"Suddenly everything fell into place and I can say now that the forgiveness came easily after I knew I was living with insanity," she said.
"Clearly there are moms that are just not good moms -- they may wish to be, but they don't get it right," said Columbia psychiatrist Muskin. "Often they weren't mothered well themselves."
Learning to move forward from a painful past is difficult, though not impossible. And psychiatrists still don't understand why one sibling fares well psychologically and the other can be destroyed.
"We wish we understood the hearty child concept," said Muskin. "Through all the horror of growing up, some move on and marry, have a successful family. There are psychological factors that enable all of use to put things in perspective, to take responsibility for ourselves and to create the life we want. It doesn't mean we don't have limitations and issues, but my life is my life."
"Living in the past doesn't work," he said. "Some people get it on their own, some get it through therapy and some get it through religion. But it's very powerful to be able to say, 'She was what she was, and it wasn't good. But here I am today.'"
As for Leslie, she tried to reconnect with her mother when she had her own children, but was disappointed when the manipulation began again. They have since parted ways.
"I don't feel compassion, maybe because she was the one who was supposed to be taking care of me," she said.
Leslie said she "broke the chain" of anger that had passed from mother to daughter. "I love my kids so much and I couldn't imagine not feeling any connection with them," she said.
On Mother's Day, her children will let her sleep late and try to make her breakfast. "They will shower me with cute and hilarious stuff they made and dad makes me things for the garden," she said.
Leslie has also learned not to be a victim and not to dwell on the negative.
"I was born with a great sense of humor, so I was always able to find something funny in even a bad situation and it helped me through," she said. "The last and most important thing is that as we become adults we have to move on. There is some forgiveness there, but in many cases that may be really, really hard to do, but you have to."