• Thu. Dec 1st, 2022

Ask Ashlee: Cutting off traumatic relationships or setting boundaries, which is better?

Dear Ask Ashlee,

My mother and I have not gotten along in years. She has experienced a lot of traumatic events in her life, and it caused her to create traumatic moments in mine. I have 3 sisters and we all experienced emotional and mental abuse from our mother. Whether it was her calling us out of our names, constantly reminding us that she never wanted us, or simply kicking us out the house for hours then demanding that we come home as if nothing happened. I love my mother, but my reality is that she is a very broken, toxic woman who refuses to work on herself to be a better person. My sisters agree with me to an extent, but I am the only one that refuses to deal with my mother at all. I cut my relationship off with her about 3 years ago and while I can admit I miss her because again, she is my mother, I can also say cutting her off has been a breath of fresh air. I just became a mother two months ago and my sisters are urging me to allow my mother to meet her first grandchild. My husband is also on the bandwagon, despite knowing how my mother makes me feel. Now that I am a mother, I am even more adamant about keeping her away from my child, but also as a mother I couldn’t imagine this little perfection of joy cutting me off and refusing to speak to me! What should I do?

New Mom, Tired Daughter

Dear New Mom, Tired Daughter,

So, here’s the thing, I know people will remind you that you only have one mother (with the exception of your mother-in-law, or a stepmother, if you have one) but you have to think about what is best for you, your well-being, your family, and your child. There are levels to any and all relationships, right? Is it possible for you to allow your mother to meet her grandchild, you all sit and iron things out and then you put in place very strict and inflexible boundaries for your mother moving forward? Boundaries are everything, and they not only keep people in check when it comes to how much or how little they can interfere with your life, but boundaries protect your peace and prevent any disturbances within that peace. You mentioned your mom not willing to do the work she needs to do to become a better person, but I have to ask, have you? Have you gone to therapy and dealt with the things your mother did and said to you and your sisters as a child? If you have not, I implore you to do so, immediately because being a mother is beautiful, but it is also hard! You have amazing days, and some not-so-great days. You have (as you’ve stated) your own traumas to heal from so that you can be the best version of yourself for your own child. I will say this, life is short, and your mother could be gone tomorrow, if you’ve never made an attempt to reconcile your relationship with her, now might not be a bad time, but remember, boundaries are your friend, and you can enforce them as much and as often as you need to. I hope this helps!

Love & Light,

Ash