Mother’s Day and Dysfunctional Mother Daughter Relationship



mothers day
and then there is peace

Dear Mom,

Each Mothers day I am more aware of my freedom and farther away from the oppression that I used to be under. As I get farther away from the domination, I remember things that I am not so reluctant to remember and I am willing and able to talk about them with more freedom and way less fear.  I know what I was so afraid of and why It was so hard for me to admit out loud how dysfunctional our mother daughter relationship really was and how hurt that I was by your actions and reactions.

I remember that one time that Dad gave us kids money to go to the store and buy you a gift for mothers day. We walked to the department store by ourselves; we were just kids; we didn’t have a clue what we were doing. I don’t know why I remember this so clearly, I guess it was traumatic for me. I remember how hard it was for us three kids to figure out what to get you. We were totally lost! We looked at so many things, deciding and debating over all of them.  I don’t know why we settled on that set of new dishes. We had to carry them all that way home. They were so heavy but we were pretty excited that we had done this by ourselves. And we had done it for you.  I felt proud of myself.

I’m still sorry about that day Mom. It took a long time for me to realize that it wasn’t MY fault and that it wasn’t my failure, and although today I know that you felt justified in your reaction, you never realized how much damage it did. We were just little kids Mom.  We were just trying to make you happy.

I still remember how you opened the gift, and your face fell.  I remember my stomach lurched. I felt a bit of fear. And you were angry. You looked at Dad; I sort of knew that you were mad that he didn’t take us shopping to get you a proper gift, or maybe I just know that now. You told him to take the dishes back to the store. And you were mad at us. You didn’t even acknowledge us, or our efforts. You started to cry and you left the room.  I felt like a worm. What were we thinking buying you dishes?!!  I still feel the shame of getting you the wrong gift. I should have known better. I was the GIRL. I should have thought of something better.  You were devastated ~ as though the fact that we picked that gift proved that we didn’t love you and that it proved that we really were useless children.  I wanted to crawl into the floor.  The whole day was wrecked. You cried all day and you and Dad fought. I am not sure what you fought about; maybe about how stupid I was to have brought home that set of dishes for mother’s day. As a child, self blame had become a way of life.

And now I am a Mother. I have always worried that my reaction to a gift might leave that kind of scar on one of my kids. It has caused me a lot of anxiety around opening gifts. It doesn’t matter what the occasion is, I have this fear of having the wrong reaction when I open a gift; what if I don’t like it? What if they can tell that I don’t like it? I hate that I think about my reaction so much that I don’t actually have a spontaneous reaction.  This continues to be something that I am working on.   

I have never had one mother’s day (since before I was a mother, or since I became a mother) that I didn’t remember that disastrous mother’s day from my childhood.

I suspect that you feel justified about the fact that we don’t have a mother daughter relationship anymore. I suspect that you wish that I was different and that you believe that this is my entire fault. You always blamed me for everything. I know that in your mind I am the one that hurt you. But that is not my problem anymore because I know the truth.  I was the child. It was not up to me to restore your value.

I remember when you “predicted” that this would happen; you said that your biggest fear was that I would use the kids as a weapon against you and that I would one day “take them away from you”. I realize that this was another typical manipulation statement so that I would think twice about standing up to you. To make me second guess my emerging thoughts about how strange our relationship really was.  

But in the end you are the one that walked away from them. Well I guess it doesn’t matter does it? I knew in my heart from the time that they were born, that the day would come when you would try to poison their minds against me, because that is your way. That is the way that you survived; by knocking everyone else down. All the gossiping and stirring up trouble, twisting stories just enough or leaving out the whole story to change it into something more dramatic. Always dividing all other relationships so that you would be seen as the most important one. I don’t miss that and I am relieved that my children don’t have to be a part of it.

I do not have a mother anymore, and you do not have a daughter. It seems so very sad and even ODD and yet… it seems honest and even right somehow too.  It seems like a fitting end to a very emotionally unhealthy and dysfunctional mother daughter relationship; as though truth, freedom, wholeness and recovery were born out of this whole thing. I am so thankful that something amazing came out of the pain. I came out of that pain. I found the real me. I emerged out of the dysfunction and I discovered who I really am. I am not at all who you always said that I was.

P.S. Do you ever think of me? Do you wonder how I am? Do you wish that things were different between us? I just can’t help but let my mind wonder in that direction once in a while. Especially now at this time of year when it is “mothers day”. Sometimes when I am alone in the dark, when I feel really discarded and really vulnerable and even a little bit all alone, I pretend that you are being forbidden to contact me. I tell myself that your controlling husband won’t let you make this right with me; that he won’t let you be my mother. I know that is just a silly fantasy, like a wish and a grieving process all in one because I know that you have a choice but yet it is so hard for me to believe and to accept that you don’t want to have a relationship with me unless it is on your terms and it is still painful to know that I was that disposable and that forgettable just because I said “no more mistreatment”.  

And I know that is not really about me……

                                                             and I still want to wish you a Happy Mother’s Day

Your only Daughter,

Darlene Ouimet

Happy Mother’s day to everyone here; in a way we all have to become our own mothers and fathers in order to heal that pain of dysfunctional parents, to set in place our misplaced self esteem and value. Please share whatever you wish.  Hugs! Darlene

Related Post ~ please read my new post on the Survivor Manual Site ~ Survivors, Mother’s Day and Mixed Emotions

To read other related posts please visit the mother daughter category tab and the family category tab.

 The Emerging from Broken book is ready for download! If you find that the subject matter I am writing about resonates with you, get this book today! This 197 page, downloadable, printable, live linked e-book will put you on the fast track to healing.  Get yours here through the upper right side bar or click this link~ Emerging from Broken The Beginning of Hope for Emotional Healing


183 response to "Mother’s Day and Dysfunctional Mother Daughter Relationship"

  1. By: Jessica Posted: 5th May

    Thank you Darlene, that is a very true point 🙂

  2. By: Jessica Posted: 5th May

    ^^^ I meant honoring your mother when she has NOT been that.

  3. By: Jessica Posted: 5th May

    The thing I struggle with is Mothers Day is to honor your mother for being just that. How do you show gratitude toward someone who has abused you? Who says your PTSD is all made up in your head. Who continues to devalue who you are as a way to protect her own false image of YOU being the problem? How do you get past the guilt that you should be honoring her?

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 5th May

      Hi Jessica
      I had to think about the true meaning of Honor. I asked myself why it WAS honorable to show acceptance for being treated that way? I realized that it isn’t love for my mother to accept and there by give her permission, to treat me the way that she did. It isn’t love for me or for her. I have no guilt today since I started to look at what those expressions really mean.
      hugs, Darlene

  4. By: MZC Posted: 4th May

    My mother rarely appreciated anything I got her so now I don’t get her anything. I could, I suppose, use my gift as a weapon like she did with mine last Christmas–she handed me a carelessly wrapped present of three of those birds you get in the craft department to put in floral arrangements. Must have cost her all of a buck. I smiled, said thank you, and gave them to my daughter who enjoys tschotkes like that. One memorable year she gave me a vase with fake flowers that were stuck in an acrylic base that was supposed to resemble water, I guess. It was the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen. She got it for me, and this is a quote, “Because it was on sale.” I only heard, “I despise you.” I did buy her a present this year, I suppose–I bought the German edition of *For Your Own Good: Hidden Cruelty in Child-rearing and the Roots of Violence*” Interesting to see how that goes over. Alice Miller could have been writing about my mother in the description of the abused child, especially since she was writing much about German child-rearing.

  5. By: MZC Posted: 4th May

    Oh, crud, another mother’s day coming up.

  6. By: Francine Posted: 4th May

    I found out 2 years ago that my mother lied to us for forty years. A huge family secret that destroyed our family, caused the divorce of my parents, and wounded us all. She kicked my dad out of the house, said the divorce was all his fault, and kept us distanced from him. On his death bed, he told us the truth.

    She had multiple affairs, had a child by another man, raised us strictly religious, emotionally abused us, beat us, and accused us of being evil when we were just little children with no idea of the evil she lived herself. DNA has proven the truth and she still denies she had an affair. I have asked five times if we could talk about her abuse, so I can get closure on my past and give forgiveness. She doesn’t want to discuss it, and now has turned my siblings (even the illegitimate one) against me.

    I am done. No more reaching out, trying to mend the past. I will not subject myself to her lies one more time. She will face the end of her life without me, and I will not be persuaded to attend her funeral by anyone. I am no longer grieving over her wrongs. I can’t changed what happened to me, with or without her. I’ve accepted it and have raised my children with love and honesty.

    This Mother’s Day will be pain free. I’ll spend it with my own children, and we will love each other honestly and openly. No more abuse. It ends here.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 5th May

      Hi Francine!
      Yay for raising your children with love and honesty in spite of what happened in your own childhood!
      Thanks for sharing!
      hugs, Darlene

  7. By: Nancy Martinez Posted: 31st March

    My mother was never please with any gift. We were very poor so birthday or mother’s day sometimes mean just a card and a flower and hugs but she will ALWAYS pushed me away and tell me—if you really love me be a good girl and do what I say—this happened anytime I will try to hug her and tell her that I loved her. The couple times I was able to effort a rose she throw it to the floor and asked me to be a better daughter in stead, that she would appreciate it more.I always felt inadequate and stupid. And of course she always make sure I feel that way!

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 31st March

      Hi Nancy
      My heart goes out to yours! What an awful way to be treated by your own mother! It is wonderful that you can see the truth about her now. 🙂 Thanks for sharing.
      Hugs, Darlene

  8. By: John Posted: 30th March

    Darlene!! Your mom is a sociopath!!

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 31st March

      Hi Everyone,
      Just wanted to bring your awareness to a new post on the home page today! Guest Author Carrie shares the grief over being ignored by her family of origin when she drew her boundary. This post is beautifully written and so full of emotional honesty. I hope you will share your thoughts with Carrie ~ here is the link: Self Love and Navigating the Waters of Grief by Carrie H
      Hugs, Darlene

  9. By: Sariah Shepherd Posted: 30th March

    The last few paragraphs brought tears to my eyes when you wrote. Not because of the fact that you no longer have a relationship with her, but because of the fact that you were never worth her time to CHANGE. And never worth her time to truly repent and apologize. It’s hard for me to accept that a person like your mother will go to Heaven–as much as she displays she is a spiritual person. She reminds me of my mother. We are always the problem, but like you said, we never were the problem. THEY were the dysfunctional ones we just broke free from it.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 31st March

      Hi Sariah
      Welcome to EFB and thank you for sharing. I think that was the most painful part of this whole thing for me, but once I saw the truth, I was able to accept, grieve what I finally realized I never had, and take my life back.
      It’s awesome!
      hugs, Darlene

  10. By: Lora Posted: 30th March

    This made me feel very sad and hurt for you Darlene. I’m always amazed at how I can feel for other people but not for myself. Maybe it’s through feeling for other people we learn to feel for ourselves, I’m not sure but what I do know is that it does connect me to my own feelings.

    It brought back my own memories and how I dreaded mother’s day. I tried so hard to make it the perfect day for her but she always found a way to tear it all down and I would feel like crap. She had this uncanny way of making me feel like the worst daughter. I could never get things just right for her and it made gift giving more of a chore that a joy.

    I can see more clearly now why buying gifts for people stresses me out. I feel awkward receiving them as well as giving because I don’t know how to respond in a natural way. Like you I think so much about how I “should” react instead of just letting myself relax and just be.

    Unlearning behaviour is so challenging but it’s worth the effort. I never really thought about it before until you broke it all down. I know for me I need to see how messed up something is before I can bring clarity into the situation. This is why support has been invaluable to me. A fresh perspective does wonders on breaking through the dysfunctional thinking process.

    I am so grateful that you do what you do and I really wished more mothers understood the gravity of their bond with their children. I chose not to have children because I was so scarred up believing I would do the same damage to my own children. I never thought of this before, but my choice for not having children comes from a wounded place. I take responsibility for my choice to not have children, but a part of me feels sad for the reasons I chose not too.

    What gives me the most peace is knowing I didn’t abuse my children. I don’t know if I could have lived with myself if I did. It’s difficult enough facing what I am facing, never mind adding to what I did to my children. I just wished more mothers would take accountability and do this work so they can help their child and themselves heal. I believe the healing process would move along quicker and be more effective if they did work together. I’m just grateful that I could do this on my own, otherwise if I depended on my own mom, I would be just as sick as her.

    Thank you for all you do Darlene, Namaste!

  11. By: Shelley Raptis Posted: 30th March

    Almost every gift I gave mom would be met with a sneer & nasty comments like; “Why did you get me get me this sh**?”…”I hate perfumes &scents”..”I hate flowers..these have bugs!”…”I would never wear THAT!” ..
    “I never watch damn TV..(she does!) Asks my sister “DO you want it?..Take it!” ..and she took it. :/
    All gifts were given RIGHT back to me with never even a glance to see how shocked & hurt I was from it.
    The rest of the visit she would be quietly seething with disgust…..she has been this way. Always.
    This type of rejection has been an underlying currant from her my ENTIRE life.
    She would tell others relatives or friends what worthless &$*% kids she had while praising their children…..never once her own to this day.
    This type of reaction made it unbearable for me to ipen gifts from anyone nor did I want to send them gifts out of fear of what you wrote..that uncomfortable feeling of not having the right reaction was terrifying..even if they did like it I felt uncomfortable. Takes the happiness out of giving & receiving and no one should feel that way. :/
    I found myself overly exaggerating my response of thanks to anything given me whether a gift or a card..or a complement..NEVER wanted one person to feel rejected or that I was ungrateful like I had been my whole life.
    I now give gift certificates..much less anxiety and plead to not get me anything.
    Even sent my mom via email the same..IF she got them in person she would find a reason to hand them right back so I took that chance away from her.
    It will be one year since I went no contact other than a one “minute” phone call last week in which I was tricked into calling her so she could “attempt” to get the last word in from my last letter…she didn’t but it allowed me to see my sisters in a much more clearer light & now not speaking to one sister ever again-(found out what “flying monkey” really means!)
    Lies upon lies and I can not have that in my life…the absence of ALL that toxic shame & madness has NOT been missed for one second in the last year.
    My circle of family & friends are down to a few truly loving & honest ones.
    I breathe 10X better leaving the old roles behind & will never be in that position of being dumped on ever again or allowing someone to SUCK the joy out of me!
    A friend told me a quote I love..”My scars can’t CHANGE how I see the Sunshine.” 🙂
    You have helped me tremendously more than you know Darlene…many heartfelt thanks..sincerely! <3

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 30th March

      Hi Shelley
      I TOTALLY relate to your comments. I had so much anxiety at Christmas when my own kids gave me gifts. I was so afraid of hurting them the way I had been hurt. My life is 100% different today since I worked through this stuff and validated the pain it caused me. Thanks for sharing,
      hugs, Darlene

      Hi Lora
      I know what you are talking about!! I don’t miss any of that anxiety of trying to do something special for my mother and the dread that it would not be ‘good enough’. ugg.
      Thanks for sharing,
      hugs, Darlene

  12. By: Mandi Posted: 30th March

    Yow Darlene! I can so feel your pain in this post….. I could have written it myself! In my case, though, we bought mom a beautiful white straw purse that had a box of Whitman chocolates in it. Dad took us shopping, and we could buy whatever. Needless to say, whatever I had a hand in picking out was always wrong …. and this one, like your dishes, was way wrong and the horrible feelings associated with that present are still there…. 55 years later! Hugs to you, Darlene!

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 30th March

      Hi Mandi,
      Welcome to EFB ~ I hear you! One cool thing that did happen is that today I realize that her reaction was so much more about her that it ever was about me. There is so much freedom and healing in knowing that!
      hugs, Darlene

  13. By: Leaving dysfunction Posted: 30th March

    I’ve always wondered why I hate giving gifts because I’m afraid of how people will react or if they will like it. Though I don’t know if it has anything to do with my mom.

    I always feel odd when Mother’s Day comes, because my mom is ill but also because we pretend the relationship is ok. It’s the same for Father’s Day as well. I don’t have “those” types of relationships with my parents. It’s sad.

    I’m glad you have been able to be healthy for your own family and be an amazing mom to your children. I bet you don’t over correct and spoil them, but be what a mom is supposed to be.

    I’m still walking out of the dysfunction and I’ve been married 8 years. Breaking patterns can be quite hard, but it’s doable and I want my kids to have a relationship with me when they are teenagers and adults.

    My sisters and I do not have close relationships with our parents. My parents still give us unsolicited advice (my mom gives it on things she doesn’t do herself).

    I will be 33 this year, but I don’t feel that old. Thank God I got married or I might still be living in my parent’s basement. I had no goals because my mom made decisions for me. It’s still hard for me to make decisions on my own. I still often feel way younger than my peers and that I’m not as smart. Also feel like no one really wants to hear what I have to say. These are all experiences of rejections from my childhood. Not being heard or not caring to be heard. Not having good grades in school (tried hard for good grades). I must have been a pretty big embarrassment amongst my moms friends (being a mom is a competition). I read my moms journals and she was annoyed with me a lot. She never really knew why… I guess she thought being super critical was a good motivation. Really it crippled me.

    You’re not alone, none of you are! We all have some sort of sad childhood experience.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 30th March

      Hi Leaving Dysfunction
      Welcome to Emerging from Broken! Thank you so much for sharing. The hypercritical parenting style is so much more about ‘them’ than it is about you. Realizing that in my heart helped so much. As far as my own kids ~ I have one teenager and 2 adult children and this process of breaking out of brainwashing has been nothing short of amazing for all of us!
      Hugs, Darlene

  14. By: Simona Posted: 16th December

    Thanks Darlene,

    My heart is racing as I type this…still working on not feeling like I’m in “trouble” for speaking my truth. Your words are so validating and healing to read. As far as ‘gifts to Mom’ go, nothing would work. If I somehow arranged to wrap a basket of flowers that had doves and butterflies released when opened she would complain about the bird poop. My mother would (no contact 1.5years) either turn up her nose at the gift or literally give it back to me and say, “You need this more than I do.” I just recently threw away a robe I was using that she had handed back to me one Mother’s Day and bought myself a new one. Wow, that was liberating!!! Now everytime I put my robe on, I wrap myself in love.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 16th December

      Hi Simona
      I totally get that “fear reaction” ~ I once had another blog that I published and then hid from the world! I was terrified that my mother would read it. Today I use my birth name and my picture! I have come along way with overcoming the fear of my right to have a voice!
      Thank you for sharing here. I celebrate your robe with you! yay
      hugs, Darlene

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