You look great, but wonder if that dress comes in a larger size?
I’m glad you got the job, but are you sure you want to put the kids in daycare… all day?
The apartment is nice but can you really afford something so fancy with your job?
Does Mom offer up a question that’s not really a question but rather a judgment disguised as a question? Do you need to pay attention to what is not said, but implied to decipher the real message? Do you look to tone & facial expression for the truth? Does mom have trouble being upfront, transparent, or real? Do her “questions” leave you second-guessing yourself?
Why is this a problem?
The problem is, when criticism isn’t direct, it is difficult to process and recognize the insult hidden inside. It makes you feel uncomfortable but your mind argues against it. When a question isn’t a question but an indictment of a choice you have already made- the “question” is designed to produce self-doubt.
I am here to say this is amongst the most destructive ways mothers relate to daughters.
Consider this-When someone in your life tells you upfront they don’t agree with you; that’s one thing. You have the opportunity to address it. You might not like it. It might even hurt, but ultimately you realize we all need to be challenged in order to make better decisions and grow. Conversely, mixed messages plant seeds of self-doubt.
It works like this- The toxicity in mom’s mixed messages, double-speak, the subtext is ingested, taken in – like the shiny apple offered to Snow White in the Grimm Brothers fairy tale. Because her advice is offered as a gift and may look pretty/helpful on the outside, eager to please mom -you take a bite and swallow it whole. Before you know it, you feel something is not quite right.
Taking in a message that contains poison, you feel sick. This poison erodes your confidence, and you begin to doubt yourself.
This is how the spell of self-doubt is cast. You don’t feel that you can refuse mom’s “caring”. You are not fully conscious of the hurt- so it is hard to refuse the offering. You feel that you have to play nice and take what is offered. That is the way you stay under the spell of the mixed message
As a psychotherapist for over 30 years, I have seen women struggling from the spell of the mixed message they were put under by their mothers. This is ugly and far more common than you would guess.
Some daughters in the role of “Good” Daughter have seriously impaired mothers who cause serious damage. Their care is laced with a huge dose of toxicity. Other daughters are hurt by mothers who are merely passing down what they themselves have suffered. They swallowed the toxicity from their own mothers and can’t help but poison their own daughters -if they follow ( patriarchal) cultural expectations.
Either way, it is very hard to face the fact that the person who is lifting you up is also hurting you and undermining your self-esteem. Hurtful, even if mom is unaware of the hurt she is causing. What’s worse, you take this toxicity inside of yourself, and it becomes part of your self-talk. It is very hard to face the fact that the person who is lifting you up is also hurting you and undermining your self-esteem. Hurtful, even if mom is unaware of the hurt she is causing.
What will it cost you if you don’t break the spell? If you can’t consciously face that your mother is serving up arsenic-laced apples, you will never be able to tell which relationships and life situations are good for you; you will need to repeat those destructive relational patterns in your close intimate relationships. You will take one shiny apple after another, ingest the poison therein, and all the while tell yourself this is what you deserve.
At the unconscious level, you will need to keep yourself in shady situations and tell yourself that you are in sunshine. You will convince yourself that the problem is yours. The apple tastes good, not bitter, and that the shadows are only in your imagination. You are too sensitive, that’s all.
It can be so very hard to face the truth of your relationship with your mother if this is the case. Yet if you don’t, you will be compelled to treat your own daughter the same way and put her under the same spell.
What you don’t pass back, you pass on. That is why it is both hard to face and so important to face this for yourself. But you must face this consciously in order to break the spell. This is grown-up work with grown-up rewards.
You must break this spell in order to get free of its grip on your life. Step out of the shadows, call a spade a spade and an insult. Hand back the poison-laced apples along with the backhanded compliments. Only then can you claim what is most beautiful about you. Heal this one, and you will heal so very much in your life.
Find out if you are trapped in the Good Daughter role- go here.
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As a psychotherapist, for over 30 years I have seen women struggling from the spell of the mixed message they were put under by their mothers. Click To Tweet
Breaking the spell of the mixed message is at the heart of healing the difficulties between mothers and daughters. Click To TweetIt is very hard to face the fact that the person who is lifting you up is also hurting you and undermining your self-esteem. Hurtful, even if mom is unaware of the hurt she is causing. Click To Tweet Does Mom offer up a question that's not really a question but rather a judgment disguised as a question? Click To Tweet If you can't consciously face that your mother is serving up arsenic-laced apples, you will never be able to tell which relationships and life situations are good for you. Click To Tweet
[bctt tweet=”When a question isn’t a question but an indictment of a choice you have already made- the “question” is designed to produce self-doubt. ” username=”daughterrising”
Good article. I just wish you would give tips/options on how to beak the spell and how to move forward with a mother like this…
Let me say… the answer depends: it depends on what is driving your mother’s behavior. You might check this article out to see if your mom is narcissistic or has narcissistic tendencies.
Is My Mom A Narcissist- Here’s How To Tell
You really helps to know what you are dealing with.
If she isn’t a Narcissist and isn’t driven by unconscious forces she might well respond if you tell her that what she is doing is hurtful. Some mothers in this culture feel like they need to be the ones to perfect or fix their daughters. And then they are hard on their daughters. If that’s the case she will be able to hear what you say… not easily,… and not without some pushback,… but overall if she doesn’t want to hurt you she might be unaware she is being hurtful.
Here is another post about how to approach a mom who is saying intrusive hurtful things Dear Mom- Here’s Why I Am Avoiding Your Calls & What I Wish I Could Tell Youhttps://daughtersrising.info/2018/03/28/are-you-avoiding-moms-calls/
All and all you need to be able to be real with your mother and point out to her how she is hurting you. Yet, in the end, you can only have one half of the conversation. You can’t change her. If she doesn’t respond you will need to decide if you are going forward with her or without her. Perhaps where you get with her will effect how much time you spend with her.
Best of luck,
P.S. If you want to write about what happens specifically I’d be glad to answer in greater detail.