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Eating Disorder Recovery
Joanna Poppink, MFT
Eating Disorder Recovery Psychotherapist
serving Arizona, California, Florida, Oregon and Utah.
All appointments are virtual.


What a powerful and timely blog for me, Joanna. It seems to be that way for several of us here. I first want to say that when I first read this article, I thought of you, Shh. I know how hard it has been for you to make the decision to cut back on your personal relationship with your mom, while still allowing your kids to see her so that they can make their own choice when they are ready. I would have to say that I agree with the way you are handling it because you cannot have a relationship with her right now. I understand the all or nothing. I also understand Joanna's comment about your mom being mentally and emotionally sick and asking yourself if you can deal with her on that level.

I have been working on my sexual abuse issues in therapy, as most of you know. I have been meeting twice weekly with my therapist for almost 6 weeks. We are getting places much faster this way. I was having a lot of bad dreams initially, and dissociating a lot in and out of therapy. This brings me to my mom.

I think she was born in a hospital. My mom's mother was a lot like her. Controlling, manipulative, emotionally abusive. my mom's father was an alcoholic. In therapy we have been discussing how it is most likely that my gf sexually abused my mom as well. I had never connected that possibility with her behaviors, mothering style, etc.  My therapist has helped me see how emotionally absent my mom is, especially during times of distress. How she disconnects from the reality of the chaotic family that we are.

Let me give an example. I come from a large family. Most of us are grown with our own families. My mom and dad are nearing 70 and not in the best of health. I have a mid 30's sister who has lived off one person or another in our family for 8 years. She has lived with my parents for 3.5 years, paying no rent, utilities, etc. Not one dime. All the while she takes her child on weekend trips to the beach or mountains, goes to dinner almost every night, buys expensive articles of clothing, and leaves her very emotionally disturbed child with my parents while she goes out on dates.

Some of us older siblings decided to confront her about this behavior as our parents cannot afford to keep taking care of her, her son, and five other kids who still live at home. We merely suggested she do the right thing and step up to the plate. We only took this route because our parents have not had the energy to deal with doing this themselves as she is terribly volatile - they would rather not deal with her moods.  We have asked them to say something to her, but they wont - rather can't.  So instead of getting a call thanking us for our help, we received an angry call from our mother and were told not to come to Mothers Day dinner-basically to just stay away period.

My therapist has helped me come to terms with the fact that my mother cannot comprehend that she is being used and abused by my sister. That she blocks it out, dissociates herself from this type of emotional abuse because she did so long with her mother.  My mother also enjoys playing the victim as much as she likes taking care of those who cannot take care of themselves. This can be a good thing, but when your motivation is to look good to others or if being needed is your identity, then its not so healthy.

Shh, I went a long time allowing myself to do what Joanna suggested. See her as a sick and wounded person who can do no better. I used to have blow out arguments with her once a year where we wouldn't talk for months at a time. Recently, we had gone 2 years until last week. I understand where you are coming from when you say you just have to distance yourself. I feel the same way. I know I am much healthier when I take a step back every now and then. It gives me time to re-evaluate how I will deal with her when things cool down.

Today in therapy we discussed how I find myself treating my kids with some of the emotional crap my mom doled out to me. The difference being that I can recognize it, and apologize when needed. I want to break the abuse cycle with my kids. I am sure she thought terrible things about us on Mother's Day because we weren't there - not really taking responsibility for being the one who told us not to come.

I found a way to enjoy my day with my children. I was glad it was just us.

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