Sunday, 1 April 2012

Toxic Love

Image: ParkeHarrison
seeking perfection,
never quite good enough,
feathers ruffled,
you shut me out.

I should not answer back;
show my strength,
strength is my weakness,
enough to gain your wrath.

You need a perfect boy,
a boy grateful
for your love
and I am never quite
that good enough,
I always fail you,
make you cry.

I cry alone,
for alone is what I am. 
I have no-one but you
and I always disappoint. 
You smother me
with your
smother mother love,
tie me to your apron strings,
stifle who I could be.
creates imperfection,
the imperfect me.

I fled your apron strings,
tried to untie the knots
that clog my mind,
to reconstruct the boy
who was never allowed to be,
I just wanted to be me.

I have failed again;
I cannot break free,
tied to you
in some unnatural way. 
I hate you
yet I long
to earn your love,
be the perfect boy,
your perfect little man.

the cuckoo in the nest,
 I will never quite belong. 
But I am home mother,
shoes lain outside
in reverence. 
Smother me
with your love mother,
smother me.

Anna :o]

“Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat.”
(Mother Teresa)

I work in mental health and see many damaged souls, some so obviously damaged by the oppressive love of their mother.  This is oppressive love and not possessive. 

Some of these folk are the mothers of these smothered children and when relating their history they talk of feeling/being unloved by their mother and their need to compensate for their perceived/real neglect of maternal love by overwhelming their children with not only their own love but also that denied them by their own mothers.

 However this love is never unconditional, always conditional on the child being totally dependent on and eternally grateful for this imperfect gift of the deepest felt yet the most destructive kind of love.

Talk to (the adult) children of these mothers and almost always they will talk of oppression, manipulation and tellingly, reveal that they themselves felt unloved and that they hate their mother.    Many of these (adult) children have mental health problems of their own, resultant of their existence within a dysfunctional family.

They talk of how they will never allow their own children to experience their emotional stunting, lack of nurturing and unconditional love and vow to love their children oh so very, very much.   And the cycle continues…

Anna :o]

If you would like to understand more of how parental behaviours impact on the mental health of our children, a recommended read  is “the cockroach catcher” authored by the excellent Dr Am Ang Zhang.  He also has a blog just here!

With thanks to Tess at The Mag for the inspiration and also entered at Poets United ‘The Poetry Pantry’ – thanks Poets United!


Jenny Woolf said...

Liked the poem very much. It's interesting that it arises from your work to affect you so powerfully - i think writing poetry must sometimes help to deal with so much raw emotion from others.
Sorry I haven't been commenting so much recently - not much computer access and my phone doesn't interface well with blogger to put it mildly. Look forward to catching up properly, soon

Brian Miller said...

ugh as you know i work in MH as well...had a boy so terrified last week that he would disappoint his mother it almost made me sick honestly...poetry is def therapy for me as well to process those work feelings at times...

Manicddaily said...

Well done; so so sad. Common too. The end is especially powerful. K.

Manicddaily said...

Well done; so so sad. Common too. The end is especially powerful. K.

Little Nell said...

The smothering syndrome! I can see how your experiences have helped you to shape this Anna. Very thought-provoking.

Daydreamertoo said...

Wow... so in depth this all is. Yes, some love is oppressive and possessive and leaves a lasting scar on some children which last all their lives. I can see why it messes up their minds.

Heaven said...

Very well expressed...As a mother, I can relate to the need to smother and care for the children. But there is a balance and need for freedom too ~

SprigBlossoms said...

Thanks for sharing this eye-opening as well as touching poetry.

Lyn said...

Poor make it so easy to share his pain..I want to yell out.."run"!

Wayne Pitchko said...

as a retired Social Worker....I certainly can relate....lots of sadness indeed.....thanks for sharing your words.....well done

Abin Chakraborty said...

classic oedipal complex case, it seems.I am sure counselling and treating them must be a tough challenge.kudos!

Other Mary said...

You describe the cycle so well Anna.

hyperCRYPTICal said...

Thank you for your welcome comments folks.

I do so love the work I do - which may seem strange as it involves dealing with raw emotions and damaged souls...

... and sometimes I want to smother damaged souls with love!

How difficult it must be for mothers to cast off maladaptive behaviour (for they do no know that this is so) and not continue the destructive cycle...

Anna :o]

Tigerbrite said...

Beautifully done on a deep, dark subject. It takes a special kind of person to comfort the mentally suffering. Thank you for writing about this.

Anonymous said...

How do I say that I recognise so much of this without, in my own mind, accusing my lovely mother of some of those mistakes? Two years ago I couldn't handle anyone critisising my mother at all, not even myself, but... Four sessions of psychoanalysis/week ever since (and for the indefinite future) has brought me to the point where I realise that there are some flaws in me that are a result of my mother making decisions for herself rather than me when I grew up.. *sigh*

Well, you don't need my whole life's history here, let's just say that I really liked this poem - and it hit on something that is important to so many (I have it easy in comparison). Thank you so much!!! *smile*

thingy said...

Such a wonderful and heartfelt piece, Anna.

My deepest respect for anyone who fights the demons.

Kat Mortensen said...

Wow! "smother mother love" is so powerful in this piece.

Anonymous said...

sounds like a very co-dependent relationship

Friko said...

Your posts are always of great interest. Coming from the coal-face, as you do, you have much to teach me about my own experiences and how to overcome their effects.

Tess Kincaid said...

I like "strength is my weakness"...thought provoking...

Paul Andrew Russell said...

A lovely, insightful piece of writing, Anna.

Philip Larkin - This Be The Verse

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.

But they were fucked up in their turn
By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another's throats.

Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don't have any kids yourself.

Carrie Burtt said...

Wow Anna this is a powerful write. Thank you for sharing this.

Manzanita said...

Dear Anna, So intense with a power gnawing to get out. Everyone complains of a childhood. As a mother, it's kind "be damned if you do and damned if you don't."

What's that one ingredient that makes one a fighter, a survivor as in contrast to one who celebrates the piti-party.

I haven't a clue but what you said, you said it well. Love....

Hold my hand: a social worker's blog said...

This is so intense and touching, and brilliantly approached. The smother mother has her own mental challenges.

Great post, Anna.

And thank you for stopping by my posts. I appreciate your comments.


kez said...

Wow strong and so powerful ....loved it thank you for sharing x

A Walk In My Heart said...

A very powerful write!

Kutamun said...

I wonder sometimes if it is one of the ways the feminine seeks to redress the imbalance in our cruel and ancient anglo patriarchy ?

ninotaziz said...

Toxic indeed.

~T~ said...

Oh, dear, I hope I'm not like that!

Tumblewords: said...

Powerful and sad. I wonder if I've ever known anyone who was wholly whole and without some sort of dysfunction. I'm sure it wouldn't be me. Wonderful write.

Kathe W. said...

wow- I hope I am not that kind of mother....whew

Anonymous said...

I just tried to post a few sentences, but not sure if it worked....

Anyway, I love this poem...very, very powerful! You did a great job with the prompt, and you have enlightened many with your commentary. Awesome stuff here!

Anonymous said...

Ok, worked that time :)

Lots of lines in here that are very powerful...simply wonderful!

r.m. @

Dr Erhumu said...

Great piece. My people say if a handshake has gone beyond the shoulder it has become something else, likewise parental love if not properly channelled can become something else.

Dr Erhumu said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
hyperCRYPTICal said...

Thank you for you kind comments folks.

We all make mistakes as parents and the ‘fashion’ of child rearing offered as ultimate parenting by so called child experts (who think they know best) changes with the wind and each book penned.

Most of us do the very best we can and our children develop into fine young adults, some of us not so good and some no good at all.

Not sure about the piti-party Manzanita for we are what we are – some of us strong and some of (for the want of a better word) weak. But in reality that is too simplified – part of us is our very nature and much of how we turn out is nurture. Our strengths, weaknesses and our very personality blossom or die in the hands of our parents… …and of course children can be very cruel towards each other and make us die a little further…

Anna :o]

Helena said...

Oh boy, is this heart-wrenching or what?

There's a little guy lives a few doors away from us. An only child who gets spoken to and treated diabolically from his father. We hear it often when we're out in our back gardens.

At only 13 he's on a concoction of medicines. His little face is all puffy from steroids, he's been diagnosed with IBS and gets sent home from school a lot. Twice from passing out! I have to actually go back inside my house and abandon my plans for risk of mouthing off! Poor wee bugger!

Isabel Doyle said...

Wow Anna - such passion in your poem and prose. Very powerful stuff.

Linda said...

A perfect expression of such a sad situation.

JENNY said...

Powerful stuff Anna

hyperCRYPTICal said...

Thank you for your kind comments folks!

Helena ~ it is very difficult being an observer of something that strikes you as wrong and wonder if you should intervene or not...

Anna :o]

Anonymous said...

Imperfection is one's own greatest lie, one clings to it like carbon monoxide clings to iron. Irony is if you don't breathe for yourself, nobody can force oxygene to your lungs. It's time to breathe.