love, Ruth Nineke

My Mother Did This To Me

Post Published: November 16, 2022


When your earliest source of love is polluted, and pollutes you, you develop certain behaviors and traits that you think will keep you protected and safe inside that love – no matter how polluted. I’d learned to believe I had to earn my mother’s love, and like a video game I had to keep earning it because it could run out fast.

This is the best way I can explain it, and I feel that I must explain it. I always feel like I need to explain myself because I always feel like my ideas and my actions are subject to wild misinterpretation. 

I always feel like I’m going to get in trouble, and that being myself isn’t enough without good reason. 

My mother did this to me, and I feel like I owe my baby, toddler, and seven to eleven year old selves that admission and declaration. The child I was did not deserve to be improperly conditioned to believe she was inadequate in any way. She did not deserve to become a sponge for her mother’s flaws and pain.

But you can’t pick your family – that we have any empirical scientific proof of yet – and children tend to love their mothers and want their mothers’ love. It’s our nature to respond to love, and to want love. I’m not embarrassed of being human. 

I’m embarrassed of being so excessively human in this way, so utterly and desperately afflicted by my aching need for approval, admiration, assurances. It makes me feel pathetic and weak that the need is ever present. I grapple with this need. I must overcome my want for love if I’m ever going to stop hurting. The solution is obviously to stop feeling. 

One way I tried to overcome my ache was drinking. Another was fucking. And a third was drugs. A fourth was self-harm. (As though the others weren’t also.) I don’t feel like my drug use or drinking or whoring were signs of addiction. I don’t believe I have a disease. 

I can give compassion to addicts, who may feel they have a disease. I can give compassion to anyone suffering pain because I know what the fuck that feels like and it’s the worst. And when you’re spiraling, and on a bender the pain is only amplified by your awareness that you’re willfully slipping, and it gets louder with every intoxicated effort to silence it. 

It’s agonizing, and brutal, and overwhelming, and unless you’ve genuinely experienced hating and harming yourself in this way you can kindly shut the fuck up on judging addicts and drunks and cutters and attention whores. 

We do what we can to cope.


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