From my psychotherapy couch, I see your face fall and an unbearable sadness comes over you. Your heart is breaking in two.
The child in you is facing an unbearable loss. The love you want so very much to feel from your mother just isn’t going to be. Wishing it weren’t true, you have been hiding this from yourself for so long. You wish you had a mother who would see the best in you.
Instead, you feel criticized and controlled. You wish that mom would accept you for who you are, instead of continually trying to fix you.
Stuck in the role of the good daughter, you constantly wonder if you’ll ever be good enough for her? This is a torturous way to live. You bear the mark of your mother’s pain. Nevertheless, instead of feeling heartbroken, there is a part of you that would rather be angry, indignant… anything to keep from facing what a part of you has known all along.
You didn’t get the love you needed then. And you are never going to get it now. This is a hard truth to face. No matter how good you are for her, she may never give you the love you need. And it hurts badly. Hope against hope, you put yourself back together only to have the inevitable happen.
You give her one more chance, telling yourself that she means well or doesn’t mean what she says and … mom says something unspeakably self-centered or mean. Your defenses crack, and you let down your guard. The profound disappointment of your mother’s limitations come flooding through. You wonder if there is something seriously wrong with mom? The label Narcissistic seems to fit. Whether or not this is the case, what you feel is real. Loneliness overtakes you, and you sit there weeping as the truth rises in you.
As your therapist, I want to say this,” It is okay; I have seen this before. You are becoming conscious. It hurts but there is healing and clarity in your tears.” This is the path to personal liberation, the way to freedom. But silence and quiet witness, a holding space, is what you need now. It’s vital that you get to these feelings even if you worry they will overtake you. Through them is the only way past them.
There is dignity and honor in your grief. You owe it to yourself to grieve the loss of the deep longing for a good enough mother.
What I know is this-
You have been denied your own feelings for so very long. You have been told not to feel what you are feeling, or that you are too sensitive. The last thing you need is for me to shut you down. Feeling the sadness and the anger is necessary to keep depression at bay. Left unacknowledged, these feelings will plunge you into a dark place and keep you there. By facing the hard feelings, you can move past them.
You must strip away the blocks to get to these core feelings to heal. And you need a witness to your tears. Then the tears can wash away the vise grip of guilt and control that has held you down and pinned you to a life lived for someone else.
You need your heart to break, to break free. Your heart is, in fact, expanding. It will come back together in a complete way that makes room for more love.
It’s gonna be okay.
No, scratch that, it is gonna be better than okay. You can learn to be your own source of comfort, and dependent no more on a mother who can’t fully love.
Sovereign of your own life. Clear. Calm. Confident. But first, comes the grief. By grieving and letting go of what isn’t and will never be, you clear a path for what can come next.
To find out if you suffer from the Good Daughter Syndrome go here.