Dear Annie: I have an abusive mother, and for many years I put myself in her path. Any time I opened up to someone about her behavior, I heard, “But she’s your mum,” or “She means well,” or “You only have one mother,” much like the letter writer “Chosen Family.”
All that did was to cement my mother’s accusation of my nastiness.
I do know why she is the way she is. My grandfather was a horrible man who was very uninterested in a daughter. But I also learned about narcissists (her) and how they use scapegoats (me).
I understand it is not me. But just because I understand doesn’t mean I will put myself in a situation where I could be abused again. And, more importantly, I will not allow my daughter to be subjected to the same judgment I have heard her spout about my nieces. I will not allow this toxicity to hurt another generation. As for all those who are lucky enough to not understand, I look them in the eye and unashamedly tell them that my mother is a nasty woman and I don’t see her.
Just because she’s my mum doesn’t mean much. – Staying Away
Dear Staying Away: I am sorry that you didn’t have a mom who was as loving, accepting and nurturing as you deserved. Sadly, you are correct that not everyone gets a good mother. Your awareness about why your mother treated you the way she did is commendable.
The next step would be to see your mom as a victim of abuse from her father, and then, with time, you can forgive her for the way she treated you. Forgive her, not for her sake, but for yours. Holding onto that anger for years can be toxic to you and your daughter. Thank you for sharing your story.
Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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