The Emotional Labor Union
Our voices are power.


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Voices as Power

Some realizations of a strained mother-daughter relationship

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Parent-child relationships heavily influence a person’s life. Ideally, parents are meant to guide and protect us, and be role-models for their children. Unfortunately for some parents, it just isn't in their nature. In my experience, it's fair to say it wasn't my mother’s fault. We are all human beings and we all have our flaws. Adults who lack communication and parenting skills can often develop a strained relationship with their children. Some parents experienced abuse and difficulties from which they cannot heal in their formative years. Considering the hardships of being a woman, these last challenges are more predominant as we have to deal with many expectations from society and our own families. This is why healthy mother-daughter relationships are so important!

Growing into an adult means gaining responsibilities of our own, but family circumstances may prompt big questions like: Are we being selfish if we decide to put ourselves first? A lot of factors play into this, particularly one’s economic situation. Some of us were raised in a family where we weren’t given the right tools to be able to take on the world on our own, also known as “it takes a while to become independent,” and if a person is emotionally abused, she may internalize some resententment which can create personal struggles. This is my case. And I am learning to let go of the ways in which my mother treated me since her divorce, since I was a child.

My mother and I have been through years of challenges, some of which I have decided not to go through with her. I’ve left home many times, and it is incredibly frustrating for me to know I am still not able to be fully independent, even with a college degree, due to not being able to find a stable, good-paying job. As they say, it’s really tough out there. The few times I’ve been able to sustain myself, I end up coming back due to what is known as ‘Catholic guilt’ even though I do not consider myself a part of that religion anymore. My family is composed of only my mother, my sister, and me, and even if we add together all three of our paychecks, our income is very low. We have moved forward slowly, but due to our personal differences and individual goals, we have distanced ourselves emotionally, and we have not given or received from each other the loving support that we need.

But even before that, not a single one of us learned how to love and show affection adequately. Because of this, there is an awful feeling of disconnection that has developed not only within me and my family, but also outwardly towards the people with whom I want to have a close relationship. Now, I’ve learned that we all have different needs and ways of giving and receiving love, and for a long time, I felt that my mother did not love me. I felt that she was doing the opposite when, since I was very young, she began projecting her trust issues onto me, something that made me develop a lot of insecurities.

This last part has been really hard for her to understand and accept, and I’m beginning to understand it on my own terms. I am slowly beginning to become more understanding of her frustrations, putting myself in her shoes... Yet I am tired of having screaming matches, and dealing with my mother’s lack of understanding of my evolving sensitivity. I am aware I need to distance myself for a while: I gave her 30-days notice yesterday that I will be moving out at the end of this month.

As I’ve aged into my womanhood, it saddens me to know I do not have a loving relationship with my mother. I’ve tried to confide in her but what I received in return was judgement and critiques. There’s been a lot of growth and life realizations I’ve had to do on my own, and the main one is that I need to prioritize the responsibility of my own self, along with learning how to love myself, my way.

After a conversation I had with my sister last night, I realized that I might be behaving in an ungrateful and intolerant manner towards my mother. That perhaps I am not trying hard enough in bettering our relationship… I cannot put all the blame on her, but I recognize she is one of my biggest triggers and I need to set boundaries.

I hope one day I’ll be able to provide for her the way she did for me, but first I need to take care of myself, economically and emotionally, and this last one is the hardest part and I am still learning to do it. We all have work to do on ourselves, particularly because we are our parents’ children and a lot of them still lingers in us. Trauma is passed along generations when we are not aware of ourselves and find our own ways to heal.

I love and care about my mother. After all, she was responsible for giving me the gift of life, but if time and distance are the main healers of a bad relationship, then I may have to apply those solutions so I can get better.

Did you ever have a strained relationship with your mother? Let me know in the comments. I’d love to know how did you cope with that situation and if you were able to reconcile.

Charolotte Medina

ELU Contributor

Charlotte is a freelancer in the marketing, film and theater industry. She loves ”folk art” and any form of media that brings a message to its audience. She is also an advocate for mental health awareness and general wellbeing. One day, she’ll become an author and expert foodie.