I was not raised by my mom past the age of six years old when she decided to relinquish her role. I was the middle child wedged between an older sister and younger twin brothers; that she did keep.
Being the scapegoated child in that family, I was to blame for all that vexed my mother. Her displeasure was usually over something I had done or just who I was. My dad would follow along and dole out punishment at her behest.
In those 6 years I endured a tremendous amount of physical/emotional/sexual abuse as well as severe neglect. By the time I was put out of the family I was severally malnourished, rail- thin, had a speech impediment, sight issues, and emotionally crippled. There was nothing left in my room other than a bed with a sheet on it as I had destroyed everything. My backside, from the many whippings I got, healed, but it would take decades to heal my heart.
I was left with a lot of harsh beliefs about myself...
That I was bad…very bad.
That I destroyed everything I touched.
That I ruined people lives, marriages, and relationships.
And that I was ‘too much’ for anyone.
But the most devastating belief was that I was unwanted. I mean what kid isn’t wanted by their mother?!? What does that say about me?
She gave me up to my paternal grandparents. Although my dad agreed to hand me over to his parents, I have always had the sense that is was more her decision than his.
Mom was the victim in this whole affair and I was the offender. She charged her side of the family to never bring me up or even speak my name. Convincing herself that I was dead was how she coped with her choice. My brothers didn't know they had another sister until they were eleven.
The ramifications of being utterly abandoned and not having a mother in my life left a massive hole I felt would never be filled. It fragmented my soul with a ripple effect that would permeate my world for years to come. Even though I gave my life to Jesus at the age of fifteen, the healing process would mean patiently trekking a very long road with potholes the size of Texas!
With unending vigor, I pursued and consumed a myriad of substances, things, and people to fill the ache in my heart.
Years were spent sucking the very life out of my relationships with female friends or mentors. When I was around them, it was never enough… not enough time nor attention. The clinginess and obsessive behaviors simply wore the person out. Looking back, I can't say I blame them for putting up boundaries, distancing themselves, or simply moving on! It was an indictment on me, not them.
That "felt" rejection just reinforced the belief that I was simply too much.
Reading people was an adaptive tool I picked up out of necessity. I became a master at pushing the right emotional buttons to get what I wanted, making me quite adept at manipulating. It’s embarrassing to think back on all the childish games I played. Ploys and schemes that ultimately failed. With each encounter, I walked away with a deeper sense of my emotional impoverishment. No amount of attention or validation would be enough.
It would take years of playing out these scenarios, and countless burned out relationships, to finally learn that no person can... nor ever could... fill that hole.
In the Spring of 1999, I found an article on the internet about something called "emotional dependency." It was like reading chapters out of my life and exposed my manipulative playbook.
Any relationship we are desperately clinging to as if our life depended on it is profoundly unhealthy and falls easily into emotional dependency. I had one such relationship in mind at the time of reading that article; I was twenty-nine.
I had done my level best to try and squeeze out whatever I could from this loving and sweet older Christian friend, who literally oozed nurturing. She made me feel like I mattered and that feeling was intoxicating. Simultaneously, however, I felt an acute pain in her presence that I couldn't shake. The ever-present pang I experience was the awareness that our time was limited and it would come to an end and I would left alone again. I was tortured.
I eventually sent her the emotional dependency article. A sense of relief and panic overwhelmed me all at the same time.
Part of me wanted her to see the immense pain I was in.
Part of me feared she would reject me once she truly saw the ugliness of my soul.
Part of me wanted her to end of of this.
And part of me felt as if I would die if she did.
I get a visit from her. I figured it was to discuss the article, but I was ill prepared for what would follow. It was a Wednesday morning. This dear friend came to my house and ended the relationship. She told me she thought perhaps she was an idol to me– she was correct. She knew God was not okay with that and being the good friend she truly was, she did the tough thing I could not do.
Those first few weeks after the "break-up" were excruciating. To say I was devastated would not adequately capture how I felt. I cried more tears in that season than all of the years of my life combined.
Absolutely devastated, raw, embarrassed, and humbled, I would fall on the mercy and sweetness of the Lord. I did the wisest thing I could have ever have done... I ran to God. I clung to my Savior and Redeemer. I was not disappointed.
I began to take captive every thought and run it by God first. I read the bible with great fervor and began to obey it. My mind and heart were being renewed and healed.
God had this deliverance planned all along and I am eternally grateful to be set free from that captivity!
It is the mercy of God when He reveals our brokenness to us that leads to nothing but pain and suffering. He has made a way out of defeat and into wholeness.
I eventually learned to put that ravenous emptiness in God’s hands and let Him fill it.
I learned that putting a strangle hold on others doesn’t really get you what you want.
I learned what healthy relationships were and how they can bring true healing.
I have been blessed with many healthy and strong women in my life that God has used to restore that broken heart. For this, I am grateful!
(Head here to read part 2 ~ when I meet my mother again)