All holidays are stressful. It’s either the good stress of trying to do all you have planned for those you love or the dread you feel about again being in certain family situations that you felt you “escaped” as an adult. Or maybe it’s a combination of the two.
As complicated as family gatherings are, perhaps the most anxiety-provoking is when you are again going to need to be in contact with your mother. You love her, and you will gather with others to celebrate her, but you worry about her and her unacknowledged problems.
Your mother was your first role model for so much in your life. Perhaps she carved a clear path that you followed, one that afforded you a route toward of owning your power and joining with other women who developed avenues that afforded them having a voice in their own lives.
Or maybe your mother was like Lily Myers’s mother, a complex woman plagued by her own demons who tried to drink them away, a mother who created a model of womanhood that you felt you needed to push against for your own survival.
Take a moment and watch this short video as you ask yourself if this seems familiar to you.
Lily Myers “Shrinking Women” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zQucWXWXp3k
Drinking Away Your Demons—Your Girly Thoughts
What you learned in that powerful video is the way so many women internalize societal messages about what weight they should be, what age they should never move past, how they should stuff their sorrows—what I have named girly thoughts: the inner toxic self-talk that robs women of their energy, desire, and confidence.
These girly thoughts act like inner demons, constantly berating a woman and resulting in so many women doing what Lily’s mother does: drinking away their feelings. This leaves their daughters angry, confused, and longing for the mother they need.
If your mother is like Lily’s:
- share with her what she is doing and give her the name girly thoughts. Why? Because naming something gives you power over it.
- identify together when either one of you is thinking a girly thought.
- use the term girly thoughts with your mother and your friends as a shorthand way of sharing how you are beating yourself up.
- identify the sources of your girly thoughts—ads, TV shows, and movies are a good place to start.
- encourage your mother to go to an AA meeting to begin to look at her drinking, while you attend the Al-Anon meeting down the hall and see how you have been impacted by her drinking. What a gift this would be to help your mother begin her own recovery.
For better or worse, your mother gave you what she had, girly thoughts and all. But this doesn’t have to be the end of your story. Recovery from alcoholism and from girly thoughts can make you and your mother closer as you develop a bond based on supporting each other. Work as a team to develop coping skills that don’t involve drinking away your problems or beating yourself up for having those girly thoughts. What a great way to ensure that the next family gathering will be really filled with joy.
Email your stories about how your girly thoughts led you in the wrong direction: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Remember, you’ll find more ideas for getting rid of your negative self-talk in my two latest books, The Girly Thoughts 10-Day Detox Plan: The Resilient Woman’s Guide to Saying NO to Negative Self-Talk and YES to Personal Power and The Resilient Woman: Mastering The 7 Steps to Personal Power.
Patricia A. O'Gorman, Ph.D., is a psychologist in private practice. She is noted for her work on women, trauma, and substance abuse and for her warm, inspiring, and amusing presentations that make complex issues accessible and even fun. She has served as a consultant to organizations across the country in preventative and clinical strategic planning. Dr. O'Gorman is a cofounder of the National Association for Children of Alcoholics, and she has held positions ranging from director of a rape crisis center to clinical director of a child welfare agency, and director of the division of prevention for the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). She is a veteran of numerous television appearances, including Good Morning America, Today, and AM Sunday and is the author of eight books including: The Girly Thoughts 10 Day Detox Plan (2014), The Resilient Woman: Mastering the 7 Steps to Personal Power (2013), and Healing Trauma Through Self-Parenting (2012) 12 Steps to Self-Parenting.