Despite what Hallmark would like us to believe, Mother’s Day is a day filled with conflicting, difficult emotions for many adults. The day is a reminder of the love we didn’t receive or didn’t give enough of. Adults who seek treatment for their addictive relationship pattern suffer from early attachment injuries that are painful to feel, and Mother’s day stirs them up into a simmering pot of guilt, shame, and pain.
As we approach Mother’s Day, statements like these come up in session with my patients:
“Do I have to call my mother this year?”…
”We are going to Mom’s house and both my wife and I are dreading it…she wears me out”
“My mother is no longer alive, and I wish I missed her. Mother’s day makes me sad, but not because she is gone…but because I never really felt like I had a mother”
Mother’s Day is complicated regardless of gender. Whether you are a man or a woman feeling bound by duty to a greedy mother, or perhaps an adult child of a mean, abusive mother, this day looms over you like an unwelcome visitor. Here are some strategies for surviving Mother’s Day:
1. Remember that you’re a good person whether you want to acknowledge your mother or not.
2. If you don’t feel like celebrating your mother on this day, most likely that’s not your fault. Honor the reason you feel dread, even if you aren’t sure why.
3. Be gentle with yourself…our culture does not like people who harbor negative feelings about their mothers. Don’t allow this cultural shame to penetrate your heart.
4. If you’re heavy with guilt or shame, treat yourself like a kind mother would treat her small child. Take a walk, read a book, or get a therapeutic massage. Take a nap curled up with a pet or favorite blanket. Play your favorite golf course or take a hike! Lastly, immerse yourself in water…the body will feel “held” in the womblike atmosphere of warm water and this allows a new sense of love and safety into your heart.
Mother’s Day can be a chance for renewal…a new relationship with yourself. Be the mother that you wish you had on this day, and see how it feels.
With deep compassion,