Source: The Wall of Her Heart
noun thresh·old \ˈthresh-ˌhōld, ˈthre-ˌshōld\
Definition: the point or level at which something begins or changes
If any of my readers have been with me from the beginning, they know my battles with own mother. They’ve gone on for as long as I can remember. It’s been quite sometime since I’ve posted but today I felt compelled to do so. Why? Not necessarily because of recent events, but I’m certainly not discounting them. Because I’ve hit a threshold in life. I have to care about ME enough not to let someone poison my life, cause drama or bring me down. Some people thrive on hurting others yet step back to look like a victim. I also believe there is a name for that too. It’s narcissistic behavior.
I am a co-dependent person by nature so it’s a constant battle that is inside me. Those traits are not always a bad thing but when they allow you to be hurt or you take on too much emotional damage and drama from others then it is a bad thing. When it has come to my mother, it’s been a long time coming for me to see this. But when the day came, it’s almost like I heard the flick of the switch and the light came on.
The morning of May 24th, 2016 was no different than the others. I got ready for work and at the same time every morning I got in my car and headed toward the interstate. Sitting at a RED light…not moving….I got rear-ended by a commercial truck. I was hit hard enough that my sunglasses came off and ended up in the floorboard. For a moment, I couldn’t even figure out where the brake pedal was. Certainly, that was some kind of concussion even if a mild one. I’ll jump to the part where I’m ok….had a neck sprain and sore back for a week and was out of work on Flexeril but I survived.
Here’s where the “collision” really happened with regard to my mother/daughter relationship. My mother and I had a disagreement the week before and hadn’t spoken. Not unusual. I thought nothing of it when I dialed her number with shaking hands to let her know I’d been in an accident and needed her to call me. It went to voice mail. I pictured her sitting back, smirking as she listened to my cries knowing she was punishing me by not answering. I hung up after I left the message. As the seconds and minutes ticked by I knew she wasn’t calling back and panic and disbelief started rolling around in my thoughts. It was SURE she would not abandon me at a time like this. But my Dad called. He said my Mother had called him and said I’d been in an accident and he needed to call me. Unbelievable! But was it really?
I’m sure those of you that are mothers probably are reading this in shock. Or maybe you have a mother of your own that would do this. I don’t know. Either way, when I got home I remember sitting down and crying uncontrollably for a mother I realized didn’t care. She didn’t know the extent of my injuries but she still didn’t care enough to find out. That was my threshold. The point that I knew something had to change. It had to change within me. And it did!
You see, I’ve spent my entire life seeking the approval of a narcissistic mother and feeling as I’ve failed each and every time. Always sending the Mother’s Day cards, the Birthday Cards, the Christmas Cards….because it was the right thing to do. AND because I didn’t want to regret doing the right thing or doing EVERYTHING I COULD DO without leaving any stone un-turned. But where was the threshold? When was enough enough? I thought I’d never run out of hope.
If there was ever a proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back….that was it. Those closest to me think it’s just another fight…I will send another card or make another phone call to apologize for….apologize for what? Getting into an accident and wanting my mother? Wasn’t sure what I’d be apologizing for now. Her birthday was August 1st….the first time in my life I didn’t stand in Hallmark looking for a card that fit my situation for how I felt about her. Cards like that don’t exist quite frankly. I guess I loved her because if it not for her I wouldn’t be here on this earth (although there are times I question that too) but I certainly don’t like who she is and I don’t have to be around it anymore. It’s MY decision. They are MY boundaries. And I won’t LET her hurt me anymore. Why would I purposely continue going to the same dry well looking for water when there is none. She is void of maternal love.
On August 1st I’m sure she waited on a call from me….or checked the mail hoping for a card because that’s her power and control over me. I call….she ignores. I send a card…she doesn’t acknowledge because the ink wasn’t in blue or black or whatever she could use to say I failed in some way. She’s in control and I’m made to feel belittled.
But now I realize at 41 years old I’m the one that’s in control. I shouldn’t have to beg my mother to love me or be there for me. I know have my boundaries and for the first time I do not feel guilty for not buying a card or calling.
What is insanity? Doing the same thing over and over expecting a different outcome. It’s time to stop the insanity. It was my choice all along.
I have learned that I’ve done nothing wrong. I’ve just put myself in situations that continually hurt ME. I’m not allowing it anymore. Do I wish it were different? Sure. But a very special woman said to me that day on my accident “any woman is capable of having a child….but it doesn’t mean they are capable of being a mother”. I will never forget that because it’s so true.
I know there are more like me in this world. Although I used to feel so alone. There should be support groups for adult children of narcissistic parents who are incapable of loving their own children. But at this juncture I have God and he’s my ultimate parent.
So that’s my threshold, my friends. Everyone has one and there isn’t anything wrong with loving YOU or taking care of YOU!
It has finally come down to the post that I think I was dreading even though it’s the catalyst of why I believe I have been codependent most of my life. It’s ultimately my story of my challenging childhood being raised by an alcoholic mother and the absence of a father until I was ten. I’ve been dreading this because I don’t want my story to come across as bitter or bashing my parents. In no way, do I plan to use this blog for that purpose. Only to express my experiences and looking to touch others lives that need to feel they aren’t alone. I know I’ve felt that way. My parents did the best they knew how and loved me to the best of their ability. I want to write about where I came from, what I lived through and how I’ve learned to build healthy boundaries through it all.
I grew up with a mother that struggled with alcoholism. After her and my father got divorced, we lived with my Nana. I watched my mother turn to alcohol to cover up the pain she dealt with in her life. In her defense, she lost her younger brother at 17 to a drunk driver, her father to emphysema and the ending of her marriage to my father. I’m not going to point the blame to her and say it’s all on her, she clearly had her own hurts that were buried in a bottle. But either way, it wasn’t a picnic growing up around it.
Because we lived with my Nana, I became increasingly close to her. She was the stability that I held onto during the rough patches. She was a saint in my eyes. Unfortunately, I only had her in my life for 10 short years. 30 years ago this year, we buried her after suffering a stroke which took her life. To this day, I grieve the loss of a woman who had such an impact in my life.
My mother raised me as a single parent for ten years and then married my step father. I remember the drinking got increasingly worse as I got into my teenage years. Because of alcohol abuse, we did not have a close relationship. It has always been rocky and for that I’m sad. I’m not sure it will ever be the healthy mother/daughter relationship that I want to have but through that I’m able to realize that God is my ultimate Father and one that will never abandon or reject me as I’ve felt many times in the past.
My mother and I have gone years without speaking. Just recently we didn’t speak for 8 mos. over something that could have been worked out. My punishment is not only the silence….but silence on dates where everyone is celebrating. When families are gathering around the Christmas tree….I’m without my mother. My birthday has even come and gone without recognition of the day she gave birth to me. And finally Mother’s Day….the day that causes me the most pain because I feel such a void in my life. And the same question that rolls around in my head….what did I do that was so bad that warrants me being ignored. If no one has experienced it, let me please tell you from the bottom of my heart that it’s the most painful thing a child….even an adult child….can ever experience. No one can make that pain go away….no one can say the right words and unless they’ve been there….no one truly understands.
With that being said, my mother and I recently started speaking last week. It’s very strained and extremely awkward but I’m just trying to help rebuild the relationship and I never seem to run out of hope of it working…..because this time it might just work out. Maybe just maybe.
But if I’m not careful that rebuilding can be me doing all the heavy lifting and the hope can turn into walking on egg shells or saying just the right thing….not necessarily the truth….just so I can keep the relationship balancing on a tightrope that is high above a black hole. I’ve learned that it’s not my job to fix and rescue and people please. That, my friends, is a codependent way of thinking. And it’s unhealthy. So here’s what I’ve learned about boundaries. Let’s start with what unhealthy boundaries look like:
- Do you ever feel like people take advantage of you or use your emotions for their own gain?
- Do you ever feel like you’re constantly having to “save” people close to you and fix their problems all the time?
- Do you find yourself sucked into pointless fighting or debating regularly?
- Do you tell people how much you hate drama but seem to always be stuck in the middle of it?
- Do you spend a lot of time defending yourself for things you believe aren’t your fault?
For myself, my healthy boundaries look more like this now:
- Recognize and acknowledge your own feelings.
- Recognize how your boundaries have been crossed.
- Reset your boundary or remind someone what the boundary is.
- (example: refusing to be verbally abused…stop the conversation)
- Get grounded! For me that would be quiet time with God and spending time reading the Bible to recenter myself.
- Voice your boundary! If there is backlash, take a step back and take care of yourself. Remember you are not responsible for the other person’s reaction.
- Take care of yourself! Take a walk, read a book, relax. Do what is right for you.
I am putting these into place now and I’m hopeful that with the new tools I have with my Conquering Codependency course and the 12 Steps I worked hard on, that now I can use them in this next phase of trying to have a mother/daughter relationship.
I never stop hoping!