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Cathy, Counselor
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 1436
Experience:  Ms, MS.Ed., thirty years clinical practice
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Hi, Coming from a home where Dad was an alcoholic, and mom

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Hi, Coming from a home where Dad was an alcoholic, and mom subservient to him, I was ignored as Mom put his needs above my own at the expense of my well being. Ie- Dad was physically abusive and Mom did not protect me. Also, she sticks very close to him and considers herself to be very in love with him and her every breath. I see this as her using a reaction formation because I think she is scared but treats him like a king. She has not much say in her opinions, yet continues to serve him.
After I got married, they left the State and I only have seen them come up when the kids were born which was seventeen years ago. Mom stopped occasionally in our State maybe once of twice over that period, but my two kids age 15 and 17 have not grown up with grandparents. When I became quite ill in 2002, my life changed and was forced to stop working. I had no help , no phone calls from Mom (or Dad). I started to reach out to Mom to try to build a relationship , but she would deny things that were true, accuse me of lying, and she had back stabbed me on a few occasions. I finally realized that looking for a Mom and finding her , the cost was too high. I needed to keep a distance from her. The pain is such that I have rage thinking (or seeing her picture) about all of this.
Now she wants to come up for my sons graduation (highschool). She also does not know what medications I take for my illness. After eight years of taking heavy duty expensive drugs which alter my immune system, she thinks I am on a non steroidal anti inflamatory drug. She has no clue or doesnt wanna have a clue about the seriousness of my disease. She was never a support for me. From past experience, she was someone who I could not express my true feelings. She knows I dont want to see her. I told her I am not having a graduation party. I do not keep my kids away from her if they want to see her - its ok with me. I just dont wanna see her. Where was she during the trauma of my illness when I couldnt walk? where was she the past 19 years and now she wants to come up for the good times only? Forget it.
I am furious and its eating me inside. Although I made the decision to keep a superficial phone conversation with her, even that is very difficult! Since she is the type who I do not trust with my own feelings, should I tell her anyway - where were you during the bad times? She has no relationship with me. Im afraid to get into anything with her. I sometimes shake (pent up rage) after hanging up the phone,
just knowing all that she done to me. But she denies the physical abuse and twists
all things I say. She's pushy and manipulative and will look for excuses to try and see me. Should I confront her and tell her once again "I'm sorry - I dont want to see you,
it's too late, I don't trust you or feel comfortable around you and you've never been there for me." Or when dealing with Mom who is limited and toxic - I should just
say NO, Don't come but don't give explanation. I'm afraid of opening up a can of worms (her abuse) and hurting myself for being honest.

Hi and thanks for writing JA

and first off just let me say I am so sorry for all you have endured growing up and even recently as you reconciled some hard facts about your parents who were clearly not there for you when you needed them most.


You know JA is an informational service only and so of course we cannot diagnose or prescribe and our powers are pretty limited here. You are so intelligent and so insightful that I have to ask why you have never sought therapy on this? I say this because you have a lifetime of some very very good reasons to be so angry (rightfully so) but instead you are writing here (and please do not take this as a criticism because it is not). Certainly you must know that after years of trauma you need to talk to someone who is caring and compassionate and can help you sort out how the trauma you endured growing up impacts your life today, how to set healthy boundaries and how to trust yourself and your judgment when it comes to making decisions about family gatherings.


Today I had a client in my office who described exactly, just exactly, what you are saying. Her father called her and denied any abuse her young life. Like your father he was alcoholic and inflicted years of both physical and emotional abuse on her family. She said it took every ounce of restraint not to read him the riot act on the phone and to be accusatory and negative. Instead she waited two days and sat down and wrote him and her mother a very honest and blunt letter that was also very caring and respectful. It took so much for her to write that letter and I have to admit I was quite surprised at her and how positively she handled this lifelong situation.


I wonder if you might also find a way to set boundaries like this? And as far as opening up a can of worms for being so honest (please do not be angry with me for asking this) but it does seem to me that your parents have been holding the open can of worms for years..............I think the can of worms was open for years and you are simply tired of having to ignore that :)

You are smart and insightful. Think about setting better limits with them no matter how manipulative and how hurtful they can be and do think about a few sessions with a therapist just so you know how best to proceed.

Let me know if you need more help on this.

All my best and warmest regards XXXXX XXXXX


Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Hi Cathy, <br />     I received a notice from JA that you felt this question was underpriced under my current subscription plan. It is no problem for me to add $8. / bonus once the option allows after question is closed. <br />     <br />     Thank you for telling me I am "intelligent" and "insightful" since I was told otherwise <br />my entire life.<br /> <br />     I already wrote them a letter and it was not received well and denied by them (no surprise there), but at least I did it.<br /><br />     Yes, trusting myself and decision making, assertiveness ect., is difficult because I was taught otherwise (not to trust myself), and just to listen to them. <br />   <br />     Yes, I will take your recommendation to set boundries no matter how hurt I feel and manipulative they become. I hesitated because when I am straight forward, they tend to make me feel guilty and turn up their abusive behaviors. Staying silent (on my part) <br />and keeping it bottled up is no good either. <br /><br />     I am trying to find a therapist in my area but have not found one I feel adequate to address these issues so far, but I am still searching for one.<br /><br />     Blessings and thank you for all your insight. <br /> <br /> <br /><br />    <br />
Hi, No, I was not the one who reported it under priced although I do think it is :) I responded even at the under price because you had been waiting so long and I am concerned about what you have gone through.

First off, you ARE very intelligent and yes, I do know how hard it is to set boundaries especially when people we know and yes love, become manipulative. Heres the thing though, you have been held hostage long enough and it is time for you to move forward, heal and no longer be harmed by your parents poor behavior.

Keep looking for a therapist. I would specifically recommend that you try someone who is skilled in CBT. I am not especially fond of those therapists who claim to work with adult survivors of alcoholic parents, so I would not look in that direction.

I know this is not going to be the easiest or most comfortable stage in your life and with your parents, but ultimately, once you have asserted yourself and moved forward you will find out how quickly they will learn to abide by your terms.

I wish you all the best. I do not know where you live but if you send me the county and state (no address please) I might be able to refer you to a therapist?
Let me know.
Warm regards,

Edited by Cathy on 9/14/2010 at 4:09 PM EST
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