Mother-Daugher Relationships: My Mom Doesn't Love Me. How Do I Let Go?
Sample E-mail Answer by Jef Gazley, M.S., LMFT, DCC
You write a very poignant letter. It is absolutely tragic not to be able to have a natural and healthy love relationship with your parent. It is everyones birthright, but it is all too common that that birthright is withheld. It can shatter the life of a child and poison them when they become an adult.
You have been giving great advice and you are absolutely right. Your sister-in-law is probably overcompensating by being such a good mother to her children and not really dealing with the loss and grief of her relationship with her mother. Until that really happens she will not truly be able to let go and move on. She is doing amazingly well, though, not to repeat with her children what her mother did to her. She also does not seem to be doing the typical repetition compulsion of finding an unloving husband who can do the same thing that mother did. She is however repeating with her mother over and over again.
You are right as well with the idea that although her mother has a huge problem your sister-in-law also has a problem in that she is expecting more out of her mother than she either cares to give or can give. One of the hard things in life is to allow people that we love and admire to make horrible mistakes and cause them pain and know that there is very little we can do about it.
What often helps me is to take a long and historical view of the problem. Repetition Compulsions are painful and look horrible, but there is another aspect of them. If we repeat long enough it allows all the old pain to come back again. Pain is a wonderful motivator and it allows people to have other chances to work through old issues. Usually this eventually happens successfully. I wish there was an easier way. She could seek counseling help. Have faith that she will eventually get help and that the pain along the way is probably supposed to happen to make this possible. Also I agree with your brother. Talking with her mother will not change anything and will likely complicate things. It was also be a very co-dependent thing to do. It is usually not helpful to try and take care of something for someone. It is fine to simply assist someone with support and comfort.
You can certainly give this to your sister-in-law and I hope it helps. I have included another e-mail I wrote for a similar question about repeating things from the past. It will explain the process in detail. Good luck.
Jef Gazley, M.S., LMFT, DCC