Childhood Redefining My Relationship with My Abuser

Sadielady3

MyPTSD Pro
I am a forty year old woman (some of you know me, some probably don't) who has been working through the aftermath of an abusive childhood. Until October 2020, I didn't really realize that I had an abusive childhood. My mother was my primary abuser and probably my sole abuser during my early childhood years. I have been in good therapy for a little over a year now including an IOP program and two different group therapies on top of the excellent therapist that I have. I'm starting to realize that I have actually grown a great deal in the past year (yay!) through seeing how I handle different relationships a lot better these days. The issue is that I think my growth has made the toxic relationship I have with my mother, which I didn't realize was toxic, unbearable. As much as I would love to cut her off, I'm not in a place where I feel like I can do that due to overall family dynamics and where I am in my own personal growth.

Does anyone have any advice on how to redefine the relationship or adjust my role in it? I am starting EMDR soon (we're currently working through some grounding/calming strategies) regarding the damage she has done to me in terms of my core beliefs. I don't want her to hinder this progress in the present day by not doing things to protect myself. She's done enough to me in the past.
 

ladee

MyPTSD Pro
Sounds healthy that you know now is not the time to cut contact with her. And it is your mother, and your abuser makes it a damned if you do and damned if you don't situation.

You can try setting boundaries with her, to begin with. And it's important when we do set boundaries, to have really given things a lot of thought. If we do it with a lot of emotion behind it, it never works because they can always manipulate us back into the chaos.

Like if you are working and she starts making demands. Let her know you are working and will get back to her when you can. And then be strong and not answer the phone or read texts. Wait until YOU are ready to talk with her. Because people that do things like that are never going to be happy with things if we jump up and help or wait until later.

And keep telling yourself, over and over, either, this is about me drawing a line. Or, it's not about her. I have things to do. Or whatever self-talk that will help you. Setting boundaries with people is not easy. Because they fight the change. So expect her behavior to ramp up. Expect guilt trips or criticism.

You have already lived thru the worst of it. But you are an adult now, and your NO does mean NO.

And your T will probably have some suggestions too if you let him know what you are trying to do.

You have grown Sadie. Just being aware of how unhealthy it is to interact with her and the blowback you get and how you feel is some good work.

AND, you got angry the last time she pulled one of her stunts. Instead of internalizing things. You've already heard these things from me, but we can't hear it often enough that we have grown and are making progress.

It won't be easy, but neither is being her target. Best of luck to you.
 

Survivor3

MyPTSD Pro
I don't see my dad. Haven't for years. He's stopped drinking and that's a good thing. I basically can't forget what he was like and the damage he caused to me and mum and brother. I don't really have advice but I'd just say be strong with your boundaries. Your an adult now and what you say counts. You don't need that shit in your life when you've got other responsibilities and your own self care to think about.
 

Elsewhere

Learning
Hi Sadie,

I feel for you. I really hope that any continued contact with your mother doesn’t get in the way of your healing.

I can offer moral support, but I probadly don’t have the kind of advice that would be useful to you (although I echo that setting boundaries is crucial—and I think you should feel free to keep your needs front and center). My own experience was of cutting off my abusive father and never looking back. FWIW, personally, I don’t regret it. I’m pretty certain my life would have been worse with his continued presence, and given his lack of concern about how he’d harmed me, I strongly felt (and still do) that I owed him nothing. (He’s dead now, BTW.)

I know others have more complicated situations, and such an action may not be very easy or as straightforward as mine (thankfully) was for me.

I hope you can find a good solution that puts you and your loved ones first, whatever that ends up being
 

grit

MyPTSD Pro
I have gotten back with my mother after 3 or 4 years of intense therapy. I did because I wanted to see who I am (or have become) around her. Also my mother was the source of my childhood abuse (PTSD) and continued to go as an adult in a profound ways.
I think setting boundaries is great start but a lot of people think boundaries are physical and outside of us (like boundaries have something to do with others but do not reside in others). Think of rape. The boundary broken is beyond physical. We do not go to therapy for physical bruises (though we may and then realize ooh yea...there is more).

IMHO, if you have a lot of support, and you can physically limit contact (without complete cut off) that is good. But the boundary you must set to keep your sanity are in my opinion as follows:
Other than in therapy, how often you think of your mother or talk about her is a boundary issues that harms us.
when you think of your mother - is she talking to you or listening to you in your head. (this is important and can show you how deep the damage is)
when you judge yourself, do you use her voice or yours in your head?
What I am trying to say is unfortunately when a mother is the source of abuse, she is part of us. she got in us making us who were...and that is where the boundary is blurred.
If you can be compassionate to the parts of your mother that you carry in your head and see if you can befriend them and make them your strength, then you are on the right foot.

This could be more about my own journey so I am just sharing it out there just in case you see something you recognize.
 

TruthSeeker

MyPTSD Pro
Does your mother know why you feel the way you do? I think it is important that you let your mother know exactly why you feel the way you do and why you need to set the boundaries you have set. It can be done in a letter....f2f isn't necessary....I wrote a letter, let it sit for a couple of months, edited it a number of times, and then sent it. I did this and felt relief, not so "little me needy" when I clearly communicated with my mother about my feelings and the impact of her behavior on me.
 

Sadielady3

MyPTSD Pro
Does your mother know why you feel the way you do? I think it is important that you let your mother know exactly why you feel the way you do and why you need to set the boundaries you have set. It can be done in a letter....f2f isn't necessary....I wrote a letter, let it sit for a couple of months, edited it a number of times, and then sent it. I did this and felt relief, not so "little me needy" when I clearly communicated with my mother about my feelings and the impact of her behavior on me.
My mother is not at a point mentally where she can hear that. That would be essentially cutting her off. I believe it would just cause a lot of unnecessary drama. My mom loves any excuse to play the victim and she sure would with a letter like that. She just can't see her faults. It might be empowering for me but I also better have the armor ready for the war she would incite. And something like that would likely cost me the rest of my biological family.

At any rate, I'm no where near the point mentally where I can write a letter like that and stick to the facts instead of just getting emotional and messy.
 

TruthSeeker

MyPTSD Pro
My mother is not at a point mentally where she can hear that. That would be essentially cutting her off. I believe it would just cause a lot of unnecessary drama. My mom loves any excuse to play the victim and she sure would with a letter like that. She just can't see her faults. It might be empowering for me but I also better have the armor ready for the war she would incite. And something like that would likely cost me the rest of my biological family.

At any rate, I'm no where near the point mentally where I can write a letter like that and stick to the facts instead of just getting emotional and messy.
I'm sorry to hear that. It's good that you recognize where you are, how strong you are, and what you are able to do now. I'm sorry you don't have a viable relationship with your Mom.
 

Sadielady3

MyPTSD Pro
I'm sorry to hear that. It's good that you recognize where you are, how strong you are, and what you are able to do now. I'm sorry you don't have a viable relationship with your Mom.
Me too. I rationally know that she will never be able to love me in a way that is beneficial to me. But there's this part of me that still wants to make that connection. Until that part of me can heal and accept the truth, I need to maintain my distance.
 
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