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,