When an abusive parent says “What did I do to you?”


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.

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About CimmarianInk

Abuse Survivor Diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder PTSD and Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) also known as Multiple Personalities
This entry was posted in Abilify, abuse, Alters, bipolar disorder, depersonalization, depression, derealization, DID, dissociation, dissociative fugue, dissociative identity disorder, Dreams, Family Relationships, fibromyalgia, headaches, Medication, Meds, Mental Health, Multiple Personalities, neglect, Psychiatric Drugs, Psychiatric medication, Psychiatry, PTSD, self-harm, Sexual Abuse, Social Security Disability, Therapy, Toxic Parents, Trauma, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to When an abusive parent says “What did I do to you?”

  1. roseroars says:

    That must have been difficult to do and difficult to read. I’d suggest playing Halo for the next several days.

    From time-to-time my mother says that I was “the experiment”, and that I didn’t come with a manual. Sweet, huh?

    It’s important that you are very aware of the cycle she has – “Ignore, attack and deflect”. I hope it gets easier for you over the next six months, but are you preparing what to do or say if she contacts you again?

    You did good.

    • CimmerianInk says:

      Lol! I think I will play Halo, good idea!
      Your mother is an evil b%$#@ You’re proof that awful people can’t stop their kids from becoming amazing, beautiful people no matter how much they try to crush them. Experiment my ass!
      My husband was wondering the same thing about her contacting me again. I told her very clearly in my letter that she was not to contact my husband unless their was a “real” emergency. My husband told me that after she wrote that email to me she called his cell phone behind my back asking him, what she did to me blah, blah, blah. He asked me if it was alright with me if he answered her question in a brief letter of his own. I said yes, with a few caveats. He got really, really angry that she acted like she doesn’t know what she did and he thinks that it’s a good idea to call her on it. He agrees with my reasons for not replying to her and he thinks that, because she’s actually slightly scared of him, that he should reply (she can’t control him and he stands up to her toe-to-toe every time). I don’t know what she was thinking calling him, he hates her. He feels like since she was dumb enough to call him he’ll give her an answer and then she can’t claim that she never knew why I did this etc. He showed me his email and he hasn’t sent it yet because he wanted his anger to cool down before he sent it. We both agreed that it should be very brief and that’s what he did. He basically said, you want to know what you did? You abused her throughout her entire childhood and you’ve done damage that’s affected the rest of her life. And if you don’t know what she’s talking about, think about how you treated her until you get it. We also agreed that we would show a united front and that he would instruct her that she is not to contact him either after she gets his email, that way it’s clear we’re together on this. I feel good about the way has gone now.

      As for you missy, how are YOU doing? Are you resting? Do you have a video game system close by so you can shoot things? How are you feeling?
      Hey, have you heard anything from CG? Did I miss that she was going to be away for a while or anything?

      • roseroars says:

        It’s important to show a united front and you know that you’ve done the best that you can at this point. That’s about all you can do much of the time. I know my parents will never recognize (out loud) what they did to my sister and I, and sometimes it feels that all I do is protect my boundaries from real or imagined threats, but it’s all I can do. It will have to do for now.

        I have been resting because I feel I’ve been run over. My family seems to think that if I am able to move at all I am totally recovered. Every day I remind them that it will be 6 weeks before I can lift over 6 pounds. They don’t listen, I let things pile up that I can’t do. Tough noogies on them. They were a bit better today, although there was some whining and gnashing of teeth. I tried to play a Gundam PS3 game today, but its not a very good game and I got frustrated. My husband ordered Bioshock for me because as I played the demo he said I looked totally lost and immersed in the game. I hope to lose several days playing it.

        CG will be back. She has a full-time job, and sometimes needs to regroup. Maybe I’ll send her an email in a few days and see how she is feeling if she hasn’t written by then.

      • CimmerianInk says:

        You’re right about the united front. I found out yesterday that my husband hadn’t listened to the whole voice message from my mother. After he had heard the first part of her rant he turned the message off and went to work on his letter to her. He told me that he decided to listen to the rest of it and he couldn’t believe how nuts she is. She thinks that I should be going to a therapist who is part of our religion because, get this, they would tell me that it’s not right to not see my own mother! HA! Just as a note, I read your post today about religion and I get you completely on that one! I have my own belief system and I never bring that here because I know how people feel about it and to be honest I don’t like the whole religion thing here in this place. I don’t mean stuff like you posted about today, that was you being honest and that’s what I want to see, so that’s absolutely fine. People can talk about religious issues, I only mean the whole “fanatic” thing and the dumb people who minimize abuse by saying the victim’s problem is they don’t “believe”. 😦 I want everyone to feel safe here and not to feel harassed or threatened. The only reason I wanted to say that first, is because I’m going to say that my mother is an idiot! I’ve already spoken to someone about her, several someone’s in fact, and I was told many times that I don’t have to see her at all. In fact, they think she’s nuts. Her abuse, the physical, verbal, neglect, etc. was and is against our religious beliefs. if I had told someone back then, they would have helped me but I was too scared. Classic right? So there you go. But the way she attacked us on my husband’s voicemail was crazy! He was so mad when he listen to her entire message. But what was good was that he and I went over his email and made sure we were as calm as we could be and we realiazed that the best way to do it was to keep his letter factual and brief. My therapist had talked about not making “you” statements, pointing the finger because that just makes people defensive, so he took most of that stuff out and instead of keeping all of his angry statements in the letter, he left the factual ones and pretty much told her that whatever she may believe about what she did to me, if she thinks that is was normal or minor, it caused life-altering damage to me. He told her that he and I are one person and we are both saying do not contact either one of us unless it’s an emergency. He sent it. We’re done. If she breaks the rules I’m going to extend the time period of six months and if she pushes me, the time will be extended to forever. Done and done.

        Now on to more important things, that being you 🙂 I know that families like to keep an eagle eye watch for movement so they can say “Hey, you’re up!” I’m glad you’re letting things pile up. Trust me, it’s better to let everything go and NOT lift anything more than a glass of water, than it is to try to do more than you should and get hurt. The world will not end if Lisa stays in bed resting! 🙂 Tough Noogies indeed! lol! Bioshock huh? Good for you and it’s very sweet that your husband ordered that for you! Have you ever played the Uncharted series? Drake’s Fortune or Uncharted 2? they’re only for the PS3 and the story and graphic were stellar.

        As for CG, I feel about her the way I feel about everyone who comes here or whose blogs I read. If I don’t hear from one of you for several days, either on your blogs or here I get worried that something’s happened to one of you.

      • roseroars says:

        I didn’t mean to sound like I was taking responsibility for CG. That was wrong of me. She did post today, so hop on over 🙂

        My mother has pulled the “honor your mother and father” thing on me a few times. That, and “I know you’re talking about me in therapy and blaming me for everything.”. Well, yeah…duh.

        Those “you” and “I” statements really make a difference. I even taught my kids how they can use them. I like to tell my husband “How are you supposed to begin every sentence? ‘I feel…’. Now be a good boy and start over.”. He usually laughs and says something incredibly vulgar.

        I have been agonizing over my feelings concerning religion in this healing process. I understand it’s a very important part of us, and that it can provide a backbone or guide. However, my blog is MY blog and I can write about any damn thing I want to. This morning I felt someone inside saying “You cannot take a shower until you write it out.”. So I did. This is your blog. You write what you want the way you want. I was actually surprised that (so far) I have received positive comments. But hey…it’s still early.

        I hope your mother doesn’t cross the line and you can relax and focus on your healing and learning more about yourself. If she does you and your husband have a plan in place. When I started to cut my parents off I was able to see how much anger, despair, pain, etc., I felt and begin to work on it. I haven’t gotten very far, though, because it scares me.

        Yes…Bioshock (stroking my cat menacingly)….soon it will be mine….. I’ll check out the Uncharted series and thank you for recommending it!

      • CimmerianInk says:

        I hopped over and said hi to CG so yay!
        And course you are so right, our blogs are OURS and we can say whatever we want! I don’t know what I would have done without mine. I would only have my journal still, which I still use but the blog format is so helpful. And, of course you got positive comments! You’re right and your feelings make perfect sense, they really do. I think that we all feel empathy for each other, it’s easier for us to put ourselves in the shoes of another person and see where they’re coming from. That’s why this community is so great!
        apparently my mother did cross the line, my husband called me this morning from work and I asked him if she had broken the rules and written back. i was expecting a “no” but he said she did. I couldn’t believe it! He refused to tell me the specifics of what she said, I asked for the gist of it and he didn’t want to say, so I asked if she said that I was lying and he said yes. He also said that she attacked more and blamed it on me being sick because I’m bipolar. Typical. He begged me not to go into his email and look at her message so I promised that I won’t and I will keep that promise. After hearing what she did though, I’m thinking about not only making the time period a full year but possibly making it forever. I think I’ll play a video game. And I have this hilarious picture in my mind of you being Dr. Evil from Austin Powers with your cat lol! 🙂

  2. castorgirl says:

    When reading about your and Lisa’s experiences, it makes me thankful that my father is so narcissistic, that when I told him I didn’t want any more contact with him, he just ignored me from that point on. I know that was part of his game playing, but I’d rather have that manipulation than what you both experience.

    Good on you and your husband for keeping up a united front. One of the first rules of manipulation is to try and divide and conquer… by showing the united front, you’ve shown that you don’t have secrets from each other (another way manipulators do their damage) and are willing to back each other up. She’ll probably still look for another avenue or approach, just to test both of your strengths on the issue, so be prepared and stay strong.

    Good work!!!

    Take care,
    CG
    PS. sorry to cause concern, I was at status “overwhelmed”, so was taking a bit of a break.

    • CimmerianInk says:

      Thank you and please don’t apologize, it just shows how much you mean to everyone that we wanted to make sure you were ok. 🙂 You deserve a break whenever you need one!

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