The Day I Unfriended My Mother

A bunch of years ago, someone important in my life, a mentor, did me dirty. The details don’t matter. The consequences of her betrayal were minimal, but seeing a side of her that was toxic to our interaction and potentially much more so in the future, I turned my back and walked away.

Life went on, until she sent me a friend request on Facebook. Without thinking, I confirmed it. And answered a direct message from her.

At this point I felt a bone-chilling surge of regret. Through the mindless compulsion to play the FB Like Me-Like You game, I’d said yes when with a little thought I would simply have BABY GAY Edelmanignored the request.

My brain began to rationalize. Maybe she’d changed. Maybe it would be interesting to see her again. Maybe things hadn’t been so bad.

That didn’t help. I was still feeling pretty creeped out.

Days later, I told a true pal how I’d dug a hole too deep to climb out of. “Are you crazy?” she asked. “You can just unfriend her. Like I unfriended my ex-husband.”

“She did a lot of good in my life,” I said.

“And she was destructive,” my pal pointed out.

“Well, yes,” I said. I went back over the history, some good deeds followed by an egregious breach of decency. I saw my pal’s point.

I sat with this for 24 hours. And then realized what was going on. The Facebook dynamics with Bad Friend, along with the other interactions with her in the past, had ignited stories from my own long ago past, now hard-wired into my brain. In that hurt people hurt people way, the past stories I was reliving in the present came from my mother.

Mom, I should say, left this earthly life 12 years ago. But she lives on in my head, as mothers usually do, given the nature of human psychology.

And some of what she does in her Gay-run incarnation is not so nice. Using my own voice now, she berates, criticizes, ridicules, derides, undermines, harangues, disrespects and gives no peace.

I’ve been working against this for years, all my adult life, really, with a ton of tools.

And change is happening. Year in and year out, with all kinds of loving, strong mentors, I moved through the stuff, chipping away, chipping away. I became a more relaxed person. I forgave her, developed true compassion for the heartbreaks that left her too impaired to nurture. Miracle of miracles, in recent years, some genuine good memories have begun to emerge.

I was glad, because the little girl inside who so desperately wanted her mother’s love, who has lived ever since with the crushing sense of failure at not having won it, is enlivened and empowered by an unimaginable sense of freedom and power.

There isn’t even regret now, about how things were with her. In fact, the loss of a proper mother has become a gift. When your wounds are healed, you learn a thing or two that you can use to help others. You can be the peace you want to see in the world. And I try to do that, humbly, joyously, every day.

But that does not mean I have to keep unpleasant folks in my life.

As best I am able, I don’t permit unsavory characters to live in my head—and as much as possible I don’t allow them in my life. Every day I pray for the courage to change the things that should be changed. Even on Facebook. I unfriended her.


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