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Mourning the loss of a parent who's alive...Please help

post #1 of 32
Thread Starter 

I am going to try to make this short because it's a very painful subject but I need some sound advice.Forgive me for being all over the place. I'm trying to make this as short as possible.  My mother has always been emotionally abusive and extremely manipulative. For most of my childhood and a large part of my adult like I was the caretaker to a mother who exaggerated her health conditions to keep me in line and around (writing this makes me realize how much my mother and MIL are alike). My mother and I have had a very on and off relationship the past 6 years or so. She's lied about me and defended a brother who physically assaulted me (choked me until I passed out and threatened to murder me). He unplugged my phone, took my house key...She told the police I had a history of mental issues and basically begged them not to arrest my brother. I was very proactive in pressing charges against him and getting a restraining order even though my mother begged me not to do it. For the record, he admitted what he did to her but says I provoked it. My mother supported my brother through this entire deal and still does today to some extent. Shortly after this occured my mother was hospitalized. She told me to come visit her one day (she lives in NY but about an 1.5 hour train ride away).When I got there with my then boyfriend (now DH) I was refused entry into her home because the brother who attacked me was there and said he did not feel comfortable around me. My mother doesn't invite me to family events. When I got engaged to DH she was extremely supportive and even helped pay for the lions share of our wedding. When I foundout I was pregnant she was super supportive and even came to the hospital when DD was born. I've tried to maintain a semblance of a relationship with my mother even when it's been painful for me but truthfully, I can't do it anymore. It's too exhausting and too painful. She calls to check on her granddaughter and asks about seeing her. I don't want her in my home. I've offered to meet her someplace so she can see DD but she always has an excuse. It's taken me years but I get it. My mother only wants me around when it's convenient for her and her own terms. She does not care for me. She's not a loving mother. Her terms no longer work for me. Dealing with her is draining emotionally and physically.

 

My mother has pitted my siblings and my entire family against me. I've been to several different therapists who have all offered the same advice..."leave your mother alone." Recently, I was invited to a family baby shower for an uncle of mine I've always been close to. Since the assault his contact with me has been here and there with me. Oh, for the record , he and my mother think it's my duty to make things right with my brother. I won't. I have nothing to make right. Anyway, I was sent an evite to teh shower and RSVP'ed. I though an olive branch was being extended to me and I was happy to support my Uncle (not sure why because he hasn't exactly supported me) and his new wife. After RSVP'ing to the invite I was sent an email from the host of the shower (MY MOTHER) asking me to please not come because my siblings don't want to see me.

 

I've had it. I want nothing to do with her. I don't want to talk to her. I don't wan't birthday cards from her and I don't want her sending my child anything. I blame myself for allowing this kind of treatment to go on for so long. While I know this is the right thing to do, it hasn't been easy. Any advice on mourning the loss of a parent who's alive but who I no longer want in my life and can't have in my life for my own well being?

post #2 of 32

Lots of hugs.  I don't have any good advice, but I couldn't read without posting a reply.  I'd walk away, make a new support system with healthy and sane friends and your husband and kids.  I haven't been through it myself, though DH and I have mildly toxic families and the only way to keep our sanity is very strong and clear boundaries.

post #3 of 32

((hugs))  It's going to be hard, but after awhile, the pain will subside.  She's never going to give you what you want and it seems like she just belittles you when she does see you.  Support yourself.  Be the person for yourself that you wish she'd be for you.  Love yourself and don't allow people around you who make you feel bad. 

 

Mourn it like a real death.  What if she got sick tomorrow?  Would you go to her?  YOu need to decide that as well.  My own mother disowned her parents and it was very difficult for her when her father got lung cancer.  She said that she wasn't going to be a hippocrit.  He was dead to her long before and she wasn't going to let illness change anything.  I think in the end, she was happy with her decision.  I"m estranged from my brother and it hurts as well.  I really just try to put it out of my mind.  In my mind, I wish the best for him, but I have to put my own family first and that means that I cannot waste energy worrying about him and his issues. 

 

I think you should let her know, without a doubt, what your plans are in regards to her. Write her a letter telling her to cease all contact with you and your family.  Don't be too wordy about it and maybe have a counselor help you to write it. You probably should be distant with everyone who associates with her.  Let your friends become your family.  Have dinner with your friends and call them just to chit-chat. 

post #4 of 32

I didn't want to read and not post.  BTDT, bought the t-shirt.  My life is so much better when I don't talk to my mother.  Sometimes you just need to let them go.

post #5 of 32

Well, I think recognizing that you do need to mourn and that it's healthy to do so gives you a really big leg up.

 

I wouldn't try to have contact with her, or vent to her, not at this fragile point.  She is incapable of rational thought, and has proven that she can't handle anything that challenges her fantasy world.  When everything is so raw, it's hard to deal with that cognitive dissonance, so I would advise you to set a specific period of no contact (3 months?  6 months?) that you share only with people who support you (DH, friends, ect.).  Then abide by that.  Don't call her.  If she calls you, don't take it.  Block her email.  Beg off family events, but by all means, send a nice card and gifts if you wish.

 

During that time, I cannot recommend strongly enough finding a good counselor--there are many who specialize in helping adult children of abusive parents work through their grief.  If you give yourself permission to use that time to really work through things--and it will be effing hard, let me warn you--then IF you decide to allow some limited contact with your mom or the rest of the family, you will have built a trusting therapeutic relationship with the therapist, who can assist you as you set up structure and boundaries around that.

 

I'm sure you will get many book recommendations--one of my favorites is called Mothering Without A Map.  While it is primarily about trying to mother when your mother was absent (death, abandonment, illness that required the child caretaking, neglect, abuse), it helped push me a bit to process/work through and give myself permission to grieve while still moving foraward in my life.  Unfortunately I gave away my copy awhile ago--but I'm sure a quick search will turn up the author's name.

 

It sounds like you know that cutting your mother out of your life is not the end of the story.  It's just the beginning.  I am so proud of you for taking this step.

post #6 of 32

I recently had to cut my bio father out of my life because of his toxic behavior.  I empathize.  It is really hard to resist the urge to just let him back in, he is my father after all.  It's been especially difficult this week, as my grandfather is dying.  But I know that this is what is best for me and my family, so he can't hurt us anymore.  The last time we spoke, he made physical threats to my husband, I can't have that in my life.

 

Just know that I know where you're coming from.

post #7 of 32

As you read in my threading in parenting (about the rude 7 yo and my MIL) I am taking MIL out of my life.  Actually, just the decision alone has been like a huge weight being lifted off.  However, I also need to take my father out since all my feelings that I am not good enough and never will be stem from him.  My constant apology for who I am stems for how he has treated me.   I haven't taken him out yet because of my mom.  I love her and she has choosen him over her own grandchildren and this pains me so much.  But that is her choice and I have to make my choices. 

 

I will take the idea of grieving like a real death.  thank you. 

 

I am in the process of making my life my life no apologies, no being what people want me to be, no blinding perfectionism, but a messy organic, heart and joy filled life.  With my heart I will grieve and hopefully the joy will fill it back up again. 

 

hug.gif Mama.  I'm here with you making the same decisions.  But I really feel it's the better one way to go. 

post #8 of 32

BTDT

 

I think you need to grieve, but I think you need to realize that your loss is really different from the loss of a functioning, healthy parent who dies.  Children of abusive parents suffer losses of stuff that children of healthy, loving parents take for granted.

 

You're losing your whole family, not just a parent. You're losing the knowledge/hope that your family loves and supports you. You're using the hope that your mother loves you and will protect you. You're losing the hope that you are always safe with your mother, that she will be the one person who is always on your side. You're losing the grandparent/grandchild relationship.  Those things are things that should be yours by right. (They belong to every child by right.) 

 

Some of the other things you might have lost because of abuse/neglect:

 

 

Loss of cognitive focus

Loss of educational opportunties

Loss of vocational opportunities

Loss of a sense of wholeness

Loss of early attachment relationships

Loss of safe space

Loss of safe and trusting relationships

Loss of ability to self-protect

Loss of place in community

Loss of institutional trust

Loss of the good self

Loss of coherence between adult identity and child identity

Loss of adequate adult role models

Loss of realistic self-image

Loss of conflict resolution skills

Loss of skills needed to create and maintain friendships

Loss of a healthy sexual identity

Loss of psychological health

Loss of physical health

Loss of adequate parenting skills

Loss of moral and ethical clarity

 

When you know what your losses are, you'll probably find that they are deeper and more damaging that just the loss of a parent.

 

At the same time, it's a complicated thing because you might still love your mother or want to love her. In the middle of some big crisis with my mother, I looked across the room at her and thought "My beautiful mother."  I was remembering how I felt about her when I was 3. The loss of "my beautiful mother" was a terrible grief, even if she was an abusive, alcoholic monster by the time she died.  I loved her. I just didn't love everything she did. My inability to maintain a relationship with her was a terrible loss. I felt like a failure because I couldn't make it work. 

 

It's awful. I'm sorry. Therapy or a support group might help you process the loss.

 

Reading material:   http://www.sanctuaryweb.com/Documents/Grief%20That%20Dares%20Not%20Part%20II.pdf

 

http://www.sanctuaryweb.com/Documents/Grief%20That%20Dares%20Not%20Part%20I.pdf

post #9 of 32

I was in your shoes about 14 years ago.  I "divorced" my mother, and lost my relationships with that whole side of my family because of it.  But even so, it was the ony sane choice I could have made. 

 

I highly recommend the book, Toxic Parents by Dr. Susan Forward.  Really good stuff.

 

You DO have to grieve.  The loss is real.  And you have to process those emotions. 

 

Good luck.  Stay strong.  Treat yourself well.

post #10 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Breathless Wonder View Post

I didn't want to read and not post.  BTDT, bought the t-shirt.  My life is so much better when I don't talk to my mother.  Sometimes you just need to let them go.


Ditto!! I still love my mom, even though she's toxic, but my life is SO much more peaceful when she is not in it!! It is extremely hard and gut wrenching at first, but it does get easier, best of luck to you!!

post #11 of 32
Thread Starter 

Wow. I am sorry so many people are going through or have been what I'm going through. All of your responses and resource recommendations are so helpful and have made me feel better.It's been a rough week. I've gone from feeling angry, hurt and sad to just feeling like a weight has been lifted. It changes sometimes from the hour.

 

I have the Susan Forward book on hold. Out of all the books I put on hold at the library, it has the LONGEST wait list. I am reading her book Emotional Blackmail until I can get it.

 

I decided I have to worry less about my mothers actions and more about not repeating what she's done to my owndaughter. It's a great fear of mine. I'll also put mothering without maps on hold at the library too. I just don't want to have regrets. I've beendealing with the manipulation for so long that doing something good for my me and my family (DH and DD) makes me feel guilty like what kind of a person divorces their own mother then I have to remind myself it's up to me and only me to make sure I surround myself with healthypeople.

 

My mother called me today and I so wanted to pick up the phone but doing so would just allow the dysfunction to continue. I don't think not dealing with her can be anymore painful than dealing with her. When I feel sad I think of the things she's done and it reminds me that I have to surround myself with positive people. It's hard with the holidays but I'mfortunate to have DH and DD to concentrate on.

 

Thanks so much everyone. I hope everyone has a loving and peaceful holiday tomorrow.I'm running lots of errands and doing a lot of nothing to take my mind off of things.

 

post #12 of 32
Couldn't read this and not respond. So many hugs, mama. Choosing to sever contact with a parent (or in my case, both parents) is an agonizing thing that people who haven't been there will never fully understand. We are wired from birth to love our parents. When they don't love us back, it's absolutely devastating and we can spend years, decades, a whole lifetime trying to make them love us anyway. That early infant programming to love our parents in order to survive dies hard.

Something that might help you to realize is your mother is incapable of loving you the way you deserve to be loved. Her rejection of you is in no way indicative of some inherent flaw you have. You are not defective. You are not broken. You just had the misfortune to be born to a mother who is.

Realizing that it's not you, YOU are not the sole problem, no matter how much the rest of the dysfunctional family bands together and insists that you are (to protect their own delusions about the family's health and character), is a huge first step, one that many people never achieve. In a normal family, when one person is at odds with just about everyone in it, the chances are good that the problem is with that one person. In a toxic abusive family, abusers and their victims close ranks against the one who speaks out and tries to escape the cycle; they do it as a means of preserving their own fantasies and self-image, and because it allows them to easily continue their abuse. After all, if they accept that gbailey was abused by her brother and mother, then that means they have to accept that they stood idly by and let it happen. Worse, they supported abusers and blamed the victim when they should have scorned the abusers and helped the victim! No, it's so much easier to continue blaming gbailey and pretending that the abuse didn't happen, or was deserved, or was no big deal, or will just "blow over" if gbailey will only get over it and stop holding a grudge.

You deserve to be loved and treated with respect, and it sounds like you know this. So that's huge. But getting over the loss of a birth parent--especially one who is still alive--is excruciating and I don't know of any easy answers. I went no-contact with my abusive bioparents almost two years ago, and it still hurts every day. My baby brother stopped speaking to me when I cut them off and continues to ignore my attempts to reach out to him. The entire extended family, save my maternal grandparents and one sister, no longer speak to me. It's like there's a huge sucking hole in my chest and I'm not sure that it will ever fully heal.

But I can tell you that since deciding to let my parents go, I'm happier, stronger, healthier, and more ALIVE than I've ever been. The emotional vampirism, crazymaking, gaslighting (rewriting history to make me doubt my own sanity), abuse, and other dysfunctions are over. I don't live in this haze of fear and self-loathing anymore. My self-destructive habits and self-sabotage have all but vanished. I actually look forward to getting up every morning! There really is a light at the end of the tunnel, and it's not a train this time. love.gif

I strongly encourage you to find a therapist who specializes in dealing with survivors of child abuse and PTSD. Find someone who will support you on this journey. If your therapist tells you that you need to forgive them to heal, or that you have to stay in contact because "they're faaaaaamily!", run! Find someone else who knows what they're talking about, who understands that no abuse victim should be forced to remain in contact with her abuser even if they happen to share DNA. You don't have to go through this alone.

hug.gifhug.gifhug.gif
post #13 of 32

I decided 11 years ago that my mother would no longer abuse me. It was hard to draw the proper boundaries at first, to stop allowing myself to be drawn in by her manipulation...only to be left feeling deeply hurt by her.

 

But 4 years ago, when my son was diagnosed with a brain tumor, she blamed me for not doing something sooner (our pediatrician dismissed our concerns...she knew the story). She didn't come support me, or my son. That's when she really died for me.

 

I think we know when we've had enough, and most importantly, when we have enough personal power to end the abuse. Best wishes to you. It won't be easy, but you won't regret healing...I didn't. 

post #14 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by gbailey View Post

She calls to check on her granddaughter and asks about seeing her. I don't want her in my home. I've offered to meet her someplace so she can see DD but she always has an excuse. It's taken me years but I get it. My mother only wants me around when it's convenient for her and her own terms. She does not care for me. She's not a loving mother. Her terms no longer work for me. Dealing with her is draining emotionally and physically.



This struck for me and hit a personal growth nerve, especially. I remember a few years ago, my only grandparent asked me "When will you bring those babies to come to Christmas?"

 

I replied: "Christmas isn't really our thing, and we don't care to come"

 

Her: "Christmas isn't about what you want to do, it's about the family!"

 

Me: "Nonetheless, would you like to visit my children during the springtime?"

 

Her: "Oh, I wish I could see those babies for the holiday".

 

This is paraphrased, as I said, it's been a few years...But that was the last time I spoke to her. Reading your thread is showing me how very toxic the conversation was in a new light...I knew it was ate up, but I hadn't thought about it in so long...Never has anyone extended themselves to actually know the real me and MY family, the one that I made. I decided a while ago that she has to be content with as many "family" gatherings as she DID get, that she doesn't have a right to make decisions about how I spend my holiday...she doesn't have a claim on my day. Ugh.

 

There are vastly deeper reasons why I don't need to go to their gathering in the first place...But I can't send you enough support. I find that by the time you cut contact, you've done the worst of your suffering, and after a few days/weeks, you realize that and your life just starts getting....BETTER. You start to realize that you were unhappy in ways you didn't understand. I'll occasionally reflect on a behavior I exhibited a few years ago, and think "Wow, I can't imagine being that (upset, reactive, reclusive, whatever) anymore". You will experience the same, I imagine, and you will LOVE it!

 

This is my first thanksgiving to just kick back at MY home, with food cooking in a casual way, the phone is NOT blowing up with anyone who we don't really want to hear from...we are not having any expectations of the day beyond hanging out together and being happy. We'll talk to the kids about history a bit, but mostly we're just using the sanctioned 'day off' of our various obligations to play catch up and spend some time being not high-strung. I cannot, for the life of me, even indulge the possibility of traveling far away to humor someone else's fantasy that I don't even care about! Whee!!!!!

post #15 of 32


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by RiverTam View Post

BTDT

 

I think you need to grieve, but I think you need to realize that your loss is really different from the loss of a functioning, healthy parent who dies.  Children of abusive parents suffer losses of stuff that children of healthy, loving parents take for granted.

 

You're losing your whole family, not just a parent. You're losing the knowledge/hope that your family loves and supports you. You're using the hope that your mother loves you and will protect you. You're losing the hope that you are always safe with your mother, that she will be the one person who is always on your side. You're losing the grandparent/grandchild relationship.  Those things are things that should be yours by right. (They belong to every child by right.) 

 

Some of the other things you might have lost because of abuse/neglect:

 

 

Loss of cognitive focus

Loss of educational opportunties

Loss of vocational opportunities

Loss of a sense of wholeness

Loss of early attachment relationships

Loss of safe space

Loss of safe and trusting relationships

Loss of ability to self-protect

Loss of place in community

Loss of institutional trust

Loss of the good self

Loss of coherence between adult identity and child identity

Loss of adequate adult role models

Loss of realistic self-image

Loss of conflict resolution skills

Loss of skills needed to create and maintain friendships

Loss of a healthy sexual identity

Loss of psychological health

Loss of physical health

Loss of adequate parenting skills

Loss of moral and ethical clarity

 

When you know what your losses are, you'll probably find that they are deeper and more damaging that just the loss of a parent.

 

At the same time, it's a complicated thing because you might still love your mother or want to love her. In the middle of some big crisis with my mother, I looked across the room at her and thought "My beautiful mother."  I was remembering how I felt about her when I was 3. The loss of "my beautiful mother" was a terrible grief, even if she was an abusive, alcoholic monster by the time she died.  I loved her. I just didn't love everything she did. My inability to maintain a relationship with her was a terrible loss. I felt like a failure because I couldn't make it work. 

 

It's awful. I'm sorry. Therapy or a support group might help you process the loss.

 

Reading material:   http://www.sanctuaryweb.com/Documents/Grief%20That%20Dares%20Not%20Part%20II.pdf

 

http://www.sanctuaryweb.com/Documents/Grief%20That%20Dares%20Not%20Part%20I.pdf


Wow, profound post.

post #16 of 32

(Hugs)gbailey, I cut ties with my parents too.  I was hurting a lot yesterday because of the holidays.  Even though I know really it was a good decision.  I have to protect myself. 

post #17 of 32

gbailey, I couldn't read and not post. I don't have any great advice (except that you should avoid calling her and telling her that you're cutting off contact, as that will just "stir the pot"), but I couldn't read and not respond. As the child of two alcoholics, I understand the pain of losing a parent. My parents are both still alive, but toxic, and I keep them very much at arm's length. I hope that you find a way to work through this that protects YOU. heartbeat.gif

post #18 of 32

You are doing what is best for you. It is necessary that you protect yourself and your child from abuse. It is hard, but you will feel better.hug2.gif

post #19 of 32
Thread Starter 

Thank you to everyone who posted. I wish we all could have healthy relationships with our parents and other loved ones and not have to go through the pain of having to cut ties with people we love. I'm taking everyone's advice to heart. I've decided, at this time, not to contact my mother to let her know of my plans. At this point it would be running in circles with her and I'd be the one trying to catch my breath. I didn't imagine how difficult it would be but it has. However, I'm realizing I have strength I didn't know I have. Looking at my daughter is a reminder of why this is so important. I don't want to repeat the cycle of dysfunction and want to continue raising my daughter in a healthy way. I'm afraid continuing the abuse with my mother will signal to my DD that this kind of twisted stuff is the norm.
 

This thread has been the best help to me all week because when I feel sad I come back and read what was posted. Rivertam, those links you provided were great. Thank you!

 

I have Toxic Parents on hold at the library.

 

I've spent a large part of my life feeling bad for wanting to protect myself from my "family."  

post #20 of 32
Thread Starter 

Hugs to you mama! I read the book Toxic In Laws this weekend by Susan Forward and I strongly recommend it. We'll be fine as we make the changes we need in our lives in order to be happier, healthier people. It won't be easy but we'll do it!

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by beezer75 View Post

As you read in my threading in parenting (about the rude 7 yo and my MIL) I am taking MIL out of my life.  Actually, just the decision alone has been like a huge weight being lifted off.  However, I also need to take my father out since all my feelings that I am not good enough and never will be stem from him.  My constant apology for who I am stems for how he has treated me.   I haven't taken him out yet because of my mom.  I love her and she has choosen him over her own grandchildren and this pains me so much.  But that is her choice and I have to make my choices. 

 

I will take the idea of grieving like a real death.  thank you. 

 

I am in the process of making my life my life no apologies, no being what people want me to be, no blinding perfectionism, but a messy organic, heart and joy filled life.  With my heart I will grieve and hopefully the joy will fill it back up again. 

 

hug.gif Mama.  I'm here with you making the same decisions.  But I really feel it's the better one way to go. 



 



Quote:
Originally Posted by peainthepod View Post

Couldn't read this and not respond. So many hugs, mama. Choosing to sever contact with a parent (or in my case, both parents) is an agonizing thing that people who haven't been there will never fully understand. We are wired from birth to love our parents. When they don't love us back, it's absolutely devastating and we can spend years, decades, a whole lifetime trying to make them love us anyway. That early infant programming to love our parents in order to survive dies hard.

Something that might help you to realize is your mother is incapable of loving you the way you deserve to be loved. Her rejection of you is in no way indicative of some inherent flaw you have. You are not defective. You are not broken. You just had the misfortune to be born to a mother who is.

Realizing that it's not you, YOU are not the sole problem, no matter how much the rest of the dysfunctional family bands together and insists that you are (to protect their own delusions about the family's health and character), is a huge first step, one that many people never achieve. In a normal family, when one person is at odds with just about everyone in it, the chances are good that the problem is with that one person. In a toxic abusive family, abusers and their victims close ranks against the one who speaks out and tries to escape the cycle; they do it as a means of preserving their own fantasies and self-image, and because it allows them to easily continue their abuse. After all, if they accept that gbailey was abused by her brother and mother, then that means they have to accept that they stood idly by and let it happen. Worse, they supported abusers and blamed the victim when they should have scorned the abusers and helped the victim! No, it's so much easier to continue blaming gbailey and pretending that the abuse didn't happen, or was deserved, or was no big deal, or will just "blow over" if gbailey will only get over it and stop holding a grudge.


You deserve to be loved and treated with respect, and it sounds like you know this. So that's huge. But getting over the loss of a birth parent--especially one who is still alive--is excruciating and I don't know of any easy answers. I went no-contact with my abusive bioparents almost two years ago, and it still hurts every day. My baby brother stopped speaking to me when I cut them off and continues to ignore my attempts to reach out to him. The entire extended family, save my maternal grandparents and one sister, no longer speak to me. It's like there's a huge sucking hole in my chest and I'm not sure that it will ever fully heal.

But I can tell you that since deciding to let my parents go, I'm happier, stronger, healthier, and more ALIVE than I've ever been. The emotional vampirism, crazymaking, gaslighting (rewriting history to make me doubt my own sanity), abuse, and other dysfunctions are over. I don't live in this haze of fear and self-loathing anymore. My self-destructive habits and self-sabotage have all but vanished. I actually look forward to getting up every morning! There really is a light at the end of the tunnel, and it's not a train this time. love.gif

I strongly encourage you to find a therapist who specializes in dealing with survivors of child abuse and PTSD. Find someone who will support you on this journey. If your therapist tells you that you need to forgive them to heal, or that you have to stay in contact because "they're faaaaaamily!", run! Find someone else who knows what they're talking about, who understands that no abuse victim should be forced to remain in contact with her abuser even if they happen to share DNA. You don't have to go through this alone.

hug.gifhug.gifhug.gif


Your post really resonated with me. Deeply resonated with me. Thank you! I've spent a great deal of my life being told something was wrong with me for questioning things that were done to me. What you described are my relatives from my mother to sister to aunts and uncles. I've also questioned whether or not something was wrong with me.

 

You are right, the pain is excruciating. This week I've had everything from chest pains to stomach aches. It's not easy but I can do this. Your post really spoke to me and gave me a jolt of strength I needed today. Thank you.

 

I think the extended family who no longer speak to you are really missing out. 



 

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