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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
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Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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I have alot of anger towards my mother and have for a long

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I have alot of anger towards my mother and have for a long time. I feel as if she has no feelings towards me. I feel like she is using me as a scapegoat for her anger towards her alcoholic father who used to beat her . she makes me feel as if I was the one who beat her, and it sets me off when she lays her guilt on me & feels validated when I explode! HELP!

Hi, I'd like to help you with your question.


It sounds like your mother has not been able to cope with what happened to her as a child and instead of dealing with it, she has transferred her feelings to you. She is also using you as a shield against her father so she can safely (at least in her mind) express her feelings that she cannot say to him face to face.


Although it is difficult to do, you can limit how much you get involved in your mother's issues. Start limiting your contact with her. If she calls you, talk with her. But as soon as she mentions anything about her problems and tries to draw you in, stop the conversation. You can either redirect it, or you can say goodbye and hang up. This is tough to do at first because most adult children feel terribly guilty and upset about what they are doing and feel like they are rejecting their parent. A child's instinct is to always try to love their parents, especially their mother. But loving someone does not mean having to accept abuse. And that love does not give the parent free rein to do what they want, including hurting their child.


If you see her in person, then the same rule applies. Try to keep the conversation about other things. If she ventures into her problems or otherwise tries to use you, let her know you will talk with her again another time then leave.


After a while, she will begin to understand that you will no longer tolerate her behavior. It may or may not change her. She most likely will keep trying to stay on the same pattern with you. It is what works for her and she probably does not know how to change it, especially if she lacks insight. But as an adult, she needs to be responsible for how she is acting instead of using you to cope.


What would help you a lot is talking with a therapist. When you have been abused, it is hard to tell what is normal and what is not. A therapist can help you find the normal so you know when you are being used/abused and can better protect yourself. You can talk with your doctor about a referral or search on line at


There are also numerous resources to help you at home. Here are some to get you started:


Adult Children of Abusive Parents: A Healing Program for Those Who Have Been Physically, Sexually, or Emotionally Abused by Steven Farmer


Toxic Parents: Overcoming Their Hurtful Legacy and Reclaiming Your Life by Susan Forward and Craig Buck


An Adult Child's Guide to What's 'Normal' by John C. Friel Ph.D. and Linda D. Friel M.A.


You can find these on or your local library may have them for you.


I hope this has helped you,

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
thank you for the insight. you say when she talks about her problems change the conversation, but it is when she points out my problems that get to me. its the same concept just reversed. should I do the same thing? change the conversation, walk away.? I feel as if I should make a statement to her expressing how I feel about this, such as "it makes me feel guilty when people talk about me like I am not there."

Yes, do the same thing. It is important to realize that her comments and criticism of you is not about you, but about her. She does not understand normal, so she reacts the only way she was taught, which is to hurt others. She does not seem to have insight into her behavior. Otherwise, she would attempt to stop what she is doing and if she could not, she would seek help. That is healthy adult behavior.


Making a statement to her will most likely only give her more fuel for her fire. Unless she has a sudden ability to see her own behavior as wrong, she will not hear your comment to her. The best way in this situation is to protect yourself. Think of it as this: you would not allow a stranger or even a friend treat you this way, why should your mother be allowed to? That does not mean you don't love her but that you are not accepting being abused. You can still love her and protect yourself at the same time.



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