My mother is one of those women who likes to put “inspirational” quotes all over her house.
When I talk about my mom at with friends, we laugh about her “Karen” tendencies. I am pretty sure she thinks “yt” is a slur.
She firmly believes that she is right about everything and is unwilling to even see evidence proving otherwise, and she is the epitome of putting “Live Laugh Love” or other meaningless language on her wall. As if putting enough flowery words together will change her behavior.
I can attest to the fact that these quotes do not inspire her to live her life differently. She still lacks empathy. But I don’t believe that is why she puts them up. They are not reminders for herself, but for everyone else.
She had to convince us that she was doing her best.
She also had a ton of references to the wicked witch of the west in her house, but I think that’s just a coincidence.
One quote that appeared on more than one mug or wall hanging was: “Home is where your mom is.” I thought it was so cute. My grandma had it at her house, too. Home is a safe place that you can always return to for a hug from your mom.
That sounds warm and comforting in theory. But in practice, I felt claustrophobic.
To start, home was not safe. I could not be myself there. I was so stifled that I learned to keep silent. My mother told me I “learned to speak” after my sister left for college. In reality, I was living with one less bully.
My home wasn’t even safe from physical violence. When I was only four, I watched my mother get pushed down the stairs by one of her boyfriends. Home is where my mom was abused, and where I was most often left alone.
When we went to my grandparents house, my grandma had the same quote on a magnet. “Home is where your mom is.”
This confused me. Logistically, how could both my mom and my grandma say this truthfully? My mom did not live with her mom. She was an adult with kids of her own. Were they both silently acknowledging that my mom never felt at home with me, and that she always wanted to be back here?
Would I grow up only to miss home for the rest of my life?
For most of my life, I did not have an identity of my own. I was an extension of my mother. I wasn’t allowed to have my own interests. Everything she liked, I liked. All the ideas and places and people that she hated, I hated too. I became a hateful person.
My dad told me once that he always worried that our relationship was codependent. Not only was he shaming a child for their dependence on their parent, but he was giving my mother a pass for being dependent on a kid. I drag the weight of her expectations everywhere I go.
Today, when I look through my own online content, I think about how my mom would feel about it.
For the most part, I think about how angry she would be. I complain about her in my stand-up and on Twitter. My TikTok is filled with jokes about childhood trauma, and the rest are thirst traps.
Everything I make is unapologetic about embracing who I am. God forbid she ever found my blog. Or my OnlyFans.
But I don’t live for my mom. Home is the central hub I return to while I’m out living my life. Home could be with my partner and roommate, in a house with fifteen closest friends, a small one-bedroom apartment, or the back of a van tricked out with pillows. Healing through narcissistic abuse has helped me learn that my home should be an extension of me, not a sanitized prison of my own making.
Home is not where my mom is. Home is wherever I am.
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