I realized during my emotional healing journey that God was signaling to me that I was enmeshed with my mother. For the first time, I was face to face with figuring out my true self.

Enmeshment in mother-daughter relationships is when emotional boundaries are violated to the point that daughters are no longer in control of their emotional well-being and toxic mothers expect emotional availability at all costs. Essentially, the mother forcibly binds herself with her daughter’s soul.

It is so important to recognize the signs, to begin your heart healing journey on the right foot.

No boundaries- Enmeshed with blurry lines

Toxic mothers will expect for their daughter to divulge every aspect of their lives to them. This can be “forcing” the daughter to share personal information about their love life, marriage, children , or going into a daughter’s home uninvited. You might hear sayings that go like this:

” I need to be the first person that knows when you have a boyfriend OR you should tell me first before you talk to a guy so I know if he is good enough for you.”

Related post: How To Self Care Your Emotions Now: Emotional Boundaries

Enmeshment Process #1

Toxic mothers require their daughters to have no boundaries. Having boundaries is considered to be disrespectful and a sign that the daughter is behaving like a rebel or lacking self-control. Daughters may grow up feeling that they are going crazy or not in control of their own emotions.


Lack of exploration of identity- Enmeshed with Mom

I remember the times when I started to realize my own individuality in wanting to go to a certain school for college, choosing a career, or wearing my own style of clothes. I was often met with criticism from my mother telling me that the school that I was choosing was too far away, or my career choice was stupid and that I could not make any money out of it.

Enmeshment Process #2

Toxic mothers will try to prohibit you from exploring your identity and your true authentic self because they are the center of attention. When you begin to focus on yourself, you lose your role of being connected to the identity that they want you to have.

This is the rationale of a mother that practices enmeshment:

You can’t learn about who you really are because as soon as you know this information, I won’t be able to keep you down anymore. My value and identity comes from you being helpless without me, sad, alone, and feeling worthless.

Shaming or guilt tripping

Toxic mothers will shame you when you have an opinion that is completely different from their own. If you decide that you want to show some independence, they may bad mouth you to other family members or people that are close to you.  They may also guilt trip you for leaving them.

I remember when I decided to move out of my parents home, my mother sat me down in the dining room, cried silently, and told me how she was expecting for me to provide for her and my dad financially.  She was disappointed that I would “selfishly disregard her needs to explore my own.”

Enmeshment Process # 3

They will use any excuse or guilt you to believe that if you become more independent, they may suffer the consequences of your actions or may never recover. You suddenly are assigned the role of being a savior to your mother.

Daughters feel responsible for their mother’s happiness

Toxic mothers are all about getting you to feel that you are responsible for their happiness. If they are feeling sad and hopeless, you are expected to be their therapist that they can confide in through emotional trauma dumping and projection. I remember many times that I had to try to pick up the pieces of my mother’s fragmented soul by being her punching bag when she was angry or frustrated.

Related post: Toxic Codependency in Mothers and Daughters: Learn Strong Boundaries

Enmeshment Process # 4

Daughters are not allowed to have feelings of their own and are often told that their emotions do not matter with constant put-downs and dismissing a daughter’s input on life issues.

Helplessness ( you need your mother for survival skills)

Toxic mothers will teach you that you are helpless without them. They will tell you to never leave them unless x, y, and z happens. For example, they might say, you shouldn’t move out unless you are married or “you won’t be able to rent an apartment and live on your own. Just live here with me. I don’t ask you for rent.”

If you do get married, they may tell you that you need their help for all domestic duties (cleaning, washing clothes, cooking).

Enmeshment Process #4

Daughters who are enmeshed with their mothers go into survival mode by clinging to their mother’s approval for everything that comes up in life. Making simple life decisions becomes very difficult without their mother’s input. This is a programming process that daughters undergo as a result of feeling helpless.

Continue reading related posts:

Emotional Abandonment: When a Mother’s Love Abandons You

Open letter on Emotional Abandonment for Daughters to Heal Now

Join the wait list for Healing the Mother Wound Course

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