Aug
27

Mother Daughter Relationship ~ My Poor Mom

By

Cold hearted, dysfunctional relationship
Cold Hearted Love

This comment came in from Cyndi on my last post (click to view Standing up to Dysfunctional Family Relationship ~ Part two) and it prompted me to write today’s post ~ another little snapshot of how messed up I was in the mother daughter relationship that I had with my mother.

Cyndi wrote: “I went about telling the truth in a different way. My mother grew up with a volatile abusive father just like mine.  In my initial efforts to face my childhood and change the way I dealt with her, I mistakenly believed that if I could just talk to her calmly she would explain herself, apologize for her shortcomings and we’d ride happily off into the sunset. HA! Instead she denied everything, said I exaggerated, focused on only the bad things, blatantly called me a liar and said my childhood was much better than hers…I was lucky” Cyndi

My mother was really good at making me feel sorry for her and it was a very hard trap to crawl out of. My mother did have a way worse life then I did; we heard the stories all of our lives; her father was a bigamist and her mother found out when she was pregnant with her 6th child and that resulted in the marriage being annulled. The 6 children were split between both parents. My mother lived with her father for a time. He put locks on the cupboards (restricted food) and hired a housekeeper (a live in girlfriend). My mother never tasted chocolate until she was 17. She begged for orange peels at school. Her father took the money she made running errands for the neighbor lady. She had to go to work so she was only went to school until grade 8. There was worse abuse too. When she was able to live with her mother again, there were scary men. Then there was a drunken step father added to her burden. You get the picture ~ and the list goes on. It is absolutely true that my mother had a very tough childhood and it was true that it was worse than mine. I never even thought about whether or not it was true. Her mother, my grandmother was mean and nasty and still had the drunk for a husband. I didn’t need proof. My mother had a terrible mother daughter relationship with her own mother. The last time she saw her father she was 15.  So I felt sorry for her. It didn’t take much for me to believe that I was a very ungrateful child. I felt so guilty because I was so unhappy. If you heard my mother’s story, you would feel very bad for her, I am serious. In so many ways her life WAS way worse than mine. “I was so lucky…”

BUT what does that have to do with anything? What does that have to do with ME? Is that an excuse for her behavior? Should I discount my own feelings and struggles because hers were worse?  Should I be happy that my life was not as bad as hers and therefore be grateful for what DIDN’T happen to me?Well I sure thought so.

Believing this would be like accepting and agreeing that if one kid was beaten bloody and another kid was beaten bloody and a few bones were broken, and the one kid says to the other kid “well at least none of your bones were broken, “you were so lucky”. WHAT? NO WAY. Abuse is abuse.

I didn’t think I had a right to be depressed. I didn’t think that my life had been as bad as hers. I thought that the abuse that I suffered was my own fault, in fact that belief was so deep in my belief system that when I finally dealt with the sexual abuse that I endured at the hands of a babysitter at the age of around two ~ I told the therapist that I knew I should have been able to STOP IT.  I was two!  And that belief ~ that I brought things on myself or should have been able to stop them, permeated through every event, big or small for everything that I felt bad about, from then on. 

This is all part of the brainwashing that goes along with being less important than someone else. This is how the control is established. They weave some loyalty stuff into it, and add some guilt and tell you how ungrateful you are… and say things like “after all I’ve done for you” and… well you know the outcome.

This kind of communication in a mother daughter relationship is really manipulative on the part of the ADULT. AND this began when my mother was the adult and I was the child in the relationship and when I was an adult I was still regarding my mother through the eyes of HER child, the way that she trained me to think about her.   

So yes, my Mother had a terrible time, and I feel deeply sorry for her and I wish more than anything that she could be free too but that isn’t up to me, it is up to her and I am adamant that I will not be pushed around and devalued or treated like I am less than equal in the meanwhile. If  we are going to have a mother daughter relationship, it is going to be a functional one based on the true definition of love.

I found that looking at these situations through a different grid ~ a more truthful grid ~ is the beginning of freedom.  Please contribute in whatever way you wish.

Life is so much better with the truth,

Darlene Ouimet  

Categories : Mother Daughter

47 Comments

1

Applause Applause!! You hit the nail on the head. There is a vast difference between two adults exchanging horror stories and feeling compassion for each other and a mother telling her child that she’s a complainer or even a liar simply because the child has it better than the mother. Abuse IS abuse. Your mother’s worse childhood does not make your childhood good enough or make your struggles and feelings any less painful or true. I’m sure she did the best she could with what she knew and her own issues haunting her, we all do. But that doesn’t change your reality. Great post.

2

A few very important messages here:

1) No matter how horrible the parent’s upbringing was it should never take away the experience of the child – at the hands of this same adult. It is never an excuse. It can bring empathy and understanding perhaps of “why” but it cannot justify.

2) Some of us will never get the apology, acknowledgement or validation that we seek from parents who weren’t there for us in the way we needed. Part of the work is breaking free of the need for this and re-parenting from within.

Lisa Brookes Kift, MFT
The Toolbox at http://LisaKiftTherapy.com

3

Hi Cyndi!
These were the kinds of things that accelerated my recovery from depression and everything else. Realizing that even when what someone says is “true” that doesn’t mean that what I am saying or feeling ISN’T true. My mother used these kinds of things about her own life to make me feel wrong about mine. Like I wasn’t allowed to have any problems or any pain. There are a million of these kinds of things used to devalue and make people question themselves … expressions like “if you don’t stop that crying I will give you something to cry about” or “you think you are so hard done by” and suddenly I realized that I absolutely did have something to cry about and when I was mistreated, abused, punished, or whatever and when no one protected me from abuse, I was hard done by. Plain and simple truth. Doesn’t take anything away from her pity party, does it?
Thanks Cyndi.. guess my rant wasn’t really over when I hit the publish button… LOLOL
Darlene

4

omg, cyndi the words that u posted were like they had come from my own mouth. wow.
i had this episode with my mother about 6 wks ago now, n thanks to darlene n christina i have been able to see what you said about letting them heal in their own way, but not that they should keep us from dealin with own issues either. i feel some much lighter since i finally got that i dint have to keep trying to keep her happy and continue being stuck as a teenager in her eyes. i made a choice, i told her i would accept the blame that was mine and mine alone and if that made uncomfortable then so be it, we both experience the same events yet the perspective is so very different and she will never get that i get she had a terrible life, i get that she made descisions and then couldnt handle the consequences, yet i now get is that it wasnt my fault she got pregnant, it isnt my fault she had me n got married, it wsant my fault that i had a brother 11 mths later. i wsant to blame for her bad choices, we were dragged thro it and she doesnt like my version of the events,fine. but you are not allowed to continue to belittle me and feel unworthy because of youyr comments n actions.
such big steps in a small time, thanks for helping my understandin and thoughts to grow beyond the hrudles people kept puttin in my path

5

I can totally relate to your story. I’ve come to realize that my mother will never say she’s sorry, because she will have to admit to her neglect and abuse of me herself.. anytime I bring up something she alway’s tell’s me of her’s. She also tell’s me there were good time’s, However I don’t remember any. I’ve always focused on the negative and have to constantly remind myself of the positive things I have in my life. I want to beable to just wake up happy. the more I learn the more I detach from the going with the flow of things. I also had to live with an alcoholic stepdad, Who is still in the picture.. both Him and my Mom are sober now. They still have the same behaviors only there sober..and she doesnt get beat up. When I visit them I spend alot of alone time in my room..Its still a very unhappy home. so I isolate when I state my opinion I get the silent treatment.
I dont care I still speak. I work very hard on not feeling like that little girl. (dont speak unless spoken to.)I dont like visting much.
my relationship with my older daughters are pretty much the same. anyway thanks for listening.

6

Oh my gosh, this is my story also. My mother sees herself as a victim to this day and has developed incredible manipulative/lying skills and has all her friends believing that I am ungrateful! I was beaten and abused until the last day I moved out of the house which was exactly three weeks after turning 18 and still in high school. When I had my sons, I could not imagine doing or saying the things that were said or done to me so ‘being abused’ is not an excuse. The abuser clearly gets something out of it. Power & Control. That woman no longer has power or control over me. All I can do is live my life to the best of my ability, move forward and be the best person I know how to be and that does not include being abusive or being abused. Sadly, I see children being verbally assaulted, in my neighborhood and worry for their future and the lives that will be impacted by their abuse. Not everyone is strong enough to get through to the other side and know that living that way is wrong. When a children are abused, it forever changes the way they see themselves and there is a feeling of no self worth and a lack of confidence. I still struggle with it myself. With that said, if we see a child struggling, please take the time to tell them they are special and have purpose and are here for a reason and it is not to be abused.
Thank you for your posts, they have helped me and I am sure many others!

7

So true Darlene, abuse is abuse! I asked my mother years ago, via letter, if she had ever endured any abuse, emotional abuse. I even asked my sisters way back when – and nothing ever came of that either. She never did reply to me. So I asked her sister (my aunt), she too said that they never endured any abuse of that kind. I was stumped. But then, I remember when I was a girl when my mother told me about her maternal grandmother. My mother hated her. From information I gathered from here and there, the woman was controlling, mean, bitter. My mother’s grandmother’s favourite was my mother’s oldest sister (she was the golden child) leaving the other three of them feeling like pee-ons in their grandmother’s eyes. I assume that this same grandmother was an ugly and abusive person as I remember my mother telling the story of when they were at her grandmother’s gravesite at the funeral. My grandfather (my mother’s dad) leaned over to my mother and said, “Don’t ever tell your mother this, but today is the happiest day of my life.” The woman must have been awful for my grandfather to say that as I always remember him as such a kind man. It makes me wonder what else I don’t know.

Even if I did know, it still does not negate or excuse my mother abusing me. If she was abused by her grandmother, it does not make it right or okay for her to abuse me. Like you say Darlene, its up to my mother to overcome her abuse – it is not up to me nor is it my responsibility!

I got all those lines too! “You have it so much better than I did.” “You are so ungrateful.” “You are so much luckier than I was.” I thought like Cyndi did too in that if I was calm and nice that my mother would open up (this was when my mother was still in my life) – she flat out wouldn’t and won’t. I would hope that if I was nice and loving that it would prompt her to apologize and then we can move on, but I realize now that this will not happen. My mother is narcissistic to the core – the only thing she never did was physically hurt me – but she told people she did. She’d tell people how she spanked me when I was 15 which she never did, unless I blocked it out … which I am sure I didn’t.

I feel sorry for my mother, I really do, but as much as I feel sorry for her, I know engaging in any relationship with her would be devastating not only for me, but also for my children whom I LOVE!

8

Oh, and … great post Darlene!! :o)

9

I agree with Cyndi on this. What we lack in our society is respect. Especially adults respecting children. I know of some people that have the belief that a child should be seen but not heard. How horrible for any adult to assume a child is less than a person. The dysfunction in mine and my parents relationship has been the lack of respect for my own well being.

Dis-respect goes both ways. What I know about children who are dis-respectful it is because the adults have not respected them. Behavior can be a learned trait but also in the case of poor behavior it is often the only way a child knows how to express their own hurt and suffering.

One of my hobbies is doing genealogy research on my family and the more I dig into my heritage the more I realize that there are many closets of skeletons that my family has passed down from one generation to the next in other words abuse has been one of the traits that has been handed down. Just because a person has had it “worse” does not take away the struggles or sufferings of another. How can one truly measure such things for each of us experiences this life in our own way and perhaps what might have not been so bad for another individual may have been very devastating for someone else. We always need to keep that in mind when dealing with others and especially when it concerns children.

I love the quote that says “Be kind to everyone you meet for everyone is struggling with something” I think this quote means “respect others as you would want to be respected”

Thank you Darlene for highlighting this and for capturing the truth one snap shot at a time.

10

Kim ~ I feel exactly the same as you! My heart bleeds whenever I see a parent berating or humiliating a child … I cringe and I always want to say, “When you do that to him/her you are changing them into someone they’re not!” It changes how the child sees themselves.

Carol – this was my mom too – got married at 19 because she got pregnant (my parents hardly knew each other when they got married.) I always felt that she viewed me as the one who messed up her life even though there is no way I could have had any responsibility for HER actions. But I still feel as though she might hold me responsible for her lost dreams and such.

11

Thanks Lisa for stopping by to contribute!
I love to have the opinions of mental health professionals/theapists on this blog!
Hugs, Darlene

12

Nikki ~ This is one thing my husband and I strive to do with our kids – respect them. Kids are people too! I grew up with the “children are seen and not heard” thing like we are of no importance until we’re adults.

It’s amazing how much respect you gain as a parent when you respect your children (which doesn’t mean letting them have their way – there is still discipline that has to be done) – but you can do this while respecting the kid. We respect their right to privacy (unless someone’s life is in danger.) They have the right to self-expression as long as its done in a respectful way. Trust me, this did NOT come from my upbringing but from a parenting course I took years ago called, “Growing Kids God’s Way” by an author with the last name of Enzo. I learned SO MUCH about healthy parenting. And it was hard for me – it was a whole different world to me.

13

Hi Nita,
You reminded me of something that I want to share with you and I hope that it gives you hope. I just wanted to be able to wake up happy too. And now I do every day. Realizing these truths about my life and the things that happened my life, what was my fault, what wasn’t, what was my truth and what wasn’t.. that set me free. Keep striving for freedom.
Love Darlene

Carol,
I am so glad to hear of all your amazing breakthroughs. YEAH. You are doing awesome.
Love Darlene

P.S. I am loving all these comments but I am leaving now to go on a date with my husband and will have to asnwer the rest tomorrow!!
Keep talking to each other!!!

14

Absolutely! Two wrongs do not make a right. Let’s face it, when measuring the intentions and actions of a previous generation, it is not expedient to judge them with the same scale. Justice is blind in that regard.

However, we do have the right and the obligation to break that cycle, in whatever form it may be presenting itself in our own lives: ignorance, violence, sexual abuse. We do not have to accept the poverty that we inherited. We can if we want to, but it would be in our best interest simply to recognize the failings of our ancestors for what they are: shortcomings as perceived through the lens of a current understanding and interpretation of reality, born of illuminations that evolved and emerged from strains of the past, woven through the fabric of culture over the last few decades of our existence; illuminations which influenced us with its lessons and opened our minds to new perceptions and realizations such as would not have been available to any generation prior to ours.

They do not see reality as we do. And the same goes for the generation that will come from us. Our children will have a much clearer picture than we did. They will have a different job than we do. Theirs will be to capitalize on the benefits of our toil and to begin life with the advantage of not having begun from a position of deficit, on the minus side of zero.

In breaking the cycle of abuse, ignorance and violence, and thereby refusing to relay the torch of dysfunction, we will have done a good thing, making a difference in the energetic polarity of the world, reversing the phase of our particular line of ancestral currency.

15

LOL Darlene – there is a lot to rant about on this topic!! 🙂

All those catch-phrases I heard too, along with my personal favorites: “You’re too sensitive”, “I was just joking”, “Do something constructive” and “What’s wrong with you”.

The joys of an N mom are boundless.

Realizing that my feelings were important, and in fact I am my only advocate for myself, was HUGE in my healing process. It doesn’t matter that she will never get it anymore. Now her antics actually amuse me because her manipulation is so transparent and have no effect.

Have a great date! 🙂

16

Only got up to comment 9, but can relate to these posts in regards to my marriage with my spouse. When we hit the marital crisis 3 years ago, before separation, during, and even still, I have told him continually that the things he said may have been true, but the way he went about them and getting things his way was abusive. Today, he still is hoping I will admit that I was mistaken to call him abusive, controlling, abandoning, adulterous, and a tyrant. I wonder too, when I am not second guessing myself and my desire for him and his love if this really is just his way of not having to look at himself.

I haven’t fully had the courage to look at the relationship with my mother thru life, but we are on no contact currently.

Thank you.

17

My mother said she had a wonderful childhood, her parents never fought or raised their voices, then why did my mom yell at us all the time, and mother instilled so much fear in me I could barely breath. She had six kids and I was the fourth in line two younger then me. I was never taken out of the house and when I was I would break out in hives and get sick.When I was six months old my mom found out she was having another baby and she said she almost lost her mind.Well I was fed, changed and bathed and that was it, she said she would check on me in my playpen and I would be sitting watching and waiting for her to peak around the corner at me. I didn’t play I would just sit there waiting, to this day I can’t stand big crowds even if it’s family, I avoid them at all costs.My dad drank but he would sing to me and hold me and never yelled at me he died when I was 16 and I found out what depression was all about, I have been depressed off and on since then. Thank God I don’t have to take medicine anymore for it I have come along way. My mother had no self-esteem, no self love, no confidence and no self worth. And the guilt I have carried my whole life has been insane, found out the guilt didn’t even belong to me. Anyway in just a weeks time I have grown leaps and bounds from all the blogs on fb. May God continue to Bless all of you.

18

ah yes the PITY PARTY. Something no parent should EVER to do their child and major sign of a Cluster B Personality Disorder.

19

Darlene, excellent as always. Have not read thru all the comments yet, but did not want to lose my train of thought. Many thoughts running through my head (as usual!), but the one that really struck me as I read this is:

We feel/felt so guilty that we should have been able to handle things; that we should just buck up and take care of ourselves (and our abusers); that we were responsible and should have been able to stop: the abuse, our bad feelings, difficulties in our own lives, our abusers’ misery and struggles, etc. I find it interesting that we – as the abused – blame ourselves for our struggles. But when we look at our abusers, and we know they have suffered abuse as well, we don’t apply that same standard. We don’t feel they brought all those diffculties on themselves, we just see that hard things have happened to them in their lifetimes. We may even see them as victims.

In other words, we are responsible for ourselves and all that happens to us (the mistaken idea we take on as children), but do we ever stop to think that they should do/feel the same??? I know I never did. Yes, my dad had a very tough life as well, but he made it clear that if *I* would just straighten up, *he* would be okay, happy, calm, etc. He demanded of me what he would/could not demand of himself. And I bought into it 110%.

So the double standard is: I am responsible for bringing on my own misery, but my abuser is not responsible for bringing on his/her own misery – I am responsible for that as well.

I hope that makes sense. It does in my head, but I don’t know that I’ve stated it well. It just became so clear as you talked about your mom’s difficult life. She didn’t expect herself to buck up and be responsible for her miseries the way she expected you to do that for yourself … and for her. Maybe I’m a little slow and everyone else has had this ‘aha’ moment. And while my dad has passed away, I still work hard to move through these issues for myself.

Appreciating your words,
Monica

20

Big hugs to you, Diane Reyes!! I cannot believe either, even for me, how the chains of bondage are falling off. I am realizing now too the work that God has actually done in the last ten years. The whole time I felt pretty much stuck … the Lord was doing a work. Amazing!

21

Ron,
My deepest desire is to make a difference in the world, to empower people to achieve their own wholeness so that we have the ability to break the cycle regarding abuse. You are right we do not have to accept all of the crap that has been passed down to us! We can stop the cycle when we realize the lies that it is built on and when we start to untangle the parts that we bought into about it.
Thanks for your thought provoking comment!

Hi Lisa,
You are very right ~ there are so many similarities between marriage relationship and parent child relationship. Did you read my post about my husband and I ? (Standing up to Dysfunctional Relationship) Relationship is relationship ~ my relationship with my husband used to be very similar to the one that I write about with my mother. He chose to listen to me and she didn’t. But before he listened, he really thought he had the right to treat me with disregard, like he was “above me” just like she did.
Thanks for your comment,

Hi Diane
I am so glad that you are finding hope in the blogs you are reading! Thank you so much for sharing ~ it’s horrible what some go through in a life time. I feel sorry for my mom, but I am not going to spend my life anymore trying to make it up to her that she had a bad life. (and all of that was such a huge part of my guilt!) But she isn’t my job. She has her own work to do and so do we and we are doing ours!
Great to have you here!

Hi Monica,
You make some interesting and excellent points here; I am currently working on a post about exactly what you are talking about here, except that I am writing about how “they” don’t love or accept us by the same standard that we are expected to love them from. I love how you have described the way we make excuses for them but not for ourselves. Thank you for highlighting this VERY TRUE point. We never judge ourselves by the standard we judge them from. This is so similar to how we can see another victims story as horrific and not see our own as a big deal. I love all your points ~ You make more than PERFECT sense. This is the essence of why we are so conflicted, this is the truth that sets us free.
I hope that you share often Monica!

Hugs, Darlene

22

Hi Paulette,
It is so freeing to be able to just say it like it really was. To realize that our mothers were wrong, sick even. My mother lived in a false belief system, she altered the way that she viewed things to protect herself and survive, however, that did not protect me. These things tend to get worse as generations progress. We don’t have to live like that anymore.
Thanks so much for your comments!

Hi Nikki
I hear you on this one too. I don’t understand why so many adults don’t see children as EQUALLY VALUABLE to adults… the way some children are treated as though they will just grow up and forget about how they are treated? weird.. and yes… the dysfunction stems from that.. the lack of respect for the child’s well being. Very well put.
And YES again… disrespectful children learn how to be disrespectful by example! (originally I wanted to write a book about this, the whole parent child connection… and I still might! I am extremely passionate about this subject)
Your input is fabulous!

Hi Kim,
Thanks for sharing and contributing to this post Kim. It is so true as I said to Nikki, so damaging to children. Being abused is not an excuse, everyone has the choice as an adult to get some help. I can imagine saying some of the things that my mother said to me, to my kids.. but I rarely did say them. (a few times I did, I made it the kids fault for my mood ~ I just didn’t hit them) There were times I heard her voice in my head, times when I was tired and frustrated… it would have been so easy to just take it out on the kids like she did. That was the example modeled for me growing up. It would have been easy for me to just decide that it was my turn to have all the power and control. It was my turn to have everyone jump when I said jump. That is how this cycle gets passed down. Not all abuse looks the same either. I am so glad that I broke that cycle! I am glad that you got away from your mom and I love your attitude ~ to live without being abused, to be the best person you can be and to not be abusive! Ya hoo.
Thanks so much for being here Kim!
Hugs, Darlene

Cyndi
I wanted to highlight you last comment; ” Realizing that my feelings were important, and in fact I am my only advocate for myself” That is the key. Even when I started to advocate for myself, I didn’t realize how key it was. Today I realize that I am the only one who can define me and at the end of the day it only matters how I feel about me. I had to learn to love me and protect me.
This is ~ as you say ~ HUGE in the healing process.
Thanks for sharing!
Hugs, Darlene

23

It a huge privilege to be able to participate in a forum calling out abuse in all forms for what it is, such as this one you present here. Your voice is empowering people at all levels of recovery to allay the fears lingering in the back of their minds, that perhaps they are deluding themselves, all the while reassuring them they are not, and neither are they alone in facing the demons of the past. Your strong and brave voice reminds us that as a ‘spade is a spade”, so ‘abuse is abuse’.

Fear of breaking family loyalty is one of the greatest stumbling blockages to recovery. Yet, until we admit certain things we would rather excuse or deny, we cannot truly begin to put the past in the past, and leave it there once and for all. Unless we do that, we cannot even begin to think of having a future that is fully ours, untethered to the past, and we will be doomed and destined to repeat it. Kudos Darlene, Keep talking and we’ll keep hearing. <3

24

wow,
what posts, and they (our abusers) say we should stay silent.
this forum shows how wrong that edict is. the more we share with others the easier the load becomes, the feelings of shame blame and guilt pass as we realise a) we are not alone; b) we have a right to be angry at the people who hurts us, but till we pass beyond the anger we will stayed chained to the past and how it destroys us on a daily basis;c)that we really wasnt at fault, to have a reaction there must first be an action. having found these healing sites i have made massive inroads on the intellctual side so i can now, hopefully continue on to findin ways to unpick the training this new knowledge n awareness has given me.
thanks to all who have the courage to post and for tose not yet ready, the hope that someday you wont delete your post but actually press send

25

Wow, Ron.
Thank you so much. I am saving this comment.. I would like to use it to advertise or something! LOL For now I will quote you on the facebook page for this blog!

I love your comparison ~ a spade is a spade and abuse is abuse. YES YES! So simple and so true. I should start a category for the topic “Fear of breaking family loyalty is one of the greatest stumbling blockages to recovery” because that is how much of a stick point that it is.

Thanks again Ron. I love this comment and all that it contains, not just the encouragement either. !
Hugs, Darlene

26

Carol,
What a beautiful comment! I am thrilled by the progress you are making, I remember when you first started commenting on this blog. You are growing like crazy and it is such an encouragement to me personally, to witness this! YOU really have made missive inroads!

I love how you end this post as an encouragement to others.. It never occurred to me that some people might not have the courage to post comments. Thanks for you note to others, I am sure it will make a major positive difference!

Love Darlene

27

It’s interesting that this is today’s post, Darlene. Today I was actually thinking about what it was in my fathers life that could have caused him to be the mean, nasty perverted person he (and his brothers) were. And I saw again the conflict, the ambivalence of how I want to feel bad for him – and I do – but at the same time that does not excuse his behaviors and the way he treated me.

The memory that always sticks out in this context was the day of my mothers funeral. She’d been trying to leave him for some time but he had the doctors convinced she was crazy so she was heavily medicated against her will. She would try not taking the drugs, go into withdrawals and he would get her put back in the state hospital. In August of 1976 it ended.

The day of her funeral he never once tried to offer me any comfort and in fact I was numb. I had no idea that there was such a thing as grief after being conditioned to not feel or express anything that made him feel as though he had lost control.

What he did do though was wait until the morning of the funeral to find his clothes and then come running to me like a child, crying, tears flowing and stuttering about how all he wanted was a new shirt to wear to her funeral.

I spent that morning trying to find a store that carried his shirt size and focussed on making him feel ok.

I was just 17. And while today I have compassion for his life and story – he never shared any of it with me. I know nothing about where my father came from except that his father was an immigrant from Germany and I felt shame for being of German heritage ( Hitler and all that). I don’t know the year he was born or where he was born. I know that he was not allowed to go to school because he had to work and I got the feeling that his father was a mean nasty man himself. And while that’s sad and terrible to imagine the young boy he was at the early part of the last century…that is no excuse for what he did to me – or for what he did not do as a father and a parent that he should have done.

Freedom for me came when I was able to recognize this ambivalence and find both compassion for his pain and story while still holding him responsible for what he did as my father. This is where I found freedom from the shame and guilt for having wanted a real “daddy” and found compassion for my own pain and having hated him yet having loved him – or the fantasy of what I wanted him to be.

28

Hi Susan,
Your story really hit me ~ brought tears to my eyes. It was the part about how you had to get him a new shirt on the very morning of the funeral. That is so typical of a controller/abuser. I have heard of high end abusers forcing a spouse to stay medicated too. I think the reason we want to feel bad for them, is very related to the identity that we “got” from them. I think that we carry over the belief from childhood that we can’t survive unless we somehow accept the unacceptable. I wrote a post about this, I will publish it tomorrow. Wounds like this go very deep.
Thank you for including your ending because it is is really key. You wrote (in case anyone missed it ~”Freedom for me came when I was able to recognize this ambivalence and find both compassion for his pain and story while still holding him responsible for what he did as my father. This is where I found freedom from the shame and guilt for having wanted a real “daddy” and found compassion for my own pain and having hated him yet having loved him – or the fantasy of what I wanted him to be.” This is where I found freedom too.

Thank you so much for this wonderful comment.
Love, Darlene

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God Bless you Darlene! Thank you for giving this forum to express our feelings and encourage each other. Life is a precious gift.

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Kim,
My heart sings everyday that I can make a difference and possibly contribute to and participate in the recovery of anyone who has ever struggled. I am so blessed. I am grateful for every reader and everyone who leaves a comment.
Thanks so much for your encouragement Kim,
Hugs, Darlene

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Good article. Recently, I had a car accident and broke my leg. My mom had come to “help” (which she tried, but was more in the way than helpful) and told several people that she was only there if I fell. Besides her immediately jumping to false pretenses for her being there in the first place, she went on and on about a car accident she’d had at age 17. Note, I’ve heard this story DOZENS of times over my 40 years, and I really wasn’t interested in hearing it over and over now. The reason I mention it here is to point out how my mom used her car accident to try to minimize what had happened to me. Here I was — today — wheelchair bound and in pain. But, she wanted to continually point out that she had been involved in a much more serious accident and I guess her point was that she had survived, so I would survive. It wasn’t helpful or comforting. It was minimizing my importance and keeping the attention focused on her. I had never had such a crystal clear example of Narcissism before this — as I had never broken a bone before or had anything “real” happen to me like this. (I am not mentioning my own battle with childhood sexual abuse and many other emotional problems inflicted upon me, as those are considered personal problems in my family.) When our rift came during this visit, I was as shocked as I could be that my mother would attack me and malign me (now I realize it’s called slander and is a real crime) while I sat helplessly by in a wheelchair with no defenses. Eye opening experience for me and the beginning of my life without an abusive parent standing by.

Thanks again,
Kellie

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Hi Kellie,
Great example of how it really goes. I call those eye opening moments when we see things how they really are ~ “coming out of the fog”. I had a few of those with my mother too. Being able to see clearly how discounted we are, how we were continually mistreated and devalued, (I think their motive was to make sure we never realized any of our own value separate from them) was a huge step towards this new life that I live now.
Thanks for being here and for sharing!
Hugs, Darlene

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Sometime’s friction between mother and daughter can very well be the daughter’s fault. I do believe that mom’s sometime’s are the victim.

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Hi Beryl,
That may be true in some cases but it is not true in this case. I think that sometimes adult children can become the abusers ~ and in the end it is still all about survival. My mother would gladly tell you that she was my victim, and I tried harder and harder to be who she wanted. But the truth is that I could never be good enough for her, and I had to realize that I was good enough for me by examining the truth about our relationship and how one sided it was. I don’t have to meet her expectations anymore. I feel sorry for my mother because she has the same problem with her mother… but the pattern stopped with me. I have two daughters of my own and I can honestly tell you that my relationship with them is totally different then what I had with my mother.
Thanks for commenting.
Hugs, Darlene

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[…] me down this way from my earliest memory of her.  And while she was putting me down, she was also putting my mother down because of course my mother was responsible for whatever my grandmother didn’t like about me, so […]

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Aside from the actual details of mother’s abuse, I could have written this post myself. Wow.

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I am so very sorry. Despite all that you have been through, it seems you have a very level head and are able to recognize where you have been harmed and what was NOT your fauly. That is so important. I have not been physically assaulted or sexually abused, but I believe that I have been mentally abused. I am currently facing one of the most difficult times in my life and found your entry because I googled abuse and mothers. I am so glad I have boys, and I check my actions every moment to make sure that I am not saying things that I’ve learned from the generation before. We have to break the pattern and show them unconditional love and care. It wasn’t done for us, but we can do it for our children and impact generations after with our love and understanding. I wish you healing and peace.

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Hello Rescuing;
Welcome! There is a lot of information in my blog about recovery and about facing childhood history. I am glad you are here,
Thank you for sharing,
Hugs, Darlene

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Reading this blog and all the comments is both validating and heartbreaking. It is becoming more and more clear to me that I didn’t imagine it all. It’s clear that what went on was NOT ok. It’s clear that my mother doesn’t ‘love me’ not in the way that normal, happy, sane and balanced mothers love their children. It’s clear to me that she hurt me bad then and continues to hurt me now. I’ve managed my boundaries but I feel guilty and anxious and ungrateful and not worthy.

When I was pregnant with my son I feared constantly that I’d have a girl child and would be just like her. I resolved to NOT be that way and for the most part I KNOW and my husband assures me I am doing ok with that. I wonder though and I fret and so now I’m left feeling very lost and confused and scared – am I creating a child that will find me so intolerable as I find my own mother?

I’m so sad. I wish she would just die so I could be free of her and all her bullshit. I fear I don’t have the strength to properly take back my power and to distance myself and do the work I need to do to heal…AND is it too late for my son? Have I already damaged him in ways I don’t understand? I must go cuddle up to him now as I am too sad and need the comfort of listening to him sleep.

night night

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Take care of yourself Sherie

Haven’t got time to write now but thinking of you. Try to believe your husband. You’re already thinking about all this stuff, so I don’t think you ever could be like your mother.

Hope hearing your son sleep helped you feel better 🙂

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forgot to tick “follow up” box!

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Hi Sherie
No, none of us imagined any of this. It was all real and not okay.
I had tons of those fears about my kids and being like my mother and even that they would hate me even if I was nothing like my mother. Doing my work around all of this enabled me to see how to have a REAL relationship with my kids. (my youngest was 7 and oldest was 13 when I began this process) It was not too late, in fact it is never too late. I was able to change all my definitions of love and relationship that had been taught to me the wrong way. Today I even hear thoughts in my head when it comes to my kids that come from that OLD dysfunctional system, but i never act on them anymore. It takes time but it is doable. I have an amazing relationship with my kids today. (youngest is 14, middle is 18, oldest is 20 now) I am very glad that I persisted with my own healing ~ it led to the healing of all of us.
Hugs, Darlene

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Thanks J and Darlene. I ended up a bit of a mess last night. A whole day of reading the site and realizing this was what I’d been suffering all this time was initially wonderful, amazing and cathartic but by the end of the day I felt hopeless and angry and sad and well you get the point! I think I just need to keep building my understanding and be gentle with myself…. Not something that I’m very good at but I’ll try 🙂

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Sherie
Although a lot of people find this site and read like crazy, it is tough when you flood your brain with all this information. It is not possible to absorb the truth all at once. Many people find that they have to go back and read stuff again anyway because they can’t absorb it in a small space of time. All your emotions are valid.
Please do be gentle with yourself. (and take it easy with how much you are reading here! I think commenting often helps some also)
Hugs! Darlene

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[…] mother is a victim. In fact, she is the exact same type of victim that I was.  She was a victim of her parent’s abuse and dysfunction and she learned to survive in that dysfunctional family system exactly as it was […]

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You say you will only have a mother-daughter relationship if it’s based on the true definition of love. You hit the nail on the head here. Our mothers have no experience of the true love. They have no idea what that kind of mature, reciprocal, relationship entails. We are, quite literally, speaking mumbo jumbo to them. – It seems to me there are only two choices: either one remains in the dysfunction (and thereby staying sick), or you walk free. Some say there is a third option – remaining in the relationship in a very limited way. I keep trying for the third option, but I find myself continually dragged back into the marshes.

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Hi Teresa,
Thanks, the only third option that I know of is when these dysfunctional parents actually WANT to try to heal the relationship with you. My husband and I had a dysfunctional marriage and unlike both sets of our parents, HE was willing to take a look at the way that he was treating me and realize it was wrong; we healed our marraige because both of us were willing to do the work. Parents have that option too. I have talked to several people who have worked this out with thier mothers, where the mom actually listened and HEARD what the grown daughter was trying to tell her. Rather than lose their daughters, they worked towards mutual respect. It can happen… sadly, it doesn’t happen often enough!
Thanks so much for sharing,
Hugs, Darlene

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