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Author Topic: Things I have/don't have in a mother  (Read 273 times)
Methuen
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« on: January 24, 2023, 04:41:13 PM »

I have been struggling for a very long time, and there doesn't seem to be any light at the end of the tunnel. My mother is physically and emotionally vulnerable, but she will very likely linger.  Her own abusive father lingered for about 20 years, and lived until he was 98.  Luckily for everyone around him, he lived in a care home.

My mother (86) gets her energy these days from her MO of "not getting home care" and "not going to assisted living".  

I have so much accumulated stress from living so close to her (I'm 60).  I'm working on processing some things.  So I've put some thoughts onto paper.  Simply sharing.

What I have in a mother – Negative

What I have in a mother– Negative

A child in an adult body   
A person with intense physical and emotional needs
A parent who lurches from crisis to crisis
    (many of her own making)
A parent who expects me to rescue her from every perceived and actual crisis or bad feeling
A needy parent
   
A parent I don’t feel safe with
A mother whose love is conditional on whether I meet her physical and emotional needs,
    except nobody can ever meet those needs
A mother who thinks that if I don’t feel what she’s feeling, I am a bad daughter
A mother who trained me to look after her

A mother who taught me that the best kind of people sacrifice themselves for the good of others
A mother whose needs and emotions suck the joy of life out of me
A mother who needs me to feel whatever she is feeling
A mother who wants me to suffer what she is suffering
A mother who’s guided by her emotions

A mother whose chaos takes up too much space in my head

A mother whose approval is conditional on having her needs met
A mother who doesn't treat her daughter as a daughter
An undiagnosed borderline personality mother
A mother who doesn’t tell the truth
A self-absorbed mother
A mother who doesn’t feel love
A mother who needs to dump or project her toxic feelings on me (blaming, attacking, accusing,
   gaslighting, yelling)
A mother whose behaviors feel manipulative
A mother who makes me afraid of her

An irrational, angry mother who defaults to hate and revenge when her feelings get intense.  
   She feels safest to blame me for all her toxic feelings born out of her childhood trauma.

What I don't have

A mother
A parent who takes responsibility for and tries to solve her own problems
A parent who has taken (and takes) good care of herself

An independent self-reliant parent with a healthy sense of self
A parent who is interested in my needs
A mother I can have a conversation with (I no longer visit my mother alone)
A parent who is a separate person from me, and loves me for who I am

A parent who let me develop my own healthy sense of self
A mother who considers my needs as well as her own
A mother who taught me that it is valid to take care of myself  

A mother who wants me to enjoy life and be happy
A mother who can let me have my own feelings
A mother who can self-soothe and self-care
A rational mother who is thoughtful and makes decisions based on facts and reasons rather than her emotions
A mother who wishes to self-manage her problems and minimize the impact to me
An emotionally healthy self-aware mother with a healthy sense of self
A mother who feels entitled to being “mothered” by her daughter (her own mother died when
   she was 14yrs old)

A mother

A mother I can trust
An empathetic mother
A mother who loves me
A mother who is kind
A mother who has self-control

A mother who is honest
A mother who makes me feel safe

A mother who has the capacity to be reflective and contrite, and see her own flaws, acknowledge them, and apologize

A mother I feel safe to be with, in other words, just a mom.

I'm sure there's lots I missed - such as a mother who is responsible etc.  But it's a start, and I guess it already lets me see the point, which my T tells me is that it's ok to feel angry and resentful, frustrated, sad, and grieving.

It's so clear why I returned to work from retirement.  I'm escaping from my mother.  If she were to pass (she won't), I would resign the next day.  Working is what I have to do to survive this situation.  It a boundary on  my "time" and "availability".  It doesn't feel good, because she's still indirectly controlling my decision to work or stay retired.

I do have things in my life I can be grateful for.  Tomorrow's work is the gratitude list.  Today I'm just going to sit with this.
« Last Edit: January 24, 2023, 04:51:14 PM by Methuen » Logged
Notwendy
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« Reply #1 on: January 24, 2023, 04:50:30 PM »

Our mothers are similar, even though they may act out their disorder in different ways. While I am not as involved in helping mine, she is angry about that. Visits to her, conversations are requests for me to do something for her. It's very clear how she sees my role in relation to her.

Both of us, I know we want to be helpful and are at a stage where we would not consider expecting our mothers to do something for us. What is difficult is that this appears to be the whole of the relationship and that feels so empty. We want to know our mothers value us for who we are, for the relationship, and appreciate what we can do for them. For ours, I think "doing for them" is the whole of the relationship.

But we wish for so much more. I think we are realistic about the situation and what is possible but I think we still wish, in a way.

Sending you hugs, we get it.
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Riv3rW0lf
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« Reply #2 on: January 24, 2023, 05:33:04 PM »

 Virtual hug (click to insert in post)
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Turkish
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« Reply #3 on: January 24, 2023, 10:15:21 PM »

Quote from: Methuen
A mother who taught me that the best kind of people sacrifice themselves for the good of others

This is the root of it, yes? She trained (projected) you to be what she felt that she was. Being a child, you didn't know any better. Being a Rescuer is one thing. Being a savior isn't something humans can achieve, much less children.
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Notwendy
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« Reply #4 on: January 25, 2023, 07:45:35 AM »

I think what Methuen is saying when she says "the mother I don't have" is that we don't have a mother who behaves like one to us in the way we wish she would. Mothers are not perfect, they get angry sometimes too. We can handle that. We don't need a mother like the one on TV, but we want a certain kind of consistency- to know our mother loves us even if she's angry, even if we mess up sometimes as all humans do. When there is that nurturing bond there- the occasional temporary disagreements don't change that fundamental aspect of the relationship.

It's rare that my BPD mother tells me she "loves" me. It's often said when she's trying to manipulate a situation. I don't believe it and I feel uncomfortable when she says it. She's said mean things to me, lied to me, and blamed me more often than she's expressed that she loves me. She treats me more like a servant to her, albeit an uncooperative one as I don't just obey her requests all the time.

I understand that she feels what she feels in the moment. If the "I love you" is real then are the other things she says to me real too? Her wish is for me to ignore them and forget about them. I surely don't wish to hold on to a grudge or dwell on them, but also to just tolerate whatever she says and does seems unreasonable.

However, if our mothers don't have a solid sense of self, and their sense of self shifts according to their inner emotions, how can they be anything else but the "mother we have" and the "mother we don't have".




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zachira
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« Reply #5 on: January 25, 2023, 10:00:00 AM »

Methuen,
It has often been said on this site that the cure for most of the distress from having an invalidating parent/family is differentiation. I worked on differentiation with my therapist, and it is a continuing journey to be and become a separate person from my toxic narcissistic family (no longer be so overwhelmed in intensity and duration by how badly they treat me or how much I miss not having a loving validating family, especially a mother capable of loving her children. Would you consider rewriting your initial post, and list about all the ways you can think of that you are different from your mother, that you are not like her, and never will be?
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madeline7
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« Reply #6 on: January 25, 2023, 10:42:13 AM »

My mother doesn't see me, and even if she did, would have no interest in me,unless I was somehow helping her or doing what she would do in any given situation. My list is long as well, and I realize now I just want to be free to be me, and not an extension of her. Thank you for this post. We get it. We get you. And so good to see you and be seen!!
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Notwendy
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« Reply #7 on: January 25, 2023, 12:10:35 PM »

There's another aspect to this that I recall. I don't expect my parents to be of any emotional support or otherwise to me. I realized that my BPD mother is incapable of this and my father already had enough to deal with. I used to share aspects of my personal life with my parents, probably similar to other teens/adult children who turn to their parents for experienced advice sometimes- as much as they are comfortable sharing. My kids will do that sometimes too- maybe they had a difficult day at work, or school and just want to vent. But it just felt uncomfortable to discuss such things with her and so I don't do that now.

But disclosing personal information somehow seemed to provide something else for my mother- like she wanted to know my business- and also liked to be "in the know" like her relative's families. By comparison, I think her family shares too much but maybe that is more normal than overdone- and it's clear that this sharing is in a supportive way- they are there for each other. That is not something I have experienced from my mother. She wants to be in the know but isn't supportive. I don't expect her to do things for me, it's more like having a person to share things with and feel it's supportive and I'd do the same. Conversations with my mother center around her telling me what she's feeling or experiencing and then asking me in a way that feels like information gathering.

BPD mother reminds me that "I didn't visit enough" when my father was ill, and from her point of view, I practically didn't but I did what I could do at the time. At one point, there was something personal that I was dealing with that made it difficult to visit them. I wanted to, but I couldn't. I understood their situation and so didn't discuss it much with them due to their circumstances but also knew that, it would not really be helpful to share it anyway. So while I didn't expect anything from them- their assumption went right to the worst intentions. It wasn't that maybe I was doing the best I could at the time, it was that I wasn't doing enough. I mentioned to my mother that, yes, at the time I didn't visit but I called Dad almost every day - to which she replied "calling isn't enough"!!

As Madeline7 said. She can't see me or my intentions. She sees her projected feelings.

Her family may have it's issues but it's been a source of contrast for me since I was a child. I think there's a bit of NPD and enmeshment there but it's not all at the level of harming their relationships with each other.  In one family the aunt and uncle seem to like each other. There was a different quality to their relationship compared to my parents and I could see that as a child. Were they perfect? Of course not, but there was a lack of tension between them that I saw at my house. They aren't walking on eggshells. They did fun things together as a family. We did some things as a family too- but there was that conflict, somehow, the dynamics were different. We seemed to orbit around BPD mother's moods. They were not fun family activities. This family seemed more relaxed around each other. And even now, they seem to enjoy each other's company and do things together. It seems they are supportive to each other.


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Riv3rW0lf
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« Reply #8 on: January 25, 2023, 12:46:55 PM »

This is the root of it, yes? She trained (projected) you to be what she felt that she was. Being a child, you didn't know any better. Being a Rescuer is one thing. Being a savior isn't something humans can achieve, much less children.

This hit home.

And from this ensued all the rest. The constant guilt, shaming of not being able to save her, and her blaming of me not being enough.

The most of my inner work, right now, resides in meeting my own needs, and also in stating my needs to others without fear of backlash, or of being called an egoist narcissist. Whenever I have to "fight" for my rights, or to be able to meet my needs, or when I need to request that something be changed to allow for more fairness, either at home or at work, I fear I will lose love and respect. The more I do it though and the more I realize most people are ok with me standing up for myself. Those that are not are often people I shouldn't stay friends with anyway.

My mother does have this image of herself of giving her all to people, of being completely selfless, and to a certain extent : she is, and the fact that she is IS the problem. The does it to the point her resentment and rage, and then blames other for her own lack of limits... And this is the legacy she left behind.

Your needs don't matter, only the needs of others.

I am slowly unlearning that.
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Notwendy
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« Reply #9 on: January 25, 2023, 03:57:51 PM »

This hit home.

And from this ensued all the rest. The constant guilt, shaming of not being able to save her, and her blaming of me not being enough.

The most of my inner work, right now, resides in meeting my own needs, and also in stating my needs to others without fear of backlash, or of being called an egoist narcissist. Whenever I have to "fight" for my rights, or to be able to meet my needs, or when I need to request that something be changed to allow for more fairness, either at home or at work, I fear I will lose love and respect. The more I do it though and the more I realize most people are ok with me standing up for myself. Those that are not are often people I shouldn't stay friends with anyway.

My mother does have this image of herself of giving her all to people, of being completely selfless, and to a certain extent : she is, and the fact that she is IS the problem. The does it to the point her resentment and rage, and then blames other for her own lack of limits... And this is the legacy she left behind.

Your needs don't matter, only the needs of others.

I am slowly unlearning that.


This is interesting is that this is not the impression I learned from my BPD mother. She is not selfless and doesn't even pretend to be. My father was enabling and co-dependent - I don't see where I got that message from him that it was desirable to be that way, although we were taught to be that way in relation to my BPD mother.

I did get the message that one had to be very good in order to be loved. I was even saying that as a preschooler and saying it to my toys- "you have to be very good" and this is how my mother speaks to us, or about us, even as adults, and it's when we have done something for her. She'd say "I told my family you were a good girl today" when I did something that helped her.  

So to be "good" you had to do things for her.

Of course kids want their parents to love them and I learned that I needed to be "good" and "good" to my mother was to be obedient, compliant, do things for her and do not upset her.

I didn't think much about it at the time but apparently the rules for "being good" were not the same for BPD mother.

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Riv3rW0lf
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« Reply #10 on: January 25, 2023, 04:41:40 PM »

Notwendy,

On my end, there was NO clear rules to get love out of BPD mother.

I could do something for her, clean the whole house, cook diner, and still be met with a rage.

I could do something bad that would have necessitated discipline, and be met with understanding and love.

My BPD mother main sentence is : "I am nice with you, so you need to be nice with me." (but with a threatening tone, it usually meant a rage was close-by and she was setting the stage, telling us, basically, that we were responsible for her losing her  Cursing - won't cause site restrictions at Starbucks (click to insert in post)). Most days, she was a tornado, spinning in the house, slamming doors and raging while cooking diner.

One summer, every day, I vaccumed the house and did the laundry, folded it, cooked diner, walked the dog. I was 11 or 12. Every. Day. I seeked to prevent her rages when she would get back from work. Yet there was simply no way to prevent anything and I wouldn't get any thank you, nor reward, nor any show of appreciation. I kept doing it out of self-preservation.

On the other side, once I got into troubles at school for selling drugs to my friends.... She was understanding. Went to school. She was worried (this is what the teacher told me, anyway). But at home, NOTHING happened. Nothing. She didn't even mentioned it.

So... There wasn't any clear path toward being/feeling love. It just happened when she was in a good mood. And those good moods were rare and out of our controls.

Very young, she would shake me, hurt me, scare me when she was in her rages. Yet, the minute before that, she had made a nice dessert for us, and a nice meal that smelled wonderful in the house. I have memories of her playing with me. Smelling lilac trees with me, and making me crowns of flowers... But the next minute, she was yelling at me and shaking me because I hadn't wept my shoes on the mat coming into the house.

My main trauma was her impulsivity, her unpredictability. My trauma was NEVER knowing who I was going to get. And having NO WAY to "manipulate" or predict her.

My only mode, and my brother's too actually, became hiding and freezing and making ourselves as small as possible to hopefully remain unseen during her rages.

When we got bigger, she couldn't physically hurt us anymore, so the rages became screaming and those tender, loving moments (that did happen), morphed into, mostly, neglect. We weren't cute anymore, I guess !  Frustrated/Unfortunate (click to insert in post) Actually, I think whatever love she had morphed into jealousy when I became a woman.

But my mother can be nice when she is in a good mood. And I do have some fond memories of her. Albeit, there is always a soft shadow veiling those souvenirs.

There truly is a Mr. Jekyll and Mr. Hide inside her. And no one can control who is in charge. She sets herself off.

But she does give a lot of herself... Not out of love though. Out of control. And there will always be an emotional price to it later on... There are always strings attached... Because she does it in savior mode. But she does A LOT for other people. She will jump to the opportunity to do something for someone. Because to her, doing things for others equal value, it equals being needed. It equals NOT being abandoned.

And by extension, this is also what she always expected me/others/everyone close to her to do for her. To save her from her own void, from her own pain. She simply doesn't have the tools for that...

I believe now that my mother is a pure borderline, with very low narcissistic traits.
« Last Edit: January 25, 2023, 05:10:00 PM by Riv3rW0lf » Logged
Methuen
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« Reply #11 on: January 26, 2023, 12:39:29 AM »

Thanks everyone for the supportive replies. 
Would you consider rewriting your initial post, and list about all the ways you can think of that you are different from your mother, that you are not like her, and never will be?
This is a really good idea Zachira.  I will do this - probably won't post it here cs it's a bit more personal, but writing things down is helpful for me to process things, and I really like this task, so thank you for suggesting it.
So while I didn't expect anything from them- their assumption went right to the worst intentions. It wasn't that maybe I was doing the best I could at the time, it was that I wasn't doing enough. I mentioned to my mother that, yes, at the time I didn't visit but I called Dad almost every day - to which she replied "calling isn't enough"!!

As Madeline7 said. She can't see me or my intentions. She sees her projected feelings.
Yep. This resonates.
My mother does have this image of herself of giving her all to people, of being completely selfless
I relate to this too.  My mom does have this image of herself.  She believes she sacrificed so much for so many people, but it's pretty distorted.  She also reports she "played Volleyball" on the school team, and "sang in the choir", but it's always been a hush hush family joke that she couldn't set or bump a ball to save her life (she would duck or run away), or carry anything resembling a tune...I suspect these disortions of how great they were are a survival mechanism to fill the emptiness inside of them...

Now she's 110% waif.  She doesn't tell those stories any more.

Love for my mom is measured by how much you are willing to do for her, or give to her, or buy her... Her other measures of love are pretty messed up.  After my dad died, she met a new boyfriend.  When she introduced us at her house the first time (she and bf were in their 70's), she said "now you two hug each other).  Uh - what?  Who says that? 

Another time when H and I declined a cheque from her, she couldn't see that we wanted to earn our own way independently and feel pride for that (we were newlyweds).  She took it as personal rejection that we didn't love her.  It was intense, and her emotions stayed dysregulated for a VERY long time.

Thanks again for your suggestion Zachira.





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Notwendy
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« Reply #12 on: January 26, 2023, 06:21:24 AM »


Love for my mom is measured by how much you are willing to do for her, or give to her, or buy her...

With my mother, there's an added element of servitude. It's not just that you do something for her, it's that you obey her every command and do things exactly as she orders you to do them. And you do not dare question why she wants you to do something in a specific way. You have to be "below" in some way and she needs to be superior to you. There's an element of humiliation to this and it feels emotionally abusive. She claims we "don't want to help her" but agreeing to do something for her becomes a form of control and emotional abuse on her part.

And she does not "do for others". That is being lower to her.

She does not embrace the idea or image of being self sacrificing. While I think she's predominantly BPD, due to her other self destructive behaviors and meeting most of he criteria, she's also got an NPD element to her.

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zachira
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« Reply #13 on: January 26, 2023, 09:30:45 AM »

Methuen,
I am glad my suggestion is helpful. I am wondering if you might consider for every thought you have about your mother practicing thinking of what you did/do or would do in similar situations. For example: This is how my mother treats me. This is how I treat my children. I feel that having the kind ear of my therapist (who moved out of town a few years ago) for so many years, really helped me to start to differentiate from my family. She was the first person who really believed me and reinforced my growth, unlike my disordered family members who do everything to stunt my growth and punish me for being a person in my own right. My therapist really believed in Murray Bowen's work who I believe invented the term "differentiation". You might want to google "differentiation" to learn about how people become differentiated. It seems your main challenge is to emotionally disengage from your mother and I empathize with you in this. I have spent nearly my whole life emotionally dysregulated most of the time, and not understanding why I was either depressed, anxious, or angry most of the time. You on the other hand, seem to have had it together in ways I never did: by marrying a generous man, having loving relationships with your children, and being so well liked at your job that they rehired you when you wanted to return to work. I am wondering how you did all this with the mother you have, as I was never able to accomplish any of these things because I was too damaged, and now it is too late. I now have loving relationships with different children and a few close wonderful friends, some who have loving relationships with their spouses and children and who have been very successful professionally. I also have a friend who has spent many years living in her truck during the cold snowy winters, who has so much strength in rising about her dysfunctional family while she lives in poverty, and is an exceptionally fine person despite all the hardships she has endured. I do think life is going to get so much better for you, as you continue to emotionally disengage from your mother. You are far from alone in working hard on emotionally disengaging from abusive family members. I am still angry and depressed at times, though the feeling good moments now far out way the really unsettling times. Keep up the good work! It takes a lot of courage to keep looking for answers and ways to heal, and you will get there. The road to recovery is a long one and life long in some ways, as having a mother with BPD is a life long sorrow.
« Last Edit: January 26, 2023, 09:51:51 AM by zachira » Logged

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« Reply #14 on: January 28, 2023, 06:48:32 PM »

I think Zachira that I have made progress on differentiating from my mom, especially in the past 2 years, but it continues to be a work in progress.
You on the other hand, seem to have had it together in ways I never did... I am wondering how you did all this with the mother you have, as I was never able to accomplish any of these things because I was too damaged, and now it is too late. I now have loving relationships with different children and a few close wonderful friends, some who have loving relationships with their spouses and children and who have been very successful professionally...I am still angry and depressed at times, though the feeling good moments now far out way the really unsettling times...The road to recovery is a long one and life long in some ways, as having a mother with BPD is a life long sorrow.
How I did this you ask?  I think landing myself a kind husband comes down to two things: I had a gem of a dad, and good luck that my H was the first person who seriously pursued me. Prior to that, nobody was interested, and neither was I.  My dad gave me a baseline of good human behavior.  I guess that was luck too.  But my dad and my H had a lot in common.

As for the now it is to late comment, I get where you are coming from Zachira.  We can't turn back the clock and have a re-do on life.  But too late?  You seem to be finding value in life in many different ways.  You have friends and community, and you post a ton here - helping person after person after person.  If it was too late, perhaps you would be a drug addict or homeless or worse, but even for people in that situation it's never too late because there are all kinds of success stories about recoveries - if we listen for them.  Maybe it's too late for things from the past - like having your own children, but you have found other ways to enjoy children right?  Didn't you work with children in your career in some capacity?  Helping them?  And didn't some of them find ways to show you that you made a big difference in their life?  I remember some past post where you spoke about your work, and you were a big difference maker.  And those kids let you know it.  Not many people get to be a difference maker for kids.  And I believe it's never too late for the future, and I know you have done a ton of hard work on yourself to be the person you want to be.  That puts you on a very high pedestal in my books, and the books of many people on this forum, and probably on the books of "normal" people who know you, and know the mountains you've had to climb...

I am so thankful to hear that your good moments now outweigh the bad moments.  

You are a true role model of all that can be overcome.

I on the other hand, simply had a bit more good luck.  Nothing to admire there.
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« Reply #15 on: January 28, 2023, 08:46:43 PM »

Methuen,
It has been known for some time that a person with insecure attachment can marry a person with secure attachment and develop secure attachment through the role modeling of the healthy spouse. It sounds like this is what happened to you. Your husband surely saw a lot of good in you. My father was not as disordered as my mother, and kind to me at times, which has made a difference.
As far as it being too late, I so much want to help others to not spend so many years in a deep fog feeling unloved and at times acting in the disordered ways my family members programed me to behave. I do feel lucky to have been able to help children and teenagers, and to be able to help people here. I appreciate all your support and recognition. I really appreciate that you took the time to understand how beseiged I am by having so many family members and flying monkeys still abusing me, though I am not taking what they do as personally as I used to. I am feeling lighter and happier these days most of the time, though know the abuses will never likely end as I can only go low contact with most of the family and their flying monkeys, as there are so many of them, like close to a hundred people.
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Riv3rW0lf
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Gender: Female
What is your sexual orientation: Confidential
Who in your life has "personality" issues: Parent
Relationship status: Estranged; Complicated
Posts: 1056



« Reply #16 on: January 29, 2023, 06:01:44 AM »

zacchira,

I just wanted to echoe Methuen's words here, about it never being too late. My stepmother told me recently the story of a 100years old woman who was asked how she felt about the fact she had reached 100years old. And how the woman answered: I don't really care, 100 years old or younger, I am still passionate about life and this is what matters.

This woman is still trying out new things, every day...

Also, I worked for many years with elders, and I remember one one particular who found love in her 80s. (Ok it didn't end very well, but what matter, to me, wasn't the ending, it was her ability to, in her 80s, still fall in love and act like a teenager! She was an amazing person and taught me a lot about resiliency.)

Life is ups and downs, sometimes I wake up angry and unavailable and no amount of workouts and meditation will help. There are just days where I feel heavy about it all. Like you though, most days, I feel in control, and maybe not happy, but at peace and driven, and passionate about trying out new things.

I don't think this passion every goes away with time, unless we let it.

I know, from many of your posts here, that you are still curious about life, and working on making it better, and I do believe that when someone spends so much time putting so much good in the world, this good comes back, under one form or another.

 Virtual hug (click to insert in post)

Also, like Methuen, I was lucky enough to be serenaded by a man who had healthy attachment, and this is how I was able to develop it before I had children. I still remember how he actually unnerved me at first, likely because he didn't fit what I expected from people and didn't allow me to relive my trauma. He grew on me over time and I still have no idea why he stayed put and kept trying.

I have great admiration for you, who found your own way through therapy and other tools. I think, without H, this would have taken me a lot more time...I was so very dysregulated. All our paths are different, and intertwined, and we are all learning different things in this life... In the end, I firmly believe what truly matters is the state of our heart/soul, our passion, courage and the good we put out in the world. Maybe it is easy for me to say on account of being "so young", but still... I don't think it is ever too late, and I don't think you should regret anything. It was your journey, it is your story, and it is both filled with pain and joy... Being married, having children, it's one path, but it is not the only one leading to peace. 

You know all that, still, I wanted to put it out there.  With affection (click to insert in post)
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