Highlights from the weekend’s talks:
- Mom rarely thinks of abusive husband but I still think of my abuse as a child. We decide that a parent assaulting a child is different than a spouse. You can leave your husband, your Dad will eventually become Grandpa to your kids.
- My Mom & siblings just wanted me to stay quiet. They felt I was causing the abuse but I felt I was saying NO to bad behavior. Despite everyone telling me I deserved the abuse because I stood up to him, I never felt I deserved it.
- My brother keeps secrets. He did at my house, it affected my children and I was angry. My Mom has begged me to just accept my brother. Why couldn’t I just get along with him? I told her I don’t accept bad behaviour. She wanted me to talk to him. I refuse. I told her I don’t need to change him, I am angry. She said I can’t be angry. I told her I AM not angry, I am having angry FEELINGS.
- She puts her hands in front of her and shows me her palms, turns her head to the side and tells me she doesn’t want to hear it. She says I just keep getting louder saying the same things. I tell her I must not feel heard. She is shocked when I explain how she shuts me out with her body language, and we laugh as she agrees.
- As she listens differently, she acknowleges that I have been saying the same things for years but she can “hear” me now because neither of us are drinking. She gets how I do not feel valued when she shuts me down. We still don’t agree on the issue, but I feel she hears me, she tells me she understands my anger, and she is no longer afraid of my “feeling” of anger.
- Mom finally gets that saying NO does not equal getting hit or someone not liking you. She is sorry she couldn’t keep me safe. I remind her that she did the best she could and got me into therapy at 15. That helped keep me safe when she couldn’t.
- The final kicker – I say I’m grateful that my drinking hasn’t hurt anyone. She said, well everone knows you had a problem. Really? Yes, like at the first birthday party for my son. Huh? She told me that I drank so much I passed out and never made it to the food or cutting the cake. Excuse Me?! WHAT? That was 16 years ago. This is the first time that anyone shared this. I of course, do not remember any of it. I tell her – it would have been nice if you, the family & my then husband would have told me of my bad behaviour. She says in hind sight, I guess we should have, but we just thought you knew.
- Mom’s therapist tells her that it is hard for parents, but they shouldn’t interfere in their children’s lives. We wonder how that would relate to the above situation? She’s going to ask.
- I tell my Mom how I battle low self esteem. She can not figure this out, as I’m one of the strongest women she knows. I don’t know Mom, but I do. She tells me she hears me.