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jak,

This sounds callous until I explain. I envy you.

I have toyed with the idea of totally severing ties with my mom and just can't do it. She has sort of apologized for letting the abuse happen to me. But really, she doesn't understand that it affects me every day. She doesn't understand that he wasn't the only one responsible for my loss of innocence. Every person I meet, I somewhere wonder - how do I have to protect myself.

Surviving the abuse is also why I'm a strong person (and I resent that she feels my strength is somehow attributed to her mothering.)

We barely talk, and when we do, I usually have to have such a wide boundary to feel safe that we talk of nothing.


I don't think it sounds callous at all. Severing ties with my parents was hard. I really didn't want to. I still want to have parents. However, I realized that no amount of wanting was going to get me the parents I wanted. If you haven't read it, I recommend a book called Toxic Parents. It really helped me to see how unhealthy it was to let my parents stick around. I was constantly having to keep up those walls; being careful what I said, having my personal sense of safety violated by being in the same room with the person who sexually assaulted and raped me. I had no interest in being a martyr, or playing into my mother's need to be one. I knew I deserved better. I've known from the first time he laid hands on me that I wasn't at fault and I refused to accept any blame. I think I survived because I was strong to begin with, but having to live my own home with a predator for 5 years did make my survival skills stronger.

She knew what he was doing. He11, he was beating her up, too. "She did the best she could," right? Wrong. Like Hunzi said - you should want to kill for your kids. Why didn't she walk out? How can she look me in the eye today and not just fall apart with grief over what she allowed her husband to do to me?


I am fortunate that I really believe my mother didn't know. She was living in terrible denial that something was wrong, but what that something was exactly, no, she didn't know. My father didn't drink, he didn't beat her or us kids, with only two exceptions, once when I was seven and he lost his temper and cut a switch off a tree and took it too me, leaving me with welts, and the time he severely beat me with his belt after the first time he sexually assaulted me, which left me solidly black and blue from my waist to my knees. It was bad, and honestly, I would have thrown his things on the lawn and changed the locks, called the cops and gotten a restraining order immediately if my husband had beaten one of my kids like that. Other than that, none of us had ever experienced more than the rare swat on the backside for misbehaving. Do I blame her for not knowing? In some ways. She should have asked more questions when my attitude towards my father swung 180 degrees. She should have been strong enough to leave him years earlier when he cheated on her. She should have never allowed him to come back after learning he had raped and abused me under her nose for years. Honestly, I know she sat there that first night after I told her with a gun. He packed his clothes and left. In the same situation I might have killed him, and I would have definitely had him arrested. She taught me in many ways how to be the strong person I am today, but she wasn't strong in all ways. I'll never understand why she valued herself so poorly as to put up with a man who would cheat on her, beat and sexually abuse their own child, a man who never really supported the family financially, how does a woman love a man like that? How does she believe that she can't do better? If you knew my mother, you would think she was confident, she was beautiful, she was strong and can capable, she basically supported our family all our lives and still supports them. It boggles the mind.

Denial. How powerful is it? She wanted me to testify in my brother's wrongful death case that we didn't grow up in an abusive household.
I told her I couldn't do it. Why, what other abuse was there besides, well, what he did to me? Ugh. It's like she wasn't there - and that's what hurts. She lives for herself. Then and now. She denied it at the time, and now she has reconstructed a life that never was.

I don't think about her very often. When I do it's really only a feeling of obligation.

The other one - well - he had his next wife contact me once to see if I knew anything about my grandma's will. He's totally out of my life. But her, I don't know. Cutting her off totally sounds so tempting, but I wonder if the grass is ever really greener on the other side.


Denial is powerful. My mother wanted me to just pretend it never happened and we were the Ozzy and Harriet/Cleaver family she wanted to present to the world. She wanted to show me off, I was pretty, smart and achieved some fairly good things at a young age. She wanted everyone to think that she and my dad were the reasons for those things. She was right, but in the wrong way. I was smart and pretty because of winning the genetic lottery, and I was confident and ambitious because of the way I was raised and the examples both my mother and grandmother provided me, but I was driven to excel by more than that. I was focused on doing as well as possible in school and using college as my way out of my personal hell. For a short time, after my father moved out, and while I was away at college, I played along. I was civil to my father. We politely avoided the elephant in the room. But I was uncomfortable and left each time having to deal with the post traumatic stress all over again. Fortunately, I married at 19, and put an ocean between me and my parents. When we returned to the US, the Air Force put us 1400 miles away. Physical distance was a good start. We only saw each other a few times over the years, but each time it ended in me knowing I had to end things for my own personal sanity. When I was 23, and expecting our first child, I had a discussion with my mother, telling her I simply would not pretend any longer, and I had no intentions of ever talking to my father again if I could help it, but I still wanted to maintain a relationship with her. She told me they were a package deal, take it or leave it. I left it. Thank God she made me choose. I'm sure if I had tried to juggle a relationship with her only I would have merely been continuing the self abuse.

It is hard. I can't tell you that making the break is the right choice for you. I still deal with the grief of the abuse and their abandonment. It hurts. It hurts a lot. But making the break was like amputating a gangrenous limb. It's hard to lose your arm or leg, but the alternative was going to painfully kill you. You still feel the ghost pain however.

jak, you deserve better.

Always ;-)
Hunzi

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