Molded By My Mother

This is the second of what may be a series of posts about the complicated relationship between my mother and me, to explore how it affected my self-image and possibly, my anxiety. As I said in my last relevant post, I’m not out to “trash” the dead, and I’m not writing this out of self-pity.

The notion of maternal love is largely positive in our society, and speaking against it seems taboo. Unfortunately, not all of us experienced the mother love that I believe is important to one’s development. Blogging about this subject is a way for me to heal, and ultimately, to forgive my mother.

Photo on VisualHunt

I discovered the book, Daughter Detox: Recovering from An Unloving Mother and Reclaiming Your Life by Peg Streep, on E’s blog, A Brave Mess. I bought a copy, and am now working through the exercises at the end of each chapter with my therapist. (The book suggests that if you’re seeing a therapist, to work on the exercises with him/her.)

Streep describes 8 different types of maternal patterns (my mom fit 6 of the 8), and one of them is controlling. When I think of the word “control,” I’m immediately reminded of Janet Jackson’s song by the same name — especially the line, “let my mother mold me.” Despite having memory problems because of ECT (and age!), Daughter Detox has served as a mnemonic to jog certain memories from my childhood:

  • As a little girl, I was a tomboy. My mom wanted a girly-girl. I hated dresses and playing with dolls, but I’m sure you can guess what my mother tried to do: make me wear dresses as much as she could, and buy me dolls. I preferred my Legos, Tinkertoys, train set, and electric race cars, the latter 2 of which I played with my dad.
  • When I was 9, some deliverymen showed up one weekend, and brought a piano. My mother wanted me to take piano lessons, which we never discussed. I had no desire to learn, but I had no choice. My mom’s mind was made up. As for the music I played? My MOM chose what songs she wanted me to learn — songs that SHE liked, not what I wanted to play.
  • I’m not going through the whole laundry list of my life she tried to control, but I’ll share this: it’s no surprise that I rebelled as a teenager, which caused many fights. But I finally got to play the instrument of my choice: the drums. During my senior year of high school, I wanted to be a music major in college. When it was time to enroll, without consulting me, my MOM chose not only what classes I’d take, but my MAJOR: music business. I wanted to be a performance major. When I realized I was signed up for an accounting class (my mom happened to be an accountant), I dropped out. I felt tricked, and even worse, I fell for it.

My mom had a vision of the type of daughter she wanted, and did everything she could to mold me into that ideal. It didn’t stop when I grew up. I could never meet my mom’s expectations of what a daughter “should be.” I didn’t realize it while it was happening, but I do now, and it’s had negative consequences: being a perfectionist; my lack of self-worth, self-acceptance, and self-confidence; the irrationally high expectations I continue to place on myself; and my deep-seated need to make her proud, even though she’s been dead for 2 years. These are qualities I’m now trying to reverse.

Did your mom try to control aspects of your life? If so, how did it make you feel?

via Daily Prompt: Mnemonic

12 thoughts on “Molded By My Mother

  1. Wow … you are so brave as this must be really hard for you. I reckon that trying to work this all out is the best and only way forward – good for you 🌼🌼. I hope you find peace in your quest very soon. Thinking of you ☀️☀️

  2. Oh, Barb… I am so terribly sorry to hear that your mom tricked you, and tried desperately to control your every move in life. That is awful.
    I didn’t have a controlling mother, if anything, I just had a drunk of a father which made life intolerable.
    However, going back to my mom, she tends to play us “kids” with little fibs for attention, which has gotten her into trouble over the last couple of years. She has lied so many times, that now none of us siblings speak anymore. (Once in a while I talk with my brother) but, that’s it.
    Life is complicated enough with all the crap we live day to day with… Our parental units certainly can screw us up, and they obviously did a fine job of it. 🙁

    1. Well, the good news is, she can’t control me anymore! Sorry — morbid joke. 😉 I’ve read that some mothers manipulate their kids and play them against each other. That must be an awful feeling, especially because it darkened your relationships with your siblings.

  3. Good for you for looking at these issues, and I’m so glad you have a helpful therapist to do it with you. I’m glad it’s coming along well, even if it isn’t pretty or pleasant. I just sort of got abused all the time by a drunk mother, so my story is a little different than yours. Mine I guess tried to control me by ridicule and abuse, but I thought I didn’t fall for it. Only later did I find out how it messed me up. Too bad. She is still alive and actually got somewhat nicer the last two or so years (out of 85+), so I am glad for her sake that she is not as much of a jerk.

    1. Growing up with an alcoholic parent must have been difficult. I’m sorry you went through that. I’m glad she’s nicer now. 🌻

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