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View Diary: My 98yo mom kicks my butt (81 comments)

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  •  I know that is really important and I hope the (16+ / 0-)

    guilt is temporary.

    I also know that those of us from abusive homes that now are tending to our own abusers are more likely to feel guilt... weird as that is.  

    Believe me when I tell you the circumstances of my own life have led me to underline forgiveness. NOT forgetfulness. And it doesn't mean like or love, either.

    The ethics of responsibility, at least for me, run deep and they are not dependent upon equal treatment. Were that the case, folks like me would have, at some point, just given up.

    For me, it just make me stronger. I'm a survivor. I know that. But the last 58 years of my life come up constantly now and that can be very painful.

    202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them.

    by cany on Fri Dec 16, 2011 at 11:10:34 PM PST

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    •  And after i reread this... I started to cry. (11+ / 0-)

      Oh where are those big girl pants when I need them?!!!

      202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them.

      by cany on Fri Dec 16, 2011 at 11:17:36 PM PST

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    •  Truly with you on this. (12+ / 0-)

      My sisters and I have struggled with our mother's covert abuse our entire lives (I am 57).  It wasn't until just a year ago that we discovered the truth behind it.  It was the most painful, yet freeing realization of my life.  I hope sharing this helps you too.

      Please read "The Narcissistic Family" by Stephanie Pressman.  It is the most succinct book I have read (and I have read many, trying to figure out why I felt/acted the way I did) about the situation you are describing.  

      Here it is in a nutshell.  Something happened to your mother when she was very young to make her feel unloved, which in turn made her unable to love, which in turn made you feel unloved.  These types of parents are incapable of nurturing a child's needs, they turn the world upside down and expect the child to meet their needs instead.  This becomes so insidious, that it is a form of brainwashing.  A child usually either becomes just like the parent, harsh and unloving, or codependent and enabling; feeling and acting as though everything is her responsibility.  You have become the responsible one and you do it because you want more than anything to have your mother's love.  

      Here's the part that you already know...nothing you ever do will be enough.  Here is what you need to know... only you can make the feeling inside you stop: your mother put it there and it is wrong, but you have to remove it.  

      Please, go get the book before you burn yourself out.  It explains everything better than I ever could.  This book saved my life, figuratively, and one of my sister's lives, literally.  She was on the verge of suicide over my mother's mistreatment, until she read the  book and learned that it was not her fault and that she had/has the power and the right to say "NO"!  Your mother took that power and right away from you at an age so young that you did not know that you even had an option.  

      But, I am here to tell you, (thanks to Stephanie Pressman, who "told" me), that you have options.  They are hard to learn and it is hard to change.

      Heck, I am still driving the 4 hours up and 4 hours back tomorrow to my mother's nursing home to pay my holiday visit...but it is different now, because I have unpacked my bag of guilt and I have put up my boundaries, and even though she can still push my buttons a little, when my time is up, I leave knowing I did the best I could and I am satisfied with that.

      Those of us in this boat must learn to love and respect ourselves enough to stop beating ourselves up and being "uber" responsible.  It is not healthy!  Please, please do this for you!!

      •  This is 100% true. This is brilliant. Stephanie is (3+ / 0-)
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        ms badger, cany, freeport beach PA

        right. I lived this, more or less, with my mom. Early on I tried to put up boundaries, to shield myself from the pain of being the "disliked" child -- another sibling was the "favored" child.

        As I became a young adult, I worked even harder, 20s, 30s, 40s, to become my own person. Somewhere late 40s or early 50s, it gelled. The buttons she had installed didn't work any more. That was a gradual process, progress every decade.

        It was all about facing the reality that if I waited for her to love me -- it was NEVER going to happen. I could turn purple, learn to fly, pick a house up with my bare hands, discover a cure for cancer, wait on her hand and foot for a million years... NOTHING was ever going to be enough. I had to get to the point that I didn't care if she loved me or not. I mean, it's pointless to care if there's no possibility of it happening. Ding! Lightbulb on. Whew.

        Let me tell you, that's incredibly freeing. It left me as me, to deal with her being her. From that point, basically nothing she did could bother me. And boy, she tried! "I know you're angry!" she said once in her late 80s, after one of her jabs. I replied, "Sorry, that person is gone now." I dealt with her as though she was a tantruming child (which she was), instead of as the wounded daughter, "How could she say/do that to me!"

        Imagine watching someone's 2.5-yr-old flailing and screaming "IT'S NOT FAIR," because they didn't get an ice cream cone, and everyone in the room is trying to keep from busting out laughing, because it's really kind of funny. I got to the point that the stuff she did was really kind of funny.

        But something else arose: a true compassion for her. A sense that I could chose to protect her as she became incompetent to care for herself. Something else was so profound I hope I can convey it. By her treatment, she had attempted to warp me into/ raise me as "the resentful, acting-out, unreliable, unavailable, angry child". But I wasn't any of that. EVERYTHING she had done to make me that person... had failed. I had re-created myself as a person able to be authentic, to rise above, to be present, and I had compassion for her, of all people. An ultimate triumph of maturity.  

        freeport, it sounds as though you and your sister are well on the way to that last phase I talk about... if you are there, it's amazing, isn't it?

        cany, a friend of mine once said, "It's easier after they're gone." If you can't detach before she goes, know that simple truth. There were many years it comforted me. It sounds to me like that book can catapult people directly into the final stage, hope you give it a whirl. The work to get there is so so worth it. Hope this helps.

        This health care system is a moral atrocity. Dr. Ralphdog

        by AllisonInSeattle on Sun Dec 18, 2011 at 02:43:29 AM PST

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        •  Thank you Allison for confirmation! (3+ / 0-)
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          AllisonInSeattle, cany, glorificus

          And, yes, I am totally there! The day I learned that I didn't need (and could never get) my mother's love, attention, support, understanding, recognition, etc....I was reborn.

          But it is still a struggle, because I mourned for the lost "fantasy mother" and my own compassion kept me trying to get her to understand.  I even went so far as to read her The Narcissistic Family, but she only saw it as an attack.  The book warns about this too.  It is very insightful, to say the least.

          I just got back from my 14 hour day of driving and visiting her, and I am exhausted!

          Allison, thank you so much for your message. I will respond tomorrow when i can think better.

          •  Thanks freeport, and back to cany: if we 2 can do (3+ / 0-)
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            cany, glorificus, freeport beach PA

            this, you can, too.

            So so few of us had the "fantasy mother", when you think about it. Lucky people had genuine, caring moms... but not "fantasy mom".

            Again, cany: it's do-able.

            This health care system is a moral atrocity. Dr. Ralphdog

            by AllisonInSeattle on Sun Dec 18, 2011 at 06:38:54 PM PST

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            •  I am a realist/pragmatist/humanist, (0+ / 0-)

              to me, a "fantasy" mom is one who is genuine and caring, nothing more.  For me, that WAS the fantasy.  

              I never needed/wanted "things"....just someone who would rock me or know me or go to my volleyball games.  
              Instead, my childhood memories are of cleaning like Cinderella for my mother's endless parties or brushing HER hair, never her brushing mine, of sitting in a third story window wondering if it was high enough to kill me if I jumped into the driveway, and not really knowing why I wanted to do that.....

              "Thou shall not be aware"....Alice Miller on the victims of childhood narcissistic abuse.  Becoming "aware" is what finally frees you.  cany, Allison and I are just trying to help you become aware.  Once you know, you can do miraculous things!  There are more of us than you can possibly imagine, and with all of us helping, we can all wake up and heal; ourselves and then the next person, and the next.  

              And then, your new knowledge will open vistas before you, which are the extrapolation of our families into the world at large.  Narcissism is what is going on on Wall Street and Congress right now!!  Please read my comment from another diary.


              It is time to reveal the narcissism around us every chance we get, personal, national, international.  It all starts at home and within each of us the power to end it.  

    •  I'm going to write a reply to freeport beach but (1+ / 0-)
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      it is for you. It works better to write it to her, than to you, which superficially seems to make no sense, but is true. So please read it, and I hope it helps.

      This health care system is a moral atrocity. Dr. Ralphdog

      by AllisonInSeattle on Sun Dec 18, 2011 at 02:16:21 AM PST

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