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Mother’s Day- A Survivors Guide

As Mother’s Day approaches there is no doubt we are all being bombarded by the media with strong messages of what we should be feeling and doing for our mothers. For some this is a happy occasion and one where the opportunity to demonstrate how much our mothers mean to us is clearly celebrated through the giving of sentimental cards, gifts or outings for lunch or dinner.

For others this can be a very emotional and difficult time. This time of the year can serve as a reminder of a mother that has passed away. You could choose to use this as an opportunity to celebrate and focus on how your mother lived her life, share happy memories and remember just why you loved her so much.

If you are lucky enough to be a mother yourself that is a very good reason to celebrate this day.  Remind yourself that against all odds you have become a good mother.  You can acknowledge just how much you willingly sacrifice for your children, the love you feel for them and the joy and happiness they bring to your life.

Lack of Nurturing

The media will never acknowledge that this day can be fraught with pain and trauma for many women.  For those of us whose childhood were filled with abuse, this time of the year can bring up the hurt and pain for a mother’s love you never got to experience.  The day can act as a painful reminder of living without nurturing and support.

If you are a mother that for any number of reasons is no longer living with your children and won’t get to spend this day with them Mother’s Day can be lonely and filled with regret and sadness. If you are a woman who has chosen to not have children, you may feel a failure as society tells women that being a mother is what all women should want.

A mother of a child who has experienced abuse may feel undeserving of their love and find any show of affection or gratitude from them, as painful reminders of what they may see as their failings. Most mothers are victims themselves and we firmly believe that in the majority of cases when there is an abuser in the home there is only one parent and one in control and that is the abuser themselves.

Mothers of an abusers are likely to find this time extremely difficult as they struggle to see what they could have done differently, how could they have stopped the abuse, helped their child. All the while feeling shame and hurt for the child that was abused. The confusion and pain will make this time of the year impossible to ignore.

If your mother was the one who abused you then this will be a particularly difficult time. Because the world sends clear messages that mothers are not capable of hurting their own children, speaking your truth becomes all the more difficult.

Changing this day into something to celebrate will help you with your healing. Gaining a full understanding of abuse and its impacts will help you navigate the emotional turmoil that all mothers feel when abuse enters their lives.

*If you would like more information in our book ‘Why Go Back? 7 Steps to Healing from Childhood Sexual Abuse’ we explore the role of mothers in much more detail.

Finding the Positive

Pain can be overwhelming but may be disguised under the umbrella of anger.  Each time you remember something your mother did or didn’t do can bring your hurt to the surface. In the sharing of these stories we can become locked into the pain of the past and end up giving our power away to the past.

Try use this time to focus on what is working in your life. It is an opportunity to find a more positive meaning to this day.  As this is the year of the woman make the day about you and recognise those women that inspire you to do and be a better version of yourself.

It requires time and effort on your part, but it is worth reclaiming your life and saying no to allowing the past to control your present day. Like Christmas this too is only one day, and it too will pass quickly.

Tips for Minding Yourself

If thinking about Mother’s Day triggers bad memories do something positive with them.  Do not allow the negative feelings to ruin your day.

  • Writing can help you gain access to your pain and help you to move past the anger it may raise.  So, take some time to yourself and write how you are feeling about motherhood and its role in your life.
  • Make a list of all what you feel a mother should be and see how realistic it really is. Is it possible for anyone to be the mother you described?
  • Be prepared to explore your own experience of motherhood. The deeper an understanding you gain, the more compassion you will have for yourself and others in your life.
  • Try celebrating those mothers that you respect and admire. We all know someone that we feel is doing a good job for that is usually how we measure our own abilities.
  • If you are a mother yourself celebrate that.
  • Try sitting with your children and sharing stories about how they were as children. We are all curious about our childhood and how others seen us, so this will be a great way to spend time together.
  • Remember children want to know about you and see you as more than just a mother. Explore your life with them and how it was before you became their mother.
  • If you are brave enough ask they also share things they would like to change about you or things they struggle with. Your relationship can only become more enriched through this experience.
  • Finally, it is important to acknowledge that against all odds you have turned into a great mother, doing the best you can with what you know at any given time.

 Pamper Yourself

  • Allow your children to spoil you.
  • Have a family meal cooked by your children.
  • If you need a break, then go out with friends and have a child free day.
  • Learn how to have fun, as we often forget as adults how to relax.
  • Play a game you remember from your childhood, it may rehash more positive feelings.

Moving On

I do not wish to minimise anyone’s pain on this day I am simply letting you know that you have always got a choice. You can turn what may have been a negative day into a celebration. The choice is yours

Although it is great to be able to share, rehashing negative feelings and sharing bad memories will only ensure this day will always be a painful one for you. It might be time to use your energy to reclaim it for yourself.

11th March 2018 – Joyce

Published inMothers

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