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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5809
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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I have a question about dealing with my mother. My parents

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I have a question about dealing with my mother.
My parents divorced when I was about 7. It was a relationship of domestic violence.
My mom took me to back east to live with family out there. Since then, it was downhill.
She would spank me every time i was afraid of jumping off the diving board. She would randomly hit my leg whilel driving in the car. She once grabbed my arms when i had a horrible sunburn.
she sent me to military school at 14, put me on a plane to my grandparents at 16, saying it was a vacation, but it was supposed to be for good. She put me on the plane again, finally at 17 for good.
Since I was 17, she has called me 3 times, once to tell me my grandma died, 2 for money, 3 just to return my phone call.
She got married about 6 months ago to a guy she met online and asked when i'm going to visit. She hasn't gone to my graduations and she didn't even introduce me to her husband before marrying him. The way she treats me makes me want to vomit.
How do I deal with someone like this and how do I deal with the her aging and that she might need help in the future. I have had low self esteem from this and have depression on a common basis from it. I am afraid if I buy a house one day, she'll ask to live with me or ask me for more money. It's so strange having a horrible relationship with her. Now all she sends me is e-mails, even on my birthday. Or she'll send me religious ones to try to convert me.
how do I deal with someone like this?

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

I am sorry you were so horribly abused. It sounds like your mother did not know how to parent and most likely also had some sort of mental health disorder.

The affects of abuse on a child vary. In seems in your case, you wanted her to love you (and still do- that is very normal) but there is a conflict for you between wanting to be loved by her and the very human instinct of staying away from someone who has hurt you and still wants to hurt you.

You also are suffering from the effects of childhood abuse. Anger, depression and tearfulness are all signs of emotional scars from abuse. Because of this, before you can consider handling the situation with your mother, you need to help yourself work through your feelings.

You might also be in mourning over the loss of the childhood, and the parents, you were supposed to have. That is also very normal. The older you get and the more you work through how you feel, you begin to understand how your life was supposed to be if your parents had been normal and loving parents. This loss is one of the hardest to deal with in recovery from childhood abuse, but it can be worked through.

Have you considered seeing a therapist? A therapist can do a full evaluation and determine what is going on and how to treat you. From what you have told me, it sounds like you are dealing with at least depression. But, you also may have some mild PTSD (Post traumatic stress disorder). Both are very common reactions to childhood abuse.

To find a therapist, talk with your doctor about a referral. Or, if you attend church, your pastor can help. You can also search on line at

You can also help yourself. Look into support groups for adults abused as children. You can start your search by contacting your local community mental health center for a list. You can also read books about childhood abuse. Here are some suggestions:

Outgrowing the Pain: A Book for and About Adults Abused As Children by Eliana Gil

Adult Children of Abusive Parents: A Healing Program for Those Who Have Been Physically, Sexually, or Emotionally Abused - Paperback (Apr. 14, 1990) by Steven Farmer (I highly recommend this book)

A Man's Recovery from Traumatic Childhood Abuse: The Insiders by Robert Falconer and Mark Falstein

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

As for your mother, keep in mind that you are not obligated to deal with her. Even if you are an only child, you still do not have to deal with her. As she ages, there are aging services available to help her. You can tell anyone who contacts you about her that you do not want responsibility for her and that is it. No one can force you legally to deal with her. These services are in place to deal with those elderly who do not have children or others to care for them so they are equipped to help your mother as well.

You can also refuse her phone calls and block her emails. The lack of contact with her can help you heal. You will probably need to go through a mourning/grief period to deal with the loss of the contact with your mother. But you are already dealing with the grief of your lost childhood and how your mother (and father) was supposed to treat you, so that is familiar to you.

Or you can also keep the communication open. You may continue to get hurt, but it would keep you in her life and vice versa, for as much as she is able to handle it. It also keeps the small chance of reconciliation open as well. This choice leaves you vulnerable to getting hurt a lot, but if you think you have enough support in your life and you are dealing with your issues, this is a viable option for you.

Therapy can help you make some of these tough choices. It is not easy, because you will feel many emotions no matter which choice you make regarding your mother. But with support, educating yourself and motivation, you will feel better.

Let me know if you have any more questions or need clarification.

I hope this has helped you,

TherapistMarryAnn and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 6 years ago.

Thanks. That was excellent.

I just have one more question about it.

I do not want her to treat my children (which I don't have yet) the way she treated me.

I feel guilty about keeping her away from my children, but I don't want them to be hurt or th experience the pain I did. .

You are welcome! I am glad the answer helped.

I understand your concern. If you choose to maintain contact with your mother, then you can allow her to see your children. Just be sure you never leave them alone with her. She may seem very different with your children than she did with you, leaving you to think that she may have changed. But abusers rarely change unless they gain insight and get help to deal with what they did. So you can assume that your mother will continue her behavior with your children as well if they are left alone with her.

It is not unacceptable for you to keep your children from her if you feel the visits would do more harm than good. Your children, as they get older, will naturally want to ask about your childhood and their grandmother. Just be honest with them and tell them why you don't see your mother. Keep your explanations age appropriate so you don't scare them, but otherwise be honest. Children are amazing at sensing someone misguiding them so the more honest you are, the better. Answer any questions they have as well. They won't understand abuse since they will grow up in a loving home with you, but they will adapt and feel secure in your answers.


TherapistMarryAnn and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Thank you very much. It was very difficult growing up with her. Thanks for your excellent advice.

You are welcome! I am glad I could help.