After my last blog post, I received mails, and also some comments that touched upon the fact that the mother-daughter relationship can be an embittered one, and mine was not a unique case. To be honest, I have been crabby for the past few days, the emotions that I thought were buried and gone, resurfaced.
I felt that the time has come to write about this.
The human race has problems that no other species has on this planet. We need to wear clothes, learn how to balance ourselves on two legs to walk, and have the longest childhood. The last makes us astonishingly dependant on our parents. So we need our parent’s approval and desperately crave for it. After all for 20 years or more of our lives, we depend on them for our basic needs.
In an ideal world our mother would care, protect and nurture us, and defend us from hostile forces outside our homes. But then this is not the ideal world.
Here is a questionnaire I have copied verbatim from a book “Will I ever be good enough?” by Karyl McBride that helped me understand what I was going through and also achieve closure (to a certain extent)
Tick all the points that you feel are true of your relationship with your mother – the more you tick, the stronger the syndrome exists. Yes it is a syndrome called the “Narcissistic Personality Disorder”
and if my words ring true, your mother has it.
1. When you discuss your life issues with your mother, does she divert the discussion to talk about herself?
2. When you discuss your feelings with your mother, does she she try to top the feeling with her own?
3. Does your mother act jealous of you?
4. Does your mother lack empathy for your feelings?
5. Does your mother only support those things you do that reflect on her as a “good mother”?
6. Have you consistently felt a lack of emotional closeness with your mother?
7. Have you consistently questioned whether or not your mother likes you or loves you?
8. Does your mother only do things for you when others can see?
9. When something happens in your life (accident, illness, divorce), does your mother react with how it will affect her rather than how you feel?
10. Is or was your mother overly conscious of what others think (neighbors, friends, family, co-workers)?
11. Does your mother deny her own feelings?
12. Does your mother blame things on you or others rather than own responsibility for her own feelings or actions?
13. Is or was your mother hurt easily and then carries a grudge for a long time without resolving the problem?
14. Do you feel you were a slave to your mother?
15. Do you feel you were responsible for your mother’s ailments or sickness (headaches, stress, illness)?
16. Did you have to take care of your mother’s physical needs as a child?
17. Do you feel unaccepted by your mother?
18. Do you feel your mother was critical of you?
19. Do you feel helpless in the presence of your mother?
20. Are you shamed often by your mother?
21. Do you feel your mother knows the real you?
22. Does your mother act like the world should revolve around her?
23. Do you find it difficult to be a separate person from your mother?
24. Does your mother appear phony to you?
25. Does your mother want to control your choices?
26. Does your mother swing from egotistical to depressed mood?
27. Did you feel you had to take care of your mother’s emotional needs as a child?
28. Do you feel manipulated in the presence of your mother?
29. Do you feel valued, by mother, for what you do rather than who you are?
30. Is your mother controlling, acting like a victim or martyr?
31. Does your mother make you act different from how you really feel?
32. Does your mother compete with you?
33. Does your mother always have to have things her way?
Now, there is nothing you can do to help your mother, who is a grown woman and your parent. There is a lot you can do to protect yourself
1. Put physical distance between the two of you. Move away, to another town or country. That way you are not subjected to negativity all the time. No one needs constant reminder of their weak points. Every one has had downs and every one has character flaws. We do not need another human being to go on harping about them.
2. Keep verbal interactions to the minimum. Do not discuss your life with her. That way, she does not have ammo to hurt you with. Remember, she will not be supportive in your misfortune and you are an adult. You do not need that support which she is either unwilling to extend to you or incapable of extending to you.
3. Do not share your successes with her. She will show the world that she is so proud of your good fortune and achievement, but when alone she will say something nasty. Say, you get a raise. Your mother will brag about it to the world. But once alone she will remind you of the time when you got dumped or were hard of money. Oh it will be couched with the admonishment “Don’t forget the hard times” but you know and she knows that she is resenting your success. If you get a raise, don’t mention it.
4. Keep your friends and your mother separate. Otherwise she will criticize you and discuss your shortcomings with them, all under the guise of being very concerned about you and your “not so bright” future.
5. This comes from point no. 4. Keep your socializing with her very minimum. Do not have joint kitty parties or the same mandir or collectively attend a relative’s wedding. You may be humiliated by her in these social settings. The wounds will resurface long after she is dead and gone.
Hope this works for you. I learnt the hard way.