Tag Archives: Howard M. Halpern
Hi everyone. May is approaching. It’s a big month for many. If you have a difficult relationship with your mother, you may find yourself here, reading this, because you need support on how to cope….
If you are a mom then it may help to stay focused on the fact that this is a special day for you as a mother–my two children and my husband like to make it special which is wonderful and I look forward to spending the day with them and being the focus of their attention. My daughter’s birthday is always around Mother’s Day and our anniversary is in May so there is always alot going on.
If you are not a parent then allow yourself to be busy with all the positive things that are Spring related–even spring cleaning and decluttering to bring renewed positive energy into your home. (Distracting yourself may only be helpful if you are also working through any painful feelings that arise by writing in a journal for your eyes only or purging your pain verbally with a safe person in your life who can be an enlightened witness for you.) I allow myself to be distracted because I know in my heart now (after all of my inner grief work) that it is okay for me to detach from any relationship that does not feel like I have the freedom to be ME! I no longer feel guilty for putting LOVE and self-compassion first in my life. It is for your higher good to have healthy boundaries in your life–detach from people who you do not feel safe around to be YOURSELF! After you fully heal and feel safe to be YOU without being triggered and stressed then you can reassess your desire to have a closer relationship with any people in question. It is okay whatever you decide to do–just do what is the least stressful for your healing soul.
So, focusing on being positive and on the other positive events going on for you in May and making them special for your loved ones will help to supercede any negative feelings that may arise. And isn’t that what we all need to do all the time anyway? Build ourselves up with positive messages–affirmations if you will–the opposite of what we (highly sensitive children) may have received growing up. For example, tell yourself “I can do it!” instead of “you can’t do that–who do you think you are!” And “I love and approve of myself” instead of “what were you thinking–why did you do it that way!” And say, “I am safe” for the dreaded “how dare you talk to me that way–you are so ungrateful!” Perhaps now you can see how ridiculous the accusations and blaming are, because you know the truth about you is the opposite and these were said out of inner fear, inner shame and ignorance and not necessarily to hurt you. But at the time, these accusations were excruciatingly painful to you. As highly sensitive children we trusted our caretakers more than we trusted ourselves.
There are so many more examples you may be thinking of, but the point here is not to believe these negative messages in our heads, given to us by someone with conditional love as a parenting method that was passed down for many generations without guilt. Conditional love is not love. The opposite of these messages is probably more the real truth. When you find yourself thinking something negative like “I am never going to get this done” or “I am not good at this”–turn it around and be the ideal mother to yourself that you never had. Say “I am doing a good job” and “I am great at this” and “look how much I got done already”. You deserve these positive messages now and you deserved them as a child.
I can feel the stress of Mother’s Day approaching from all of you out there and so I want to give you some additional extra support to help you stay strong and be true to yourself and honor your feelings. As highly sensitive people, we want so badly to do the right thing, the kindest thing, the most compassionate response at all times and so we feel guilt for not wanting to honor thy mother on this day that is meant to honor those mothers who are honorable. And so I am going to write out some quotes from a book that helped me in my darkest hours when I needed them most at the age of 25. The name of the book is “Cutting Loose–An Adult’s Guide To Coming To Terms With Your Parents”. This book by Howard M. Halpern, Ph.D. is full of wonderful emotionally healthy ways to deal with every kind of difficult parent you can imagine. There is the martyred parent, the despotic parent, the seductive parent, the moralistic parent, and of course the parent with a narcissistic disturbance but who is remorseful about their actions if you confront them. The book talks about all kinds of ways you can learn to communicate with these kinds of parents and for some of you there may actually be some light at the end of the tunnel if your parent is genuinely remorseful! A very helpful part of the book is the very last chapter that talks about dealing with the narcissistic parent that takes an adversary stance. Here is some of it:
“The narcissistic parent in a adversary posture is an enraged peacock. When you stop trying to win his (her) nurturant caring by being a compliant extension of him, when you no longer exalt him, when you stop following his pre-scribed script, he will react with the indignant certainty, “If you are not a part of me, you’re against me.” And, if you require reciprocity in your relationship with him, if you insist on a flow of give and take, he will feel that you are trying to take everything from him and always have your own way. He (she) may be willing to write you off rather than submit to such an obviously unfair demand on your part, and unfortunately you may have to let him do just that.”
“The form a parent’s rigidity may take when it hardens into an adversary position will differ with the type of inner child he has, but what they all have in common is enormous rage and outrage if you fail to act as they expect. And theirs is not a transient outburst at unexpected frustration or disappointment–their fury may calcify into a chronic suspiciousness or hatred in which you can sense the willingness to destroy the relationship with you and even to wreck your happiness and theirs rather than accept a new way of relating.”
“Depending on you, the experience of your parent perceiving you as an enemy will either so traumatize you that you will choose to regress back to the old song and dance, or will so clarify how impossible it is to have a viable, constructive relationship with him that it will make it easier for you to terminate the tie. You know what going back means; you’ve been there. Under the circumstances, if you’ve come so far that you’ve been able to change the song and dance and this has done nothing but propel them into an adversary stance, it is clearly better to make the painful decision to let it go.”
Hoping this is helpful for you to read! As I have said before, it takes a lot of inner strength and outside supports to take the action of setting boundaries with a parent. If you are one of the people who is in this position and struggling with guilt on this Mother’s Day week, please know that you are not alone. I am here to say, everything is going to be okay, if you will be especially kind to yourself and your wounded inner child this week. Think back to some things you loved as a child and do that for yourself on Mother’s Day. Ride your bike, play with your dog or cat, skip through a field of flowers, read a favorite comic book, watch your favorite show, take a bubble bath, draw a silly picture, or finger paint. If this just seems too silly to you, wasn’t it fun just imagining yourself doing those things? That is the power of visualizations and affirmations to change your mood–it really works! The strong part of you can mother, nurture, comfort and love the wounded inner child part of you on Mother’s Day–imagine the adult you comforting the child you.
This powerful exercise will help you in your healing if you do it whenever you are feeling a lot of self-doubt, guilt, or emotional pain. Also do something special for yourself. Maybe you could buy yourself a small gift you’ve been wanting or wanted as a child as a reward for being strong. You survived! And as a highly sensitive person (HSP), you are stronger and have more to give to others because of the compassion you recognize that you deserved but never received from your mother. Be the mother you never had to yourself and you can begin to heal your childhood wounds and find your true voice and become the person that you are meant to be. God Bless You All.
Today I have decided to release the lyrics for my song, “Finally I See, Now I’m Free”. This song was written at a time when I realized the futility of a relationship in my life and was grieving for what would never be–but also discovered an inner strength and a new found sense of freedom. I hope it brings you some comfort and strength during this difficult week.