Every day, we make choices: how we react to situations, what we do, what we think about, and what’s for lunch. One of the many things we don’t get to control is our genetics, however. Although I cut off my parents nearly three years ago, I still see my mother’s face every day—in the mirror.
It’s not exactly her face. I see my father’s face, too. But sometimes I look at myself, and there’s Mom, staring back at me with 42-year-old eyes. Or sometimes I’ll make a gesture or do something the way she would do, and I think, “There she is again.”
My mother will always be with me, if not physically, then psychically and emotionally. We have a strong tie, and as the angels always remind us, “The cords of Love can never be cut.” And I do love my mother. I love my father, too.
People tend to assume that since I cut my parents off, then I must hate them. This is not the case. I love them very much. I see and understand their pain. I just can’t do anything about it. Their pain is not my responsibility—my own is. The decisions I made were about creating a joyful life for myself, which I have now done. My parents also have the opportunity to create a joyful life for themselves. Maybe they’ll choose to do so one day. I hope so.
Of course, the mirror isn’t the only place I see my mother. I see bits of her personality in my daughter as well as in myself. High-spiritedness, a desire to be in control, a proclivity to running rough-shod over others, which requires us to remind her to be sensitive to other people’s feelings. There are strengths and weaknesses here, and with careful guidance, she will grow to be aware of her impact on others and have the ability to empathize and have compassion. In a way, my daughter is showing me how my mother might have been without her mental illness, and if she’d had gentle guidance. I know I certainly exhibit many of these traits myself, but it’s always easier to see things in other people than to see them in yourself.
Sometimes a part of me wants to avoid these reflections of my mother. It is painful at times. But then I shift my thinking again so that I see it for the gift that it is. My mother is not a horrible person. She cannot help her mental illness, and I certainly understand how her abusive upbringing scarred her. I have compassion for her. And when I look at my daughter or look in the mirror, I can have compassion for these reflections, too.
You can read a portion of the preface to Asha’s book, Discovering Your Inner Child: Transforming Toxic Patterns and Finding Your Joy.