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October 23, 2018 - Welcome Guest!

Advice » Relationships

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Toxic mother, lost father


My parents separated when I was 4. I was stopped from seeing my father through manipulation by my mother. I was made to believe that my father was bad. He tried to visit but I was made to hide from him under my bed so she could say I was not home - she told me it was a game.

At a young age I was lead to believe he had possibly abused me when I was young which I don't remember. I was not to speak of him and later on, when I had my own children, I got back in contact with him. When he came to visit me she would call and verbally abuse me for having him there. This made her furious and then I felt guilt for seeing him. My children have kept in touch with her over the years but I kept my distance, not wanting to deal with her anger.

Over the years I have been diagnosed with depression and have abused alcohol and some drugs back before I had my children. I have recently done a detox off alcohol and joined a domestic violence group, as I have a long history of choosing the wrong men. I have always felt that I don't fit in anywhere and I guess I latched on to anyone that showed me attention.

I have been learning a lot about myself which is why I want to deal with my anger towards my mother, which I believe has been a big part of my life choices. How do I learn to like my mother? How do I get past this feeling and try to have a relationship with my father? I have never been able to call my father dad or even by his real name. Is this guilt that I will go against my mother?

Nikki, 45-year-old woman


Nikki my dear,

It's horrible when parents use their children as weapons against their ex. It is one of the most damaging things they can do. You can get a free, downloadable book on this: "Me, my kids and my ex" - something that your mother should have been forced to read when you were a little girl.

Too late now. The damage has been done.


But it is not too late for you to turn your life around. At 45 you are still young enough to build happiness and contentment into many years to come. I can see you have started on this journey already. I am glad you are off the alcohol, which is the nastiest drug on this planet, and that you have benefited from group work on domestic violence. You already have a lot of insight and understanding. Well done.

To answer your question, you don't ever need to like your mother. You don't ever need to find excuses for what she did. Instead, you can forgive her as a person, and stop carrying her around on your back. Actually, I have just reviewed a book with a very similar theme: "The Wooden Chair" by Rayne Golay. It's available as a Kindle, Nook or Kobo book (if you don't have a reader, you can download free software for reading these on your computer). You will see the heroine of that book along the same journey of forgiving a toxic mother.

From now on, I suggest you monitor your automatic reactions to thoughts of your father, to yourself, to everything around you, and divide your thoughts into two kinds: Nikki thoughts and mother thoughts. The reactions to your father you described are examples of mother thoughts. If you have identified a mother thought, treat it is as noise, as garbage, and throw it away.

It is time for you to be in charge of your life, instead of being a slave to your mother.

Have a good life,


This question was answered by Dr. Bob Rich. Dr. Rich has 30+ years of experience as a psychotherapist. Dr. Rich is also a writer and a "mudsmith". Bob is now retired from psychological practice, but still works with people as a counselor.

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