Trigger Warning – this article has mention of abuse, manipulation, and no contact with abuser and family.
We were visiting my grandmother in her room at the local retirement home having a nice visit. My aunt, who is her primary care giver, her cell rang and she motioned to us to be quiet as it was “her”.
She handed the phone to my grandma who was sitting on the edge of her bed beside me. She couldn’t hear her well so she switched ears, to the side I was sitting on.
I could hear her through the phone saying “Can you hear me now?” to my grandma, and the sound of her voice could suddenly not be removed from my head. I got up and went to the bathroom to be alone, and process.
I haven’t heard her voice in over 10 years. Aside from the random times I hear her in my own voice or laugh, I cringe.
10 years ago she made the decision to stay with the man who sexually abused me throughout my childhood. She stood up for him in court to defend him even though she knew deep down he had done what I was saying he did.
When I told her, she said “Well, you know that happened to him as a child” as if that should be some sort of consolation to my years of being abused and raised in a narcissistic abusive environment. She knew it was possible I was telling the truth, but she still chose him.
He was abusive and manipulative to her as well, brain washed with his excuses for disgusting behaviour. If most knew the truth, they would be baffled that she stayed, that she chose that over her own flesh and blood.
On the outside, you don’t see the truth of what he is. Inside he was deeply broken and damaged himself and left “unchecked” he continues to destroy the lives of those closest to him, slowly over time. He always made sure he was well groomed, she clipped his toe nails and shaved his disgusting hairy back (BARF!). Well maintained hair, nice clothing. Had a good job, nice truck, and lots of friends and family who would never believe he was capable of sexually abusing a 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, or 14 year old…
Knowing she still lives under the same roof as him, maybe even sleeps in the same bed as him, makes him dinner, and caters to his every need …makes me sick to my stomach.
I ache for her sometimes, when I am feeling really low in life, sickness, migraines that last for days, or when I really could use a chat with my mom. Times like those, I feel even worse as I know I can’t have that ever again.
She used to be someone I talked to 2 to 3 times a day. Sometimes it was only once, but still every day. If I needed help, she was usually there for me even in the midst of all the chaos and dysfunction. I put up with all the chaos, dysfunction and HIM so I could keep her in my life, because I always knew deep down she would choose him no matter what. Even if she knew what he was doing to me, she would still stay. I knew that would break me, and it did, still does.
I held onto the hope that I could function that way, sweeping all the lies, abuse, and hurt under the proverbial rug. I really thought I could, until I became a mother myself.
Holding onto that hope, having my abuser in my regular life put my emotional and physical health in jeopardy in such a BIG way, the pain I would feel for the rest of my life. I had no idea how much tension I was holding inside me, I am very good at disconnecting from my thoughts and body…not that weird for someone like me.
It became inescapable, which is good for me to connect to in some ways to help me try release some of it and heal. My poor tired shoulders and body, are in need of some rest.
Don’t get me wrong, I was suffering emotionally and physically before I became a mother. Deep, rough bouts of depression. Avoiding life, all the while made it look like I was living one. Many were surprised when I told them what I had been going through when I no longer could hold it myself.
Once I became a mother, my emotional distress became unavoidable. I knew I couldn’t have him in my life anymore. She told me that I had a husband and son, and that if she left him she would have nothing.
I actually laugh about this sometimes, because she would have had us. We would have been there for her, but she was so convinced that she had and was nothing without him she could not even imagine a life without him. Even if it meant her relationship with her daughter.
I remember talking to her when I was 13. We were hiding in the bathroom after one of their intense fights, and I told her flat out she should leave. That we would be happier without him, she deserved better. I was 13! She told me I wouldn’t have all the “things”. Potential education, Travel, vehicle, and she continued with the list of material things. In response I said, I don’t care about those things but I could still have them without living here. She couldn’t imagine.
So, when I heard her voice for the first time in 10 years I won’t lie I went into a bit of a spin for a few days. Might still be spinning really.
I’ve asked my family that still has contact with her to keep things about her to themselves, that it hurts me to hear about her life that didn’t seem to skip a beat these last 10 years. Even during our 5 year court case, they traveled and enjoyed life all the while prolonging the entire process. (That is another story to tell about my experience with the courts for historical sexual abuse case.)It was hard for me to know those things, it took them awhile to get it.
I know that she can never be apart of our lives, especially my son who does not even remember her anymore. I told him she was dead once, but then I felt VERY guilty and didn’t want that on my conscience and eventually was honest with him when he was old enough to understand. Yes mom guilt for telling him that BUT for 2 years after he last saw her he asked me where Grandma was. He eventually stopped but for 2 years it was heartbreaking for us both.
I don’t tell people that you should go no contact with family members, but sometimes you have to. Just because someone is family does not give them permission to manipulate or treat you badly. I absolutely wish things could be different, but I will continue doing what is best for me and my family.
What I did to cope with going No-Contact with my Mother:
- Removed all gifts, pictures, or reminders of her from my home and life. It’s really hard to move on from something if there are reminders in your everyday life.
- Some family members will understand, Some will tell you that they are family and you shouldn’t be going no-contact. Ask them to respect your wishes, and that you are doing what is best for your emotional health. You do not owe anyone any more details than that if you don’t want to share, but you may have to remind them that it hurts you to hear about no-contact. Prepare yourself to lose more than just that person, as it oftens happens when people feel like they have to pick sides.
- ONLY talk to people who understand why you need to go no contact. Many people who have different parents and upbringings may find it hard to understand.
- If you can find a therapist, they can support you through the loss. It was the best thing I did for myself and really helped me cope. It is truly a loss.
- Allow yourself to grieve, because you will need to! For a couple years I was very depressed at the loss of my mom, like she had died. Some days I thought to myself it would have almost been easier to process if she had passed away.
- Remove ALL friends and family that do not understand or are still associated with whoever you are no-contact with from all your social media platforms. They do not need to see your information and relay to people you don’t want knowing your business, as well you don’t need to see their information and be reminded or triggered.
- Stick to your guns! You will have sad days where you want to give in and call them. This will push back and strides you’ve made in healing. Make an appointment with your therapist asap, or call an understanding friend to get together with for some support
- Be gentle with yourself always – you deserve to grieve, you deserve to be happy, you deserve to be depressed, you deserve whatever you need to help you feel even just one bit of comfort during this time. Practicing self care when you can.
- Avoid turning to alcohol or drugs as a distraction, that can lead down a very self destructive road. Focus on healing (whatever that means to you) and what you need to feel better NOT worse or distracted!
- Recognizing some things in her, made me realize what type of mother I didn’t want to be. She was the perfect example of what NOT to do, but an example all the same. I strive to be a good and present mom, and provide a safe and calm environment for my son to grow up in. Finding that tiny bit of good in all of it, settles my heart and soul giving me hope for my continued healing.
If you know someone who has gone no contact with a family member, friend, or significant other even, give them the benefit of the doubt that it was an enormously hard decision for them to make and likely took them along time to actually come to make. They do not need your judgement.
Accept that you don’t understand, you don’t need to. Be thankful that you don’t, and have never had to endure the pain of making that decision. Offer your love and support in any way they will receive it. Sometimes just offering makes us not feel so alone and like people care. We are grieving, be kind and gentle.