A love letter to children who had to cut ties with their mothers
Once I got older and we could compare notes, my parents and I mapped out a familiar pattern of gaslighting, manipulation, and cruelty in our childhoods. Eventually, with their support and the guidance of an excellent therapist, I was able to cut off all contact with my mother in a way that was healthy for me. Having unpacked my own maternal trauma, I became closer with my parents. I was able to understand them and love them more fully than ever before. I also finally understood how my dad could have gotten involved with someone like my mother—he had been primed to accept her behavior as normal.
My mom, dad, and I all sought out romantic relationships that followed the patterns we’d learned from our mothers early in our lives. It’s common—we were naturally drawn to erratic behavior and intense adoration, followed by intense hatred or punishment, control and emotional manipulation, and the intoxicating promise that if we just perform exactly right, then we can keep the explosions at bay.