Associate Marriage and Family Therapist
CA license #130185
Associate Professional Clinical Counselor
CA license #10943
Supervised by Erin Hickman LMFT PMHC, #111012
Ginette Rhodes Therapy
Dec 22, 2022
2 min read
IF IT'S NOT ONE THING....IT'S YOUR MOTHER
Isn't it Freud who said "If it isn't one thing, it's your mother" ???
Often I have clients come in, and as we begin to unpack their pain, trauma and triggers, it becomes evident that they are afraid that therapy will make them "hate" their parent (usually their mother). I can hear it in their voice when I ask about their childhood, or see it in their face when they begin to talk about family and hit upon their disappointment , resentment, sadness and even anger. I have been practicing long enough to know that it is very likely they are terrified to feel their true feelings, because they think it will end with them unable to have a relationship with the object of their pain once they unearth it. They may have been protecting their parent from their feelings and think a therapist will "judge" the parent. They may be torn because along with the reality of childhood trauma, or neglect, or abandonment, or attachment disruption, came a deep love.
I always clarify: I am NOT here for mother bashing. It is not about blaming or judging. What if healing some of this could actually help the relationship? What if your inner child needs to be finally heard and validated in order to change your expectations or triggers?
We joke that everything is our mothers fault. While it's not true, and is another example of patriarchal oppression.... our earliest attachments DO impact our psyches, self and eventual mental health.
How can you truly and honestly explore your past without cutting off those who hurt you? Well, that depends. I can never predict where new boundaries can lead you, and if your relationship is so toxic that you may choose to detach (a little or a lot) once you have awareness, self compassion and healing. But, the goal is never to blame. The goal is never to build walls. The goal is never to decrease perspective and become selfish and isolated.
What if in your therapy work you allowed yourself to be curious- about yourself. What if you did not automatically suppress feelings (especially the harder ones)? What if you sat with the part of you that is trying to protect you, and them, from getting hurt again? What if you started to see you could have been parentified and thrust into an adult role of protector and peacekeeper that you were not developmentally ready for?
I notice so often that when that happens, the client is able to adjust what their hopes and expectations are for that parent. That can lead to them feeling relief AND to a less contentious, toxic relationship. We all know we cannot change other people . We can only change our response, our expectations, our ability to self regulate when triggered or in crisis.
So, remember, Mom can't hear because she isn't in the room with us. Well, at least not literally.