Self-Help, Uncategorized

When Being Friendly Isn’t Enough

With Mother’s Day on the way, I’ve been thinking so much about mother-daughter relationships. Maybe it’s because I recently finished No Longer Alone and it’s not so easy to move on from the emotional struggle of my characters–not when they hit so close to home. Or it could be that I value my relationship with my mom and my kids so much that the day is becoming one of my favorites.

mother daughter hug

  • A mother’s love for her child is like nothing else in the world. It knows no law, no pity, it dares all things and crushes down remorselessly all that stands in its path.
  • Words are not enough to express the unconditional love between a mother and a daughter.
  • A daughter is someone you laugh with, dream with, and love with all your heart.

These are wonderful quotes, but they aren’t true for everyone. Some moms and daughters are not good people. They’re not lucky enough to have that special dynamic that helps to make traversing this life bearable. These quotes aren’t how I would have described my relationship with my mom…before. 

This is why, when I re-wrote No Longer Alone, I added a subplot between my protagonist and her mom. I love exploring that special, instinctual bond a mother has for her child and vice versa…even if it is dysfunctional. I also added a fairy because a girl needs a best friend even if she isn’t typical….

I remember as a five-year-old, lying beneath an oxygen tent in a hospital bed, crying for my mom. A nurse stuck her head in the door and hollered, “You’re mom had to work. Now stop crying and go to sleep!” <Gotta love those tough-love nurses>. Those were the days before FMLA. Mom had to work. I admire her (now) for putting a roof over my head, but when you’re five, dark, unfamiliar places are scary. Having a friend to focus on helped dissipate the fear. Even if no one else could see her. Over the next two years, after my mom married a physically abusive man, fear became a regular visitor.

My mom looks back on her life and says, “I should have had my head examined.” I get it. Regrets. We’d all do life a little differently if we could.

brick wall regret quote

As we work our way toward Mother’s Day, I’m blending this post with some excerpts from my e-book No Longer Alone. While No Longer Alone is primarily a romance, the story is also about a mother and daughter who struggle with a broken relationship.

When Lola was eight, her mom miscarried and fell into a depression that changed the dynamics of their family. No hugs or ‘I love you’s’. Then her parents sent her away to live with her grandmother. Lola knew her mom didn’t want her because she barely saw her over the next three years.

No Longer Alone starts when Lola is sixteen, and she’s still trying to reconcile the loneliness of her past as her mother, once again pregnant, goes into early labor. 

When I was sixteen (actually it was more like fourteen), an odd chain of events placed me next to my real dad in front of his chemical dependency therapist. A very strange place to be since I didn’t even know my dad outside of an occasional visit. Within minutes, the therapist found a weak spot in my ‘armor of indifference.’ One poke and my entire protective shell disintegrated, surprising us all.

I was so embarrassed, revealing feelings I couldn’t even define. I also embarrassed my mom. When she and my step-dad picked me up, the therapist told her about my breakdown and suggested I get counseling. Mom laughed it off, “Oh she’s fine. She cries at everything.” <A very true statement to this day :-), but that was hardly the point.>

Boy, did I hear about it on the way home. Not from my mom, but from my step-dad (#2). “How can you cry over him? You should be happy to have a mom who didn’t leave you.”

I went home, found the shovel of accommodation, dug a hole, and buried the pain in my life so deep there was no chance of anyone seeing it. Ask any of my high school friends.

TammyI became the girl next door. The girl who had it all together. The one people came to for advice. Everyone’s friend. In fact, I was voted ‘friendliest girl’ in our senior class. I was on student Council, in the Bible Club, and journalism class. I avoided the partying scene. Instead, I volunteered, worked, and eventually went to college for Social Work.

But I was lonely.

In No Longer Alone, Lola contemplates whether she wants a relationship with her mom. They might be able to start over and eventually have something good, or their world could implode, causing Lola to feel the depths of rejection like never before. Reaching out is scary. 

What-happens-if-I-reach-out-and-you-reject-me_.png

For my mom and me, faith became the anchor that allowed us to heal separately and together. First, we learned to recognize the value in ourselves and each other as defined by our creator. Not other people.

Learning to accept one another regardless of the past opened a channel of forgiveness and respect. I’m not sure our relationship would have worked without respect and boundaries. Boundaries that included the message, “I accept you even if I don’t agree…”. That is love.

I cannot change my past, but I can dictate my future. And I want to continue working toward a good relationship with my mom. What I know for sure is that if I don’t try, then I’m guaranteed disappointment.

In Emotional First Aid: Self-Help for the Wounded Psyche, Psychologist, Dr. Guy Winch, offers tips on how to cope with the emotional scrapes and bruises of daily life. I haven’t read this book, but I would like to. It sounds like a good, down-to-earth read. Dr. Winch also has some great articles on his blog.

And if you do nothing else today watch Dr. Winch’s Ted Talks video on loneliness (It’s titled “Why We All Need to Practice Emotional First Aid”). He explains how “loneliness creates a deep psychological wound that distorts our perceptions and scrambles our thinking. It makes us believe that those around us care much less than they actually do.”

Understanding the lie of loneliness is the first step to healing. It was mine and it was Lola’s in No Longer Alone. 

What is your relationship like with your mom? Do you get to see her often?

If you don’t have a mom is there someone in your life who has those special motherly qualities?

No Longer Alone is available for free. Just sign up for our newsletter. What a nice Mother’s Day gift for an adult or teen. (While Lola is a teenager, the message of the book is ageless/timeless and includes a fairy, so that makes it appropriate for Cryptid World, <grin>). Plus, you’ll get an inside look at all the crazy projects we’re working on. We also have a Mother’s Day giveaway coming up for our subscribers, so be on the lookout for that. You do not have to be a mother to win. Just a subscriber.

Here is the trailer for No Longer Alone if you need some “feels” for today.

Hope you all have a great week!