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CPTSD and Others => Our Relationships with Others => Family of Origin (FOO) => Topic started by: plantsandworms on January 05, 2019, 08:34:33 PM

Title: After 6 Years No Contact, An Email
Post by: plantsandworms on January 05, 2019, 08:34:33 PM
After five years of extremely turbulent no-contact with my mother (in which she refused to accept the boundary between us and did many violating and illegal things to force contact again), I have spent the last year quietly with no zany antics or crazy messages from her. Just now I found an email from her in my inbox that has left me feeling extremely mixed up.

Sheís sent me many messages in the past, ranging from begging and pleading to harassing and threatening to pretending nothing happened at all,  but this one is hitting me differently. Maybe itís because I havenít heard from her in a while and my guard is down. It feels like sheís finally saying everything I always wished she would say. She said she finally is able to accept my boundary and she owned up to some things she has always denied in the past. The message isnít perfect but itís more progress than Iíve ever seen from her. Iím feeling very mixed up and partly inclined to respond, but my therapist is out on vacation and I donít want to do anything without processing with her first.

I never wanted to lose my family but I needed to keep myself safe and process the trauma I experienced in childhood. Iíve done a lot of that work on my end, but thereís no guarantee that my family will ever be any different. It might be that getting back involved would just drag me back into flashback central or maybe even new abuse. Just posting here to hear about the experiences of others, or maybe just commiseration.
Title: Re: After 6 Years No Contact, An Email
Post by: finallyfree on January 05, 2019, 09:24:10 PM
Dear Plantsandworms,
I am so sorry this is upsetting you. It seems she is genuinely attempting to try with you from what your saying. Take your time and allow yourself to process it and of course talk it over with your therapist. I am thinking of you and hoping for the best possible outcome for you.  :hug:
Title: Re: After 6 Years No Contact, An Email
Post by: sj on January 06, 2019, 05:28:28 AM
hi Plantsandworms

I very much relate to your situation, including in feeling all mixed up about it.

My mother wrote me a letter a while back, sometime after I had been NC then carefully communicated MC. She acknowledged some significant things I had raised with her about our problematic past and apologised for aspects of it. In many ways it was a big deal for her to have made that step, and it came across as heartfelt and genuine. There was a part of me that melted and wanted to reach out. Showing my T, who I had not been seeing long at that time, she initially thought it was very touching and positive. But........

My greatest response was fury and contempt. For all the apparent sincerity her references were very minimised and augmented retelling of events. She was completely letting herself off the hook for the extent of her own extremely cruel, damaging behaviour, which she minimised to 'inadequate'. It was a cop-out. Also, completely failed to mention a willingness to attend counselling, as I had suggested twice (as last gasp attempt) and she cruelly dismissed. She wrote that she really wanted to reestablish a better relationship with me and that she hoped we could have that in the future, and the thought I had was - 'You 'hope' things can be better? So what's your action plan for that? Are you going to wish upon a star?!'. Again, she was copping out, side-stepping. There were other problems too, but basically, it was clear what she was 'apologising' for was not what needed to be apologised for and was falling WAY short of the mark for what has really gone down.

On one hand, I do believe it is important to recognise any positive step and genuine attempt to reach out and mend. But to my mind, the problems and discrepancies are continuations of all the dysfunctional patterns and behaviours that have driven me to have to go MC/NC. They are evidence that denial, avoidance, minimisation, etc are still at play. And I feel extra angry because I feel guilty about feeling angry at something so ostensibly loving and positive.  :pissed: :stars: This has just been too much for me to get a clear enough grasp on, or clarity in, to be able to respond to that letter specifically, even though I have maintained communication on other more mundane matters via email.

I have been thinking of starting a draft response, and while I don't know, yet, how I will navigate all of these issues, I do feel even more clear, now, that ANY meaningful reconciliation MUST involve counselling. I'm no longer willing to risk my health and safety without that professionally bounded and informed guard rail. I think it has been good for me to wait in responding because I've protected myself from my peace-making, accomodating aspect of self as well as not going in with my rage and fury burning her up with blame. Waiting has given me time and space to try and get a clearer sense of what my needs are and what boundaries have to be in place to protect those. I highly doubt she will go down the counselling route, but by telling her my boundaries the ball is back in her court. It's for her to step-up. I'm all out of trust enough to increase contact without my stipulations. The stakes are too high for me and I'm done with going around that mince-mill with her or the rest of them.

So, from my perspective, I suggest sitting on your response until you have a chance to discuss with your T. I do think it is important to work out what your boundaries are with ongoing communication/ relationship before you open yourself up to the warm fuzzy feelings and longing to connect. It's easy and natural to feel drawn in by that, and in an ideal world.......... But we know from repeated bad experience that our families are not healthy and have not done enough work on matters of boundaries to be able to trust them. Tread carefully, I say, and make sure you prioritise your safety above all else.
Title: Re: After 6 Years No Contact, An Email
Post by: Three Roses on January 06, 2019, 06:18:06 AM
I have a sibling that I'd had no contact with for 13 years. Last summer he got in contact with me thru some cousins (they knew I did not want my sibling to contact me - but that's another story -  :stars:)

Anyway, after I was done freaking out, I decided to see what happened. I spoke on the phone with him a few times, being honest with him that I didn't know if I could stay in contact with him. When it became clear I couldn't keep talking to him without it greatly affecting me negatively, I broke off contact again. He didn't take it well, but he has honored my request that we go back to NC.

On the other hand, I've had reunions that went quite well, and those relationships have undergone healing.

My best wishes to you, I hope your M is sincere. It does happen!
Title: Re: After 6 Years No Contact, An Email
Post by: Libby183 on January 06, 2019, 07:30:24 AM
Hi, plantsandworms.

After about six years of complete no contract with my parents, I had two brief conversations with them. In the first, because it was a surprise, they showed just a hint of humanity. Two days later, they phoned again, and they were back to their usual cruel, invalidating selves. I had dared to hope, just a little, and I was destroyed.

I am not suggesting for one minute that your mother's approach isn't positive, but like everyone else here, I urge you to move very slowly and with lots of support. I hope things go OK for you with this situation.

Take care.

Title: Re: After 6 Years No Contact, An Email
Post by: plantsandworms on January 06, 2019, 06:03:00 PM
Thank you to all for your responses and support. I did some journaling and reflecting after posting on this forum yesterday, and that combined with the insight I found here has been hugely helpful. Re-reading my mom's very long email, I saw some red flags that didn't register with me initially. For example, she says she "doesn't know where it all went wrong" and she doesn't know who I "believe her to be." She owns up to having "made mistakes" but reading the response from SJ helped me to remember that this is a gross understatement and mischaracterization of what actually occurred in my childhood - cruelty, neglect and abuse. She says she has been in therapy for four years, which felt so hopeful to me initially, but looking back at letters she sent in years past I see that she is still taking a position of bewilderment to my decision to go no-contact. She also says in her message that two of my other siblings have shut her out in recent months, which says to me that she is possibly continuing to behave badly and not taking responsibility for her role in the breakdown of THREE parent-child relationships.

I think this has been a valuable experience for me because it has helped me to realize how much I am still waiting to hear the "right things" from her and how eager I am to reconnect at the slightest glimmer of hope, even if it could be detrimental to my current stability. After years of NC I have felt so solid in my choices and it's shocking to me to see that part of me still holds on so tightly. But even so, I have developed the coping mechanisms and insight to carry me through this situation and do the best thing for me. I am struggling not to be angry with the hurt child inside of myself that still wants to be loved by my mother so badly. I am trying to forgive myself for a very basic part of my humanity - vulnerability. Especially when the person I'm really angry at is my mother, and she is also the person I'm really trying to forgive.

I do think her email shows positive developments, even if that warped thinking is still there. I hope she continues on in her journey. I will probably always hold onto a shred of hope that we can sit across from one another one day and have a real conversation about everything that happened between us, but I will work on wanting my own health and happiness more than that chance.

She ends her email by saying if she had one wish it would be for me to provide some clarity as to what happened "from my point of view." I still hold some guilt and regret that I never spelled it out for my family when I drifted away, partially because my pain was so great and I was so completely unable to articulate it at that time. Now that therapy has given me the words to my experiences, I wish I could hand my mom a bullet point list of everything that would need to be addressed for us to re-connect. But for all I know, when presented with a list she would continue to not understand "where it went wrong." And really, does an abusive parent need a list? Do they really not know? I struggle with this. Maybe she really doesn't have the tools to comprehend the ways in which she caused me harm. I know it's not my job to do that work for her, but I do wonder if it would help her grow into a person I could have in my life. My heart wonders, what if? But my brain tells me not to take that chance if the results might devastate me all over again, as Libby183 said. If my emotional response to this email is any indication, I think it very well might.

Thank you, thank you again for your well wishes and personal accounts. I'm glad we have each other and this space to support us through these difficult situations.
Title: Re: After 6 Years No Contact, An Email
Post by: LilyITV on January 07, 2019, 02:55:03 PM
Oh my, that email was certainly a lot to process plantsandworms!  I have not had any personal experience with anything like this, but I'd think the sentiments your mother expressed in her email were genuine.  She does love you in the way that she knows how and probably has been deeply affected by you going no contact.  I'm not as optimistic on whether she will be able to change though.  Unless she's undergone therapy or something, I think she will not be able to change even if she wanted to.  But I can only imagine that getting her email makes you want to give her a chance and I can't blame you.  Maybe you could continue it on a lower level where she can't hurt you or something.  I'll be interested in what your therapist thinks!