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I'll keep this as short as possible. I am almost 21 years old and a college student who lives a school and goes home during breaks. I have recently accepted the fact that I have been the victim of abuse from my mother for as long as I can stretch my memory. My 21 years have been, to a large extent filled up of the unrelenting cycle of vicious emotional and verbal abuse, follwed by apologies, promises, and gifts. Even up to this late age it has been occuring. Before almost commiting suicide 3 years ago things in my life began to change in my non-home life, and I am a mostly happy person now, learning to use friends and my own self-reliance to help me overcome depression. The only thing I feel holding me back from being a truly new person, more or less free of ancient rage and prepared to take on the world, is me continued attachment to my mother.

I need to leave, period. But I feel terrible about it. Although her abuses were beyond devastating to my psyche growing up (and even to this day) she was a single mother who had come out of a physically abusive marriage. She is the one who told me about what abuse is in the first place and would be destroyed if she thought that I thought of her that way too. But I need to leave and my question is: how should I do this? I have an aunt or father I can stay with and who could probably keep safe my belongings until I am am out of college and move out on my own. But one of my mother's attacks on me was always that I would do exactly that, go leave her and run off to live with my father or aunt and leave her alone. Self-fulfilling prophecy? Perhaps. And it makes me nauseous with pity. How can I move on without destroying my mother's heart and mind?

I don't want to hurt her, but I want to stop hurting even more than that.

Thank You.

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No one can tell you what is right for you except yourself. So start telling yourself what to do. If you blunder for ten years while thinking for yourself, that is rich treasure when compared with living these ten years under the mental domination of another.

~ Vernon Howard Quotes from The Power of Your Supermind

Follow this link, it may help you discover yourself.

http://www.thinkarete.com/quotes/by_teacher/Vernon%20Howard :o

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Guest ASchwartz

Dear Jomteon,

I agree with "Anonymous" that you must do what is right for you without worrying about the judgement of others.

In my opinion, I would go even further than that: I do not know why you are so feaful of "hurting" your mother, by the way, that is a statement and not a question. Your mother hurt you, terribly, resulting in your attempting suicide, and now you are worried that you will "hurt her?" First, it is my opinion that you can tell her that she was abusive. She would not be hearing anything she does not know...she was the one abusive to you. As far as her being a single mother, she is far from the only one who ever raised a child as a single parent. In other words, it is no excuse for her treatment of you, nor the fact that she was abused.

I agree with you that you must free yourself from her but that includes freeing yourself mentally as well as physically. She holds you to her, even with her prediction that you would leave her. What kind of prediction is that?? You are supposed to leave her: its called Growing Up and leaving home and becoming Independent. She is using GUILT to hold you. Well, nonsense, in my opinion, it is time to leave.

As to where you want to stay, that is up to you.

You are a 21 year old adult and it's time to leave, whether there was abuse or not. There are 21 year old soldiers in Iraq fighting for their country and far away from Mom, Dad and everyone else. Leaving home and moving away is part of life.

I also want to urge you to go into psychotherapy to help you deal with your unrealistic guilt and help you make the tranistion to adulthood. In the meantime, it is my strong opinion: as a therapist, parent, human being, that it is right for you to leave mom.

What do you think???

What does everyone think? More opinions and support needed.


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Hi jomteon, welcome to Mental Help Net. It seems you already have a plan to set into motion and there's a lot on your mind surrounding that plan. Beyond that information, perhaps it would be helpful to ask why you have decided to move out and how doing so is somehow an "either or" to talking to your mother about how you feel?

I don't know the circumstances, but it seems the relationship you have with your mother has not collapsed to the point where you would simply "leave her and run off." You want to move out, but you are aware and concerned of your mother's feelings. If I may be so bold, a conversation is in order. You say you don't want to tell her she's abusive because you're afraid such an argument would destroy her. If that's the situation you wish to avoid, refrain from using those labels and words. Make the conversation focused upon how you feel and hurt when she says the things she does. Talk to her, let her know you love her, that you can no longer bear the current circumstances, and that you are committed to the relationship. Since this conversation is meant to let her understand what's going on between the two of you on an emotional level, try to avoid conditional sentences like if you can't stop being abusive, I can't live with it any longer; therefore, I am moving out.

Your decision to live on your own and your conversation about your feelings with your mother should be like apples and oranges. They each have their own outcomes and objectives. You must define the boundaries between these two thoughts for yourself clearly, then make sure that your mother receives the same message. In a perfect world, people could treat these two ideas as separate and distinct, but that may not be the case here. Which is why it is especially important that you ask yourself why you are moving out and what you seek to accomplish should you decide to talk to your mother.

A conversation with your mother is a good opportunity to try and understand her position as well. As you have been living on your own for college, maybe your mother has concerns of her own that have not been directly expressed. You will have to "read between the lines" if this is the case, and you should try to address each of these concerns to the best of your ability. Also, you may not agree with some of your mother's concerns, but they will have to be addressed as well.

Surely, this conversation would be difficult and trying, but you can prepare for it. In the end, she may not understand at all, but at least you will have taken the effort to talk to her. It doesn't necessarily have to result in your mother's "destruction." These are suggestions though. I may be entirely mistaken about your post.

Also, be careful of looking at things in conditional or causal terms. Everything is variable. You, I, your mother, except gravity - for the most part. You can't arbitrarily say/believe something like "if I do X, Y, Z, my mother will be destroyed." Doesn't that suggest a rather limited view of yourself? That the options available to you result only in the destruction of another person? I may not know you, but you sound like a decent person and I sincerely doubt that destruction is all you're capable of.

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Hi, Jomteon~

I can so relate to your dilemma and also to much of what has been said. As with any situation where there is abuse "GET OUT!!" :eek: is my first bit of advice. This is what I did with my abusive momster, with whom I was totally enmeshed emotionally, btw. However, I did not address my feelings in a realistic way as I was running like a scalded cat. In hindsight, I was hoping she would examine her conscience (didn't know she didn't really have one:rolleyes:) and miss me and come to see her part and try to "get me back." Well, she did try to get me back, but with all the manipulative, invasive, emotionally blackmailing, unhealthy tricks in her book. She was also able to get a professional psychologist, church people and school administrators to help with her campaign. (When I was younger and threatened to call the police on her, she said, "Go ahead! They won't believe you, I am your mother and I could have you put away. You have no legal rights!" The situation with the Texas court decision to return those children to the polygamous cult has got me really triggered right now.)

I also want to urge you to go into psychotherapy to help you deal with your unrealistic guilt and help you make the tranistion to adulthood. In the meantime, it is my strong opinion: as a therapist, parent, human being, that it is right for you to leave mom.

I'm with Allan with what he wrote above. Hopefully the profession has evolved so you won't get someone like I got who suggested I wasn't being fair to my mother as I tried to separate emotionally. (I drank for ten years over that.) I think that one comment by a PhD level psychotherapist was one of the most destructive sentences I have ever heard. If you get someone whose words don't ring true, find someone else.

I'm also with Anonnymous when he/she writes "No one can tell you what is right for you except yourself." I was programmed not to trust my gut, or think for myself, so it made breaking the attachment to my mother, and later to other unhealthy people, that much more difficult.

Talking to your mother, assuming you do want to, and telling her "you are committed to the relationship" is something else. Some people coming out of difficult situations find they need to go no contact, at least for a while, to marshall the energy to heal themselves. There are specific techniques you can practice for talking to someone with severe abandonment fears. It is so easy to get entangled in verbal snares. There is a book for people in relationship to someone with borderline personality disorder called "Stop Walking on Eggshells" that also has a workbook with the same name which might be useful.

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Thank you for all the comments and advice. I stayed with my mother through Wednesday, since she was graduating from Graduate school that day, and despite everything I still wanted to support her in that. But despite th "happy" occasion she turned out the same, angry, miserable person immediatly after the ceremony, attacking me for, literally, nothing. This confirmed my need to leave and yesterday I packed my things and left. I had tried to talk with her, tried one mor time the night before fter the graduation but she never even allowed us to start. So I wrote her a note and left it on her bag for her to find the next morning. Now I'm at my Dad's waiting for work to begin. I decided to say in my note that we needed isolation for the summer. I didn't make it sound permanent. I want to give her a chance to change. I've seen people change forthe better, and I believe she can too. What I place hereafter is the note I left her. I'm wondering if I didn the right thing in what I wrote and how i wrote it, if i got my message across, if she'll understand the severity:

Firstly, I must preface this note with the assurance that it is not an attack on you, merely a way to make you aware of what poisons our relationship and what may be the antidote for all said problems.

Mom, this summer needs to be under the condition of our more-or-less total isolation from one another. I need this time of total exemption from your being in order to recoup my sensibilities as they should be oriented towards you. You need to use this summer to contemplate your life and how you treat others within it, namely your son.

For as far as my memories can reach, my life has been under the iron claw of unfortunate abuse. Try as you may have the result of being your son left me a victim of constant, and severe, verbal and emotional abuses. It serves no purpose to name them here, to use them as exemplifications of my meaning, as you are full aware of my grievances.

I can go no further without assuring you that I greatly appreciate all the good you have done for me, all the raising, all the parenting, all the payments that went along with it. It is now in writing: I appreciate what you have done.

My appreciation, however, does not take away from my anger. Yes, you have been right, I do resent you. I resent all of the abuses that you laid upon me during my upbringing and beyond and find it nearly impossible to remove my negative feelings. All I have been able to do is hide them while I am not in contact with you, or at least while you are pleasant.

But, herein lies the problem: as soon as you turn the slightest bit towards your negative side all of my loathing surfaces. Nowadays, it could be as insignificant as one small reprimand and I will seethe with rage. It is irrational, I understand this, cannot deny this, and choose to do something about it.

I can separate myself from you. Without college payments to hold over my head you have absolutely no leverage, and I think you know this. We are now on equal footing to decide the fate of this familial relationship. There is no “high ground,” only two people. You have two choices for the future; yes, it is all up to you, whether it pleases you or not. You may either change who you are on a fundamental level to disassemble the abusive nature of your being, or you may continue on how you always have and, in time, wholly isolate your son from you.

You see, mom, unfortunate though it is, you have turned out to be an abuser, the primary force in what has always been a child-abusive relationship. Your actions and inactions led to the retardation of my emotional growth. Your own self-pity and weak character almost led to, on the extreme, my suicide (an event that would have unquestionably taken place had there not been the intervention of Alia to bolster my self-esteem). On a more moderate level, your rage and inability to control yourself led to the perpetuation of my depression which lasted, by all my estimates, from mid-elementary school up until the previous summer, and still continues to haunt me with it suffocating shadow when things become unclear and frightening. Your cruelty assisted in my assimilation to the ranks of self-mutilators. I won’t pin all this on you, there were my poor peer interactions, but it was the combination with my home life that led to my severe problems. For most adolescents, when they are picked on at school, they have home as refuge, and when home serves as a place of sore effects then school is their asylum. But I was destined to the misfortune of a bad school life and a bad home life.

Yes, there were good times, great times. But by the waning days of my teenage years they could not hope to balance the scales, much less lean them in their favor.

Allow me to repeat: none of this is meant as an attack, but essentially as a wakeup call. I do appreciate you. I do. And I don’t want to toss this relationship to the wolves; if I did, I wouldn’t be writing this note. This note is meant to help you understand that this is the end of the line. You hold nothing over me anymore and it is now up to you to save this relationship. I have tried to make things better, but as always it is always I who puts in all the work and never you.

You are and abuser, but I can’t effectively blame you for who you’ve been and what you’ve done, yet I also can’t forgive you. You were a victim yourself and absorbed many bad habits. You’ve also suffered from psychological disabilities that impeded your ability to act in a rational manner. But this does not take away from what I experienced.

I know all about what you’ve done for me; I know all about the toys and the trips. But you yourself admitted that they were, in part, compensation for whatever difficulties I had in growing up.

Everything in our relationship flies right out of every handbook on abuse, and it needs to stop right now. I am finally in a place where I can be as “normal” and “happy” as any adult can be, save for one barrier: you. Without my emotional baggage concerning you I will be free to flourish as all adults should have the right to do.

You said, on Saturday morning, that there are kids whose parents are do-nothing crack addicts and they still respect them. Even in a less exaggerated form, those hypothetical children are foolish. Respect is earned. Respect is not bought. You cannot say to me, “Look what I bought you,” and expect that to suffice for all the emotional damages you caused. I find it hard to believe that you actually think that material goods can patch the wounds of the spirit.

I am incapable of dealing with you. When you get angry at me all I can think to do is retaliate. I am full of loathing and rage and resentment and when you turn a half-decibel louder word in my direction all these things are brought to the surface. How dare you spend years threatening me? How dare you hold your “kindness” over my head? How dare you shove your life in my face? How dare you? How dare you tell your own goddamn son that you hate him? How dare you use your son’s own societal ostracization against him, reminding him that he has no friends? How dare you? How dare you promise to never do these things again, and then forget your promise long before I’d forgotten that day’s lunch? How dare you say that you’ve never broken a promise to me? How dare you?

Do you have any excuse that will answer these questions? Can you appease my rage? How might you deny my charges? Will you say that you were stressed? Everyone’s stressed. Will you say that you we mentally unbalanced? Find another doctor, bring in a character witness! Will you say that you were a single mother? There are thousands of single mothers, few doing as you did!! Or will you say that I should have just done the dishes, when you never raised me to do them, and all subsequent experiments on my part of actually doing them yielded no favorable results? Or will you say that you told me to go into the bathroom and lock the door when you got angry, and that I should have just done that? Will you blame me? Will you!?

Don’t. I’m sick of your bullshit. Absolutely sick of it. My sweat runs brown with what you feed me.

We desperately need time apart. I need time to distance myself from you, without the reinvigoration of my negativity of our continual altercations, and allow myself to cool and allow my angers to dissipate. You need to reevaluate…everything. You must either become a new, effective human being, or completely remove yourself from my life forever. The time has passed for therapists and kid gloves. We fix this now.

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Oh, Jomteon!

I so empathize with you... it brings it all back. You express so much feeling so well. I am afraid she won't "get it" at all, however. So be prepared to defend your boundaries. I hope I'm wrong.

I participated in a teleconference tonight that was held by the NEA for BPD. Of course, I have no idea if your mom is BPD, but she does sound just like mine, who definitely was. They are offering a 12 week program over the phone for family members called teleconnections. I don't know what the cost is, if any. I just went to their website and here's a link http://www.neabpd.org/family-connections.shtml The teleconnections thing is based on the in person program, if I heard right, which had a $50 charge for materials.

Good luck whatever you do. It is so hard to love someone who can't regulate her emotions and uses some of the hurtful mechanisms you describe.

Take care of yourself. There is no point in letting whatever disorder or problem she suffers from claim you as a victim as well. Her recovery is her own. If you are like me, you grew up receiving neural programming with some serious bugs in it (How could you not, when she was teaching you?) and you will need to devote some energy to yourself to rewrite the code. You are at a very exciting time in your life... so I urge you to get some help so that you can start out in your career as an adult without having to fight through all this emotional static alone.

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