Mother Daughter Relationships: How to let go of the past

Last year, I wrote a post about my mother. I’ve since deleted it because it was honestly too hard to read anymore. It was cold, unforgiving, and it was surprisingly easy to write.

This post, however, is not so easy.

It’s difficult because for the first time in about twelve years my mom and I are very close. Things are so different now, and I thought they’d never get here.

It just saddens me that our relationship was so bad at one point.

It was mostly due to the fact that she didn’t do anything about the abuse that was going on in our house. I thought she didn’t care. I felt like she abandoned me. Though we lived in the same house she felt so far away.

Even in my college years we didn’t really get along.

The only time I got praise was in public when she bragged about me. 

But behind closed doors we spent our time having screaming matches, not talking, not communicating, and I spent my own time resenting her. Sitting in my room wondering why my family was like this. This abuse ultimately led to my depression. So I blamed her for that, too. I vividly remember vowing to myself that she’d never meet my children. Something that sounds ridiculous to me now. She’s an amazing grandmother to my nephew, and I so badly want that for my kids someday when I have them.

My brother had a weird position in the house. Since we didn’t always have a father figure, he was the one who did all of the punishing and grounding.

My mom wasn’t really a mom in that sense. When we’d ask permission for something, she’d say “ask your brother”.

That infuriated me. Why have children if you’re not going to be there for them? If you’re not going to nurture them. If you’re going to make them hate themselves? 

See… all of these things are still true. They really happened. I didn’t make it up in my head. The only thing that is different now is that I don’t let it run my life anymore.

When I see my mom I don’t see all of those things anymore. Although it’s still relatively new. It only started happening when I started planning my move to Austin. When I see her, I see the person that she is now. 

Something that always stuck with me from therapy was a very important question the mediator asked me. I was tearing up and saying that I resented my mom. She wasn’t there for me emotionally, she allowed abuse to happen in our home and didn’t protect me, she made me feel extremely terrible about myself, and I didn’t think I could ever forgive her.

And He said, “Okay, you’re angry with her. She really messed up your childhood. But Jessica You’re 21. What is that anger doing you for now?”

He was right. I was angry. Angry at a ghost. At someone my mom no longer was.

Just like in my blog post, “Saving” I was on a carousel that was no longer working. Sure, before when it was spinning quickly I had no control. There was nothing I could do.

But what about when I did have the control? When I was older and my stepdad was gone. When I moved out? The carousel had stopped, everyone else had gotten off, and there I was, not allowing myself the pleasure of getting off the ride and moving on with my life.

Not allowing myself to put my feet on solid ground.

It is only when you realize these things about yourself that you can try to let go of your past anger.



I remember sharing all of this with Joseph. Hearing those things and seeing the anger it caused me made him angry with her. He basically hated her.

I remember one day he called her a bitch.

I lashed out at him and told him to never call her that. It felt weird because I didn’t think I had any desire to defend her. Seems even at that time I still really wanted to love her.

Now that things are different, I’m excited to see Andy meet my mom someday. Now that our relationship is a lot better and I don’t resent her. Now he can form his own opinion of her instead of me ruining their chances before they even meet, like I did with Joseph. I sabotaged myself in that department, but I never will again.

Why do we make ourselves suffer? It’s like we have this idea that someone has to be angry for things that happened in the past.

“If I’m not angry about my abuse it’s like it never happened.”

Like those years of suffering are like nothing. Like I never went through what I went through.

But would it be so bad to leave it in the past? Would it be so bad to stop letting it control me?

Would it be so bad to be happy?

No. It wouldn’t be so bad.

So after that therapy session, I tried extremely hard to let go. It wasn’t easy. It didn’t happen all at once, and there were many moments that I just couldn’t see my mom any differently.

Besides, family argues. They do. No matter what.

But the point is eventually, when I let go of my anger, let go of my accusations, let go of trying to be good enough for her, or wishing she was good enough for me, something happened.

We got closer.

I kicked all of my walls down and so did she, and there were moments in those four months I was home that changed our relationship.

We had heart to hearts. We were vulnerable with each other. We trusted each other. And we were there for each other.

For the first time in a long time, I saw my mom again through my four year old eyes.

The eyes that I thought I had lost forever.

She is different now. She isn’t perfect. Neither am I. But we love each other.

All because I decided to finally stop carrying the past on my back.

Don’t believe yourself. You do not have to be angry about things that happened to you long ago. This whole “someone has to be angry” thing is ludicrous.

Remember what you suffered and where you came from, but don’t let it control your life anymore.

Don’t let it keep you from seeing the beautiful changes that others have made in their lives since then.

Because if I had let it do that to me… Well… I wouldn’t have my mom back.

I love you, mom. Even though you don’t know the url to this blog, I want to tell the world.

I love you, and I’m so extremely happy that we are here.

No one is perfect, and I don’t expect you to be.

It’s just like when I was sad for the first time instead of depressed. Now when we argue, it’s normal arguing. And on the surface I may seem irritated, but on the inside I’m actually incredibly relieved to be fighting with you this way.

I may not have my dad, and I may never will.

But it’s incredibly nice to know that I have my mom. A mom who is also an amazing grandmother to my nephew (And my future children).

And I will never take that for granted.


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