Before I get started, I have to share! Difficult Mothers, Adult Daughters: A Guide For Separation, Liberation & Inspiration is now ready for preorder!!
Question from a reader:
My relationship with my mother has been distant over the last few years as I have set unspoken boundaries. We see each other about once a month and speak maybe two times a month on the phone. We recently attended a family gathering and sat at the same table. She asked to take photos with me but did not speak much to me, and at the end of the night, she said goodnight to every person at the table with a kiss, except me. This is one of a million times she has rejected me. I feel this is officially the last time I will allow myself to even be around her. For many years I’ve allowed things to roll off me, but this is really bothering me and I feel its time to seal the deal and sever the relationship. Do I express this to her with a final statement or conversation or just walk away?
With this kind of question, I usually ask a question in response: “When you get quiet and listen to your heart, what do you truly want to do?”
And when you have the answer, I then ask: “Is it possible for you to do what you want to do and at the same time respect yourself through the process?”
My advice is always to make such decisions from as clean a place as possible, which means that you like and respect yourself before, during, and afterward. And for me, this also means taking responsibility for them. What does that look like?
Taking responsibility: severing the relationship and choosing to just walk away because I don’t know I can trust myself to have the conversation, and then not beating myself up for not being able to trust myself yet.
NOT taking responsibility: severing the relationship and choosing to just walk away because “she leaves me with no other choice and doesn’t deserve an explanation.”
Taking responsibility: severing the relationship and choosing to have a final conversation because I believe it’s the right thing to do and I want to be clear. Example: “I feel it’s best for me to sever the relationship. Please do not call or email me.”
NOT taking responsibility: severing the relationship and choosing to have a final conversation in which I say something like, “I’m severing our relationship because you’ve forced my hand…” or “you leave me with no other choice…” or “because you [fill in the blank]…”.
Something else to consider: no matter which path you choose, you don’t have to tell yourself stories about how evil and awful your mother is in order to have amazing boundaries (and your boundaries can be such that you choose not to have contact with her). If you want to tell stories about how evil and awful your mother is, go for it. It can be cathartic to do so. And? Based on my own experience, I also know it can keep you stuck and enmeshed with your mother when what you really want is freedom.
When we trust ourselves and our boundaries, we no longer have to tell painful stories.
And THAT’s priceless.
Much, much love,