Sunday, December 5, 2010

Therapy Assignment #1

My therapist asked me to write about the experience this past summer that has caused this little set back in my mental health journey.  It was very difficult to do, but has helped a lot with alleviating my anxiety. I struggled with sharing this story, but I thought it was important, to not only show how physical abuse occurs, but also how verbal/emotional abuse, leave scars that can't always be seen with the naked eye.

Through my therapy I have come to realize I have been abused my entire life by my mother.  I was never spanked as a child, but I was ALWAYS verbally/emotionally abused by my mother.  This is the story of one of many experience of abuse that I suffered at the hands of my mother.

Here is what my mother had to say about this situation on Facebook.  These are her exact words “What do you do with 2 ungrateful, disrespectful daughters? Accept responsibility for the part you played in making them that way and give in to their wiles and smooth things over or take a stand? This time I chose to take a stand...lets see what happens:)"

I do not think being ungrateful or disrespectful, which we weren't, gives anyone permission to abuse another person. PERIOD.


This is my second attempt at writing about my experience with my mother on my birthday weekend.  Just a split second of thought about what happened sends me into severe anxiety.  I have not even started to write about it and I am shaking and my chest hurts.  I feel the tears welling up in my eyes.

The question that keeps going through my head is “Why?”  Why me? Why does she treat me this way? Why does she want to hurt me? Why?

It was a great birthday weekend.  I was celebrating turning 40 by having a 4 day party.  This was the second time I was spending time with my mother since we started talking again.  I had cut off all communication back when my daughter graduated from HS.  My mother, once again, was not happy with our lifestyle and started a fight and became very verbally abusive to both myself and my daughter.  As per the norm, I did not stand up to her, but my daughter did.  This did not please my mother at all, if anything it made the matter worse.  She ranted about how disrespectful my daughter was and how my parenting skills where the reason for my daughters “bad” behaviour.   I was very proud of my daughter for standing up to her and wished I had the ability to do that too.  I still fear my mother. 

3 years passed and I was going through some health difficulties and required surgery.  My mother wanted to come and take care of me for the week after my surgery.  At first, I had the usual feelings of worry, doubt & anxiety.  The last thing I needed was my mother coming and starting the usual trouble that comes with her while I am trying to recover from major surgery.  She arrived and I was pleasantly surprised, she was oddly optimistic/positive.  Had she changed? Had she gotten help?  I thought so.  After her visit I felt so good.  I told people her visit was so good for my soul. This was not what anyone expected, including myself. 

Fast forward 6 months.  My 40th Birthday.  My mother insisted she was not going to miss this milestone birthday and that she would be joining us for the weekend.  Since our last visit went so well, this was the first time I was excited to have my mother come visit. EVER.

We went out for a night of karaoke.  Things seemed to be going well, until I realized my mother was missing for most of the night.  She was at the slots.  I wasn’t going to let this damper my evening.  I discreetly asked friends to ask her to come back to the table.  This had to be done a few times in the night.  I just told myself if this is the worst of it, it wasn’t too bad.  She has a problem! I wasn’t going to dwell.  I had an amazing evening with my friends & family.

The second night was a surprise party.  The party itself was not a surprise, the theme was the surprise.  I was sent out of the house for most of the day so they could prepare.  My mother & daughter got to work.  My daughter did so much running around & I was so grateful for all that she did to make this birthday special for me. My mother was responsible for making all the food with help from others.  She was also responsible for purchasing all the alcohol for the party.  My mother was a superstar when it came to putting this party together with my daughter.  I made sure I told her this all night.  I was so happy & I made sure she knew how happy I was.  I showered love & appreciation on her all night long in private and to everyone at the party.  The guests also showed their appreciation to her.  The night was a huge success.

I am crying, anxiety level  10, shaking, really do not want to revisit this. Still hearing the question in my head, “Why?”

The party ended, all the guests were gone and my daughter & boyfriend were in bed for the night.  It was just my mother and I still up.  We were discussing the party in the kitchen & how grateful I was for the evening.  I guess I was not showing my gratitude in the way my mother wanted, I do not know, but she started going on a rant about respect & how she wasn’t feeling it from me.  I was shocked.  She grabbed me by the wrists and demanded that I respect her. I told her not to put her hands on me like that.  She was scaring me.  We started to argue about how you have to earn respect it isn’t something you are entitled to.  She DEMANDED respect & believed she was entitled to it.  She grabbed me by the wrists and pushed me, I fell, and I fell hard. Hard enough where there is now a hole in my wall the size of my body.  I started to cry, I could not believe what was happening.  At this time my daughter & her boyfriend woke up and came out and stepped in between my mother & I.  All hell broke loose.  It is all such a blur, everything happened so fast.  My mother, somehow, got my daughter up against the wall by her throat.  I thought she was going to kill her.  I went into protective mode and got my mother up against the wall by her throat, and asked her how it felt.  She kept threatening me to hit her.  “Come on hit me, hit me”.  I put my fist up to her face knowing I could never hit her, I could never hit anyone, put I wanted to so bad, how dare she put her hands on my daughter.  I backed off.  She continued to go on her rant about respect and was jumping around like a mad woman.  Melissa & Ryan asked me to sit down and stay out of it as they tried to calm my mother down.  I sat shaking & crying in the chair as I watched them “try” to calm her down, but she just continued to attack them both verbally & physically.  Enough was enough, Ryan called the police.

Everything to this point felt like a dream or nightmare.  It couldn’t be real. How could a mother do something like this to their own child? Why was my mother doing this to me? Why was she so angry? Nothing is ever good enough for her.  I did not respect her good enough.  I did not show my gratitude good enough.  I did not raise my daughter good enough.  My house wasn’t good enough.  My job wasn’t good enough.  I felt, if she had a choice, she would want a different daughter, a daughter that was good enough. 

The police finally arrived, and not a minute too soon.  The officer did what he was suppose to do and got the details on what had gone done.  Ryan, Melissa & I were all calm at this point but my mother was still ranting about herself, saying things like “Do you know who I am?” “I have a PHD” .. the officer asked her many times to calm down, go to bed and suggested we all talk about it in the morning.  She was having none of it.  She then jumped in the officer’s face, it happened so quick, he grabbed her arm & threw her to the ground & slapped the handcuffs on her.  Holy fuck, was this happening, I only see this shit on TV.  Once again I was shocked and could not believe what I was seeing.  My own mother being arrested. 

The officer hauled her off to his car.  We had to make sure he knew that my mother was donating her kidney on the following Thursday & required her meds while she was in JAIL.   My mother should not even had been drinking due to this surgery on Thursday.  She was taken to jail.

After she was gone we all took pictures of our wounds.  I had bruises all over my wrists, my daughter had bruises on her neck and Ryan had scratches all over his body.  Why did we take pictures?  I do not know.  For proof maybe, because how could anyone believe all of this.  I could barely believe it.  I sure didn’t take the pictures for memories.  All I want to do is forget this ever happened.  Im ashamed & embarrassed that this happened.  How much of her behaviour is a reflection of myself?  This isn’t me, but could it be? 

Now that she was gone, the guilt set in.  OH MY GOD, I just sent my mother to jail.  What kind of daughter am I? I called all the family back home to let them know what happened & that I had no idea what was going to happen with her next.  Was she going to be ok for the kidney surgery on Thursday? This kidney was going to save my uncle’s life...what had I done by sending my mother to jail? 

My family back home reassured me that everything would be ok.  That this was not the first time this had happened with my mother.  WTF?  This has happened before? She had mentioned to me that she had been in the drunk tank due to research she was doing with the native gangs in Winnipeg.  This was not true, I was told.  My family was very angry that she was drinking when she knew it was detrimental that she didn’t drink before the surgery.  What was she thinking? This could ruin the chances of my uncle surviving.
I spent the good part of the morning trying to find my mother to ensure that she was ok and that, wherever she was, that they were aware of her upcoming surgery and her need for her meds.  I had no luck.  Due to confidentiality purposes they were not allowed to release any information.  I continued to feel so much guilt.  Was I going to responsible for the failure of my uncle’s kidney transplant? Why didn’t I stop my mom from drinking? That is an easy answer; you can’t stop my mom from doing ANYTHING.  Regardless, the guilt keeps on building.

Time seemed to stand still while I waited for my mother to return.  I had no idea how long she would be held in jail.  I have never had to deal with this before, I had no idea how things work in the justice system.   The waiting was killing me, the guilt was unbearable, anxiety was extreme.  My mind was racing.  Would she even come back here? How was she going to react?  Was there going to be another fight?  Would she even talk to me? I was so scared.  I felt like I was a child waiting for the parent to get home knowing you were going to be in trouble for something.  All I wanted to do is hide.

My mother finally returned to the house.  She came to my bedroom immediately.  She knocked at the door, I was going to pretend to be sleeping.  She called out my name, I responded and got up and unlocked the door, terrified.  She hugged me instantly and said she was so sorry & that she loved me.  I was confused.   That was it.  That is all she said.  She then when to the guest room & rested.  I locked myself my room for the rest of the evening.  She was still going to be here tomorrow.  You could feel the tension in the air.  My daughter stayed in her room the entire time she was here, avoiding her.  I wanted to avoid her too, but it wasn’t possible. 

She went out the next day and bought food for a birthday feast & a cake.  This wasn't going to make it better.  What was she thinking? Were we suppose to be grateful for this food, after what you just did to us? Nothing else had been said about anything at this point.  This was going to be a long Monday.  She wasn’t expected to leave until the next day.  Thank goodness I had to work the next day, gave me a good excuse to go to bed early & not have to see her off the next day.  The conversation was limited all day, we even ate dinner in separate rooms.  It really felt like the calm before the storm.  Boy was I right about this.

Went to work the next day, happy to be out of the house and away from the constant reminders of what went down on the weekend.  Shortly after I arrived at work I received an email from my mother.  She was asking for all the money back that she put into my party due the lack of respect we all had towards her.  WTF? She said she was sorry she had to do this and that she loved me but she felt I did not deserve anything she did for me over the weekend & that Melissa was so disrespectful and did not spend the money she gave her on the right things for the party.  None of this was true. Once again, I wasn’t good enough for her.  I was so angry at this point.  I did not even bother to respond to her email.  I was done.  Time to cut her off for good.  I could no longer allow these kinds of relations in my life, even if it is my mother.   I felt I was so happy, stable & well balanced in my life that I could not risk having someone like her in my life causing any kind of unhealthy reaction from me.  She was never going to change.  I cannot control her behaviour but I can control allowing her behaviour in my life.

I stayed focused at work for the entire week until the day of the kidney transplant came.  It had only been 3 days since my mother left & the last thing I wanted to do was think about her in any way.  I did what I probably shouldn’t have did, ignored the negative feelings I was having, and focused on the good in my life, the things I was grateful for.  The problem with this, we all know, is that those negative feelings don’t go away just because you choose not to think about them.
Once she was alright, it really hit home.  The events up to this day had really left me feeling unstable emotionally.  I couldn’t close my eyes without visioning the abuse I went through.  I would wake up from nightmares of my mother abusing me to the point of near death.  I would have nightmares that I killed my mother in self defense.  The nightmares became bad enough where I would not sleep for days.  All the horrible things she ever said or did to me growing up all started to flood back. I needed help, my life was falling apart, spiraling out of control and I had no idea what to do.  Well I knew what to do, I had to see my doctor and see her fast.
I thought I was strong enough to get through this by myself.  Due to the major depression I suffered from a few years back,  I thought I had learned the skills to better help me cope with situations like this.  I was wrong.  I did not feel as out of control as I did back in the dark days of my depression, but I definitely was not in a place where I was capable of helping myself get through this.  I knew I needed help and I got the help as soon as I could.

The journey is very painful, sometimes unbearable, I do see the light at the end of the tunnel, but also see the long road before it.  This too will pass.

Having to relive the experience was difficult, but rereading this assignment a few times, really help alleviate the anxiety.  My next assignment is to write a letter to my mother telling her how she has made me feel my entire life, with no intent of ever sending it.  This assignment is going to be much harder than this one was.


  1. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Thank you to both of you for taking the time to read this post. It was a tough decision for me to even post it.

  3. You are an amazing woman Candy! Malyssa is a lucky girl!

  4. Thank you Nat..I think it is the other way around..Im lucky to have a great daughter.

  5. I don't even know how to respond Candy, but I am very proud of you for writing it.

  6. Thank you Sarah! That means a lot!