Everybody’s problems are always easier to resolve than our own.
As I was talking (well, actually texting) with my lovely daughter in law about her feelings and issues she was having within her relationship with her own mother, I found myself trying to convert what I was thinking into a short text speak kind of way. My “Aha Moment” was, “Wow, this seems so clear to me now, I wish someone had showed me these steps years ago,” the answers to my daughter in laws frustration and anger seemed like a road map laid out in front of me. The answers now that I look back seem relatively easy (far too much for texting, however). See, I’ve already walked that journey, it just took me 56 years to get here. I would have preferred finding peace with my Mother when I was younger rather than waiting out our relationship to resolve itself in her death, but some lessons come harder than others.
For some reason at times like this I remember and compare this need for a road map to an Al- Anon meeting I went to. It was upon a therapists suggestion. She thought I would better understand my EX- husband’s alcoholism and behavior. While I was there I heard a lot of “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change…” kind of language. In my mind, I felt like life should go more like “God give me the strength to change the things that I don’t have the strength to change myself”. I ran away from both the Al-Anon meeting AND my EX- husband because I hate, hate, hate waiting and expecting things or someone else to change, when it is really me who has to do the changing. It wasn’t until my Mother died when I realized I treated the damaged relationship with my mother like the people in that meeting treated life. I was waiting for change and doing nothing to make it myself. My lifetime resolution was just to survive, (oh yes, it started the minute I was born), at first, just to survive until I grew up and got out of the house, then it changed to just survive until I could move far enough away, and then it became survive until my mother died.
It took me the better part of a year to get to a healthy place in my head with my my mother, that’s after she died of course. Before that, just a boat load of tears, anger and resentment and 55 years of waiting for my mother, the biggest bully in my life to change or die. My Mother was a Narcissistic Personality.
Now, I’m not a therapist but I have had enough therapy to hang out my own shingle. I offer this top 10 list as a map to your journey of being free. How long you stay in each location is up to you, you may have more work to do in one area or another, but if you get to a step and you still don’t feel right about it you may need to go back to your last step, and if you do, it will be worth your while. You’re going to have to dig for information along the way, but trust me it’ll be worth it.
10. Everybody’s behavior comes from his or her own baggage and/or issues – even your Mother. Usually from something in your past, and most of the time none of us are not even conscious about it. It’s important to understand that your mother’s behavior comes from something, FIND IT. My Mother’s behavior came from a tragedy and her upbringing. Dig for this information it will help you a lot.
9. Understand her baggage and issues have nothing to do with you. Even though she directs her “barbs” in your direction, it has nothing to do with you. You have done nothing wrong. Until you can understand this you can’t move on.
8. Believe in the power of positive intent! She THINKS she is helping you. Even though you don’t feel it, she does love you, just not in the way you need her to. Stop playing the “my Mother doesn’t love me” tape in your head. She doesn’t know how, it’s like a 12 year old trying to figure out a tax form.
7. Understand YOUR issues. This isn’t as easy as you think. Try to connect the dots with your issues and the relationship you have/had with your mother. I was stunned when I finally faced some of mine. I didn’t realized the deep roots some of my issues had.
6. Learn to identify what you really want. Why are you doing whatever it is your doing. Do you think you have to do this out of obligation to your Mother? Do you really want to go and visit with her for a whole week? Write it down – What do you want, be selfish.
5. Know that even though you keep performing task after task, jumping through each hoop she provides, you will not win her over. Nancy Friday said in her book “My Mother, Myself “I could spend the rest of my life trying to make my mother happy, but that’s just how long it would take. You know the definition of insanity right? Performing the same task over and over again and expecting different results. Come to terms with this.
4. Trust that you are strong enough to stand without her. You may need advice from time to time that would normally come from a Mother, you can probably get that from another source. You still need the confirmation and love people get (generally speaking) from their Mothers, trust that you have resources all around you….Use them! Love feels just as good when it comes from somebody other than your mother. Remember, we can’t force people to love us the way we feel they should love us, but we sure as hell can resolve they don’t hurt us any way they want to. Build your resources!
3. Draw your boundaries! Most women (and some Men I know, too), who have been raised by emotional abusers keep moving their boundaries when it comes to acceptable behavior. Before long you look back and realize you’ve moved your lines of acceptable behavior so many times, you’ve pretty much given everyone permission to treat you anyway they like and with behavior that is totally UNACCEPTABLE! You teach people how to treat you and now you must start the retraining.
2. Learn the tools to effectively keep people on their side of the boundary line and keep you safe within your boundary without putting up walls. You will feel empowered, strong and less and less like a door mat. Learn how to do this without hurting people and you will be the winner and not the repeater.
1. Forgive. I didn’t say forget and I didn’t say condone. I said Forgive! This isn’t for your mother it’s for YOU. You want to live a well lived life, Right? Then you can’t carry this baggage around with you, it’s not yours to carry – it’s hers. There’s a saying that goes “To not forgive someone is like drinking poison and expecting someone else to die”. Let go and forgive her for not knowing what she was doing. People have been forgiven for much higher crimes than not knowing how to love.
Now I’d like to finally put SOME of my baggage down please.