The Best and The Worst Mom I Ever Had

in psychology •  last year

My previous posts have been looking at manifestations of the unconscious erupting into consciousness
These eruptions are not only relegated to the realms of the psychotic. They are a part of daily existence. But a part of existence we rarely discuss. Instead it's allowed autonomy at the outer edges of consciousness and in the periphery of our minds.
The problem is that WE take all the credit and all the blame for everything we think, say and do, instead of recognizing the activity of other forces operating in our lives. The problem with that is we are identify with them and empower them, but by no means are we controlling them. Along with my own experience, last post I offered another expression of this playing out, On The Edge of Consciousness
Let me offer a third example from my life that hopefully people can relate to if they either are or have had a MOTHER.

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I'm a gardener. I love flowers and have flowers in bloom around my yard from April till November. So it was like, my thing, when I would visit my parents that I would bring a bouquet from the garden.

Like most Moms, my mother had two sides to her. She was a loving, supportive parent, that only wanted the best for her kids. And then there was the side of her that was capable of quietly brutalizing any one of her children with a cruel word, or emotionally eviscerate us by singling someone out for abuse with hidden diabolical enjoyment.

It was back in 2004 that my Dad got cancer. He was diagnosed six months before he died. Obviously it was a difficult time for all of us, but understandably, my mother was affected most of all. And yet if you asked her how she was doing, her answer was invariably, "Oh I'm fine".
She was incapable of dealing with her true feelings consciously. As a result, what's known as the "negative mother complex", would frequently act out instead.

Anytime we're feeling overwhelmed by outside forces, it can weaken our ego boundaries making consciousness vulnerable to permeation of unconscious energy. The way it expresses itself can vary widely, but usually, if it's not tempered by conscious rationality, it has a negative manifestation.


That was certainly the case with mom. Although no one was spared, I was her favorite target. Time and time again I found myself facing her irrational anger.
Sometimes she would realize and, later apologize. Those times exemplify my Mom's ego standing up to the unconscious complex. She couldn't control it, but at least she could recognize it as not a part of who she considered herself to be.
Unfortunately, the more difficult Dad's illness became, the more difficult it was for her to maintain control or that perspective.

Dad died at home, in the same house that he and Mom had raised the six of us. My oldest brother called me the morning he passed away. Dad hadn't been conscious for two or three days, so the call wasn't unexpected. I told my brother I'd be there as soon as I could, but before I left, I picked a bouquet of flowers from the yard. Like I said, it was my thing.


Arriving at my parent's, I set the flowers on the coffee table in the living room, before I continued through the open French doors into the sunroom where Dad had spent his last few weeks in a bed provided by hospice.

My Dad was a pretty special guy. He and I were not all that close but he loved his kids. Whenever Gary and I came to visit, we always left feeling filled with warmth from the love that just seemed to flow out of his heart, bathing us in its warm, rosy glow the whole time we were there.

But there I was looking down on his still face through the blur of my tears, deep sorrow and loss flooded through me. At the same time I knew how much he had suffered for the last six months, I was glad that at least his sad hopeless struggle was finally over.

My two brothers and three sisters were already in the room silently facing the cot. I walked over and sat down on the wooden window seat at the far end of the room. I guess we kind of had a small ceremony. I remember my mom reciting a quote by Wendell Berry:

"When I rise up, let me rise up joyful like a bird. When I fall, let me fall without regret like a leaf."


It seemed especially appropriate. I had always associated Dad with autumn because his birthday was October 13th 1928. Now even more so. He had died sometime after midnight on October 14th 2004.

After we were done, I said I was heading home. Gary had said he would get off work early to be with me. He was probably already be home by then.
I think my Mom had expected me to hang around. Maybe my need to seek comfort outside my family's loving embrace triggered her, but when I told my mom she said, "Don't hate me, but please just take the flowers home with you." Maybe those words sound harmless enough, but at the time, they hit me like a 2x4 in the head.


I turned and went back through the living room. Maybe it was the tears blurring my eyes again that caused me to miss, as I grabbed for the vase as I rushed past, but somehow I ended up sending them crashing to the floor. As I cleaned up the mess of flowers, water and broken glass, I could see my brother through the large door opening, still facing Dad. He never even turned his head.

And this time there was no apology. My Mom fully owned her action. Whenever anyone sent flowers to the house to express their sympathy, my Mom took them out to a spot in the woods and left them there. How or why she justified the need to do this, I don't know. What I do know is that, by doing so, she was identifying with the negative mother complex and claiming its cruel behavior as her own.

Raw unconscious energy manifests negatively in all of us. It happens, but, we have a free will to either identify ourselves with it by defending our actions as rational. Or we can take that power as our own by saying: "That is not me. I love this person. I don't want to hurt them." And you can say "I'm sorry"

The fact she's gone seems so unreal.
Don't know exactly what to feel.
Do I feel loss?
Do I feel sad?
She was the best and the worst
Mom I ever had.

Her devotion and her sacrifice
Came at just too high a price.
Do I feel guilty?
Do I feel bad?
She was the best and the worst
Mom I ever had.

As a kid I know I loved her because I'd tell her all the time.
Wish I could, at least in part,
find where I hid it in my heart .
The memories that still remain
Result in wounds inflicting pain.
Should I be happy?
Should I be glad?
She was the best and the worst
Mom I ever had.

To my Mom 3/8/33-11/17/17


All other pictures are from the amazing, magical

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