How could you not love your mother? Shouldn’t you want to be close to her? Isn’t it bad to want her out of your life?
So many of my clients struggle when it is the person who is “supposed” to love them the most that actually fails them. Mothers have traditionally been revered by most cultures for their supposedly loving, gentle, and sacrificing nature. If you happen to have a mother like this, that is absolutely wonderful because such a connection will definitely help you in life. What if you don’t have this advantage? Then the challenge may, in fact, turn from embracing your mother , as the culture suggests, to thriving in spite of her harmful presence.
There is a prevalent cultural myth that the people with whom we share a genetic link (our “blood”) are the ones with whom we form the strongest bonds. So, since your mother actually carried you and brought you into this world, she should have the strongest attachment to you, right? The reality is that having a biological relationship with someone is a starting point for a potential connection, but is never a guarantee that the bond will be a strong or healthy one. In fact, sometimes our strongest bond are with those who do not share any of our genetic heritage at all, such as a spouse, adopted child, friends, or even pets.
Whom you love and who loves you comes down to the day-to-day interactions you have with that person, independent of the formal role they play in your life. Do they help you when you are in need? Do they respond in a caring manner when you are hurting? Do they value, respect, and support you? Are they a psychologically healthy person?
In reality, if your mother consistently relates in a loving manner, you will develop a positive connection with her. If she treats you terribly, you may still want her love, but the bond will be damaged by her behavior. The conflict between the cultural message that says you should love your mother and the difficulty in loving someone who repeatedly hurts you can lead to tremendous guilt and shame. The thought that you may even need to distance yourself from your mother to keep yourself emotionally healthy can seem unfathomable. And yet, relationships can be extremely complex. Sometimes we get love from the ones who are supposed to love us. Other times, that affection comes from people we never dreamed would mean so much to us.