by Amy Jones
When I tell people that I am estranged from my mother, the first thing they say is “I’m so sorry.” Without going into a lot of details, my response is always the same, “its ok…it’s healthier this way.”
I’ve never stopped loving my mom, however I choose to love her from afar. I think about her quite often and hope and wish she is happy and doing well. I fully recognize it is not normal to be estranged from your mother, especially as a daughter…but I also recognize that at some point in our lives, we have to make sacrifices for ourselves, and not of ourselves. My decision to distance myself from my mother was not one I made lightly.
Mother-daughter relationships can be complicated, it’s true. However, the relationships in my family seemed more challenging than normal. Growing up, I watched the relationship dynamics between my mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. I witnessed and received unkind words and harsh treatment. Words spoken out of “love” were often not loving. I felt I had to pretend to be someone else so that my mother would approve of and love me, and the older I became, the more painful this felt. I lived life as if I were two people; one person for my mother and another person for everyone else. All I ever wanted was for my mother to say she was proud of me; those were the only words I worked day in and day out to hear. At a certain point I decided I had to take care of myself and stop living a double life.
If you are in a similar situation, please accept you have to be gentle with yourself and recognize you are worth being cherished.
It’s an incredibly difficult thing to comprehend not having a relationship with a parent, but some circumstances and situations are out of our control. If you are aware you feel discomfort when your relationship is not fulfilling your needs, chances are change is necessary. Don’t feel guilty – you need to take care of yourself. Think about what the flight attendant says, “Please place your oxygen mask on first before helping others around you.” In order to help others you need to practice self-care FIRST. You shouldn’t have to sacrifice yourself because of the needs, wants, desires or demands of another person.
Feeling the emotions associated with the estrangement will help you heal. It’s not an easy situation. Grieving is also very important in two ways: 1) Grieving the relationship that we’ve wanted and hoped for, that hasn’t happened and 2) grieving the end of the relationship that wasn’t healthy or balanced. Grief is a very important part of the process that allows us to experience a range of feelings including gratitude, acceptance of things we cannot change, being more engaged in the present, appreciation and releasing worry. All of these things help us be more conscientious of creating a new and different relationship with ourselves and with others.
How I celebrate Mother’s Day
Every day and especially Mother’s Day, I send love and well-wishes to my mother in my mind and in my heart. It was my choice to not continue our unhealthy relationship, and I’ve accepted my role, responsibility and contribution. We all play a part. I’ve taken the time and made the effort necessary to heal and to learn from my experiences.
On Mother’s Day, I also celebrate myself as a mother who has been through some very difficult situations and has had to make incredibly hard decisions. Every day we are given the chance to make a different choice. My courageous decision led to stronger relationships with myself and my own children. For all relationships on Mother’s Day, I wish you love, healing, courage and strength.
Related Article: For Those Who Struggle On Mother’s Day
Amy is a personal growth visionary, international speaker and author who lives and breathes one simple philosophy: live in the moment. For over two decades, she has inspired thousands of people; intent on helping facilitate their personal growth and self-healing process by creating opportunities for significant and lasting life changes through personal interactions, workshops and writing found on www.TheAmyJones.com
Amy is a highly sought-after speaker and her series Getting Rid of Possessions: It’s Harder Than You Think has the highest attendance in the history of the Generations program at Methodist Health Systems. She is the author of Better for Being Broken and co-author of Break Through with Johnny Wimbrey, Nik Halik and Les Brown.