May 11, 2020 at 8:50 am #354456
“When the pain started to creep up, I would slow down, go under my rock, as I call it, and remind myself that everything is temporary. Eventually, the pain would recede. It is difficult to keep this way of life”-
– this is one way of life, being under a rock, waiting for the pain to recede, then coming up, enjoying a moment here and there of living in the moment, with most moments in between are just surviving, waiting for no one or nothing in particular.
Ever since you were a child, your goal in life was to make your fragile mother strong, so that she can give you strength. As a child, you had no other choice but to form that goal. Now, as an adult in your fifth decade of life, it is time to admit defeat: you can’t make her strong so that she will make you strong. It is an impossibility.
The way for you to become reliably and consistently strong, is to give up on that old goal. Staying in contact with her will continue to fuel that goal, because at any time when you hear her voice, or see her smile, that old desire will come alive: to make her happy.
Not in contact with her, it will be your memories of her that will activate that old desire, plus there will be the guilt of supposedly making her so sad for not being in contact with you.
To become reliably and consistently strong, you have to choose sides: hers or yours. In other words: it cannot be she and you, that con-fused entity, but just you, nothing to do with her.. just you.
anitaMay 11, 2020 at 6:46 pm #354520
This seems quite radical to me. I have always thought of people ending their relationship with their parents as those who were abused. I don’t feel that I was abused. Neglected, ignored and betrayed, yes. But not abused. Actually, my goal in life was more like doing the exact opposite from what she’s done. But this is still shaping my life in relation to her I guess.
I would like to know more about your experience of ending your relationship with your mother. How has it transformed your life concretely?
IsabelleMay 11, 2020 at 7:08 pm #354522
If you don’t believe that your relationship with your mother has been and is currently harming your mental health, then there is no reason for you to end your relationship with her.
You asked me how ending my relationship with my mother transformed me. What motivates you to ask me this question: is it out of curiosity but with no intent to consider it yourself?
anitaMay 11, 2020 at 7:52 pm #354538
I believe that my relationship with my mom has hurt my mental health in the past. She was never there for more when I needed her and it made me suffer deeply. Now I have given up on her ever being there for me a long time ago. I expect nothing from her anymore. But I was intrigued by your comment on having to chose a side in order to feel consistently strong. I wonder how that could change my life, which is why I asked how it changed yours.
IsabelleMay 12, 2020 at 5:55 am #354588
“I don’t feel that I was abused. Neglected, ignored and betrayed, yes. But not abused”- being neglected, ignored and especially betrayed = being emotionally abused.
And Emotional abuse = Physical abuse. When betrayed by the person most important to us, as children, certain very physical biochemical processes take place that cause this lifetime condition: “I have lived with anxiety since a very young age. Around 5, I started having violent migraines that would make me throw up. I also had night terrors”.
Anxiety, violent migraines, throwing up and night terrors are very much physical.
“Her life has been so difficult and when I can, I try to make it a bit better”- your life has been so difficult and when you can, do try to make it better.
“Somehow it feels like it is healing me when I am able to bring joy to her”- it will be healing to you if you stop investing in bringing her joy.
“I still want to take care of her”- take care of you and your son.
“She tends to make poor life choices, and ends up in trouble, financially and psychologically”- make better choices than hers, so that you no longer end up in trouble psychologically, if not financially.
“She disappointed me over and over again. Why do I still try”? – stop trying.
“it makes me feel good to put a smile on her face”- to have a smile on your face more and more often, don’t look for your mother’s face, to see if she smiles or frowns. Look at your own face, don’t look at hers.
“my goal in life was more like doing the exact opposite from what she’s done”- would you like to elaborate on this sentence?
anitaMay 12, 2020 at 8:03 pm #354682
The way you put it, yes it does look like abuse.
When I say that I have done the opposite, I mean that I decided very early on the my life would be better than hers. I worked very hard to make a career and to never become financially dependent on anyone. I put myself through university, reaching the highest level when no one in my extended family had ever set foot in a university. I had no idea what I was doing and was terrified, but I pushed through and achieved many things that I am proud of. Of course, my career disappoints me in many ways, but I still have something. My mom had opportunities to build a career and never really tried, instead always on the chase for a man that would support her. Including a man whom she followed to Vancouver who left her for dead when she announced that she was leaving him.,
As a parent, I am there for my child. He is my priority and I am giving him everything I can for him to grow into a healthy and happy human being. His life is better than mine ever was as a child. One example of my mom’s behavior that is opposite to mine is how she threw me out of her house when I turned 18. That was just a few months before I started university and was super anxious about this. She did that because her boyfriend was tired to have me in the home. She has always prioritized men over me.
IsabelleMay 13, 2020 at 6:37 am #354734
I can see the betrayal you mentioned: “she threw me out of her house when I turned 18.. because her boyfriend was tired to have me in the home”- yes, that’s a betrayal. I am so sorry, Isabelle.
And throwing you out of the house at 18 was not the first time she prioritized men over you.
She threw you out of the house while you were “super anxious” about starting university. I suppose she was super anxious about her boyfriend being unhappy about you being in the home, so she threw you out. There is nothing in her behavior otherwise that can make up for such betrayal: not cooking you your favorite food, or buying you new clothes or whatever she may have done for you.
A betrayal like this cannot be fixed unless the offender sincerely regrets her actions, apologizes and makes amends to you. going out of her way to show you in words and action that she has changed her ways and is now prioritizing you: did she say/ do anything like this?
* I am glad to read that as a parent, your son is your priority, and that you give him everything you can so that he grows “into a healthy and happy human being”- you are a good, conscientious mother and person.
anitaMay 13, 2020 at 12:18 pm #354784
She said to me a couple of times that she was had not been there for me. But she did not say the words “I am sorry”. When I left my ex, she gave me some furniture that she did not need anymore. This saved me some money, which I appreciated. None of this feels to me like she sincerely regrets her actions. My mom is not brave and mature enough to do this properly. This is why I say that I expect nothing from her. I know that my perception of her will never change and she will never be able to make me feel better about my past.
IsabelleMay 13, 2020 at 1:21 pm #354794
“She said to me a couple of times that she.. had not been there for me. But she did not say the words ‘I am sorry'”. When you heard her say that she wasn’t there for you, you imagined that she was apologizing for it, did you?
We, adult children, tend to interpret anything our mother says to mean that she is sorry, that she does love us after all; in this case, to somewhat complete her sentence: I wasn’t there for you and I am sorry, please forgive me, I love you.
Isabelle, this is a very sensitive topic and I don’t want you to engage in it with me at anytime when it distressing you significantly, so please feel free to not engage with me on this topic, there are other topics that you can bring up at any time. Feel free then to not respond to the rest of this post:
You wrote an hour ago: “I expect nothing from her.. she will never be able to make me feel better about my past”. A few days ago, you wrote: “Somehow it feels like it is healing me when I am able to bring joy to her. Once I was able to take her with me to Belgium.. it was great. I hope I can do this again someday”-
– what is the healing you referred to in “feels like it is healing me” when you make her happy?
May 15, 2020 at 7:47 am #355154
- This reply was modified 1 month, 3 weeks ago by anita.
You are right, I did see her comment as a tentative apology. On the other hand, I was not convinced by it. I do not believe that she meant it. Rather, she said it because she does not want me to throw her out of my life. This is also why she treats me very differently than my sister. She is 3-years older than me and she has a very tough time setting limits with my mom. She does way too much to help my mom, including taking her in on many occasions (my mom currently lives with her). My mom is sometimes critical of my sister, allowing herself to comment on the way she lives. She never does that with me. I think that deep down, my mom knows that the thread relating me to her is very fine and could break at anytime.
The healing that I am referring to is the warm feeling that I experience when I make my mom happy. It’s just from the fact that I did something that’s within my power, I did it willingly and graciously. I tend to feel what others feel a lot. Her joy brings me joy. That’s how I can best explain it. Perhaps the term healing is not accurate. What is healing exactly?
IsabelleMay 15, 2020 at 8:48 am #355160
When a child witnesses her mother sad, the child feels intensely sad, and is desperate to make her mother happy. When she succeeds, she gets the sense of competency, capability, feeling a sense of power in being able to make her mother happy. That good feeling of power feels healing.
But if the mother’s happy moments are short lived and she is repeatedly sad and troubled, the child will keep trying, getting hooked on that good feeling. Fast forward, the adult child will invest so much of her time and resources on making her mother happy, with very poor return on her investment (the mother is still unhappy, still critical, still unloving, and the adult child is exhausted, distressed and troubled).
Your sister, she invests in her mother a lot, trying to make her mother happy. What is her return on investment?
Emotional healing is about learning the nature of reality and making choices that are congruent with reality, choices that lead to a good return on investment.