Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Sometimes Protection Requires Rejection

On my "After Silence" board last night, we had a topic chat. A guest speaker came into the chat room and talked with a group of us. The speaker was Dr. Patti Feuereisen, author of "Invisible Girls - the Truth about Sexual Abuse" She talked about the topic of Mother's Rejection. (Her book is sold at Barnes & Noble and on amazon.com and her website is Girl Thrive. It was an extremely interesting conversation.

The statement of Dr. Patti's that I most identified with was this - "Rejecting a relationship that is not healthy is a good lesson to teach your children. Sometimes protecting a child means rejecting a parent."

I've struggled awhile with the relationship between myself and my mother, as well as the relationship I allow my mother to have with my daughter. The contact is limited and there are rules. Mom is not to mention her husband. She comes here to visit - I do not go to her house. Mom is not left alone with my daughter either. After all a mother who thinks "sexual touching is no big deal" isn't to be trusted with my little girl.

That statement hit me on two different levels. First, my mother never taught me that lesson. She rejected the relationship with my father because he was physically abusive. That was a good lesson to teach me. She protected my sister and I by leaving my father. Although she still let him have extensive contact with my sister and I. And I never remember her talking about domestic violence or telling me that it was not to be tolerated. Never remember her warning me not to let a boyfriend or any man physically assault me. I really think Mom's leaving my father was more about stopping the abuse toward her, rather than an incident she remembers (I do not) wherein she says my dad went way overboard in disciplining me and threw me up against a wall. I'm not saying that she should have tolerated abuse of any kind - I just think that her trying to say leaving Dad was for my benefit is a crock. It was really about her. Besides, it is evident she was dating her boyfriend (future husband AKA Toilet) before the separation.

On another level, that statement strikes me too. It makes me wonder if continuing a relationship with my mom is going to be detrimental to my child -- if it is going to send mixed signals. My relationship with mom is definitely not normal, and I'm pretty sure it's not all that healthy. I wonder if rejecting a relationship with Mom is protecting my daughter - teaching her that she needs to value herself above family "duty and obligation."

I honestly can not say that I love my mother. I love the "Idea" of having a mother. On good days I've accepted that my mother will never be a real mother. On bad days I cry for that loss. I continue to see my mother out of obligation. And out of some deranged idea and glimmer of hope that she might, someday, morph into a halfway decent human being. I don't want my daughter thinking that is a good idea. I don't want my daughter maintaining relationships solely out of some misguided sense of family duty and obligation.

I stayed with my mother and at her house partly to protect my sister and partly because I felt responsible for my mother (and partly because I had nowhere else - I thought - to go). Now, I am trying to decide if I should change my way of thinking and terminate all contact with her. I can't imagine explaining to my daughter WHY I still have contact with my mom. There really isn't a good reason.

I cut off all ties with my abuser because I could not imagine explaining to my daughter why I had any contact with him (nor the thought of him touching my daughter at all). Why should my mother be any different? Why possible benefit will my daughter gain from a relationship with a woman who stood by the very man who molested her own daughters? Really I do it because of a sense of obligation and guilt --- and I do not want my daughter learning that lesson.



3 comments:

Lynn said...

I certainly understand this, Enola. For me, ending that relationship was to protect my children and also to defend, protect and validate the feelings of the little child in me. I deserve that.

Anonymous said...

Enola, its me, justbeginning from AS.

"I honestly can not say that I love my mother. I love the "Idea" of having a mother. On good days I've accepted that my mother will never be a real mother. On bad days I cry for that loss. I continue to see my mother out of obligation. And out of some deranged idea and glimmer of hope that she might, someday, morph into a halfway decent human being. I don't want my daughter thinking that is a good idea. I don't want my daughter maintaining relationships solely out of some misguided sense of family duty and obligation."

I think I am going to print this paragraph out and tape it to my mirror. I could not have explained any more how I feel towards my own mother. Yes! This misguided sense of family, duty and obligation. Yes! This ridiculous hope that she will someday morph into a halfway decent human being. I cry for that loss, I sometimes am okay with it, what I'm trying to say is I couldn't relate to you more.

Etta said...

Elona,

Thank you for posting this, there are just some many times that I am suffering with this very same issue and there is just no one who understands...you have let me know that I am not alone, and, hearing your thoughts, words, pain has given me strength and hope.

You are right, you would be setting a better example for your daughter if you break all ties with the woman who protected your abuser. Society tells us girls that we need to due our duty, even if it ends us in death or madness.

You will show your daughter that self matters, that its important to surround yourself with loving people, and that family is not what we were dealt, but who we run too when we need a laugh, a hug, or someone to cry with.

I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers. You couldn't have said it better: duty, obligation, and a wish... lets all just let that go, when we do, I think we will finally feel worthy enough to love ourselves.

Be well,

Etta