Why did you leave?

Mother and Child DancingPeople leave relationships for all sorts of reasons and if you’re the one left behind you want an explanation.

Usually there’s some discussion and even if it changes nothing or you don’t believe them, it forms an ending. After the initial heart-break, you learn to accept the loss and move on.

Much harder though is to be left without any notice or further contact. It leaves you with a void and a mass of unanswered questions.

As a young child my mum left one day and never returned. No one ever offered any explanation. Asking questions of anyone was futile. I was expected to simply forget her. But I couldn’t.

I have no idea what goes through the mind of a woman when she suddenly decides to walk away from her little daughter. But I know what went through my mind. ‘I wasn’t good enough.  She didn’t love me. It was my fault.’

And as I got older the self blame intensified, as did my need to know ‘Why?’  Why did you leave?  Why didn’t you take me with you.Why didn’t you contact? Why didn’t you come back? Why did you remarry and tell your new family I had been killed in a car crash?

The questions that were left unanswered triggered the depression that was going to become a life-long battle. The emptiness led me to my ‘hurt healer’, alcohol, which for many years filled the loneliness and eased the heartbreak.

“Grief is a process, not a state.” ~Anne Grant

One of the hardest things I’ve experienced in my life was ending the non-existent relationship I had with my mother. I had no other choice except to allow myself to grieve for the woman I remembered and to grieve for the mother that should have been.

Eventually only the need to forgive remained. And with time and tears I forgave. Not for her. But for me, so that I could finish with a part of my life that had caused me so much emotional pain and physical destruction.

Forgiveness released me from the torment of longing to know ‘Why?’ My mother no longer existed in my heart or my mind so neither did the need to fill in the past. It had been over for my mother many years ago, but finally it was over for me too. Mother and Child Beach Text

Today I have the freedom to live for the day and look forward to the future.

I am blessed to be a mother of two amazing daughters who bring me unimaginable joy. And there’s one question I know with absolute certainty they will never have to ask.

‘Why did you leave?’

Images thanks to Katie M Berggren at http://www.etsy.com/shop/kmberggren

79 thoughts on “Why did you leave?

  1. I’m amazed, while reading evr’y line from your stories, especially this one: and paying close attention to the details, I came to the conclusion that you and I once suffered the same hurts, only we’d different paths in our journeys. And your overcoming challenges blesses me because only Father God knew that this would be the year, the season, the day that we’d connect and rejoice together in our victories. No greater love than that of the Father God could orchestrate such amazing timing. I love you sis.😊

    • That’s a very good question Sharon. Do parents know? It would be nice to think that most people would adjust their behaviour if they thought of the long term damage it could cause. Thank you for your insight Sharon.

  2. Wonderful post, Carolyn. It’s hard enough when a relationship ends, let alone not knowing why. Grief is a process of feelings and forgiveness. You broke the cycle in the process of healing from your wounds. What a beautiful gift your daughters must be.

  3. Hi Carolyn,
    Beautiful as always. I have so much respect for all that you have been through. I’m sure that you cherish being a mom even more because of your childhood. I love that you are sharing your story so that others with similar backgrounds know they are not alone. Hugs.

  4. It is very difficult to grow up without a mom even when ones knows why they left. I tried to rebuild a relationship with my mother for over ten years. I let the hope go in 2012. I feel your pain but give back to your children and you will heal.

    • How crushing for you to try to rebuild your relationship Anita only to have to give it up after 10 years. Thank you sharing your experience and showing us through your own life that strength comes from within and not from the presence of another. You are so right about healing through giving. Children are such a blessing 🙂

  5. Your choice to forgive was heroic and so necessary for your own sake. I applaud your courage in that and in so openly sharing your story, Carolyn. Thanks! And, as a mom still grieving for my son (he died 15 months ago), I really love the quote: “Grief is a process, not a state.” ~Anne Grant

  6. Excellent post Carolyn! You are a powerful inspiration to help people move through what some people may feel is insurmountable. Having come from a broken family myself I can relate to some of the feelings you describe… I really appreciate your honesty and vulnerability.

  7. Hi Carolyn,

    You are an inspiration. I am so proud of you for the courage that you show and the healing you have done. Blessing to you.

    My mother grew up without her mother, but it was because her mother died when she was 4. She use to always ask me, “What is it like to have a mother?” I told her, “Really nice and i am sorry that yours had to leave you when you where so young.”

    Your experience has made you into a great mother. You children are very blessed to have you.
    Thanks again for sharing with us all

    • Well Debbie, I’ve never asked my children what it’s like having a mother. I’ve assumed that it’s a good thing! I know that my own experience has given me a heightened awareness of the need to feel safe and loved as a child, so those are always my priorities. Thank you for all your encouragement Debbie 🙂

  8. I so admire your courage. Your courage to embrace such pain, and then your courage to heal. You are an amazing woman. An inspiration to many. Your children will forever benefit from your healing journey. I am so glad that you connected with me through letlifeinpractices. Xoxo

  9. Dearest Carolyn,
    That it happened is one thing. I admire how you’ve dealt with it. My Mother was a single parent because she was deserted by my biological father 2-3 months before I was born. When I was very young, I know how embarrassing it was for my family to find an acceptable answer to my “where is my father” question. Much sooner than everyone knew, I had accepted that there was no father in my life. And you know what? It did not worry me, because I did not know him at all.

    Hugs, my dear friend, I know how deeply you must have been hurt, having known your Mother. God bless you. I am glad you have your daughters :-).

    Love, Vidya

    • Dear Vidya, How awful that you have had to go through life knowing that there was a father who didn’t want to know you. But I’m so glad that you were able to not make him part of your life because you didn’t know him. It was definately his loss when he made the choice to go. God Bless you too my friend 🙂

  10. My ex husband dated a girl who I happen to know because she’s my uncle’s step-daughter. He promised me that he wouldn’t hurt her or treat her the way he’d treated me.

    One day she got home from work and he was just gone. No warning, no note, nothing. He’d simply upped and taken his van, his clothes and a bedsheet – leaving her with debts she didn’t even know he’d run up (credit card bills and such).

    It’s only because I’ve shared some experiences with her that she understands that it wasn’t her fault. Even his mother doesn’t know where he is; he calls her but he always witholds the number and won’t give her his location.

    • What a terrible thing to do to someone, and to torment with the phone calls is unbelievable. So sorry that your family have had to go through this. And thank you for taking your time to share. xo

  11. Oh, no. This broke my heart. I wish you hadn’t gone through that.

    But your ability to get through the grieving process and come out the other side is astounding; the human spirit and ability to heal, move on, and thrive is beautiful.


  12. I like how you say that processing the grief was really about you, and about relating to your own “internal mother” — it sounds like, in the end, you were able to accept your basic okayness, regardless of why she did what she did.

  13. I am sure you are an incredible mom! 🙂
    Lovely Post, though it made be sad. But then everything happens for a reason. At the end, you are provided with a good and happy life.

    • I think you’re right that everything happens for a reason. But we have to accept that we may never know what the reason was! Thank you for visiting and your comments (especially the one about me being an incredible mom! 🙂 )

      • Reason? You never want to be a mom who left you. You chose to be a better person than her. Don’t you feel from the previous years, you’ve become strong and capable of moving forward in life. I am sure you had that’s why today you are incredible for being the lovely person to your children. 🙂

  14. Somethings ingrained in us to want/need that closure in order to move on. I’m glad you were finally able to forgive and move past that, and put your all into your lovely two daughters. You’re such an inspiration

  15. Beautifully written. Your words often move me to tears as I understand so well, even though our history is a bit different, our path and healing is much the same. I was not physically abandoned by my mother, but I have also had to grieve for the nonexistent relationship that I see others have, and that I now know is possible through having my own family. I am glad we don’t understand what could make a mother turn her back on her children. I am also glad our own children will always know we love them.

    • Thank you for your kind comments and for sharing your own story. We can relate to each other in so many ways even thought the circumstances may be different. Despite your own experience you are able to give your children the love they need and deserve. That is priceless.

  16. I am sorry no one answered you and your questions Carolyn 😦 I pray they answered my sons as they did have all the answers to reassure him he was loved and adored enough to want the very best for him but he too has spent so many years it seems as you wandering through life not sure of himself and how loved he was. He was so different before we met 🙂 no without a doubt he knows I always put him first

    ‘BIG Hugs for you
    I hope you can heal I have finally taken steps to take care of me

  17. I can’t even imagine what’s it like to be abandoned by your mom. Just having my husband do that was so painful and left so many questions. It’s hard – our minds fill in those gaps left unanswered and we tend to blame ourselves since that is where our focus lies. I have also reached that point of forgiveness and acceptance. I love the full circle of you healing where now you can be the mom you never had. Give those kiddos a hug for me:)

    • You’re so right in that we tend to blame ourselves and that’s where we put the focus. But it’s so often misplaced. So glad you have succeeded in your circle of healing too. And that’s a couple of extra hugs to give tonight. Thank you 🙂

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