6 Signs You Were Raised By A Toxic Mother
Toxic relationships deeply affect us at any age, but our greatest period of vulnerability exists in childhood.
A toxic mother-child relationship influences us throughout our adult lives if not dealt with in a healthy manner. The first step is recognizing the signs.
1. You Harbor Negative Emotions
If you’ve acknowledged your mother’s maltreatment, then you’ve also acknowledged how it makes you feel. When you’re confronted with thoughts of your mother, a cauldron of negative emotions boils within you.
These negative emotions are often some mixture of dread, fear, anxiety, rejection, suffocation, or generalized emotional pain. You have a tough time identifying with friends and associates who derive pleasure from their relationships with their moms.
You might even fantasize about what it would be like to have a mother who evokes positive and loving feelings.
If you excuse your mother’s behavior, then you’re suppressing your negative emotions and still shouldering some of the blame. You might say:
- I wasn’t an easy kid to raise.
- I could’ve done more to help her.
- She had a lot of her own problems to deal with.
- That’s just how mom is.
- She did the best she could.
These expressions are okay if they come from a position of healing, but they’re not okay when they’re used to avoid reality and suppress your inner trauma.
2. You React to Conflict with Submission or Aggression
Toxic parenting causes children to develop dysfunctional conflict resolution methods to cope with a hostile authority figure.
If your mother broke your spirit, then you learned to deal with conflict by submission at all costs. What’s the purpose in standing up if you’re just going to be knocked down?
As an adult, you avoid conflict, neglect to stand up for yourself when necessary, and shrink back from defending others.
If your mother failed to break your spirit (but stomped all over your heart), then you learned to remain passive in your position of weakness but developed and internalized pain-induced aggression.
You’ve determined that no one will hurt you that way again. As an adult, you meet conflict aggressively and might lash out with little to no provocation.
The toxic relationship with your mother incites you to throw the first and the last punch when you feel emotionally vulnerable.
3. You Withhold Affection
Toxic mothers withhold affection from their children as a form of punishment. They learn that their mother’s love is conditional, based upon how thoroughly they please her. Some mothers may offer little to no affection, even when the child has done well.
In response, some children will constantly seek approval, hoping to receive the slightest sign of affection.
Others decide not to bother, isolating themselves emotionally and avoiding contact. In both cases, children are emotionally manipulated and learn that loving affection is a conditional and scarce commodity.
As an adult, you don’t know how to deal with freely-given affection, and you live in anticipation that it will be snatched away suddenly. Your joy and fear produce extreme emotional mood swings that your romantic partner doesn’t understand.
It’s not uncommon for you to withhold affection as a means of self-defense or to punish your partner for the slightest indiscretion. It’s your way of protecting your vulnerable emotions and communicating your pain.
4. You Seek Codependent Relationships
Codependent relationships involve a passive and a dominant partner who both find fulfillment in the passive partner’s emotional and/or practical dependence on the dominant partner.
The passive partner feels loved when someone else is willing to do everything for her. The dominant partner feels loved when she’s needed. The greater her partner’s dependence, the more loved she feels.
In this toxic relationship between mother and child, the mother acts as the dominant partner. She resorts to extreme measures to ensure her child will always need her, hampering healthy development.
Codependent parenting produces emotionally and/or practically codependent children. A child will become the passive or dominant partner as an adult, depending on her personality and the strength of her will.
As an adult, if you’re the passive partner, you feel loved when your spouse manages your life for you. It’s also common for you to expect your spouse to meet all your emotional needs.
You feel that you need your spouse to live, and in your passive-aggressive style, demand your partner demonstrates love in this manner. You feel unloved and rejected when your spouse can’t or won’t go out of his way to meet every need.
As an adult, if you’re the dominant partner, you have an insatiable need to be needed and might even create situations that ensure you’re indispensable.
Your partner’s dependence upon you, practically and emotionally, makes you feel secure. If you’re needed, you won’t be cast aside.
You have strong controlling tendencies concerning the outside world, but you remain emotionally dependent on another person.
Your emotional wellbeing hinges on how much others need you. If your spouse asserts some independence, you experience feelings of fear and insecurity, and even feel unloved.
5. You’re a Critic of Everyone, Especially Yourself
Toxic parenting unloads mounds of criticism on children. These mothers harshly critique every behavior that doesn’t please them, and the tiniest infraction unleashes disproportionate scolding or punishment.
Psychology has long taught us that we all develop an inner voice, and for many adults, their inner voice belongs to one of their parents, whether they realize it or not.
As the child of a toxic mother, you always feel monitored, as if someone is watching and critiquing your daily performance. You harshly judge yourself for every mistake or setback.
Failure brings an emotional crisis for you, as your self-worth rests solely on your successes. You constantly battle the voice in your head that relentlessly repeats that you’re not good enough or successful enough.
You have perfectionist tendencies and lofty expectations of others, becoming not only your own worst critic, but everyone else’s as well.
6. You Need Constant Validation
Toxic mothers frequently ruin their children’s self-esteem and compare their own children to siblings or other children.
You may also spend a lot of time feeling worthless because of these reasons. This is a sign that you were often made to believe that you are worthless and bad.
They’re plagued by feelings of worthlessness and seek validation from those closest to them. They primarily desire frequent validation through:
1. Recognition for good behavior or achievements
2. Reassurance that they’re loved
As an adult, you believe you’re inherently unlovable and fear others will soon realize it. When you do well, you ensure those around you know about it.
You need to give your inner circle a reason to continue loving you. Your low self-esteem drives your desperate need for accolades and words of approval from your family and friends.
Their praise helps you feel more secure in your relationships with them. Often, this is mistaken for pride, but in your case, it’s a trademark of insecurity. If you don’t receive their validation, then you feel devalued or worthless.
In your vulnerable state, you subconsciously assume others love as your mother loves, and you look for the signs. You monitor your spouse, family, and friends for indications that their love is diminishing.
As a result, you often overreact to minor transgressions, interpreting them as proof that you’re not worthy. Your need for validation keeps you on an emotional rollercoaster, because you rarely feel content with yourself and look to others for emotional fulfillment.
You Have The Power to Change
Healing from toxic relationships takes time. You can’t control the world around you or those in it, but you can have power over your reactions.
Choose to seek wise counsel and discover how your past and your emotions affect your present life. You don’t have to live in yesterday’s chains. Instead, choose to take daily steps toward a new future.
Do you agree with these signs of being brought up by a toxic mother? Don’t be afraid to share your thoughts in the comments below, and feel free to invite your friends to the conversation.
5 Stages Daughters Of Unloving Mothers Go Through
Despite the common conception of mothers being unconditionally caring, some mothers are not a pillar of support to their daughters. This type of behavior, while not physically abusive, still leaves scars on the life on their daughters.
This emotional burden should be processed. They need to overcome their insecurities and realize that they are worthy of love, in spite of the fact that they were never cherished in that way by their mothers.
Daughters should commit to a type of soul-searching: a difficult process which is very different for all women. They should be wary that the road to recovery is chaotic, filled with relapses and hard to stick with. Then again, if a daughter firmly decides to stay on it, she will be reborn and free from the toxicity of their unloving mothers.
Generally, the most difficult are the relapses by letting mothers into their lives, hoping they have changed and will make up for lost times. Ultimately, daughters get hurt again and fall in their cycle of despair and need for approval instead of becoming free.
The best course of action for daughters to overcome the absence of their mothers’ affection are the 5 phases of grief. It’s normal for this process to happen in a different way since every life was shaped in a different way.
Check out the 5 phases of grief and how they can serve to recover women from their harmful upbringing.
This stage is when the feelings of pain and loss are finally felt as they were meant to be explored, and it’s a critical stage to be in for as long as it takes. Society likes to tell people to “snap out of it” or to “stop being sad,” but it doesn’t work that way. To make it through this stage and get to the other side, these daughters need to cry and feel the loss for as long as it takes for them to be able to leave it behind.
For unloved daughters, this stage is another one that could last for many years much like denial. She believes that if she can accomplish certain things or act a certain way that she will eventually get the love and support from her mother that she desperately wants. However, no amount of work will gain the appreciation of an unloving mother, leaving the daughter helpless to make any changes. She has to be willing to stop bargaining to move forward.
This is a stage that most women are in for years or even decades. Some part of their mind is aware that there is a problem, but because they also recognize that the severity of the problem is more than they can handle, their brain shuts it out and refuses to acknowledge the issue as a way to avoid letting in more pain than can be controlled. For an unloved daughter, she doesn’t see how badly her mother has wounded her and denies her pain, often until her mother dies.
Typically, anger is the way raw pain is expressed, so even though the daughter may be more hurt and sad than angry; it comes out in anger. She could be mad at any number of targets, including her mother, her father, siblings that she believes were loved when she wasn’t, herself, God, or even life itself. Because this anger is covering other emotions, it is often irrational or illogical in its targets and intensity.
In many cases, the only way to get through this stage and to overcome the overwhelming amount of anger a daughter is experiencing is to forgive whoever or whatever she is angry with. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that what that person did was ok, but it releases the hold that person has over the daughter and it allows the daughter to let go of the bitterness towards others that’s wounding her.
This is the phase when daughters accept the absence of a loving mother, the emotional damage they have experienced as a result, but not as if they approve of these past events. Instead, they take it as a part of their life that just happened, but will not hold them back anymore.
A daughter is now ready to create new relationships, because it means that she has truly recovered and has come to terms with her challenging experience in a proper way.
Daughters with unloving mothers can’t change their past, they can only accept it and let go. This is important to happen so that they can create a generational circle of love and care for their daughters, instead of passing on the torch of emotional pain.