As a psychotherapist and fellow survivor, I work with women who have difficult relationships with their mothers to recover from the trauma and to lead happier lives. I believe it’s time we had a conversation around toxic parenting and how we can be emotionally wounded by our mothers and this is my contribution.
It is really common for difficult mothers to be emotionally absent, to ignore, belittle, or seem apparently unaware of your feelings, or need for a relationship with her.
What you learn is that her feelings are paramount, this may mean you need to please her, take care of her emotional ups and downs, agree with her even when you don’t want to, and walk on eggshells waiting for the next rejection.
As children we know instinctively that our survival depends on having a parent to depend on to feed and protect us. This is why the human psyche goes to great lengths to maintain damaging and toxic relationships with our parents, even at the expense of our sense of self.
I am writing this as a therapist who is working with men who are experiencing mother wounds of their own. They can experience the same emotional neglect and meaness women experience, but this is what I feel is different.
As a kid you just want to be loved, seen and heard. When we are validated by our mothers we feel whole, worthy and emotionally wealthy. When this doesn’t happen it leads to a feeling of emptiness, a loss of confidence, negative self-beliefs and often a need to people please.