Emotionally Abusive Mother

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    Hi everyone,

    I’ve been doing some soul-searching and have come across an interesting dilemma. I’ve come to the realization that, for me, self-respect sometimes means defending myself against the people who hurt me, setting boundaries, and enforcing them.
    I’m having a hard time applying this to my codependent, depressed, and emotionally abusive mother.
    My earliest memories are of her physical, emotional, and verbal abuse. I grew up in China, where this was slightly out-of-the-ordinary but nothing to call the police about. My family has never defended me against her, even when the abuse was extremely obvious. Recently, I’ve slowly begun to uncover my own self-destructive habits in relation to the abuse I suffered as a child, and even as an adult. She has not gotten any better – in fact, menopause has made her more unstable, and this relationship is not serving me emotionally or helping me grow.

    So my question is – what is your opinion on ending (one of) the most important relationships in a person’s life? As I said, she is codependent, as in she has no one else besides me and her boyfriend – not her family or my father or any good friends. Should I be practicing forgiveness, and try to take the higher road? What about consequences, such as guilt, or her hurting herself – have you dealt with those before?

    Thank you in advance!


    Hello there 🙂 I want to start this off by saying I hope you’ve had a wonderful day today, and that you have just the same in store for you tomorrow and everyday following that. Now, in response to your post:

    I myself suffer from the same problem as you, an emotionally abusive mother. I believe that those of us who have a dysfunctional relationship with someone who is supposed to be so significantly imperative, have a difficult time not only dealing with it, but also (and possibly more importantly so) discovering and admitting to it.

    I grew up in a huge family. My nuclear was small (I am an only child), however, my extended was quite large. My mother was the 7th child of 9, and after they all grew up and had families of their own, our entire family came to consist of 30 people. Being that my grandmother was an immigrant from China, she maintained strict morals and lessons that differed greatly from that of an American. Also, the fact that she didn’t speak much English and raised all 9 kids without a husband (her first husband died shortly after the birth of my mother and her second died about a year after her 9th child was born), she relied greatly on her children to show her the ways of America. This, along with Chinese customs made my family a very tightly-knit one, which carried through until present day. Although I know that if worst comes to worst, say I am in some sort of dilemma and need a place to stay or something of that nature, I know that I can rely on them (for the most part); however, I question the actual foundation of our relationship. I feel like besides us being blood related, there isn’t much connection that extends beyond that. In other words, my family loves each other only because we’re connected biologically. They do not care much for friends or spending time out of the family with people who aren’t family. Although I think it’s important to keep those who you know you can depend on close to you, I think that this is unhealthy. I believe that the true definition of family can be defined by people who treat you good no matter what. People who care unconditionally about you and would walk to the edge of the universe for you- and just because someone is willing to do that does not mean that you share DNA. Anyhow, with that lengthy nutshell description of my family, let’s go on to my relationship with my mother.

    My mother has always been extremely controlling. When I think back at it, I remember her always having been this way, I just got tired of it towards the end. She needed everything done her way, perfectly every time, or else she’d flip. However, I’ve grown to learn over the years that even if things were done her way, perfectly every time, she would still have some sort of negative comment to share. Anyways, it wasn’t until maybe the last couple of years that I started retaliating. I found it extremely unfair that her input was nothing but negative. This isn’t to say that she’s entirely negative, she has her positive moments, however they’re growing more and more scarce and they are extremely short-lived. I care about my mother because although I know that she has an overwhelmingly negative impact on my life, she still cares and tries in her own way. It’s strange to me, really, that I have to make an excuse like that where an excuse shouldn’t even be necessary, but for the sake of the fact that she has done a lot for me despite her bad attributes, I can’t just ignore the good things she’s done.

    I’ve just been finding more and more lately, that even when she tries to help, it does a lot more harm than good. She’s one of those kinds of people that insist that their way is the best way, without considering the fact that they are an individual separate from you, and that their way of handling situations is not always the best way for others. I could understand someone sharing their opinion with you if they believe that you should be doing things differently, however I don’t agree with forcing your ways upon someone else and moreover, I don’t agree with my mother’s style of assertion. She doesn’t acknowledge the fact that she can be wrong in certain situations, which she indeed is, and a majority of those situations tie back into my relationship with her. She seldom allows me to do things my way, and cripples me with her cruel ways of saying and doing things. I have been thinking a lot lately about the very question you asked, which would be how to end a relationship with one of the most important figures in your life. Much like your mom, my mother has no one but me and her siblings, however she doesn’t view her siblings in the same way she views me. She says that I’m the most important person in her life etc, and she confides in me much more than she does them. She does not, however feel as if she’s dependent on me. She views herself as an entirely independent being, which I believe serves as both a strength and weakness for her. It’s a strength because she gets herself through everything simply because she feels like the only person she can depend on is herself, however she repels and distances herself from others because of the same reason. She feels as if everyone is completely insignificant. I do understand this, because after being hit with life’s harsh and cruel beatings, you are indeed hardened. Your mentality changes and you become more weary of others, but I don’t believe that you should entirely block people out and paint everyone with the same broad brush of insignificance just because a few people destructively impacted your life. I know for myself that I won’t cut off relations with her, and the sad part is I don’t really know why. Again, she does more bad than good in my life, and I find myself going almost insane when I’m around her (especially now that I moved out and only visit home during college breaks), but I don’t feel like cutting her out of my life would be appropriate. I do, however support you in whatever decision it is that you make. I feel like when it comes to a situation like this, it gets really tricky. You really aren’t sure what to do because not only is she codependent, but she’s also your mother- the one you came from and one of the few people in life that are supposed to remain constant. However, my word of advice is do not let that stop you. Remember that there is a reason why you feel the way that you do. If you had it your way, you wouldn’t want to have been emotionally, physically and verbally abused by her. That’s a scar that will remain for a very long time, and one that could’ve easily been prevented if there was more consideration on her end. Do what is right for you, and don’t let anything but your true feelings decide that for you. Don’t feel guilty, either. Again, you didn’t choose for her to treat you in the ways that she did/ does- it’s her doing and entirely that. If you feel like she does more bad than good in your life, then that’s toxic and not something that you should work on simply because you’re exhausting yourself and grinding the crumbling relationship to dust. Know when something is worth salvaging and when it is not. I feel like if you’re considering something as drastic as ending the relationship with her, it is very serious and that’s your subconscious telling you that it’s time to let go while your conscious is questioning it out of fear of ending such a major relationship.

    I wish you all the best and I hope to hear back from you.

    The Brooklyn Bella

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