17 thoughts on “Reflecting on My Mother, Her Death, and Unintended Gifts

  • March 3, 2016 at 7:21 am

    Wow, this article so hit home this morning. However, as a southern woman, raised that manners, respect, and outward appearances were everything, and blackmailed by threats of disinheritance, I never had the courage to totally make the break. However, many, many times I have asked why she had to be my mother. What did I ever do to deserve her. I don’t have one memory of her cooking a meal for me, reading to me, praying with me, all the things I did on a daily basis with my own daughters. You are right, the hole never heals.

  • March 3, 2016 at 9:29 am

    Peg, I have some similar experiences as you and your writing about being an unloved daughter have taught me how to name it. I learned in high school about the cycle of abuse that goes on in some families, the violence, the neglect. I promised my brother out on the porch one afternoon that I would not have children; that I would break the cycle and I did. It left another hole in my heart, more now than when I was younger. I wish I had children but I know that is a selfish wish. It wouldn’t have been good for me to have a child and try to love it when I had never seen love. I had seen plenty of hate, physical abuse, mental torture, sexual abuse from the age of 4 til 9, when I got my period. So early. The neglect and poverty have never left me. The abuse they showed each other taught me that I never would live with anyone who didn’t want to be with me, so after 2 divorces, I swore off marriage, knowing I’d never seen a happy one and I wouldn’t put myself or another through that again. I now have been with my partner, Kenny, for 16 years, and attribute to such a long relationship to maturity and not promising forever as I know I can’t. I just wonder, with all you’ve shared, if you would tell me if you had a child and if you are glad and if it turned out to be a good, solid, loving relationship. I often wonder what would have happened if only if… Thank you for your consideration. Teresa

    • March 3, 2016 at 9:59 am

      Hi Teresa, I did have a child, just before my 39th birthday after I reversed my thinking. Like many unloved daughters, I had decided not to have children for fear that I would become my mother. Well,having my daughter was the single best thing I have done with my life, my main accomplishment. If you go to my Facebook page (www.Facebook.com/PegStreepAuthor) you’ll see discussions pertaining to this and other things. Anyway, as I mention in the piece, she’s now 28 and fabulous! Best, Peg

  • March 3, 2016 at 9:46 am

    My mother did say she loved me, usually in tears when I was asking a questions she did not want to answer and always with ‘don’t you love me?’

    I once asked her how she saw me. She wouldn’t understand I wanted her to recognise me as a person. Her response was ‘I’m your mother, you are my daughter’.

    Yes, I am many things, not just the label ‘daughter’.

    9 years of no contact apart from cards. I’m 43 and started to break away permanently from the age of 28.

  • March 3, 2016 at 12:03 pm

    I’d love to know more about your mother’s background. What made her incapable of loving you? There has to be an answer in her past.

    • March 3, 2016 at 12:20 pm

      Ginny, It really doesn’t work that way. You have to trust me on that. There are many “reasons” and there are also none. People make choices too; it’s not all automatic behavior. Best, Peg

  • March 3, 2016 at 2:54 pm

    Peg, you did the right thing by staying away. I had gone no-contact a couple of times through the years but when my mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer she reached out to me. I pondered a long time about replying and eventually did, because I did not want to face my future self in the mirror if I squandered what was our last chance. I should have squandered. She used me to the end and on the day she died she sunk a knife so deep that 10 years later the wound still bleeds. I ran from her bedside in tears, almost hysterical with the emotional pain she could still wield. She died 4 hours later. Her last act on earth was to hurt me as deeply as she possibly could and she smiled while she did it through what must have been unimaginable pain. I have only shared the ordeal that was her from my first memories with one person, my husband. Thank you for showing me that I am not alone.

    • March 3, 2016 at 3:05 pm

      Boy,Caddy, that is one dreadful story..I am going to restrain myself from writing what I’d like to. Yikes. You aren’t alone; trust me. But the cruelty of your mother is astonishing nonetheless. Blessings on you. You deserve them. Best, Peg

    • March 3, 2016 at 7:44 pm

      Caddy, your story breaks my heart. I hope that you realize that you did nothing wrong. In fact, you went above and beyond your obligations to your Mom. Whatever the issues between you two, the fault lies with her. I know in my Mother’s instance, she was mentally ill, possibly your Mom was as well. It however doesn’t excuse the abusive behavior. I hope you find peace and happiness now that she has passed, I know that I have. You are not alone.

      • March 3, 2016 at 8:01 pm

        Lovely and empathic. Merci beaucoup. Best, Peg

  • March 20, 2016 at 5:11 am

    I did go to my mom’s service, but wished I hadn’t. I was even her caregiver for eight months when she had dementia… She threw food at me (that I cooked for her), bit at me, scratched, and tried to slap me. She was evil till the end. I, which I truly believe was a gift from God – was unreachable during the final days of her life. I felt badly but it was just not meant to be. The truth of it is that I’m glad the couldn’t find me.

    As I read your information – so much rings true – I didm’t have children because I knew how damaged I was. I’ve had problems with animals and my temper. The internal rage is lessening. I do find I can (after 25+years of therapy) ask for what I need and deserve, but most men can’t handle it. I am too forceful, and blunt. I am demanding I guess. I just won’t allow certain things in my life. I am moody – and still insecure at times, and needy. My life is empty. I don’t quite know what the answers are. I just know I’m tired of life like this. I have broken relationship after broken relationship — I run men off and my girlfriends and if fight. What is the matter with me? I’m so assertive that I’ve gone off the deep end…. and the hole still exists. I’ve tried everything that I know to do to try and recover from the massive hurt from this trauma but I still keep pushing people away from me. Love was a dual edged sword in my house, it caused pain. Mother would blackmail me – “if you love me you’ll do it”… using me for every little thing that she wanted from daddy from cars to houses. I became a master manipulator. I reached for drugs and alcohol to deal with my childhood abuse and neglect. I’ve been writing for three years and I’m sick of myself. i’m reading your book but see no real healing. I just pushed a very good man away. I’m at my wits end. Just short of feeling hopeless. My whole life is full of nothing but restarts and failed relationships. Thank God I didn’t have children. I thought I’d found hope with your new book, but I’m still lacking answers…. Mom’s gone now and I am still suffering.

  • January 9, 2017 at 7:15 pm

    Dear Peg:
    I’ve been following your writings for a some time and appreciate all that you have shared with many unloved daughters such as myself. I post on Facebook a number of your articles.

    My mother died nearly 2 weeks ago, and I’m …clueless as to how I really feel about her death. Having spent a long time in therapy sorting through the maze/complexities of my relationship with both my parents, and then realizing just this year the narcissistic triangulation of our family relationships by my mother, my heart is mute as I write this.

    It’s just very perplexing to me.

    Thanks for listening.

  • March 3, 2019 at 9:52 am

    This hit home more than all your other columns. Nobody can understand unless they have suffered the same experience. Even when I try to describe to my daughters my maternal child relationship they don’t want to listen. So I leave them with their relationship and fond memories. My gift is watching my daughter’s growth as a loving mother and hearing her speak about her happy childhood and our relationship. My grandchildren are wonderful thanks to their loving parents and families.

    • March 4, 2019 at 7:22 am

      That is exactly how I feel about my daughters. I have stopped asking why my mother was as she was and know nothing I could have done could have changed that but knowing that she ‘fooled’ my daughters is what hurts now and that is the next stage in my journey. My son and his wife are by contrast amazingly understanding and supportive, which helps so much!

  • March 10, 2019 at 6:52 pm

    my mom, w/whom I have had no contact for some years, just died & i am comforted by all that is being said here. i grieved years ago & still this time now is rather surreal & perplexing (but thankfully, not nearly as difficult as the grieving of the past). of particular distress to me now is that a brother-in-law, whom I hardly know, took it upon himself to encourage me to contact my mother while she was in hospice care & then after she died wrote me to tell me she loved me. this seems misguided & cruel & brings up a lot of stuff for me, but i am not responding because it seems pointless.

    • March 10, 2019 at 7:02 pm

      Wait, isn’t this your sister’s message? I am guessing he is a messenger with a goal. Best, Peg

  • March 27, 2019 at 8:12 am

    I’ve come to this ‘breakthrough’ of the effects of mangled relationship with my mother as she enters her final stage of cancer. I have not found a therapist who gets this type of relationship and its damage. The response is always some variation of me finding love and gratitude in my heart while maintaining my obligations as a good daughter and human being. I am encouraged to see that Peg, someone who has healed and is healing, had a similar response from her therapist. It tells me that contrary to what everyone says, healing and the choices we make, good and bad, are ours alone. If you have support, great! But for us that do not, I have to believe that my voice matters. That even if I’m mistaken, not the ‘bigger’ person, not healed, I still matter. And if the choice is between listening to my heart or enduring more slights, revisions, scapegoating, and isolation, then I’m going with my voice this time. Cause the isolation resulting from playing along or charting a new course is going to suck either way, but only one of those is a way out.

    My biggest fear is losing my daughter again in the process. We are healing and reforging our relationship after her own trauma to my severe depression during her high school years. I learned later she was suicidal at the exact same age as I was, 17. She still struggles, but appears to be moving forward. I continue to validate her experience and be supportive and loving as much as she allows. She’s not ready to understand my relationship with my mother. And doesnt understand how my mom manipulates her by singing my praises while at the same time assuring my daughter “She’s always been this way.” (Depressed)

    My other fear is not being able to answer those about not contacting my mom. Mind you, she won’t call me. Ever. I’ve offered to assist her in any way (dr visits, cleaning, groceries); all declined. My mom just wants attention, to not be talked about from neighbors (the same ones she denigrates all the time) and to save me from any work.. Just conversing with her, leaves me with nerves and crying at her cruelty, dismissals, and manipulation.

    Scary time. In some ways it will be easier. Very small family now, so risk losing daughter and sister only. But the risk of complete loss of family is frightening. Time to build my own foundation. And right quick, cause at 54, I’d like to figure out how to create my own joy. Beginning that journey with Daughter Detox book and journal. That foundation will be open to family and future friends. But I’m going to stop jumping through everyone else’s hoops in order to stay alive. Wish me luck.


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