It is devastating to realize how little regard parents can have for their own child when that child is you. It is deeply wounding; I was filled with self doubt about why they felt this way. They planted that doubt; they made me question my value all along. This is a difficult cycle to understand and even more difficult to escape because the roots go so deep.
One of the things that I realized in the process of recovery was that the fear of losing my parents love was still very real. Even as an adult, the thought of standing up to my mother about our dysfunctional mother daughter relationship filled me with dread and could cause my heartbeat to spike with an anxiety that I never understood. No one wants to be rejected by their own parents. What I didn’t realize is that I still had the fears from the view point of a child.
When I was a child I was pretty sure that if my parents rejected me that I would be left to die. I could not survive in the world without them. That’s not just a fear; that is a reality. I didn’t think about someone else taking care of me. I think this is why it was easy for me as a child to take the blame for things that went wrong. If it was my fault, I could try harder. If I blamed my parents, and they rejected me, then I had no hope. So I tried harder.
Many other problems can grow out of this mindset though. When we have been kept down this way, it is easy for other people to treat us the same way; like we are less important than they are because we accept that we are less important and this sort of opens the door to other maltreatment. This was something that I fought accepting for a very long time but when I began to understand this concept I began to realize how my life was like a big sticky mess that kept snowballing into a bigger sticky mess. Everyone seemed to disregard me and there were times I was shocked at how I was treated by people.
So it was time for the untangling and rebuilding process. The tricky part was that I had to learn to refuse to be treated like I was less than anyone else. The first step was believing that I was equally valuable by exposing all the lies I believed, and replacing them with truth and then I had to learn how to draw boundaries. Now that was scary but I came to realize that if I didn’t do it, I would stay right where I was and my new growth and my hope for excellent mental health would be stalled.
Although I became aware of the way that I had been devalued by my mother and the damage it caused, for several years afterwards I continued talking to her and just ignored her jabs. I think I believed the new me would finally be good enough. I still wasn’t ready to deal with our dysfunctional mother daughter relationship but my life had already begun to change. I was speaking in mental health seminars about my recovery from Dissociative Identity Disorder and Chronic Depression and I was good at it. I was impacting people and inspiring hope that they too could overcome their mental health problems. I was impacting mental health professionals too.
I was invited to do the content edit on a book being written by a therapist about the destructive nature of power and control. I was SO excited to tell my Mom. She wasn’t impressed at all. She wanted to know why he asked me. She wondered (out loud) if I was having an affair with him. Something snapped in me. Ever since I was 6 she had communicated to me in various ways that the only thing that I was good for was sex or something to do with sex. That realization had been a big part of my therapy. Now, I was building a professional career and I had gone back to school. I was speaking regularly in seminars about recovery and my Mother, my own Mother, decided that if someone was noticing me, it couldn’t possibly be because I was smart or that I had a talent in that area; it had to be because I was having an affair and that any man who saw value in me really just wanted to have sex with me. I was so stunned that I didn’t say anything. I was silent and didn’t stand up to her. I knew that I didn’t deserve that kind of treatment and I thought long and hard about what to do about it. In my therapy process, I had taken a close look at my trust issues with others, but what about the trust issues that I had with myself? I knew that it was time for me to take action; to honour myself and step into my new belief; that I was worthy.
I was already aware of my fear of being rejected by her if I told her that she couldn’t treat me that way anymore but I also knew that if I didn’t tell her what my boundaries were, and stick to them, that nothing would change. The time had come.
Exposing truth one snapshot at a time,