March 13, 2022 at 6:50 pm #395065
You are welcome and thank you for your empathy, you are very kind!
“It seems the journey recovering from trauma is never ending. There is always more work to be done!” – I agree and you did a lot of recovery work, it shows!
“Fortunately, I haven’t been in contact with my mother since I was a teenager… I’ve known that my mother didn’t love myself or my brother since I was a young child” -these are two things that are very different for me: (1) I wanted to not be in contact with my mother ever since I was a teenager, but unfortunately, I felt too guilty to make it happen until decades later, and (2) I didn’t really know that she … really didn’t love me.
“I would appreciate any advice you could give about processing my pain from the past regarding my mother seeing me as a mistake” – I would love to give you my best advice, but to do so, I need to understand the differences I pointed to above. If you want to, can you tell me how it happened that you’ve been in no contact with your mother ever since you were a teenager… was it her choice? And can you elaborate on the love topic: you never thought or hoped that she loves you, in moments when she was not cruel to you, moments when she was nice… there must have been such moments, no?
anitaMarch 14, 2022 at 9:53 am #395100
My mother was institutionalised because she expressed a desire to harm myself and my brother to a doctor.
We were placed in short term care whilst she recovered in hospital. When she was released from hospital I refused to return to her “care” because of the abuse.
Initially, I gave the option of pursuing a relationship with my mother from a distance on the condition that she acknowledged her abusive behaviour and apologised. She apologised but claimed to not remember any of the abuse. This was not enough for me as she was refusing to acknowledge her abusive behaviour. So I chose to cut contact entirely.
The state provided free access to child therapy for the abuse at home. This probably explains why I able to insist on setting boundaries as a teenager.
Honestly, I was terrified of her. As a child I cried myself to sleep at night. There were moments of rest between her abuse, but the abuse far outweighed those moments. Saying she loved me was like offering crumbs to someone starving. I did everything I could as a child to limit the time I was around her to protect myself. Once school age, this was relatively easy.
I can say that I did love her despite the abuse, as children do. I longed for her to be able to love me. However, I was acutely aware that she was incapable of returning those feelings.
Whilst some parents are incapable of love, children are inherently bonded to their parents. As I have grow older, my definition of love has become more rigid. I believe that love is based on treating people with kindness and respect.
Many people are too damaged by their own experiences and trapped in repeating the cycle of abuse. It takes a great deal of strength to break out of.
Well done on establishing those boundaries and protecting yourself, congratulations on breaking the cycle of abuse Anita. The circumstances you were born into were not your fault. I’m sorry that your mother wasn’t able to treat you with the love and kindness you deserve. I see that you are kind person and have helped many people.
What is interesting about love is that we are all born worthy of it, just by existing.March 14, 2022 at 1:11 pm #395108
“Well done on establishing those boundaries and protecting yourself, congratulations on breaking the cycle of abuse Anita. The circumstances you were born into were not your fault” – thank you, Helcat!
“I’m sorry that your mother wasn’t able to treat you with the love and kindness you deserve” – just the other day, I had a dental appointment, and as the dental hygienist used a sharp, mental dental scraper uncomfortably too close to my gums, I relaxed so nicely because I focused on her soft face (that which I could see above her mask), her soft voice as she hummed to a song, taking in her “please” and “thank you” as she instructed me kindly to move my head to the right or left, etc. And I thought to myself: oh, how I wish this was my mother!
“I believe that love is based on treating people with kindness and respect” – I whole heartedly and whole mindedly agree.
“I see that you are kind person and have helped many people” – thank you again. But I doubt that I help anyone, although I would like to think that I do. I am only words on a screen, and most people need so much more than words on a screen.
I’ve been reading your empathetic and patient replies to members, and I am impressed, if I may say so!
“My mother was institutionalised because she expressed a desire to harm myself and my brother to a doctor” – oh, how I wish my mother would have been institutionalised for the same. My mother often enough announced in a very l0ud, threatening voice, that she was going to murder me (that’s the word she used, translated), and sometimes in front of people (at other times the neighbors could easily hear), but… crickets. No interruption from the outside. In the culture and circumstances in which I grew up, children were the property of their parents, and it was considered inappropriate and impolite for others to interfere with how people handle their property.
“We were placed in short term care whilst she recovered in hospital” – It would have been a dream come true for me, to be placed away from my mother. I used to daydream of being away from her, never to return to her. One of the neighbors where I grew up was actively psychotic, for hours she stood in the yard right underneath the apartment where I grew up, being a military officer, in her own mind, giving loud orders to her soldiers. No one ever stopped her, no one intervened. Her psychotic episodes ended when she finally got tired and needed to rest.
“When she was released from hospital, I refused to return to her ‘care’ because of the abuse” – a child given the option to not return to her mother? Unheard of, when I was growing up.
“Initially, I gave the option of pursuing a relationship with my mother from a distance on the condition that she acknowledged her abusive… I chose to cut contact entirely. The state provided free access to child therapy for the abuse at home. This probably explains why I able to insist on setting boundaries as a teenager” -I am so glad that the state intervened and provided you with emotional and practical help, and that as a result, you made the right decision in regard to ending all contact with your mother!
I hope that you didn’t mind my comparisons above; it helps me sometimes to share my own experience as I read about a member’s experience. Please let me know if you’d rather I don’t share this way with you, in the future. Also, when I try to understand a member more than before, I am trying at the same time to understand myself more. And so, this is what I will attempt doing next.
First, I want to acknowledge that you are indeed not new to healing and recovery and that you invested lots of time and energy in the process with excellent results: “I have had a lot of therapy and done a lot of work on my mental health… The pain continues to get smaller… Generally, I am in significantly less emotional pain these days… Over the years I have made some progress with recovery, reducing the amount of physical pain I’m in… Thankfully, my therapist helped me deal with a lot of the emotional pain and break the cycle of re-experiencing that abuse. What I experience now is a fraction of what I experienced as a child“.
This is what you wrote about your love for your mother (I am extracting the core experience out of your added analysis/ commentary, no matter how accurate the analysis) “saying she loved me was like offering crumbs to someone starving… I did love her… I longed for her to be able to love me“.
You were terrified of her on one hand (“Her temper could be triggered by the smallest thing… I was terrified of her“), but you loved her on the other hand, starving for love, longing to be loved by her. And angry (“After many years of therapy, I feel that this was the first time I have been able to safely express anger about it“)-
– This is a powerful combination of emotions: starved for love, terrified, angry.
You wrote in your original post: “I have had a lot of therapy and done a lot of work on my mental health. It feels like this habitual thought is one of the last things to resolve“, in your recent post: “children are inherently bonded to their parents“, and you asked me two posts ago: “I would appreciate any advice you could give about processing my pain from the past regarding my mother seeing me as a mistake” –
– My thoughts and best attempt at an answer:
(1) Your suicidal ideation as well as worrying and catastrophising- are all habits/ tendencies of the mind (“these thoughts of suicide ideation are habitual… I have a habit of worrying… I have a tendency to catastophise”). These are physical habits of the brain/ body, involving connections/ pathways having been established between neurons in your brain as a result of your repeated experiences of abuse, nerve cells releasing chemicals called neurotransmitters and endocrine glands releasing hormones into the bloodstream, all happening as reactions to certain circumstances, such as stresses at work and arguments taking place.
These physical habits of the brain/ body are not unchangeable. “Neuroplasticity, also known as neural plasticity, or brain plasticity, is the ability of neural networks in the brain to change through growth and reorganization. These changes range from individual neuron pathways making new connections, to”, etc. (Wikipedia). What you learned in psychotherapy already caused some neural plasticity to take place in your brain, and what you learn further will lead to more neural plasticity.
(2) There is no stronger bond than between a young child and her mother, and when that bond involves severe abuse in childhood, the bond lasts and lasts into adulthood. My felt bonding with my mother also rears its ugly head once in a while, to a lesser extent than before and less frequently, but it’s still here. I think that it’s similar in your case.
It is a trauma kind of bonding, involving the traumatizing combination of feeling love for your mother and being abused by her. In your mental bonding with your mother, exists this belief that you are a mistake. The more resolved your mental bonding with your mother, the more dissolved the destructive beliefs held in that bond.
This may be a good time for some more quality psychotherapy, to take you the extra mile.
anitaMarch 15, 2022 at 5:02 am #395204
I am quite happy that you are sharing your own feelings, thoughts and experiences. I appreciate the time and effort you have taken to discuss this with me.
I have been very lucky, to receive a lot of help. It is extremely difficult to manage these situations alone. The reason I shared these details with you is because I sensed the comparisons you were making. I wanted you to be aware that it was a matter of different circumstances and a support network in place. You did the best you could, given the lack of support and resources available.
I’m very sorry to hear that your mother threatened your life. That must have been terrifying.
I can confidently say that you have helped me Anita. Through our discussion I have been able to understand why some of my anxious thoughts / habits occur. Previously, I wasn’t aware of the links to specific themes. I believe this will help me better manage my anxiety.
Therapy taught me a tool to address flashbacks. I plan on using this to address when catastrophising occurs.
The tool is as follows:
I have a tendency to catastrophise and worry about worst case scenarios when stressed or overwhelmed due to previous abuse. Those experiences lead me to anticipate suffering or abandonment and believe that I deserve it for existing. This is not true!
This is 2022, I am safe at home with my pets and husband. I have many good people in my life and have had many good experiences that I deserve. I will have many more good experiences in the future.
Worst case is rarely accurate. What are some reasonable alternatives to the worst case scenarios? Practice deep breathing until anxiety stabilises and do something kind for myself.
Also, I identified that my habits of using anxiety to distract from physical pain are probably not very helpful as stress increases pain sensitivity. So I really should nip these habits in the bud.
I will do some reading about the effects of trauma bonding and consider returning to therapy. Thank you for your advice!
March 15, 2022 at 8:01 am #395212
- This reply was modified 3 months, 2 weeks ago by Helcat.
Rearranging your words under “the tool is as follows”: I am safe at home with my pets and husbands, anticipating suffering or abandonment and believe that I deserve it for existing– while you are safe at home, you are re-experiencing emotional suffering and abandonment in the form of anticipating it, at least at times. This is what I mean by re-living the emotional experience of childhood.
Ongoing healing is about awakening more and more to our current life circumstances and putting the past life circumstances to sleep, so to speak.
I am glad that you received the help you received at an early age and that you are continuing to help yourself, and others, here in the forums. I appreciate having had this opportunity to communicate with you here, on your thread!
anitaMarch 16, 2022 at 7:18 am #395329March 16, 2022 at 8:15 am #395331
You are welcome and… correction of a typo in my last post: husband, singular (not husbands), lol.
anitaMay 25, 2022 at 2:58 am #401085
I had an argument with my husband.
I was feeling defensive about something that I didn’t do well. This was a trigger for me because my mother used to make up lame excuses as to why she planned to physically abuse me.
I wasn’t entirely aware of the depth of that trigger until today.
My pattern is to feel defensive, explain that I’m hurt and how to improve feedback in the future. I seek reassurance from my husband that he didn’t mean to hurt my feelings.
I have a recurring thought. I’m afraid of being abused. I didn’t understand where this came from. I took it literally to mean my present day and as a result I am hyper-vigilant, looking for signs of abuse. The reality is that I’m afraid of my past abuse or the potential for abuse to reoccur.
I don’t think this pattern is helpful. I will tell my husband when the trigger is active. Now that I’m aware of the specific trigger I can remind myself that the situation is different. I’m safe, loved and not going to be physically abused because I didn’t do something perfectly. The real reason for the abuse was not something that I did, but that my mother was seeking the power she felt while abusing us.