It’s Okay To Not Be Okay
Mother’s Day came rather quickly this year. (Considering how long March was!) Every year I manage to avoid it right up until the last few weeks…until the ads are on constant replay and the emails won’t stop asking you to think of mom and purchase the “perfect” gift. Every year I manage to shove down the emotion that comes with acknowledging that I don’t have a mother to celebrate or honor on that day. Every year it feels the same: numbing.
Many of us are holding our breath as the day approaches. Not because our mothers are no longer here with us physically, but because we’ve had to separate ourselves from them mentally and emotionally to exist. The relationships toxic and unbearable to the point of separation to maintain our own sanity. I am here to tell you, you’re not alone. May and June can be difficult to navigate especially if you are no contact, setting boundaries, or just now finding your voice in the chasm of parental control and independence. And sometimes, it never gets easier. But we can circumvent some of the heaviness that comes with days like tomorrow by setting our own boundaries and plans in place.
A simple way to help yourself during this time is to plan ahead. You do not have to allow the emotions and trauma to sneak up on you. (It’s very easy to do if you’re of the avoidance personality type like myself.) Have an action plan ready to deal with any of the revelations that come your way. This can look like writing and reflecting about the emotions that come up. Acknowledging them, then releasing them back into the world. Creating affirmations to remind yourself of how far you’ve come or where you’d like to be in 3 months, 6 months, or a year from now. Such as: “I do not have to be held captive by pain, fear, or sorrow.” “My feelings are valid and I am not less than for acknowledging them.” “I have power over myself and the direction of my life.” “I am my own person and I honor who I am becoming.” Write them down, reflect on them, and repeat them as needed until you believe the best about who you are.
Create Your Own Traditions
When you begin to plan, create a way to make this day your own. To get out of your head, get out of your house. Plan an adventure to a new park/beach. Visit a museum or local historical place in town, you’ve never been. Maybe visit the town over and find a cute bed and breakfast or a spa day planned in advance so you get the best masseuse and nail artist. If, like in the whirlwind times that is 2020, you find that these are not available to you, find some at home activities to brighten your space. Order some plants to add life, greenery, and cleaner air. Find a virtual paint class where you can order supplies to be delivered or picked up and paint the things you cannot say. Anyway that you can, find a way to make this day one you look forward to, rather than dread.
Sometimes we carry into this day expectations of who we should be as daughters. We guilt ourselves into believing that we could’ve, should’ve, and would’ve done more “if only.” The issue with this line of thinking is that it places the onus of relationship and restoration on ourselves. In any healthy relationship, it takes more than one person to right the wrongs. If you have done everything in your power to make it “right,” there is no need to compound your grief by ruminating on what you could’ve changed. Be compassionate and gracious towards who you were and who you are becoming. Forgive yourself for believing that you could do anything more than be a kind daughter to the person who birthed you. We cannot fix adults who choose to live life destructively and it is not our burden to bear. Forgiving yourself is for you; restoration is for them.
You Are Strong Enough
As this weekend progresses, ensure that you make and keep your boundaries strong. There will be friends or family members who challenge where you stand and who may try to guilt you into loosening those boundaries. Your mother may even try to push the boundaries to see if they can find a way back in. But remind yourself why it has to be this way and why you cannot weaken your stance. Your peace is of the utmost importance and if you find you cannot do it alone, employ like-minded friends or your significant other to stand in the gap for you. You are strong enough to stand in your truth. You deserve peace; you deserve the deepest and greatest love; you deserve to be seen and heard; and most of all, you deserve to be here.