One of them nurtured me and helped me grow. One didn't.
Oh, Donna. My heart breaks for you. Your mother is/was a lot like mine. Thoughts that I have: I want to coin the term “intellectual abuse”. I thought of it when you said that you felt strangely creeped out or uncomfortable by the way your mother was behaving, and that you felt special but also didn’t entirely like it. that’s how people describe certain kinds of sexual abuse. Your mother was taking advantage of a captive audience to get from you what she never got from her mother. In her unconscious mind you were her mother, and she was demanding mirroring from you. We want to be able to go to our mother with our productions and have her be interested and praise us. That’s what she forced you to do with her dissertation and so forth. She forced you to be her partner in her intellectual pursuits. A little child wants to play with its mother. This was her adult version of saying to you, “mommy come play with me.” But instead of playing together with blocks or dolls, she was playing with words and ideas. Because she was an adult. Yet in her unconscious she was the child and you were the mother. She was trying to get from you what she did not get from her mother. (Do you know anything about her mother? ). Does a child tend to its mothers physical needs? Teach its mother how to do practical things around the house? No. A child’s job description is to be somewhat of a parasite, but in a way that a normal adult finds rewarding. Because a normal adult can tolerate the burden a child is, The sacrifices one hast to make for a child, because the rewards are worth it. In this relationship your mother was the child, parasitizing you, but you were not an adult and it was not your job description. Your mothers neglect of your body was extreme, and makes me wonder about her relationship to her own body. Was she physically or sexually abused? Often those survivors want nothing to do with their body, wish they didn’t have a body. They ignore their own body and certainly might well ignore their child’s body. she does seem to be a person who was interested only in the intellect. No body, no soul. Just the intellect. Kind of like a computer with artificial intelligence. Any chance she had autism spectrum disorder/ Asperger‘s ? did she have peculiar socially mis-attuned behaviors other than her extreme focus on the intellectual ? I have come to wonder if my mother has a mild autism spectrum disorder, overlaid by a stunted psychological development that left her emotionally basically like a three-year-old. Anyhow, these are my thoughts. I am glad that you have found love and partnership and healing. With a mother like that it is a lifelong project, and I can totally relate. Courage !!
Hi Donna, thank you so much for writing this and sharing it. It really speaks to me. I've recently been pondering relationships in which we are a projection for another person rather than an actual self (ourselves!) How painful to have this situation with one's parent...
Wow. This is intense and fascinating. Now I know why you were so surprised when I read in my story that, for my mother, the goal of me going to college was to find a husband. Opposite moms!
Oh man. I relate to so much of this. SO. MUCH. This is what finally got me to join substack, by the way. Time to roll up my sleeves and get to reading (and writing).
This piece had me shuddering over and over again. The game "Smart Baby" (!!!) - so cute, in a way, and yet so disastrous. Your mother is one of your great subjects. She comes across as a kind of giantess. The writing is so lived-in, textured, & funky-smelling. Like childhood! Maybe yourself as a child is one of your great subjects, too.
What a complicated and interesting mother you had! Enjoyed this piece!
Oh, so the actual post is complete in the actual email that I can access on my laptop or phone. 🤯