Below is a letter I sent to myemotionaly abusive mother. I sent it yesterday. I'm working on a follow-up that fleshes out my personal boundaries, regardless of her reply (or non-reply, for ME). Would appreciate any sage feedback.
June 23, 2011
I needed time and space to process our last interaction. I have started and stopped many letters to you. I have been back to counseling. I hope that this letter is recieved in the spirit of love that it is intended. I am reeling with so many emotions. Please read this carefully and try to understand my feelings. Read it more than once. Take it to your counselor. This is not meant to attack you or make you feel bad. I feel that I need to clear the air with you so that we may move forward.
In regards to the message you sent me via Facebook,
You: "Fine so you unfriended me. That doesn't change the fact that I'm still your mother. I don't appreciate you using the boys as a weapon. All of my favorite pictures of them disappeared when you unfriended me. I know you don't care, but just thought I'd pass that on. I love you."
First of all, I unfriended you from my Facebook to prevent you from causing a scene there, like you did once before. It was self-protective, not intended to hurt or punish you or reject you as my mother.
Secondly, you yourself told me "You don't have a mother anymore." Your words, not mine. That was the most personally devastating and hurtful thing that you could ever say to me. Your ultimate rejection of me was abusive and hurtful beyond anything else I have experienced. You of all people know my issues with abandonment. If you meant to hurt me, you couldn't have hurt me more. Of course you're still my mother, even your own words can't change that.
Thirdly, I am not using the boys as a weapon. It is my responsibilty and duty to protect and shield them from unhealthy situations. The tension, friction, and your abusive behavior towards me is not healthy for myself or for them to repeatedly witness, as they have in the past.
Forth, I am sorry that the unintended consequence of unfriending you made your pictures go away. I will make you a disc of them out and mail it to you.
And last, don't think for one minute that you know what I am thinking or feeling. My thoughts and feelings are my own. I care deeply, and that is why this hurts so much. Our relationship has been very unhealthy for a very long time. Our interactions are abusive and co-dependent. I am not allowed to be my authentic self with you. Once you decide something, there is no chance for discussion or working things out. You control and manipulate me with threats of cutting me off or fits of anger and emotionally abusive treatment. In the past I have hung my head, bit my tongue, looked the other way, cried, groveled, made excuses for your behavior, etc., all to appease you. This is slowly killing me and tearing down what self-esteem I have left. I feel like I will never be good enough for you. Your love feels very conditional, which is very confusing and hurtful for me as it was you who taught me (verbally) that love is unconditional. Am I not worthy of my own mother's unconditional love and acceptance?
As a recovering co-dependent, part of my recovery is setting and enforcing healthy boundaries and limits with others. I struggle with this. I get stuck people-pleasing and trying to maintain the peace. Confrontation is especially difficult and stressful for me to the detriment of my emotional and physical health. This is true for mpost people who are co-dependent and lack boundaries. I am at the point in my recovery where it is time to set and communicate clearly what my boundaries are.
"The purpose of having boundaries is to protect and take care of ourselves. We need to be able to tell other people when they are acting in ways that are not acceptable to us. A first step is starting to know that we have a right to protect and defend ourselves. That we have not only the right, but the duty to take responsibility for how we allow others to treat us. Learning to set boundaries is a vital part of learning to communicate in a direct and honest manner. It is impossible to have a healthy relationship with someone who has no boundaries, with someone who cannot communicate directly, and honestly. Learning how to set boundaries is a necessary step in learning to be a friend to ourselves. It is our responsibility to take care of ourselves - to protect ourselves when it is necessary. It is impossible to learn to be Loving to ourselves without owning our self - and owning our rights and responsibilities as co-creators of our lives."
It will take more time and thought for me to organize my thoughts enough to clearly formulate and communicate my personal boundaries, but they will be written with the list below in mind:
Basic Human Rights For Self-Development:
I have the right to have these Basic Human Rights and to stand up for them.
I have the right to have my needs and feelings be as important as anyone else's.
I have the right to experience and express my feelings, if I choose to do so, in a respectful way
I have the right to not be responsible for the feelings of another.
I have the right to express my opinions, if I choose to do so, in a respectful way.
I have the right to set my own priorities.
I have the right to establish independence if I choose to.
I have the right to decide how I spend my time.
I have the right to choose my own lifestyle so long as I do not violate the rights of others.
I have the right to change my lifestyle, myself, my behaviors, my values, my life situation, and my mind.
I have the right to make honest mistakes and to admit those mistakes without feeling humiliated.
I have the right to self-fulfillment through my own talents and interests.
I have the right to grow as a person and to accept new challenges.
I have the right to choose with whom I spend my time and with whom I share my body.
I have the right to be treated with dignity and respect in all my relationships.
I have the right to be listened to respectfully.
I have the right to ask for what I want assertively.
I have the right to say "I don't understand" or "I don't know" without feeling or being humiliated.
I have the right to say "No," and to set limits and boundaries without feeling guilty.
I have the right to set limits on how I will be treated in relationships.
I have the right to expect my boundaries to be respected. I have the right to walk away from toxic or abusive relationships.
I hope you are doing well. I think of you often. I hope we can rebuild our relationship into one that is healthy and meets both our needs. Never doubt that I love you very much. I hope that your birthday tomorrow is a pleasant one. I am sorry that I am unable to share it with you. When you are ready, I welcome your written reply.
Sincerely and with Love,
I don't know your situation but good for you! From what you wrote in your letter, your mother sounds similar to mine. I also have a very strained relationship that I dislike talking about. I'm also trying to shield my son from the pain his grandmother can cause (whether intentional or not). Even if you can never repair the relationship, know that it is not your fault. You have to do what is best for YOU and hope that she can understand. I speak with my mother and she sees my son as often as she'd like but I'm so emotionally cut off that it wouldn't phase me if I had to cut off contact (as awful as that sounds). I dealt with too much because of her and refuse to let her ruin any more of my life, or my son's. I commend you on your beautiful heartfelt and authentic letter. I hope it was therapeutic for you. Hope everything works out well for you!
SAHM married with 2 boys (Feb 2010 & Oct 2012)