Most Difficult Relationship / Time

MomHoundstoothThis is going to be a most personal post. I don’t usually feel comfortable opening up and being vulnerable about what I’m going through personally in my public career. The truth is, the last couple months have been among the most difficult in my entire life. And that’s the reason you have not felt or seen me much lately, except in the interviews I had prerecorded.

On March 5th, my mom was hospitalized. On March 15th, I flew out to be with her in Chicago. I packed for a week, thinking I was going to help her transition from the hospital to a nursing home. Unfortunately, she didn’t make it. I ended up staying in Chicago for 6 weeks, holding 2 funerals for her in different towns, and then managing all the affairs of her estate – all with the wrong clothes for the wrong weather. Needless to say, I’m pretty exhausted, depleted, haven’t had a chance to really grieve yet, and matters are not yet wrapped up yet either. I am not quite ready to be fully present back in my business right now, yet I wanted to share some poignant realizations about this intense relationship I have had with my mother – very appropriate since Mother’s Day is coming up this weekend.

My mother was a tough woman – she was no walk in the park, no piece of cake. She was abused, witnessed the most horrific bombing of World War II, lived in a Displaced Person camp in Germany, married out of practicality not love, and unconsciously passed the abuse along to her children. She was well-loved by people who did not know her too well, while her immediate family and siblings couldn’t live with her.

In the last couple of years, I came to know about Narcissistic Personality Disorder, and it really described my mother to a tee. This disorder is about a person who is so badly damaged in their youth, that there is no Authentic Self – only a False Self trying desperately to use any means to feel as though it is real and exists, including beating others down and draining their energy to feel powerful. Therapists agree that this is one disorder that is not curable, since this type of person will not take responsibility for anything they say or do – it’s always someone else’s fault. They have no capacity to see themselves, since it is our Authentic Self that is the Observer.

I was deeply involved with my mother my whole life long, desperately trying to please her, trying to make her satisfied, to get her to love me, to even get her to recognize me, or know that I even existed! In my mid-thirties, I finally realized it would never be. I worked on myself spiritually, and each time I would go visit her it was my barometer on how well I was doing in my spiritual practice. Needless to say, our relationship improved somewhat as I let go of any expectation of having a healthy and loving relationship with her, but it continued to be rocky and tumultuous.

In the last couple of years, as I was made aware of Narcissistic Personality Disorder, and how to heal myself of what I perceived as narcissistic abuse, I was finally able to detach myself more and more from what she needed from me. It seemed that as I did so, she became more frail and weak, and ultimately passed away at the ripe old age of 87. Is this what the spiritual teachers spoke of when they said a lesson stays in your life until you learn it and then it goes away? Or was it just coincidence that my mom’s end of life coincided with my greater understanding of our relationship dynamic? I don’t believe in coincidences – only synchronicities – so here’s what I believe:

What a rich, amazing lesson my mother gave me! SO many lessons! How to feel good about myself in the face of abuse, how to stay strongly centered when faced with the demands of someone as intimately close to me as my mother, how to create a life I desire rather than one based on guilt and her desire to keep me tied to her, how to stay compassionate towards someone so clearly damaged and still not let their damage affect me – too much anyway, how to heal a broken heart over and over… how to connect with someone who cannot genuinely connect, and how to keep my heart open because it’s so sad. And SO many more lessons, so many more.

I was surprised when my mother passed away, how much grief and sadness I felt at the loss of this relationship. You would think I would feel relieved, but I felt the opposite. If it’s true that spiritually we pick the type of parent and childhood experience we want to learn from before we come to Earth and enter a body, then I sure picked a doozy! And I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Not for me to be coddled by an unconditionally loving woman! Not for me to ease and breeze through a sweet and warm relationship with a nurturing figure! No. I got the E ticket – I got to know the most intense darkness of a soul and how to climb out of that abyss and feel victory over the darkness, claiming the light yet still teetering on the edge of that abyss, knowing I could go back there so easily because it is so familiar… How to die a little death and rise again regenerated, over and over… practically on command.

I feel this has built my character and my emotional makeup so strongly, that this is the reason I am able to help others out of their personal abyss – however light or dark it may be. All of this has put me on the path of being a healer as my life purpose – I understand it all so intimately. For this purpose and this deep, deep lesson, I am eternally grateful to my mother.

The following video has really been touching my heart these days – I hope it touches yours too! Please leave your comments below – I’d love to hear from you, after baring my heart so vulnerably. ;->

25 thoughts on “Most Difficult Relationship / Time”

  1. Thank you for sharing. Its apparent the student has found the appropriate teacher. Thank you for deciding to teach those of us wanting to learn. I wonder, did those “hard” times occur to give us mothers, that would give birth to children that learn the dualities of the abyss, transcending from it, and further evolving that energy? Hmmmm…….

    Much love to you as you process this chapter of your life. I wonder if I would grieve at the loss of my mother…….. interesting topic for our next call I suppose.

  2. Hi Nijole, everyone has a story. The people in my life have not been like your mother. The truth is I can’t really comprehend what it would be like to have a mother like that. Nevertheless, it seems to have served you well by giving you the experience you need to help the people who come to you. I’m glad I didn’t have to deal with that sort of thing myself! My mother was always a good example to us of how to keep a young attitude no matter what your chronological age. Right up until the day she died, about two weeks before her 94th birthday.A few days before she died she commented to somebody that she would be going over a whole lifetime of work.
    The afternoon of the day she died she was singing songs with as many of her children as could get there.

    I think that telling your story as you have done will make it easier for people who want to talk to you to tell you their stories it will help them to know they can trust you. It makes me feel as if I would give you a hug if I could.

    Your friend, Terron

  3. Dear Nijole, please accept my heartfelt condolences on the death of your mother, may her soul rest in peace.
    and thanks for sharing your personal shadow journey, not an easy one.

  4. Dear Nijole, I am sorry for your loss. May your mother rest in sweet peace. Thank you for your beautiful sharing and all of your beautiful work. I am so glad and grateful to have connected with you in this synchronicity. Much love, LeAnna

  5. Nijole, I love the video on Gratitude and am sharing it with my loved ones and friends also. Mostly, I feel love for you… as a little girl connected to a pain filled and pain giving mom, and also for the fierce, beautiful, love conduit you have become. Thank you for being vulnerable. We already knew you were strong. Now we know the price you paid for it, and can value the whole of you even more. Hugs!!!

  6. Nijole, thank you for being open and vulnerable. That is what brings richness to life and allows connection and introspection. It makes you shine. Much appreciated.

  7. Dear Nijole, thank you for sharing with us. My thoughts are with you at this time. Your courage really comes through in the article. What you have said really resonated with me and I have similar issues in my relationship with my mother and in the family system. As others have said above, I sense that some of the reason I have been drawn to you work is because of the similarities. I am 39 and trying to fathom the relationship with my mother. Your work and vulnerability in sharing is inspiring to me and such a help. I hope that you look after yourself, self-love and compassion at this time. Sending lots of love.

  8. I am so sorry about your mother, sending love and strength to you! Was touched by your story and i definitely felt I related to your story in terms of my mother and the relationship I have with her. I guess our parents come to this earth to teach us these lessons. Thanks for opening up and sharing this with us to help us on our journey.
    Also the video was extremely inspiring and meaningful!

  9. Hi Nijole,
    Bless you for this magestic tribute to your magnum opus, The Shadow. There is never a winner if one is determined to fight it, only pain & loss. Your mother was consumed by her shadow self, which is a heartbreak for those of us who are daughters of such women. I stand with you for the truth of your journey into freedom, & rejoice for each heart that is awakened to their truth as they discover this post.
    I also thank you for posting your mom’s photo, as it tells me of her decision to survive the cruelties she endured. You have certainly inherited a fighting spirit & have upleveled your inheritance of courage to move into the light of your being.
    Please take all the time you need to love yourself back to life & the many possibilities that await you.


    Iris Blake

  10. Thanks for being vulnerable and posting this. Sounds like both my mother and my father! Condolences on the death of your mother, but, somehow, doesn’t it set you free?! My dad thought we(my brothers and sisters) to do all his work for him, and then he could do whatever he wanted to us and my mother, which he usually did. My dad’s been dead 11 years now, but, my mom is still alive and she is in complete denial. When I try to talk to her about it, she calls me a liar. Kind of hard to deal with. The short film was beautiful!

    1. I guess I’m not in the “feeling free” phase yet, since I am still in the throes of divesting my mother’s estate. She’s still with me, I’m still serving her as I always did. It will be interesting to see how much processing it will take for me to get there!

  11. Dear Nijole, please accept my heartfelt condolences on the death of your mother. I think when the relationship in life was filled with the pain and complexity that you describe, it makes the loss (especially of a parent or sibling) something that reaches down into your very bones. I always listen to your interviews, read your writings. and I feel such a connection to you! Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experience, and the short film. I am grateful.

  12. Thank you for your insight and looking at lesson’s learned. Loving your mother and accepting the relationship as it was and releasing expectations. A hurtful, hard lesson that I am experiencing with my adopted daughters and birthmothers. Letting go and letting be. Creating a new normal. What ever that looks like. Breathe, be present and find joy in the little things. This is a difficult time and you are setting the example for many in taking care of you first and foremost. Thank you!

  13. Beautiful. Thanks for sharing. I some kind of that experience too, and I thank God for putting people like you in my own path to recovery 🙂

  14. Thank you for sharing your journey. Our relationships with our mothers are often the most difficult and painful. I could really relate to your story as mine is very similar, but I still haven’t found peace in mine. I hope you have in yours. My mother is still alive but not very well, and hasn’t been for many years, so that adds to the complications. I will re-read your story and use it to help my relationship with my mother. Thank you for sharing! Hugs!

  15. Thank you, what a beautiful heartfelt video. Loved it. I have to laugh, brother David keeps popping up on me. The Divine. So Thank you with much Gratitude. <3 Christina

  16. Thanks for sharing your story. I too had a narcissistic mother, who had an unhappy childhood and didn’t love herself. I was 35 when I finally figured out that she couldn’t love me because she didn’t love herself. And no matter how much love I poured on her………she couldn’t let it in. The wall was too thick and too tall with NO cracks for the love to seep thru. It was so sad that she lived her whole life thinking no one loved her. When I was younger it left me with the feeling that my love wasn’t good enough or she would have gotten it. 30 years later…….I’m still trying to get beyond attracting narcissists…..they hide it so well. I’m always shocked several years later to find I’m dating another one! Would love for you to do a talk about that. Thanks so much for all you do. Love you and your work. You are just so authentic when you speak!

    1. Thank you, Mari. This topic has been brewing within me for a long time and I do intend to speak more about it soon.

  17. Thank you for your article. My mother was shaped by her past also. Often picking a mothers day card took a bit of time as none of them fit. I was searching for a “you did the best you could. I will learn about unconditionally loving myself later in life. But often you learn how you don’t want to be like someone ; it’s the learning that matters. Peace and love.

  18. Thank you for opening up and sharing your personal story with us. I am sorry for your loss. Your mother gave you an incredible gift. Thank you for sharing about Narcissistic Personality Disorder. I had never heard about this and it has helped me understand some people in my life.

    Wishing you the best!


  19. So sorry for your loss beautiful. May you grieve well. Thank you for sharing so vulnerably. Will be thinking of you especially on Sunday.
    Sending love, light & big hugs xo

  20. Nijole, Your post is soulful, raw & you’re embodying such wisdom in the loss of your mom. It seems people go thru almost some kind of initiation when their mother passes, whatever she has been in their life. I believe your mom loved you deeply underneath her veil of fear, narcissism. I dated one and see him almost as my ‘deliver-er’ in many ways too. I wish your heart a beautiful & peaceful connection with your mother. It feels as though she is there with you now being the unconditional love being out of human form, its all healed. Let it in and let those tears flow. Love, Kim

  21. Earlier this year I listened to a number of people give talks on relationships and how to move forward. Yours meant the most to me, by far. And, during a brief conversation we had, I really resonated with what we discussed. I now know why. My mother is the same as yours was. I also agree with what happens when you start stepping back.
    Thank you for sharing this. I get why you usually don’t, but I am glad you did.

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