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March 12
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JANUARY 29, 2009 10:42PM

Why did my mother hate me?

Rate: 28 Flag

It's not easy being an only child. It's even worse when your mother hates you. 'Hate is such a strong word.' 'You mother can't hate you. She's your mother.' 'How can you say such a thing about your mother?' 'What's wrong with you?'

What's wrong with me? If I had a nickel every time I asked myself that question, I'd be able to resolve our international financial crisis. For the longest time I thought it was me. After all, I could never do anything right. I never measured up, I was always a disappointment. I will never amount to anything, too klutzy, too sloppy, too stupid, an imbecile.

When there was some accomplishment in my life, Mom was always there to take me down a peg or two. There must be something wrong with me, because she's my mother. Mothers always knows best.

And my Dad, he was always working. When he was home, my Mom and Dad were at each other's throats. I thought every family fought this way.

Then my Dad moved out. I thought it was my fault. But who could I talk to? No one. Then things got worse. If anything went wrong, I was in for it. Then I heard you're worthless, just like your father. Just like your father.

If there was an opportunity for embarassment, she took it. In front of teachers, friends, relatives, strangers. There must be something wrong with me, because she's my mother. Mothers always know best.

I messed up in school and was sent away to boarding school. What a relief. I dreaded the holidays, dreaded coming home for vacation. I couldn't stand to be in the same room with her. I couldn't wait to go back to school. And I hated school.

Somehow I managed to graduate from High School, and went to college away from home. The holidays were a dreaded time. I came home less and less. The less time I spent around her the better I felt.  There must be something wrong with me, because she's my mother. Mothers always know best.

I dropped out of college and moved further away. The greater the distance between us the better I felt. Then she decided to move closer. That was a dreadful time; her living in the same town. After a year or two, I moved further away. I got engaged. She called and created an outrageous story about my fiancee being kidnapped. I got worried. My fiancee walked through the door and I told what had just happened.

I got married, but my mother wasn't at my wedding. There must be something wrong with me that I don't invite my mother to my wedding. After that for the next 16 years I had very little contact with her. I went to see her on a few occasions. The insults and the abuse continued. I made a decision to stop seeing her. I had gone back to college as an adult and got both a bachelor's degree and an MBA. I adopted two girls 11 and 13 (sisters) who were in the state foster care system and helped them rebuild their lives. I had finally made a difference in someone's life and had amounted to something. There was nothing wrong with me. There was something wrong with her. Why did she hate me?

Her health steadily declined and then she passed away. I wasn't there when it happened. I didn't cry, I didn't feel sad. When the casket was laid to rest, I felt relief, like a heavy weight had been lifted. It was comforting to know that I could go on with my life. There must be something wrong with me, because she's my mother. Mothers always know best.

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A powerful post. You've built something good with your life as well, something you can be proud of. Because mothers don't always know best.
Wow. That's a powerful story powerfully written.
Mothers don't always know best. There doesn't seem to be anything wrong with you. There was a lot wrong with your mother, but she's gone now. You should be very proud of who you are especially considering what you had to overcome.
Odetteroulette -- It took a very long time with a couple of failed marriages, but I am in great place now, with a great woman and a couple of great daughters.

Geoff - Thanks for saying the right thing at the right time.

jane - thanks. I wait patiently for your comments.

mother - thanks. I've learned that.
Hey OE - I totally understand this. If you're interested in another mom story check out an old post of mine titled I Married My Mother. My mom died last summer at age 84, but I had let go of her 20 years earlier. Today I accept her illnesses, but that didn't minimize their impact on me. Thanks for your courage and honesty.
I am also sorry for your experience but incredibly glad that you got beyond it and have built a good life for yourself and understand that it wasn't you. Whatever doesn't kill us makes us stronger is true here. Best Wishes.
I am so sorry. As a mom yourself, and myself, we hope to do the best for our kids. Obviously. Every real mom does. Your mother may have given birth to you, but she was not your mom. I feel your pain, and pray never to hurt my child that way.

My grandmother (NOT my Grandma), was an evil, bitter woman. She hurt my father, one of her 4 children, tremendously. He was about 65 when she died, and she was still reminding him what a difficult birth he was. Like it was his fault! She hated him ever since.

I once sympathized with him about how painful it must have been to have your mother treat you so horribly. He said it was okay growing up because he was super-close to his dad. (Was that part of the problem, or was his dad trying to amend for her hatefulness? I'll never know). But his dad died when he was 17.

My grandmother never bothered to learn my mother's name, even through 45+ years of marriage. Never bothered to learn which grandchild was which.

I can only wonder how women can be so hateful to their children. To any child, for that matter! We may get annoyed at strangers' children who are acting out, but are we mean to them? Are we mean to innocent little children who come to the door selling candy? Then why would anyone EVER be mean to their own child? (And I don't mean a much-regretted snapping at them harshly on occasion; I mean an ongoing pattern of anger.)

OE, you have been through so much pain, but somehow, it sounds like you have built a good life and become a good person. In spite of, or because of, the pain you experienced.
All families are dysfunctional. Some more than others. Perhaps your mother carried a burden with you that she was never able to share. I'm not defending her, just trying to figure it out. Obviously, you turned out great in spite of it all and two young children got a family out of the deal.

It's working out in the end, I hope. :-)

Grif- I don't have to read your post since I did that. Big mistake. But I'm in a different marriage now with a woman who is nothing like mom. What a blessing that is.

Dogmom. How kind of you provide such comfort when you are going through something more traumatic than my experience. Your a pretty terrific person.

Greg - My family puts the "fun" in dysfunction. It's been a tortured journey at times, but road is smoother now. With all the drama going on around OS today, being able to write and get a response makes OS a very special place.
Your mom was a very unhappy woman so it seems, and her happiness was vented onto you. If you weren't there, it would have been another child, or her husband (which certainly it was), or a friend, or her sister, or whoever she could get to stay in the room long enough to listen to her.
It had absolutely nothing to do with you, it was all internal to her, and there's no way as a child you could have ever understood that.

In fact, your mother probably loved you as much as she could love anyone, but of course that's little comfort if she never demonstrated her love. Very powerful essay. You came out fantastic.
Giving birth does not necessarily make one a Mother. As an adoptive Mother, I hope you realize this.
I had a great Mom and Dad so I cannot possibly relate - but you did powerfully explain why some have to remove their mothers from their lives.

Unfrotunatly, I lost my great parents too young and that has been my major life fuck-up. But I was loved and I knew it.

I am very glad you've found your self-worth and your life, and very sorry for what you experienced. There should be a license required for procreation I think.
dcvdickens -- Thanks for your kind words. It took a very long time to discover that, talk about it and then write about it.

mb -- your a correct about that, except that I am dad not a mom. But thank you for that compliment.
Kelly it's tough to be alone and I'm sorry for the void that was created when you lost them. thanks for the kind s words. they mean a lot.
While I believe that you think your mother hated you, it is painfully clear that she hated herself more. God only knows what her choices and circumstances were prior to your arrival. She obviously lacked the tools, resources, interest or skills to find a way to crawl out of her own unhappiness and instead, chose to accost you instead.
You came out of this the winner. Stronger, smarter, wiser and capable of loving AND being loved.
You may never find the single answer you are looking for but I think it is safe to say that this beautifully written, painful story needed to be told in order for you to put some of those questions to rest even after she had long ben buried. You have done an exemplary job. Rated.
Good for you for getting out of that situation and not being so messed up by it that it tainted every relationship after it.
Courageous and honest post.
I can't imagine not being as loved as I have been.
*manly hugs* or *man/dog hugs*
your experience makes my Mommie Dearest's emotional withholding drama queen narcissism seems mild.
I found this, OE only today. I must have missed it the first time around, I was new in January, too. I understand completely! The interview with the links was an awesome idea!
Brian -- Thanks for the hugs. Sorry you had such rough time too.

Brenda -- Thanks for stopping by.
OE - Wow. As others have said, mothers don't always know best, and the wise ones are aware of that. As a Dad, and as a person, you building a good life is a little like those plants you see growing out of a cliff - there's no visible way for it to be rooted, and yet it tenaciously grows all the same. Blessings upon you and your path.
I missed this the first time around.

Sadly, motherhood doesn't magically bestow the ability to be a good mother. It's to your great credit that you were able to disconnect from your mother's negativity.
oh wow, oe, this is excellent. i can totally relate. thank you for making me feel less alone. it's not a good day. my mother has always loathed me. can't find a good word to say to me or about me. sounds like your mother is as mentally ill as mine. NPD too? i envy you having a dead mother. i've prayed for that for years.

and i know. it's awful, isn't it. people think your'e a monster for hating your mother but they don't get it at all. when someone has hated you for so long, well, the healthy thing is to get as far away as possible. my first post on here was about my c--- of a mother. i'm sure you're too busy but i'd love to see if it resonates with you. she's also mentioned in the beginning of Part Two of the Oprah thing. no pressure at all.

sorry for amkign this about me me me. you're an extraordinary human being. she missed out, the bitch. bigtime. its' so sad and it's so very great that she's gone. love love love and gratitude for you and for your writing.
Teddy, I understand what you're going through.
I also had a toxic mother who didn't love me. When she died in 1993, I felt a strange weight lifted. You are not alone. And you have a wonderful family now. All power to you.
I related to much of this. I left home at 17 and never looked back with any longing or regret, though definitely with the puzzlement you show us here. I mean, WTF? I was a good kid. It didn't matter. It mattered more what I wasn't - whatever that was.

Mom is 72 now, and things have eased - though we only speak 3 times a year at most, and then only if I initiate. If I did not, we would never speak. I have come to terms with the fact that mom just hated my existence. It wasn't personal, it only seemed personal b/c I look like her, and maybe became the woman she might have become if my dad weren't in the picture. I feel a difficult love for my mom.

Rated for the kind of honesty necessary to call oneself a writer.
I hope you don't feel guilty. You shouldn't.

There's no hard and fast rule that says family members have to love each other. That's pure and utter bullshit.

I'm sorry it happened to you.

A very moving work.
It sounds like your mom had BPD, real hard.

I have read a lot of your other writing. Has the possibility of this never made the leap in your head?
OE, I'm sorry that this happened to you, but please know that it wasn't your fault and you're not alone. My mother wasn't invited to my wedding either if that tells you anything.

We assume that when women become mothers, they'll instantly become equipped with maternal goodness and love, yet for some women, that process never happens. Thank you for sharing what must have been truly painful to revisit. In doing so, you've made many of us feel not so alone.