Karen C.L. Anderson (author of Difficult Mother Daughter Journal) has some tips for reconnecting with your mother.
Not all adult daughters want to go “no contact” with mothers who have narcissistic tendencies, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, and other trauma-related conditions.
If that’s you, here are three things you can do to make it easier to have a relationship with her.
#1 Redefine the word “relationship.”
When you and another person in a relationship are mentally and emotionally healthy and mature, you typically gauge the quality of the relationship by how well you communicate, your emotional connection, the love between you, how satisfied you are, etc.
When the other person in your relationship is your personality-disordered mother, there’s another way to approach it: the relationship is simply your thoughts and feelings about her. This is how you manage your experience.
When you rely on her doing something she doesn’t want to do (change), in order to have what’s considered a “normal” relationship, it’s a crapshoot.
Of course you wish she would change – or think she should change. And it’s this thought that has you relying on her behavior in order to have a good relationship. It’s also what makes you vulnerable to the behavior you don’t want to be around. The solution (if you want to remain in contact) is not relying on her to change in order to feel good.And to be clear, it’s also not people-pleasing her.
#2 Establish and maintain healthy, mature boundaries.
I’ve written extensively on how to do this so I won’t get into too much detail here other than to say that the most effective boundaries in this scenario are the ones you have with yourself…they are about your behavior and what you are willing and not willing to do.
They are not about controlling her behavior, which you know isn’t possible.
Boundaries are a way you can love her (if that’s what you want), exactly as she is, and protect yourself at the same time.
Side note: we often think withdrawing love and being anger is what protects us. And to be sure, anger can be a signal that protection is needed. You can heed the signal, take a moment (and a few deep breaths) and remember that your healthy, mature boundaries are what allow you to both protect and respect yourself…and feel love.
#3 Tend to your nervous system.
This is often the missing piece. Download the most recent version of my Nervous System 101 primer to learn how to work WITH your body, not against it.
Much, much love,
P.S. A fourth thing you can do is hire me to support you. I excel at helping women make lasting peace with the thing they think they can’t be at peace with – the relationship they have with their mothers. And I do it in a way that is safe, trauma-informed…and, dare I say it? Fun. Click here to get the process started.
A Guide For Revealing & Healing Toxic Generational Patterns (Companion Journal to Difficult Mothers Adult Daughters)
A compassionate guide: Karen C.L. Anderson is a storyteller, feminist, and speaker who views the world through the lens of curiosity and fascination. As a mother-daughter relationship expert, she gently guides readers through revealing painful patterns in their relationships to finding ultimate healing. Her book isn’t a quick fix. Rather, she writes to help mothers and daughters heal and either reconcile or peacefully separate.