The role of mother most commonly comes as a woman has a child. The role of the matriarch, the mother of the family, usually comes on more subtly. She slowly begins to acquire responsibility, some she sought out herself and others cast upon her. The matriarch loves feeling wanted and needed initially. It’s intoxicating to orchestrate ties within the family…until the intoxication isn’t fulfilling anymore.
We hear the cries of women in the matriarch role, even when many don’t even use that terminology to describe themselves. They come into our offices not knowing who they are and what they want. They come to us feeling drained, lonely, and full of resentment. They’ve met the needs of others, while neglecting themselves. And they belt out “WHAT ABOUT ME?”
Sometimes these well meaning women need to be taught how to listen to their inner voices who have been muted for so long. Others need permission to cut ties and set limits with their friends and families. All share the common goal of lightening the burden of everyone else’ needs and happiness. Recognizing that their own needs don’t make them needy, those needs make them just as human as the next person.
We counselors are keenly aware that the people in the recovering matriarch’s life may not like the newer version of her. She will be taught how and when to say ‘no’, begin doing for herself without guilt or justification to others, and she’ll carry what she wants rather than what she feels obligated to carry. This newer version of her is healthier, however the rest of the family will need to adjust as well and it’s not her responsibility anymore to make sure that happens.
Loving your family is one thing. Carrying your family is another. Carrying their needs and their wants, their secrets and their pain, is all too heavy for one person to bear. A matriarch can lead by example, leaving a living legacy of emotional health to those around her. We are here to help her, and chances are if you’ve read this far…she is you. Give us a call and say hello to a new version of you, a new definition of matriarch.