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#1 of 17 Old 01-01-2011, 11:05 AM - Thread Starter
 
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#2 of 17 Old 01-01-2011, 05:32 PM
 
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#3 of 17 Old 01-01-2011, 05:50 PM
 
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I'm so sorry for your pain. I was raised differently than you you, but with similar misgivings. When I became a mom it brought up a lot of hurt for the little girl I was. I love my kids so deeply and unconditionally, and having experienced that reality of parental love, I'm sad that no one ever loved me that way.

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#4 of 17 Old 01-01-2011, 05:58 PM
 
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#5 of 17 Old 01-01-2011, 07:04 PM
 
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Couldn't read and not hug.gif It sounds like we had very similar childhoodshug.gif

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#6 of 17 Old 01-02-2011, 05:27 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by septmommy View Post

I'm so sorry for your pain. I was raised differently than you you, but with similar misgivings. When I became a mom it brought up a lot of hurt for the little girl I was. I love my kids so deeply and unconditionally, and having experienced that reality of parental love, I'm sad that no one ever loved me that way.



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#7 of 17 Old 01-02-2011, 07:11 AM
 
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I'm sorry. I did feel loved as a child, so it's not the same, but I too see some things in a different light as a parent now. And this perspective makes me harder on my parents than I was, not less so. Even some things that I never even questioned at the time just seem... wrong to me now. And for me, it's unsettling because I always thought my mom was the perfect mom, and yet now I see these selfish things she did. I'm very glad you emerged without being an addict or a hater. It really made me wince to read that you were humiliated for your suicide attempt.


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#8 of 17 Old 01-02-2011, 07:50 AM - Thread Starter
 
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#9 of 17 Old 01-02-2011, 08:26 AM
 
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I should probably just change my username to "I recommend Toxic Parents by Susan Forward" but anyway... have you read it?

 

1) As a child, you were NOT responsible for protecting your mother. She was responsible for protecting you kids and herself. And of course, your father was entirely responsible for his actions as well. Can you work to let go of that responsibility that you put on yourself?

 

2) You have every right to feel resentful toward your father. And your mother, too. They did not do their jobs as parents. It's ok to be angry with them about it.

 

3) Only your father can change himself, but it is possible to change your reactions toward him so that you no longer feel as helpless.

 

4) Knowing this, realizing this, thinking about this helps you be a better parent and person. It may hurt to deal with this, but it's worthwhile.


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#10 of 17 Old 01-02-2011, 08:57 AM
 
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I commend you for breaking the cycle for yourself and your children. In your writing, I find you are very strong. 

 

I can relate completely... in my own experience. 

 

Being a mama and a wife now brings up a ton of abuse, neglect and just plain poor judgment and lack of protection that I received as a young person growing up, like yourself.  I feel angry towards my folks, no doubt. 

 

I have found, the negative energy (anger too) that comes when I think of my childhood (and it continues into adulthood) provides strength to be a stronger person and parent for my DS... these are true feelings that will always be a part of me... I try to find the positive and that right there makes me a better parent.  It hurts to know that I didn't get that chance as a child, the guidance and nurturing every child deserves.  Looking at my DS provides hope that will change, breaking the cycle, he will receive all my love and protection. 

 

I like what laohair posted, so very true.  Posting something like what she has written on your bathroom mirror, a vision board, somewhere you will see it often may help with the feelings you are going through.  Positive affirmations to help counter the thoughts that can cloud your mind.  I found a quote on someones post on MDC that I have up on my mirror that just makes me laugh..  "Damsel, definitely... in distress... not hardly"... love it! 

 

I struggle with not being able to "fix" things that my family has done to themselves over the years....  I was and always have been the "fixer" for my folks, really their parents... even to this day.  I finally learned when I had DS that I cannot help them (my folks) out of depression... finding a way to live and feel better...   It is a personal choice.

 

Off to find the book laohair posted about! 

 

Hugs to you.


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#11 of 17 Old 01-02-2011, 11:49 AM
 
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I have a little bit of a different take on this. It may seem obvious, but I think we do lose sight (or never really get it in our sights) that our parents are just people. Fallible, dealing with their own demons, struggling to mature and come into themselves, products of their own upbringings and victims of circumstance, same as you, me and everyone else. Because they are our parents, we expect them meet certain expectations, both in the moment and in hindsight. They're not always going to succeed. Your parents may have made some questionable decisions about how they raised you, and you don't have to approve of those decisions, either then or now. That's your prerogative. I do think it's important to place those decisions into context of the situation at the time and their intent. You say your dad abused many drugs, but still had a nice house and a good job, all the outward trappings of success. Perhaps he felt that letting his kids drink and smoke pot wasn't really the disservice society makes it out to be. After all, it did him no harm. All those PSAs which assured you that pot was the gateway drug to a life on the street as a junkie perhaps didn't ring true to him. (I'm not agreeing with your parents 'decision, btw, just trying to illustrate a possible context). 

 

Just chiming in with a slightly different outlook. It does sound like you've taken your upbringing and made it into a positive (ie, you are conscious of what you *don't* want to do with your kids).

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#12 of 17 Old 01-02-2011, 02:06 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Annie Mac View Post

I have a little bit of a different take on this. It may seem obvious, but I think we do lose sight (or never really get it in our sights) that our parents are just people. Fallible, dealing with their own demons, struggling to mature and come into themselves, products of their own upbringings and victims of circumstance, same as you, me and everyone else. Because they are our parents, we expect them meet certain expectations, both in the moment and in hindsight. They're not always going to succeed. Your parents may have made some questionable decisions about how they raised you, and you don't have to approve of those decisions, either then or now. That's your prerogative. I do think it's important to place those decisions into context of the situation at the time and their intent. You say your dad abused many drugs, but still had a nice house and a good job, all the outward trappings of success. Perhaps he felt that letting his kids drink and smoke pot wasn't really the disservice society makes it out to be. After all, it did him no harm. All those PSAs which assured you that pot was the gateway drug to a life on the street as a junkie perhaps didn't ring true to him. (I'm not agreeing with your parents 'decision, btw, just trying to illustrate a possible context). 

 

Just chiming in with a slightly different outlook. It does sound like you've taken your upbringing and made it into a positive (ie, you are conscious of what you *don't* want to do with your kids).


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Fantastic thoughts and I agree.  Thank you.


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#13 of 17 Old 01-02-2011, 03:00 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by Annie Mac View Post

I have a little bit of a different take on this. It may seem obvious, but I think we do lose sight (or never really get it in our sights) that our parents are just people. Fallible, dealing with their own demons, struggling to mature and come into themselves, products of their own upbringings and victims of circumstance, same as you, me and everyone else. Because they are our parents, we expect them meet certain expectations, both in the moment and in hindsight. They're not always going to succeed. Your parents may have made some questionable decisions about how they raised you, and you don't have to approve of those decisions, either then or now. That's your prerogative. I do think it's important to place those decisions into context of the situation at the time and their intent. You say your dad abused many drugs, but still had a nice house and a good job, all the outward trappings of success. Perhaps he felt that letting his kids drink and smoke pot wasn't really the disservice society makes it out to be. After all, it did him no harm. All those PSAs which assured you that pot was the gateway drug to a life on the street as a junkie perhaps didn't ring true to him. (I'm not agreeing with your parents 'decision, btw, just trying to illustrate a possible context). 

 

Just chiming in with a slightly different outlook. It does sound like you've taken your upbringing and made it into a positive (ie, you are conscious of what you *don't* want to do with your kids).



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#14 of 17 Old 01-02-2011, 04:18 PM
 
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Motherhood made me realize, with terrible clarity, just how abusive and awful my parents had been. There's a strong impulse to protect our parents from their own poor or callous (or even cruel) decisions. As children, we have an instinct to love them and cling to them no matter what. That instinct keeps us alive. But when the people who are supposed to love us unconditionally and protect us from harm...don't...it's confusing and potentially fatal to us. Instead of turning from them, as we would if we were healthy adults or peers, we have no choice but to rationalize the abuse. Being children, that means taking responsibility for it.

I want to echo laohaire's excellent post (and yes, Toxic Parents is a great book!):

You are not responsible for your father's abuse. It was not, is not, could not ever be your fault.

You are not responsible for your mother's inability and/or unwillingness to protect herself and her children from his abuse. It was not, is not, and could not ever be your fault.

You are not responsible for your parents' dysfunctional marriage, or their poor childrearing decisions, or their addictions, or their codependency. Those things were completely, and are completely, beyond your control.

You are not crazy, bad, evil, ungrateful, selfish, or petty for feeling anger about your parents' failings, or the abuse they inflicted upon you and each other. It would be very worrisome if you weren't angry, in fact. This anger is normal and may gradually give way to real, boiling-over rage. That's okay too. Let yourself feel it, and let yourself accept the reasons behind it. When it turns into grief, that's normal also, and healthy. No feelings you could possibly have are "bad" feelings. There's no such thing--only actions can be bad.

You don't need permission from your father to raise your children as you see fit. You don't need his approval. You're not obligated to listen to his drunken tirades. You don't have to answer the phone or the door, or emails. You don't owe him your life.

Lastly, while I do agree that it's valuable to remember that our parents were/are mere mortals, and were inevitably going to make mistakes, it is absolutely not okay to write off their abusive behaviors simply because they had a bad upbringing. Thanks to my parents, I had a wretched upbringing, and because of it I'm determined not to abuse my children. Not all abusers were abused; not all of the abused become abusers. Don't give them that out; don't let their rotten childhood somehow become "your problem". It isn't and all too often such reasoning is used to excuse the most egregious, unrepentant abusers from taking responsibility for their behavior.

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When a stupid man is doing something he is ashamed of, he always declares that it is his duty. --George Bernard Shaw

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#15 of 17 Old 01-03-2011, 07:54 AM - Thread Starter
 
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hug.gif

Motherhood made me realize, with terrible clarity, just how abusive and awful my parents had been. There's a strong impulse to protect our parents from their own poor or callous (or even cruel) decisions. As children, we have an instinct to love them and cling to them no matter what. That instinct keeps us alive. But when the people who are supposed to love us unconditionally and protect us from harm...don't...it's confusing and potentially fatal to us. Instead of turning from them, as we would if we were healthy adults or peers, we have no choice but to rationalize the abuse. Being children, that means taking responsibility for it.

I want to echo laohaire's excellent post (and yes, Toxic Parents is a great book!):

You are not responsible for your father's abuse. It was not, is not, could not ever be your fault.

You are not responsible for your mother's inability and/or unwillingness to protect herself and her children from his abuse. It was not, is not, and could not ever be your fault.

You are not responsible for your parents' dysfunctional marriage, or their poor childrearing decisions, or their addictions, or their codependency. Those things were completely, and are completely, beyond your control.

You are not crazy, bad, evil, ungrateful, selfish, or petty for feeling anger about your parents' failings, or the abuse they inflicted upon you and each other. It would be very worrisome if you weren't angry, in fact. This anger is normal and may gradually give way to real, boiling-over rage. That's okay too. Let yourself feel it, and let yourself accept the reasons behind it. When it turns into grief, that's normal also, and healthy. No feelings you could possibly have are "bad" feelings. There's no such thing--only actions can be bad.

You don't need permission from your father to raise your children as you see fit. You don't need his approval. You're not obligated to listen to his drunken tirades. You don't have to answer the phone or the door, or emails. You don't owe him your life.

Lastly, while I do agree that it's valuable to remember that our parents were/are mere mortals, and were inevitably going to make mistakes, it is absolutely not okay to write off their abusive behaviors simply because they had a bad upbringing. Thanks to my parents, I had a wretched upbringing, and because of it I'm determined not to abuse my children. Not all abusers were abused; not all of the abused become abusers. Don't give them that out; don't let their rotten childhood somehow become "your problem". It isn't and all too often such reasoning is used to excuse the most egregious, unrepentant abusers from taking responsibility for their behavior.

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#16 of 17 Old 01-03-2011, 08:03 AM - Thread Starter
 
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#17 of 17 Old 01-03-2011, 08:45 AM
 
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I think one of the first steps of making peace is, counter to popular wisdom, putting the responsibility where it belongs.

 

The alternative is to struggle with the unease of trying to shoulder a responsibility that simply does not belong to you. And it's uneasy not even because you are shirking a responsibility, but because it simply does not fit. You keep coming back to it because it doesn't make sense - you can say "I should have protected my mother"... but HOW? What are the specific actions that you, as a child, could have done to help your mother, or your father? When you look at your own children you realize just how nonsensical that all is. This could really be the bottom line for you, because you always assumed you could have done something but now, as a mother, you see your children and know for sure that you could not have been responsible.

 

Accepting the responsibility on any level just doesn't fit, and therefore there can be no closure with it.

 

Maybe before you can stop being negative about your parents, maybe you need to allow yourself to bring it all out, to be angry with them.

 

Yes, they are human. All parents are human. Non-toxic parents make human mistakes that can and should be forgiven. And then there's the toxic parents, who are consistently selfish, neglectful and/or abusive. That's not just "human," it's wrong. It really is.

 

It was WRONG to humiliate you for trying to hurt yourself. It wasn't just a mistake, it was WRONG. Could you imagine doing that to your own child? Yes, you can be angry about it. You don't have to be angry for the rest of your life. It's like the grieving process, or maybe it IS a grieving process - you have to feel the feelings before you can move on.

 

There is no need to protect your father from your feelings. Did he protect you as a vulnerable child?

 

Yes, the fact that your father had a hard childhood IS relevant and sad. Yet his choices as an ADULT toward a CHILD are his responsiblity. You are proof positive that people can make different choices. His parents had responsibility too, but his actions were ultimately his. You stopped the cycle, and you are responsible (in a great way!) for that.


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