Looking for a (late!) gift for Mother’s Day? How about changing your mother’s and your life forever, while cleaning up the messes in your relationship with her? All with just one letter that you write and read to her. Sounds good, doesn’t it? So where’s the catch?
You need to get REAL. I mean really real.
As real as you maybe never intended to get with your mother – as real as I certainly did not intend to get with my mother when I embarked on that journey. A journey that turned out to be crazily rewarding, including tears, confessions, and all.
Frankly, it wasn’t even my choice to write that letter to my mom in the first place. But as I had set my mind to becoming a coach in Handel Group’s Corporate division, it was part of the training to do each and every assignment that The Handel Method has to offer – including what we call the “Parent Letters” (one for each parent, or several, if you have more than two).
There I was, on a mission to upgrade the way individuals within corporations and organizations operate on a global level. And, yes, at Handel Group, that includes upgrading the way I interacted with my nearest and dearest. Including my parents. Especially my parents.
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Okay, challenge accepted, I went on the ride. (For those of you who are on Inner.U LIFE, our online coaching course, that ride starts with Module 11).
I started by making a nice long list of my experiences growing up with my mother: Everything that I had been hurt or embarrassed by; where I felt abandoned, misunderstood, confused, ashamed, left alone …reaching as far back as my memory would take me.
From: “I have this picture of the kindergarten teachers cleaning the place around me; it was past pick-up time, and I was the last remaining kid, as usual. You were always running late, and I totally hated that.” Over: How irritating it was for me as a young girl when she would “break the news gently” to my father after she had bought something rather expensive for herself (why would she even try to hide it?). And: Her status orientation, making her so dependent upon what other people would think of her …and her daughters and their husbands. All the way through to: How cold and mean she can be, and how that makes me want to save people from her. How critical she can be, and so quick to judge other people. How controlling. And so on (with lots of examples).
It felt so good to finally get it all out.
The next step had me look at all the places where I had been (and still was) judging her, and how my versions of the story might be slightly (or massively) colored by that.
That part didn’t come as naturally as the previous one. Yet it turned out to be the most exciting part of the ride so far.
With the help of my coach, I was able to see that much of what I had been holding against my mother…I was actually doing myself. Maybe in a different (I would claim: more sophisticated) fashion, and maybe less frequently than her. But most of the behaviors I had been judging her for, I could actually see in myself. Clearly. My favorite (after I had gotten the complete irony of it): Judging her for being judgmental.
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I also got to see all the places where I had put my mother in the ditch while putting my father on a pedestal – and how that had impacted my relationship with her.
Equipped with these insights, I sat down and wrote that letter to my mother that was to replace shaming and blaming with owning and speaking the truth, paving the way for a completely changed relationship between us.
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My letter to my mother starts with my vision for us – two powerful women who are loving, uplifting, and supporting of one another, whatever happens – and how much I’m determined to make that dream come true.
Followed by that list of experiences with her that I mentioned earlier on: what I got hurt or embarrassed by, where I felt misunderstood or left alone – from a much more mature perspective. It also contains where I have been judging and blaming her, and a promise to end my right of doing that or fine, at the very least, confess when I was doing it and cut it out. The last part of the letter is about gratitude: why I am deeply grateful to have her as my mom.
Once that carefully crafted letter was finished, I did not send it to her. I arranged a meeting for us and I read it to her.
I am not going to describe that level of connection, intimacy, and resolution my mother and I experienced during that very special reading. Nor the long-lasting effects this has had on our relationship (and other relationships in my life). Because I would much rather want you to experience it yourself.
How about giving your mother and yourself that gift?