Ms. Meyers grew up with an insecure mother who loved to be center stage while preferring her daughters wait in the wings.
Is Your Mother Jealous of You?
- Do you have a strained relationship with your mother but don't know why?
- Is she competitive with you, treating you more like a rival than a daughter?
- Is she uninterested in your life, rarely inquiring about your career, your activities, and your kids?
- Is she possessive of your dad, making it almost impossible for you and him to spend time alone together?
- Do you get a strong sense that she wants you to do well in life...but not too well?
If this dynamic sounds all too familiar, your mom may be jealous of you. As a child, because you didn't understand why the relationship was tense, you were left in the dark: bewildered, unsupported, and emotionally abandoned. Today, though, you can finally acknowledge your mom's envy and accept her limitations. You can stop blaming yourself for the tension between the two of you and find peace.
Why Does My Mom Hate Me?
While growing up, a girl may sense that the relationship with her mom is strained. The possibility that it's caused by maternal jealousy, though, is the furthest thing from her mind. Instead she blames herself, as kids are prone to do. She convinces herself that she's unworthy of her mom's love, attention, and support.
She may stop striving because her achievements are met with her mom's anger, ridicule, or silence. As a teen, she may suffer from depression and anxiety. However, It's not until she grows older, gets wiser and, perhaps, seeks therapy that she realizes her mom has been envious of her all along. With that aha moment, everything finally begins to make sense and she can begin to heal.
Like other women, I didn't appreciate the depths of my mother's jealousy until I became a parent myself. I only had feelings of love for my sons, not competitiveness. Instead of resenting, I relished their time in the spotlight. With them, I didn't experience any of the rivalry that my mom had with my sister and me.
By interviewing women with envious moms and in reading what experts on the subject had to say, I found five key reasons why mothers get jealous of their daughters. Some are quite normal and understandable, such as going through menopause and being regretful of their life choices. Others, such as being narcissistic or possessive of their husbands, are quite disturbed.
5 Reasons Why a Mom Gets Jealous of Her Daughter
- She's a narcissist or has narcissistic tendencies.
- She's in menopause (or perimenopause).
- She's possessive of her husband (your father).
- She regrets her unfulfilled dreams.
- She's emotionally absent (her jealousy makes her cold).
1. She's a Narcissist
While there are normal, natural reasons why moms sometimes get jealous of their daughters, narcissism is not one of them. Dr. Karyl McBride writes about self-centered women and the damage they inflict in Will I Ever Be Good Enough?: Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers. Her book helped me understand how my childhood with such a mom led me to become a grownup with a flimsy self-concept and erratic self-care.
Dr. McBride says that daughters of jealous, narcissistic mothers may battle crippling self-doubt in adulthood. When they were kids, their moms treated them like accessories and not full-fledged individuals. As a result, their feelings, worries, and struggles went unnoticed and unattended. They grew up in a environment where they were to reflect well on their mom but to never outshine her. In the process, they suppressed their own needs and desires in favor of hers.
This is why it’s vital that they focus on themselves today by embracing their inner world: their thoughts, emotions, and dreams. Writing in a journal daily is a valuable way to accomplish this. It gives these women an opportunity to get in touch with themselves and, finally, figure out who they are and what they want from life.
Talking about maternal jealousy is perhaps the ultimate taboo, inimical to all we hold dear about motherhood and want to believe about mother love, especially that of a mother for her daughter. While maternal jealousy is a freighted topic, it’s not a rarity.
— Peg Streep, author of "Daughter Detox: Recovering From an Unloving Mother and Reclaiming Your Life"
2. She's in Menopause
While jealousy from a narcissistic mother is extreme and destructive, envy from a menopausal mom is quite normal. It’s difficult for some middle-aged women to undergo the change of life just as their daughters bloom into adulthood. It’s understandable that they may covet a daughter’s youth, vigor, and infinite prospects during this time.
During menopause, a mom may feel less womanly, less desirable, and less relevant in our youth-obsessed society. She may endure physical changes such as weight gain, dry skin, thinning hair, and coarsening facial hair. She may witness her daughter attracting men's attention when she no longer does. As a result, she can feel more anxious and less confident.
The daughter of a jealous menopausal mom should be patient and compassionate. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, hormonal changes during this stage can make a woman irritable and depressed. A daughter, therefore, may need to turn to an aunt, a grandmother, or friends for support during this time when her mother is struggling and emotionally unavailable to her.
Normal or healthier mothers are proud of their children and want them to shine. But a narcissistic mother may perceive her daughter as a threat. If attention is drawn away from the mother, the child suffers retaliation, put-downs, and punishments. The mother can be jealous of her daughter for many reasons: her looks, her youth, material possessions, accomplishments, education and even the young girl’s relationship with the father.
— Karyl McBride, author of "Will I Ever Be Good Enough?"
3. She's Possessive of Her Husband (Your Dad)
One of the most destructive things that jealous moms do is come between their daughters and their dads.According to psychologist Dr. Nikki Martinez, this is caused by a mom’s low self-esteem. Her insecurity leads her to become territorial about her husband. She doesn’t want to share him with anyone, even his own flesh and blood.
When her mom is envious and her father is weak, a daughter can potentially lose both her parents. To avoid conflict, a feeble husband may surrender to his wife’s insecurities. He might do anything to keep the peace, even forsaking his own child. Consciously or unconsciously, he neglects his fatherly duties and pushes his daughter to the side. Tragically, she’s left without a healthy, loving connection to either parent and grows up feeling like an interloper in her own family.
Not appreciating that her mom’s jealousy is the reason for the distant relationship with her dad, the daughter blames herself. She becomes convinced that she’s unlovable. As an adult, she may still feel sad and confused about her childhood and the relationship with her parents. Working with a good therapist can help her understand her mother’s envy and the role it played in keeping her and her father apart.
4. She Regrets Her Unfulfilled Dreams
Another common source of a mom’s envy are her daughter’s seemingly unlimited prospects. At a time when her own possibilities may be narrowing, she sees her child’s world open up. She may wish that she had enjoyed the freedoms that young women have today: exploring their sexuality, postponing motherhood, entering once male-dominated professions, buying their own homes, and being financially independent. As such, she may be resentful of her daughter and regretful of her own life choices.
Dr. Charles Sophy, a family and child psychiatrist, says that some moms even perceive their daughters as thieves who steal their sexuality. He has dubbed this phenomenon Perceived Transfer of Sexuality (PTS). A mother feels threatened as her daughter’s sexuality peaks and hers declines. To her, it seems like she’s now in a fierce competition with her own offspring. Her daughter, meanwhile, is left flummoxed by the escalating conflicts with her mom, wondering what they’re about and hoping to de-escalate them.
5. She's Emotionally Absent
Occasionally, daughters experience maternal jealousy because their moms are numb and detached. According to Jasmin Lee Cori, author of The Emotionally Absent Mother, many of these mothers were severely under-mothered themselves when they were children. As a result, they grew up to be desensitized adults who can’t connect with their kids emotionally. When their daughters are in the spotlight, these moms don’t feel pride and joy like most parents do. Instead, they feel sad and resentful because they didn’t have the same opportunities to shine when they were kids.
When a daughter figures out that her mom is emotionally absent, it’s both a revelation and a relief. She now knows the cause of her mother’s envy and no longer blames herself. If she starts practicing acceptance, realizing her mom won’t change, she can look elsewhere to build emotionally satisfying relationships and a strong support system. To learn more, read How an Emotionally Absent Mother Impacts Her Daughter's Life.
In this video, Dr. Jonice Webb explains what it means to have an emotionally absent mother.
Debunking the Maternal Archetype
The "maternal archetype" is a woman who's always sacrificing, supporting, loving, and doing for her children. In reality, though, our moms are human, with all the faults, frailties, and confused feelings that come with that mortal state. While rarely discussed in polite company, the subject of moms being jealous of their daughters is one that has intrigued me for a long time due to a rocky relationship with my own mother. For as long as I can remember, she has waged a one-sided rivalry against my sister and me, fueled by her deep-seated insecurity and undeniable envy.
But healing is possible. To learn more, read 5 Ways for Daughters to Heal From an Emotionally Absent Mother.
Were You Reared by a Jealous Mom?
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Questions & Answers
Question: My mother was jealous of any attention my father gave me... but so is his own mother. I can find no literature about this. Are grandmothers who compete with their granddaughters equally common?
Answer: Grandmothers get jealous of their granddaughters for the same “normal” reasons moms do: their youth, beauty, and sexuality and the enhanced opportunities they have to travel, pursue their education, get ahead in their careers, and create lives for themselves other than wife and mother. Grandmothers also get jealous of their granddaughters for “not-so-normal” reasons such as being mentally ill, being narcissistic, or being unusually selfish, shallow, and insecure.
However, as you say, grandmothers being jealous of their granddaughters isn't so pervasive and destructive that it's been studied and written about in books and articles. Since grandmothers and granddaughters don't live in the same home and don't interact on a daily basis, their relationship (problematic or not) is not seen as worthy of study.
In your particular situation, your father is the common denominator. Perhaps, he chose a wife similar to his mother or, perhaps, he behaves in ways that trigger a woman's possessiveness and jealousy. Perhaps, he's weak and the women in his life seek to control him.
If you step back from the situation and look at it objectively, you may be able to understand the dynamic in these relationships. It was probably there long before you were born. If you're struggling with this, you may want to talk with a therapist to gain insight. After all, It's hard to spot the dysfunction in our families because it's always been a part of our experience. We know nothing else.
It's wonderful that you're curious about this and aren't blaming yourself. I hope you find the answers you need.
Question: Why do these mothers hate their daughters and not their sons?
Answer: It's not a matter of mothers hating their daughters but having a jealousy and rivalry with them. Moms don't feel the same competitiveness with their sons because they don't identify with them as strongly. It's perfectly normal that mothers feel twinges of envy from time to time as it's a basic human emotion. This is especially true when their daughters enjoy experiences in life they didn't: career opportunities, financial successes, travel to exotic places, etc.
Emotionally unhealthy moms, however, feel more than twinges of jealousy. My mother, for instance, felt intense rivalry with my sister and me because she was incredibly insecure. She needed us to make decisions similar to hers in order to validate her life. Not surprisingly, we went to extremes to copy our mother's path so we'd win her love and approval. Sadly, we both became teachers like her even though neither one of us was suited to that profession. My sister got married at the same age as our mom (22), had the same number of children (3), and sent them to the same Catholic schools where our mom sent us. Even though my sister went above and beyond to get my mom's stamp of approval, she never did as my mother alternated between being envious of her and highly critical of her.
When moms get jealous of their daughters, it's best for their daughters to distance themselves. I moved away from my mom (both physically and emotionally) after having my own kids. She had been jealous of the attention I showed them and I felt caught in the middle. When I thought about it, though, I knew it was time for me to grow up, choose my husband and sons, and start a healthy life away from mom. It was the best decision I ever made and contributed greatly to a strong marriage and happy family life.
Question: What do you think about a mother who is envious of one daughter but not the other?
Answer: A mother who's jealous of one daughter but not the other isn't unusual. In fact, I spoke with a woman recently who had just that situation. She had married an anesthesiologist and had traveled the world with him. They built a home together on several acres, and she was able to afford designer clothes and well-crafted furniture. Her sister, on the other hand, was married to a blue-collar man like her dad and lived modestly.
Their mother was extremely envious of the wealthy daughter and always referred to her as “the doctor's wife” in a haughty tone. She preferred spending time with her less affluent daughter because they had more in common. She rarely spent time with her other daughter, the doctor, and their two kids because she felt inferior to them. Even though the family did everything in their power to make her feel at ease, they couldn't stop her from running the same negative tapes in her head that said: “I'm less than. I'm lacking. I'm not as smart. I don't fit in here.”
When the couple divorced after 22 years of marriage, the mom wanted to renew the relationship with her daughter, but it was too late. The daughter had wanted her mom to be there during the good times and the bad...not just the bad. She accepted that some people had been jealous of her when she was married to a successful doctor. However, she could never accept her own mother's envy and, thus, no longer wanted anything to do with her.
Some people, like this mother, have flimsy egos that prevent them from having relationships with anyone who they believe is better off than they are. Being around a person who's smarter, more attractive, more accomplished, or more affluent is too hurtful to their fragile self-concept. This ugly part of human nature is why jealousy is aptly called the green-eyed monster.
People who are consumed with such envy aren't happy because they focus on what others have and what they lack. Being grateful is not a part of their daily spiritual practice like it should be. That's why “comparison is the thief of joy” is a powerful mantra that some individuals recite in their minds whenever feelings of jealousy creep into their consciousness.
Part of maturing is seeing our parents as human beings with frailties and limitations just like everyone else. Hopefully, you can stand back now, realize your mother struggles with jealousy and insecurity, and not take it personally. It has everything to do with her and nothing to do with you. Accepting her “as is” will bring you peace and relieve you of stress.
Question: I have separated myself from my mother, both physically and emotionally. But she went a step further by convincing two of my children to live with her. Now I have no family or my own children. Because I won’t have anything to do with my mother, I barely get to even talk to my kids. Much less get to see them. Do you have any tips?
Answer: Your situation has decades of complexities that I can't address. I hope, though, that you've discussed them with a therapist. Even when it's necessary to separate from a parent for one's mental well-being, it's still a traumatizing experience. We all long to have a warm and loving mommy and daddy and, when realizing that's not going to be a reality for us, it's devastating, no matter what your age.
While it's hurtful that your kids have chosen to live with your mother, you should do everything in your power to stay connected with them. Fortunately, we have texts, cell phones, and e-mails today so you can contact them without talking to your mom. Set up get-togethers for coffee, lunch, walks, or movies in neutral locations. Make it clear that you want a relationship with them even though you've disconnected from their grandma. Don't put them in the position of taking sides.
I'm sorry this is happening in your life and the heartache it's causing. Keep the lines of communication open with your kids. If they experienced you as a loving, supportive mom, they'd want to stay connected. If that wasn't the case, you could offer a sincere apology for where you failed and promise to do better. Best to you and your family.
Question: I've been the victim or enabler for all 56 years of my life. I've always wanted to have the love of my mother, but it was never there. I cannot remember a constant stream of normal behavior from her for any length of time. I did go for over a year with no contact. But she did sneak contact with my children through their biological father with her tactics. What should I do?
Answer: The author and speaker, Bryon Katie, said: “If you argue against reality, you will suffer.” I'm afraid you've been doing that for 56 years over your mother, and it's now time to liberate yourself from that struggle and finally have peace. Accepting the truth that you'll never have a sweet and loving mommy is long overdue. Accepting that your children have their own journey to travel with their grandmother is another fact to embrace. Accepting that you have no control over their relationship with her is yet another.
After a year of going no contact with your mom, you have a good idea of whether or not it's the way to go. If it brought you serenity, I'd go back to it. If not, have limited contact. Trust yourself that at 56 you do know how to best handle this situation. It's not how you want things to be but have confidence that you've got this!
If you have been a loving and supportive mother to your kids, your relationship with them is strong and stable and nobody can damage it. If they choose to have a relationship with their grandmother, they'll eventually discover who she is when her failings are revealed. They need to learn these lessons for themselves, and you can't protect them from her.
Our kids, in fact, often have more insight into our mothers than we do. They can have the objectivity that we lack. My teenage son recently said to me about his grandmother: “She sure is passive-aggressive.” I thought to myself: Wow! He's figured that out already and it's taken me a lifetime!
Today is an opportunity for you to ask yourself: How do I want to live the rest of my life? How do I want to spend my time and with whom? While I certainly don't know how you'd answer these questions, I know that you don't want to be wasting your time thinking about your mom. Hasn't she taken up enough of your headspace for all these years?
When she starts to creep into your psyche, gain control of your thoughts and shoo her away. Then make a point of doing something that you enjoy—something that puts you into a positive frame of mind. It could be dancing around the house to your favorite music, painting a picture, calling a friend, or going for a run.
The spiritual leader, Eckhart Tolle, said: “Negativity is a denial of life.” As we grow older, we don't have time for destructive thoughts that bring us down and keep us immobile.
Question: My alcoholic mother refuses to admit that I had a poor childhood due to her alcoholism and tumultuous relationship with my stepdad whom she never married. I’ve finally cut her off, but now my sisters, who have never married and are as unsuccessful in life as she is, are trying to guilt me because, “she’s your mother.” Should I let her back in? This is not the first time I have cut her out of my life. I’m 42.
Answer: Since you've cut your mom off in the past only to reunite with her, you'll probably have the same failed experience unless you change yourself and how you react to her. Albert Einstein said, “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” Unless your approach is different, you'll just wind up re-wounding yourself and that would be utterly pointless.
Certainly, bringing her back into your life only because your sisters are making you feel guilty isn't proper motivation. You have to be certain that this time you've evolved and can confidently handle the challenges of the relationship and not be undone by them. You may just not be ready for that, depending on what else is going on in your life right now.
If you want to give it a try, you should practice what psychologists call “radical acceptance.” As much as you want your mother to validate your painful childhood and the part she played in it, you need to let go of that. Assume that it's never going to happen. She may be in denial about it or be too racked with guilt to ever admit what she did.
You know what happened and that should be all that matters. You have your truth and she has hers and they will never be the same. If you can't come to terms with that reality, you shouldn't reunite with your mom. You'll only end up feeling frustrated, hurt, and resentful. You also need to appreciate that having a decent relationship with an alcoholic is futile so your expectations must be kept extremely low.
Whether you reunite with your mother or not, radical acceptance can bring you some much-needed peace. Once you accept that you never had nor never will have a warm and loving mom you'll find tremendous relief and stop struggling to make it different.
I hope you find serenity with your decision. Take good care of yourself!
Question: I have a mother who acts almost childish. She's a God-fearing woman, but I notice she's been getting jealous because I spend time with my son and husband on weekends or I barely come out of my room (I currently reside with her). I just don't know what to do with her behavior. She's always undermining me when it comes down to certain things I do. She's in therapy, takes meds, and has hobbies. How can I better understand my mother's behavior?
Answer: The problems with your mother most likely aren't related to the subject of this article: mothers who get jealous of their daughters. As an adult child who lives with your mom, you've put yourself in a situation ripe for conflict. It's one where old patterns from your childhood come into play, and your mother once again sees you as a dependent youngster and not a mature, autonomous grownup.
As long as you're under her roof, expect your mom to undermine your decisions and see you as incompetent. Instead of focusing on why she behaves the way she does, you would be much wiser to look in the mirror and ask yourself: Why did I put myself, my husband, and my son in this situation? While you may have practical reasons (you lost a job, you need to save up money for a down payment, etc.), you must appreciate that you had other options but chose this one.
You may be wanting to re-visit your childhood in the hopes of fixing the past. You may be unconsciously hoping that this time your mother will be the loving and nurturing parent you longed for as a kid. There may also be something in your life that you're trying to avoid and your mother's house is serving as your hiding spot.
Dr. Robin Smith says, “Adulthood is to finish the unfinished business of childhood.” You can't go back to fix the past, but you can use what you've learned from it as a guide to move forward. Since your mother is in therapy and on medication, she's in good hands and is getting the professional help that she needs. Leave her up to the therapist and concentrate on yourself, your marriage, and your son. If your struggles with her persist, call the therapist and ask her if you can join in on one of the sessions with your mother to discuss some issues.
Question: My mom is an insecure narcissistic and jealous. I am also a child of rape. I have always thought that the latter was the reason she hated me, but now I understand there are other reasons to explain her contempt. My biggest issue right now as an adult is her jealousy of me spending time with my stepdad to take him to doctors appointments. I'm 61 she's 80. There's no reason for her to be jealous at this point is there?
Answer: With you being 61 and her being 80, it's time to practice acceptance from this point forward. Your mother will be jealous, petty, and insecure until the day she dies. She may be jealous that her husband enjoys spending time with you. She may be jealous that you're able to do things she can no longer do. She may be jealous because you're younger and in better health. It doesn't matter why she's envious; it just matters that you accept she is and not let it bother you. It has everything to do with her, not you.
I'm answering your question after a week-long visit with my 82-year-old mother. She's a deeply insecure woman who's always gotten easily jealous of others, especially my sister and me. She sees other people's happiness, achievements, wealth, and acquisitions as a personal affront. During her visit, she expressed envy that I have two teenage sons who are thriving academically and socially. Instead of complimenting me on my good parenting and their hard work, she constantly labeled us as being “so lucky.”
In the past, it would have bothered me but now I just let it go. In fact, it even makes me chuckle to myself. When I'm with her, I use the words of the spiritual writer, Eckhart Tolle, as a mantra: “Accept this moment as if you had chosen it.” Instead of fighting the situation, I learn from it and become a better person.
It's said that whoever causes us the most emotional pain is our greatest teacher. I imagine that you've learned many lessons from your mom's insecurity and jealousy. The fact that you put up with it in order to take your stepdad to his medical appointments says a lot about your honorable character.
I know that you wish your mom was different and you had a loving relationship with her. Yet, when you accept her with all her limitations, you'll let go of a lot of stress.
Question: My mother had an affair with a married man and also slept with our former pastor's brother a few years ago. What steps can I take to get rid of church shame?
Answer: I'm sorry that you're struggling. Please understand, though, that the shame and guilt are your mother's alone, not yours. A good and decent person will experience them when they've done something wrong. Then that individual will want to make amends and do better in order to relieve themselves of that baggage. You, however, have done nothing bad in this situation and, therefore, shouldn't be shouldering any “church shame” as you call it.
Perhaps, you're putting the incorrect label on what you're really experiencing and need to talk with a close friend, trusted adult, or even a therapist to get clarity. One possibility is that you're feeling a lot of anger, resentment, and disappointment toward your mom. Because you're conflicted about these emotions, you might be suppressing them. Talking to her and clearing the air would be useful.
Another possibility is that you're feeling let down and abandoned by your faith community. If you believe folks in the church are gossiping about your family, you may be feeling betrayed by them. You may resent them for passing judgment on you when compassion is what's called for in this situation.
Church communities and religions should be loving, kind, and supportive during the trying moments of our lives. If you're not experiencing that, you may want to look elsewhere. First, though, discuss this matter with your pastor. You're one of their flock and they want you to be nourished by your faith. Their mission is to teach people how God and religion bring comfort and meaning to our lives, and they'd feel awful if someone left without knowing that.
Feelings of shame can immobilize us and keep us from moving forward and achieving our goals. They have no purpose whatsoever when they weren't earned as in your case. Don't let this unwarranted dishonor hold you back from relishing life.
© 2017 McKenna Meyers
McKenna Meyers (author) on July 29, 2020:
Lovejoy, I hope that you can come to accept your mother with all her limitations. If you do, you will finally find peace and stop hoping for her to be different. The relationship between the two of you isn't healthy so limiting contact is the best solution. Please work with a therapist if this continues to plague you. Take care!
Lovejoy79 on July 28, 2020:
I really thought I was going crazy I feel this way every day about my mother everything I do if it’s a new hair style new job anything I have she wants or she will oh I’m so jealous. I hate it when she say that. I’ve been feeling so sad all my life . I even stuffer with depression it’s just sad today I googled this to read this I’m more sad
McKenna Meyers (author) on October 02, 2019:
Jennifer, I'm sorry about this. Our mothers are typically jealous of us because they're dissatisfied with their own lives and struggle with low self-esteem. When a mom favors one daughter over another, it's often because the preferred daughter is more like she is. They share the same beliefs, have commons interests, and make similar life choices. The mom feels validated by the daughter who follows in her footsteps and will be her legacy. I don't know if this is your experience or not but understanding why our moms behave the way they do can lead to acceptance followed by peace. Take care!
Jennifer on October 01, 2019:
My mother was like this with me, but put my older on a pedestal and she's still up there.
McKenna Meyers (author) on May 20, 2019:
You've got to care enough about yourself to get into therapy and explore all this with a professional. It's way too much to handle on your own. Understanding your mom is a narcissist is a huge first step. Please reach out for help now so you can find some peace and direction.
Alibababa on May 20, 2019:
I'm 42 and only recently realized my mother was and still is a narcissist. I grew up constantly being criticized, humiliated, never allowed to have an opinion or express any emotions, very repressed which caused me to internalize everything I was feeling, was always put down, she never told me she loved me, never hugged me, anything I did that I was proud of was soon shut down on me leaving me feeling ashamed and worthless. I have gone through my whole life with no self confidence, very angry, fast to retaliate, and have a massive fear of abandonment. Every relationship I've had has been pretty unhealthy, I think due to my behaviour. I have no real sense of who I am and no direction in my life, I started taking hard drugs at the age of 15 and still to this day use them. I always felt she was competing against me especially in male company. Friends used to say she was jealous of me and now I can see that, but dont understand why. She has done extremely nasty things to destroy me, and feel she is still plotting to destroy me, even though there's nothing more really she can take from me. If I want to do something to better myself she will give me 100 reasons why I can't do it, instead of being a supportive and encouraging mother and being proud that I'm trying to get somewhere in life, she will try every angle to make sure I don't do it. I've gone through life hating myself and wondering why I was the way I am, believing I had a few mental illnesses, such as ADHD, borderline personality disorder, PTSD, intermittent explosive disorder, but now I'm wondering whether it's really just the result of her abuse. I don't know how to heal from this, I feel it's a huge can of worms I really don't want to face or deal with, as it's very painful still
McKenna Meyers (author) on December 18, 2018:
Barbara, I'm in awe of all you've had to carry and the strength you've shown to survive. You not only had a jealous mother but an emotionally disturbed one. You have every right to be angry. I hope this can be a starting point for you to write down these incidents and gradually free yourself of them. I'm sure your mother's death has triggered a lot of painful memories. I admire you for dealing with your rage in a constructive way. Take care!
Barbara on December 18, 2018:
My mother passed last year after a long life. Thankfully she refused to come see me after I was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis as she was afraid it was something else and she might catch it. No amount of explaining that an autoimmune disease isn’t contagious would convince her. Looking back that was to my benefit l, as now I don’t miss her so much. What I’ve found mostly since she is gone, is that I am angry. Angry how she treated me as an adult, and as a child. She was big on slapping me, & then backhanding me again. If she happened to be in the kitchen & had a wet dishcloth in her hand when she got mad - I didn’t even have to be in the kitchen at the same time - when I walked in she would come across my face with that dishcloth. I recall being slapped so many times before beginning school at age six. She kept that up until I was a teenager and I grew larger than she was. She used the silent treatments too, additionally telling me she couldn’t even stand to look at me. When I was around 12, I cooked a peach cobbler. When my sister bragged on it, mother asked if it was as good as hers. Sis didn’t say yes, just said it was really good. A couple of weeks go by & I decide to cook another & go to the spot where I had put the recipe. Mother had thrown it away, yet when I asked if she knew where it was she used her standard lie “I don’t know what you’re talking about”. I made straight A’s all through school. The educators wanted me to skip a grade & mother said no. Teachers would write complimentary things in my report cards, & Mom would read them out loud, followed with a sarcastic remark or guffaw. I took a job before driving age, she berated me all the way to my first day. I quit at the end of the day because I knew I couldn’t take another morning of that. At fifteen I took another part job which I could drive to after school. This time she stated I took it only to be around “my no good friends” - which is the way she had described all my friends, whether she knew them or not. She never let me close my bedroom door & made clear that if I did she would take the it off its hinges. According to her a closed door meant I was up to something to be ashamed of. If I wrote a letter, she would take it out of the mailbox, read, & throw away (another “I don’t know what you’re talking about). I wanted to play basketball in middle school. Since she was never athletic, she didn’t want me to be, so she bought athletic shoes for me 3 sizes to big. As a result I was constantly made fun of (clowns feet) & didn’t make the team as I was always tripping. She told us kids many times lies that she wanted us to tell others. Skip to adulthood. When my only child was born, after seeing her for the first time, the first words out of my mother’s mouth was “oh look there’s a bad spot” (there was a light birthmark on her ear).
I could just go on & on. I think I may need to journal to be able to FINALLY turn loose of this lifetime of anger & hurt.
McKenna Meyers (author) on November 17, 2018:
Binita, I'm so glad you wrote your feelings down and had a good cry. Those are two very positive ways to release your emotions and make sense of your situation. I recommend you write in a journal each day about your feelings and become empowered in the process.
You're grieving the loss of the mother you wanted but will never have. When you accept your mother as she is, you'll be able to let go of the stress and find peace. You need to stop longing for her unconditional love and embrace what you do have: the family that you and your husband created. This family is within your control, but your mother is not. You cannot change who she is.
Whether it's cultural or not, you are enmeshed with your mother, and that's unhealthy. For the sake of your marriage, your kids, and yourself, you need to take a giant step backwards from her. It's not good for you to speak with her every day and have her visit for 3 months. It's disruptive to your psychological well-being and, therefore, unfair to your family. They need you to live in the present and not reach back into your childhood to repair the past.
You may want to read my article called “5 Ways for Daughters to Heal From an Emotionally Absent Mother.”
Keep writing about your feelings and take good care of yourself!
Binita21 on November 16, 2018:
I am literally in tears after reading this. No surprise that I am connecting this with my life and my mum.
I am Indian origin and living in uk since past 17 years plus. Since I was 11 years old, I used to notice that my differentiated between me and my brother. I used to confront her. Occasionally she admitted that it’s her son who is going to look after when she will grow older ( that’s how it works in our culture) anyways we grew up and I studied well , got my post graduate degree , and Mum said wish my brother would be cleaver in study instead of me and I used to ask why ? She said , he would have generate better living for her and my father. It hurt. Sometimes I used to show her mirror , that how wrong she is , she used to get angry very quickly , either cry loudly or hurt herself. And then I apologise.
When I was 17 year old, my mum and dad forced me to get married ( arrange marriage ) for 3 days I kept saying I won’t get marry at this age, the groom was from USA so this way they and my brother would get chance to come to USA ( due to blood relationship ) this is not possible for uk. I locked my self in room and only come out if needed , they used to come and force me to say yes to get married, I stood on my feet and kept refusing and warned them if they force me then I will go to police as 8m India , you have to be 18 to get married. Then they took emotional torture, and told me how bad I am as a daughter and not giving them chance to go to USA. Anyways ... luckily that groom refused me and then continued my studies. At the age 24, I got married ( arranged ) but I said YES for the reliance. And luckily we both love and understand each other very well. Soon after marriage , I joined him to Uk, where we worked hard and build our business and then home and have our family. At the time of my pregnancy, I called my parents at my house, they got struck by our business and wealth, first I tried to give away what they were demanding , and soon I realised that I can’t fulfill there demands always. And soon I started to say No .... the whole thing is so changed .. that’s 15 years ago and still it’s sour. Soon after my son’s birth, I had some allergy and couldn’t sleep for four days. I requested my mum to look after my son for one night ( they were in my home ) but another room , she denied and said I can’t do that, that’s your responsibility. Anyways ... when I didn’t buy many gifts for them , dad said we will go back with empty suitcases, made me feel guilty that I am not fulfilling my duty as a daughter. They used to run away from my house and making us look for them, as they don’t know the area or language so we were really worried.
I lost m6 dad after few years. I refused to buy expensive gifts. But in returned I wasn’t much welcome at my mums house. If I go for 3-4 days with my family. My mum and brother makes plan for us to go elsewhere so we understand and move.
I am very emotional person, and still talk to m7m everyday and expect that she will love me wholeheartedly. But the relationship is stil sour and in any case , I will not buy their love. But I want love as I am her daughter. She never have praised about how much my husband takes care of me and how much he loves me. Each time we go on holiday, she say... why spending money on holiday ? How fat I am , when I lost weight , she never praised me , infact that was the best achievement for me.
If I say , mum I want to see you, she will it say , come home then , and then after talking same thing three four different ways, I directly ask , can I come, why you never invite me ? She says ,,, I haven’t said no , so I add but you never have said come either. And she keep quite.
She has come and stayed at m6 home . 3 months at a time. I used to take her on holiday here and back home, after end of the holiday she said , I only came to please you otherwise holidays doesn’t interest me.
My problem is , I want to be loved but without any condition and free of charge. I talk to her everyday , any during normal talk, if I said we made good profit by doing this, she feels right jealous, so I have to think before I say so I don5 make her jealous, but it shouldn’t be this way. She now compares my so. And my brother’s son with their study , that hurts
I can still go on, but may be another day.
McKenna Meyers (author) on September 24, 2018:
S.M--Don't be so hard on yourself. I'm in my fifties and have just started sorting out these dynamics with my mother. You're way ahead of the game. Now that you have insight, you can tackle these issues, move forward, and not become a prisoner to your past.
Part of becoming an adult is realizing that our moms are complicated human beings with insecurities, jealousies, and selfish desires just like everyone else. Like your mother and many others, my mom had fierce issues about food, her weight, and her body image. Not surprisingly, I inherited them all. If you could get a handle on those now (with professional help if needed), you'll save yourself years of struggle and heartache. It's only in the last few years that I've found peace with food. For decades, I had focused on dieting, exercising, and exerting willpower when I really needed to concentrate on my depression and anxiety.
Remember self-esteem is built by challenging ourselves to do hard things and accomplishing new challenges. We have the power to become more confident women. It takes a lot of hard work, though, a willingness to take risks, and an ability to persevere after failure.
Don't be too hard on your mom. Women in our society deal with enormous pressures to be thin and look beautiful. At the same time, we face enormous portions at restaurants and expectations to eat, drink, and be merry at the drop of a hat. It's a lot of crazy-making and unrealistic expectations for all of us.
You have a wonderful life ahead of you. Embrace it!
S.M on September 23, 2018:
I was in tears when I read this article. I graduated college in December of last year and moved back home with mom and dad. I realized that I have this dependency issue regarding my mom about something in particular. Today, I told my mom that I was interested in working out just to get in shape and she responded: "I don't want you too because I am scared you'll look better than me." Now, I know I am a grown adult and will go work out if I feel like it but her response shook me then I started questioning my childhood and figured out that my mom was always the jealous type. As long as I remembered she has always felt insecure when it comes to her body. As long as I remembered she has always made negative comments related to my body then she would say something positive and it would confuse me. No wonder I had an eating disorder for two years as a teen and during my last three years in college. No wonder that now I have serious trust issues regarding relationships and low self-esteem. No wonder I have commitment issues. I am so frustrated that I figured this out now than years before. Thank you for writing and publishing this insightful post.
McKenna Meyers (author) on September 11, 2018:
Wendy, you're a wise woman to step back from your family and look at it in an objective way. So much of the time we just react to whatever is happening at the moment and don't look at the big picture. I know now that so much of my relationship with my mom was shaped by her alcoholic mom. I get that on an intellectual level and it helps immensely. On an emotional level, though, I still ache for a loving, nurturing mother. But, at least, I can be that for my kids. Thanks for writing and sharing.
Wendy on September 10, 2018:
Love your line about "Even today, I refer to my mother as the teenage daughter I never had!" Exactly what I have concluded after reading many books on this topic. It's all she can offer and I have learned to "accept it." I've also learned that she brought some baggage with her from childhood, but she also left some behind. That being that her mother would be critical of her weight and was never satisfied. It also reminds me of when I was a child
we would go to family functions and my mother would always be in my grandmother's shadow; kinda like when someone is talking about you, but you are standing right there. It's the very reason I don't attend extended family functions with my mother. I could even go back a generation further. From what I've learned, my grandmother had a deadbeat father during the depression era, was one of 12 siblings and she was the oldest and had to care for them in a motherly role at a young age. Would make sense then that may be she wasn't valued much other than what she could provide, so when she found her opportunity as an adult to get validation, she got it at all costs.
McKenna Meyers (author) on June 12, 2018:
Cheryl, I'm sure it was painful to remember all that and write it down. In the long run, though, it will help you make sense of your life and move forward in a stronger, healthier way. As an objective someone reading it, I can feel your internal battle, wanting a relationship with your family but knowing it doesn't serve you well. I really don't see how having your parents in your life will benefit you or your child. In fact, I see the opposite. I hope you continue to write and work through your mixed feelings. Seeing a counselor would also be a great idea because you want to fully enjoy your husband and son and not let the past interfere with the present. You moved away, which was the right thing to do, and now you have a second chance to build the functional family you never knew. Please do this for yourself because you deserve to have peace and joy in your life. Much love to you.
Cheryl on June 12, 2018:
My mom does exactly this. I’ve lived in New Jersey for 10 years after meeting my now husband. I have 1 son, and my mom was not there for my pregnancy, she wasn’t there for the birth. She didn’t even call to see if I was ok after my c-section. Yet she should always call and complain about her not getting to see her grandchild so I told her to come and visit us in New Jersey she said she didn’t have any money so I offered to pay for the gas to get here (minded I’ve took flights, greyhounds, and drove to Ohio every 4/6 months) so after I offered the money then then said her car wouldn’t make the drive from Ohio. So then my husband offered to get her a rent a car she said she didn’t have car insurance, then we offered her flight tickets she tried to say my dad was scared of flights yet he took flights going to Vegas when I was younger. So then I ask since he was so “scared” how about she just come then she said she had too much to do. Then we offered her greyhound tickets and she did she couldn’t sit for so long. There was just no way around getting them here. Yet I was the bad persons because I couldn’t just up and move back to Ohio. It’s always excuses. My mom bought my brother 3 cars all which he wrecked never once bought be any such thing. My mom also hates me so bad she’s turned all my family members against me. My brother gets all the recognition yet she even signed papers for him to drop out of school after the 7th grade. Before he was about to go into the 8th grade she allowed him to drop out. My brother also flunked kindergarten and fourth grade. And was trouble in school constantly. I never got in trouble and the teachers loved me and that made my mom angry. I graduated high school a year early and went off to college although I never finished college I at least made an attempt. My mom and brother smoke cigerates and pot and that was something I never did. So they’d both get in my face and said I acted like I was better than them. They were only happy when I was crying or upset about something. If I did well on anything they’d be furious and find something to compare themselves to. My mom would call me fat, which I was 4”10 and 109lbs she’d say I’d be a nobody and I was a whore, and would keep saying I had a pooch belly. Her name calling made me very depressed and even my dad would make fun of me when ever I was on my period he say go fly away on my air plane wings referring to the wings on the maxi pad. My brother is 30 years old and still lives at home and has no relationship and no kids he had 1 girlfriend and he beat and chocked her and the cops were called and my mom stuck by his side. My mom has another child from a previous marriage and that kid was removed from my moms care from cps. She to this day says her ex husband kidnapped his child but I think there’s more than what’s being said and I’ll never know. My parents never told me they loved me unless it was to show off around other people. My brother always got cell phones and expensive shoes and clothes. My clothes most of them came from the thrift stores I did get some new ones every now and then but they had to be on sale or cheaply priced or from the clearance rack while my brother got Jordan’s or Nike air shoes and designer clothing. My mom would even tell lies to my dad so that he would hit me with the belt, one time I was so scared that my mom said she was going to tell my dad something I did when he got home from work and I remember being so scared that I stuffed a pillow inside my pants so that I wouldn’t feel the sting of the belt as bad. As I grew up my mom would never let me get a job she said I wasn’t fit to get any job and would say things to make me feel small. For years I wondered why I couldn’t work like all the other teens and my friends. And my family members would call me lazy and stupid and a retard because they thought I simply wasn’t trying when I really was my mom never let me turn in any application I had to hand them over to her then I found out she was just throwing them in the trash. Later after I got married it all made sense she was getting a social security disability on my name and when I was little I’d ask her about it and she got angry every time I’d bring it up she threw a glass ash tray at my face. After that I ever asked her about it out of fear. She lied to my dad too saying she wasn’t getting any gov assistance. So when I moved out I was trying to get health insurance because I was born with dislocated hips and born at 2 pounds. My mom smoked through out her whole pregnancy and it caused my pre mature birth yet she blames me saying it’s my own fault and because of me I made all her teeth fall out while she was pregnant because I took all her calcium. She said I was born early because her uterus was tilted too much. My moms 1st child and my younger brother also came out pre mature but they weighted at 4 and 5 pounds as I was 2 pounds. I’m sorry I’m all over the place with my post I’m going back to my childhood remembering different things. My dad also used to beat my mom and I was so scared I urinated in my bed once and the next morning I was whooped for “peeing the bed” me and my brother would be in bed and all a sudden you’d hear glass breaking or you’d hear my dad crank up the heavy rock music and they’d start screaming and fighting and me and my brother would run and shake and scream e wry time dad would punch Mom in the face or drag her around the house. It was always some sneaky stuff that my mom would do that set my dad off but I was scared to death around both of them. I may have been a happy kid on the outside and we seemed like a normal family but behind closed doors it was so different. My dad put my moms head through the apartment wall that my mom covered it up with a large picture frame. Then when I grew up I’d bring up the fights and the domestic violence to my mom and she say I was lying and none of it never happened. I remember so many nights my dad would be in a drunken rage and me and my brother would have to sleep all night in the car but my mom would never leave that man she was more worried about getting his money from him. My dad paid the rent and my mom was taking the rent money and spending it all and we ended up getting sued and evicted and my mom blames the landlord saying she was lying too. Everybody is lying but my mom. Everyone is at fault but my mom. No one is good enough and when someone is better off than she is”they’re stuck up” or “they think they got it all” the jealousy and rage really shows through my mom and my brother. I believe my parents were on other drugs as well that I’ll never know because I was so young at the time but I have my doubts. Anytime I was happy or I had something positive happen I was always put down. She’d squash anything that filled me with joy. Even today now I’m 31, I hardly hear from my mom or dad, and when I do hear from my mom she still puts me down or wants to gossip about someone. It’s never happy phone calls and my dad he just doesn’t want any involvement with his children he has 5 kids and isn’t in contact with any of them. They have no remorse and my mom even took all my gold I got over the years from family members. It’s just so many things I could write forever but deep down I get so sad and depressed when I see families together laughing in a restaruant or at the park, I feel a bit jealous myself when I see a father with their daughter. I’ve brought this up to my parents and all I got was the cold shoulder and a utter discrace response saying I was acting retarded. I wish my whole life that my family functioned normal. My mom wouldn’t even let me wash my clothes in warm water she removed the knob from the washer so that I could only use cold water. It just got to the point I had to move out of Ohio and far away from that state. I love Ohio but the people there are toxic. I also from being born at 2 pounds I walk with a limp and had many operations on my hips I was told by realitives that my dad shoved my mom down a flight of stairs when she was pregnant but Mom says no she says she didn’t even know she was pregnant with any of her kids?
McKenna Meyers (author) on November 29, 2017:
I'm sorry your mother does that, Lee. I know how much that hurts. My mother would sabotage me with that behavior when I was growing up and beyond. When I was all dressed up and ready to go somewhere—prom, a job interview, a musical performance—she'd nitpick my appearance. She'd point out a hair out of place or a tiny spot on my blouse. It would drive me nuts and make me so insecure. At least, you and I are now aware of that pattern and, while still annoying, it won't damage us like it once did.
Lee nichol on November 29, 2017:
I have a mother exacaly like'that when u look good or happy they try there best to put u down