Daughter Detox Reflections, Part 1: Maternal Power

It’s 2018, ya’ll!

On December 31, 2016, I was cursing the end of a hell of a year. I was ready to kick it to the curb and embrace 2017–I had just turned 30, I was going to go on an amazing trip in May…this was going to be MY. YEAR.

Well.

I’m always an idealist.

Truth was, 2017 was still hard. In different ways. But, painful ways.

I continued to grow. I continued to learn more about myself…yet remained fixed in the pain and unable to let it go. I made mistakes, questioned my relationships, and struggled with who I was versus who I wanted to be.

2018 will be a year where I am much more realistic.

Guess what? I am not perfect.

But guess what else? I know this. I also know that I do NOT have to have everything all figured out RIGHT NOW. I can take my time. I can just be in the NOW.

First up on my 2018 agenda?? Learning to get over the wounds of my childhood. The wounds that run so deep, and are related–so much so–to my mother and our relationship.

I am going to learn how to believe that I am lovable.

To start, I purchased and have begun reading a new book, called Daughter Detox: Recovering from an Unloving Mother and Reclaiming Your Life by Peg Streep.

As I read this book, I am continually surprised at how RIGHT ON the descriptions are. Like, literally, I can pick myself right off the page…I am reading the text and think, Oh my god…that is SO me.

It is both sobering and refreshing.

As I read, I am going to use my blog as a journal–reflecting on what I am learning and processing my way through the pages…and by the end, I hope that I will finally be able to let the pain go.The first few chapters of this book revolve around maternal power and attachment. I hold my first degree in psychology, so attachment theory is not new to me.

HOWEVER. I have not ever really spent time considering which style of attachment I had as a child and adult. In fact, when I think back to my coursework, I remember really trying to convince myself that, OF COURSE, I had a secure attachment.

HAHAHA. Nope.

As I read through the descriptions, I could very easily see that I have an anxious-preoccupied style of attachment. I have always been a high achieving person, though, most of the time, my need to achieve is focused on the reaction of others–will they notice me? Will it be enough to get their attention? Can I prove my worth if I do well?

My need to be a high achiever has never given me intrinsic happiness. In fact, rather than making me feel worthy and full of confidence, I have ALWAYS been convinced that the high achieving part of myself isn’t real. It is an act…one that people can see through as soon as they really get to know me.

I always have, and probably always will have, a positive view of other people. I turn to them, hoping to find validation–if they approve of me, then I can also approve of me.

But, because of the fear, I also am always on high alert. I read the room. I watch for sighs, facial expressions, gestures…I listen to words…anything that may indicate that a change is coming.

Abandonment or rejection is my greatest fear.

The problem? This heightened state of alert often causes me to create problems where there are none. It makes me need reassurance, causing me to cling and hold on tight, while, somehow, also pushing the person away before they can push me away first, triggering even more fear and anxiety. It is a vicious circle.

If you are going to leave me, just tell me now! is a phrase I often think or say when I get into this state. I just need to know so I can prepare.

When I am stressed, I get stuck in overthinking and over-worrying. I replay the past on a loop.

I can’t let it go.

I become convinced that it is hopeless and I am powerless. I talk and talk about it but never really feel like anyone can understand…and, I even mistakenly forget that I do have people in my life who care…all because I feel like no one can love me the way I need.

Holy shit. This is me.

And you know what? This is also who the book described. I am not unique.

As I read, I was also able to identify my mother as a specific “type.”

To be truthful, she had elements of many of the types…but, by far, I could see her in two of the descriptions: the unreliable and the self-involved mother.

My mother could be hot and cold. Sometimes, she would request affection…other times, she would push me away and make me feel ashamed for wanting it.

She was, and still is, self-involved. This mothering type is also known in mothering circles as the Narc mom, or the narcissistic mother. Everything about being a mom was for her. My high achievement?? It proved she did something right with me. 

Love was earned with her…it still is. It was never freely given; rather, it was given, always, with heavy conditions.

But, no matter what I ever did, it was never enough.

And…as a result, I quickly began to believe that I was not enough. I was not lovable just for being me.

I still believe this, even though I am cognitively, everyday, challenging it.

Isn’t this insight amazing?

I am looking forward to reading more and learning how to use the insight to make a real change in my life.

To let go.

To live.

To be happy.

Read Part Two Here

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16 thoughts on “Daughter Detox Reflections, Part 1: Maternal Power

  1. Luftmentsch January 1, 2018 / 12:59 pm

    Good luck with this! I also struggle with believing myself to be worthy of love and worrying about other people’s reactions. To make matters worse, I’m very bad at reading their reactions (I’m on the borderline of Asperger’s/high functioning autism) so I’m never convinced that I’ve got a positive reaction. It’s difficult.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Erica January 2, 2018 / 7:52 am

      That sounds very difficult. Anxiety always finds a way to make us worry and question and create doubt where there is no need to. Ugh!! (((Hugs))) to you.

      Like

    • Erica January 2, 2018 / 7:51 am

      I am really impressed. Sometimes I can’t read self-help books because I just feel more triggered and helpless. But this one is empowering.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Brighid's-Hope January 1, 2018 / 2:12 pm

    Keep challenging the lies your mother taught you – because they are lies. I understand such mothers. At nearly 52 I am still challenging my mothers lies – but it can be done.

    Like

  3. Ashley January 1, 2018 / 3:18 pm

    So looking forward to following your journey through this – and I may need to read that book!

    Like

    • Erica January 2, 2018 / 7:50 am

      I am continually impressed at how right on the book is as I read it! Do yourself a favor and look up Peg Streep on Facebook—that’s where I started! She also has lots of great articles on Psych Central and Psychology Today.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Paula R Miller January 8, 2018 / 11:37 am

    Good luck Erica; your experience and challenges mirror exactly my own. When I chose to end my marriage at the end of 2016 I too thought that 2017 would be the year I would start to discover what it meant to be my ‘best self.’ By the end of 2017 I was sorely disappointed that to a large degree, I still felt as empty as ever; this was exacerbated by the challenge of replacing a large part of my social network that had become frayed as a result of my divorce. Reading Daughter Detox is finally what I hope will be the beacon of light on that path to my best self. This much I know for sure – the change I crave won’t be possible without having the ability to understand and heal from my past.

    Like

  5. Kate Klingensmith February 4, 2019 / 10:16 pm

    Growing up with my mom left my youngest brother and I with PTSD. I believe this has been more crippling to me because I was the oldest and a girl. I’ve been in therapy on and off for years. It was wonderful to have people agree or even point out my mother was horrible at times. But I came away with only some change–not enough to be able to select good relationships or to stop defaulting myself out of career opportunities. It was so ingrained I didn’t know I was doing it.

    In September I finally began to divorce my husband (yay! no more gaslighting!) Recently I started Prolonged Exposure therapy to deal with the PTSD. It’s not easy, but neither was growing up with my mom. Even as kids our friends gave her wide berth. By Peg Streep’s description she was combative, dismissive and unreliable. But the miracle for me with this work has been the deep, strong anger that has emerged from a freeze frame type of image when she was slapping me (age 4) so hard I didn’t know if she would stop. It was probably just for some seconds but it felt like forever to me–and so wrong. Starting out and growing up with her left me with such a sense of hopelessness and feeling like I didn’t belong or fit in anywhere. I came away so unsure of myself that I missed out a lot. Oddly enough I’m feeling more hopeful as a result of this work because at 64 it would be so easy to just look at what I haven’t done that I wish I had.

    But this is all a process. I want to develop self-compassion and learn to regard myself as I would anyone else with their strengths, gifts and foibles that are endearing. Be nice to yourself in this journey. It’s so easy to dismiss ourselves, and be impatient and angry with ourselves for not getting rid of the fallout from growing up as we did. Sometimes I slide into thinking I’ve been whining too much about this. Our moms were great teachers of self hatred but now it’s time to flunk the lesson.

    Like

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