At this point I hadn’t done any work on my mother. She had been totally off my radar.
I had resigned myself to us not being that close and felt like I was okay with that. In a previous session with Karen, she had shared that she had done a lot of work on her mom, and that it had changed all her relationships. It got me thinking that I might give it a go.
Me: I wrote a sheet on my mom.
Karen: How was that?
Me: It was good. You know I think I have pushed a lot of stuff down. So I went back to something that happened three or four years ago. And when it happened, I swept it under the rug. Because back then, my options were either sweep it under the rug, or be really upset. And if that’s my options, I go with sweep it under the rug. (laughing)
Karen: Yea, yea totally. Good one. So you want to read it to me?
Me: Yea. Me and Sheldon got re-married in 2014. We had gotten divorced in 2010. We were living on an island at the time. We both decided we were going to move back to the mainland. He was going to move to Louisiana, because that’s where his job was. And I could go anywhere, because my business is digital. I had decided to go to Florida because I wanted it to be sunny and warm. I was home with my mom, and I was talking to her about where to move. You know, because Florida is a big state. And I was telling her I was going to move to St Augustine for two reasons. One, because we’ve lived on the coast off and on for 20 years and evacuated a lot for hurricanes. So I wanted to be on northern end of the state, so that evacuations weren’t so hard.
Me: And also because I knew somebody there. I knew at least one person. And my mom was trying to convince me to pick a more southern location on the beach. I definitely got the impression she wanted me to do that because she was thinking she might move in with me someday and SHE wanted to be more in the south part of Florida. So this is what I wrote. (reading from my JYN)
- “I’m hurt with my mom because she doesn’t care about me.”
- “I want mom to be honest with me about her reasons.”
“I want her to understand my reasons.”
“I want her to act like a loving mother.” Cause it kind of felt like she didn’t even care what was best for me. Actually that’s what I wrote in number three.
- “She should admit why she wants me to move more south.”
“She should consider my needs before hers.”
“She should want what’s best for ME.” Cause it felt like she didn’t care at all what would work best for me, she was just thinking of herself, and where she might want to live someday. I felt very vulnerable and weak at the time because I had NEVER lived on my own before.
Me: It was a very scary time and I was making all these decisions myself.
- “I need my mom to approve of my decision.”
Karen: So where are you when you’re having this discussion with your mom?
Me: We were in her den. She was in her recliner. I was in a chair kind of diagonal to her.
Karen: In the afternoon, or morning?
Me: I think it was in the evening.
Karen: So you can see your mom sitting in her recliner? Can you picture her and see yourself sitting there?
Karen: And you’re having a discussion about moving to Florida. And you’re telling her about moving to St Augustine. This is where you think you’re going to go. And she starts on “maybe its best if you…”
Me: Yea, she’s saying “You don’t want to move that far north, it gets cold there in north Florida. What about Venice beach? They have some really nice condos there, then you can be by the water, it will be warm…” It’s almost like she didn’t hear my reasons.
Karen: So in that moment, you have the thought “she doesn’t care about me”, is it true?
Me: (long pause) Yea, it’s true.
Karen: “She doesn’t care about me”, can you absolutely know that it’s true, in that moment?
Me: I can’t absolutely know that, no.
Karen: How do you react and what happens when you’re sitting there with her, and you believe the thought “she doesn’t care about me”?
Me: It feels like the same old shit again. (pause) I shut down. I don’t want to talk about it anymore, with her. (sigh) Still bugs me that I don’t think she loves me. I’m just going to say it, it feels like she doesn’t love me like the way mothers love daughters. (nervous laughter)
Me: And I don’t… I don’t like her in that moment. I want to change the subject. I want to change it to something where it doesn’t bother me anymore. I tell her my reasons again thinking maybe she just didn’t hear me. (long pause) I feel like a victim. I’m totally a victim of what I’m seeing as a selfish, uncaring mother. And I don’t like the way it feels. So I just want to get away from it!
Karen: Yea. So who would you be in that moment, sitting in the den with her, without the thought “she doesn’t care about me”?
Me: (very long pause) Uhm, I’m telling her my ideas, and she’s telling me hers. It’s kind of an exciting time so…you know, fresh beginnings, that kind of thing. Yea, it’s just mom and daughter talking.
Karen: Hm. Notice how your body feels in that moment, without the thought “she doesn’t care about me”?
Me: I feel comfortable, without that thought. And I’m wanting to tell her all my thoughts, and all my ideas, how I see it working, and I’m glad that she’s there to bounce this stuff off of, and… And I’m enjoying my visit.
Karen: Turn the thought around, “she doesn’t care about me.”
Me: She DOES care about me. (long pause)
Karen: How’s that true in that moment?
Me: (long pause) How’s it true in THAT moment? I can probably find how that’s true in other moments.
Karen: Let’s just stick with that moment. She does care about me, in that moment, how’s it true?
Me: Well, she’s letting me speak. She’s not constantly cutting me off. She’s letting me speak.
Me: She has asked me questions about it. You know, about my plans, so… she cares about me to some degree.
Me: (extremely long pause) That’s all I got.
Karen: Okay, she’s sitting and having the conversation with me. She’s engaged in the conversation.
Me: She is. She is.
Karen: She hasn’t shut the conversation down, she’s there sitting, she hasn’t gotten up and walked away from me when I started having the conversation.
Me: Right, she hasn’t turned on the TV or started to read or do her puzzles. She’s maintaining eye contact.
Karen: Another turnaround, “she doesn’t care about me.”
Me: I don’t care about her.
Karen: How’s that true in that moment?
Me: Well, I know one thing for sure, I didn’t care about where she wanted to live someday, if she moves in with me – which we hadn’t even discussed – but I didn’t care where in Florida she wanted to live, at all. Zilch. (chuckling)
Me: “I don’t care about her”… (long pause) There’s something in there like, I didn’t care enough about her, to just, to ask her why she wanted me to live in the south. You know, I had all these stories running about why she was saying that, but I didn’t care about her to like, allow her to tell me why she was saying these things. I just made a bunch of assumptions about why she was saying that.
Karen: Are there other ways in that moment, you’re not caring about her?
Me: Well, I know absolutely did not care about her when I started to think she didn’t care about me. I just shut down, wanted to change the subject to something less emotional or a less hurtful topic.
Me: (long pause) And I didn’t…when I was feeling hurt, I didn’t care about her, at all. I didn’t even want to stay in her presence. I wanted to change the subject or just leave the room. I didn’t care about how her mind works. To even attempt to understand why she was saying what she was saying. Yea. Makes me wonder how often I do that… just run with my assumptions. The truth can’t hurt any worse than my assumption.
Karen: Yea, yea. The another turnaround. “She doesn’t care about me.”
Me: I don’t care about me. Hmmm. (very long pause) Well, I don’t care about me when I’m trying to run away, ignore, push down, what I’m feeling. Doesn’t seem like a very caring thing to do. Like if someone was doing that to me, I wouldn’t see that as very caring.
Hmm. It doesn’t seem very caring for me to have questions, and not to do anything to see if there are answers. It’s not very honoring. I do remember there was a moment of “I just told her why I’m moving where I’m moving, why is she saying that?” But I just ignored that question in my head.
Me: So that’s not very caring of me. And just the whole scenario of feeling disconnected from my mom, doesn’t seem very caring of what I really want, which is to feel connected to her.
Me: It’s amazing. A little bit of that resistance is lessening. I felt such resistance… so certain.
Doing The Work on Another Statement
Karen: Mm-hmm. So when you’re there in the den with her, talking about going to Florida, “she’s a selfish uncaring mother”, is it true?
Me: (long pause) No.
Karen: How do you react and what happens when you’re believing the thought “she’s a selfish, uncaring mother”?
Me: I totally lose my mother. It’s like I don’t have a mother. I obliterate her. It’s like “alright, I don’t have a mom, that’s fine, it’s been that way for a long time, that’s fine” It’s like I totally cut off any opportunity for me to experience… a relationship. And I get selfish, as a defense, it’s like “okay, you’re going to focus on yourself, fine, then I’m going to focus on me, and screw you.”
Karen: And how are you treating her, when you’re believing this thought “she’s a selfish, uncaring mother”?
Me: (long pause) I don’t say anything to her. Uhmm, it’s like I shut down. I’m no longer free to say whatever I’m thinking, I clam up.
Karen: So how are you treating HER, in that moment? How are you viewing her in that moment, when you’re doing that?
Me: Defective. Somehow defective. Wrong.
Karen: That she’s not worth engaging with?
Me: Yes. Correct. She is not worthy of my love. She doesn’t deserve it… my love. I’ll give her the bare bones minimum and that’s it. Yea. I’ll keep everything nice, nice. But she ain’t getting the real me.
Karen: So how are you treating yourself in that moment?
Me: (laughing) Oh my god, the exact same way! I don’t feel any love for myself or her. I feel disconnected from myself and her. Like I’m not worth it. Like a numbness. Just existing. Shut down, shut off. Disconnected from what I’m thinking and feeling. If you had asked me in that moment what I was thinking or feeling, my answer would have been “nothin”.
Me: Cause that’s what I wanted. I wanted to be thinking and feeling nothing. Just shut down.
Karen: So in that same moment with her, talking about Florida, who would you be without the thought “she’s a selfish, uncaring mother”?
Me: Oh my god. I feel free. I would feel free to tell her I’m a little scared. I didn’t even tell her that because, you know, I was 50 years old at the time. (nervous laugh) I wanted to tell her “I’m kind of nervous about this, this is the first time I’m going to be on my own, What was it like after dad died and you were on your own? Was it scary for you?” There could have been a REAL conversation. Tell her what was really going on, without that thought.
(long pause) Ohhh, what a difference without that thought. Yea.I could actually let her really see me. Warts and all. Huh. It just feels so different.
Me: Without that thought. It’s just like… if I didn’t understand, I could just say, I don’t understand what you mean. I could be free to talk to her like I talk to you or Sheldon. When I don’t understand something, I just say I don’t understand. It feels comfortable and real.
Karen: Turn the thought around “she’s a selfish, uncaring mother”
Me: She’s not selfish and she’s caring. She really wants to know what’s going on with me. She wants to know, that’s not very selfish.
Me: I’m assuming she’s asking because she cares what’s going on. Yea, for all I know, maybe she knows how much I love to be warm and be in the sun, for all I know, maybe she thought I would be happier and that northern Florida would be too cold for me. Who knows, I didn’t ask. I’m seeing possibilities, where I wasn’t before. I didn’t see options before.
Hm. (long pause) Well I know when I visit, she’s really thrilled to see me and when it’s time to go, she doesn’t want me to. She must like me. I’m starting to think that maybe I’ve been twisting everything she says or does seeing it through selfish eyes. That’s astounding to me.
Karen: So what’s that turnaround.
Me: I’m selfish and uncaring.
Karen: To my mother.
Me: To my mom. I’m selfish in that I don’t give her ANY benefit of the doubt. Or even ask. I make up my own story, and that’s it. That’s pretty selfish. It’s like I don’t give her a chance. I make a story and run with, make a story, run with it, make a story, run with it. And that’s not terribly caring. I certainly wouldn’t want someone to do that to me. God no. It’s like please CONSIDER ME. Please just ask. Don’t…
Me: You know, and I have had thoughts that maybe she might come live with me someday. And now I’m seeing the possibility of saying “I would like to live in the south too, but I have these concerns. I’ll just move to St Augustine and get settled there, because I know someone that’s there. And then maybe someday if we want to live more south, we can do that.” There’s just many more possibilities opening up in my head, than I had initially thought.
Me: She seems like a nicer person now. (laughing)
Karen: Funny that.
Me: She IS a nice person.
Karen: Yea, and it’s our thoughts and beliefs about them that make it any different. And we believe them SO strongly.
Me: Yes, I was… oh my god. I thought, “Karen is going to get to see (laughing) how terrible my mom is!”
Karen: Yep. It’s okay. I’ve got the same mother, remember. I put mine through the wringer too. Don’t worry. Been there, done that.
Me: (still laughing) Oh wow.
Karen: So “she’s a selfish, uncaring mother.” We’ve done the opposite. We’ve done to her. What’s the turnaround to ‘self’ here.
Me: I’m a selfish, uncaring mother….
Karen: “I’m a selfish, uncaring mother to myself”
Me: Yea. Well, the ‘I’ in this case would be the ego, the one that thinks it knows exactly who someone is, and why they do what they do. That is very uncaring and selfish to ME. The real me. For sure. Because it doesn’t give a chance for love. It doesn’t give anything a chance. Just shuts everything down. It’s like a judge with a gavel and bangs on the thing and says “I deem this this way” and boom, it’s done. Very selfish and uncaring to be so hemmed in and closed off. Hemmed into one story and that’s it. There’s so many more possibilities out there.
Karen: And how do you treat yourself in terms of a mother… nurturing. I’m selfish and uncaring, at nurturing myself?
Me: (pause) Well, I can see the selfish part is the part that says this hurts me so I’m going to just shut down and shut off, get away, not deal with this. It’s very focused on that. So far as mothering, it’s not very helpful to me. Like if I was mothering myself in the situation, the uncaring part is not recognizing that it’s not helping me. I’m stumbling and falling and trying to do the best I can and… and it’s not helping me to… The way I’ve been protecting myself is not helping me to grow or feel more love for my mom. It’s not very nurturing.
Oh yea. Ohhhhh. I had made a decision that a real relationship with my mom wasn’t possible. And that I was okay with that. But I can see now, that it MAY be possible. I can’t do anything about her, but I certainly can be different with her. More myself with her. More honest, more real, staying connected with myself when I’m with her. It’s a judgment call on what to share. But I think just staying more connected with myself would go a long ways in my relationship with her.
Me: Because when I disconnect from her, I’m disconnecting from me too. It’s happening almost simultaneously. It would actually be kind of interesting with her now. If I stay connected to myself, I’m just wondering (laughing) what would happen?
Karen: You’ll be amazed at how different the conversation is. It’s very different.
Me: How long have you been working on the mom stuff? And able to stay connected with yourself while talking to her?
Karen: I started having real conversations with her about 12 months ago. And the first one of those was… I couldn’t believe it when I got off the phone because I didn’t feel tense, and anxious, and agitated anymore. That’s what I noticed the most.
Karen: I actually felt quite okay when I got off the phone and it was like, oh my god, I can have a conversation with her and not be stressed about it!
Me: Yea, cause I’m usually looking forward to getting off the phone. (laughing)
Karen: Yea, yea. Serious. I been there Jennifer. I understand. That feeling was huge. And it was like “ouu, I could do this again.” There’s been several times when something she’s says triggers me. I would go into my story and be off, and I’d notice it. So it wasn’t perfect. It’s been a journey. And as I said, I rang her on Sunday night, out of the blue, and sat talking to her for about three quarters of an hour.
Karen: We had a great conversation. We were both happy, and laughing and joking. It was just a nice conversation.
Karen: No stress, no pressure, no anything. That was no angst around it. Got off the phone and was “oh cool.” So it’s when you have that first conversation and realize how different you feel within your own self, that’s what’s nice.
Me: Do you want her to open up to you?
Karen: Well our conversations are different.
Me: Okay. That’s something I don’t get really from my mom.
Karen: Are you opening up to her?
Me: And to some degree I can’t fault her because she doesn’t know how.
Karen: Are you opening up to her?
Karen: Are you opening up to her? You don’t open up to her, right?
Me: Yea, right. No No.
Karen: That’s the difference. I never use to listen to my mother, right? Now, I have a conversation with her because I listen to her and hear her. And it then means that my response is very different.
Karen: I can now say to her “Well I don’t agree with that” or my perspective is blah, blah, blah, blah. We have that conversation.
Karen: And what I find is, she’s less angry, she’s not angsty either because I’m not angry and angsty.
Karen: You know what I mean? So the whole tone of the conversation is different, and yea she opens up. She’ll tell me things now that she would not have done before because we have an open conversation. Because I’m more open.
Me: Right. Okay. But it starts with… Yea, it’s all about you.
Karen: Yea, it is.
Me: Yea, I guess in the beginning I’m going to pay attention and notice if I disconnect from myself and her, notice that happening. I might have to do more… I’m sure… a little more work on her. The biggest thing I’m taking away from this, I’m seeing that I was very definite. You know what I mean?
Me: I was so definite. She IS this. And I just have to learn to deal with what is.
Me: She is selfish. She’s not one of those giving, caring, loving, nurturing mothers. That’s just the facts man. (laughing) And I just have to learn to live with that. And now I’m starting to wonder about that. Huhhhh, I could be wrong! (laughing)
Karen: Dangggg (laughing)
Me: Oh wouldn’t it be cool if I came to find out she’s the mother I always wanted.
Karen: Yea, exactly.
Me: Thank you Karen.
- When I think I know who my mother is and why she does and says stuff, my natural curiosity goes out the window. When I don’t understand her, I answer the question immediately and it doesn’t occur to me to ask HER about it. I think I have her all figured out. In a way, I haven’t been having a relationship with my mom, I’ve been having a relationship with who I THINK mom is.
- Because I think I know who she is, I don’t give her the benefit of the doubt. I assume her motives are wrong and bad, almost immediately.
- When I’m emotionally uncomfortable, I shut down and want to get away from her. And, I don’t realize that’s what’s happening.
- When I don’t like her, I don’t like me. It feels icky.