You call me and I don’t pick up. Do you wonder why I am avoiding your calls?
Is it that I don’t love you? Or, am I a thoughtless, ungrateful, heartless child? ( I seriously doubt it- I’m the “good” daughter after all) Or, is there something else going on?
Here is my truth as I see it. I am sorry I am hurting your feelings but I think you are insensitive to mine. Here is what I would tell you if I had the nerve and I had faith you would really listen.
- 1 -You expect a report It is as if you are the FBI and have the authority to ask anything you want. There is no topic you won’t breach. You act as if my time and privacy are yours for the taking. If you have questions, you expect me to provide you with the answers, no matter how personal.
How this makes me feel? Invaded and intruded upon. When you expect me to report to you it feels as if I am offering up my life for your inspection. That my life is yours to fret over, manage, and fix.
There is always an air of judgment underlying your questions.
What you can do instead? Don’t automatically expect me to share everything with you. Approach me knowing that I have a choice about whether or not to share. Know that there are some things I’d like to keep private, if for only a while. When you respect my privacy, I will be more willing to share.
- 2- You overreact –If I’m worried, I don’t need you to pile on or freak out. Your anxiety doesn’t help me, it just makes me feel more unsure. Paradoxically, when you worry I feel the need to reassure you, which only adds to my burden.
How it makes me feel? Defensive. Like I am not seeing the seriousness of the situation. That it is so much worse than I ever thought and I might make it worse if I didn’t have you to rescue me.
What to do instead? Listen and convey to me that I have what it takes to figure things out. Be my calm, steady safe place.
- 3- You tell me what to do- Before I can flesh out my thoughts, you jump in with your suggestions and take over.
How it makes me feel? Stupid. Like I don’t have what it takes to make it on my own. Like I’m not good enough. That you think I don’t have what it takes to handle the situation.
What you can do instead? Say, “I might have some ideas, would you like me to weigh in, or would you like me just to listen now?”
The pressure and guilt that divide us
I get it. Our culture tells you if you love me… you should fix all of my problems – even into adulthood. I take issue with that line of thinking. That misguided thinking only leads to your overreach and my feelings of resentment. Then, I feel like my only option is to avoid you to avoid takeover, criticism, and burdening you. As a result, I walk around with this underlying sense of guilt, and you feel rejected.
When we do talk and you tell me how much you need my engagement with you, you put me in an impossible position. I feel an overwhelming sense of obligation. This is bad for our relationship because when I feel guilty, I will work to offload my guilt by fulfilling my obligation. And when I am operating on guilt and obligation – there will be resentment in the mix. This is not the way to sustain a loving relationship. I imagine what you really want is my affection, not my obligation or guilt.
Paradoxically, the power you have for the connection you want is right under your nose. You need to know the power you have. Because you have been a witness to my strengths and my vulnerabilities no one is in a better position to lift me up or put me down. I want to encourage you to use that power wisely. How you use it will determine how eager am to pick up the phone when you call.
Here’s how you might use this power-
- 1) Ask me if I am free to talk. Respect my time and privacy.
- 2) Be a calming presence in my life who reminds me of the times when I struggled and came through with a win.
- 3) Let me come up with my own solutions even if I struggle and fail. Let me own my failures so I can own my successes.
- 4) Learn that, after loving me, letting go is the greatest gift you can give me.
I need and want your loving solid presence in my life. If you could put forth the effort I would gladly meet you halfway.
For daughters of mothers who are Narcissistic, Borderline Histrionic or Addicted, this trap of intrusion, criticism, and boundary-crossing is especially problematic. If she is in the role of the Good daughter, this dynamic can be hell on earth.
Find out if you are experiencing the Good Daughter Syndrome here.
Raise Awareness. Rewrite Mother/Daughter Relating. TWEET IT OUTMom -the power you have for the connection you want is right under your nose. Rather than tell me what to do, your solid loving witness is what I need. Click To Tweet Mom, let me come up with my own solutions even if I struggle and fail. Let me own my failures so I can own my successes. Click To Tweet Mom for a better connection, be a calming presence in my life who reminds me of the times when I struggled and came through with a win. Click To Tweet Mom, because you have been a witness to my strengths and my vulnerabilities no one is in a better position to lift me up or put me down. Click To Tweet Mom, I imagine what you really want is my affection, not my obligation or guilt. Click To Tweet Our culture tells you if you love me... you should fix all of my problems - even into adulthood. WRONG! That only leads to your overreach and my feelings of resentment. Click To Tweet Mom, If I'm worried, I don't need you to pile on or freak out. Your anxiety doesn't help me, it just makes me feel more unsure. Paradoxically, when you worry I feel the need to reassure you, which only adds to my burden. Click To Tweet Mom, I need you to love me not fix me. Click To Tweet Mom, when you respect my privacy I will be more willing to share. Click To Tweet Mom, please don't jump in with your fixes. It makes me feel like you don't trust my judgment. Click To Tweet Mom, when I don't take your suggestions, I'm not rejecting you, I'm developing me! Click To Tweet