¿The conflicts with your mother seem to go beyond what’s normal and into an area that leaves you feeling sad, helpless, or bad about yourself? A toxic relationship is one based around anger, emotional manipulation, and other negative and hurtful feelings, instead of mutual support.
There are many options between suffering your mother’s toxicity with a smile and cutting her off completely. (And honestly, cutting an extremely toxic mother off is not the tragedy that many uninformed folks make it out to be).
1. It can be hard to have compassion for yourself when your mother took care of your physical needs but ignored your emotional ones. Have you ever started to think about how your mother made you feel invisible or as if your feelings were a nuisance, and then caught yourself and thought,”I had a roof over my head and food, and she never hit me. I shouldn’t be complaining”?
No one is responsible for anyone else’s happiness — only we have the power to make ourselves truly happy. Some mothers are searching for the root of their unhappiness, and falsely believe that it lies in their child’s refusal to give in to every single one of their demands.
If you have this kind of mother, you’ve probably spent a lot of your life hearing about how selfish you are. Know that this isn’t true — this kind of toxic mother makes demands that are impossible to be completely complied with. And even if you somehow did do everything she asked, it wouldn’t make your mother happy.
2. Toxic mothers can disregard boundaries in hostile ways, like punishing you for making decisions without them. But they can also disregard them in ways that seem loving, too — like by always jumping to be by your side and offer assistance the second you have any problem (whether you want them there or not). It can feel comforting to be taken care of, of course. But know that if the kind of closeness your mother desires doesn’t feel natural or normal, you don’t owe it to her.
3. Does your mother seem to support your accomplishments … but only so she can talk about how great she is for having raised you? If you tell her about your problems, does she easily find a way to turn them around so they’re actually her problems? It’s a sexist myth that all mothers must be so self-sacrificing and egoless that they no longer care about their own interests, opinions, or achievements after having kids. But if your mother is focused on making sure that everyone pays attention to her, at the expense of showing any interest in you, then you are probably dealing with a toxic relationship.
The real pain of dealing with this kind of toxic mother does not lie in not getting enough attention, but rather in not feeling like your needs or opinions have any wort.
4. If you decide that the right thing for your own well-being is to stop talking to your mother, then don’t believe that doing so makes you an awful person (you know, like your toxic mother may be telling you). You’re doing what you need to do to take care of yourself — and contrary to what you may have been told while growing up, there’s no shame in that.
Most importantly, know that if you see your own relationship with your mother in these words, it doesn’t mean you’re a bad child or an ingrate. You’re just someone who’s been dealt a rough hand, and odds are you’re trying to do the best you can with it. There’s nothing wrong with striving to improve things, but don’t forget to give yourself credit for how strong you are to have made it this far, either. No matter what your mother has told you, you’ve earned it.