Thursday, February 28, 2008

How Do You Deal With An Abusive Mother?

How do you deal with a mother who is physically, verbally, and emotionally abusive?

How do you deal with the guilt and sadness of not being able to have any kind of relationship with your mother unless you are willing to sacrifice your well-being?

Dr. Townsend answers this difficult question (3:24):

Check out the Orange County ACA website at: Orange County Adult Children


Anonymous said...

Yep, got an abusive mother. As I grow older and more grown up in ACA, when I call my mother, it is always a challenge. Not just a challenge to try to say the right thing so she will not criticize me so she feels better about herself but to not say things she will pass on to my X.

When I call my mother it seems she just wants news of things she can either call me to task on or that she will pass on to my X as we are still in a settlement process in the divorce.

With ACA I have learned that it is not my job to change her. Finally, I know that to be true. Further, I know that she will not change without a very good reason to do so and that must come from her higher power along with the help to do so. I can pray for her, be kind to her and never miss her birthday or special day but I do not want to be around her. Some day it may be different but for my sanity and physical health, less is more.

After today's conversation she left me rattled but just a bit. She wanted details of things to pass on but I evaded as much as possible. Awkward to say the least but I am glad that I did call her. I set the limits of the call and sometimes I say "I have to go now" as things heat up.

I have not been able to say "I love you" to her for a long time but some day I will. She may not be able to hear me and it may come out..."I loved you."

Those are my feelings and thank you for letting me share.


andi said...

i am very thankful for this video. it explains a lot. i guess really it is time to get off the titanic and if she wants to go down on the ship of bitterness then it is her choose but, i am choosing to jump ship. May God give the grace to all adults to jump ship when it is safer for you!

Anonymous said...

I grew up in a dysfunctional household of an alcoholic father and a verbally abusive mother. My mother constantly made us choose sides and become her therapist while "not telling" anyone..absolute silence to the outside world. Growing up being called "fat" "stupid" "ugly" or having her say "when you were born I should have stuck a knife in your heart" was commonly said to all of us. My father retreated into his abyss of pain my mother continued her litany of verbal abuse while having a glittering face socially to the world. As the eldest I was singled out and maligned the most as I would fight back or support my father. Depressed I would paint bruises on myself and tell people I was sick because I guess I wanted people to see how bruised and battered I felt. My cousin who came to stay with us told my aunt about how I and my siblings were mistreated but no one interferred. How could my mother the small town skating star be doing something like this?? NO one would believe it.I was then punished even further alienated from my siblings. I began to drink at 16 and left home at 18 my mother refusing to let my father or sisters speak to me. Breaking the code of silence. It took me years to regain any sense of self, any self esteem. When I left my husband and my mother found out she sent my sister to my house to tell my husband that I had sent them to pick up my belongings. He of course believed them and they took the only possessions I had.
My life went on and when I would let her into my life (only when she needed help with my father's increasing addiction and life spiral) she would finally fly into a rage and throw me out of her life for whatever really annoyed her (which was basically not letting her take total control) and there I was once again alienated brothers and sisters not allowed to call etc.
I used to be so hurt and self destructive but somehow I was able to stop drinking myself and stop blaming myself for my parents problems.
I survived and I thank God but the pain remains. The final straw is when I refused to leave my husband ( who I am happy and sober with) to come and take care of her dog that she refused to put in a kennel for her vacation. Instead she convinced my brother and sister to leave their jobs( and neither are financially stable to do that) and guilted them into coming to stay each for a week by themselves) I of course received a hate email about how horrible I am and which she sent to all my relatives. My mother has her own alcohol issues and as my life becomes clearer she becomes more rage filled with me.
I am very sad but realize that the idea of a loving mother is not a reality for my and I must continue on. I chose not to have children because I never wanted them to feel the pain that I did, I realize that this is a mistake. Families can be loving,,it just wasn't my experience...I can choose not to be like that and I must focus on love.
But still I wish the pain would go away. I don't know which hurts more standing up for myself and being alienated or staying in the "family circle" getting abused. My role was the whipping post and now she has trained my siblings to join in. It proves Loyalty to her.At least I have been sober and happy and have begun a loving relationship with my new husband.My only strength is that I had many loving women in my life that were like loving mothers to me.
Thank you for letting me tell my story.
many blessings

Anonymous said...

I was the writer of the last post.

Thank you Dr. because your video helped me understand a little bit more.

Anonymous said...

I am going through hell with my sister and mom right now. My sister is codependent and enmeshed with my mom. My mom is becoming more senile and had an accident and lost her driving privledges and has decided to abuse ativan . I have two young disabled children one of who has major issues. My wife and I met in ACA. I cannot join my sister in the drama of my mom and she wants me to. She claims I have an obligation. She claims she will lose her job and insurance as she has to take care of our mom (which she chooses to do) and her husband is out of work. --Having said all that I listen to this tape and though there is some good stuff there it doesnt speak to my situation. "Honoring parents is one thing" Exasperating children as stated in Ephesians is another --rarely is the latter stated. I find it hypocritical and typical of the Christian community to elevate parents because they sexually mated. I find it sick and pathological to continue relationships with people who refuse to care for themselves and my mom has been like this since my youth and has refused help and reaching out-of course I always here she did the best she could-NO SHE DIDNT and thats the issue. My mom still refuses to do what she can do for herself and ask help from that position. Its always been about manipulation. I dont love her. Thats the way it is. I find Christians narrow and stupid on these matters- I am a believer as well but have had my share of churchianity.

Anonymous said...

im 28 and by situations of life i ended at my mother's house. Not only does she physically hit me but verbally degrade me in front of my 2 year old daughter. how do i battle that if i have no say in anything? and lately i get threaten to have my child taken away from me.

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your respective situations. They are very similar to what I have always dealt with in regard to my Mom.

We don't want to think that mothers could ever be abusive in any way, shape or form, because society puts them up on a pedestal. Well, my mother literally fed me to the wolves. She moved my sister and myself in with her father who sexually abused her. Of course he ended up molesting me too, from the age of 7-12. If that were not bad enough, my predatory mother took me and my sister out of the country to Spain on a business trip and also sexually abused me - I was 11 years old.

I did confront her when I was 21, but to no avail. Her only response was that I was 'lucky it only happened once' and that she was 'pretty sure I'd passed it off as a bad dream.'

'Heart of darkness' is all that comes to mind when I think of her, and I hope one day to find a way to severe all ties with her.

I wish you all the best and hope you can find a way to heal...