I have a positive, optimistic friend who has known me since I was six and over the years has tried to help me cope with my horrid mother, who I thoroughly disliked.
I am now in my thirties but throughout my childhood she endlessly criticised, undermined and belittled me. I was always walking on eggshells trying hard to avoid her being nasty to me. Mostly I failed. She was so unpredictable that even now I shudder when I think about it.
When my mother died last year – my father predeceased her – I felt liberated and it was an incredible relief to build my own life. Even sitting in my flat, peacefully and undisturbed remains special. My friend recently suggested that it was about time I stopped clinging to all the negative things about her and tried to move on. She told me my mother couldn’t have been one hundred percent bad and I should to try to find a few good things about her and how she brought me up. It wasn’t easy but eventually I came up with a few. I had a good education. I am self- reliant because I learnt to block off all her spiteful comments and I don’t let anyone else treat me as she did. I also very much want to be loved. I surprised myself by what I came out with and took my friend out to dinner to thank her for her patience and kindness. I am emailing you in case you want to use my experience to help others who may not have tried this. Of course it doesn’t erase all the unpleasant memories but it has moved me away from a dark place.
Thank you for contacting us. Being able to accept the good alongside the bad is a healthy position to reach. The journey is often hard, as you have found, and for some it may be impossible.
Your friend is correct that most people have something about them that can be appreciated. This may not have anything to do with their personality but instead about their values or a skill they may have. For example a controlling parent can instil a powerful motivation into their child by giving them a good education. A critical parent can, by teaching practical skills in the home or garden can pass on useful knowledge and a bullying parent might also foster a love of music, reading or travel in their child that can become inspirational. They are at least some things to be grateful for.
There is also the flip side to a horrid parent’s behaviour. Unknowingly they can give their child a template for how NOT to behave in a relationship and how NOT to parent a child. It is a good idea to jot down some of the attributes that you have noticed and hold them alongside your negative feelings. Being able to work out the path you want to take and succeeding must give you a lot of satisfaction.