Nettles On My Heart: Don’t Cry

I’m starting a 6 part series that touches on my codependent relationship with my mother, who passed away on May 20, 2019 of a “mystery” illness that was finally diagnosed (alas too late) with her digestive system.

nettles

In doing so, I’m hoping to promote some healing for myself. I am not doing this to badmouth my beautiful mother, who was a loving human being with faults, like all of us.

Due to the nature of these posts, if you have any sort of thoughts or similar experiences, I invite you to share them with me.


I’m a crier. I’ve always been.

And more than likely, I always will be.

I’ve cried during movies, so many movies. Bambi. Love Story. Schindler’s List. Awakenings. The Passion of the Christ.

West Side Story (my mom made me watch it with her.)

I cried when I held my daughter for the first time.

I cried when my dad died. A lot.

I’ve cried over lost pets throughout the many years, big, fat, salty tears of sadness.

I cried when my ex-husband came to pick up the rest of his stuff that had been stored in the garage, sliding down the wall and onto the kitchen floor in a heap of wailing tears, because I knew then that it was truly over.

That was the exact moment when I completely unraveled after 6 months of pure hell (stay strong, right?) and I didn’t call my mom, although I could have. Instead, I called my best friend Cheryl, who had to tell me to calm down enough so that she could understand what the hell I was trying to say through my sobbing.

My mom didn’t like crying. If I had a nickel for each time that I was told to stop crying…well, I’d have a shit ton of nickels.

I think I actually saw my mother cry herself perhaps a dozen times or so my entire life. I know from my aunt that my poor mom did plenty of crying in private, but she never wanted anyone to ever witness any signs of weakness, which is probably why she stopped wanting people to visit her, especially the last year or so of her life.

Including her only daughter and yes, it’s a part of the whole nettles thing, because it still hurts my heart that she didn’t want me around. I’d push, she’d push back and oftentimes get a bit nasty about it.

And I’d cry.


I remember the first Christmas after my dad died. We were at one of my uncle’s for the yearly party (it was one of the last ones, sadly) and I was running around acting crazy with my cousins. I saw my mom hurry past us in the upstairs hallway, making a beeline for the bathroom. She had her hands up, covering her face.

I instinctively knew why she was crying. It was because my dad wasn’t there with us and as they say, the first of everything after someone dies is the worst.

My one uncle confirmed it at the foot of the stairwell. He looked directly at me.

“She misses your dad, honey.”

I just nodded. I didn’t go to her, because I knew that she wouldn’t have wanted me to see her so fucking sad.


I’m cut from a different cloth, I suppose.

I don’t enjoy inflicting my tears and woe on anyone, but it’s really nothing to be ashamed of. It’s a human emotion and God gave us the ability to cry for many reasons.

quote-people-have-said-don-t-cry-to-other-people-for-years-and-years-and-all-it-has-ever-meant-fred-rogers-87-44-98

THE MAN.

Some of us are just more prone to it than others and not as proud to keep it a secret.

I don’t try to stop people from crying. Instead, I ask them why they are crying, because I want to know. I want to understand why those tears are flowing.

My mom has been gone almost 6 months now and that’s the reason why I’ve been crying.

Nettles On My Heart: Troubled Child

I’m starting a 6 part series that touches on my codependent relationship with my mother, who passed away on May 20, 2019 of a “mystery” illness that was finally diagnosed (alas too late) with her digestive system.

nettles

In doing so, I’m hoping to promote some healing for myself. I am not doing this to badmouth my beautiful mother, who was a loving human being with faults, like all of us.

Due to the nature of these posts, if you have any sort of thoughts or similar experiences, I invite you to share them with me.


I wasn’t your normal, regular happy-go-lucky kid.

It seems to me that I was born anxious, with a strong fear of abandonment thrown in just for good measure.

Or was it because my father was often sick, in and out of hospitals due to his heart condition?

Did I somehow manage to suck up my mother’s own anxiety and depression like a napkin absorbs spilled milk?

I don’t know why I was such a troubled child, but what I am sure of is that I became a troubled teenager, then an adult with a troubled life.

I believe that the codependency really started when I moved out of my childhood home at 22 after becoming pregnant with my now adult daughter. It didn’t take me long to realize that the father of my baby was an abusive bastard, but silly me, I thought that I could change him. (I finally know the truth, that no, you cannot change a person.)

My mom didn’t like him from the start, even though he tried to win her over with a dinner invite at his one bedroom apartment. He made ramen noodles and rubbery, overcooked steak for the three of us.

It didn’t work.

Mom offered to let me stay at home during my pregnancy and then for the first year or two after I gave birth. (I often wonder how my life would have panned out if I had taken her up on it.)

But no, I declined and decided that I wanted to move in with him and have myself a little family.

He was awful and my mom was well aware of it, but by the time that I was ready to go back home with my tail between my legs, my mom was in the process of selling the house and moving to a new condo with my aunt and younger brother.

There was no room for us and the last thing that I wanted to do was fuck up their plans.

But my mom was deep in the muck with me from afar. We developed our own little code language so Mr. Abusive didn’t realize that we were talking about him during the many phone calls that we’d share during the course of the day.

Mom: What’s he doing now?

Me: Oh, the usual, you know. 

Mom: Yelling and throwing things?

Me: Yes, that new recipe needed more cheddar cheese, I think.

Mom: Why don’t you take the baby and go downstairs to visit that neighbor lady for a little while, give yourself a break from him?

Me: No, I don’t think I should, it’s calling for snow tonight and I hate driving when the roads get icy. 

Eventually though, he figured it out.

He hated how “close” we were and used to tell me that I needed to cut the fucking umbilical cord already, that it was pathetic how I couldn’t even fart without talking to my mother first.

My mother was fully enmeshed in my abusive relationship with my first ex (and my relationship with my ex-husband.)

I’m sure my mom hated the fact that I was living with a monster. However, there wasn’t much that she could do about it other than to watch it happen and try to intervene when she could. This often included her coming over to extinguish his rage so to speak, to talk him down, one thing that she was extremely great at doing.

The cops were called a few times, but he was so damned charming and able to make them take his side.

You see Officer, my finance is a bit of a drama queen and she does things on purpose to get under my skin. You know how it is, right? I was just blowing off some steam. 

We never did get married, although we were engaged. That fact would make it so much easier when I really did leave him finally on February 17, 2002, after roughly 6 years.

During this time-frame, my mom and I began to develop our unhealthy codependent mother/daughter relationship because I told her every detail about my unhappy, miserable life that I chose for myself instead of doing what she wanted me to do to begin with.

I believe that my mom felt that it was her job to protect me.

It set the stage for the future. Even asshat used to comment and become annoyed when I shared so many personal things about our relationship with her.

“What happens in our relationship is OUR business, not hers!”

I hate to say it, but he was actually right.

invisible umbilical cord still connects mother and adult child

Bingo.

daily phone calls, emails, and text messages define communication

If one or the other didn’t answer right away, it set us into full-on panic mode. We needed to keep constant tabs on each other in order to function properly.

the relationship looks close, it’s often unhealthy, with secret resentments and fears

I resented not being able to make my own decisions and choices in life without ending up disappointing her and being criticized.

There will never be anyone else in my life who could both love me so much, yet make me so unsure of myself and my own intuition.

Nettles On My Heart: A Lackadaisical Mother

I’m starting a 6 part series that touches on my codependent relationship with my mother, who passed away on May 20, 2019 of a “mystery” illness that was finally diagnosed (alas too late) with her digestive system.

nettles

In doing so, I’m hoping to promote some healing for myself. I am not doing this to badmouth my beautiful mother, who was a loving human being with faults, like all of us.

Due to the nature of these posts, if you have any sort of thoughts or similar experiences, I invite you to share them with me.


I remember the day that my mom called me a “lackadaisical mother” over the landline telephone that I still had. This was back in the early 2000’s before the whole cellphone craze hit.

I wasn’t positive what that word meant exactly, but I knew that it wasn’t a compliment.

In case you didn’t know, the word is an adjective meaning “lacking enthusiasm and determination; carelessly lazy.”

Ouch. That stung like nettles on my heart. My own mom had basically just called me a lazy mother.

That judgement was doled out within the first year after I took my young daughter and ran away from her abusive father. I was working a full-time job at a nursing home as a dietary aid and also keeping the secret that I had fibromyalgia from my coworkers and boss, afraid that they would fire me or look at me differently if they knew the truth.

After I would pick her up from daycare, I’d make her a snack and then let her watch television while I took a nap on the couch. I was often exhausted after working all day. We ate a lot of take out food and at the age of 6, my daughter knew how to operate our donated microwave to cook herself something to eat.

Yes honey, 3 minutes for a Hot Pocket, be really careful, it’ll be hot.

I’ll admit that I didn’t always do her hair in the mornings, I just brushed it really fast and out the door we’d go, down the steps from our 3rd story one bedroom apartment. She was always the first kid that got dropped off at 6:30 am and I had mom guilt for that. I was the mom who’d let her eat Pop Tarts for breakfast and send her a slice of leftover pizza for lunch. I never ironed any of her clothing, nor did I always get them out of the dryer and hung up before they’d wrinkle.

I wasn’t a strict mother and I didn’t keep her on much of a schedule when it came to chores, although this backfired in my face and still causes issues to this day. I had a really hard time putting my foot down and keeping it there. She’d end up doing a half-ass job of it anyway and being the perfectionist that I was (mostly still am, but that’s for another post) I’d just end up doing it myself.

But when it came to life in general, I rarely ever told my daughter what to do, often just allowing her do her own thing. I’d taken some childcare classes in high school and I really liked the Montessori approach. That’s when I realized how many different ways you could treat a child and teach them the valuable life skill of independence.

I gave her options and a voice because I wanted her to be her own person. I didn’t want to raise her the way that my mother raised me. Micromanaging was not my style and it still isn’t.

I’m not a perfect mother and I have made many mistakes, but one thing is for damn certain…lackadaisical or not, I love my baby girl more than anything in this world and I continue to do my best by her.


It wouldn’t be the first time that my mom would say something hurtful to me about how I was raising my child (or other topics) and it sure wouldn’t be the last.

When you have a kid, they don’t give you a How-To manual when you leave the hospital with your bundle of joy. I know that the way my mom raised me and how our codependent relationship developed as I grew into an adult was not solely her fault. She did the best that she could at the time and I honestly do forgive her.

But now, within the almost six months since she’s passed away, I’m finding it arduous to find my own path in this world without hearing her in my head, often belittling and questioning my choices and decisions.

And I’m realizing now just how unhealthy our mother/daughter relationship really was.

CODEPENDENTS:

An invisible umbilical cord still connects mother and adult child, where daily phone calls, emails, and text messages define communication. Though the relationship looks close, it’s often unhealthy, with secret resentments and fears.

I must’ve appeared so lackadaisical because I was lax when it came to B deciding what she thought was best for her in any given situation. Did she feel well enough to go to school? Did she want to take those gifted classes in the 4th grade? Did she feel comfortable going to that sleepover knowing that the girl who didn’t seem to like her was going to be there?

I wanted her to make up her own mind about things. It didn’t mean that I never intervened and said a big “hell no!” when it truly mattered and had anything to do with her safety. But mostly, it was her choice and her life.

I really wanted my daughter to have her own sense of identity and to be able to make her own decisions in this life. My advice is always there for her when she needs or asks for it, but in the end, it’s up to her.

When I’m dead and gone, I don’t want her hearing me in her head, making her stop in her tracks when faced with a decision. I don’t want her second-guessing herself like I now find myself doing almost daily.

What I am attempting to do with this series of posts is to find some healing from the unintentional wounds that my mother inflicted upon me. To be painfully honest and brutally open. I need to look at everything for what it was, not for how I wished it had been, a mother who truly allowed me to live for myself.

My mom didn’t think that I was capable of much and that makes me so sad. One of her biggest fears was leaving me behind and not having someone who was willing to take care of me. It was such a worry for her that she even asked my brother to “take care of your sister when I’m gone.”

If that isn’t a total sucker punch to the self esteem, I really don’t know what is.