Success Story

One of the greatest joys of writing this blog is hearing about your success stories.

I can’t tell you how much it makes us beam every time we receive an email from someone who says they’ve been inspired to think about their lives differently.

Over the weekend in Philly (full birthday report coming soon! 🙂 Danny happened to snap these photos of me while I was reading some of your emails.

After reading some of them, I had the idea that we really should post more of these stories on the blog (with the author’s permission, of course!).  They are just way too dang inspiring and it almost seems selfish for Danny & I to just file them all away in a gmail folder.  So here & there – when we can fit it in – we will share with you some of the amazing glimpses we get into your lives.  So many of you are doing remarkable things, and there’s so much power in hearing each other’s stories.  

I think this story will blow you away, as it did us…….
Hi Mara,

I came across your blog this week and I just wanted to thank you because it’s helped me come to a very important decision in my life to let go of a difficult experience in my past that has been affecting my present.

You see, my relationship with my mother has been very trying over the past 10 years – almost non-existent, and when it does exist I often get my feelings hurt.  I’ve had feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem because of this.  I guess I’ve underestimated how much my mom’s opinion of me meant, even as a grown woman with a family of my own.

I would often cry to my husband over the emptiness I felt at not having my mother in my life.  So many others call their mom their best friend and I wanted so desperately to have the same relationship.  I felt somehow defective and embarrassed with out it.  I’ve been married for nearly 6 years and during this entire time my husband has been so patient and long suffering.  I’ve tried to suppress the sadness, thinking I’m over it, and then something will happen that will bring all my hurt feelings back.

Things clicked for me when I found your blog.  The amazing thing is, nothing you said is new to me.  I KNOW these things in my mind but didn’t know how to transfer them to my heart.  Knowing something and living something are two different things.  Understanding the struggles you’ve gone through with your divorce and the fact that you came to a realization of your worth WELL BEFORE your husband left gave me hope that in the midst of my trial I can still have peace, that external forces have no bearing on our happiness.

I realized that I have been valuing myself based upon my perception of what my mother thinks.  I have spent so much time yearning for her love and it has been draining me physically and spiritually.  This week, with your help I have come to a realization that my life is FULL of love and that I don’t need my mother’s love (or approval) to be happy.  God has blessed me with an AMAZING husband and beautiful daughter and they shower me with unconditional love every day.  After coming to this realization, I wrote a post about how I know God’s love through my daughter and husband.  Ever since, I’ve allowed myself to bask in their love, all the while knowing that God MUST love me because He blessed me with them at all.  And even if they weren’t a part of my life, I know God would find other ways to show me that He loves me.

This has allowed me to let go of my need for my mother.  I still love her, and still keep my heart open to her, but I no longer feel like my life is incomplete because she’s not in it.  A week ago I wouldn’t have been able to write about her without bursting into tears.  Today as I type this, I feel an acute sense of gratitude and am just OVERFLOWING with love.

I’ve been trying for so long to figure out how to forgive her and move on from this because it was holding me back in every way, and I know now that tuning in to God’s love for me and really feeling it and letting it come into my life has allowed me to be full and whole.  I know it’s real because the bitterness is GONE from me, and it is replaced with compassion for my mother.  I don’t know if our relationship will ever be what I want it to be, but I’m OK with it now because I’ve released her from the responsibility of making me happy.  That’s not her job.  It’s mine.

I feel so liberated now!  I almost don’t know what to do with all the energy and time I’ve now freed up for myself (that I would normally spend wallowing in self pity).  Even as a fully functioning person, I was just a shell, empty, consumed by what I thought was missing in my life.  I can’t BELIEVE I’ve spent so long living like this when it really is so simple.  I can now be a waaay better wife and mother.

I don’t know what it is exactly about your writing that has caused such a tremendous shift in my thinking.  My only conclusion is that you teach with the Spirit because I could only have learned these things through the Spirit.  Never stop what you’re doing.  You and Danny are literally changing lives.

Thank you so, so much!

Lots of Love,



Isn’t it cool to see how this message really does apply to EVERY situation you could think of?  We’ve found countless ways to apply it to our lives…..and we just love, love, love seeing so many of you doing the same. 

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  1. Mairi March 27, 2012 at 8:04 am - Reply


  2. Anonymous March 27, 2012 at 11:14 am - Reply

    Very thoughtful. I'm glad you have found some relief from your insecurities and struggles. I too struggled from these feelings caused by family. Were you ever close with your mom? Do you have a relationship with her now? Does she want one? Is she willing to try? Are you willing to try? I'm just wondering because I'm in a somewhat similar situation!

    Also, I was wondering if "letting go of your mother" is best? Maybe forgiveness is? I don't know. I personally think forgiveness is not "letting go of her." When I think of true forgiveness, I think of moving forward together. Did I read that "forgiveness" part wrong in this post?

    I've also learned that I needed to love MYSELF first. I needed to stop looking for love in others around me to fill emotional voids. It's so wonderful that God gave you a great husband and daughter that shower you with love. How cool is it that that you were able to write a post about it. I hope it can help others too. Just make sure that you feel unconditional love for yourself first and foremost and that you are not seeking love out in others to replace the missing love of your mother. Would you be okay emotionally if you had to live on your own?

    Thanks for writing this and helping me to remember all that I have learned and need to keep living in my life.

    • Jane March 27, 2012 at 2:29 pm - Reply

      I think she put it well, she let go of making her mother accountable for her happiness, no hard feelings toward her mother, no bitterness, just love.

    • Anonymous March 27, 2012 at 6:38 pm - Reply

      Hello Anon! I'm the author. I just wanted to take a second and address your question about letting my husband and daughter fill the void left by my mom. Right now I'd say that I'm in a place where I know that their love is simply God's love. If they weren't there, God would show me His love in other ways, and He does, but I feel it the strongest from my family. Does that make sense? So whenever I feel my family's love, I think about God because I know that He's the one that's allowed me to have such a a tremendous blessing.

      Also, what Jane said is right on. I thought about writing her off, and just shutting her out of my life but it still leaves me empty and is not forgiveness. All that does is bury the feelings that are still festering. What I did instead was shift my energy and focus away from her and toward the things that bring happiness and meaning to my life and allow myself to feel God's love through my many blessings.

      We still don't have a relationship but I'm happy to take things step by step with her and grow our relationship slowly. My happiness is no longer dependent on the existence of a relationship with her. Part of the difficulty is that she has a hard time with vulnerability and I know she has trials and hurt feelings that she's holding onto, but until she makes the decision to be vulnerable, identify them and let them go, there won't be any connection. I need to respect her agency. If she wants to hold on, she has every right to, even if it does make her miserable. No one can make that decision for her, but when she's ready to let go, I WILL BE THERE FOR HER.

      I think my job right now is to love her the way she is and be gentle with her, not trying to force her to be a certain way and not getting upset when she does something that is potentially offensive.

      I love your point about loving yourself! After this "epiphany" I actually do find myself drawing upon a deeper love and feeling so much better about myself. Usually when I try to get over Mom, I feel good for about a day and then I go back to being mopey. But ever since my decision to let go, I have felt consistently positive and it's absolutely life-changing in every way. I can't say that the struggles are over, but I'm in a better place to deal with them.

      Phew! That took more than a "second."

      I'm sorry for your struggles. I sincerely hope that you can continue to find all the strength and the love you desire in your life.

    • mara March 30, 2012 at 5:37 pm - Reply

      Jane/Anon: wow. LOVE this, ladies. Thanks to all for sharing.

  3. Jane March 27, 2012 at 2:38 pm - Reply

    To the author- Thank you for sharing. Mara is exactly right- now matter how different our stories are, the underlying themese are the same. When I let go of making husband responsbile for my happiness I could not believe the new energy and love I had to offer the other people in my life (and even him!)

    Thank you for sharing these stories Danny & Mara because there is strength in numbers, I feel the shared humanity with strangers I will never meet.

    This is also a great example of "in the quiet heart is hidden"- we all have our deep hurts that keep us from being who we want to be. Learning these stories about each other helps us be- as Mara loves to say- vulnerable. Just reading this story (and others) makes more room in my heart for love.

    • Anonymous March 27, 2012 at 6:51 pm - Reply

      Hi Jane! Author here. "In the quiet heart is hidden" is EXACTLY how I've felt. On the outside my life looked happy. No one but my husband truly understood my sadness. I am definitely one of those silent sufferers and I'll bet we all suffer silently over one thing or another. This experience of sharing my thoughts with Mara and Danny and all their readers has opened up my heart even more to the fact that behind each smile, there is hurt. I feel so much more compassion and love for humanity in general. I am bursting! It does no good to keep our pain to ourselves. We're all in this together.

  4. rachel kirk peterson March 27, 2012 at 4:12 pm - Reply

    i, too, have struggled with similar issues with both of my parents. i have let them go. letting go doesn't mean never talking to them or losing all contact. something i've come to learn is that i need to let go of all the expectations i held my parents to all through the years. somehow in my mind, my parents were like superheroes–incapable of mistakes. they would disappoint me, and i would "should" them: "a mom shouldn't do that"; "a dad shouldn't treat his daughter this way", etc. but parents are humans. they're just people trying to make their way through the world like you and i.

    • Anonymous March 27, 2012 at 6:49 pm - Reply

      Oh my goodness me too! I put my parents on a pedestal. Was it on this blog? I can't remember but I read somewhere about how when we judge, we usually judge negatively, but putting people on pedestals is also judging, just the other way. It's not healthy either as we put ourselves down and put unrealistic expectations on others. I had struggles feeling like I didn't live up to my parents expectations, and felt hurt because I didn't think they lived up to mine. Great point Rachel! <3, Author

  5. Anonymous March 28, 2012 at 12:55 pm - Reply

    Wow, you're lucky to have a mom. I understand that you've gone through some pain over this, but I hope you see the bright side about having a mom.

    I recently watched an episode of Khloe and Lamar (I know) where Lamar reconnects with his dad. Lamar realizes that his dad had some difficulties long ago and that he needs to put that in the past and have a relationship with his dad now. You wrote, "my relationship with my mother has been very trying over the past 10 years – almost non-existent, and when it does exist I often get my feelings hurt. I've had feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem because of this. I guess I've underestimated how much my mom's opinion of me meant." Does your mom know this? Have you told her this? You also wrote, "I don't know if our relationship will ever be what I want it to be, but I'm OK with it now because I've released her from the responsibility of making me happy." Does your mom know that you were making it her responsibility to make you happy? That sentence seems so unclear. I hope you weren't holding her responsible, and now you are letting her go without explaining why. How fair is that?

    This post made me feel sad. I know it shouldn't have. I know it was written with a change of heart. I'd give anything to have a mom and a family to share a mom with. I just wish you realized that she made you, and you're a nice person. You're proud of your husband and daughter. Don't they deserve the right to get to know each other too ? At one point she was your "strongest form of family." Time would help heal all wounds. Trust me! Start with complete honesty..first with yourself and then with your mom.

    You wrote, "We still don't have a relationship but I'm happy to take things step by step with her and grow our relationship slowly. My happiness is no longer dependent on the existence of a relationship with her. Part of the difficulty is that she has a hard time with vulnerability and I know she has trials and hurt feelings that she's holding onto, but until she makes the decision to be vulnerable, identify them and let them go, there won't be any connection. I need to respect her agency. If she wants to hold on, she has every right to, even if it does make her miserable. No one can make that decision for her, but when she's ready to let go, I will be there for her."…TO THE AUTHOR OF THIS POST… With all due respect..I speak from experience {the way my mom treated me as a young adult}…If you don't have a relationship with her, don't assume that she is still vulnerable, holding onto hurt feelings, and that she hasn't changed. If you have no relationship with her, how do you know she is still miserable? By assuming your mom hasn't changed/or isn't in the changing process, and by not wanting to be in a relationship with her until she allows herself to be "vulnerable" is only doing a disservice to you and your healing process. You are the one putting limitations on the kind of relationships you are willing to have with your mother. We all have a right to live our lives, that's agency. The only ones I need to worry about returning back to HF are me and someday my children. If my dad acts crazy, that's his choice and it's on him to be accountable for it. It will not make me love him less or want to have less of relationship with him {he's inactive). Worry about your own actions. Worry less about your mother's actions. Let them go. They are not your problems to deal with. Stop labeling her and analyzing her. Maybe you could see that you have a mom! Or maybe you could be grateful that you have an opportunity to make this right on earth. Try to be grateful that you have the opportunity to be an example of change to your mom. That you might be able to encourage growth and understanding, rather then watching for failure. I'm glad you're finding you're way through a difficult situation.

  6. LotusLove March 28, 2012 at 7:25 pm - Reply

    This post was truly beautiful. But I think I still need some help with the whole concept! I've been following this blog for a few months now, and I felt the same way as this author when I first started taking Mara's posts to heart. I've been having relationship problems with my husband for a few years, no major issues but we bicker and seem to have grown apart. I no longer feel like we are friends.

    I initially felt so liberated and full of love when I took to heart that my husband was not responsible for my happiness. I no longer let my happiness depend on what he thinks of me that day. I've been practicing this for a few months and feel much happier overall, much more engaged in my life and with my friends and activities. But… despite what I had hoped, it hasn't helped me grow closer to my husband. My positive outlook and attempts to forgive him and look beyond our conflicts have not been reciprocated and we keep drifting farther apart. We've been in couples therapy for a year now with 2 different counselors and have made very little progress I think. In a way, I've come to feel like, if I can be happy regardless of his attitude (and his attitude has not improved), do I need him in my life at all?

    The other complicating factor is that I recently found out I'm pregnant after a few years of trying. I'm really thrilled about it, and it's perhaps more of a reason to stay in this marriage. But I actually feel like I would be okay even on my own, due to the strength and self confidence and joy in myself that I've been able to discover (in large part through this blog!).

    I feel like I must be missing a crucial piece of information. As the author above wrote, "This has allowed me to let go of my need" for my husband, but since we have more conflict than love and I no longer need his approval to be happy, why stay with him at all? Sorry this is so long! I hope someone can help explain this to me.

    • mara March 30, 2012 at 5:32 pm - Reply

      LotusLove – you have brought up a very, very important part of making changes like this…thanks for writing this out…we'd actually like to write a post about this. But for now…

      Making the changes within yourself will not necessarily guarantee that your spouse/parent/whoever will change, too. In fact, there's a really good chance they won't. Sometimes a change on your end will inspire them to rise the occasion and live with more light, too. But they may not. In fact, the other scenario is that they could resist you even more & feel even more uncomfortable with the situation (it's the whole "light is attracted to light" factor.) BUT…no matter what the outcome, YOU will still be emitting your best self and can be full of peace, joy, confidence for yourself, others, and your child. As for staying in the marriage, only you know the situation and your own views on the subject and what will be best for your child… but whatever happens, you'll be in the best state to handle it.

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