Visiting mom!

Ziza

New Here
My mother is currently my main known trigger! I am sure there are others but I'm not aware of them yet! She is 80+ and lives 60 miles away from me. My dad has passed away and she is alone with a nasty room mate! She abused me mainly emotionally although she also hit me but not as much as my dad did! and neglected me starting at 9! Before 9 starting at 5 she had made me her confidant and would tell me about my dad's infidelities and say he didn't love us! Needless to say, they both royally screwed me up! I became rebellious and spent my life hurting and hating myself. I was never allowed to be a child!

My problem is that she wants me to go visit her! She wants me to call her! I don't do what she expects, but I feel guilty because she is old and not abusive now, unless I let her! I've established boundaries with her so she isn't calling me every day asking me to do this and that for her anymore. But maybe once a month I call her to check up on her, she always says how much she misses me and how much she loves me! My inner child gets triggered around her that's the main reason I don't go around her. I get really bad anxiety when I am around her!

There is a part of me that thinks I should spend more time with her before she passes! But I want to not be triggered by her! I wish I could see her and be OK! But I don't know how! Any ideas on how to not get triggered?
 

Ziza

New Here
I read a long time ago, it's never too late for a happy childhood.
I had heard that a long time ago too, but I don't believe it! I have never seen anyone succeed in recreating a happy childhood as an adult for their inner child! I find it unbelievable! I also don't believe people who say they have recovered from childhood trauma! I know you can get better, but recover? No! I also don't think it's possible to give yourself what you missed out on when you were a kid! I am no longer that kid who needed loving attention to feel validated! But that inner child is still inside of me who didn't get to develop a healthy sense of self! I don't have any ways of giving her what I don't have! I am an adult without skills of parenting myself. I am working through this Inner Loving Parent Guidebook from ACA which helps a lot, but after spending months in a group studying and practicing the first 8 chapters, I have decided to quit the group because I am not able to move forward. The book is wanting me to be in touch with my inner child and an inner loving parent and recognize my inner critic! I can barely recognize my inner critic, she comes at me on the feeling level, not thought level! And when I feel her attacking me I have no words to calm her. I say "it's going to be OK" but it does nothing! I have had several severe traumas mostly before 18, but quite a few after that too. But I believe that there is trauma from before I could speak, or maybe even in vitro! My mom was extremely unhappy while she was pregnant with me. I am seeing a therapist too, but with all the work I am doing to recover in the last 2 years I am not only not better, but I feel worse and am more depressed than before I embarked on this path! But the cat is out of the bag now and I can't re forget the memories that have come back in the last two years. I'm stuck! I just hope I get to survive this!
 

ladee

MyPTSD Pro
@Ziza I am sorry that you are in so much pain that you can't hear hope right now. And I say 'right now'. And I do know that 'hope' can be a double edged sword. I don't recall if you shared your age, but it does take more than two years to undo or accept the damage done. I don't say that to discourage you. I say that to help you understand that you are doing all the right things right now. And just because it hasn't 'undone' the pain, doesn't mean it won't work in the long run.

And you are right about the cat being out of the bag and you are stuck with all this pain and memories and you can't go back and put the cat back in the bag. And I know how much this hurts and how defeating it feels. But one of the things this forum provides is people that have gone before you on this journey. And it IS a journey. A long one. And sometimes it feels like 'what is the point of this if it's only going to bring up more pain'. And I've been there too. As have many on this forum.

Just don't give up on yourself. Maybe it's too soon to start on inner child work. Or you haven't given yourself more time. Because some days that's all we can give ourselves is more time. And it IS discouraging. It hurts. And it feels like it will never end. But it does. Not now. Not today, but it will.

You have already lived thru the worst part. The part where things were said and done in real time. And it left a wounded woman behind. But this forum is full of wounded women. And men. Who take an active part in pushing thru.

All I can give you now is the fact that you are NOT ALONE. I understand. The other women who shared with you understand. It doesn't take your pain away but I hope it helps you to not feel so alone. And every single one of us have looked up and said, 'this is it?? more pain to get to some unknown place that I don't even believe exists??' And the answer is yes. But it does get better. It does get different. We do heal the things we can and simply accept the things we can't.

I needed this place to have others to encourge me when I could not put one foot in front of the other. They encouraged me to rest. Be kinder to myself as awkward and full of BS that that felt. But I read their stories and I did see progress. I did see changes. And no one here is going to lie to you. This is work. And it sucks and it hurts and it feels like it will never end. But it does.

You can do this. And you are not alone. We HEAR you. We understand. The reason I know you are going to succeed, and not in your time, but you will succeed, is because you are here and you took a huge risk and reached out to others. You are new here and have no reason to trust any of us. I get that too.

I'm just going to ask you to not give up five minutes before you get to experiance the changes. They do happen. And you are worth every single minute of this journey. It's not your fault you are here and suffering. But there is a way out and thru. Just letting you know I HEAR you.
 
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Survivor3

MyPTSD Pro
The problem is that I haven't been able to find a way for my inner child to let go of the anger
I feel the same way about my dad. Sometimes I say to myself "he's better now and time has past so put the anger and feelings away in a box" because if they die then that's the end but it's easier said than done.

Don't give up @Ziza quite often things get better suddenly when you least expect it. I'm in my mid 40s and have been in serious therapy for about 2 years and I had a terrible childhood. My whole entire adult life was a nightmare but I've really improved in 2 years. 10x better. It's a gradual process. Best wishes to you.
 
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Ziza

New Here
I don't recall if you shared your age, but it does take more than two years to undo or accept the damage done.
I started in recovery from addiction at the age of 24, I am currently 58 years old. 33 years of working the steps in NA/AA, years of therapy in between, 5 years in CODA, and 2 years in ACA! Not enough apparently!

My whole entire adult life was a nightmare
Mine too! But I'm 58 and not much time left to live free anymore.... Sometimes I wonder if I'm better off doing drugs to ease the pain since I don't have another 20 years to spend in recovery! I'm sorry I am very hurt about this and very upset that I have such a long way to go at 58 years old! I've been clean and sober for 33 years!

All I can give you now is the fact that you are NOT ALONE
Thank you for your words of encouragement. I do feel alone in this battle! I have been going to ACA meetings to get support and help, but I haven't met anyone yet that is capable or willing to be supportive in the last 2 years on these zoom meetings! Part of it is my own fault because I'm not one who will reach out much! I reach out a little and if I don't get a very positive response, I retreat back to my cave! I think of not going to the meetings anymore, but I don't know what else to do if I stop the meetings! AA and NA have become intolerable for me! I don't relate with them anymore.... It's been 33 years and I only became socially acceptable in these programs. Just the surface got better! My whole life from childhood to adulthood has been a tragedy! I am still not happy even though on the outside everything seems to be in place! and wish I could get divorced and go somewhere far away and live like a hermit! But I'm disabled on top of all of this and financially dependent on my husband! I look forward to death because it seems to be my only reprieve (hopefully) ! After 58 years, I am tired! Tired of trying and spinning my wheels. I don't see progress! I am still reactive, and full of anxiety!
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
There is a quote of someone aged 100 who said that they wished they started to learn the violin at 60,rather than thinking it was too late, because now they would have been able to say they have played the violin for 40 years.
I love that quote. As it flips things a bit.

I'm 43. Only started working on my stuff 2 years ago.

When I did my first marathon, I went to a training course and there was this man there, training for his first marathon. He was 70.

Looks like you have choices:
Carry on as you are with feeling guilt and being triggered by your mum
Go no contact and maybe feel immense relief or continue with the guilt
Or, as my T is trying to get me to do: come at it from a place of awareness.

My T asks me why I give my mum the power over me? I'm working on boundaires so that I don't soak up my mum's feelings and be responsible for them. It's hard, because she has programmed me to be just that: her emotional support and an extension of her, not a separate person.

What is it you would like from your Mum?
How do you want to be when you see her (if you decide to?)

Awareness of how she is can be powerful to remove yourself from triggers.
I recently had a laugh with my T, because I was getting so stressed about seeing my family and being responsible for who sits next to who because one person might not be speaking to the other and I made it all my responsibility to manage all the dysfunction. It was only taking a step back and realising: everyone can own their own sh*t and I'll just sit in a chair and they can sit in chairs and it's ok. That I realised how absurd the situation was. Awareness and observation helped to not be triggered.
 

Ziza

New Here
What is it you would like from your Mum?
How do you want to be when you see her (if you decide to?)
I just want my mom to leave me alone. She calls my husband when I don't answer her calls and then he tells me why don't you talk to your mother? I've told him several times that I don't want to and to stay out of it! But he likes my mom so I told him to just leave me out of it! But he doesn't! My mom says so many loving things to me now that for people who didn't see how she treated me, it's hard to accept that she ignored and neglected me! I guess I want my mom to realize that she screwed up and that she can't fix it! and to stop expressing love for me! I have asked her to stop expressing love for me but she won't stop! The more she says how much she loves me, the worse I feel! It angers my inner child!

As your second question, I want to be unaffected by her! I want to not get upset by her expressions of love towards me! I want to see her like an old woman who I see to make her happy! The fact that she is my mom angers me! I don't want her to be my mom! ( I know that's ridiculous but that's how I feel) I know I will only be rid of her when she is dead. As long as she is alive, she continues to trigger me! Unless a miracle happens inside me! She is a famous TV personality so everyone thinks she is God's gift to the world! ugh!
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
So you can't change her, but you can change you.

So she might still contact your husband, and charm everyone, and gaslight you, even if you put in clear boundaires.
I told my mum to only contact my partner in an emergency. The last time my mum had phoned me several times and then phoned my partner and left a voicemail message asking me to ring. My partner was worried it was an emergency so I thought I had better call. No emergency at all. Just her being bored and wanting attention.
But I have reiterated my boundary. Which she doesn't always respect. So you can't change her.

But you can change you.
Acceptance that she is how she is
Acceptance that people will not understand your feelings about the relationship
Acceptance that she might groom and charm them into her gaslighting of you
Grief for what you lost out on
Grief for what she has lost out on (knowing you for you)
Working through that anger (I'm stuck on this anger business)
Awareness of what she is like
And a solid sense of you,
And a solid sense that you are not beholden to her
And you giving yourself that nurture that your inner child needed from her.

If you are anything like me: it's the internal fight between the inner child and another part that is tired and frsutrated, that keeps me stuck. Finding a way to 'let it go' (whatever that means) seems to be the way to make peace with it.
.
 

Ziza

New Here
So you can't change her, but you can change you.

So she might still contact your husband, and charm everyone, and gaslight you, even if you put in clear boundaires.
I told my mum to only contact my partner in an emergency. The last time my mum had phoned me several times and then phoned my partner and left a voicemail message asking me to ring. My partner was worried it was an emergency so I thought I had better call. No emergency at all. Just her being bored and wanting attention.
But I have reiterated my boundary. Which she doesn't always respect. So you can't change her.

But you can change you.
Acceptance that she is how she is
Acceptance that people will not understand your feelings about the relationship
Acceptance that she might groom and charm them into her gaslighting of you
Grief for what you lost out on
Grief for what she has lost out on (knowing you for you)
Working through that anger (I'm stuck on this anger business)
Awareness of what she is like
And a solid sense of you,
And a solid sense that you are not beholden to her
And you giving yourself that nurture that your inner child needed from her.

If you are anything like me: it's the internal fight between the inner child and another part that is tired and frsutrated, that keeps me stuck. Finding a way to 'let it go' (whatever that means) seems to be the way to make peace with it.
.
Thank you! I have to accept that nobody will ever believe me about who she is! and who she has been! Even when I was a kid nobody believed me! It's so hard to accept that the only people who will be supportive are those who don't know her from TV!
 

Friday

Moderator
She's always going to want things on her terms. If guilt was her weapon of choice, it will continue to be. I think spending time with her is an nice impulse, but don't expect something she can't give. (Like being a "normal" mother.)
The "part" of you that finds her triggering will have to learn that she's not the threat she was, but the "part" that wants a nice mother also has to learn that's not the family you were born into. Fortunately, you're a grown up now and don't really NEED a mother.

Do what works for you.
Know that whatever you do, it won't be enough for her. So you need to find a way that is something you can tolerate and manage.
If you do what she wants, how can you remain you and keep your boundaires and emotional health?
I now see them for who they are and I don't allow myself to get drawn in to their games. I take a step back. I take a deep breath. I don't volunteer information about myself, so I don't open up avenues for criticism from them.

But I'm still working on it all. It's hard work. Old habits die hard!

And the way I interact with them now that they're old? Is more about me, and my relationship with myself. Because they're old, and frightened of a lot of things, and no, they aren't going to reapect my boundaries bery well, because of that fear.

I choose to interact on my terms, doing what I can tolerate.

Anger is one of the potential responses to that. The way I look at it, that "child" is part of you, but it isn't ALL of you. The feeling is legitimate. No harm in acknowledging that. No harm in feeling it either. The thing is, being angry isn't actually going to change anything.

I've had to work on many things after someone died. I didn't have the chance while they were alive for many reasons. So no need to put pressure on yourself to hurry up and get this done before she dies. You will still have time

Looks like you have choices:
Carry on as you are with feeling guilt and being triggered by your mum
Go no contact and maybe feel immense relief or continue with the guilt
Or, as my T is trying to get me to do: come at it from a place of awareness.

My T asks me why I give my mum the power over me? I'm working on boundaires so that I don't soak up my mum's feelings and be responsible for them. It's hard, because she has programmed me to be just that: her emotional support and an extension of her, not a separate person.

What is it you would like from your Mum?
How do you want to be when you see her (if you decide to?)

Anything I might possibly say has already been said (& better!!), by @scout86, @Movingforward10, @Sideways, & @ladee 😁 My absolute favorite bits quoted above.


I started in recovery from addiction at the age of 24, I am currently 58 years old. 33 years of working the steps in NA/AA, years of therapy in between, 5 years in CODA, and 2 years in ACA! Not enough apparently!
Addiction programs are fantastic for addictions.
That doesn’t mean they’re fantastic at all things.

- A great many addicts have trauma histories, but don’t have PTSD.
- Many people with PTSD have abused drugs/alcohol, but are not addicts/alcoholics.
- Some people are both addicts/alcoholics AND have PTSD

^^^ And then all of the above but replace PTSD with any other trauma-related disorder or condition, as well as any other disorder/condition that’s unrelated to trauma. ^^^

Which may seem a bit “duh”, but the hyperfocus of looking at all things through an addiction lens / addiction is THE problem… which is part of why 12 step programs work so well wih addiction, always circling back around to how addiction is the central cause, the core issue… means that they leave a great big gaping void for people for whom addiction is NOT the core issue, but either only part of what’s involved (dual diagnosis), or not central whatsoever.

If you’ve only just started working on Trauma & PTSD? A 6mo chip in Trauma doesn’t negate a 30 year clean & sober coin, any more than starting on a second University degree in biology negates already having one in chemistry. They’re 2 different things, even if strongly related.
 

scout86

MyPTSD Pro
I have never seen anyone succeed in recreating a happy childhood as an adult for their inner child! I
That DOES seem like a wacko idea. At least to me. But then I've never been a huge fan of taking any of the "parts" stuff too literally. It works better for me to think of it as a metaphor.

Honestly, I think "happiness" is over rated. (Not saying everyone or anyone has to agree with me.) As far as I can see, the purpose of a childhood is to give a human a chance to learn stuff they'll need to be a successful adult. People can have successful childhood's in all kinds of circumstances. Granted, it appears that feeling that you're loved and seen for who you are is part of that package. Probably the most important part...... Anyway, maybe we tend to get too hung up on "happy". Maybe "content" is better? Personally, I think having a purpose is better yet.

One of the best homework assignments my T ever gave me was to create imaginary childhoods. (He actually asked for one, but it was so interesting I kept going.) "What else could a childhood have been like and what would you have learned that you didn't?" I had a good friend who was my "unofficial adopted brother". I'd met his parents and knew where he'd grown up. I started by imagining what it would have been like if he'd been my real brother and I'd grown up with his family. The point is to make it as real as you can. What would it look like, sound like, smell like, feel like? What would be the same? What might be different? How would that change things? I came up with a whole bunch of scenarios. It took awhile to get comfortable enough with the idea to really get into it. Maybe the biggest thing I got out of it was the knowledge that baby humans are dumped into scenarios that have nothing to do with them and have to cope as best they can. Sometimes they get it easy, sometimes they don't, nothing is perfect.
But I'm 58 and not much time left to live free anymore....
There was a bumper sticker that I used to see in Texas that I dearly loved. "Texas. I wasn't born here but I got here as fast as I could." I try to look at life that way. I can't change what was. I actually can't predict what will be either. All I've got is NOW. I try really hard to work with that. I DO get the "I've wasted my life and there's not much left" thing. I'm older than you, so maybe I've wasted more of my life than you have and have less of it left, who knows? But the only purpose I can see in getting hung up in that space and living there is if you want to beat yourself up and feel bad. Choices one can make, to be sure, but why? Serious question. The only reason I can think of is that some part of a person might think they deserve punishment or aren't worthy of anything else, or something along those lines. I don't think any of that is true of anyone who's making an effort.

You DO have a lot of anger towards your mother, clearly. (And she clearly let you down.) I can see where being hung up on the anger is a problem in moving beyond it. What has helped you get beyond anger with other people in other situations? Here's something that helped me. Realizing that parents aren't gods, they are mortal humans who come to the job with whatever tools and issues they had at the time. Seriously! That varies hugely, does it not? Generally they don't come to the job with ill intent. Maybe great incompetence. Maybe with no real thought at all. Generally without malice. (That comes later, I think. When they actually get to know the kid and what might be involved in parenting it.) What do you know about your own mother? Her childhood? Her expectations? What tools, if any, did she bring with her to the job? Sounds like parenting was probably a job she wasn't qualified for. She probably should have know that..... But where would that leave you?

Sorry to get so long winded. This is a topic I've thought about a lot and I could keep rambling on for a long time.

You know, in a way, I kind of admire those of you who have what it takes to rage about not getting the childhood you deserved. I've got a good friend who does that too, although she also thinks everything was her fault. I think I probably lack the rage because I just accepted that I got what I was worth whatever that was. I never had any ending of life conversations with my mother because she wasn't interested in having those conversations, at least not with me. Something I'm wondering about YOUR mother is where SHE'S at with all this. Is it possible that, in her own way, she actually does love you? I just went back and reread some things you wrote.
The more she says how much she loves me, the worse I feel! It angers my inner child!
There's a whole bunch in that post. First, it seems to me that it's YOU who's angry. Nothing wrong with that. If you feel it, own it, it's ok. Have you ever had a conversation with her about the anger? I can see a point in writing her some of those letters that don't get mailed, for sure. But, if you're feeling like you need to resolve things "while there's still time" you can't really do that without talking to her, can you? I'm not sure "resolving things" is an option. If she's somewhere on the for real narcissist spectrum, she'll just spin things and make it all your fault and her tragedy. (You know that, I'm sure.) Not much point to that. Here's something else I learned from my therapist. A narcissist really can't help being a narcissist. They are largely born that way. It can be modified, for better or worse, but upbringing, but it's kind of like having blue eyes. Not a choice. And, when I've thought about it, it seems like a rather sad way to be. They really lack the ability to see the value in anything or anyone beyond what it, or they, can do for them. Pretty limited. They miss out on a lot, they just don't know it. I'm not taking her side. I'm just pointing out that she's not the ultimate source of all evil. She's just a weak, flawed old lady who didn't have what it takes to be a decent parent. You might, in a way, be giving her more credit than she deserves with the anger.
I want to see her like an old woman who I see to make her happy! T
About that..... That's literally how I felt about my mother. Well, still do although now she's dead so I don't have to deal with her at all. Once I got a handle on the idea that there was no reason to be afraid of her, and that there was nothing I could do that would be "ok" with her......... Yep, pretty much no feeling there at all. You know, in a way that's a little scary to live with. Because I KNOW that isn't how most people feel about their mothers. Because it seems pretty cold, even to me. It's one of those times, in conversation, where my T will say "THAT would score you a lot of points on the psychopath scale." (He hastens to assure me that I'm not a psychopath, I just have a few aspects of my personality that would score points on the scale.) But I sometimes wonder what I might be missing........ I'm quite sure I'm not hiding any feelings or burying any feelings, there just AREN'T any feelings. I honestly don't know that's the best way through.

From what I've seen here in the past, one of the best things you can do is stubbornly stick around and keep thrashing things out. People will listen, People will be encouraging. And, best of all, people will stand up and disagree when they think there are better ways of looking at things.
 

ladee

MyPTSD Pro
The added perspective I want to add is about how 12 steps, as @Friday shared, is for addiction. I am a recovering addict and alcoholic that got clean Dec 26, 1984. The longer I was clean the more dis-regulated I became. Not yet diagnosed with PTSD, that came in '91. In those rooms we are told 'righteous anger' and will get us high or drunk. I remember being so confused about that because I didn't have anger, I had rage. So long story short I finally had to tell my sponsor that I was going to start seeing a therapist. She was a 12 step 'purist' and was against that. So grateful for my rebellious nature and did it anyway.

I ended up with a T that specialized in Gestalt therapy. I don't even know if this is still used or goes by another name now. But without that T's guidance and support on dealing with and getting to express my anger I wouldn't be here today. I was so angry about so many things and at so many people for so many reasons. He knew I was a recovering addict so we took it slow. But steady. And I was able to finally let go. It took time and it was exhausting. But so was feeling that rage bubbling underneath all the time. It clouded my judgement, and I was hearing any help offered thru a filter of rage. So it wasn't really getting thru.

I had a lot to be angry about. And to this day I get stiff when I hear someone say, 'well, be angry doesn't change anything'. That's true. But do not negate my feelings of anger either. I didn't just wake up one day and decide to have anger and rage ruling my life.

What I'm trying to say is that your anger and hurt are justified. And you probably won't make any progress with where you want to be with your mom, whether she is open or not, until you deal with the hurt and anger. First things first. Then you may be able to see her differently. Hear her differently. My oldest sister was my main abuser along with the old man. I was angry at my mom for not seeing or doing anything about it. But the rage was at my sister and the old man. God I hated them back them. Really hated them.

I know you've probably been given information overload and will have to sort and sift thru it all to see what applies. But I am also telling you I understand and hear you. I truly hope you find a way to express those feelings because you may never drink or get high again, but that damned anger will kill you anyway!! I get it.

Just last week I was triggered about something and on the way home I ranted and raged in my car. Just screaming and hollering at the circumstances and at my son. I'm so grateful I'm ok with anger. Because I do not any longer feel guilt for being angry at his taking his life. That anger is part of my grief. He left a hell of a mess behind and a lot of hurt people. You bet there are times I'm angry. But I also know I can express it in the right way at the right time for me. Because it is easy to get stuck in certain feelings if we have no way to express it.

I'm going to end with saying with as many years as you have invested in your journey, you have a very solid foundation. Twelve steps did provide a foundation for me to do the rest of the work I've had to do. And it's not that you haven't done enough, it's just time to do something different. Much support from me. I so wish I had had this place back in the day. My journey wouldn't have taken as long. I wish you success and to finally be able to let go and to be free.
 

Ziza

New Here
I had a lot to be angry about. And to this day I get stiff when I hear someone say, 'well, be angry doesn't change anything'. That's true. But do not negate my feelings of anger either. I didn't just wake up one day and decide to have anger and rage ruling my life.
I felt my feelings being invalidated by some of the replies here too!

I wish you success and to finally be able to let go and to be free.
Thank you
 
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