A young lady was distraught over a parental comment she had heard as a young girl. This lady is a working professional and she has been carrying this comment with her for so long. She is married and has a son. But was unable to come to terms with her mother’s negative comments. She slowly started to lose her sleep, lost her appetite and started to stop going to work.
She was advised to undergo counseling. She was not convinced at first, but later decided to see if she could get relief. She vented her feelings and spoke in detail about her childhood. She was convinced her mother did not love her as much as the mother loved her other two daughters.
Apparently the two older sisters were fair, had long hair. This young lady had a dusky complexion and her hair was slightly curly. Her mother made some passing, negative comments and this has remained in this lady’s mind.
She felt her mother did not give her enough attention because she was dark. They had a very middle class up bringing. Their financial status was not very great, but the parents managed to give the daughters education. The older two sisters are housewives.
This young lady has been sad and this sadness has built up over the years. She is more successful than her sisters. In fact she is a working professional, has a supportive husband and a son. She has made a lot of friends. But off late, she has started to withdraw and keeps to herself. Her husband is worried and her son is also being affected seeing her like this.
During the process of counseling she was asked if she had any control over her skin color or type of hair. She though about it and said no. Did her mother have any control? She agreed that was not possible. So skin color and type of hair depends on the genes she had inherited and no one has control here. This took some time for her to absorb.
Later she was asked if she could take responsibility for something not in her control? She could control her cooking, her work, etc. She could take responsibility here, but could she do that with her skin color and hair type? When this was explained at length, she started to feel better.
It must have hurt to hear her mother make negative comments on her skin color and hair type. Her sisters had long straight hair. And her mother said only straight hair was beautiful. So taking her mother’s opinion, this young lady was convinced she was not beautiful since her hair was curly. Does her husband, son and friends consider her ugly? She said no.
So the depth of her feelings, and her sense of rejection was based on a fact over which she had no control. The hurt and disappointment could not be denied, but to be depressed and ruminate over this issue, was it necessary or correct? Here the counselor helped with some cognitive restructuring.
As a next step, she was asked to analyze her mother’s state of mind when this young lady was born. Could her mother have been disappointed she had three daughters, and no son? The young lady agreed. Her mother had mentioned several times her disappointment of not having a son. She felt incomplete in that she did not have a son. So she subconsciously took out her disappointment on the youngest child. Who can be in control of having the desired gender child? The male does have the y chromosome, but even the male cannot guarantee the y chromosome would fuse with the x of the egg.
This sustained counseling helped the young lady to look at her issue in a different perspective. She realized she had been feeling depressed for so long over an issue which was actually a non issue. She accepted that she could improve the health of her skin or hair if needed, but she was generally going to have to accept what she had got.
She finally understood that her mother did not reject her; she was disappointed she did not have a son. And because the third child was different from her other two daughters, she had inadvertently hurt her third daughter’s feelings. In fact, once during her mother’s visit recently, this young lady asked her why she had commented on her skin and hair? The elderly lady did not even remember having done so!
The young lady was able to shed her negative thoughts, her feelings of rejection, low self esteem and bounce back. She is happier now and back on her feet.