A male facebook friend put up this picture with the message “If not, why not!”as an update. It was a well-intended post, but my response was a burst of fiery, angry energy which I am now transforming into this blog.
I am, of course, very happy that my friend wants to hug his Mum and wants to encourage a wave of mother-hugging energy to sweep across the world propelled by the magic engine of popular social media sites. However, there are several reasons as to “why not” and as to why this message might cause upset, guilt and / or even anger in some of the people reading it. Some would be deemed understandable and legitimate to talk about in polite society (for example, if your mother has passed away) and some are far murkier and guilt-laden in their origin, and therefore less easy to discuss.
Put simply, many people do not have a “hugging” kind of relationship with their mother. Sometimes this is due to mutual stubborness and an unwillingness, or inability, to forgive and move on. But, in other cases, where a loving child has been habitually abused by a parent of either gender, the feelings of guilt and of being trapped are only compounded by strong programming from society that we must love and be grateful to our parents. This is particularly true when the abuse is of a less than obvious kind, for example, mental cruelty or bullying.
I have known people who have developed serious health problems like angina and cancer because they do not believe that they have a right to detach themselves from an abusive parent. They dutifully keep on visiting someone who frightens them and who is extremely unpleasant and critical. As well as not believing that they have a right to be treated any differently, they tell themselves that, because the abuse isn’t sexual or physical, they are probably imagining it and just making it up.
Pain is there for a reason. If you are doing something and it is hurting you, listen to what your sensitivity is telling you.
Just because your family always put their hand on the stove because for them it was “normal”, and just because they held your hand on the stove and taught you that you should behave this way too, it does not mean that as an adult you have to continue this pattern.
If you are in a relationship of any kind and you know it is causing you pain, it is time to take your hand off the stove. And the first step is asking for help.