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Doc@DrIrene.com

Dealing With Mom

My Story: Dealing With Mom

God grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change,
the courage to change the one I can, and the wisdom to know it's me. - Anon.

 

August 17, 2002

Dear Doc,

My mother is a very Controlling person. And for years I thought that I was the only victim of her rage. Throughout my childhood I grew up with, "I sometimes think that about jumping out the window, but I don't do it because of you." "You're the only thing that I have. No one will ever love you the way that I do." "I hope you have fourteen kids and they're all just like you!" "I pray that God will heal you." "You're like a flame, and I'm a moth. Every time I get near you, you burn me." "You have to forgive me. I forgive you for everything that you do to me. Forgiveness is the scent a violet leaves on the sole of the foot that stepped on it." (Yes, that's exactly what she said! I could never make something like that up!) "You don't appreciate anything that I do for you!"

This along with a barrage of constant niggling negative comments that persistently wore me away. I thought that it would get better once I moved away, but the constant barrage just turned into intensified A-bombs hurled over phone or e-mail lines at random intervals, and foul derision for my entire life whenever she visited.

I once asked her what her idea of Unconditional Love was. She replied that Unconditional Love was like the love the dog had for her. "He listens to everything and takes everything I say and it doesn't bother him. He loves me anyway."

"Mom, I'm not a dog."

Last year I confronted my mother with her abusive behavior towards me. It was the hardest fight I ever had to do, because I was literally terrified of her. Even though I was living eight hundred miles away I still felt that she could still come and claim me anytime she wished. The argument that ensued was dirty and vicious. I kept every e-mail that she sent, and re-reading them even a year later puts my stomach in a knot. I would try to ask a question, "Why did you say that to me? That really hurt my feelings." She would counter with, "You're making mountains out of molehills. Lighten up. You take everything so seriously. You hurt me. Is it against your religion to care about people?" ad nauseum.

After a full month of fighting over phone and e-mail, she threatened to leave. I wished her luck. We didn't speak at all for nearly four months. But she came crawling back with apologies. When she talked dirty to me, I either ignored her or agreed with her. 

I think she figured out that I had the power and ability to never speak to her again, and it terrified her. I didn't come back, she came to me. After all that she said, she came back. I realized that she couldn't hurt me, she couldn't claim me, and that every bargain and deal I'd made in childhood was off. She had to grow up, accept who I was as myself, or she could drive herself crazy and leave me. Which wasn't such a bad option!

I had spent eight months in therapy learning to stand on my own two feet and not allow myself to be bullied or intimidated by her. And she was playing by my new rules. It was an uneasy truce that had come with a price.

During the argument, my mother claimed that everyone else in the family was scared of me. No one in the family wanted anything to do with me anymore. I was too scary for them. From my vantage point, I thought that everyone else did indeed have a good relationship with her. They seemed to love her. My mother said that Aunt #2's voice was the only warm voice she heard. I loved my family dearly, and I missed my Aunts and cousins. I wanted desperately to explain to them the abuse that I had put up with for years and why I was doing what I knew I had to do. Thinking that they wouldn't understand, and not wanting to destroy a seemingly good relationship with them, I stayed away. As much as I loved them, I felt it was for the best.

Last week I received an odd e-mail from Aunt #2. She had spent the weekend with my mother and the grandparents at their house. She said that the experience had left her so emotionally drained she broke down and cried on the kitchen table. Mom had made nothing but negative comments and harsh demands on them and Aunt #2 broke down. When Mom found her crying on the table, she snapped, "Why in the hell are you crying like one of your damn kids?" Aunt #2 said to me that she wasn't going to tolerate the behavior anymore, and that she knew that Mom's behavior had affected our relationship. I told her everything, and she was speechless. "I don't know how you lived with her."

I sent Aunt #2 a letter, detailing further what had happened during those months. We vowed to be closer. I'm not the only one. Aunt #2 said that she felt bullied by mom for years, but never said anything because we were all trying to make her happy. I told her that I'd learned that you can't make people happy at the expense of yourself. "I love my mother. I hate her behavior. When I realized that it makes her feel good to bully me, I knew that I couldn't make her happy." Aunt #2 agreed.

We've taken a new turn in a road I thought I'd all ready passed through. And this time I've got some hands to hold. I'm filled with a new sense of validation and love. We agreed that we should encourage her to seek help, to prevent her from spreading her vitriol on us further. And I have my family back.

Thanks for listening,  Thanks for writing!

The Shetland Pony     

Dear Shetland Pony,

Trubble sends you his highest honor: three paw prints!  

Doc