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April 2, 2023

Healing the Mother Wound: an Unexpected Lesson from “Daisy Jones & The Six.”

The other night while watching “Daisy Jones and The Six,” I experienced an unlikely and troubling surprise.

It was when Daisy, one of the main characters, was told something I’d heard over and over again in my life, beginning in childhood. The exact words.

This was totally unanticipated, since I had nothing in common with her or any of the fictional characters of the show. Or, so I thought.

I am not a rock star, nor have I ever been. I am not addicted to drugs or alcohol. And I’m not a singer-songwriter trapped in a love triangle. So, what exactly could it be?

Daisy had an absent, emotionally abusive mother. There were less than two minutes of dialogue or direct contact between her and Daisy for the duration of 10 episodes. But the implied abuse that her mother dished out had a profound impact on Daisy’s sense of self and provided the impetus for Daisy’s drug abuse, profound insecurity, and self-destructive tendencies.

Throughout the episodes, I never felt aligned with such heightened dysfunction. However, a line spoken in the final episode sent me reeling. I suddenly realized that Daisy and I have a lot in common.

In the final episode, Daisy calls her mother after many years of no contact. What we know of her mother, at that point, is that she discouraged Daisy as a young child, telling her “no one wants to hear you sing.” Daisy left home at a young age and her mother was not heard from again. It was years later when Daisy received a letter from her that she considered reaching out.

Episodes go by with her staring at the letter, until finally, she calls her. The conversation is short, sad, and frustrating. But one specific line resonated with me because that exact line, verbatim, had been spoken to me a thousand times by my mother.

Daisy: “You know mom, sometimes I think that, that, there are a million strangers out there who love me more than you ever did.”

Her mother: “Well maybe, but they don’t really know you, now do they?”

 

@lessdiannaicmorefabrayic This scene broke me. My baby deserves so much better ? | #AXERatioChallenge#fyp#fypシ#daisyjonesandthesix#daisyjonesandthesixedit#daisyjonesedit#daisyjonesedit#rileykeough#rileykeoughedit#mommyissues#fleetwoodmac#billydunne#camiladunne#karensirko#grahamdunne ♬ All The Things She Said – t.A.T.u.

I heard that and burst into tears. It was like my mother had come back from the dead. The wording was exact.

When my mother would criticize me and I would respond by saying that my teachers, my friends and their parents, and so many others liked me, she would always insist, “but they don’t really know you, now do they?” I heard that so many times while growing up and into adulthood.

My mother withheld love when she felt like it and withdrew it in equal measure. It was usually a random occurrence, often when she felt impotent in her marriage or in her life.

If you’re unhappy and can send your happy child into instant hysterics and threaten punishment for no reason, it feels as if you are powerful again. My tears and confusion seemed to be her salve.

A salve for someone who could use the words “I love you” to reel you in, only to pierce your heart with an equally emphatic “you are worthless” when they wanted to see you dance in a torrent of tears for something, anything they could conjure up. And you never knew what it was—only years later did you discover that you had done nothing wrong. Rather, it was their toxic need for power and control.

My realization that, at my core, I was not that different from Daisy was startling. Yes, I am highly functioning, not an addict, and am helpful and kind. But the self-loathing that Daisy suffered from? I suffer from it too. The self-blame for whatever goes wrong, the self-doubt that permeates decisions made, and the self-criticism when things outside my control go wrong.

The words “but they don’t really know you, now do they” ring loud and clear in my head when good things happen and when people show me love. They were spoken to me so many times over the years, that even though my mother has been gone for years, her voice still shouts in my head.

Who would have thought that a series about a fictional rock band in the 70s could show me something about myself. But it did.

And while it’s fiction, maybe the part about Daisy healing doesn’t have to be. Maybe it can be true for me too.

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