The Emotional Cost of Ghosting Your Own Mother

Not a day goes by that I don’t think about my mother. Some days I think of her and just miss her. Some days I feel sad; others I am angry. Sometimes I just feel sorry for myself that I don’t get to raise my kids with my mom in my life. I am about to have my first daughter. I am my mother’s first daughter. I know there is something so special in that … a beauty we should be sharing in.

She is an imposter.

The real tragedy is that my mother lives just 30 minutes from me. But that’s not my mom; that’s an imposter. That lady is a person so changed by addiction and mental illness that she is no longer recognizable to me. That lady is not the same one who came into my room to wake me up on my first day of kindergarten with such excitement and made sure I had my favorite breakfast ready (french toast). That is not my mom, the one who made sure I had a new special outfit the time I was the MC of the school talent show. That imposter is not the same person who spent hours analyzing and helping me decorate my first dorm room. That mother is gone.

She was replaced by someone else entirely.

My mother is not the same person who slapped me after I had to bail her out from jail, or the person I refused to continue to bail out the next times. My mom is not the person I have visited in mental hospitals all over South Louisiana. She isn’t the person who texts and posts on social media incoherently all hours of the night. That person is not the mother I knew.

It’s hard to properly articulate the emotional spectrum of our relationship the last 3 decades.

To some, it may be hard to imagine being in a relationship so unhealthy it makes you completely shut someone you love out of your life. It’s hard and it hurts. It hurts in places so deep inside you. Small things can be a trigger for you to realize the chasm that exists in your life.

There are moments when I feel embarrassment from it all.

How do I respond when someone references my mother or asks me how she is? Or when I am making friends, and they are talking about their mom? How do I clue someone in to what my world has been like for the last 15 years trying to come to terms with my relationship with her?

It’s just impossible.

As far as I know, a relationship with her is just not possible. It’s so unhealthy for me and for my family. There are times when guilt and doubt creep into my mind. I don’t know any other way to best care for myself and for the people I’m responsible for. I know in my mind that none of this is my fault. I have tried more times than I can count to my own detriment to help her … to make it work. I can’t; it doesn’t.

I am resolved. This is a situation out of my control. I have been asked, “how will you feel when she is gone?” I suppose I cannot know that with certainty until that day comes. I do know I tried so very hard. I gave so much. When I had nothing left, I took it from other relationships to pour into my relationship with her and that still wasn’t enough. I cannot do that. It isn’t sustainable. This is how it is, and I am powerless to change it. I cannot make something counterfeit genuine.

I love my mom.

I will miss her every day. I will always long for who she was and will continue to struggle with the burden of letting her go.

Tara grew up all over south Louisiana and currently lives in Metairie with her husband Josh, and their 3 kids Dax, Dane and Delta. Tara is a buyer for a local food-service distribution company and Community Director for New Orleans Mom. During the week she can be found replying to emails, carpooling kids all around, giving out hugs and kisses, and looking forward to bedtime. Weekends are for family adventures, naps and cheering for LSU and the Saints. She loves trying new foods, travel, and she and her family love all things New Orleans, but especially Mardi Gras.

5 COMMENTS

  1. This situation is so close to my own. I had to ghost my mother as well. My mom passed away right after I found out I was pregnant with my first child. Grieving was strange because I’d already grieved the loss of my mother. The imposter entered so quickly, and not until I was an adult. I recently found my baby books, the woman who took the time to put those together and snuggle me as a baby is the woman I’m trying to remember. I’m sorry you have this struggle.

  2. I just want to say that I’m so incredibly sorry for the pain you have and continue to experience regarding your mother. What an unbelievably deep loss you carry with you everyday. It’s not fair in the least. Good for you for recognizing what you needed to do, for the well-being of both you and the rest of your family. I realize you may already be in some kind of therapy and just chose not to share it in your post, but in case you’re not, I just want to encourage you to pursue the self-care that comes from seeing a counselor. You don’t have to process these feelings alone. Somebody could help you learn effective coping methods and walk with you through these feelings. The pain will never go away, but you can learn to help yourself. I wish you peace and healing.

  3. There was a time when your story was very similar to mine. Luckily when my mom become a grandmother when I had my first child, it changed her. She came out of her darkness and has been addiction free (and taking her psychotropic mess) for 6 years. I still worry everyday that she may go back to the dark times but I’m hopeful. I’ll be praying for you and your mother and hoping that she seeks recovery so that she can be the mother that she once was and grandmother that she is meant to be.

  4. Thank you for the article. This must have been so hard to write without getting emotional. I am coming across your article and it is quite sad. As a mother, I do feel a sense of abandonment. She is mentally ILL. The operative word is ill. She is sick and not in the right frame of mind. To completely ghost her I think may have been to harsh but I can only base my reply on what I am reading.

    As a daughter, my mother was mentally ill but I take care of her as she needs ME now. There are many thing she does that I wish could be different but as long as she has not try to hurt, harm or create an unsafe environment for my family, I can’t see ghosting her completely.

    Nevertheless, I pray everything and worked out well for you and your mom. Prayers.

  5. I could have wrote this almost word for word.

    I am a dad probably 25 years older than you. Which means many people out there could write the same story, confession and resolution.

    You are not alone. Enjoy the family you created.
    Thank you for writing this and God bless.

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