Our relationship with our mother . . .
Depression, alcoholism, and psychosis were among the most common causes of the mother’s disability. Many daughters remember their mothers as suffering from mysterious ailments which made them seem withdrawn peculiar, and unavailable. The mothers’ psychiatric and medical problems usually went undiagnosed and untreated.
Economically dependent, socially isolated, in poor health, and encumbered with the care of many small children, these mothers were in no position to challenge their husbands’ domination or to resist their abuses.
No matter how badly they were treated, most simply saw no option other than submission to their husbands. They convey to their daughters the belief that a women is defenseless against a man, that marriage must be preserved at all costs, and that a wife’s duty is to serve and endure.
Most remember their mothers as weak and powerless, finding their only dignity in martyrdom. No limit to their capacity for suffering.
They mediate parental quarrels and placated their fathers when their mothers dared not approach them.
Since it was their duty to provide sympathetic audience for their fathers, many daughters heard about their parents’ marital troubles in great detail.
The fathers’ complaints were monotonously simple. They considered themselves deprived of the care to which e=they felt entitled. In their estimation, their wives were not giving enough: they were cold; they were frigid; they refused sex; they withheld love.
They knew only that they bore the burden of their mothers’ shortcomings and were obliged to nurture others while their own longings for nurture went unsatisfied. In these circumstances, the daughters could not escape the feeling profoundly disappointed in their mothers.
In these moments of despair, these daughters felt the absence of the most primary bonds of caring and trust.
Dr. Judith Herman, Father-Daughter Incest, pg 80-81.