Recommendations to heal a wounded soul
Dear Amy: I had a bad childhood, where I was physically and emotionally abused by my mother. She was a single mother of four, and I am the oldest.
I am now responsible for my aged mother's care and finances.
I find myself very resentful and holding grudges from more than 40 years ago that interfere with my ability to be a loving daughter, rather than merely a responsible daughter.
Can you recommend a book for me to read that would help put things in perspective? I feel like I need to see that my adult life really isn't dependent on my childhood.
-- Tired in Nebraska
Dear Tired: My first recommendation will help you see that you are not alone. You are part of a sisterhood, but you might not realize it. Read Susan Forward's "Mothers Who Can't Love: A Healing Guide for Daughters," written with co-author Donna Frazier Glynn (2013, Harper Collins).
My next recommendation is intended to inspire you to feel your authentic feelings, love yourself and perhaps find your way to understanding and acceptance, if not outright forgiveness.
You could start with literally any of Pema Chodron's meditations, lectures, lessons or books, but this one might be best for you now: "The Places that Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times," (2001, Shambhala).
And this final message is from me: Take heart. You are doing the heavy lifting of life, and your frequent exposure to your mother at this stage will understandably plunge you back into that tender state when you were a vulnerable child to an abusive mother.
You might not be able to move beyond being a "responsible" daughter to being a loving one, but you might find a measure of peace in merely abiding and understanding that you are doing the best you can.