Unhappy Mother’s Day: Thousands Will Not Speak to Their Mothers This Holiday

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On this Mothers Day, thousands will not talk to their mothers because they were abandoned--physically or emotionally. Family Therapist Linda Joy Myers, Ph.D offers tips and thougts on how to come to terms with this emotional time.

On this national day of celebrating mothers, thousands will not buy their moms a card or even call home—their relationships are too fractured to allow even a token attempt at familial feelings.

Family therapist Linda Joy Myers, Ph.D. points out that, for some, their mother, from whom they have supposedly separated long ago, still occupies a central place in their lives—too central. She’s too close, she’s too much; she has advice, is nosy, and interferes. The adult child wants time away, wants boundaries, and fights for separation from the mother. This kind of feeling often dissipates as the person grows older, and even more frequently when that person has her or his own children.

However, many experience a much more caustic relationship with their mothers. These moms may be so self-involved as to be emotionally absent, or literally out of the picture. Mothers who are neglectful, selfish, and abandoning do not set out to do these things—they are a result of her own problems, and even mental illness. It is hard for an adult child to see this fully, or to forgive. It takes time and healing.

Linda knows whereof she speaks: Her mother, Josephine, abandoned her when Linda was only four. Later, Linda discovered that Josephine was abandoned by her mother, Lulu. Despite her family history, Linda was determined to change the pattern of abandonment as she grew to adulthood and had children of her own. She forgave her mother and later wrote a powerful memoir of her abandonment and healing achievement in Don’t Call Me Mother: Breaking the Chain of Mother-Daughter Abandonment. Excerpts from the book won the Jack London Non-Fiction Writing Prize. The Bay-area family therapist also teaches memoir writing as way to heal from life trauma.

For those abandoned by their mothers, Linda suggests the following 10 steps to healing (from her website "Memories and Memoirs"):

1. Remind yourself daily that: it was not your fault; you weren’t a bad child; your mother may not have realized how deeply this affected you; you deserve love.

2. Find adoptive mothers who will nurture you.

3. Find friends who understand your story.

4. Learn to mother yourself—though therapy or life experience.

5. When the time comes for you to have children, open your heart to them.

6. Write your story. Tell your story. Having witnesses to your story is a part of healing.

7. Practice forgiveness—first for others whom it may be easier to forgive. When you are ready, forgive those who have hurt you most.

8. Work on being yourself and creating a life you like and enjoy.

9. Learn to surround yourself with the beauty that makes you feel part of the web of life.

10. Learn about your mother’s life—how she became the way she is—through talking with relatives, if she won’t talk to you directly, or by sitting down and going through history shown in photos and family albums.

For interviews with Ms. Myers or more information, please contact Jacqueline Church Simonds 775.827.8654;

775.827.8633 (fax); jcsimonds @ beaglebay.com

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