Mothers and Daughters
Posted by Dr. Vollmer on June 15, 2016
Mothers need to separate from daughters. Daughters need to separate from mothers. Each yearns for a close relationship, and yet, there needs to be a separation before there can be a closeness, as each needs their own identity. Like a figure eight, there are times when their lives are intertwined, and other times when their lives are far apart and so the dynamic, the journey of their relationship, is hardly ever linear. Issues of rivalry, control, and independence, come in and out of the foreground as each party struggles with her own sense of being in the world. Lila and Zoe come to mind. Lila is a thirty-two year old female, insecure, and confused about her future. Zoe is a sixty-year old female, cancer survivor, retired school teacher, who is happily married to Lila’s father, but who feels that Lila needs her help to navigate her future. Lila has mixed feelings. She wants her mother’s help, her guidance, her advice, but at the same time, when she talks to her mother she is left feeling helpless and inadequate. “Why do you seek your mom’s advice?” I ask Lila, knowing that the answer is layered with conflicting feeling, but hoping to begin a dialogue about these issues. Lila understands that talking to her mother dents her self-esteem, but she also feels she has “no choice” because her mother often has “good ideas”. “You have good ideas too,” I say, hoping that Lila can come to understand that her brain is a good resource for her, if she could allow herself access to her own thoughts. Lila struggles, as if she does not quite believe me that she has the capacity to make good decisions for herself. Our work continues, slowly, with the hope that Lila can learn to trust herself. This will allow Lila to have more self-confidence, and ultimately a more adult relationship with Zoe. The figure eight of their dance continues, now at the intersection, but working towards a separation leading to another coming together, but the figure eight is three-dimensional such that their next connection will be at a higher level.