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December 09, 2005



Glad to know someone else out there had a mother who needed to control everyone's emotions so she could not feel like a bad mother. I can't tell you how many relationships I've left because I felt too erased and couldn't figure out how to access a way to be that pushed back. I want to find out more about lesbians as their mothers' daughters in part because this subject is so fascinating, and because our stories often have an eerie similarity.


Oh, interesting! I didn't know this was a trend, although now that I think about it, Ms. P has a related but different version of this with her mother. It's interesting that, given these histories, we have our most intense emotional connection to other women.

Since I'm in the middle of figuring this out, I'm also noticing when some interaction of ours looks like one with my mother, even though it's really different. So, for instance, Ms. P will sometimes try to make herself very small, because she's in a difficult place and doesn't want her difficult place to bleed onto me. But because of my history with my mother, it makes me ABSOLUTELY CRAZY. So we keep talking about that.

Got any good advice or suggestions for such maternal relationships?


Wow! I'm reading your archives to reward myself for 24 hours of unmitigated push on a grant application and I come across this one. "It was my job to be as emotionally invisible as possible in order to maintain my mother's emotional comfort level." And I have one of those bloglove moments: the I could have said that (but not so well) moments.

When I was 17, I went into what proved to be the first of many depressions. Now mostly balanced by pharmaceuticals, thank you. My mom, who had her own Depressive Incident when I was 13, somehow managed to ignore the fact that her teenage daugher could not get out of bed in the morning. When I told her that I wanted to die, she told me to stop being a melodramatic teenager. Okay, if I really felt like I wanted to go to therapy I could. She wouldn't stop me, even though I was being ridiculous.

Years later, trying to figure out why I have such a hard time with anger, my therapist asks me if I wasn't angry at my mom for getting so depressed, for scaring me. If I wasn't angry about having diabetes. And I realized that my strategy for trying to Protect Mom was to not allow myself my own emotions, because she so clearly couldn't handle them.

I'm still struggling with this one - with standing up for myself emotionally around my mom, and not going automatically into doormat mode. It's really hard though, isn't it?

Thanks for writing this!


It is *so* *hard*, yes. And the only way I manage even the bits that I manage is to be overly forceful about them: to kind of present them to her as nonnegotiable and not even wait for her response. This isn't how I want to be doing it long-term, of course, but it's a step right now. And it's so very hard.

Thanks for the comment!

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