The moment Anneke discovered that her mother was clinging to her energetically, she realized that she has been experiencing this all her life. Anneke has taken on the mother role from an early age and is always ready for mother. For mother, she is an ‘extension’ that takes care of her both physically and emotionally.
When Anneke tells me how far her care for mother goes, in addition to her job and the care for her children, I see the following symbolic image: mother is bobbing in a swimming pool on an enormous inflatable flamingo and does not move. Anneke constantly swims back and forth, from mother to the side where the necessary things are and back again.
Swimming takes her up completely and she has little space or attention for herself and her family. Mother takes this for granted, she expects no different. Anneke’s swimming never stops if it’s up to mother…
Do you recognize this, the infinite care for your mother? Whatever you say or do, your mother’s needs are never met. One problem follows another, varying from physical complaints to practical rules. Your mother is counting on your unconditional care and attention.
But whatever you do or say, it disappears into a bottomless pit. Stings under water and affable looks are yours. You become more and more exhausted physically, emotionally and energetically. You have been feeling the imbalance for a long time, but how do you change that?
Honesty and Recognition
Looking honestly at your relationship with your mother is an important first step. It is, especially for women, difficult to see the unbalanced relationship with their mother in all its truth. How painful is it to discover that your mother does not see you as an autonomous being, with your own needs? For difficult mothers, their own needs come first.
There is no end to their verbiage how hard their lives are, a difficult mother does not wonder what it is like for you to hear this repetitive story.
These mothers have an insatiable need for attention. But their needs are never met. In addition, your efforts are not appreciated: the necessary groceries are not to your liking and she kindly informs you that the flowers you brought last week did not last long. It feels like a mountain that you never reach the top. Your mother’s unconditional love for you is missing.
Characteristics of a Difficult Mother:
- She is permanently present in your mind. Even when it’s not there, it’s still there.
- Your attention and care are never good and never enough. There is always criticism, verbal or non-verbal.
- She sees herself as a victim and takes little responsibility to improve her situation.
- She is manipulative and puts the blame outside herself.
- In contact with you you experience a certain degree of destruction. It ‘should’ never be nice. In this article you can read more about the destructive dynamics with difficult mothers.
At the root of difficult mothers are traumatic experiences. The older generation grew up in a time when feelings were better hidden.
They all have in common that they have not been seen or have serious traumas. It regularly appears that a difficult mother had little opportunity to be a child, for example because she had to take care of younger brothers and sisters. Difficult mothers have not matured emotionally and their insatiable need for attention stems from wounded inner child parts.
Understanding the origin of your mother’s behavior does not justify this. Be careful not to excuse her behavior because you understand how it came about. It is of the utmost importance that you set boundaries. For yourself and any children.
When you still experience a strong connection with and responsibility for your mother, it causes disruption in your own life. Your self-image is tarnished and you never feel good enough. As a partner, mother, employee and… as a person.
You have trouble occupying your own space.
Moreover, it has consequences for the contact with your child. Your mother takes up the space that is actually intended for him or her. The energy you (unconsciously) spend on your mother is not spent on your child.
Your child mirrors this by clinging to you, withdrawing, developing fears or displaying rebellious behavior. With the message to you: “stand in your own strength so that you can be the mother with whom I feel safe and who shows me the way in life. With attention and with confidence”.
What is needed?
Sometimes there is a silent hope that your mother is now interested and loving. And this hope is dashed into the ground at the umpteenth disappointing visit. When this is a pattern, it is important to allow yourself to grieve for the mother you never had.
By allowing and letting go of your grief about it, you create space within yourself. This space may then be filled with self-love.
Every time she visits her mother, Ruth receives a torrent of negativity: “Now dress for your age”, “Your hair is messy”, “You have to be stricter with the children”.
Tears are streaming down her cheeks as she tells me this. She concludes with: “But yes, it is my mother after all”.
This is the perennial dilemma of most women with difficult mothers. The split between loyalty and choosing for yourself. Perhaps you feel guilty about the complex relationship with your mother ?
It helps to ask yourself the following question: “To what extent is my mother willing or able to have a good contact?”. When this willingness is not there, you have to guard your own limits and take care of yourself.
Think about the form of the contact, the frequency and the duration. For example, Ruth’s sister limits visits to mother to 15 minutes.
It also helps to energetically prepare your visit or telephone conversation in advance.
Visualize beforehand how the conversation is going. See in your mind that you stay with yourself, at rest. That you respond appropriately to annoying comments. That you end the conversation or visit if you notice that you are empty.
Note especially how it feels when you do this.
And feel that you have the inner strength to carry this out. This way you retain more control and you influence the atmosphere energetically.
After this visualization you make contact with your own heart energy. When you wrap yourself in this, you are less likely to lose your balance. In this way you create a safe buffer so that painful comments no longer touch your heart. It is important that you let the energy flow from your heart into your entire body and then into your energetic field.
Online there are many meditations that can support you in this, such as this meditation that helps you take your own space.
True to yourself
Taking up your own space and being true to yourself is of great importance. For yourself, your family and the collective. You too have the right to float in the inflatable flamingo. To live and be your own life.
Besides, it’s in your mother’s “souls” interest. You give her the chance to get out of her comfortable position and go for a swim, taking care of her needs herself. In this way she can learn to take her own responsibility. It is up to her to what extent she is willing to do this. Only when you bear less responsibility, there is a chance of change.