by JM and ML-M, NSW, Australia
The purpose behind us writing Mum and Me was for all to see that it is never too late to change the way we relate to our mothers and daughters, no matter what age they are or how dysfunctional our relationships may be. Through a loving commitment to ourselves first, then developing a true relationship with our mothers and daughters, we have the power in this generation to change patterns that have been passed down from mother to daughter for eons.
I will start by mentioning that there is a lot I cannot remember about my childhood and even into my teenage years… self-preservation perhaps… or drug abuse?
What I do remember from when I was young, is not wanting to be at home. My cousin was my best friend and my whole world. She had a big family and I just wanted to be there with them; at least there was the warmth of family, even if it was a little crazy at times. At home was the cold reality that was a mother who was a little self-obsessed. Of course it was not all bad times – there were moments of fun and excitement – but what was missing was an honest love from a parent who wanted her children and wanted to raise them. I remember my mum selling all our furniture, leaving us home alone and scared, often missing my birthday and regularly arguing with my sister.
Dad did not live with us, although there was still an extremely abusive relationship to contend with. My sister and mum would fight like husband and wife and I would add my bit every once in a while, but what I saw as a simple answer, always fell on deaf ears. Then there were my outbursts of rage; being so fed-up with not being heard and the madness that was my life, every once in a while I would explode in a rage that has been described as an animalistic roar from deep inside.
Another standout element was the guru and group we followed around Australia. a little background on this: there were workshops where they would stay up all night talking, chanting, dancing, people wearing capes and feather headpieces, purple fabric being bestowed upon someone so they could ‘be free’. It was a real-life cliché. At one stage we were going to move up north ‘to meet the aliens who were going to take us to another life plane’. Okay, that’s probably enough of that although there are some pretty funny and scary stories to tell.
I remember as a teenager living in tents, a caravan, and finally calling ‘home’ a cabin at the deserted local caravan park. Mum would sleep on the kitchen floor while my sister and I would get stoned and drunk in our rooms. I started smoking marijuana when I was 13 and it developed into a 2 gram a day habit within no time – I would drink, take drugs and smoke to get high from the age of 13 until I was 22. I remember sitting at our kitchen bench after we moved to Byron Bay (I was 16) rolling joint after joint, day after day, with no-one suggesting perhaps this was not healthy. The woman who was supposed to be the one I looked up to and taught me things about life, well, her answer was to smoke with me. I remember going to rave parties with mum and her friends while they were on ecstasy and then later mum and I taking ecstasy together. At 18 I moved to Melbourne chasing a man. My drug abuse continued and reached an all-time high (and I reached an all-time low) when I was 19 and I went into a bout of drug-induced psychosis.
At this stage Mum had attended one session with Serge Benhayon. She came to Melbourne to help me, and that she did. I eventually agreed to return home to Byron where I could begin to get well. During this time I had a session with Serge and this session was a miracle – I don’t care how that sounds. In that session I went in and basically cried the whole time. When I lay on the table I felt so much in my body – at one stage I felt beams of light pouring out of my hands – it was incredible. After this session I felt like myself again, and felt that I would be able to heal without being committed for treatment or going on anti-psychotics. It took a month to get better and I moved back to Melbourne. I had stopped smoking, but then turned into a full-blown alcoholic as well as using all the other drugs; but at least I was not smoking, right? I could go on and on with all the stories but I won’t.
The point is that I have changed my life around with the support of Universal Medicine. I don’t say that lightly, as what I was going through was not just a phase I would have grown out of. I know this because most of my old friends are either dead, in jail, or doing exactly the same things that we were doing 6 years ago. Whereas I have changed a lot. I no longer drink or take drugs and this is not something I miss at all. I feel I have gained so much from quitting as opposed to missing out on anything. I exercise regularly and have a very clean healthy diet, although I am not perfect. The exercise and eating well make me feel amazing. I have a successful jewellery business, which is completely self-run. I can and do travel the world and most importantly, I have built amazing, truly loving friendships with my family and friends.
The fact is, that mum and I both changed and are now able to have a loving relationship, even after all the past pain. We went from taking drugs together to drinking herbal tea and discussing our new make-up. What we have now I truly cherish, her transformation has been just as drastic as mine, and I see her now as a true inspiration. As a child, when I looked at my mother I felt an incredible sadness – I now look at her and see an amazing woman, who lives being just that. What is awesome is that my mum did not know any better at the time and I do not blame her for my troubled youth, but I now know better and am taking responsibility for my life. From a life that was heading the same way as my mum’s had done, I have been able to totally change the direction. Now if I have children I can show them the true love I always wanted as a kid because the self-abusive family pattern has stopped here with my mum and me.
I was 23 years old when I had my first child. I had been drinking, smoking dope and taking drugs (heroin and anything that was available to me) since I was 16 and up, until I found out I was pregnant. I had not planned nor was I equipped to have a child, and I had only known my soon-to-be husband for 9 months. He was very handsome and liked me – this was enough and given I was told from when I was little that girls grew up, got married and had children – I went along with this ideal.
I remember a year later, the exact moment, when I knew that the marriage was not going to work. Interestingly enough, when we talked about this years later, my ex-husband also knew the exact same moment. But I overrode this feeling and stayed in the marriage for another 4 years. In this time I had another child whose name is J. By the time J was born I was so checked out, not only from the daily smoking of pot, as well as other drugs and alcohol that I continued to indulge in, but also from the fact that I was in a relationship that I knew deep down was not going to work. I was avoiding facing what was going on due to my low self-worth; plus I felt too scared to leave. I felt I could not survive without him looking after me. The irony was that he was a gambler; he hung out with crooks, never had a regular job and would periodically hock anything of value we owned.
This article focuses on my relationship with J, how it was in those years and how much it has changed since I decided to take responsibility for my life and make loving choices instead of self-destructive ones.
J was born a healthy, ‘no-fuss’ baby who never cried and never placed any demand on me. It was like she knew that I was not coping and she was not going to make it harder for me. In the ensuing months I did not have enough milk to sustain her, but as I was so checked-out and disconnected from her and myself, I did not even notice that she was getting thinner and thinner. This went on to a point where it became life-threatening, and I only started to address the issue when my brother-in-law pointed out that there was clearly something wrong and told me I should go to the local nurse. On seeing J the nurse was so alarmed she said she would have to call DOCS (Department of Community Services) if I continued to ignore J’s health. And all this time I hadn’t even realised there was anything wrong. That was how severely checked-out I was in those years.
Eventually I left my marriage, slept around with lots of men, always looking for love. I moved up to a little coastal town near Nambucca Heads, then to Byron Bay where my party lifestyle continued. I would go to the local pub with my daughters asleep in the back of the car, never considering that they may wake up and not know where they were. After a year I moved back to Melbourne and set up house in Elwood where, as you may know from my other articles (Life Beyond Addiction, Returning to Tenderness), I embarked on my spiritual journey and different fad diets, one of these being raw food, which I made J eat for a year. Years later J shared how she and her cousins (who were also subjected to the raw food diet) had found a lolly in the street that was covered in ants and had taken it home washed it and proceeded to cut it in 5 portions to share amongst them – a sad but true story! I then dragged my daughters through 10 years of being with a Guru. During those years I sold everything in the house, including J’s much loved bed, to follow and join the Guru to set up a community. We ended up not going and so lived in a mostly empty house for years. I moved them around a lot following the same Guru, travelling to the east coast of Victoria, living in a caravan and eventually settling in a tiny cabin in a deserted caravan park for a year. We then moved back up to Byron Bay where we lived in a tent for 6 months, in torrential rain, with me never considering that all this moving and unusual living circumstances may be unsettling for children.
J ran away when she was 12 years of age and went to live with her father, but he was as dysfunctional as myself and she was back after 6 months. By the time J was 15, in order to compensate for the guilt I felt around my lack of true mothering, I would buy pot for her and allow her and her friends to smoke in the house, with me often joining them. I would take her to rave dances and would allow her to have parties where I would buy them all alcohol. On her 18th birthday party I was drinking, taking ecstasy with her and her friends, flirting with her boyfriends and thinking that this was normal and that I was a ‘hip’ mum.
When I first started doing the Universal Medicine work, J thought it was just another one of ‘mum’s crazy things she gets into’… and you could not blame her for thinking this. At first I would come home from a workshop and espouse how we were going to live from now, but soon I realised it was not about telling her anything, it was about me making more self-loving choices. Over the ensuing years I stopped talking about how I felt she needed to change, and accepted and celebrated her for who she was. When I saw how I was needing her to tick all the right boxes on how I felt she should be living, I could slowly let this go and stop the judgment and pressure that was coming from me for her to be a certain way. Our relationship began to change.
Interestingly, she had moved back home for a time after I started doing the Universal Medicine work. I stopped buying drugs for her and offered her a choice to continue to live with me, knowing that I no longer would allow alcohol or drugs to be used in the home, or she would otherwise have to move out if she wanted to continue her party lifestyle. I did not tell her she ought to stop; I offered her a choice to either stay and stop the drugs or continue this lifestyle and live elsewhere. She chose to stay at home and stopped drinking. I introduced that we needed to do an equal share of the housework, as we were adults living together. I was no longer willing to indulge her in trying to make up for the past, I learnt to change the things I was able to and let go of the rest. Then I realised the guilt and shame around my parenting had been crippling me from moving forward with my relationship with her. We went from eating toast and vegemite for dinner most nights to preparing nurturing meals and slowly starting to communicate honestly with each other.
I had never learnt to nurture nor love myself as the beautiful woman that I now know myself to be. As I did this and made many changes to my life I was able to love and nurture her in a way that had not been possible before; this served to inspire her to make many changes in the way she was with herself and how she lived.
When J was young I cannot remember talking with her about her periods or what it meant to begin to develop into a young woman – these changes were never honoured or celebrated. Now we talk about everything; how she felt before and during her period, what she learnt from it, how she is choosing to re-imprint her next month, by making different choices. I cherish these conversations with her, and at times regret all the missed years of sharing ourselves with each other. I feel this, let it go, and am appreciative of our ever deepening, loving relationship. I see that we have changed a pattern that has been passed down for generations.
Recently J stayed over at my home and we sat by my bed and I showed her my latest bedtime ritual. Together we massaged our feet with some beautiful cream before we snuggled into bed together with our mugs of herb tea and eye pillows. We both had a laugh about how different this was to me showing her how to roll joints all those years ago. So it shows that all relationships can be re-imprinted over time with willingness, commitment and love.
P.S. I spoke to my ex-husband (who is not involved with Universal Medicine) in regards to the article to make sure he was not offended by anything I said. His response was: “How could I be? That was how it was, it was not our time and I did not see either how thin J was”. He went on to say, “I can see that you have turned your life around, and I can see J has too… and I am very proud of her”. I can always feel whenever I see him that he is genuinely happy that both of us have such amazing lives now. We have a more honest and loving relationship now, than when we were married.