You have been stuffing your feelings for so long because you are afraid of standing up to mom. Yet, the anger and resentment have built up to a point you know you need to say something. You’re thinking about calling her out. So, you finally get up the courage to speak your truth, and it hits you like ton of bricks- this is going to hurt mom. You feel guilty for calling mom out.
What’s more, she will probably become defensive and even deny she has done anything to hurt you. Mom can seem downright evil some days, and then you get a glimpse of the insecurity she feels right beneath the surface, and she seems so fragile. This keeps you stuck. You can’t help but think, that your compassionate nature is working against you. The good daughter of the difficult mother wants very much to feel love from her mother. She feels compassion for mom and doesn’t want to hurt her. This is a tricky combination.
Calling mom out is done with a heavy heart.
This is Katherine Fabrizio, with help for the good daughter suffering from the Good Daughter Syndrome.
One very complicated aspect of doing this kind of work and setting boundaries, finding your voice, and claiming your life is that you know what you have to say is going to be, on some level, hurtful to someone who you also love.
Even if you’re mad at her, you’re just so frustrated and could strangle her, you know that what you’re saying is going to be deeply unsettling on some level.
So, I find that women really want to think about this, how they do it, and it’s very important to be kind and compassionate and non-blaming, non-name calling. This needs to be gone about with care and compassion.
There are no easy answers, but I think it would be a mistake only to blame mom. Make no mistake- I am relentless in naming the many ways this good daughter dynamic is harmful to daughters. Yet, I think I would be is remiss to lose sight of the attachment between mothers and daughters. Daughters feel a mix of feelings of love and hate that complement and contradict each other. And why wouldn’t they, mothers and daughters, share so much?
Standing up to mom is hard- for good reason. There is an attachment to her, even if it is a painful one much of the time. You only have one mother. I don’t say that to make you feel guilty. Quite the contrary, in fact. After counseling women for over 30 years, here is the truth. I’m calling it as I know it-
If you don’t acknowledge the mix of feelings, you will not be able to hold your ground when you confront mom’s hurtful behavior. You will crumble in a heap of guilt.
Even when you need to stand your ground, speak out and call out mom’s hurtful behavior. Understanding there are many daughters who are hurting, and many mothers who are limited and impaired is a starting place. You are not alone. At times a daughter needs to speak her mind to clear the air even if her mother cannot take in what she is saying or hear her. Speaking your truth helps you.
Sometimes mom can’t or won’t come along. That’s ok.
To speak your truth is freeing and liberating. Do it for yourself. You are creating a new reality for yourself. You might say, “Mom – I feel ( frustrated, angry, sad, dismissed, forgotten) when you ( criticize, dismiss, ignore) me. I want to have a good relationship with you, but this gets in the way of that.” With kindness, understanding, and the conviction that we, as women, can do better.
As daughters rising we must lead the way. Strong and kind don’t have to cancel each other out. Gratitude and truth-telling can coexist.