#124 Daughter dreads mom's abusive visit / Should I keep submitting my children to abuse?
DEAR ABBY: My mother and I rarely get along—mainly because she thinks she's fabulous and I don't. I'm in my 30s, married with a child and have a career. I am tired of riding an emotional roller coaster with Mother.
She is planning her next visit and I don’t want her to come. Her visits end up lasting a week or more. And her conversations consist of complaining, making snide comments about my house and how I am raising my child (under the guise of being "helpful"), and then whining because I don’t have the time or desire to entertain or placate her.
Can you tell me how to tell her that visits to my house are no longer welcomed? - DONE WITH THE DRAMA
DEAR DONE: When your mother raises the subject of her visit, tell her that she would be more comfortable staying at a hotel when she comes and so would you. That way you can control the amount of time you spend together: Offer to split the cost with her, then pray she agrees. —ABBY
Hi Done: What a valuable letter! Millions have the exact same problem so you’ve served both yourself and many others.
To begin with, you both are being abusive to each other. Wanting to change another is not love. Dumping criticism/feedback in another’s space without their express permission is abusive. In other words, if you haven't requested her support in changing a behavior then you are setting it up (by not stopping each criticism/make wrong/condescending communication) for her to abuse you. Submitting yourself to abuse is you intending abuse so as to be right that she starts it.
If, after you have read this reply, you still submit your children to her abuse (them having to watch you both do your abuse dance) then it turns from ignorant unconscious abuse to conscious premeditated abuse for which the consequences are compounded; you won't be able to tell your children you didn't know.
I assure you that you are not "done with the drama." You are as addicted to creating her to abuse you as she is to abusing you. What’s even worse, you’re stuck blaming her for the results your leadership-communication skills produce. You have what’s referred to as a symbiotic relationship, each dependent upon the other to behave as they do. It’s a knee-jerk program over which you have little or no control. Ages 1 – 18 parents raise us, after that it’s our job to teach them how to communicate with us; when we fail to accept that responsibility they go to their grave stuck in abuse and clueless. "Teach" meaning, "Mother, go to your room and don’t come out until you can communicate in a way that feels good to me." Instead of "Go to your room…" you’ll say, "Go to a counselor/therapist/coach." This is because she can’t complete her experience of self-righteous nagging abuse using the mind that creates it.
You can’t produce the result you say you want (supportive harmony with her) unless you’re willing to recess (estrange) yourself from her until she complies with your ultimatum —words to the effect, "Mom, enroll in and complete 25 hours of therapy/counseling/coaching or I’ll never interact with you ever again." And of course, mean it. And, you’d have to do an equal amount of addiction/enabling counseling/coaching yourself.
Re: "Can you tell me how to tell her…?" Yes, I could but it’s unlikely you could communicate what I would because you’re at effect of her (you are intimidated by her). You simply couldn’t deliver my recommended communication with the intention with which I would deliver it. Even if you showed her this letter and my reply, whatever effect it may have would not last because it would not address the source of your problem. Your letter reveals that you have fear in your relationship with her stemming from a single childhood interaction.
Even if you estranged yourself from her and committed yourself to abuse-free intimidation-free relationships we can’t be certain that she would ever choose to heal. What we know for certain is that when you are in her presence (phone or in person) you have no choice but to react.
Not many years ago, after a life of authoritarian abuse by a father, many a teen son would simply lose his temper and hit his father. The intimidated father would gain respect (believing he had finally raised a real man) and they’d relate somewhat as peers thereafter. Now it’s no longer acceptable to hit each other. Instead, of getting communication-skills coaching, sons and daughters move away from parents, ostensibly for job opportunities or other good "reasons." In terms of familial harmony this solution seldom works because the child still rewards the parent’s abuse by interacting with them (telephone calls, presents, visits) thereby triggering (read unconsciously intending) the abuse; however, the abuse now becomes premeditated. The child, knowing better, is living a lie, saying he/she doesn’t want abuse, yet elects to continue to interact with abusive parents. The grown child, ostensibly having a choice, becomes the cause for the abuse they say they don’t want. The child, now an adult, finds him/herself communicating abusively with their partner just as they did with their parents.
Now let’s get to the source of the friction between you and your mother. What we know is that you have accumulated a lifetime of thoughts you have verbally withheld from your mother. These thoughts, judgments, perpetrations, and a wide variety of acknowledgments, are being communicated non-verbally, they are serving as barriers to the experience of love. For certain you love her conceptually. What's missing is the experience of love. Conversely, your mother has an equal (yes, equal) number of thoughts she has withheld from you. Instead of delivering each thought responsibly, thereby completing it, these incompletes are being delivered non-verbally.
What you can do, as an upfront condition of her visit, is to insist that she do the free Clearing Process for Couples with you when she comes. If you sense or believe she won’t do the process with you, if you think she would be unwilling to be contributed to, (to follow your instructions on how to do the process) then you’ll need to keep complaining and blaming until you are moved to communicate responsibly — reference, "My mother and I rarely get along," This is a covert blame statement. Communicated responsibly it would read, "I rarely get along with my mother. I find myself arguing and blaming her for my inability to consistently create mutually satisfying communications."
About your children: Although your mind might deny it — you are in fact presently teaching them to eventually treat you like you treat your mother. It begins with them lying, misbehaving, and failing in school; they will do anything, even fail in life and relationships, to support you in cleaning up your incompletes. They need you to model for them how to relate lovingly and supportively with mothers. Every minute you submit them to her abusiveness (most of it extremely subtle non-verbal and psychic dissatisfactions of you) it has an enormous effect on their behaviors. She will in fact train them to be like her, and of course like you. You have yet to teach them how to extract themselves from an abusive relationship. Because they love you they will do their best to emulate you (and your addiction to abusing and being abuse) by seek out abusive partners. You can, via intention, heal yourself and them but not necessarily your mother. She will have to surrender to your support or drive you out of her life. —Gabby
PS. You don't mention your husband but if he is living with you then he needs an equal amount of counseling because he is an enabler. An actualized man inspires harmony. Your interactions with your mom invalidate him as an effective leader.
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