Disconnected from Mom

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

I don’t feel a motherly connection to my mom. I would feel more comfortable talking and leaning on just a woman her age rather than her. She wasn’t a BAD mom as I grew up. I always had what i needed pretty much. But she would scream and threaten me almost everyday. Everyday we would fight. She has slammed me against the wall, smacked me in the face, threw me around, kicked me while I was down, pulled my hair, hit me with a belt, embarrassed me in front of family, friends, and in public, squeezed my face really hard, completely invaded my privacy…ect. A lot of physical stuff. I know i was difficult growing up but I know why she had to put her hands on me. I used to hate her sometimes.

I’m 23 now and she doesn’t do that stuff anymore because she knows i am strong enough to fight back. But i do not feel a motherly connection with her now. I don’t hate her, but I don’t feel comfortable talking and being affectionate with her.

I date WOMEN who are 15 and 20 years older than me because I feel like I can lean on them and that they will understand me. Did my mother’s abuse cause me to resent her? Has it become the reason why we don’t have a good relationship now?

A: What do you mean, “she wan’t a bad mother”? Yes, she very much was. What you are describing is child abuse. No one has the right to physically and verbally abuse a kid – ever! And you go on to say that she doesn’t continue to do that stuff only because she knows you would fight back. Do you mean if you were smaller and weaker, you think the abuse would continue? That the only reason you’re safe now is that you are big enough to take care of yourself?

There is something very wrong with your mother, not you. You didn’t get the safe and loving mother every child deserves.That little kid inside is still craving a mom. You question is why you can’t be attached to your biological mother. The answer is simple: The survivor in you knows better! To attach to your biological mother would probably only invite more abuse.

If your sexual orientation is toward other women, that’s to be respected. But if the reason you seek out women is to comfort the aching child you still hold inside, it’s unfair to your partners. Sadly, a romantic relationship based on your neediness isn’t likely to be healthy. Although it’s true that in any good relationship one partner or the other can provide comfort and care for the other now and then, if it is too one-sided the relationship usually collapses.

Instead, you need a close older friend or two to be close to, not a sexual romantic partner. There are such women, you know — women who miss their own daughters, women who never had a daughter, and women who include younger women in their circle of friends because they enjoy their energy, enthusiasm and new ideas. Friendships like that include good talks, sharing experiences, hanging out and, yes, some hugs and affection. You can have that without “dating.”

So – if you need a mother, not a lover, start going to places where you can get to know mother-types. Look around. I’m sure there are clubs and organizations and causes in your area that attract feisty, energetic, interesting, fun-loving women who are a generation older. Join up and get involved. The friendships will evolve naturally.

If your heart is still aching and breaking that you can’t make your mother be who you needed and want her to be, please do consider some therapy. You aren’t going to change your mother. You can heal the inner wounds she caused you.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 2 Mar 2014

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2014). Disconnected from Mom. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 1, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2014/03/02/disconnected-from-mom/

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