Mothers play a big part in our lives, especially when it comes to their daughters. In an ideal world, daughters receive love, attention, support, and wisdom from their moms so that they can go into the world and follow their dreams and passions. According to a recent research as discussed in the article in Psychology Today (http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200104/the-mother-daughter-bond most adults report positive relationships with their mothers. For example, 88 percent of adults say their mother has had a positive influence on them, and 92 percent say their current relationship with their mother is positive.
Still, in my clinical practice, these numbers tend to be quite different. Many women, young or old, report having strained relationships with their mothers. Quite often, they suffer from low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, and unfulfilled relationships. They blame themselves not knowing what went wrong and why they cannot form a lasting loving relationship with a man. Many times they did not have a good role model as to what constitutes a healthy and loving relationship or a marriage.
So the bond between mothers and daughters is very complex. The bond starts to already develop during pregnancy. Research shows that even fetuses can identify when their mom is stressed and therefore stress can indirectly affect the child’s emotional blue-print.
When I was pursuing my master’s degree at the University of Miami, I wrote my best essay on the importance of a secure attachment with parents, and especially mothers. Those who are lucky enough get this kind of secure attachment, and many others who are not so lucky suffer due to insecure and avoidant attachment. This is characterized by fear, anxiety, and feelings of abandonment.
Unfortunately, my experience was similar to many other daughters growing up in dysfunctional families. My family on my mother’s side has experienced generations of alcoholism and violence. Men tend to be violent and using alcohol as a coping mechanism. Many times this was an escape from mental and emotional illnesses, including PTSD which my grandfather suffered from and in the end cost him his life.
My mom was not an alcoholic; however she never healed from her own trauma. Instead, she lashed out. In my tender teen years, I was abused physically, emotionally, and mentally. She never sought help. This was just not what you did. Seeking help for emotional and mental issues is still stigmatized even to this day.
I had to physically move across the ocean from Slovenia to the US to finally heal from my own trauma. I am the first in my family who broke the cycle and decided I don’t want to live this kind of life and that I deserve a loving relationship. In therapy I learned a lot about myself and why I developed clinical depression. My healing journey was long and it’s still an ongoing journey. At the same time, it was also a blessing in disguise as I have been able to help hundreds of women to heal from abuse, trauma, difficult relationships, low self-esteem, and the lack of self-love. They now have confidence, improved relationships, and have made peace with the past.
Here are some suggestions how to heal and improve your relationship with your mother:
1. Forgive your mom and let go. Write a letter to your mom, expressing everything and then burn it. You are doing this for your sake, so that you don’t carry this burden
2. Think about all the good stuff; don’t dwell on the bad stuff. One of my fondest memories is when my mom brought me breakfast to bed on Saturday.
3. Be your own best parent. Think about what you have always needed from your mom but never got it. Pamper yourself.
4. Remember that your mom is just doing the best that she can. She learned all she knows from her mother.
5. When your mom starts with her “usual” nagging, or she is being negative or critical, just gently disengage. Set the boundaries and practice “tough love.”
Many times my clients don’t seek help until they are in crisis. Why wait this long and suffer? Call for a complimentary session today at 561-299-1028.
For information about substance abuse and co-occuring disorders visit http://americanaddictioncenters.org/co-occurring-disorders/