Trauma With Your Mama | Stories | 007

Black woman leaning her head on her hand
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I used to think Mary J. Blige was my mother. No kidding. I had no memory of what my mother looked like at 9 years old, and because MJB "felt familiar" I believed she looked like my mother. When I was 2 years old, I went to live with my great grandparents who raised me "the old fashioned (abusive) way." They were Southern, through and through, my granny from Live Oak and my pappy was Geechie. The story goes that my mother dropped me off for the weekend and never came back. Years passed, and they didn't hear from her. When they did, she asked for my grandparents to keep me. She was young and she wanted to live her life. They agreed, as long as when she was ready to be a mother, she came back. However, no one told me any of this. I had real friends, no one to play with, just drunk adults all around. I was raised as a child without a traditional family, and no one ever told me why. I have no memories with my mother until I 'met' her at 12 years old. My bond with her as a child never fully developed, causing me to dissociate from the mother-daughter experience. I did not feel called to her, or comforted by her. We had nothing in common, and to make matters worse, by the time I met her, she had a new family. A husband and another daughter, who was spoiled, loved and protected; things I had never felt before. When my great grandmother ascended to ancestorship, I started living with my mother and her family. For four years throughout high school we existed under a veil of invisible toxicity. She never explained her actions, or apologized, and tried to compensate for the abandonment by providing financially. Our relationship reached a breaking point shortly after I graduated high school, when she told me to "pack my sh-t and leave" during the one and only time I stood up for myself. I left, and that is when my life actually began. I enrolled into classes FAMU and ceased communication with her. During this time, I met my father and the paternal side of my family. My paternal grandmother was instrumental in rekindling our mother-daughter relationship. At 25, I'm now at a place where I can accept my mother for the woman that she is, and not the mommy I wanted her to be. I both know that I deserved better, and that she did her best. There's no easy way to tie a ribbon on our story because it's neverending. There's still so much work to be done, but I know one thing for certain: I'm not defined by my mother's mistakes. My childhood is not a story of abandonment, but a story of resolve. I am made stronger by my mama, and her mama, and will continue to heal for my future daughter, and her daughters. –T.T.

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