I've always had "issues" with my mother, never feeling I had received what I needed as a child. Growing up, I felt my mother had done many hurtful things. So, we've basically spent most of the last few decades going in and out of estrangements as I strived, in all areas of life, and especially as a mother, to become the polar opposite of my mother.

I would always see her behavior as unkind, insensitive and truly narcissisticOver the years, I would often pray for things to improve between us and sometimes things did briefly get better, but inevitably, they would revert back. This would only confirm my feelings that she was the "bad" one and I was the "strong" one who had fixed things in my "real life" which meant my family: my wonderful husband and three beautiful children. Although I am so grateful for what I have, I allowed my relationship with my mother to continually thrust me into this pit of old pain and perceived new hurts whenever I would be with her. I would always see her behavior as unkind, insensitive and truly narcissistic, and she would even admit to this and say that she can't change. So, round and round we'd go… I was constantly judging her and spending way too much time mentally fueling my negative, condemning conclusions as I would replay each exchange over and over again. This negative behavior was preventing me from feeling true joy from all the blessings I had been so grateful to receive.

Finally, about three weeks ago, everything regarding my relationship with my mother changed. And I mean everything.

On this day I didn't just reaffirm, yet again, my intention to make things better. This time, maybe for the first time, I really prayed - out-loud and with abandon. By the end of this day, it suddenly dawned on me that I had been going about this all wrong. Well, not all wrong, but not in the way that would really help to fulfill my lifelong desire to be free of the feeling of lack and to be able to fully experience joy.

Although my intention to make things better was real and true, it wasn't enough to cause real and true change. Primarily because my intention didn't weigh nearly enough—not in comparison to the load of negative beliefs I had developed over the years.

I realized that in order for me to make up with my mother, I was also requiring her to change—that we needed to be partners in the decision to make things better in order for things to work. Knowing that it was not likely to happen, I finally accepted that I am not at all in control of my mother's changing. Rather I needed to recognize that I have the ability to choose how to respond.

So, I made the following commitment to be the master of my responses to my mother's behavior. And with that came the feeling: "Now, I can do that!"

I've always been a "doer." I set my sights on something and I, step by step, do what's needed to overcome the challenge. By giving myself full responsibility to do the changing, and by totally removing my mother from that part of the equation, was definitely something that I could "believe" would work.

Our experiences are a metaphoric reflection of who we areRight away, I started to feel differently, feeling much more expectant of success in this desire to transcend my past, fully cherish my present and create a present and future with my mother. Actually, when I saw how well this worked, I eventually went on to include in my intention to master all of my responses to all people and all situations.

Soon, it became very clear that this new intention and commitment went much deeper than simply being a doer. Mastering one's responses in a real, true and consistent way is all about achieving a new level of being.

The next part was really important. As I mentioned earlier, throughout my life I have prided myself on being the opposite of my mother. This made me feel pretty darn good about myself, especially when I was feeling angry at and judgmental of her.

They say that our issues are only made visible to us through what we attract. Like an echo, our energies find someone or something that it resonates with and then merges and bounces right back at us. Our experiences are a metaphoric reflection of who we are at this present moment. (Editor's Note: This is a teaching from the Baal Shem Tov, the founder of the Chassidic movement. Just like water reflects water, so too does the heart of one person reflect the heart of another. Meaning, when something bothers us in another, it is often because we have that fault in ourselves.)

So, after all the hard work to become more of a person than my mother ever was to me, I was, needless to say, totally not open to seeing my mother as my mirror image. After all, I had a laundry list of charitable accomplishments that I had racked up, this amazingly nurturing household and three demonstratively loving kids who are self-valuing, empathetic to others and committed to creating something of everlasting value in the world. To me, all of this goodness was built in spite of my mother. How could I possibly be like her?!

But, the same day I made this decision to change, I softened and allowed myself, if only for a minute, to explore how I could be like this person that I had spent almost a half century at odds with. And, with that, it happened. I saw that I had some of the same qualities that I detested in her.

I finally saw that my mother and I had similar negative tendenciesFor the first time in my life, I admitted to myself that by continually blaming my mother for not being the mother that I wanted, I, too, was wallowing in self-pity and consumed by a victim mentality. And, although it's true that I'm very proud of the work I do with and for others, I realized that when it came to my relationship with my mother, not only had I been using those accomplishments to keep me firmly fixed in a separatist's "better than thou" stance, but when I would choose to sit and dwell on whatever my mother did or didn't do, I was allowing this to rob me of my present and to adversely affect my ability to experience the joy that I am so gratefully able to claim. I realized that with the continual fixation on my relationship - or lack thereof - with my mother, I was being just as selfish, self absorbed, narrow-minded and egocentric as I judged my mother to be. I finally saw that my mother and I had similar negative tendencies; I just showed them in a way that was easier to defend.

With that realization, it all changed. After that, all the pain and anger, all the feeling of lacking – it was all gone. I finally understood that my reactions to my mother's inabilities were a light being shined on the work I needed to do to be less judging, less selfish and to commit fully to taking responsibility for my own self mastery, my own transformation. Just like the feeling of lack I experienced as a child has always helped me find my path toward positive change in my adult life, here, once again, our relationship was proving to be a beacon of light on the parts of me still left to untangle, still left waiting for me to proactively create the very change I so wished to experience.

And now, I actually look forward to being with my mom. There's a discernable sweetness to our chats. An angst-less quality that is truly new for the both of us. For the first time in many years I can kiss my mom with the love I feel when I kiss my children. I can put my arms around her out of desire, not out of awkward obligation. I now know that it was not just her behavior that bothered me, but it was also the part of me that needed to change that felt so threatening and repelling. Now, when she does something that I once perceived as negative, I am grateful for the opportunity to choose to push through and empathize— to choose to make each moment loving and rich, to choose to connect with the positive, instead of reinforcing internal and external darkness.

All of our life-long relationships are soul mates of ours. Our parents, siblings, spouses and children are here to help us choose to wake up, be present in the reflections we create and commit to work to being the person we might have forgotten we are. We all need to have the courage to give up the darkness, however cozy and familiar, and to practice new, love-inspired habits. And when the going gets tough, to reinforce those habits with the same kind of inner talk that a loving parent might use when guiding their children.

I'm so very grateful to have woken up to my ability and responsibility to choose to love and forgive my mother, and to love and forgive myself.