Q - Whenever I do or say something that my mum doesn’t like she gets upset and finds a way to punish me. I’m an only child, she was widowed when I was a baby, and so I’ve never seen my dad. When I was little she hurt me by hitting and kicking me, and not letting me eat. Now I’m older she ignores me instead, and acts as if I don’t exist. I don’t set out to upset her, and I want to know why she does this and how to stop her from doing it to me.
A - She is behaving in a cruel and childish way by refusing to speak to you. This gives an indication of how she protects her fragile ego from any perceived challenges. She makes the other person 'the bad one' whilst she becomes the wounded victim.
Perhaps she has never properly healed from her loss and has turned her pain into anger towards you.
You’ve mentioned that your mother used to physically abuse you, and withold food/nourishment/nurturing to manipulate your behaviour in the past. She has now shifted to emotionally abusing you nowadays instead.
She is trying to punish you by her refusal to speak with you, or acknowledge your existence. It is a cruel attempt to make you feel worthless, flawed and unwanted. That may be her distorted perception of you (but more likely of herself), but that doesn’t make it the truth!
An emotionally mature grown up would calmly and assertively talk things through, explaining their views and preferences, and hearing what the other had to say.
Children seek love, acceptance and nurturing, and will give in and offer a false and forced apology as an attempt to gain positive attention from a parent.
That is, until they learn that any positive attention is either unreliable and conditional - or it’s never even coming – in which case they give up trying to get it.
That results in them emotionally and psychologically hiding away inside of themselves, whilst wearing a false mask of compliance. The personality splits because it has to.
In adulthood that much wanted positive love and care can come from learning to like and love ourselves - in spite of the way our parent(s) treated us. It might also come from finding a stable, reliable and loving partner.
I doubt that your mother will change – unless she has some miraculous self-awareness awakening and shift. That leaves you to be the one to change – at least changing the impact that her nasty behaviour has upon you.
You can start this process with understanding what she’s doing and why. Then you can adapt your responses to better suit yourself.
You could contact your mother and say that you will be taking care of yourself and your own emotional needs from now on, and that you're not willing to tolerate her emotional bullying any longer.
You don't have to walk on eggshells around her or be compliant to her!
You have the choice about who and what you allow into your life.
You can now choose the level of contact you have with your mother. Set and maintain clear and robust boundaries for yourself and your inner child.
Your detachment from your mother's drama games will probably cause her to over-react, and she may try to turn the heat up on her emotional abuse – be prepared for her backlash, and stand strong against it!
When you can become like your own ‘inner mother’ you will then have yourself to rely upon. You can get the positive attention and care you need and want.
Be patient, compassionate and kind to yourself. You deserve that!
The priority is aways to keep your inner child feeling safe, protected and loved by you.
Ensure too that you have only supportive, reliable, trustworthy and kind people around you.
The wounds from childhood trauma take a special type of healing, and if I can be of help to you in that I’d be honoured to do so.
(You can contact me via my website below)
Maxine Harley (MSc Psychotherapy) MIND HEALER & MENTOR
www.maxineharley.com – where you’ll find a page of FREE RESOURCES(questionairre, e-booklets, videos, articles and blog posts) to help you on your road to recovery and healing from childhood trauma and a difficult or toxic parent. There's also a self-help course called '3 Steps To Sort Yourself Out - without therapy!' (£37... or £27 if you use the code TENOFF at the checkout) which will help you to make sense of your experiences with your mother, and to recover from them
www.maxineharleymentoring.com - Helping women to understand and manage their emotions, boundaries and behaviours, and to stop the past from directing their future - whether at home or at work!
www.the-ripple-effect.co.uk - 10 online self-help workshops - helping you to help yourself to understand and manage different troubling aspects of your life - (anxiety, depression, anger, stress, weight, self-esteem and confidence, mindful living, understanding yourself, understanding relationships, and how to be happier)
www.qpp.uk.com - A new therapeutic method designed to update the unhelpful sub-conscious beliefs that have been getting in the way of you having a calmer happier life