Dealing with a difficult mother daughter relationship

When You and Your Mother Can’t Be Friends: Resolving the Most Complicated Relationship of Your Life by Victoria Secunda

Click here to purchase When You and Your Mother Can’t Be Friends: Resolving the Most Complicated Relationship of Your Life

I have always had a difficult mother whose cruel behavior and hateful comments confused and frustrated me. From the time I was a child, I wanted her to act like a mother, but she was not capable. I have since learned that you cannot make people do the things they should do or that you want them to do, and have given up. However, when I was in the midst of dealing with her hate letters and hateful messages from her sisters and other such behaviors that no normal person should have to deal with, I read this book. It was an eye-opening book for me! The author said many things I’d been feeling and recognized many horrible behaviors I was seeing from my mother. And…she let me know that it was okay for me to acknowledge the bad and and that it was okay for me to want it to stop.

As the author recognizes, ending your relationship with your mother or questioning even her cruelest behaviors is taboo in society. No one wants to accept that a mother cannot love her child, and adults who part ways from abusive mothers are often questioned, shunned or scolded. However, after reading this book, I realized for the first time that I did not have to continue putting up with my mother’s behavior that was making me miserable! No more guilt for choosing to cut contact and protect myself. The validation was wonderful! But, as the author acknowledges, a step like this isn’t taken lightly. Everyone wants a mother. I tried for a very long time before realizing my mother enjoyed hurting me more than she enjoyed being a mother and she had made herself my worst enemy and bully pitting herself against me in a competition that I didn’t wish to join.

Now that’s just MY situation. This book was a turning point for me because it was the first book I read that validated all my frustrations. But the author doesn’t necessarily recommend ending a bad relationship. She just points out that it is a valid decision that should be respected. The author categorizes the types of difficult mothers and the ways daughters might react. She devotes a section to healing difficult relationships. She gives many ideas before she addresses the reality that some relationships cannot be fixed. So don’t expect that his is an anti-mother book; it is just a realistic book. She addresses the reality that one’s relationship with their mother effects future romantic relationships, (for example, as the daughter of a narcissist mother, I have been a real doormat and have married two different abusive men before I had my light-bulb moment and realized I was following a pattern,) and she describes healthy vs. toxic relationships, manipulation, and more. I think this book is an excellent resource for women who have rocky relationships with their mothers–not just every day the occasional, normal arguments but real toxicity that repeats time and time again. The author gives validation, information and advice. I think if your relationship with your mother is bad enough that you are looking for a book like this, you will find a lot of relief in learning that you are not alone.

The chapter titles are:
Part One–Ghosts in the Nursery
1. Natural Allies, Natural Enemies
2. Good Mommy/Bad Mommy
3. The Bad Mommy Taboo

Part Two–Behind the Curtain
4. The Evolution of the Unpleasable Mother
5. The Doormat
6. The Critic
7. The Smotherer
8. The Avenger
9. The Deserter

Part Three–Rebellions
10. Balancing Acts
11. The Angel
12. The Superachiever
13. The Ciper
14. The Troublemaker
15. The Defector

Part Four–A Separate Peace
16. Breaking the Cycle
17. Redefining the Mother-Daughter Relationship
18. Friendship
19. Truce
20. Divorce

Part Five–Closing the Circle

Lasting Lessons:
It is okay to “divorce” a mother that consistently hurts you and is not willing to work on the problem
We develop unhealthy coping mechanisms when our mothers are not emotionally available or are abusive
Abuse is not just physical

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