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Are You Trying Too Hard to Be Happy?

By Carna Zacharias-Miller

We all want to be happy. However, if a woman pushes herself to emotional and mental exhaustion in order to reach "perfect" happiness, she could suffer from a condition she probably has never heard of: Missing Mother Syndrome.

When Megan Meadows (not her real name) came to me, she just wanted to lose weight. "Look at me!" she shouted, pinching her thighs. "I am fat! I am ugly! I hate my body!" Well, there was some middle-age spread, but she certainly was a very nice looking woman. Where did all this self-hate come from?

I am a Meridian Therapy practitioner who uses EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques), a form of emotional acupressure, to release negative emotions. Tapping with the fingertips on certain energy points on the body while being "tuned in" to the problem, does stop food cravings. EFT is quite successful when it comes to weight loss. However, I realized that Megan's real challenges went far deeper than what she perceived right now as her "big" problem. She mentioned that her mom had recently died, and that brought up the sad story of her childhood. "I didn't have a mother", Megan said. "She was always gone, and when she was there, she tried to create the little girl of her dreams - she did not want me. I was a very lonely child."

The way I saw it, Megan has been suffering all her life from "Missing Mother Syndrome".

When Hope Edelman published her book "Motherless Daughters - The Legacy of Loss" in 1994, everyone who belonged to the secret sisterhood of women traumatized by early mother loss, had a revelation: That's exactly how I feel - and I am not alone!

Growing up without the secure presence of a loving, supportive mother implies much more than lacking a same-sex role model. It is devastating. Since the mother is the first, the basic caretaker, losing her -in a physical or emotional way- starts a nightmare of deprivation for a child. In a way, it never ends. Many negative conditions and feelings experienced later in life may have their roots in this extremely traumatic experience.

You could suffer from "Missing Mother Syndrome" if you experience the following conditions on a regular basis:

  • You feel lost, out of place, and unsafe in this world
  • There is an underlying sadness in your life, even if nothing is wrong
  • You tend to feel lonely and depressed, especially at other people's "Happy Family" gatherings
  • You hate your body or are unsure about "being a woman"
  • You have abandonment or anger issues that hurt your relationships
  • You experience social stress - you either try to stay invisible, or you have a compulsion to be in the limelight
  • Any major crisis in your life, like a divorce, job loss, or bereavement, throws you right back into the painful past
  • There is a lot of fear, anxiety, or even guilt and shame in your life
  • You feel homesick without knowing where "home" is
  • You are trying too hard to be happy and "perfect"
  • You take rejection very personally
  • You believe that everybody else gets their act together - except for you

With tapping, deep seated negative emotions and painful memories are brought to the surface and released - fast and with little additional distress. Gary Craig, the founder of EFT: "EFT has a high success rate with trauma and abuse issues, especially when applied to specific events."

Happiness is not a single, solid "thing" one can chase down doggedly, obtain and possess. It is rather a fluid quality that evolves naturally, when the obstructions that keep it from being are dissolved. Childhood trauma is certainly one of the main obstructions. Sometimes, a condition that is obvious, is not the real problem. To recognize that "Missing Mother Syndrome" is the underlying cause of never feeling "right", can be the first step on a woman's Healing Journey.

Release the past, heal your heart:
Carna Zacharias-Miller, EFT-CC, EFT-ADV, is a spiritual writer and EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) practitioner in Florida. Carna is author of The Missing Mother Handbook - How to heal childhood abandonment and rejection with Emotional Freedom Techniques.

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