The Morning Journal (Lorain, OH)
Toxic family rift calls for a firm boundary
DEAR AMY >> I’m trying to learn how to set boundaries, but still be respectful and not resentful or hateful.
I recently had a huge rift with my mother concerning our family’s decision about whether our teenage child should attend in-person school. My husband, child and I made the decision together, and we are good with it.
My immediate family is happy with this decision, but my mother is not.
My whole life, she has verbally abused me. During my childhood, she was physically abusive, as well. When I was a teenager, she attempted suicide and is now allegedly in recovery for her alcoholism.
I’ve attempted to have many chats with her about boundaries. I always get told that I’m crazy and I need counseling.
My mother also currently refuses to talk to my aunt because they view things differently. She butts into everything and most recently has weighed in on our decision regarding schooling. She has completely ripped my daughter apart.
I know what I’m doing is the best decision for my child and for her emotional and physical wellbeing.
Why do I still let this woman take hold of me and destroy everything?
She has destroyed so much. She was such a terrible parent, but do I owe her a “re-do”? Should I cut her off completely?
- Still Destroying My Life
DEAR STILL DESTROYING
>> I’m not sure why you let your abusive mother keep her hooks in you, but that is one legacy of being raised by an unstable parent. You (the child) will continue to work overtime to make things “right.”
The child in you has an irrepressible desire to please your parent. You simply never stop hoping for the day when you can heal all the hurt.
As an adult, you may have to accept that you didn’t have that power as a child, and you certainly don’t have it now.
Your mother is a loudspeaker on a loop. You can turn down the volume by choosing not to engage. You can turn the speaker off with a quiet exit when your discomfort becomes too great.
Don’t tell your mother anything that you don’t want her to comment on. Pay close attention to your body’s instinctive reaction to her. Practice ways to disengage when you feel that old familiar knot in your stomach.
Every decision you should make should be for the benefit of you and your immediate family.
DEAR AMY >> Please tell me how to get over a relationship I was in for almost six years. It was perfect in the beginning and then it turned abusive.
I tried to love him throughout. He went to prison twice and both times I remained faithful and supportive. Then, when I couldn’t take his insults and him hitting me, I started to realize that I was done.
I voiced this to him and he did the most hurtful thing: He tried to sleep with my sister.
He treated me like dirt and broke me down until I felt like I was nothing.
I’m in a new relationship. I’m trying to move on with my life, but I’m scared that I will end up getting hurt again and it’s making it hard for me to open up.
I don’t want to ruin this new relationship because of past horrors.
So how do I let my guard down but be cautious, too? What are some warning signs I need to look for?
I think my last relationship gave me PTSD. Is that even possible?
I’m terrified to the point where I feel like something is wrong with me.
Can you help?
DEAR TRYING >> It may be too soon for you to engage in another serious relationship. You should devote some time exclusively to your own healing and recovery.
Yes, being the victim of emotional and physical abuse can give you PTSD. Counseling, coaching, and compassionate support will help.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline would be a good place for you to start. Contact thehotline. org for one-on-one support. You can speak to a counselor by phone. That and their online “chat” function are available to you whenever you need it.
DEAR AMY >> “Neighborly” described parking a massive boat (“yard yacht”) in her yard. Then, Neighborly was upset by a comment from a neighbor regarding this eyesore.
In my opinion, if you’re going to be so inconsiderate toward your neighbors, you should also develop a thick skin regarding their opinions.
- Also a Neighbor DEAR NEIGHBOR >> You make a valid point.