Don't let criticism from your mom steal your joy. Here's practical advice for dealing with the drama
"You could always fill out those annoying coupons and subscribe her to fifteen magazines," Dan chirped in his forever positive voice.
"That's not helpful," Molly sniped at him. He reached over to pull her into a hug. She was stiff in his arms. "I just can't understand it." she sighed "How can she not have anything good to say....even now....especially now."
"Come here, darlin', let it go...let it go." In his arms, she let herself soften and receive his love....
It had been a phenomenal day. Her composition had been selected and she was booked at Carnegie Hall! The dream of a life time, well at least her life time, she had seen herself on stage at Carnegie Hall, the crowd on its feet applauding like fiends. And now, after all the years, tears and trauma, it was happening.
Molly bought flowers from the street vendor, got an expensive red from the Wine Cellar (her favorite shop) and a couple of beautiful New York strips from the Italian butcher shop. It was time for a celebration, and she couldn't wait to get home to tell Dan.
He didn't disappoint. "Baby, I am so proud of you!" He picked Molly up and spun her around. "I know how hard you have worked for this." Burying her head in his shoulder she whispered, "I love you so much...so much."
"Let's crack open the cabernet and get this party going," Dan said. "Did you let your mom know?" "I sent her an email." Molly said. "Haven't heard back from her yet, but look what the mom of one of my students sent me." She ran to the computer and pulled up an email. "Read this!" she said excitedly:
"You HAVE to teach at the University level, a composition class! - God has given you an amazing gift, and the beauty of your music is getting deeper and deeper. What a story teller you are with the piano. You can take any of your pieces and in any scenario whatsoever and take your listener through the different emotions- -anywhere from rage to love, from tears to forgiveness. No holds barred. You really need to be on national television."
Dan beamed with pride. "That's terrific, honey!" And lifted his wine glass to toast her!
"Uh-oh" she said, "There is an email from my mom."
"Don't open it right now, Baby, just wait for awhile."
"No," Molly took a deep breath and clicked the email link, "I want to see what she has to say about my news."
"Darling, I still feel the phrasing would be better in the twentieth bar if you changed the chording the way I suggested. I don't know if I will be able to be at Carnegie, but I will see what I can do. Nice job!"
Shoulders slumping, it was as if she imploded, something on the inside of her collapsing and pulling all the celebration into an ancient black hole in her heart. Again. No matter how hard she worked, her mom always found the one weak spot and shined a bright light on it.
"How can she not congratulate me? I'll never be good enough for her."
"We could hire a thug and duct tape her to a street sign." Dan tried to nudge her sense of humor.
"That's not funny, Dan, I am trying to feel sorry for myself here!" And laughed in spite of herself. He was so cute!
"You know what really pisses me off?" Molly asked. "The fact that I am forty bleepin' four years old and I still wilt like a violet in the desert when she criticizes me."
"Why are you so hurt, darlin?" Dan said gently.
"Because she should care how I feel." She said quietly.
"How else can I know she loves me?"
"I love you." He whispered "And I am so proud of you. Your students love you and now there are hundreds of people who are going to love you when you perform at Carnegie."
"I know," Molly sighed. "You are right. Besides, I am proud of me! I had the best day of my life and I will not let any lame email steal that from me!"
"That's the spirit!" Dan cheered. "Now let's grill those steaks and get this party started."
Snuggling in to her favorite spot in the nook of his shoulder she kissed his neck. "I don't know what I would do without you, baby."
Overcoming perfectionism is a bitch. Age old patterns of meticulously planning and executing projects to make sure every T is crossed and i is dotted drive like a cruel slave master. If you have a family member who callously brushes over your fabulous achievements, I feel your pain and I have a word of advice.
Use the pain. That is right. Use the pain. Take a breath and acknowledge the pain in you for a change and stop focusing on the person who "caused" the pain. A fantastic tool to use in moments like this is to journal conversationally using both hands.
What you say? Yes - both hands. Starting with your dominant hand, write this questions: "Why does this hurt so much?" then switch to your non-dominant hand and write whatever comes to your mind. You will be surprised how impactful this exercise can be.
When you write with your non-dominant hand, you actually "stretch" out your experience with the pain and you get to prove to yourself that you can handle it and move beyond it. Molly's mom didn't mean to hurt her daughter. Who knows why she was unable to celebrate with Molly.
Molly can make choices to grow through her need for her mom's approval and change the dynamics of the relationship herself. While her mom may never say just the right thing, she can see that as a itty bitty blip on the radar of life, if she chooses! We're proud of you, Molly and......break a leg!
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