My girlfriend, whom I’ll call Mary to protect her privacy, was sharing her frustration with me about her mother. Every time she talked to her mom she felt there was no real connection, no ability to have a meaningful conversation. Everything was always just fine according to her mother even when Mary knew otherwise.
Mary’s angry that there’s no depth to their relationship and that her mother always has her head in the sand, living in denial about all aspects of her life and the familyin particular.
As I continued to listen to Mary express her anger, and her choice to not talk to her mother for awhile, it became very clear to me that the anger was actually a cover for her deep sadness. You see, growing up, Mary was more the mother in her family and as much as she understands her mother and her problems on an intellectual level, her heart is still hoping, pleading, begging for the mother Mary never had by trying to engage mom in conversations that she isn’t capable of engaging in.
She desperately wants her mom to change. She needs her to change so she can experience what it feels like to have the mother she wishes for in her heart and soul. I can’t blame her – it’s a mom after all, and aren’t moms supposed to be there for us in happy and difficult times, loveus, hold us, cheer for us, be our confidant when we grow up?
I suppose – if you’ve got a mom that’s capable of that kind of emotional connection and maturity.
But when you don’t there comes a time when you need to look at the truth of the person in front of you as well as the dynamic of the relationship and be willing to let go of what you desire and begin moving toward accepting what is – whether this is a mother or anyone else in your life. The fact is, you can’t change someone’s behavior – they need to want to change.
Oh sure, you know this. You’ve heard it a million times. And, it doesn’t make it any easier to accept and let go of what is.
However, when you step onto the scary but brave path of letting go, you create an opportunity to release the self-inflicted pain caused by holding onto the fantasy of the relationship being something different than what it really is.
It gives you the freedom to love someone in a different way, meeting them right where they are, without expecting more. You allow yourself to understand that they really are doing the best they know how. If you think they could do better that’s only because you’re coming from your perspective, not theirs. They don’t see their circumstances or themselves the way you do.
You may have a larger container of love to give but that doesn’t mean their container is as large as yours. Therefore, they can only give from the size of their container.