Disowning terrible mother


Disowning terrible mother


your avatar   "So Done" - 29-year-old woman

Hi there, hoping to get some advice on a long overdue question.

Since the age of 9 I have been severely emotionally and mentally abused by my own mother. My parents divorced when I was 9 years old due to their irreconcilable issues (mainly being very young, unprepared for a child, her excessive spending and his inability to be emotionally available to her and the list goes on). At that point in time, instead of stepping up to the plate and owning her decisions, she decided to party (get drunk, do drugs, have strange men in our house, have parties at our house, leave me unattended to cook and clean and be the adult) for the next 4 years. Then, she met a man named Joe who was psychotic and totally abusive to her physically, and mentally abusive to the both of us.

At the age of 18, a month or two after I became a legal adult, Joe attempted to rape me. I luckily had enough sense and adrenaline to literally escape the situation. But, when the police were notified, my mother opted to accuse me of lying and said she was "scared to leave him" - so I ended up moving out of our home onto the floor of a mice-infested recording studio that I was sharing with a few friends at the time.

A few years passed and I was able to get on my feet and get my own apartment/take care of myself. The charges were never formally laid on Joe due to me having no physical evidence, and no support or guidance from anyone involved. I could not afford a lawyer, so it basically got thrown out of court. Like I said, a few years passed and I just learned to live with it. All of my romantic relationships failed and ended up being abusive as well, just an FYI to you, the reader.

Then, at the age of 23-24 years old, after Joe and my mom separated, she met another man named Danny. This man was one of the leaders of a notorious biker gang - i.e. he was very dangerous. He was very inappropriate to be around, constantly drunk and messed up on drugs, and so was she. We were invited to a cottage of his, so my friend, my mom and Danny all went up. Around 3AM on one of the weekend days, we woke up to my mom screaming -- Danny had beat the living crap out of her. We had to leave the cottage at 4AM that night just to escape. My mom begged us to let her stay with him but we removed her from the situation.

So here we are again - she has put me in another disastrous situation.

I am now 29 years old and after three different therapists and a lot of working on myself, I am a functional adult - but with a lot of emotional issues. I have a temper that flares at the drop of a pin; I am depressed, struggling with my weight, career, and everything in between. She is STILL abusive, emotionally un-supportive, critical, judgmental and overall a terrible mother to me. Basically, she is the same as she's always been.

So I ask - TO OWN, OR TO DISOWN? Perhaps the issue is my own inability to cut the tie. I have been advised by not one but all THREE therapists I've seen to disown her and cut her off. Instead I cut the therapists off, go figure.


    Bob Rich, Ph.D.


If you re-read your message, you will see that you have answered your own question, in the last paragraph.

Even when you were a little girl of 9, you chose to hold the household together. While your mother was acting the naughty child, you cooked and cleaned and acted the adult. The two of you have maintained the same relationship since. Time and again, she put herself and you in danger, and no doubt there were many other instances of unwise actions on her part. Whenever you could, you were the one to fix the situation, such as running away from Danny.

Your three therapists made the mistake of giving you advice. I won't repeat that. My advice is to go with your own decision, and feel comfortable being you.

You and your mom are very different people, and my guess is that this difference was already there when you were born. Think of her as a very young child, inside an adult body. Think of yourself as a mature person, even when you were very young. Does that make sense?

If you were a mature, loving mother, and your child was absolutely impossible, naughty beyond belief, you would still continue being the loving mother, and would do your best to protect and guide your child. For all your life, this has been the relationship between you and your mom, except for the power difference: a mother has the power to restrict the child's actions in order to ensure safety. A daughter can't do that to her mother.

The reason you rejected the advice of your therapists is that it goes against your very nature. You are a Protector, a Carer, a person with inherent feelings of decency and responsibility, and you can't cut loose. You feel obliged to be there for your mom, whatever other idiocies she may do. Am I right?

If I am, the question becomes: how can you stay her protector, without undue distress and danger to yourself? Work on that problem.


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.For more information visit: http://anxietyanddepression-help.com


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