When I emailed my mother a letter yesterday severing ties for a six-month period, I added a line at the bottom that said :it is acceptable for you to acknowledge receipt of this email. I didn’t want any loopholes like her saying that she never got the email. I wanted proof so that if she broke the rules I would have her acknowledgement showing she knows better. So, I was expecting a reply. My hope was that it would be a simple “ok” and of course I should’ve known better. Before I go into her reply, I feel that I should say that my therapist at first thought that I would need to give my mother the reasons why I was cutting off contact and normally I would agree ao we kind of role-played what I would say and how my mother would respond. In the book Toxic Parents which I have owned for several years and my therapist highly recommends, it goes into the inevitable “confrontation” and the fallout from that and how to handle that. One of the ways to handle what happens if the don’t change or acknowledge anything or if they harass you or are aggressive, is to cut off contact. I told my therapist that I already had a confrontation with my mother. In fact this has happened several times since I’ve been an adult. I wanted to get things out in the open, it didn’t work. My mother’s entire argument is: “You were always overly sensitive as a child”, “What I did was not abuse, it’s part of our culture”, “You’ve been around people who call things like that abuse”, “I only hit you as an insult I didn’t physically damage you” (the italic stress is the way she actually said that sentence verbatim). Every time I tried to talk about it and how I felt about it she used that exact reasoning consistently. So, when my therapist and I were role-playing I told her what my mother would say because this is what she always says. My therapist then agreed that there was no point in going there again and I should just send the letter. She encouraged me to read the section in Toxic Parents about severing contact, which I did.
Fast-forward to today. I sent the letter yesterday and got no response until this morning. I woke up checked my email and say she had written back and I’m hoping that it’s just a ‘ok I got your letter’ reply. Haha silly person. You know what’s interesting? She didn’t say much, the reply was relatively short, but what she said had a surprising effect. She asked me (and I use the word “asked” loosely as the intent and sarcasm behind it were evident in the tone of the letter) she asked, were you told that it would be kind to tell a person what they did to you? She then went on to attack my marriage and say that my husband and I had had “bad” problems that I had talked to her about and she and my step-father were the same as us. Now, I’m going to stop here and breakdown why this entire response is dumb but I’m going to leave the biggest one until last. My husband and I have been happily married for over 14 years, true every couple has problems and when I was trying to have a “normal” relationship with my mother, I used what I saw in movies and on T.V. which showed mothers and daughters talking about their husbands blah, blah, blah. I thought we were supposed to complain and gossip kind of and then laugh together and go shopping. What did I know!? Anyway, whatever problems my husband and I had weren’t “bad” at least nothing to compare to my parents. My husband has never raised a hand to me in his life and I’ve never raised a hand to him. We never cuss each other out and we never throw things, ever. So, her attacking my marriage was stupid, as it has nothing to do with this situation. Second, she mentioned her marriage problems with my step-father (in my last entry or so I mentioned that he left her for like a day) she put a lot of weight on why was I making their marital problems stop me from coming over. It was basically: you had bad marriage problems too so why are our marriage problems stopping you from coming over, you are just like us. Here’s the big point: I specifically said in my email letter that her recent marriage problems HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH MY DECISION TO CEASE CONTACT. I specifically said and I quote “This was going to happen before this most recent incidence…” I said that I had been working with my mental health support team ALL YEAR (nice way to put it right lol) to figure out HOW I wanted to convey this decision to her. She chose to ignore every word I said and put the blame on me and attack my marriage instead. Classic abuser behavior right? Ignore, attack and deflect. The sentence that got me the most though was when she asked if I knew that I was supposed to tell her what she did to me. After all the conversations we’ve had and all the arguments we’ve had about this since I’ve been an adult, how can she act like she doesn’t know what she did!? She knows exactly what I’m talking about. I know that she remembers those arguments because she’s brought them up from time-to-time saying things like ‘see everyone like us hits their kids’ etc. She knows. But it made me…I’m not sure if angry is the word. I was surprised at her audacity. I shouldn’t have been though, it’s classic. But I found it insulting to demean me by saying that she doesn’t know what she did and then for her to blame me for “not telling her”. Ha! I realized immediately that I had been baited. My instinct was to write back and tell her what she did , again. I stopped though and I grabbed Toxic Parents and re-read the section on confrontation. That was a good idea. I realized that if I allowed her to bait me and I responded, it would simply open up contact again. I would be breaking my own rule because I would write back to her saying what she did and she would write back to me denying it and using her normal excuses and then i would get upset and triggered and everything else and then, after I stopped laying on the floor in the fetal position, I would write another letter telling her not to contact me anymore. I played it out in my head and I knew instantly that that’s exactly what would happen, so I figured, why don’t skip all that crap and not answer her. Tada! Done. I didn’t reply. The last part of her message said she wouldn’t contact me again and that’s where I’m leaving it.
Whew… I gotta get out of this house for a while. I’m not telling my husband where I’m going because I want to be alone for a while.