Have made huge progress with my thinking about my mother but feel I need to do more work.


Dear Brooke,

Before coming across your teachings I really struggled with thoughts about my mother.

I tried counseling, but found it a waste of time — their conclusion was for me to learn to accept my mother is who she is and she is not who I have ever wanted her to be. I wanted to know *how* to learn to accept it instead of feeling miserable about it.

Since I was a teen, I have felt she does not love me and she does not want to talk about anything remotely deep/hard/emotional/confronting (she has anxiety and high blood pressure issues, which meant the rest of the family avoid conflict/talking about anything of significance or anything which may stress her out). When I have tried to talk with her over the years about how I felt, she has walked out of the room, or driven off.

I mentally get it: She can be whoever she wants to be. But my manual for her has run deep, and becoming a mother a decade ago has made me realize how many more items I have added to this manual! (Wanting, needing my mother to be there for me after giving birth, babysitting etc but not experiencing that.)

When I listened to your podcast about manuals, I was angry! “But, surely there is a manual for *mothers* I wanted to yell at you” 🙂 I kept thinking and thinking about this and realizing my manual (which was never fulfilled) was only making me miserable and not serving me.

Letting go of my manual has been hard work. I am working to turn my hurt feelings around when I hear others say how much their mother means to them, or other mothers talking about how proud they are of my friends — to think about myself as a mother and my relationship with my kids rather than the hurt and brokenness I feel between myself and my mother. I feel this turnaround in perspective helps.

Another thing which has helped thanks to you is giving my brain a different question to work on. I used to constantly think “Why is she like this to me? What have I done?” I would go down many rabbit holes trying to answer this (maybe it is because I do not go to church, maybe it is because she doesn’t like my husband, maybe it is because I …) and end up feeling worse, and without any answer. I changed the question to how can I be a better mom to my children, embodying all the things which I dream of having and not end up like her.

It also helped to see my mom as a human struggling with anxiety which is never talked about but endured by people around her. Not a perfect person.

I’m doing so much better than before. But. I still struggle. It still hurts. Something will come up and I still long for my mother (in a good way) to be that person I can confide in, run to, talk to for hours on the phone about anything and everything, have come look after my kids when I am sick. Our relationship is so small and it could be so much more. I struggle to accept it is what it is and probably will always be.

What other tools can help my thinking?