February 16, 2021 at 9:02 am #374739
You are welcome, and thank you. I re-read your posts incorporating the recent post into my overall understanding. I will attend to one topic in this post, I call it Mothers and Fear.
In your recent post you wrote: “I have a feeling my fear and OCD runs much deeper than just my mom’s behaviour or the way she brought me up. I can’t blame everything that happened to me and issues I developed on my mother”-
– I agree that you can’t hold your mother responsible for experiencing fear because everyone experiences fear. But you can hold her responsible for your experience of excessive fear when her behavior generated excessive fear in you when you were a child.
You wrote earlier: “I know our relationship with our mothers or the lack of it is probably what shapes us most to be who we are today”- I agree. And when a mother generates excessive fear in her child, that excessive fear does not disappear when the child becomes an adult
Think of this image: the doe (female deer) feeds her fawn (baby deer) when the fawn is hungry. When it is cold and windy, the doe protects her fawn with her big, warm body, and at night, in the dark, when the sounds of coyotes or a mountain lion (predators) can be heard, the fawn is alarmed but quickly feels better as she snuggles against her mother’s warm, protective body.
For the fawn, danger is out there– where the predators are. Here, with her mother, the fawn is safe. She depends on her mother, and she trusts her mother: she knows that whenever she is in danger, her mother will protect her.
Now imagine this: one day, the fawn snuggles against her mother’s warm body, looking for the comfort she trusts to be there, but the doe moves away from the fawn. The fawn is in disbelief, she gets closer to her mother.. and yet, her mother moves farther away. The fawn is shocked, the fawn is traumatized.
Imagine the doe turning against her fawn one day, biting the fawn. The fawn is in physical pain. Danger is no longer out there, danger is also here! The fawn is now excessively scared of everything: of hunger, of the cold, of the dark, of the rain and of the sounds of predators… because the fawn can no longer depend on her mother to protect her, and because sometimes, the doe is .. predatory.
Luckily for fawns, does do not reject their fawns, nor do they turn against their fawns, so danger is always out there. In nature, traumatized in the way I described (if it happened), a fawn will not survive long enough to become a doe.
The fawn in my example can’t blame her mother for being scared of the sounds of predators (and of the cold and of the dark etc., etc.) because all deer are afraid of the sounds of predators, but she can blame her mother for her excessive fear of the sounds of predators and of every other potential danger.
anitaFebruary 18, 2021 at 2:14 am #374791
Very interesting allegory. I like how you name it Mother and Fear too. I have to say though, as contradictory as it might sound, I always felt protected by my mother when i was very little. But I think I started understanding what happened in my case in relation to your examples. My mother has this saying about upbringing – ” up to 3 years old, treat your child as a king, up to 16 as your slave and then as your friend”. I think this might be what she did to us too. I felt very protected and secure whenever I was with her from one side (physically protected, protected from all the bad things and people in the world), but us humans also have a strong psychological need of attachment and dependancy which I didn’t always feel from her. I started fearing her excessively from 10years old maybe, because she was presenting herself as a figure of authority who we should respect and listen to. And it is against this authority i developed anger and rebellion. Later when she tried to be more friendly, I wasn’t going to accept that. Do I understand correctly you think the origin of all our human fears are related to our mothers? Fear just take many forms obviously, but what i want to know is the origin of it. Or look at it as a whole.February 18, 2021 at 2:20 am #374792
I have something else i wanted to share and it is on the topic of “unhealthy friendships trying to be healthy” and would like to hear your thoughts on it.
I mentioned before I was a kind of a person who didn’t want to keep in contact with people much, and built a wall around myself for the past 4-5years. Recently something changed and I realised I missed out on many amazing opportunities to make friends with people. I met so many incredible people in my life, who I just connected so well with and didn’t bother to keep in touch with. So I started developing the need to make friends again. I tried with this girl I met at the retreat only to come to realise it was the wrong person for me.
I have also been in contact with one person who I met at the retreat as well and I told him about my interests to be friends. The problem is I feel like I can’t read whether he wants the same or not. I noticed 90% of the time it is me who is initiating contact first, so just wondering if this is one sided feeling or not. If he is just being polite by writing to me or he actually likes to talk to me. I can’t figure it out at all.
There was once he suggested to have a video call and few times he was very active chatting with me, but other times much quieter. He shows some emotions in talking, but also once made a mean joke that he’d block me if he gets tired of me writing to him too much. I confronted him about that joke and said i didn’t like it. he was resisting to say “sorry”. He said I spent long time in the UK to understand this kind of humour and he’d only say it to people he is close it. I let it go and then he apologised and said he’d be more mindful next time.
He is also not much of an online chatter to be honest. Neither was I before. So i could understand that bit.
I could also just ask him ofcourse about his feelings -whether he wants to be in contact with me often or not. It is rather awkward though. As firstly, I don’t want to confront him to tell me about his feeling and secondly awkward for me I guess to be rejected.
Any advice what I should do? At the moment I am just doing something a bit immature-i stopped initiating contact and waiting to see what happens 🙂 is it too silly?
Also, I realise I suddenly developed this need to connect with people and maybe i don’t know how to manage this feeling as I was so closed before and never bothered to keep in touch…
Thank you for your pearls of wisdom, Anita! And hoping you have a lovely weekend! 🙂February 18, 2021 at 9:09 am #374800
You bring up such interesting things in your posts that I like to read your posts part by part, respond to the first part before reading the second part, etc:
“My mother has this saying about upbringing- ‘up to 3 years old, treat your child as a king, up to 16 as your slave and then as your friend’- it is quite sadistic to lift a person to the status of a king and then drop the person to the status of a slave, it’s a longer and more painful Fall, an Extreme Fall. It makes a former king extremely angry and rebellious (“my mom hit me a couple of times too when I was 13-14. I was an extremely rebellious child”)
“.. and then as your friend”- so the mother (1) picks up her child to the height of kingship, (2) drops her child to the lows of slavery, and )3) stands looking down at her wounded child with a smile, saying: it’s time to be friends!
“I started fearing her excessively from 10 years old maybe, because she was presenting herself as a figure of authority who we should respect and listen to”- a slave owner ensures a slave’s respect by instilling fear in the slave, severely punishing the slave for the smallest disobedient, shackling the slave with fear.
If your mother wanted to be your friend later, it wasn’t wise of her to first establish herself as your enemy.
“Do I understand correctly you think the origin of all our human fears are related to our mothers?”- the newborn cries when expelled from the comfort and familiarity of the womb, I am guessing that’s the original fear. If the mother then frequently holds her baby close to her chest, so that the baby can again hear her mother’s beating heart and feel the warmth of her body, the baby calms down. The baby understand, in an instinctual way, that the mother is still there.
When the mother drops her young child from her protective arms, and when she does so repeatedly, she betrays the child’s trust that the mother is still there to protect her. The child becomes fearful of the mother she still needs but can no longer trust.
“Fear just takes many forms obviously, but what I want to know is the origin of it. Or look at it as a whole”- fear is like fire: once it starts and is not quickly contained, it spreads and spreads. You contain it in one area to soon find out it is burning in another.
There is no way to eliminate fear. Fear is meant to be our most intense emotion because of its survival purpose: a most intense emotion is needed for an animal to run or fight immediately and with greatest speed and/ or force. Excessive fear in a child can be prevented. As adults, all we can do is regulate fear: it takes a lot of time and practice to do that.
Mothers (most often the primary caretakers of the baby and young child) need to be very careful with how they use fear- it is never a good policy for a parent to excessively scare a child/ to enslave a child using fear as a weapon. Enslaving a child with fear is often referred to as being a strict parent, a euphemism.
Next topic/ second post: he is “not much of an online chatter”, 90% of the time you initiate contact with him. There were times that he was very active chatting with you and at other times he was much quieter. Once he said that he’d block you if he got tired of you “writing to him too much”. He later said that “he’d only say it to people he is close (to).. he apologised and said he’d be more mindful next time”.
You are wondering if he is “just being polite by writing to me or he actually likes talking to me. I can’t figure it out at all… awkward for me I guess to be rejected”-
– from what you shared, seems to me that he actually likes talking to you, just not at all times. Also, his joke, if it followed you expressing concern that you write to him too much- does not seem rude to me. The thing in the quote above that caught my eye was the at all in “I can’t figure it out at all“. Clearly he likes talking with you at times. Why is it something you can’t at all see, I ask myself.
Because we are so very much Formed during our Formative Years aka childhood, I go back there to look for the answer (a simplified answer, not an answer that explains the complexity of everything put together): when your mother treated you like a king and then dropped you to the status of her slave, I bet the child that you were couldn’t figure out at all what happened. In the beginning of the first of your two recent posts, you wrote: “I always felt protected by my mother when I was very little”-
– think of the child that you were, always feeling protected by your mother, surprised and not understanding at all, how it can be that.. the person who always protected you.. dropped you, so to speak. And kept you down, enslaved.
When you become clear, in your mind and heart, that it is not true that your mother loved you “more than ANYTHING” (she didn’t love you more than she loved feeling powerful over you); when you become clear/ able to figure out that the everything in “She gave everything to us”, included the repeated betrayal of her silent treatments, etc., you will also be able to figure out this friend and other people.
“I stopped initiating contact and waiting to see what happens.. is it too silly?”- no, it’s sensible. You wrote that you initiate 90% of contact. If you want to initiate 50% of contact, stop initiating as often as you do, and let your initiation frequency drop to 50%.
“I suddenly developed this need to connect with people.. I was so closed before”- open up cautiously, a bit at a time, to people who are not likely to hurt you.
– You are welcome, thank you and have a lovely weekend yourself!
anitaFebruary 24, 2021 at 1:49 am #375161
Thanks as always for your insights. I thought a lot about the things you wrote, there is indeed a relationship between fear, anger and hurt. Then as a result of being fearful and angry, one can develop all sorts of issues, in my case, OCD + anxiety perhaps, and shame and guilt, feeling unworthy, considering all possible options of “why something happened to me” and choosing “the MOST hurtful option to me” . There must be a connection here and certainly there is a pattern in my life which is repeating itself. Possibly a pattern i acquired as a method of self-defence mechanism as a child.
The origin of fear being when the baby is born..brilliant. Would have never thought of it. I agree fear which comes to surface as a result of self protection is our survival instinct and only natural phenomena. Excessive fear or fear of things that don’t physically exist or maybe psychological fear is something what should be gone if one wants a peaceful life.
Regarding my mother’s upbringing methods- ofcourse so many things i KNOW were not OK. You know, I told you about my failed marriage. I know for a fact that it is no coincidence that the man i married gave me silent treatments and left without saying a word, treated me very harshly and I just accepted that. When my mom asked me WHY I took all that, I had no answer back then why. But when my marriage was over and my mom did the same things to me to me- I saw the connection. Her treatments were less intense, but this is exactly why i thought it was ok to take this behaviour from my ex- I have been used to it since I was a kid… did i tell her about this? no…i don’t want to hurt her that much.
I just kept wondering why i don’t hate or blame her any more or i don’t wish to hurt her. I know victims can love their abuser and abuse is something which takes so many subtle and endless forms. It is not this simple though. When I was a kid I needed her love and I hated her at the same time. But that has changed, I just wonder why I no longer hate or fear her. I think partially because I hurt her back myself a lot with my harsh words or behaviour, or in many other different ways. . Also, because I know the good she did outweighed the bad. Also, I could really see why she is the way she is and this is the source of my compassion. She suffered a lot as well and didn’t understand or process her suffering, unknowingly passed it down to her children. She caused me pain in the past, and yes, this was why i hurt her back. But somebody or many other people hurt her also and I in my turn hurt many other people as a result of this pain… so where is the beginning or end of this endless circle of causing pain?
With compassion, there is no room for hate any more. It is just love and forgiveness. At the same time, i KNOW my sister is not where I am now with regard to her relationship to our mother and I know I just followed my mom’s steps and did her wrong too. She suffered much more than me too and I need to be a mother for her that she needed but didn’t always have. I also see how as a result of multiple childhood traumas my sister got, she is traumatising her own little helpless child. I see the connection and see how suffering and traumas are passed down from mothers to children UNLESS someone stops this vicious circle of causing endless pain.
I also know one day I should find enough courage to have this talk with my mother. and explain to her how she made me feel throughout my childhood and adulthood.
About another new friend- you are right, I guess sometimes he was in a good mood and feeling chatty, other times not so much. It is natural, the reason why I can’t figure it out as I mentioned above I think often out of all possible scenarios and pick up the “most inconvenient or hurtful one for me” . The pattern is- obsessive thinking, anxiety or anger, letting my emotions get the best of me, considering all possible answers in my head, picking the worst, feeling bad about myself. Maybe this is part of OCD too.
Also perhaps, he doesn’t want to be in touch so often, maybe he prefers to have a call once a month or once a 2 months and its ok. I should respect that and give him his space. So, yes, i am not writing to him any more and feel like whenever he wants to catch up, he can get in touch himself. If he is not interested , that is ok, let it be the worst problem I have 🙂February 24, 2021 at 9:33 am #375171
You are welcome. I will again respond to your post part by part, responding to one part before reading the next. If there is a part that I will not be addressing, and you would like me to address it, please let me know what it is.
“one can develop all sorts of issues, in my case, OCD + anxiety”- OCD is not separate from anxiety, these are not two separate issues. Anxiety is what fuels obsessive thinking and compulsions. OCD is one of many possible consequences/ results of overwhelming anxiety.
“did I tell her about this? no.. I don’t want to hurt her that much”- children are greatly motivated to not hurt their mothers- no matter how cruel the mother has been in many cases- because a child instinctively/ genetically believes that she will die without her mother. A child will not hurt or harm the person she believes that she can’t live without. When as adults, we still suffer from significant emotional injuries that happened in childhood, we still believe that we need our mothers for our survival, and therefore, we are still highly motivated to not hurt her.
“When I was a kid I needed her love and I hated her at the same time”- I am guessing that as a young child, feeling very dependent on your mother, you were not angry at her, or if you were, you did not express that anger. But as an older child, a preteen perhaps, or a teenager- you did not feel as dependent on her, and you rebelled against her, you fought back.
“But that has changed, I just wonder why I no longer hate or fear her”- I am guessing that you are not aware of feeling hate for her, or fear of her because you haven’t lived with her since you were 17, if I remember correctly. Plus, when you are focused on other people, like on the woman you met at the retreat, you get to experience the emotions you felt for your mother- in the context of these new people in your life. In other words, the anger, the hate, the fear.. and the love for your mother are still there, projected into other people.
“She suffered a lot.. unknowingly passed it down to her children”- I am sure that she didn’t have an evil plan to pass on her suffering to her children, and then she proceeded to execute that plan. But when she gave you prolonged silent treatments, she did so knowingly. She knew that her silent treatments were hurting you and.. that’s why she did it.
“I in my turn hurt many other people as a result of this pain.. so where is the beginning or end of this endless circle of causing pain?”- the beginning is right now, this very moment. When you notice that you are practicing a behavior that is hurting an innocent person- stop practicing that behavior. When you notice that another person is hurting you, leave or assert yourself.
“With compassion, there is no room for hate anymore. It is just love and forgiveness” and with (1) holding others accountable for their behavior, as well as holding yourself accountable for your behavior, and (2) protecting yourself from others’ aggression, and asserting yourself when needed.
“I KNOW my sister… suffered much more than me.. multiple childhood traumas.. she is traumatising her own little helpless child”- I am so sorry to read this. One thing you can do to help your sister is to not minimise your mother’s misbehaviors when you talk to your sister. Instead, validate your sister’s childhood and ongoing experience. If you validate her childhood/ ongoing experience, she may treat her own child’s experience as valid.
“I also know one day I should find enough courage to have this talk with my mother and explain to her how she made me feel”- she already knows: she gave you those silent treatments because she wanted to hurt you, and having seen you hurt, she repeated the silent treatments every time she wanted to hurt you once again.
anitaFebruary 25, 2021 at 3:13 am #375192TeaKParticipant
I’ve been catching up with this topic and enjoyed the depth of discussion and the great insights provided by Anita.
Your mother seems similar to mine in the sense that my mother was also strict, criticizing me all the time and I was afraid of her as a child. You mentioned that neither you or your sister confide in your mother, and it’s the same with me. I’ve felt that when I was honest with her, she would later use it against me to put me down.
My mother too believed she was a “martyr” who would “do anything for me” (I am the only child). Like your parents, she and my father provided financially for me. We were middle class and they afforded me everything that serves my education and professional development (they paid for language schools, summer courses abroad, internships abroad, etc).
Regardless of that, my mother wasn’t very supportive of me. She had an idea of who I should become, and “what’s best for me”. In spite of her providing for me materially and affording me all those things, she actually hasn’t provided me with emotional nurturance and support – which is even more important than the material one. Because of her constant criticism and complaining about life (and blaming everyone but herself), I thought it was my fault and that if I could only be perfect, she would finally be happy. Little did I know that her unhappiness was deeply rooted in her own emotional wounds and had nothing to do with me. Even if I’d become perfect, she still wouldn’t be happy. But I’ve realized that only much later in life.
So I grew up with a very deep shame, lack of self-esteem, lack of self-worth. I had every material need met, but none of the emotional ones. My father was better, much less judgmental and strict, with much more understanding for me, but he did nothing to stop my mother from tormenting me. He was a silent accomplice, so to speak.
Anita made some excellent remarks about how we as children depend on our parents for safety and support, and if they turn against us, attacking and criticizing us, it’s devastating because we have nowhere to run. They are our entire world. We look to them for protection, but at the same time, we fear them, because their love is very conditional. So we try to be a “good girl” or a “good boy”, to please them, so they wouldn’t abandon us.
I had a love-hate relationship with my mother, because I needed her, both physically and emotionally, and she did meet some of my needs, but not that what I truly needed emotionally. And I hated her for that.
I guess something similar may be happening inside of you too, where a part of you loves your mother and appreciates the support she provided, but the other part is rebelling, because your true emotional needs weren’t met. But what seems to also have happened is that you’re judging the rebellious part as bad. You talked about being cruel towards your granny and not helping her when she needed it. This you take as a proof that you were “a bad girl”.
But the reality is, most likely, that it was your mother who planted this idea that you were “bad” much earlier than you treated your granny like that. And you started believing her. When a child believes they’re bad, they will sooner or later start behaving in ways that “prove” how bad they are. Our mother’s critical voice becomes our owner inner critic, which torments us the same way our mother did.
As adults, our lives start falling apart and we think our mother was right – that we’re a failure and good for nothing. But the truth is the opposite: our life fell apart because we were raised with shame and criticism and were told we’re good for nothing.
Until we realize that – until we see how the wounding happened – we cannot truly heal.
I stop here, but there’s much more to be said on this topic.February 25, 2021 at 6:06 am #375194
You are right, I am projecting my anger, hate and fear in almost all of my relationships in life sooner or later. I have lived with my mother for longer periods of time since I was 17 though. From 1 month-3 months and every year. In those times, when I noticed how controlling or critical she becomes again, I was once again angry, harsh and rebellious. During these times I had anger and hate but then it was gone again. Maybe i don’t fully understand this anger yet, but there is genuinely no deep resentment or hate in me towards my mother. And this is only because I really know she didn’t know any better….in fact the way she raised us were better in terms of mental wellbeing than most kids growing up in our times. These were 90s in the post-Soviet country. People didn’t even know that things like mental wellbeing exists, or (and i am not exaggerating) were beating kids at schools or home when they under-performed or misbehaved. Just to give you an example, my maths teacher used to hit 16 year old boys with a stick when they didn’t have right answers . AND this was in 2002 already, and this was a normal and acceptable behaviour back then… nobody thought they were abusing or damaging these kids emotionally or mentally.
I guess what i am trying to say, I understand my mother was just a product of her environment. And she didn’t know any better… I genuinely think she thought criticising, withdrawing or being strict is a good way to bring up a kid. this is why I don’t hate or blame her. I have been lucky enough to escape that environment and live in different times/different cultures, be able to see whats right and whats not so right in both.
About OCD and anxiety issues, anger and fear, the issues became more apparent after 23 or 24. Before that, I was rarely angry. i have a feeling although it comes from my childhood, there is also a deep connection with other events in my life related to when I moved to a different country and starting living alone. I wasn’t ready and it was all too shocking and too much to handle. The strongest psychological fear I have though is the death of my loved ones. not just my mother, my family and partner as well. This is what I fear most in life psychologically. But i am not sure how/if it is connecting to my hair picking or hand washing or hygiene issues. I read somewhere strict parenting can lead to developing obsessive thinking patterns. And i find myself a lot in thought “loops” that I want to escape. I don’t know if it’s my mother’s fault or not, I think its more complex than that with many factors in play. maybe one day I’ll find out.
I am trying to re-build my relationship with my sister and gain her trust. She is different to me in a way, and maybe feared more than I did. She didn’t rebel openly as I did, but kept it all in. Lying or disguising facts became a second nature to her. At the same time she is extraordinarily sensitive and emotional and very easy to manipulate. The problem is she doesn’t want to talk about anything about herself. Anything in her current life, or anything about emotional things or problems of the past.February 25, 2021 at 6:46 am #375196
I am sorry to hear you had a difficult relationship with your mother too. I really agree with you that it is much more important to be there for your children emotionally rather than financially and materially.
It is sad that the person who says loves us more than anything can also hurt us so very deeply with their words, actions or non-actions, criticism. It is not just shame, guilt, sorrow, feeling unworthy at times, but also serious attachment issues I had to deal with.
I do judge and self-critise myself a lot and probably because my mother criticised me so much. And it is so true how you say how our mother’s critical voice becomes our inner critic. My mother’s didn’t tell me i am good for nothing, but criticised many decisions I made and is extremely controlling, wanting everything to be her way. I think on some level she understands that she shouldn’t have been so critical with us, but unfortunately she never said sorry neither to me nor my sister.
Now whenever she tries to bring up something she doesn’t like, I try to tell her as calmly and respectfully as i can, it is not her place to decide. For example, I lived with my partner for 5 years and there was a period she was constantly on my back that soon I will no longer be able to have children and i should hurry up with getting pregnant. …Classic! I mean this made me so confused! From one side, I was rebelling against “what she thinks is best for me”and at the expense of this rebellion and confusion, I completely ignored my own actual needs and feelings of actually wanting to be a mother without my mother’s instructions. It created quite a bit of inner as well as outer conflict (in my relationship with my partner). And I kept thinking why was i so confused that I actually want to be a mother? And it is because my mom told me i should do it and i was confused because I thought she is just planting ideas into my head…. and ofcourse as usual I rebelled.
You mentioned you had love-hate relationship with your mother. What is like your relationship with her now?
I agree it is important to understand the pain. I know I am hurt, but I don’t know why fully. I think its more complicated and multi-facaded than just my mother’s strictness or silent treatments. Although being the most important person of my environment she played a role here, I don’t blame her or anyone who hurt me.
I felt pain and hurt from my past relationships and failed friendships more than from my mother, more pain from the suffering and injustice in the world than my mom’s silent treatments…maybe I was “trained” in a certain way in my childhood to respond to these situations, and I acquired these reactions in my childhood. But replacing one negative reaction with another, more positive or modified reaction is not the solution here. For example, if I am reacting now with anxiety and obsessive thinking over something “bad” that happened, I don’t think replacing it with a positive emotion, say, “I am the most worthy person in the world and nothing is my fault” is the solution here. maybe sometimes i am not indeed not worthy…it is being able to see without judgement in either direction is what i truly seek… so i do want to go till the end of it and figure it all out.
I don’t see myself as a victim, I know I am responsible for most of the things that happened to me in life after certain age and its my responsibility to figure it out.
February 25, 2021 at 8:59 am #375199
- This reply was modified 5 months ago by Nar.
I will attend to two topics in this post, first topic: excusing parental abuse because of earlier times, lack of education and not having known any better, second topic: the adult’s retroactive efforts to understand by intellectually integrating what a person heard and read during later life (many years after early childhood)- into that early life experience.
First topic: “These were 90s in the post-Soviet country. People didn’t even know that things like mental wellbeing exists.. nobody thought they were abusing or damaging these kids emotionally or mentally.. my mother was just a product of her environment. And she didn’t know any better… I genuinely think she thought criticising, withdrawing or being strict is a good way to bring up a kid”.
The problems with this argument are: (1) these are the 2020s, and your mother has been exposed for quite some time to the issue of mental well-being: you educated her about it, and yet, “she never said sorry neither to me nor my sister”.
(2) There is plenty of child abuse happening nowadays in the U.S., were the issue of mental well-being is very much a popular topic in the front of public attention. This means that lack of education and exposure to the topic of mental well-being is far from being the most significant factor in child mistreatment and abuse.
(3) Regarding all the adults/ parents who abused children in the Soviet Union in the 90s, adults who were not educated on child abuse: these adults/ parents were once children who experienced the same abuse they inflicted on others later on They remember how it felt, having had a first-person experience of child abuse, which is much more powerful than reading about it in a book or hearing about it on a TV show. These adults/ parents chose to pass on the abuse to children not because they didn’t know how it felt to be abused, but because they were angry. Anger, not lack of education, is what motivates abuse. Look at nature, anger precedes aggression.
Regarding the second item: you wrote, “I read somewhere strict parenting can lead to developing obsessive thinking patterns. I know I am hurt, but I don’t know why fully. I think it’s more complicated and multi-facet than just my mother’s strictness or silent treatment”-
– when you were a young child, you were very different from who you are now. Your experience consisted mostly of raw emotions, not of elaborate thinking. As a child, in your first decade of life or so, you didn’t know words and terms like “strict parenting”, “developing”, “obsessive thinking patterns”, complicated”, “multi facet” or “silent treatment”. These words and terms came later on, after what’s behind those words and terms affected you and became a part of you.
What’s behind those words and terms were raw emotions- the way a younger child experiences life. Raw emotions without elaborate thinking. Here is a problem as you now, as an adult, try to understand the why (“I don’t know why fully”)- because as a child you did not experience elaborate thinking and you therefore didn’t record your thoughts and feelings at the time in a journal, you now do not remember how you felt then.
The raw, intense emotions of the young child that you were are lost to you now, not having been cemented in elaborate thinking and recorded for future understanding.
But there is a way to retrieve those emotions- I have and it’s been a result of an intentional and long healing process.
Back to you, notice this: “there is genuinely no deep resentment or hate in me towards my mother. And this is only because I really know she didn’t know any better”- as a younger child, when you were hurt by your mother, when you were scared of her, you did not think: “she didn’t know any better”. She-didn’t-know-any-better is a later life thinking.
At the time you were a younger child, you fully experienced raw fear, raw anger- unmitigated/ unadjusted by later life thinking.
anitaFebruary 25, 2021 at 9:08 am #375200TeaKParticipant
Thank you for replying. Let me first answer your question.
“You mentioned you had love-hate relationship with your mother. What is like your relationship with her now?”
I live in another country, I visit her a few times per year (except for 2020 – we haven’t seen each other for more than a year now), and I talk on the phone almost exclusively with my father. She doesn’t approve of my life, of the career path I’ve chosen, she thinks I’m ruining my life. And she’s blaming me for her misery. So it’s business as usual, except now I am much less affected by her attitude. I don’t hate her or resent her. I accept her and even have compassion for her, but I keep a distance. There’s no closeness between us. And she doesn’t want much contact with me either, since she always starts crying when we speak, and also, because she lost hope that I’d change.
So we’re distant and I don’t think it will ever change, because she never really saw me, and never really had faith in me, and it’s hard to be close with someone when you don’t feel that kind of support.
You mentioned the attachment issue, and that you’re afraid your loved ones would die. I too had a strong separation anxiety, and I think it’s due to the fact that my parents left me at my granny’s when I was around 1,5 years old. They left me there for 9 months, and came to visit only rarely (I spoke about that in another topic). I didn’t know about that till I was much older, but it explains my fear of abandonment and of my loved ones dying. Do you know what your anxiety is tied to? You mentioned the political situation in your country and your family fearing for their safety, if I understood it well?
You said in your reply to Anita: “I understand my mother was just a product of her environment.”
It’s okay to have understanding for our parents. I too understand that my mother was a wounded child herself, that’s why she behaved the way she did. You can also say it was customary to hit children when they didn’t perform in school, and everybody in your surroundings did it. Nevertheless, it doesn’t mean those things didn’t cause trauma. Sometimes there’s collective trauma because the children are brought up in unhealthy ways. This results in collective anger and hate, which then can cause war…
What I am trying to say is that we can understand all this and forgive our parents, however we also need to heal the trauma, because it did happen. It’s okay not to blame or hate your mother, but it’s also necessary to say “this was wrong, this is not the way to treat a child”. And even that’s not enough (I mean, intellectual understanding is not enough), we need to heal our inner child in order to be truly free from trauma.
You say: “I felt pain and hurt from my past relationships and failed friendships more than from my mother, more pain from the suffering and injustice in the world than my mom’s silent treatments…maybe I was “trained” in a certain way in my childhood to respond to these situations, and I acquired these reactions in my childhood.”
Yes, you were molded as a child to view yourself and the world in a certain way, and you still react from your wounded inner child, especially in intimate relationships or friendships. That’s why they cause you trouble. I also agree with you that replacing the negative self-talk with pep talk like “I am the most worthy person in the world and nothing is my fault” is not the solution. Because you’re not “the most worthy” person in the world, BUT you are worthy. We are all worthy. The inner child needs to know that and feel that. That’s how healing happens. Only then can our old patterns change…
March 1, 2021 at 1:28 am #375388
- This reply was modified 5 months ago by TeaK.
Thanks for your insights. About the Anger preceding aggression-of-course I know this. I am very familiar how violence happens as I know I am not delusional about my own violence inside me too and I know how many subtle forms it takes.
The only thing I am not sure about, and I say this from my observations of myself- at that very moment, when one is truly angry and then becomes violent, one is not usually aware of what is happening. I know this, because I have been fighting for a long time with my own anger. And I wish I knew I was causing damage when it is actually happening, and not afterwards when my brain processes or analyses what happened… Unfortunately, most people cause harm without being fully aware of it at the point they do it. It is true, they become aware later and acknowledge what happened…but why does this not stop one from repeating that pattern? I guess this is the art of life to master.
About childhood traumas, I know ofcourse as a child, what we experience in life is unfiltered, “raw” as you called it. Then the analytical mind slowly develops, and if there is a residue of a certain experience with its pain or pleasure,it becomes a lifelong reaction to what happens everyday.
So we don’t ever fully live the life as it is, but just react from those unprocessed, misunderstood experiences which are now our memories, which is now “me”. We carry this residue with us our whole lives adding and extracting from it, thinking it is a change. My analytical mind understands this process, but analytical understanding is not enough.
I agree it is important to understand what happened in order to heal. You mentioned “there is a way to retrieve those emotions- I have and it’s been a result of an intentional and long healing process”. Could you elaborate a little bit on this please? Do you think everyone can retrieve these emotions?March 1, 2021 at 1:28 am #375389
Firstly, I am sorry your relationship with your mother is so difficult. It sounds like it was so toxic that you had no other option but keep this distance. It is truly sad when a parent does this to their own kid, and then “loses hope” or “gives up”. It is a control issue, in my view. When someone, anyone, be it a parent or a partner wants you to change, it is a way to control. If one is truly concerned about another person, they dont ask them to change to please them, but talk about their concerns and observations in a logical and reasonable way.
I really don’t know what my anxiety and OCD is tied to… I know when I see my childhood pictures, I look sad and serious on all of them. I know my country and my family went through very difficult times when I was growing up and for sure it impacted me as well.
Its so interesting you talk about the collective trauma “because the children are brought up in unhealthy ways. This results in collective anger and hate, which then can cause war…” This is exactly what happened last year in my country. and 1000s of more people died because of hate and anger. Then the government called them “heroes” and talked about how nobel their deaths were…I know my nieces’s generation will be affected in a whole new and more complex ways that mine was. It is just unfolding in front of my eyes how shes being impacted collectively and within family, so it makes me understand my childhood wasn’t easy or pleasant times either. My anxiety became much more apparent after 17, I think I moved to a foreign country too early and the change was too much for me to handle. The extreme cultural differences, weather, strong individualism i couldn’t cope with. I started having all sorts of problems that i didn’t understand or process because I was still a kid.
About feeling worthy, I guess I wasn’t comfortable using that word because it implies a bit of arrogance for me. “I am enough”sounds better to me 🙂
I asked this question to Anita, I’d like to ask you too. Would you say you are healed from your traumas? And what helped you?March 1, 2021 at 8:22 am #375394
You are welcome.
“when one is truly angry and then becomes violent, one is not usually aware of what is happening… most people cause harm without being fully aware of it at the point they do it”-
– most people are aware that they are causing harm at the time that they are causing harm. This is why most people fall short of severely injuring or killing the person they are harming when violent. Most parents who hit their children are aware of what they are doing: choosing to not hit the child so hard as to break the child’s bones, or harm their own hands.. and most choose to not hit the child in public because someone may call the police.
You asked me to elaborate on retrieving early life emotions, and if “everyone can retrieve these emotions?”-
– I will partly answer this question today using what you wrote in your most recent post: “I know when I see my childhood pictures, I look sad and serious in all of them. I know my country and my family went through very difficult times when I was growing up and for sure it impacted me as well”-
First, you observed “sad and serious” emotions in the photos showing your face (and maybe body, as in body posture). Next, you directed your attention away from the personal experience of that girl in the photos, her personal difficult times, directing your attention instead to her country and her family.
What caused the girl in the photos to look sad and serious was not her country’s experience or her family’s experience, but her own. In her own, personal experience, her mother’s silent treatments were more powerful than what happened outside her childhood home.
To retrieve your early life emotions, you first need to direct your attention to your very personal early life.
anitaMarch 2, 2021 at 2:06 am #375451
I was referring to psychological harm ofcourse, not physical. I know for a fact many times I am consciously not aware at the point when I use hurtful language towards my partner or my family. Maybe subconsciously i am aware, but i don’t see it at the point of doing it…
To be fair i don’t remember any of the personal problems of the girl i was, other than liking a certain food or not liking. I am not sure relying on my memories of what happened would be accurate in my case….
On a different note, I had a couple of insights into my OCD issues and would love to hear your thoughts on it.
-You wrote in another post about separation anxiety (Tony’s post) and it caught my attention because I can really relate to Tony’s fears as my deepest psychological fear is losing people I love too. I have actually gone very deeply into the nature of death and I think i understand death a bit more intimately now. I certainly experienced separation anxiety as well multiple times in my life. Firstly, it was when I left my home at 17 and moved to a foreign country. I was still a kid living unfiltered raw emotions and only much later in my life i got to understand i was actually quite depressed and sad. also very anxious. this makes sense why my OCD started or became apparent after 20. I think i had it as a kid but the separation anxiety just exacerbated it.
I also had a sudden realisation to my recent obsessive thinking patterns (about the girl at the retreat and then the other new friend), I think i was obsessively thinking about these problems to avoid dealing with the actual problem that is bothering me very very deeply at the moment-with my partner in my current relationship…so my question is-what is your experience-Could it be that obsessive thinking is actually an escape? Escape from dealing with the painful situation or the actual problem? So the mind finds other things to keep itself busy…