Over the years, she’s shown just how much she loves me by:
• repeatedly telling me that I am fat, and that even though I might not like to hear it, she needs to say it because she’s concerned about my health;
• repeatedly telling me that “boys don’t like girls who are so stubborn and opinionated”, and that I need to “tone it down” if I ever wanted to find someone;
• expressing how surprised she was to find that my life was full of loving friends who actually loved me just the way I was;
• suggesting that I drop out of university so I could be a better wife to my husband (which revealed to me that the entire lifetime of stressing the importance of education turned out to just be her back-up plan for me in case I couldn’t find a man);
• asking, when I told her my marriage was ending, what I did wrong;
• telling me that my marriage ended because “you’re too much like your father, there’s something wrong with your personality”;
• telling me that I was cruel for not speaking to her for a year, which I did to protect my own mental health as a result of the extremely hurtful things she said to/about me when I ended my marriage;
• telling me that the reason she had me was because she thought it would make my father hang around the house more often (for those wondering, this did not work);
• threatening suicide when I didn’t do what she wanted;
• excusing every abusive word and behaviour under “I say/do this because I love you.”
People ask me what my family thinks about me being in an interracial relationship (I’m Asian, my partners have always happened to be White). I tell them my mother is just relieved that anybody wants to be with me. People laugh, but it’s not a joke.
In my life, I recall my mother slapping me in the face twice; those were the only instances where it got physical.
But the emotional and psychological blows were constant.
Too often, I find myself disturbed by the internalized version of her that lives inside my head; the voice that tells me that I shouldn’t be surprised to be treated poorly; that my needs and wants should come after those of others; that I am “lucky” that people put up with me.
This is how my mother shows how much she “loves” me.