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And Never Talk to Me Again! Handling Emotional Cut-Offs
Henry and Marie, both in their late 50’s, are devastated. They had just come back from visiting their 33 year-old daughter, Sara, and her family. They had done the good grandparent thing – attended their grandson’s birthday party, brought gifts – had, they thought, a great time. Now, only a couple of weeks later, and seemingly out of the blue, they have received this caustic email from Sara. She had been thinking about an off-handed comment that Henry had made, and that apparently led to her mulling over a lot of things about her childhood and past relationship with her parents. Finally, at the end she says in bold type, “And never talk to me again!”
Ellen and Teresa would both admit that they had never been extremely close as sisters and have had their ups and downs over the years. Both have been busy with their own careers, relationships and the most they have been able to muster is a catch-up email every couple of weeks. But then their grandmother died and in her will she left more money to Ellen than Teresa. Understandably this stirred some hurt feelings but also inadvertently opened old long-standing wounds of jealousy, favoritism, unfairness between the sisters. They haven’t talked in months and there is no sign of a thaw.
Cut-offs, estrangement. It’s not just the stuff of Godfather movies (“You’re dead to me”) but unfortunately the stuff of millions of relationships. What is going here? A couple of things:
Do you forgive a family member who has done you wrong
WITHOUT an apology? Why does family get away with doing
you wrong (repeatedly)?
An apology is always needed. That is simply Dale Carnegie 101: “Apologize and Mean It.” If anything, the apology should be for making the other person feel bad/ hurting their feelings. It should not be difficult to GENUINELY apologize to a loved one for hurting their feelings. Forgiveness is the result of the apology. If we just ran around and had to forgive every wrongdoing, then Elin Woods should have no problems forgiving Tiger for his affairs. Forgiveness is a solution to an apology. In a perfect world, we can all forgive and forget. Period. However, that isn’t always possible in interpersonal discourse.
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Sitting in the family room watching Jerry Lewis movies and enjoying the sounds of laughter between a mother and daughter. The joy and carefree spirits of girls who didn’t have a worry in the world. However, as a mother I knew that time would soon pass; but for the moment, innocence belonged to us. Very few arguments, disagreements, or power struggles–just freedom to live a life without worry.
Now, our relationship has changed and in a way that is not becoming of a mother and daughter. Past maternal relationships did not provide answers to struggles of new motherhood. Motherhood was by default without plans. Each day was a struggle to figure out the correct direction to happiness. Many times the plans were horrendously wrong and recovery sluggishly slowed.
Sometimes falling upon unwilling ears with humming sounds, motherly advice drowned out. The smacking of lips and the rolling of eyes, youthful responses interpreted as defiance. Neither party willing to compromise–motherhood trumped the maturing of youth.
The tug of war between mothers and daughters can be exhausting,sometimes leaving bitterness and regret. Mothers have no time to be their daughters’ best friends when working hard to teach them how to survive in a cruel and unconcerned world. Friendship follows emotional and psychological maturity.
Mothers learn from their mothers or motherly figures. Some mothers never talked about their childhoods or their relationships with husbands or the fathers of their children. When daughters witness their mothers’ bitterness and disdain for life resulting in those mothers striking out at their children, an indelible emotional mark is left. For this reason, reminding daughters of their resemblance of their fathers leaves them recipients of frequent beatings. Nonetheless, some daughters will love their mothers because both need love.
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There would be no lessons on love or how to properly vet men. Men showed up either unannounced or spontaneously interjected into children’s lives. Some were nice; but many were not. Affection wasn’t part of her personality—no hugging, kissing, lying of the head on her lap. Some mothers seem emotionally frozen. Children sensed something was amiss; but as children knowledge and understanding was limited. They could feel their mother’s internal darkness and pain and wanted to shoulder it, which would happen in due time. So, when some children become mothers they vow to be a more affectionate, caring, and tolerant. In the eyes of their daughters, it appears mothers have failed miserably.
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Sympathy isn’t on the menu. Investigating the causes of the rift between mothers and daughters is the key to this mystery. Watching other mothers and daughters getting along so well—close and seemingly best friends makes it much harder not to feel guilty. Why can those mothers and daughters love each other unconditionally when the love between some mothers and seem so cold and distant? Where did they go wrong? When did the spiral into disdain begin?
Most mothers desire the best for their daughters—to be more successful, beautiful, and married to awesome men. Most mothers pray fervently that their daughters will be blessed with excellent health, great and trustworthy friends, and long life. Most mothers would sacrifice their lives for their daughters to have the love of a man who would walk on hot coals or die in battle. If the sun and moon never shown again, most mothers would bear the pain of labor just to relive the placing of their newborn daughters upon their breasts. I am such a mother.
Sadness weighs heavy upon many mothers, especially when witnessing their daughter’s tragic relationships. It doesn’t matter how old a daughter gets she will remain her mother’s baby girl. When her daughter is hurt, the mother lion will seek and destroy whatever or whoever is the perpetrator. However, the more mothers fight for the right to love their daughters; there are some daughters who resist that protection at every turn. It is deemed meddling or an attempt to control their daughters’ lives. From a mother’s point of view, it is the deepest love we have and the costs we are willing to pay to ensure our daughters have a better life.
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The journey into adulthood is never easy. Life can beat and abuse the strongest person. No motherly protection will make a difference when life has other plans for her daughters. Yet, the path on which mothers and daughters take can be taken either in tandem or in solo. It’s up to the attitude of the individuals whether they want to walk life alone or share the burdens.
Mother and daughter relationships can be repaired in time; but it’s a partnership. It only takes one to cross the line of reconciliation. Again, it’s a partnership. It’s okay to step back and heal one’s self. However, to allow too much time to pass increases the opportunity for the wedge to grow wider and deeper leaving the opportunity for years of lost love.
There is a rivalry between mothers and daughters; and many are in denial. Sometimes the daughter wants what the mother has and vice versa. This is normal. It’s only abnormal when this competition causes deep pain and suffering. It’s time to investigate and resolve issues hindering relationships between mothers and daughters.
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It’s a fickle thought how some daughters accept advice from another daughter’s mother; yet, complain about the advice of their own mother. All daughters experience this period of exploring the wisdom beyond their own mothers. Mothers offer wisdom to other daughters who are more receptive, praying secretly their daughters have overheard their advice. What a crazy game played between mothers and daughters. So difficult. So time consuming.
Many daughters cringe when people tell them how much they look like their mothers. Many daughters cringe when people tell them what a wonderful mother they have. Many daughters get irritated when told their mother is gorgeous. Many daughters profess to never want to be anything like their mothers. Unfortunately, the mirror reminds daughters their mother is within them no matter how hard they pray to look, talk, and walk differently. Mirrors never lie.
Someday some daughters will become mothers, too. The cycle will begin again with the lying of her baby upon her breast. Hopefully, through love and understanding the bond will remain beyond death.
Study Shows Love Means Having To Say You’re Sorry (Sometimes)
Feel like you should be apologizing for something in your relationship, but not sure what? A novel new study suggests your instincts are right.
In asking 120 men and women to keep daily diaries of any wrongdoing in their romantic partnerships, a Canadian psychologist found apologies were offered for just 31 per cent of reported offences. Even more striking was that apologies – when they were given – only predicted forgiveness for highly satisfied couples.