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Inner conflict regarding parents

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by Lizzy, Oct 30, 2018.

  1. Lizzy

    Lizzy Well known member

    I'm having back spasms, which is unusual for me. I think I know what the inner conflict is about. I have been estranged from my parents for 6 years. My father is verbally abusive and my mother is very passive. My father's version is that my mother is abusive and she taught me and my brother to disrespect my father and that is why we are lying about him now. My mother agrees with this version and has become estranged from her sister who will not agree with this version. My parents are not really in contact with other family members, therefore they aren't aware they are in support of my brother and I.

    Recently I received from my mother an almost 400 page handwritten chronicle of her faults. I read the first page and then the last, to see what the motivation may have been. Such as part of a twelve step program where one asks for forgiveness. It just ended.

    What it felt like was as if my father had beat her to a bloody pulp and boxed her up and mailed it to me. I was very distressed. My husband, my best friend, and my brother have been very supportive and understanding as I have tried to figure out what I wanted to do in response. I decided to return it with a note saying this is inappropriate to send to your daughter and therefore changes nothing. Any further correspondence will be thrown away.

    Several times over the years they have sent bits and pieces that just upset whatever peace I'm able to get to. If ever they really wanted to make peace they can get a message to me through family members. I just want to be left alone.

    Except, I think my back is telling me that I have conflicted feelings about this. The other day when doing some expressive writing I wrote, "I miss having a mom." I think this is significant, because I have felt relief not being in touch with both parents and have not missed my mom. And, notice, I didn't write that I miss my mom, but having a mom. I think too that I am confused about doing the right thing. We TMSer's can't be mean or wrong or put our needs first. So guilt.

    So, I guess I will have to figure out how to be at peace with myself.
  2. MindBodyPT

    MindBodyPT Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Lizzy,

    My heart goes out to you at this difficult time. It definitely makes sense that you'd get some TMS flare ups with such a stressful even and all the emotions that come up around what has happened. I can't imagine what you're going through. Be gentle with yourself. Thinking of you.
    Lainey and Lizzy like this.
  3. Lizzy

    Lizzy Well known member

    Thank you MindbodyPT!

    It means a lot that we can get support here.

    I am feeling a little better this evening. I did some not so nice journaling and listened to Dr. Sarno reading one of his books. I think I need to journal more about this. I don't like to because it feels yucky, lol. Classic TMS behavior. I know what happens if I ignore this, so I will attend to myself. Thank you,
  4. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Lizzy,

    You make a wonderful, thoughtful post, a "writ large" of so many people's experience of family conflicts around our need for boundaries and our (sometimes unseen) desire to connect. I think some version this goes very deep in all of us. Just getting some glimpse of the conflict, and tying this to Dr. Sarno's work is very precious for our healing!

    Like MindBodyPT, I wish you gentleness and the peace you want. Just reading your post I feel tender inside. So many things we can do so little about, yet we're still here, feeling so much! I think your insight will bring you more self-compassion, which I always need.

    Andy B
  5. Lizzy

    Lizzy Well known member

    Thank you Andy,

    Today I'm much better. I realized this morning that I was slowly and softly brushing my teeth. I have been rushing and brushing too hard for awhile and have been trying so hard not to. Did you notice that? I was focused on the equivalent of a pain. I think when I really started to focus on my emotional work my way of being relaxed. The thing is, I have been trying so hard to focus on this issue with my parents. That pressure on my inner child again, poor thing. I am feeling more compassion for myself. I think of Plum writing this process is so nuanced. I am really relating to this right now. I am on a curvy road rather than a city grid, lol. I keep thinking in terms of turning a corner, when its a curve.

    We're learning though!
    Rainstorm B likes this.
  6. HattieNC

    HattieNC Well known member


    As I was reading this I felt such empathy for your situation, but frankly I also felt very compassionate toward your mom. Possibly, it's because I've been in a marriage for 35 years with a spouse who has a domineering personality. My personality is laid-back, live and let live. The first 15 years, I fought him vigorously in an attempt to equal out his dominance, then, I got tired of fighting and started giving in. I just didn't have the psychological/physical strength for the battle.
    As we have aged, we've found more of a happy medium. Through numerous tear-filled discussions, I finally got him to accept how soul destroying his need to always be the "boss" has been. I believe the old adage "opposites attract" is true, but it doesn't make for happy relationships when opposite personalities cohabitate.

    Would it be possible to reach out to your mother without your father finding out? Maybe have lunch together or go shopping? I shudder when I think of how lonely and desperate she must feel to write this manifesto of faults. Your father has obviously brainwashed her into believing this garbage. I'm not saying you should allow a toxic relationship into your life, but maybe it's not too late for you to help her come to her senses.

    My own mother passed away in 2011 and even though we had a lot of conflict during my adolescence and teenage years, we became best friends in adulthood. I miss her every day. I hate to see you miss out on an opportunity for reconciliation. Just my two cents worth. Whatever you decide, I wish you peace, joy, and freedom from pain.
    Lizzy likes this.
  7. Lizzy

    Lizzy Well known member

    Thanks for your help. I feel compassion for my mom, but anger too. She is unwilling to have a relationship unless I include my dad.

    My parents have been married more than fifty years. She left once when I was too small to remember and again when I was 23. Both times she went back the next day.

    All my adult life I have been in a relationship with my dad so that I can be in a relationship with my mom. We used to talk almost every day. I just can't be around him anymore. It sounds ridiculous, but I'm afraid of my dad. He knows what to say to shred the soul. He's very good at drawing verbal blood.

    Seven years ago she left and filed for divorce and was away five months. During that time I saw my dad a few times because I didn't want her to feel sorry for him and go back. When she went back something changed in me and I told her I couldn't continue contact with him, but I wanted to continue with her. We talked daily for about two weeks with my side being the effect his words have on me. Such as PTSD and 3 1/2 years of counseling in my 20's. She just insisted he was a wonderful father and the best husband in the world. I don't know if she believes it or has to say it to stay. When she filed for divorce no one I talked to was surprised. I ran into a gentleman that went to the same church for a few years 30 years before and he said he remembered that he never liked the way my dad treated his family. There were so many similar comments. It is just really sad.

    I do feel sorry for my mom. I think she is like someone who can't live outside after a long prison sentence.

    Maybe someday it will change, I hope so,
  8. HattieNC

    HattieNC Well known member

    Clearly your mother has an unhealthy dependence on your dad and the fear of being alone is more than she can psychologically handle. Almost like Stockholm syndrome. No wonder you've had to distance yourself from both of them! Thank goodness you have a supportive spouse, friend, brother, and the good folks on this Wiki. Sending healing thoughts your way.

    Here's an amazingly insightful quote about relationships from Steven Ozanich.

    "I would begin with abandonment. This is the heart of all of our problems in life, not just health. Any good psych knows that rejection, isolation, fear of abandonment are at the heart of all of our life problems and our health. You don't have to actually be abandoned, but the fear of abandonment still remains even of you feel you had a great childhood. It is the fear of isolation that most enrages us. Dr. Sarno once again insightfully noted that it was the residual childhood anger that was the main factor in TMS and health. And abandonment is at the heart of that anger whether it's through real rejection or fear of it, the tension in the early household is key to development of child.
    Lainey and Lizzy like this.
  9. Lizzy

    Lizzy Well known member

    That quote probably gets to the heart of things going on in me right now. Tomorrow I will be visiting my dad's first cousin and my second cousins. They have all been really supportive of my choice, although we don't continue to talk about it. Not in a negative way, I mean they don't pry. ( Clue: As I'm writing this my heart is pounding.)

    Anyway, after reading the quote, I'm aware of the importance of the extended family not rejecting me. Not long after my mom went back she sent me a blank card and wrote, long story short, that they had brought me into the family and since I have removed myself from them I'm no longer part of the family and I should stay away from family gatherings. My mom had never done anything like this before. She is the passive one. She never defended us as kids, but she was nice.

    So, the note abandoned me and I think maybe made me afraid of what my place in the family might become. I'm thinking about my daughter's wedding and a year later my son's. It meant so much to me that my dad's brother and his family came. I have been to some family gatherings and my parents have not been there. (Now I'm feeling teary) I'm really grateful my family is still seeing me, but I'm aware of the fear that I don't really know if the tie is fragile or strong. I think it is strong, but fear only needs a sliver of doubt.

    Wow. Writing this has been very eye opening.

    I'm very close to my mom's sister and her my cousins and their families. We live in the same city and I see them lots.

    All I can say, again, is wow. This is amazing. And I thought it was just the notebooks my mom sent. Perfect example of saying I already know what it is that is causing my TMS symptoms, and being clueless about a big part of it.

    Thank you Hattie,
    HattieNC likes this.
  10. Time2be

    Time2be Well known member

    I really empathize, you have a hard time and you have a dilemma situation that is hard to tackle. On the one hand you want to be a part of the family, on the other your father’s abusiveness is making you sick. I decided to have some contact with my parents and especially with my mother. But I see now that her constant complaining about my father (legitime complaining though) is influencing me in a negative way. The reason is that I feel totally stuck when I talk to my mother, that nothing ever changes and that she and my father will die both unhappy and full of resentment towards each other. I see the same feeling of being stuck in your situation. I don’t have an advice how to act. But I know that you need to get out of this feeling of being trapped and stuck.
    Lizzy likes this.
  11. Lizzy

    Lizzy Well known member


    You're so right about being stuck! From reading Claire Weekes books I think we can learn to think differently about a problem so that while not solved, we accept. Now that I think about it, that is what happens when we get through the five steps of grief. Acceptance. No one fixes that someone they love died, but some people accept it and are at peace.

    I hope you're able to come to that acceptance whatever you decide about your mom and dad too. It seems like deciding is so hard.

    I did have a really wonderful time visiting with my cousins yesterday. My grandma and her sister are the connection between us and we had a great time reminiscing about them, they've been gone quite a few years, but we really miss them. They were both really fun but really strict, probably a combination of their fun loving personalities and growing up during the depression. It was really good for me to be with them. I hope focusing on the realization that they are not abandoning me will allow it to sink in.
    MWsunin12 likes this.
  12. Time2be

    Time2be Well known member

    Wonderful to hear that you had a good time with your cousins! I had also a good time with my sister this week. And you are right about acceptance. As long as we don’t accept reality our expectancies will make us feel frustrated when they collide with reality. Maybe acceptance makes it easier to have a relationship with difficult parents.
    Lizzy likes this.
  13. MWsunin12

    MWsunin12 Beloved Grand Eagle


    Thanks so much for posting this. Like AndyB said, there are probably many of us who have a similar parental history.
    Often, the most loving thing to do is say "no."

    I do think you miss "a" mom. I do, too. One of the reasons we get TMS is that we can't match our childhood experiences with others that we witnessed having supportive, encouraging, loving parents.

    Even in your mother's humbled dependence, it's also a sign of narcissism, constantly feeling sorry for oneself.

    I think we can have compassion, because your parents and my own had more minimal access to outside ideas, introspection, and mental health ideas overall. Or, if they did...they were too afraid to do the work of figuring it out.

    I feel the best I can do is to figure it out and do the hard work myself, not expecting any changes from anyone else. It seems like that's what you are doing, too. I support you from afar in our hopes and goals.

    It's still a heartache.

    Lizzy likes this.
  14. Lizzy

    Lizzy Well known member

    What you said!

    "I do think you miss "a" mom. Ido, too. One of the reasons we get TMS is that we can't match our childhoodexperiences with others that we witnessed having supportive,encouraging, loving parents."

    This. Is. So. True. This is also something that acceptance would help.

    You're right about having compassion because they had fewer opportunities to make a difference. And I am grateful for the help I've had in the past and here on the forum.
    We are making progress,

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