Common Experiences of Women With Moms Like This:
The great common denominator among women with unloving mothers is the longing for validation— to find someone who will say, “Yes, what you experienced really happened. Yes, your feelings are justified. I understand.”
WHAT MAKES A GOOD MOTHER
… if her dominant behavior engenders in her daughter a belief in her own value and nourishes her self- respect, confidence, and safety, that mother is doing a good job, whether she’s a wonderful mom or just good enough. She’s demonstrating real love, in a tangible, reliable way, to her child.
YOU CAN’T CALL IT LOVE
To help you look objectively at the mothering you’ve experienced, I’ve designed the following checklists.
First, let’s deal with what’s going on right now. Does your mother regularly:
• Demean or criticize you?
• Make you a scapegoat?
• Take credit when things go well, and blame you when they go wrong?
• Treat you as if you’re incapable of making your own decisions?
• Turn on the charm for other people, but turn cold when she’s alone with you?
• Try to upstage you?
• Flirt with your significant other?
• Try to live out her life through you?
• Call, e- mail, text, and schedule herself into your life so much that you feel smothered?
• Tell you or imply that you are the reason for her depression, lack of success, or unfulfilled life?
• Tell you or imply that she can’t cope without you (and only your help will do)?
• Use money or the promise of money to manipulate you?
• Threaten to make your life difficult if you don’t do what she wants?
• Ignore or discount your feelings and wants?
“Yes” answers are clear indications that your mother is crossing, or has crossed, the boundary that separates loving mothers from unloving ones.
These behaviors are probably not new, and chances are they have been going on for most of your life. You’ll see that clearly if you put a simple “Did she” in front of each of the questions above, and think about what was going on when you were little.
The next list will give you a sense of how your relationship with your mother has affected you. Do you:
• Wonder if your mother loves you— and feel ashamed that she may not?
• Feel responsible for the happiness of everyone but yourself?
• Believe that your mother’s needs, wants, and expectations of you are more important than your own?
• Believe that love is something you have to earn?
• Believe that no matter what you do for your mother, it won’t be enough?
• Believe that you must protect her, even from the knowledge that she’s hurting you?
• Feel guilty and believe you’re a bad person if you don’t comply with the wishes of other people, especially your mother?
• Hide the details of your life and feelings from your mother, because you know she’ll find a way to use your truths against you?
• Find yourself constantly chasing approval?
• Feel scared, guilty, and small, no matter how much you accomplish?
• Wonder if there’s something wrong with you that will keep you from being able to find a partner who loves you?
• Feel afraid to have children (if you want them) because they’ll turn out “messed up, like me”?
All these feelings and beliefs are legacies of the mother wound, and they, too, have their roots in childhood. But even if you answered “yes” to every one of these questions, please be assured that you’re not doomed or irreparably damaged.
There are many changes you can put into practice immediately to improve your life, your self- image, and your relationships.