A Mother Daughter Relationship ~ From Broken to Whole


When I first began sorting out the kind of impact my parents had had in forming what I believed about myself, I was certain that my Mom had done more damage to me than my Dad. I felt my anger mostly towards her (I was aware of very little anger towards my Dad). When I considered my relationship with my Mom, even though I knew there were good things there, I felt this guilty, restless frustration. I had this feeling of wanting to break free from something but I didn’t know what. I felt hurt and protective but I didn’t exactly know why.

I know now that my anger was there for a variety of reasons. Even though I was a very shy and sensitive child, obedient and well-behaved, my anger came out towards my Mom in fitful fights. It was easiest for me to show my anger to my Mom. However, my anger was treated as disobedience and disrespect; our fights would resolve when I apologized for “getting mad.”  I learned that showing my emotions were somehow bad. I also grew extremely observant of my Mom’s reactions to me and instinctively came to know that my strong emotions really unsettled her. Without the words being spoken, I learned very early on that I had to be “okay” in order for my Mom to be “okay.” This was a heavy burden of responsibility, but as a child I didn’t know that. I just didn’t want my Mom to be sad, and I truly wanted to be the good girl that she wanted me to be. As I grew older, I stuffed my hurt and anger away. I didn’t understand why it was there and assumed that I was ungrateful and at fault for even having it. I felt guilty about it. My Mom was a very nice woman, consistent and always there for me. What right did I have to feel dissatisfied or upset? Sometimes what seemed to be an unimportant issue between us would cause my anger to flare up, but I would apologize and we would continue on.

My Dad’s passivity and emotional uninvolvement plugged the belief into my earliest foundations that I was not worth being pursued, not worth being known for who I really was. My Mom was more proactive as a parent in teaching me why I was valuable; but she unintentionally taught me that I was “valuable because”, that I would be good enough “if”…  There were burdensome realities in what I learned from her about my value that held me back from getting where I wanted to go. I knew that she desperately wanted me to be happy; I tried very hard to be happy by seeking to fulfill these value requirements.  I also knew that my Mom wanted us to be close and I wanted us to be close too; we did grow close, in a very intertwined kind of way. But even our closeness had rules that made me feel confined.  My depression only got worse. Here I was, a beautiful, talented woman from what appeared to be a very healthy family- what was wrong with me? Why couldn’t I get it together?

The next few posts are all about the belief system I received from my Mom. They are also about our mother daughter relationship- how it was broken before and how it is healing now. My Mom, Debbie, will be joining me in writing this series, and I am excited to welcome her here. It is our hope that through our honesty and candid sharing, hope and healing will be inspired in any number of ways for your own story.


19 response to "A Mother Daughter Relationship ~ From Broken to Whole"

  1. By: Lenay Posted: 21st February

    I am the mother and I have a daughter that absolutely hates me. I have done all I knew how to be a good mom. I was also a single mom and my children’s father never took them every other week end as the court ordered. I held down a full time job paid out day care along with keeping up the home front. My children had packed lunches, full sit down dinner’s, over nite friends, who, all seemed to congregate at our home. I was glad for that in a way, but it added to my house work, which many times the friends pitched in to help with. I used to think it was because I always had a full refrigerator and homemade cookies, which needed to last for school lunches but rarely made it. I went to school open houses, saw that homework got done, cuddled my children, got them the Christmas and birthday gifts they asked for. Still to this day I experience resentment from my daughter and the most calloused out bursts that are hurtful and hateful. I sought out help during her eating disorder years and of course blamed myself for everything that was wrong in her life. I am now 68, and still dealing with it! I’ve not spoken to her for several days and have vowed to not answer a call should it come in. I have to distance myself from her for my own sanity. I cannot allow this adult to cause me any more painful hours! I have finally had enough. My trust in her ability to establish a relationship with me is gone. In her latest e mail she said “I am done!” I have decided that I am to and I just can’t allow myself to be pulled into her drama’s again. She has a daughter has been married twice now and both relationships were and are dysfunctional. She is close to her Dad who has always shown favoritism between she and my son. I have always tried to prop her up, but I just don’t have in me anymore. In fact I think I’m at the point of giving up on her, and being done with her as well. I will miss my grand daughter but I have to go thru her to see my 12 year old granddaughter and of course she shares every thing with her. I can’t believe how awful I feel about this situation but it is time for me to seek peace in my life, and the rocky road I have dealt with as far as she is concerned. It is the most toxic relationship I have ever had in my life. I’m glad she is done because as far as I am concerned I am too. Let go let love!

  2. By: Carla Posted: 7th June

    Hi Adelaide~ For me, finally learning the truth about my value and who I was was very hopeful and exciting. I found the answers that I had been looking for for a very long time. Writing here gives me the opportunity to share these answers with others, to share the hope in knowing that our struggles have real reasons and are not evidence that we are just messed up somehow. Thanks Adelaide ~Carla

  3. By: Adelaide Posted: 7th June


    Please tell me what you wanted to share you message with the world? Was it to help them or the need to shout to the world that you are recovering?


    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 7th June

      Hello Adelaide,
      Although Carla wrote this post, you have addressed this comment to me, so I will answer and maybe Carla will answer too. =)
      There are many reasons that I decided to write my story in this blog. When public speaking about my recovery from depression and so many other mental health issues, I was surprised by the reactions that I got from the audience and wanted to increase my reach by going online with my message. I am passionate about telling others that full recovery is possible, that there is hope. I struggled most of my life, but I no longer have to because I found out how to drill down and find the lies and replace them with the truth.
      Thanks for being here!
      Hugs, Darlene

  4. By: Carla Dippel Posted: 28th May

    Patricia, it’s true. I am truly blessed, and I know that this is not everyone’s story. My Mom had a choice and she chose to change how she thought about things so that we could have a healthier relationship. It’s really different now than it used to be- we are learning to have a relationship because we want to, not because we need to or because we should. It’s a gradually evolving kind of thing…

    Thank you for your comment and for sharing your story too. I think many children take on the role of protecting their parents, even carried into adulthood. Somehow that gets mixed in with what we think love is… It becomes a burden that really isn’t our responsibility to bear. Thank you for being here and sharing your inspiration and freedom. ~Carla

  5. By: Patricia - Spiritual Journey Of A Lightworker Posted: 27th May

    Emotionally I saw two extremes with my parents. My dad was a rageaholic (don’t know if that is a real word or if I made it up) and my mom simply didn’t appear to feel anything. I became the protector of my mom so she didn’t have to feel any pain. She couldn’t see what was happening to me because then she would have felt her own pain and she just wasn’t willing to go there. I don’t know why she was the way she was. We never discussed it.

    Carla, you are truly blessed to have a good relationship with your mother today. Thanks for sharing your story this way. My mother died before I started writing on my blog. She never read anything that I wrote.

  6. By: Carla Dippel Posted: 26th May

    Jenny, welcome here and thank you for your comment. I am happy that this post has been an encouragment to you, and I hope your relationship with your daughter will grow as you help her accept her emotions (and your’s too!) That is wonderful. Thanks Jenny~ Carla

  7. By: Carla Dippel Posted: 26th May

    Lisa, wow. You hit lots of nails on the head here! I love how you say it just like it is and you’ve got such a strong understanding of your fears. I can empathize with them~ that fear of our real selves and feelings being dismissed and discounted by someone who’s opinion we hold in high esteem… I have faced that very fear in writing this series! The rock bottom truth that I come back to is that I will not squish myself out for the sake of someone else, no matter what role they play in my life. That’s not the definition of real love for me anymore- I am worthy to exist as I am and in all the fullness of “me”. How others choose to respond to that is not my responsibility. I sense that you have a lot to offer in the truth that you feel and the writing gift that you have. I cheer you on as you sort through your process, and thanks so much for sharing it here. Hugs to you~ Carla

  8. By: Carla Dippel Posted: 26th May

    Melissa, thank you for being here. I am so sorry for the wounds you write about… And at the same time feel excited for you, in how you are facing the pain and anger, and pursuing the freedom and the real love that you are worthy of. I find great hope in knowing that I have the ability to love myself as I am worthy to be loved. This, and understanding how my wounds happened in the first place, is what brings me freedom. I hope you will keep reading and sharing with us here. Hugs to you ~Carla

  9. By: Jenny Posted: 26th May

    Thank you for the insight…it will help me in helping my daughter to be okay with her emotions….my mother was very unaccepting of my emotions as well….she too is uncomfortable expressing herself.

  10. By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 26th May

    Hi Lisa, I am mexico and just quickly checking on things online, but there is a long post from you above, written about 4 minutes before you thought it disapeared. I think sometimes there is a delay in the postings.
    I am looking forward to catching up with your comments when I get home, (I see that you have commented on a few of my posts too!) Good to have you here!

    Hi Carla,
    I am looking forward to the series with you Mom!!
    Hugs, Darlene

  11. By: Lisa Posted: 26th May

    I just wrote a long post in response to this…and it disappeared AFTER I saw it here. Please tell me it is somewhere out there in the ether!!

  12. By: Lisa Posted: 26th May

    As usual, Carla, your post speaks to me at my core. I too feel jealous of your relationship with your mother. I have a good relationship with my mother in that we get along and don’t fight and even have fun most of the time. But of course I am never my true self when around her and need weeks of recovery time after one of her visits…and that’s when we DO NOT fight!

    The idea of showing her anything I’ve written is beyond the pale. There is just no way. Which, of course, contributes to my own writer’s block. I can’t write honestly while there’s even the smallest chance she could read something I’ve written. I tell myself this is because I don’t want her to be hurt by it…and I don’t, but that’s not the real reason. At least not the ONLY real reason. I don’t want to be hurt by her dismissal or denial of it. I don’t want to feel the things myself. I don’t want to seem like I’m blaming her for all my problems. Etc. She ridiculed my writing always and now she wants me to write “the Great American Novel” so I can support her. Do I not write to punish her? If so, it’s pretty lame, as I’m only punishing myself. I’m 42 years old. There’s no more, “I’m going to write someday.” Someday has come and gone.

    But the truth is there is a damaged child who is still making (bad) decisions for my life. There is no denying that. And until I deal with her, I will stay stuck in this dark place. Hoping, wishing, praying for deliverance, while continuing to make choices that keep me sick.

    Anyway, thank you for your post, and I hope that this blog can help me break through as well.

  13. By: Melissa Posted: 25th May

    The hardest thing I have had to realize was that I was treated horribly by my parents. I believed I didn’t matter, I was a whore or if I talked or caused a fuss I was bad and I suffered the consequences. Having just realized this as the woman I am today I feel a great amount of anger and resentment. I feel justified in my anger, and, yet, I feel like I have moved through my anger (at least in this very moment) to move on and embrace the freedom of this presenting opportunity I have to live bonded by my family’s rules for how I will get love or be loved or even have any of my emotional needs met.

  14. By: Carla Dippel Posted: 25th May

    Kristen, welcome here! I am so glad that our blog and my writings are helping you to feel validated, to know that you were not just born that way and weren’t meant to feel so low about yourself. I really understand where you are coming from – when there doesn’t seem to be much in our childhoods to work with, it can be really tricky to understand why those low feelings are there. Over time I came to trust that my low feelings told their own story, that they were there for a reason. Hugs to you as you work to gain your own understanding and see the truth in your own story… It is great to have you here Kristen! ~Carla

  15. By: Carla Dippel Posted: 25th May

    Cyndi, I don’t think those feelings are ugly at all… They make a lot of sense. Thank you for being so honest. I am fortunate to have a mother who is willing to find healing for herself. If this hadn’t happened, I don’t know where our relationship would be today. I believe the roots of the brokenness in our relationship are the same ones at the heart of other broken relationships as well. Thank you for being here and I look forward to hearing more of your voice throughout the series! ~Carla

  16. By: Kristen Posted: 25th May

    I can’t even begin to explain how amazed I am. Everything you write, Carla, could be my story as well. Only I’m just getting started in figuring all of this out. I wonder so much what is wrong with me – a lot of times I don’t feel like I even deserve to feel the way I do. Naturally, my parents are slightly different – but for the most part, there’s nothing that I can see in my childhood that could account for why I think so low of myself. I began therapy about 6 months ago, but I am only just now starting to get more consistent sessions..I have been having a hard time talking about the ways I think of myself, because it seemed hopeless since I’ve pretty much convinced myself I was just born this way. Finding this site is more of a blessing than I can explain…I don’t feel so illegitimate anymore. Granted, this feeling seems very fleeting, but reading everything both you and Darlene have posted (and I’m only just getting started!) is truly a turning point. Thank you for sharing your experiences. I so look forward to reading more.

  17. By: Cyndi Posted: 25th May

    Well, this post brought out a truly unexpected emotional response in me. I identified with much of it, particularly the parts about being a good girl (for me that was to avoid my father’s rage & abuse) and about being good enough “if”. But at the end I was jealous. Your mother is actively involved in your life and is going to participate in writing posts about your relationship?! That is truly amazing to me and my immediate emotional response is jealousy. Ugly and immature? Maybe. But that’s me right now. My narcissistic mother denies reality, re-writes history and rarely even reads what I write. In fact, she tries to talk me out of writing every chance she gets. I am really looking forward to reading what the two of you have to say.

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