I have been asked the same dreadful question many times, including someone whom I deem rather important in my life. I am in complete shock that she, along with others, would dare ask me this question after knowing not only my story, but the bond I have with my mother. The question that, thanks to society and the warped mentality surrounding child abuse, people feel is okay to ask: “Are you angry at your mother?” This seems like a harmless question, however, this can also be a catalyst or trigger for misdirected anger.
I remember being a child and having to see a psychologist as I had a somewhat colorful childhood and my family had thought it best that I talk to someone. Those who knew me well knew that talking was not my problem, but rather connecting to the emotion that I should be displaying. This was the moment in my life when the term dissociation had first started surfacing, a term to describe my ability to detach from my feelings. Despite my dissociation, we enjoyed the constant back and forth banter when my psychologist would attempt to rile me up. I would laugh at their fugal attempts or perhaps conjure up some crocodile tears to call their bluff until they uttered that one gut-wrenching question, “Aren’t you angry at your mother?” I always frowned at the question and would immediately respond with a firm, “No.” Occasionally they would try to push the subject to get more out of me, but it never worked.
Although, today would be a different story. Now it would rile me up, but not because I have suddenly hit some realization that I should be angry at my mother, but rather I am furious at the assumption that I should be. The only reality that hits me is that I am expected to be angry at her or blame her for what happened to me as a child. Apparently feeling this way would be acceptable or even expected. Ironically enough, not feeling this way towards her causes confusion for many people.
It’s funny that we encourage people to blame another person for what took place in our lives. I know I had no control over what happened to me and neither did my mother. My mother did not know that the person she fell in love with would have this side to him, nor would she know that when she left for a work meeting that morning that he would take advantage of me. If it was just as much out of her control as it was for me, why should I blame her or be angry at her for what happened? As one of my psychologists would say, “It’s okay to be angry at your mother.” The only situation where I would agree with that statement was if my mother were really not interested in her children, perhaps neglectful or even abusive herself, but my mother was and has never been any of those things.
That’s when it sunk in for me. If I had shared my story when I was younger and I had been asked this inappropriate question of whether or not I should blame my mother, would I have a different reaction? How would I have reacted had someone asked me that, and almost encourage my negative feelings, towards the person “who is meant to protect me” while being a scared child going through the many emotions I was experiencing? I am sure that my outlook would be quite different. Children look to adults for guidance and protection. Then if my psychologist tells me I have something to be angry at my mother for then I must be. This encouragement could have been the very reason for a difficult mother-daughter relationship. I would not have been able to focus on all the wonderful things my mother has done for me or the relationship we have built together. Instead, I would be blaming her for something that was never hers to take.
In saying all of this I do feel we as people should be more aware of what we say concerning someone’s life story or our presumption on what they should be feeling regarding any aspect of it. As my grandmother would continuously inform my overly talkative self, “You cannot listen when you are too busy talking”. To me, it means that we all need to listen carefully to what someone shares with us, listen to how they share it and if there is not an underlying negative tone, leave it be. There is so much negativity in the world that we do need to be setting off any catalysts just because we cannot comprehend a certain situation.
My mother is pretty great! We have a wonderful relationship that I wouldn’t change for the world.
Follow Robyn-Lynn on Instagram @robynlynnk25, you can also read her story here.