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Eating Disorder Recovery
Joanna Poppink, MFT
Eating Disorder Recovery Psychotherapist
serving Arizona, California, Florida, Oregon and Utah.
All appointments are virtual.


Tracy, you sound like you are achieving so much in therapy at the moment! I'm really glad you managed to enjoy your Mother's Day with the girls, without your Mom.

I have been questioning a lot this week whether I can go back to treating my mother as though she is sick.

I think my initial reactions to it were because it feels like a step backwards - because that is how I'd always regarded her prior to therapy, and I think I'm scared that if I go back to treating my mother in that way, then I will also revert back to who I was pre-therapy - and that scares me, a lot!

And so the question is really whether I can tolerate the way she behaves and the way she treats me without it bringing back all those feelings and symptoms of low self-worth? It's not like a have a therapist at my disposal to help me with this, if I attempt it, I'll be going it alone.

My self-worth is certainly the best it has ever been, I'm not plagued with the feelings of "not good enough", I don't think or feel inherently "bad", but is this new way of regarding myself firmly cemented in place? It feels it - but reconnecting with my mother would certainly test it.

When I look back at what I originally responded, it wasn't really a question of what I could reasonably expect from my mother, it was a question of what should I be willing to tolerate, especially in front of my girls - if I don't have any boundaries with my mother, then I feel like I'm giving them a message that it's okay to tolerate that kind of treatment from people, if I tell them that I think she is sick and that's why I tolerate it, then I am forcing my view of her upon them. When she hurts them, which she does, do I just make excuses for her, for why they should just accept it - or should I be protecting them from that hurt.... this is all the stuff I struggle to figure out what to do with.

I know that as soon as my children get out of the car to see mother, she will weigh them up and down, and make a critical comment of some description..."ooh you've gained weight" wobbling her hand on my daughter's tummy like it was a jelly in front of all the people the foyer of a shop, last time it was poking her face and saying "ohhh look at all your spots" (my daughter has hit puberty and gets spots)...it's not like she says "It's lovely to see you" or "I haven't seen you for a while, how are you?"...the critical comment is the first and often only sentence to leave her lips when she sees them...I know she can't help it, I know she can't stop herself....but what about my daughter? She's hormonal, she's sensitive, she doesn't need those unhelpful remarks, the ones that aren't even tempered with anything positive, the ones that say the most noticeable thing about you is your figure or your spots.

My daughter doesn't like seeing my mum anymore, and when she says she doesn't want to see her gran, I support her in that.

So where is my way forward in that respect - do I really just sit with my mother and let her make those comments to my children and expect that my saying to my daughter that her gran is ill and can't help making those comments makes it all okay - because I don't really think that is sufficient to undo the damage that those remarks do to her.

So maybe myself as an individual does have the ability and self worth to do this, but what about me as a mother - because she really doesn't know how to deal with my mother


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