October 11, 2020 at 6:55 pm #367781
My heart is so full and I just have to express it somewhere!
I have a beautiful 3 year old daughter and a loving husband. I come from a very toxic and broken family, and my husband has a very nice family. My only family member left that I regularly talk to is my mother (we have a complicated relationship but it’s in a very good place the past few years). My daughter spends more time with my husband’s family and is very bonded and comfortable with all of them. I’m thrilled because, in the last week or so, she has finally bonded with my mom!! Today we spent the day together and the two of them were just talking, and walking my mom’s dogs at a park, and it was as if they were old buddies, so comfortable. I kind of stepped back a bit and let the moment last as long as it needed to. It filled my heart so much. I know my mom has been through a LOT in life, and to see this new connection of love forming makes my heart so happy. I had an incredibly special relationship with my grandmother, and it’s so nice to see this possibility for my mom and daughter to have that special bond too. Today is a day I won’t ever forget. <3October 12, 2020 at 9:02 am #367786
I am glad you had a happy, special day yesterday and I hope today is a good day for you as well. It seems to me that you were so happy to see your mother and daughter appear to have the special, trouble-free, simple bond that you did not have with your mother.
As an only child to your mother, seems to me (based on your previous threads) that for the longest time you experienced your mother being unhappy, mistreated, being the less-fortunate-one, and disabled from one point on. You had lots of empathy for her and you tried to protect her from those who mistreated her (even before at 28, you took on the very difficult 7.5-year-job of protecting her from her very aggressive, greedy brother).
I think that this family role (to protect your mother) was your role when you were too young , a burden that was too heavy and too complex, for how is a child to “keep peace in the family”?
Seems to me that this burden is responsible for much of your anxiety around conflicts with people: being afraid of people even when they are not dangerous to you; afraid to speak your mind, afraid of how people will turn against you and hurt you badly, if you do speak your mind, tip toeing around people.
If I am correct, and you want to explore this further, let me know.
anitaOctober 12, 2020 at 7:29 pm #367801
Wow Anita, you are uncanny in your interpretations. Yes, everything you’ve said is completely accurate. I have been through a lot in my childhood and young adulthood (I’ve never even talked about my father and stepfather but those were also very unhealthy relationships). My mom is both my rock and also someone who has exposed me to a LOT of pain. I’m thankful that now that my grandmother has passed, 2 years ago this month, and we have been freed of my disgusting uncle, and we have found a very peaceful and loving relationship between she and I. My mom is finally free, and it’s transformed her into the person I always wanted her to be. I can’t be mad at her for the past, I forgive her for everything because she deserved so much better from people in her life. She’s taken responsibility for the pain she’s caused me, and I feel like we can move forward. It’s nice to feel like I have something to contribute to my daughter’s family besides just myself. My mom has a way with children and my daughter really enjoys being with her. The man I married and his family are giving both my mom and I a second chance to feel like we belong and are part of a loving family. I’m so thankful for that.
What you said about me having trouble with conflicts and speaking my mind is so very true. I just was talking to my husband about that very thing. How any time there’s something I need to say no to with friends or anyone, I find it nearly impossible. I am so afraid of making someone angry. I’ve compromised myself in so many ways just to avoid conflict. It’s frustrating because I always saw myself as someone like a warrior (especially after all that I’ve overcome in my life) but in truth I’m so weak and timid because of this gnawing fear that I’ll have someone mad at me, or someone cut me out of their life and cast me aside. It’s something I’m struggling with very much and am actually in therapy to try to resolve.October 12, 2020 at 7:36 pm #367802
I am looking forward to read and reply yo you when I am back to the computer, in about 11 hours from now.
anitaOctober 13, 2020 at 9:17 am #367810
I am re-arranging the order of what you shared in the first part of your recent post and adding to it, filling in, hopefully not incorrectly (let me know):
Your mother has been trapped in unhappiness for the longest time, trapped in unhappy marriages to your father and step father, trapped in pain caused to her by other “people in her life”. Growing up, she told you/ you heard about all that pain, and that she didn’t deserve it (“she deserved so much better from people in her life”).
Growing up with your mother, all your empathy was for her: her pain was your pain. You were angry at the people who caused her pain, and wanted nothing more intensely than to stop them from hurting her any more. You were your mother little warrior, fighting the evil forces any way you could, but a child warrior is not strong enough to fight and win against the grown, powerful adults who caused her so much pain.
Throughout your childhood and your twenties, your mother passed her pain on to you/ exposing it to you (“My mom.. exposed me to a LOT of pain”). With all that pain, love and belonging were.. postponed to a time in the future when she will be free of pain.
At 28, still a child warrior at heart, you engaged in a war against her brother. After 7.5 years, the war was won, and your mother is finally free from the pain her brother caused her. And because she is currently not in an unhappy relationship with a man, and there are no current attacks by other people, she is free from pain-caused-by-others for the first time: “My mom is finally free”!
Being finally free from excess pain, she is finally who you always wanted her to be: available to be a loving mother/ grandmother: “(Freedom from pain) transformed her into the person I always wanted her to be”.
After she apologized for the pain she caused you (“She’s taken responsibility for the pain she’s caused me”), you “forgive her for everything”, and you feel that the two of you- you and your mother- can finally move forward (“I feel like we can move forward”). Moving forward means that you and your mother love each other and the two of you now belong with your husband’s loving family, having a “second chance to feel like we belong and are part of a loving family”.
You shared in the second part of your recent post that you have “trouble with conflicts and speaking my mind”, that you find it “nearly impossible” to “say no to with friends or anyone”, that you are “so afraid of making someone angry”, that you compromised yourself “in so many ways just to avoid conflict”, and you wrote: “It’s so frustrating because I always saw myself as someone like a warrior.. but in truth I’m so weak and timid because of this gnawing fear that I’ll have someone mad at me, or someone cut m e out of their life and cast me aside”-
– You have been a warrior from a very early age, too early. You are still the child warrior that you were as a child. To be an effective adult warrior, the adult has to have previous experience with having power over her life circumstances. Without such experience, the adult warrior is still a very motivated, but “weak and timid” still.
Imagine a fawn, a young deer witnessing her mother, the doe, being attacked by a mountain lion. The fawn is extremely distressed, so very scared, wanting more than anything to help her mother, to fight against the lion. Her heart is pumping blood fast, her breathing escalating, her legs are all ready to kick the lion and scare him away…but her instinct tells her that she has no chance at all. So she stands there, a traumatized child warrior.
The fawn grows up and becomes a doe, but still trapped in the experience of being so completely helpless when faced with aggression, she fears aggression everywhere; she fears any bit of aggression because any bit of it reminds her the very powerful experience of being powerless to protect her own mother.
In the example of the fawn, the doe, and the mountain lion- the doe was a victim of the lion, there was no way for the doe to .. not expose her foe to the attack by the lion. In your life, your mother had the choice to not expose you to her various grievances, grievances that overwhelmed you. If she protected you from those, you would have had a chance to experience safety and freedom from having to be so focused on her, and you would have had the chance to successfully practice small assertions in your young life, to experience having some power over what happened around you, and gradually build on those small successes to become an effective adult warrior.
The last sentence of your recent post is: “It’s something I’m struggling with very much and am actually in therapy to try to resolve”- it is possible for you to become an effective adult warrior, this has been taking place in my own life, for I too was a child warrior in a woman’s body for way too long.
anitaOctober 13, 2020 at 7:33 pm #367827
Yes, I think you are on to something, that imagery of a child warrior feels like you’ve put into words what I’ve always felt but never have been able to describe. I have no idea how to become an adult warrior, or how to get over the fear of losing people. I’ve lost so many people in my life, and often hold on to people whom I SHOULD let go. My husband, thank goodness, is such an amazing person, I often wonder how I was able to find someone who is so different than many of the people I grew up with. He’s decent, respectful, and loves me, and reliable. He’s helped me grow so much. But this issue of mine baffles him. He can’t understand why I refuse to let go of some friendships or even family relationships that are definitely toxic. Even going back to my awful uncle, I sometimes still ponder if I can live with this rift, even though all of my cells in my body scream that I should never speak to him again after his abuse. The idea that someone is going to think ill of me is almost unbearable. I’ve been so programmed to be a people pleaser and it’s quite literally sickening when I think of someone being “displeased” with me. I am learning in therapy not to go running back towards an abuser to “fix it”. But it’s still hard. And it’s still very hard to know how to navigate other “conflicts” (such as friendships that are growing apart, as I mentioned in my other post about friends and politics).
Much of this also may stem from my father. My parents divorced when I was 2 and I’d see him on the weekends. I was abused by him and he was very manipulative and convinced me not to say anything until I was a teenager. He convinced me that if he couldn’t see me he would die. (He’s still alive and I haven’t seen him since I was 13). That kind of intense manipulation along with things that were going on at home, I fear, have maybe wired my mind to not be able to stand up to people. Do you have any tips that you’ve learned on how to become an adult warrior?October 13, 2020 at 7:44 pm #367828
I will read and reply to you in about 11 hours from now.
anitaOctober 14, 2020 at 9:56 am #367841
This will be a very long post, so take your time reading it, part by part, don’t rush. Read it over days if you need to:
Here are simple online definition: War- “an active struggle between competing entities”; Warrior (which has the word war in it): “a person who fights in battles and is known for having courage and skill”; Courage: “the ability to do something that frightens one”.
You asked me: “Do you have any tips that you’ve learned on how to become an adult warrior?”- in the definition of warrior there are two requirements: courage and skill.
Regarding skill: if you google “assertiveness skills”, you will find page after page of resources, included exercises, worksheets and youtube videos, most if not all are free of charge. Because you are attending therapy, you can practice assertiveness skills with your therapist, with her guidance. If you describe this or that situation to me in specific, relevant details, I will probably be able to suggest to you an assertive approach to that specific situation.
Regarding courage: to put assertiveness skills into practice you have to be able to behave in ways that scare you. To be able to do so, your fear needs to lessen, so that it does not overwhelm you and disable you.
There are plenty of ways to relax, and plenty of online free resources on this matter as well, page after page, if you google “relaxation techniques”, including handouts and exercises. If you google “guided meditations for relaxation”, you will find plenty.
Here on your thread, I offer you the following: what fuels and maintains excess fear when no real and present danger exists, is a misunderstanding of what is real/ of reality (the reality of the past and of the present).
When over time, you examine your view of your past and of the people in your past, the people who shaped you, and change your thoughts and beliefs from wishful/ make-believe to what is real, your fear will lessen and lessen. Warning: when faced with a painful reality as-is, we tend to reject seeing it as-is, no matter how true, and no matter how helpful for us it would be to face it.
This is what you wrote about your state of fear and courage: “I am so afraid of making someone angry. I’ve compromised myself in so many ways just to avoid conflict… in truth I’m so weak and timid because of this gnawing fear that I’ll have someone mad at me, or someone cut me out of their life and cast me aside. It’s something I’m struggling with very much”.
I will now rewrite what you shared about your family of origin and add my comments, italicized. Once in a while I will add an “*” with a question. These questions are not necessarily for you to answer here on this thread, or here at this point (it is up to you). I bring these up to you for your consideration.
You described your family of origin as “a very toxic and broken family”. You described your relationship with your mother as “a complicated relationship” that is “in a very good place the past few years”, meaning it was not in a very good place before.
In your original post you shared that you were thrilled to see that your daughter “finally bonded with my mom!!.. the two of them were just talking, and walking.. as if they were old buddies, so comfortable”- to me, it means that when you were a child/ growing up, your relationship with your mother was not comfortable, not easy, and you did not feel bonded with your own mother. You wrote that to watch your mother and daughter together “filled my heart so much”- meaning that your heart growing up was empty, that you desired so much to be comfortably bonded with your mother, a desire unfulfilled.
You wrote about your daughter: “she has finally bonded with my mom!!.. to see this new connection of love forming makes my heart so happy”- this is you vicariously living the experience through your daughter, finally feeling bonded, comfortable and happy with your mother! You were very sad, as a child, to not have that “connection of love” with your mother.
“my mom has been through a LOT in life… I have been through a lot in my childhood and young adulthood”- your empathy is primarily with your mother for going through a “LOT”, not for yourself, for going through “a lot”.
* “My mom is both my rock and also someone who has exposed me to a LOT of pain”- a rock can be a solid foundation for a person to stand on, strong, unchanging. But it can also be a weapon that causes a lot of pain. The same rock cannot be both, can it (?)
“My mom is finally free, and it’s transformed her into the person I always wanted her to be”- for what seems like eternity (“always”) she was not whom you needed her to be.
* “I can’t be mad at her for the past”- but you were angry at her, and still (?)
* “I forgive her for everything because she deserved so much better from people in her life”- but she received so much good in her life- from you. From the very beginning she received your total love and devotion. Did she appreciate it (?)
* How much of yourself and the truth do you compromise in that generous forgiveness-for-everything(?)
* “I am so afraid of making someone angry. I’ve compromised myself in so many ways just to avoid conflict”- what happened when as a child you made your mother angry, and how did you compromise yourself to avoid conflict with her (?)
“this gnawing fear that I’ll have someone mad at me, or someone cut me out of their life and cast me aside.. the fear of losing people”- as a child, did your mother cut you out of her life emotionally, angrily when she was displeased with you; did you lose her when she was displeased with you (?)
About your husband, you wrote: “He can’t understand why I refuse to let go of some friendships or even family relationships that are definitely toxic”- my answer: because a child doesn’t have that option, to let go of a toxic parent/ uncle. When as an adult, you remain a scared child inside, “so weak and timid”, you remain stuck in the belief: I don’t have a choice, I have to make due with the only adults I have in my life (parent, uncle, friends, etc.)
* “I’ve been so programmed to be a people pleaser and it’s quite literally sickening when I think of someone being ‘displeased’ with me”- who programmed you, as a child, to be a people pleaser, and how; what kind of displeasure expressed to you, literally sickened you (?)
* You mentioned a father and a step father, not having a healthy relationship with either one. Regarding your father, you wrote: “My parents divorced when I was 2 and I’d see him on the weekends. I was abused by him and he was very manipulative and convinced me not to say anything until I was a teenager… I haven’t seen him since I was 13”- do you mean that he abused you sexually, did your mother know.. ((?)).