Ask Dr. Z
By Laura Zipris, Psy. D., LMHC
Dear Dr. Z.-
I know many people have “mother issues.” But I can’t wrap my head around mine.
I love my mom, but I don’t like her. I know we are all “supposed to” love our mothers and preferably get along with them, like them, and WANT to spend time with them.
But I don’t. I haven’t really liked my mother in 20 years. Even before that it was a love-hate thing at times. The part that bothers me most about this is that my mother is slowly dying (over the past 10 years) of cancer. I see her losing her memory and awareness, and I feel I should just be the good daughter and LOVE her as much as she wants to be loved. (She is very touchy-feely and I am not). But every time I am around her I feel stress and just want to leave.
At times I have felt resentment of her behavior and I wish she would just pass on and let my father and the rest of us live out our lives. That’s a terrible thing to say, but she has been sucking the life out of our family for 10 years, and I don’t know how to breathe any more life into our relationship.
So on one hand I feel guilty for not being a better daughter and on the other I feel that I must take care of myself first and keep some self-preservation.
Is it crazy to feel both things at once…. anger & love? Guilt & resentment?
Feeling mixed emotions in your intimate relationships is completely normal. Mother and daughter relationships in particular can be quite loaded and it sounds like you and your mother have had a challenging relationship for a long time.
We never know how much time we have left with our loved ones but in your case it is even more highlighted, as your days left with your mother are finite. It is in that vein that I strongly encourage you to get clear about what you need to do to make peace within. That does not mean that you agree with your mother or condone her past behaviors. It doesn’t even mean that you ignore your feelings or deny your experiences. What it does mean is that you think about doing some therapeutic work individually (and possibly together) to elevate to a place of acceptance and clarity about the love you give and the boundaries you need to set.
Very few things in life are absolute but death is one of them. My worry for you is that if you choose to do nothing, you will be burdened with regrets and feelings of guilt. I encourage you to think of the time you have left together with your mother as an opportunity. At best, you may possibly achieve acceptance and resolution and at the least, you may find some inner peace.
Laura Zipris holds a doctorate in Psychology and is licensed to practice psychotherapy in New York, as well as in Florida. Laura is certified in Imago Relationship Therapy, a transformational approach that has been used successfully with couples around the world to help them to strengthen their partnerships, deepen their connection and reignite their passion for one another. Laura sees individuals of all ages and sexual orientations, couples, families, and groups in her offices located in Wellington and Delray Beach. In addition to her psychotherapy practice, Dr. Zipris works part time as a licensed school psychologist for the Palm Beach County School District.
For more information about Laura, please visit her website at www.drlaurazipris.com or to set up an appointment, contact Laura directly at (561) 558-7815.
Questions for this column should be sent to Dr. “Z” at Drlaurazip@gmail.com