When Daughters Dream Of Reconciliation: Dream On

Last week I had lunch with a dear friend who happens to be one of my very smartest friends, too.

She can explain things like video editing or income tax rules without making me feel like a pea brain. So, we get through the salad, the pizza, splitting the bill and she asks if I’m in a hurry.

Yeah right, since when?

And so she introduced the topic we should have been focusing on the entire time instead of catching up and swapping news about mutual friends.

It seems her mother is dying.

I sighed a little inside because she knows so much about my mothers and when have we ever discussed her mother?

Note to self: your friends have mothers, too.

“(She) never seemed to understand that relationships are two-way streets, one was always left feeling inadequate, that you had never done enough, never found the magic words to unlock her emotions,” she said of her mother.

She praised her sibling caretaker, to whom she is grateful. Although she worries that when others inquire about the mother’s condition her sibling is traumatized on top of managing the toxic mom duty.

And like so many of us with toxic moms, my friend is practically leaning forward in anticipation, ever hopeful for some sort of mother/daughter resolution before booking that final flight for the funeral.

She describes her last mom visit this way:

“What was strange for me was watching myself want to pay my final respects to an unresponsive mother who never wanted to hold up her part of the relationship, never seemed to understand that relationships are two-way streets.”

While calculating our tips I offered up my theory on toxic reconciliation. Anyone capable of being consistently cruel, unkind, demeaning or unreasonably demanding to a child, is not capable of feeling bad about it – – much less apologizing or offering any explanation.

Not . . . ‘gonna . . . happen.

Just saying that out loud helped my friend. She leaned back and looked at me across the table.

Her smile reminded of the moment we met over a decade ago. I was trying to look poised while standing in a busy newsroom on a job interview. As she walked by my friend tapped me on the arm and said, “Don’t be nervous. You’ll do great.”

What a kind thing to do. But that’s what a giving and empathetic person does.

Over our glasses of melting ice I walked her through my thought process on letting go of reconciliation hopes. Consider the years of hurt feelings, the tears, and the confusion that your toxic mother inflicted upon you. Then think about your own life.

Having been treated that way, I’m betting you are incapable of being as cruel. But let’s say you did hurt someone’s feelings once. I bet you felt bad. I bet you apologized and tried to make amends.

That’s the difference between you and your mother.

Maybe it’s the one thing she taught you.

When I was writing this week’s posting my friend and I exchanged e-mails about her story. I love how she looks at this situation.

. . . When I went down to see her I decided I was paying respect to the mother principle in all women, a dutiful daughter move just the same but I felt good about myself after it and have never felt drawn to do anything more. In the end, I tried to be my best self and that has made all the difference. She really had created a narrow world, cut off from all her children, leaving herself alone and wondering why. Finally I did not feel responsible for that . . .

It’s not easy to train yourself to cut the loop of negative self-criticism that sounds suspiciously like your mom on boxed wine.

It’s an imperfect process drawing up your boundaries and sticking to them. It’s hard getting to the realization that your toxic mom is incapable of making you feel better about your relationship.

But be advised — chances are she holds no magic key. She has no confessional letter under her pillow. The dream of a tearful reconciliation is a fantasy.

Realizing that truth is how we move forward in the world as a loving and compassionate people.

Until next Sunday, let me leave you with this fantastic YouTube video.

I love it because it’s just so real and kooky. It’s a great example of a healthy mother/daughter relationship.

Rayne Wolfe’s dream is to write her first book Confessions of an Undutiful Daughter by the end of 2011. She completed her dream journey May of 2011 on 8WD after a year living her dream. You can find her at Toxic Mom Toolkit on Facebook.

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  • marilyn m

    love you Sissy, kick ass “share”
    Sissy

  • EdnaZ

    Your writing is eloquent and moving. Very real. Every time you share, you help someone. I hope you understand what a great gift you give to the world.

    Perhaps there are levels of toxicity. I don’t know what level my mother is on. I just know it’s exhausting sometimes. Even at a recent visitation, she was so self-absorbed. She has a way of demanding so much attention.
    When my Father is speaking about anything she is not interested in, my Mother makes this long loud drawn out yawning sound. She can not stand the focus not being on her. Then when he is finished speaking she says “Anyway…” as if what he has to say means nothing.

    There is another family member who has a hard time sharing my attention. He is my grandson. He is 3.

    • Rayne

      ohhhhh, I love it. I love it that you recognize exactly what your mother is doing! That, “anyway….” That says it all, doesn’t it?
      Thanks for your input. I really appreciate it.
      See you next Sunday.

  • As always, your post kicks butt. My AHA moment when I knew I wasn’t going to put any more energy into fixing my relationship with my mom was actually found in a dream.

    When I told my therapist about it way back when, she just started laughing at how perfect it was for me to dream about giving my mother a pink slip – effectively firing her.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Rayne

      Note to Hallmark cards: We need some cards that include pink slips to toxic parents.

  • Tami

    All I can say to this subject is wow. I grew up without a mother and always wished for one. I never thought about her being mean. Maybe I was luckier than I thought.

    • Rayne

      Tami, that’s a very good point! For a long time I used to tell myself that being adopted and having no relationship with my adopted mother allowed me to define myself, which I preferred to hearing my mother’s opinion about me. There’s nothing wrong with being self-created. Indeed, I think it can be wonderful and positive. Thanks for stopping by 8WD. See you next Sunday!

      • For Rayne, regarding Tami’s comment:

        My AWESOME mother-in-law of 12 years, grew up without her mom, who died when mom-in-law was 5. I have always felt horrible about my inner thoughts never expressed, about having had, and still coping with a toxic mother. Mom-in-law had a series of what she considered “evil step-mothers”, but in all of those stories shared, all paled in comparison to the cruelties I endured by my biological mother.

        Another part of this dynamic of mother/daughter is how my sister-in-law feels about her mother. SIL is often annoyed by her mom for what are truly silly little things, i.e., her finicky diet, mysterious allergies, how she is spoiled by her husband, etc.

        Though I have not shared my childhood with SIL or MIL, my perspective has become one of gratitude. I love my non-toxic family members for exactly who they are and have a deeper understanding of the value of good mothering, and perhaps one day soon, when I know that it’s appropriate I will share a bit of my childhood with them, with the intention of helping to improve the love quotient between mother and daughter. Thanks to you both!

        • Rayne

          You remind me of how I was for a long time. I was mum about mom. But I was taking it all in and sorting it out in my heart and mind. If you’re not ready to talk about your mom, continue expressing your love and appreciation to the kind women in your life; such as your MIL and SIL. It’s good for you and good for them.
          Know what’s unexpected to me at this blog?
          So many self-described happy, loving mothers are reading this and it’s informing them on how crucial it is to express love and show affection. Isn’t that amazing?
          Thanks for sharing your thoughts and please visit again. I post every Sunday. And when you’re ready I’d love it if you could fill out a questionnaire. You can find it on the post entitled “Got a Dream, Ask for Help”

          Rayne

  • Catherine, Site Admin

    My Sicilian grandfather was abusive to my mother. He was from the old country where you disciplined with your fist. He was tough on my mother and her two brothers. She went to college as far away as she could. He was her step-father, so she had her own issues around that.

    She married my father and they moved half the state away to start their new life. My Irish grandmother couldn’t stand being away from my mom. When grandchildren arrived they moved to Santa Rosa, California. We lived in Rohnert Park.

    My Sicilian grandfather was the only grandfather I ever knew. I adored him. He spoiled me rotten. When my grandmother died he moved around the corner from us in Rohnert Park. He was always at our house for dinner.

    He never made me eat my vegetables. My mother used to shake her head and say, “That is not the same man who raised me.” I knew how much my grandfather loved us and he loved my mother very much.

    Sometimes people do change as they age and I am so glad my mother didn’t keep my grandfather from me. I would have lost those years riding in his Nova eating Italian french bread by tearing it from the loaf as he drove and singing the immortalized words of Dean Martin,

    In Napoli where love is king
    When boy meets girl here’s what they say
    When the moon hits you eye like a big pizza pie
    That’s amore

    After my grandmother died he married Mable and she brought about 1000 cousins into my life who are more my family than my blood cousins. They check on me, stop by to see me – they even bug me on Facebook.

    My mother took a big chance on my grandfather and it paid off. He never even raised his voice to me.

    Another great post – Cath

  • Remy G

    I admire your strength Rayne. Every week i read your post, and think about my own relationship with my mom…which I would not define as toxic, yet there are alot of assumptions and things unsaid that could probably pave the way for an even better relationship…just don’t know if the result of that would be worth it at this point, you know? Thank you for being a part of this group. Rem