This resonates to the core of me. I wish I had the words to explain this so well myself:
“…she always said that I was the problem and that I did this to her ~ that I tore HER down;
“Darlene, you are so critical.”
“Darlene, I can never do anything right in your eyes, I am always wrong”.
“Darlene, there is no pleasing you.”
And overtime I believed that my words, actions and behavior (although I could not figure out what I was doing that was so offending) had eaten away at her self-confidence and harmed her sense of self-worth and undermined any good feelings that she ever had about herself and her accomplishments. I believed everything she said about me. I believed that I was the critical one and that I was the one doing all the damage.
This is the brainwashing; this is what happened that caused me to try harder with her and to try so hard to ‘understand her.’ I tried to reassure her, to soothe her and to be the daughter she always wanted.
And when I started to look at the way SHE treated me in this profoundly dysfunctional mother daughter relationship we had, I became aware that now I was saying some of the same critical type things about her too. When I started to look at the truth about how toxic our mother daughter relationship was, I felt guilty because I believed that I was being critical of my mother, and I had tried so hard all my life to prove her wrong about me! In the first couple years of my healing process I kept saying stuff like “well in all fairness to my mother, I was not the perfect daughter because of…. And I would list my faults. Just like I was trained to do; I was trained to look at me, always to look at me and my faults and to take the blame. Looking at my faults is not such a bad thing, but the lack of mutuality in our relationship is a ridiculous thing. This started when I was a kid and I had been convinced mostly through the actions and results of those actions at the hands of the adults in my life, that I was the failure and that if I could be different, THEN I would be loved. There was no accountability on the part of the adults!
Today I refer to that thought process as “the spin”. I would spin around and around in my mind about why my mother was justified in her criticisms and judgments of ME which I somehow believed nullified my judgments of her. I could never validate that something really was wrong with the way she treated me, because I was so convinced that I was at least as much of a problem for her as she was for me. I didn’t see how she was “the parent”, or how she expected me to be more responsible for the success of our relationship than she was. I didn’t look at HOW I learned to have a relationship in the first place. I didn’t realize that my self-esteem was never put in place because my parents didn’t put it in place. I didn’t consider for one minute that the truth was that it had been up to them to give me a healthy emotional foundation in the first place. I had learned to LOOK at myself in a critical way and to never look at anyone else in a critical way. There is something really warped about that.”
And this is one hits home as well:
“…statements like “Oh you think you are so perfect” or “sorry I’m not perfect” are actually deflections meant to make me believe that the problem was my “unreasonable expectations” of her; I picture my mother as wearing wonder woman type shiny wrist cuffs to deflect the statements I made to her, BACK on to me. She didn’t hear me, she had no intention of listening to me, she just found a way to put the responsibility of our relationship back on me.”
As long as there is dysfunction that is denied to heal within the relationship (equally on BOTH parts) the cycle will continue because that is all they know. The person who is not willing to heal their own role in the drama is so solid in their old script that they don’t allow for the other to heal their part in the story, and then continue to cry victim to what they created and continue to perpetuate. Vicious cycle. Someone wise once told me, the fish stinks from the head..!
This post was inspired by – Toxic Mother Daughter Relationships when Mom says You are the Problem.