My mom and dad got married when they were 18 and 20, respectively. I think that their own home lives were pretty bad, and I know that they loved each other very much, and depended on each other a lot.
But I don't think that they ever expected that one month after they married, that they would conceive a child. My mom wanted to be a nurse, and my dad was going to junior college. Being pregnant as a teen I know upset my mother very much. My mom was a middle child, and my dad was the youngest by far. So neither had much experience with children, or even babies.
So I came along when my mom was 19 and my dad was 21. My mom had a baby book she kept, and it was full of information about how to take care of a baby. She has told me that she followed the instructions religiously. If it said, "Put baby down for a nap now," she did it. She always did love babies. But soon, I was a toddler, and that she did not like so much.
She was a night waitress, and dad had a job as a draftsman, so they were pretty broke. I am not sure when it started, but my mom began neglecting me, and left me pretty much to my dad to deal with when he got home from work at night. I became Daddy's girl. My mother did not recognize that I had difficulties with socialization...she used to nag me always to smile more...even until I left home. "Why don't you ever smile?" she would ask. If you looked at photos of me as a kid, most show me just sitting there with no expression at all. I was terrified of people, not just shy, but terrified. Then there started the trouble with my eyes. By age three, my parents noticed that my eyes did not function right. My mom was huge on appearance- she did not want a cross-eyed child. So they took me to an eye doctor, who dismissed the trouble by saying that I just looked that way because the bridge of my nose was not developed. But by age four, I had to sit square in front of the TV to see, and she ignored this and other signs that I could not see things right.
She lost her temper with me a lot. I remember being tossed across the dining room, and hitting the wall with my forehead. I got slapped a lot. For what, I do not know. Suffice to say that from toddler-hood until I left home, my mom and I were at war with each other. My dad was great- when he was awake. Always short on sleep, he would come home from work, feed us dinner, and crash on the couch. By age four, I would (in summer), just slip outside and play with the other kids, who thought I was weird, and even sexually abused me. I just wanted friends.
How do you recover from this? Perhaps you, reading this, had a lousy childhood. Most people have, at best, average childhoods. I will tell you how.
My ex-husband traveled a great deal, leaving me with the time to journal and pray and study the Bible. It was a beginning of a spiritual journey that has never ended. I asked myself questions, and tried to sort out and understand why I was different. The biggest help was getting glasses. The grade school did routine screening eye tests in second grade, and I flunked royally. I could not see a thing in that machine. The school nurse wrote a letter to my parents, but it took repeated nagging on her part before they took me to an eye doctor. The glasses I got changed my life. I could see the chalkboard for the first time. I could read for hours. I could see the leaves on the trees, and Christmas lights stopped being a blur. This development gave me a chance to find answers on my own, and I read everything I could get my hands on. I even read an entire set of encyclopedias. This was a turning point. You first help yourself recover by looking back at anything positive that happened during your childhood, and thinking about it, and thanking God for it. Gratitude for the small things became an early practice for me.
Loving, patient counselors helped me a lot as an adult. I began to forgive my mom and dad, and began to understand what a heavy responsibility I must have been for my mom. All her hopes and dreams were dashed. I see that now.
But the most healing part of my journey has been meeting Wade. He is a man full of patience- tons and tons. He has heard my stories , and has listened and then loved me as I am. This is so important! He does very light massage on me, and it reaches back all the way to my babyhood somehow. He strokes me tenderly, and just calms me down so I can rest. I would not be here if it were not for his love- it it were not for finding him.
Love is the answer to a broken childhood. Seek it out wherever you can find it. I am not talking about neediness- I mean finding people who are sincerely kind and caring. I have been blessed all through my adulthood with one teacher after another, people supporting me, and passing on, and new people coming in. The flow has never stopped. God knew I needed a lot of love. He blessed me with wonderful teachers. I learned the most from my friend, Pat, who contracted cancer of the tongue, and died when she was 52. She called me all through chemo and radiation, and it was my turn to be loving and supportive. But one day, the phone calls just stopped. She was too sick to talk. She died April 6, 1986. Patty was like a mom to me, and showed me what a real mom could do. It was immensely healing.
You can recover, but it takes time and determination and hard work. You can heal. You can let go of it all. But always be patient with yourself. Sometimes, events just trigger you, and you have to patiently sort it all out.
I write this for all of you on Inward Quest who have suffered like this. I offer you hope.
You can heal.
Thanks for sharing your experience. I too had an abusive mother but after some recent research I discovered that my mother is extremely passive aggressive, which is basically something that requires a lot of therapy to overcome. The problem, of course, is that passive aggressive people rarely, if ever, acknowledge that they have a problem. Nearly 100% of the time it's always someone else who has the problem, and nearly 100% of the time it's the passive aggressive person who caused the problem in the first place...usually deliberately. A passive aggressive person is always right, despises being scrutinized, and uses psychological projection a lot to deflect guilt away from them. They also loathe competition, and will try everything to keep those around them from succeeding. They will withhold vital information from you, or do something else behind your back to cause you fail or suffer, and then ridicule you because you have failed. They are probably the most negative people you will meet, very stubborn, they will procrastinate with everything, particularly if it's something that is important to you, and they are very selfish people (them first, you second...always...unless others are around to witness what is going on). They usually punish you by forgetting what is important to you, or through their trademark "silent treatment". If someone points out their bad behavior then suddenly they are the victim...and it's someone else's fault. If they're cornered they can also get very angry, and use projection to try and turn the tables on you. As a parent they can also be physically abusive, especially when one of their children is demonstrating an ability of which the parent is, or ever has been, incapable of doing themselves. So it is quite understandable why a child might be a confused victim in these circumstances.
You can sort of see though that if one is armed with this information just how easily one could deal with such a person. My younger brother learned his passive aggressive behavior from my mother, and I can read him like the proverbial book, so I have now learned how to cope with this personality type. However, a child rarely has access to this.
The only advice I ever got (and I now wish someone had steered me toward therapy when I was much younger) was to sever ties with my parents, forgive them, and simply move on and learn how to recover on my own while distancing myself from their abuse. This did work for me, but it took quite a few years to master. The Law of Attraction was a good start.
Contrary to what most people have been raised to believe, particularly in western culture, when a child is (or has been) abused by a parent, the law of honoring one's mother and/or father is suspended. So I took that advice, and just stopped calling one day...and I have not called her since. My father passed away in 2004. I visited my mom right after my dad died (with my then wife), but nothing had changed, which is how one is supposed to deal with such a person...sever ties, but check in on them once in a while to see if they have learned anything. No one is ever required to subject themselves to any form of abuse; we are all responsible for taking action ourselves to resolve any negative situation.
I have now learned that when parents abuse their own children there is a significant breach of trust and the abuser consequently forfeits any entitlement that is traditionally afforded to non-abusive parents. So my guilt was cured from that day on, and I have never looked back. Of course, learning that my mother has a severe psychological condition also helped me learn that nothing was my fault when growing up...I now know that I was definitely the target and the victim.
Similarly, acceptance of abuse, by victims or non-committal bystanders, whether the abuse is physical, sexual, emotional, or psychological, also does nothing to serve any higher purpose. In fact, acceptance of abuse communicates that abusers, in particular parental abusers, have rights that victims do not have, which in effect is the epitome of bullying and abuse. From my perspective I found this to be a good lesson to learn, so I simply stopped accepting, and in the process stopped being the victim, which is the message that severing ties conveys.
The abused can choose to react in a number of different ways, but it is always up to the abuser to correct their behavior and to seek reconciliation and forgiveness; never the other way around. When the abused "forgives" it is solely for their own well-being, so that they can move on in life without the continual thought of revenge or resentment, which only serves to destroy one's self-esteem and self-confidence, and to prolong victimization.
As long as the proverbial door is left open it is then up to the abuser to open it, communicate, and to seek forgiveness. Failure to adhere to this one rule will only reinforce the abuser's actions, and validate their behavior, which will then only serve the abuser, and allow their abuse to continue. I have always left the door open...if my mother ever chooses to call I will answer the phone or door. I think the lesson here is what I learned from LOA...avoid surrounding yourself with negative people and leave negative situations as quickly as possible. This I achieved.
I eventually found solace, peace, and read a lot of self-help literature...which really did help, but it would have been much better had someone told me 35 years ago that none of this was my fault...although I can most certainly see that now. Rarely did I find anyone who would believe the horrible things my mom did to us kids emotionally, psychologically, and physically, which is what makes that type of abuse so heinous. Most people cannot fathom or understand that type of abuse because it is something so foreign to them. But to be fair on others I have also met many people who suffered a lot worse than me. My ex-wife did learn the hard way just how evil my mom could be so at least I know someone who "understands", but it was still the self-help literature I found that got me through that part of my life. I am most grateful for the Internet :-). Had the Internet been around when I was younger I'm sure sites like this one would have helped a lot too.
So my question to you is, did you sever ties with your parents, and wait for your mother to call, or did you continue to be in her presence all your life? Did you ever consider that your mother might have also suffered from a psychological disorder or condition? How did you initially "get away"? Or did you only manage to find peace and harmony when you found the right person with whom you could relate?
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