Criticizing my critical mother

Joey Garcia

Mother’s Day is nearly here and the last thing I want to do is spend any time with my mother. She has amnesia when it comes to taking responsibility for the emotional abuse that she ladled on my sister and me. Even now, she is still unnecessarily cruel and critical of us. Don’t tell me to try counseling. I’ve spent years in psychotherapy, but I’m still angry and unable to be around my mother for very long. My sister (the only family member who I would have chosen) really wants me to join the family at her house for a Mother’s Day brunch. I know that it’s more spiritual to spend time with her, but I’d rather stay home and avoid the inevitable criticism and arguments. Why should I honor someone who has been such a thorn in my side my entire life? What can I tell my family so that they will understand and respect my choice? I don’t want to insult my sister.

Hmm, I can see how I’ve been a thorn in my own side for much of my life. I’ve been critical of myself and unnecessarily cruel. And, boy, have I had amnesia at times about the abuse I’ve ladled on myself. I’ve actually thought that the abuse was purely other people’s fault. Sound familiar? I’m not saying that we don’t suffer in relationships with parents or others. We do. But what I try to remember is that suffering is not required. Self-reflection is. Without it, we can’t heal ourselves or shift this planet into an intergalactic love machine (Oh my! Did I actually write that?!?)

Take a look in my magic mirror. Do you see that you are criticizing your mother for criticizing you and expecting her to stop? That’s a cycle called crazy. You’re no longer a child. You don’t have to wait for Mommy to show you how. You have the power to stop expecting her to be the mother you think she should be and accept that she is the mother she is. I’ll bet that if you carefully extricated the blessings from the perceived damage of your life, you would see that you used her criticism to motivate yourself to be, do and have. The continued anger is simply a sign that you need a new engine. Now you can motivate yourself based on what you love, rather than what you’re running from.

So what should you tell your family? The truth, always. For example, “I can join you for a few hours, but I also want to spend time alone that day honoring the ways I mother myself.”

Seven years ago I lived with a man who was the love of my life. He was my equal in every way except that he only worked a total of three months during the three years we were together. He’s now married and has been at the same job for three years. Recently, our paths crossed and he hinted that he would like a relationship with me. I refused because he is married. Did I make the right decision? I’m in my mid-50s and I’ve been married three times, but I have never met anyone I’ve loved so much. My religion says I made the right choice, but my mind and body are unsure. Please help me stay strong.

You chose real love and self-respect over fear, desperation and lies. Remembering the clarity of that choice is all the spiritual backup you need.

When the mind and body are weak, call on the Spirit to inspire you to continue living at the vibration of the blessed. That way, while you’re busy becoming the perfect partner for yourself, the opportunity for the right relationship can slip into your life with ease.

Meditation of the week
I was in Los Angeles recently, interviewing my friend Byron Katie. “If I had a prayer,” she said, “it would be this: God, spare me from the desire for love, approval or appreciation.” Ha! It’s no wonder that Time magazine named her a “spiritual innovator.” Are you ready to be spared?

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