Is My Mom Toxic or Is it Me?

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To answer this question - Is my mom toxic or is it me ? an examination is needed of both your behaviour and your mother’s behaviour. This would help you to get a clearer understanding of what is happening.

The reason why many of us struggle to answer this question is that we only see our own perspective. Even if you have a good relationship with your mom and can talk to her, she can only talk from her perspective. However, it is unlikely that you can talk to her as much as is needed for your own reassurance, as you wouldn’t be reading this post. 

In this article, I will first explain what a “Good Enough Parent” is and then look at what some of your mother’s toxic behaviours could look like.

I will also help you look at some of your beliefs and expectations of your mother that may make you feel that she is toxic and maybe some of your own personality traits that affect how you feel about your mothers. 

It would become clearer as we go through this.

1. What is A Good Enough Mother

The Good-Enough Parent has been around for a while and was developed by a Psychoanalyst called Donald Winnicott. He tried to assert that in the beginning, the mother (as his research was carried out in the 1950s when it was predominantly mothers who care for children) needs to be very responsive to her baby’s needs but this hyper-responsiveness relaxes slowly in a healthy way as the child gets older.

It also asserted that mothers, don’t need to be perfect. It is not possible nor should it be the goal to be the perfect mother. He believed that “minor” mishaps or slips are part of the course of being a parent.

He also believed that these mishaps or slips are important for a child’s development, believe it or not, as these imperfections can help a child cope with an imperfect world.

2. Your Mother’s Toxic Behaviour and Attitudes

We all have our strengths and weaknesses but they don’t make us toxic even if they often make us challenging to be around. No matter how we love someone, we all can be that annoying person that upsets others at times. But even that does not make us toxic.

Your mother could feel toxic to you for a number of reasons. It can include the intensity of her negative behaviour. There is nothing wrong in being angry but if she constantly loses her temper and you feel that you are almost frightened to be around her at times. This is toxic.   Not all the time your mom will have the energy and time to listen to your point of view on things affecting your life but you would struggle if she has the inability to listen and hear your point of view from your perspective, consistently. Especially when you talk to her, the conversation goes to how she feels.

A mother with toxic traits may see herself as more important than others, even more, important than you in many ways. She may also continually place her desires and needs over yours. 

This is completely different from a mother who self-cares and knows that she needs to take care of herself first before being able to look after others properly. With a mother here you would be confident that she would support you when she is able to and you won’t be second guessing if and when this will happen.

3. Rupture and Repair

The main thing that could make your mom toxic is the lack of “Rupture and Repair” which the psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott talks about.

Rupture and repair are about when mistakes are made, she would work to repair the rupture and restore an emotional connection with you. She would do this by trying to be understanding (even if she doesn’t agree with you), loving, accepting even curious to get to know you further at times. 

This could include your mother tries not to keep repeating them. Toxic mothers can go as far as denying what she has done, blaming you or others even not accepting responsibility for their behaviour.

Rupture and repair would also involve allowing you to disagree with her but not insult her of course. Clear and honest communication would be accepted on both sides and she won’t deny or dismiss your feelings and perceptions, even if she doesn’t agree with your opinion at times.

As a parent, they are allowed not to agree with you all the time. However, a sign of toxicity here is how that disagreement comes across: Are they sarcastic, or manipulative, do they shout at you if things don’t go their way or throw tantrums? Or do they give you the silent treatment or even make threats?

Your mom doesn’t need to be perfect and I’m sure you are not expecting her to be even if she is over-critical at times and talks before she thinks. 

4. When the Past Still Hurts

It is important to work out if your feelings that your mother is toxic, stem from your own childhood hurts and wounds. This is particularly relevant if your mom was clearly toxic when you were young. 

For example, your mother could have had an addiction when you were a child but is now in recovery and has been for a while. Or she could have had untreated mental health issues but is now getting support for that. 

If the pain of your childhood is still there, this is a journey that you would need to undertake yourself to heal your hurts. Alongside that, if your mom is truly on the road to recovery, she would accept your pain as long as it is done in a respectful way.

This deserves a separate article because your mother could have made terrible mistakes in the past but has now realised her mistakes and is genuinely trying to make amends.

This is not to diminish how you are feeling but to have that understanding that the toxic mom you once knew, she may not be there anymore. But you still need to heal and hopefully, your mother would understand that it’s a journey for you to learn to trust her and not see her as a toxic mother.

5. Things to Consider about yourself

Our own negative core beliefs

Our core beliefs are shaped early in life and formed by our childhood experiences.  They are really deep-rooted and embedded in us and can be hard to change. We formed them earlier on in childhood to help us function as a child but as we get older, they may now be unproductive.

We all have our weaknesses and sometimes our negative core beliefs can get in the way of our relationships. It is worth just looking at whether or not you have some negative core beliefs that could be colouring your view of your mother. 

Some of our core beliefs that could affect how we view our mother could include:

  • My family and friends should support my romantic relationship.
  • Life is unjust
  • Nobody cares about what I have to say
  • People are bad at heart
  • Other people can’t be relied on
  • Nobody understands me
  • My Parents should always support my decisions

6. Are you the toxic one?  –  So how can we find out if we are toxic?

It takes Listening inside of yourself and Listening out. The balance between the two is important.

According to the Reach Approach, listening In is imperative as it helps us to examine ourselves to really explore what is going on. This needs to balance with Listening out where we listen to what the world is telling us. 

Not that we become completely focussed on what others say but it is listening to what others and life is really saying and having the humility to know that we don’t always need to be right. Also that we don’t always get it right and we all have our blind spots.

Part of that process of working out if we are toxic would be to journal some questions taken from an article on Healthline.com:

  • Do you think about the consequences of what you do?
  • Do you consider how other people feel?
  • Do you ever make time for gratitude and compassion – or this (or some of it) comes naturally to you anyway?
  • How does it affect you when you have realised you have hurt someone?
  • Do you think about other people or do you just focus on yourself?

7. Things that will help

Take time out to reflect on your behaviour to explore how you react and feel when you are around your mother. Journaling this would give you a lot of material over time for you to look back to make a proper judgment. 

You would not be able to escape what you have written, what you think and feel over time.

Understand also that this would be quite difficult to do by yourself. It would be helpful also to talk to a trusted friend who can be objective even if you don’t always like what they say. 

Summary 

It is not always that easy to define your mother as bad or good. There are so many factors that could affect this.

It is not possible to be the perfect mother nor does your mother need to be perfect in order to be a good enough mother but there are clear signs that could make your mother’s behaviour toxic.

The otherside to this question is am I the toxic one? I also explained how your mother’s past behaviour could be getting in the way of your relationship and how you can work together with your mother or on your own to work through the pain.

Also, that self-exploration is needed to explore the negative beliefs you may have. I have also provided some journaling questions so you can explore your own behaviours and attitudes further. 

Remember that therapy would also help you to work this out as well as support you with any changes you want to make in your own behaviours, negative thoughts, and beliefs. Contact me for a free 15-minute consultation so we can discuss this further 

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Do you have a Toxic, Emotionally Immature, Narcissist, Co-dependent, or Parent with an Addiction? Have you struggled with their behavior for most of your life? Maybe your Childhood wasn’t the best but you want to make sense of why it still affects you now.

You may find yourself struggling in so many ways.

I am an experienced and qualified Online-Therapist based in the United Kingdom helping you on your road to healing from your Toxic Parents. 

Healing is Possible! I’m here to walk with you on your Journey

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