By Barbara Wilkov
No matter what decisions you make in life (jobs, relationships, living situations, etc.), you always have a choice. It may not feel that way at times, but it may be helpful to know that you actually have more control over things in your life than
it may sometimes feel. The same is true when dealing with your mother. As with other decisions, you have three very distinct choices:
To Walk Away: If things are really just unbearable and there is no hope of any change, there is always the option to walk away. People do become estranged from their mothers. It is a viable choice if it is something you can live with. Occasionally a break from each other can actually help to mend the relationship as the distance allows some healing to take place and priorities to become clearer. Then possibly the relationship can change. Sometimes, though, there is little hope of healing and the best thing to do is to remove yourself from the situation completely. This, however, is not something that’s easy to live with or that everyone is able to do. There are other choices…
Make a Change to the Situation: So, if you choose to stay in the relationship with your mother, remember it is, indeed, a choice. But now what? Again, you have a choice. In situations like this, you can choose to try to change the situation. But that also involves the other person wanting to make a change to the situation as well. People can change (as in your mother) and you can work on the relationship together, but they also need to want to change. You can’t make another person change (that goes for your husband, mother-in-law, sister, boss, etc., too). Let’s face it, you’re really never too old to change, but chances are good that if your mother is now a bit older she’s probably not going to change. So, that leaves choice #3…to try to change how you feel or respond to the situation.
Make a Change to Your Attitude/Reaction: This 3rd option is a very valid choice, but very difficult to attain. If you have chosen to stay in the relationship and your mother isn’t going to change, then you are making the choice to work on improving the relationship on your end and that has to come from inside of you and how you deal with the situation. This is going to be different for different people…some things that may help you include listening to music, journaling, talking to friends, getting professional help, exercising, trying to understand your mother as a person and how she ended up here, reading books on new strategies, ignoring things that drive you crazy, even trying to understand that your aging mother may be feeling scared, vulnerable and resentful of the fact that she’s getting old.
None of this is easy! We SO get that. But if you choose to continue to have a relationship with your mother, then this is the journey you have embarked upon.