Wow. That is One Big Question I am asking today!
One you may never have asked yourself before.
But getting clear on the answer can transform your life.
From the photograph above, you already know where I’m going.
Yes, I am going to offer you my view that the most important relationship
in your whole life is your relationship with your mother.
Wait a minute, you may say.
I thought you said you are a Christian!
Wouldn’t a Christian say that a person’s most important relationship is with Jesus?
Or: I thought you said you are a psychoanalytic therapist!
Wouldn’t a psychoanalytic therapist say that your primary relationship is with your self?
Or: I thought you said you are a freedom builder!
Wouldn’t a freedom builder say that your primary relationship is with your fellow
I see you are wide awake. Those are great and worthy challenges!!!
But I will hold my position.
Because the health of your relationship with Jesus (Father, Son and Holy Spirit)
or with Jehovah, Mohammad, Buddha, or any other religious leader or spiritual
perspective you may believe in–
as well as the health of your relationship with your self
as well as the health of your relationship with your political ideals and fellow idealists
are all determined by the health of your underlying relationship with your mother.
Whoa. That is a very sweeping and bold assertion, isn’t it?
Yes, it is.
I am actually asserting that your spiritual, psychological and political health
all depend on the health of your relationship with your mother.
And I am prepared to back that assertion up.
I will explain why this is so.
Are you game to hear my thoughts?
Let’s DO this!
I was one of those 60’s revolutionaries.
Oh, we knew everything.
Just like today’s social justice warriors.
Absolutely correct. On everything.
We saw bad all around us.
We, of course, were all good.
I ended up completely cut off from my family.
Pregnant, living in a shack with a wood stove and an outhouse,
in the freezing winter in British Columbia, Canada.
No car, walking miles to get food.
In spite of my having broken away from her and ignored her
during my years of political zealotry,
my mother–who barely had money to feed herself–
sent me $50. a month for vitamins the whole time of my pregnancy.
So that I could give birth to a healthy baby.
It took me years in psychoanalysis to restore my capability
to see her goodness and to have a healthy relationship with her.
But I did, and I still have it now—though she died many years ago.
I made it back to her in time. In time to rebuild.
I can still feel her arms–pulling me in close, so strongly!–
when she first saw me again.
We stayed close.
And fifteen years later I was with her, feeding her spoons of applesauce,
when she looked up expectantly, as if she suddenly saw someone coming,
and peacefully died.
Hear me: ya gotta make it home in time.
Here is how it feels if you don’t:
Blake Shelton singing The Baby
So, back to the question of why
Why is our relationship with our mother the most important one in our whole life?
Why does the health of all our other relationships depend on it?
Because of something called projection.
Projection is a psychoanalytic term.
In projection, we unconsciously put onto others what is actually within ourselves.
We project outward, onto them, our own internal images.
The first and most powerful image we form in life is an image of our mother.
Primarily good or primarily bad.
We play our one movie over and over
Think of each of us as having a movie projector and just one film.
The film is our core relationship with our mother, established in early infancy.
As we go through life, we play the same film on every screen we encounter.
The screens we encounter are the people we meet.
We project our good or bad image of our mother onto every person
we deal with, including ourselves.
We also project it onto every spiritual and political relationship we enter into.
Each of us projects a basically good or basically bad image onto the whole world.
The following folk tale shows you how this works:
The Two Travelers and the Farmer
A traveler came upon an old farmer hoeing in his field beside the road. Eager to rest his
feet, the wanderer hailed the countryman, who seemed happy enough to straighten his back
and talk for a moment.
“What sort of people live in the next town?” asked the stranger.
“What were the people like where you’ve come from?” replied the farmer, answering the
question with another question.
“They were a bad lot. Troublemakers all, and lazy too. The most selfish people in the
world, and not a one of them to be trusted. I’m happy to be leaving the scoundrels.”
“Is that so?” replied the old farmer. “Well, I’m afraid that you’ll find the same sort
in the next town.
Disappointed, the traveler trudged on his way, and the farmer returned to his work.
Some time later another stranger, coming from the same direction, hailed the farmer, and
they stopped to talk.
“What sort of people live in the next town?” he asked.
“What were the people like where you’ve come from?” replied the farmer once again.
“They were the best people in the world. Hard working, honest, and friendly. I’m sorry
to be leaving them.”
“Fear not,” said the farmer. “You’ll find the same sort in the next town.”
The town each traveler came from was evaluated according to what he had projected
upon it, based on his underlying relationship with his mother.
He views the town he came from, and the one he is going to, the same way he views her.
If we have a sick, destructive relationship with our mother we will have a sick,
destructive relationship with ourselves and with all we encounter.
We will also be vulnerable to sick, destructive, extreme black-and-white religious views
and to sick, destructive extreme black-and-white political views.
The pivot point of healing
But when our relationship with our mother begins to heal through intensive therapy,
as mine did, all our other relationships begin to proceed in a healthier direction.
This is why it is the most important relationship in our whole lives:
It is the pivot point.
You may say No, no—the spiritual is the pivot point. Our relationship with God!
And I will say, no—the infant’s first relationship is with her mother.
Please take a long look at the photo at the beginning of this post,
of the little girl in the arms of her mother.
That is where all her relationships begin.
Her relationship with her father, with her own self, with all her family, with her friends,
with God and religion, with politics, and with everyone else—all proceed from that one.
What can I do to begin healing, today?
What if my relationship with my mother is broken?
How can I begin healing our relationship?
The first step is forgiveness. We must forgive our mother, and forgive ourselves.
To summon yourself to take that step, please see my previous post:
How can I build a good strong connection with my mother?
Our goal is to find the best in our mother, gather her best qualities
and form them into a strong and positive image we can identify with.
Once we begin to build a positive identification with the best of our mother—
establishing a good strong internalized image of her—
we begin to become capable of taking good care of ourselves, as a good mother would.
We stop doing things our good mother would be ashamed of us for.
We start doing things that would make her proud. We honor her.
To paraphrase Blake Shelton:
We don’t care if we’re 80
We’ll always be her baby
Every morning with my Mom
I have a little file card I read aloud every morning when I wake up, after I read the Bible:
My good mother protects me from all harm.
And all suffering. And all discouragement.
And all distraction. Especially the internet. [Had to cut it cold turkey.]
And all obsession with politics. [Am still a political junkie.]
My good mother will take care of me my whole life.
Reading this gives me my good mother, right here with me as I start each day.
I feel peaceful, secure, and held.
Go ahead…write yourself a little card just for you.
So your good Mama can hold you and make things better.
And then it will be time to…
And go home. As soon as it is safe.
And before it is too late.
Make sure she sees her Baby.
Sees her Baby lots.
Rebuilding with your Mom will take time
If you need help with reconciliation, I encourage you to find a good therapist.
Regardless of whether or not you are religious,
allow me to suggest that a Christian therapist may be particularly helpful with this issue.
I don’t say this to evangelize, but because honor thy mother and forgiveness
are central tenets of the faith.
Me, I am still reuniting with my mother!
I had a recovery dream just the other night.
A recovery dream is one in which you recognize the positive qualities of your mother,
even if you previously hated her or feared her or both.
My dream recognizes my Mom’s generosity:
We are in a pet store, where they sell things for cats and dogs.
My Mom sees a display of catnip mice.
She says to me “O, I am going to buy two—one for each of your kitties!”
And I say to her “Oh, Mom, you don’t have to buy two! They can both play with one.”
But she insists. She really wants each of them to have their own mouse.
I am very touched, seeing how generous she is to my kitties.
My dream shows that I finally acknowledge the truth:
I have two children, and my Mom was always very generous toward them both.
If I had been able to maintain this inner good image of her earlier in my life,
I would not have taken many of the paths that caused me so much pain.
I wasn’t able to take good care of myself back then
because I didn’t have my good mother firmly established inside myself.
I was not identifying with the best in her.
Now I do.
Now, I take great care of myself every day, with her help and God’s.
Is there hope?
You may be asking: Is there hope for me?
Oh, yes. Yes, there is!
Life and health will resume its natural development when you reunite with your mother.
I would not give you false hope.
You, too, can have a mother and child reunion.
Paul Simon sings it.
He wrote Mother and Child Reunion in a state of grief
after his beloved dog was run over.
Where does he go?
Where we all need to go.
Back home to our mother.
What is your mother’s best quality? The one you will never forget!
I hope you will tell me.