The inner child in me was longing for the unconditional love of the woman who gave birth to her. But the adult inside knows that I needed the true love that was within myself.
Five years ago, the walls of unquestioned family loyalty began to crumble around me. After living together in the Bay Area, my husband felt it was a good idea to start a family close to family. After fifteen years living in California, my husband and I decided to relocate to Connecticut to be closer to our children.
The delusion I believed that my mother would be more involved in our move if we lived near her was a belief I kept believing. While packing the last moving boxes, she phoned me to inform me of her joy at our return and how she can’t wait for us to see them all. It was not her intention to come to our home, but I created the impression that she would.
It was her call on the highway from Florida that brought me the coup de grace. She said she planned to stop for a short visit before heading home to Massachusetts. I was given a timeline of when she would arrive.
After a week, she didn’t contact me nor visit. I received an unplanned message from her three months later. This was to let me know that she had not forgotten about my previous visit.
YouAfter this last act of indifference I decided that the manipulation and hurt could not continue. How could I be teaching boundaries to my children if I didn’t create healthy boundaries?
My therapist once asked me “Would you go shopping at a clothing store for groceries”? When I answered, no, it dawned on me that I wouldn’t, so why was I expecting something different from my mother?
One of my favorite quotes was that humans can make changes, but toxic individuals are very difficult to please. This adage states that toxic individuals rarely make changes. Because if someone isn’t accepting responsibility for their acts and lacks self-awareness, how can you expect them to alter their ways? My willingness to make changes was the change that I wanted, not her.
In the beginning, I was unsure about my decision to end our relationship. Is it unfair to my children not to get to know their grandmother? But, I also realized that my grandmother was not a real part of our lives.
It took self-love to break this toxic tangle. My inner child, who is still in healing, as well as my children. They can see their mom loving herself enough not to let anyone harm her.
My family has tried to reach out to me regarding my decision since that time. I was told stories by family members about how friends ended their relationships with their loved ones and regret it. If that happens, I will mourn, but I will also grieve the loss of a loved one.
Instead of holding on to this unhealthy relationship, I’m teaching my children more. This includes ending the cycle and setting healthy boundaries. They are taught how to love and accept themselves.
Writer, coach, educator, artist, lover of chocolate, and creative coach. Shilo is an artist who enjoys helping creatives to reconnect with their creativity. She spends her time in New Haven with her husband and two children. Follow her Instagram account @shiloratner, or visit her website at www.shiloratner.com
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Tiny Buddha published the post My Ex-Mother Was a Toxic Relationship, and I Did an Act Of Self-Love.