The Girl in the Red Boots: Making Peace with My Mother

Judith Rabinor was conducting a workshop on the mother-daughter relationship in 1991 when she and her volunteer both had breakthroughs. The participant’s resulted in calling her mother for the first time in a decade. Dr. Rabinor, however, recalled the shock and fear of being abandoned by her mother at a hospital, then waking up with a raw, burning throat. Neither parent had told her that she was going to have her tonsils removed; instead, her mother had her dress up and promised she was going to her cousin’s birthday party.

Dr. Rabinor’s mother was relentlessly cheerful — “captain of the cheerleaders” — who rejected any expression of anger, mistrust, or surprise with the cutting rejoinder “People don’t like to hear about your problems.” This was, quite naturally, confusing and painful for young Judy, which indirectly led to her career as a psychotherapist.

In working with her patients, most of whom have an eating disorder, Dr. Rabinor exorcised a lot of her mother issues. In addition, she sought therapy herself, having realized midway through her first marriage that it wouldn’t work out. Noting that almost everyone who becomes a therapist or counselor is initially driven by their own pain, Dr. Rabinor finally came to a hard-won peace with her mother and provides a map for women to do so on their own.

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