Personal Growth, Self Help

When the Mother-Daughter Bond Is Missing

105 Comments 04 February 2010

MotherandDaughter_400When Dr. Karyl McBride decided to write Will I Ever Be Good Enough? , a book on mothers who don’t mother their daughters, and the pain this causes girls and adult daughters, she felt as if she were breaking a taboo. 

Our relationship with Mother is birthed simultaneously with our entry into the world. We take our first breath of life, and display the initial dependent, human longing for protection and love in her presence. We are as one in the womb and on the birthing table. This woman, our mother. . . all that she is and is not. . . has given us life. Our connection with her in this instant and from this point forward carries with it tremendous psychological weight for our lifelong well-being. Oddly, I have never wanted to believe this.

First, being a feminist-era mom myself, I didn’t want mothers and women to bear so much responsibility or ultimate blame if things go wrong. Certainly many factors other than mothering shape a child’s life. Second, I didn’t want to face how feeling like an unmothered child had such a devastating effect on me and my life. To acknowledge this meant I had to face it.

While doing research over the years, I have read many books that discuss the mother-daughter bond. Each time I read a different volume, unexpected tears would stream down my cheeks. For I could not recall attachment, closeness, memories of the scent of Mother’s perfume, the feel of her skin, the sound of her voice singing in the kitchen, the solace of her rocking, holding and comforting, the intellectual stimulation and joy of being read to.

I knew this was not natural, but could not find a book that explained this lack. It made me feel somewhat crazy. Was I delusional, or just a chick with a poor memory? I could not find a book that explained that this phenomenon of feeling unmothered could be a real deal and that there could be mothers who are not maternal. Nor could I find a book that discussed the conflicted feelings that their daughters have about these mothers, the frustrated love, and even sometimes the hatred. Because good girls aren’t supposed to hate their mothers, they don’t talk about these bad feelings. Motherhood is a sacred institution in most cultures and therefore is generally not discussed in a negative light. When I decided to write a book on mothers who don’t mother their daughters, and the pain this causes girls and adult daughters, I felt as if I were breaking a taboo. Reading books about the mother-daughter bond always gave me the sensation of a deep loss and the fear that I was alone in this suffering. Experts wrote of the complexity of the mother-daughter connection, how it is rife with conflict and ambivalence, but I felt something different — a void, a lack of empathy and interest, and a lack of feeling loved. For many years, I did not understand and tried to rationalize it.

Other members of the family and well-intentioned therapists explained it away with various excuses. Like a good girl, I tried to make excuses and take all the blame. It was not until I began to understand that the emotional void was a characteristic result of maternal narcissism that the pieces began to fit together. The more I learned about maternal narcissism, the more my experience, my sadness, and my lack of memory made sense. This understanding was the key to my beginning to recover my own sense of identity, apart from my mother. I became more centered, taking up what I now call substantial space, no longer invisible (even to myself) and not having to make myself up as I go along. Without understanding, we flail around, we make mistakes, feel deep unworthiness, and sabotage ourselves and our lives.

Writing Will I Ever Be Good Enough?: Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers has been a culmination of years of research and a soul journey that took me back to when I was a little girl who knew something was wrong, feeling that the absence of nurturing was not normal, but not knowing why. I wrote Will I Ever Be Good Enough? in the hopes that I can help other women understand that those feelings were and are not their fault.

Will I Ever Be Good Enough?

Will I Ever Be Good Enough?

Karyl McBride

Author

Dr. Karyl McBride, a licensed marriage and family therapist with more than twenty-eight years of experience in public and private practice, specializes in treatment of trauma and family-of-origin issues and has served as an expert witness in numerous civil and criminal cases involving children and sexual abuse. She lives in Denver, Colorado.

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  • Heather

    For anyone reading these threads I was also emotionally neglected as a child and it screwed everything up for me as I never had an answer. I’m 50 and now I do. I’m learning how to love for the first time ever and it’s really helping me to let go of the past pain which I took into all my relationships. If u want real help then look up Greg Baer on the internet. He is an amazing man and has what u need. I have met him several times and he is an endless source of inspiration in my life. I continue on my journey learning each day and so much of my pain has now gone. It truely is amazing. He is the founder of Real Love. Com.

  • Heather

    You obviously have a perfect mother then. Who the hell are you to judge? We are not blaming we are searching for reasons why and unless you have been sat on my shoulder for the last 50yrs them u have clue to what u are saying. I agree with all the ladies on here. I knew somthing was wrong in my life and now I have the answer. I do not blame my mother at all. She simply did not have that love to give and the cycle passes down from generations. I’m now trying to break that cycle. I suggest u look at yourself before making such judgement and gather information on somthing u clearly know nothing about

  • Cynthia Knight

    Monkey.. you are being just that ,,,a Monkey….. and ..neurotic to talk to this mother in this fashion. She is hurting and you are pouring acid in her wounds.. oh !..so gracious of you.

  • Tamding Tso Nagee Tsang

    i was raised by my father as my mother was died when i was 3 years old . i can feel that i am very different from other girls . i am very shy ,emotional , i can’t express what i feel .i always wanted to share what happened in class , or like whom i met . since my father is busy every day and also he is not into that kind of stuff. so i don’t get any advice what other’s mom usually gives . i feel so afraid to give love .
    and i always thought that it must be related to my mom’s death . i just wanted to be a frank and sociable girl but i can’t . i really need help .
    thank you .

 

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