Letters To My Family

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Bach

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Letters To My Family
« on: June 23, 2019, 03:06:10 PM »
I have been on very minimal contact with my mother for the past four years, seeing her only once a year at a holiday dinner hosted by my brother, answering her occasional email invitation to visit her with a polite but firm refusal, and not initiating any contact whatsoever myself.  I am no spring chicken and my mother is getting very old now.  At this past holiday dinner, I found myself feeling sentimental towards her and wishing once again to have some kind of mother-daughter relationship with her.  This is a self-destructive urge of which I am a long-term veteran, but somehow I had the idea that this time I could be in control of it, and that it could benefit my therapy, so I made a vague overture earlier this year.  Her response was suitably cautious and respectful, and for a minute, I actually thought I could do it, but then I thought about it more carefully, and the idea of spending time with her was terrifying. 

I spoke about it at length with my trusted people, and determined that even the thought of a phone call panicked me.  Still, though, the desire for some kind of interaction has not gone away.  In addition to that, my sense of fairness and my understanding that a lot of what's wrong with my mother has similar root causes to what's wrong with me compels me to feel uncomfortable with the idea of doing something to her that she so often did to me both literally and metaphorically -- offering something, but then either snatching it away when I reached for it, or giving me something different and expecting me to be grateful to get anything at all.  So I've written this letter in hopes of...Whatever it is that I'm hoping for.  I'm not even sure.  I would love to get some feedback, so any comments would be appreciated.

Dear Mom,

I've been wanting to write you this letter for a long time, and have been thinking at great length about how to most compassionately say what I want to say.  The first thing I want to say is that I was sincere when I made an overture towards increased interaction with you, and it brings me no pleasure at all to have come to a non-negotiable conclusion that, while I am open to corresponding with you, I will not be able to visit you.  I have recently been reading a lot about something called Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and it has explained a great deal to me about why I react the way I do to many situations, including spending time with you.  I miss spending time with you, but I have realised over the past many years that it inevitably leads to my doing self-destructive things that result in my being ill for anywhere from days to weeks afterward.  I thought for many years that the fact that I could visit you and we could walk and talk, go swimming, eat dinner, and part with warm feelings towards each other meant that our relationship was good, but I have come to the sad realisation that being with you is not safe for me, and my ability to enjoy your company does not correspond to my being able to deal healthily with thoughts and feelings beyond my control that arise in my subconscious in response to hearing your voice and being in your physical presence.  I feel horrible saying this, but even the most enjoyable day at the beach sets off things in me that cause me to hurt myself in ways that I don't even notice until the damage is done.  I am, of course, working on this in therapy, because my desire to improve myself, to be happier, more productive, and have better relationships, is unceasing.  Now that I understand so much more about the root causes of my mental and physical ill health, I feel hopeful that I will achieve new progress.  Hopefully, some time in the not-too-distant future, I will be able to visit with you, but for now, I really cannot.

I wish it was different.  I hope you understand that this is not about punishing you or holding the past against you in any way.  I really would like to be able to have some kind of relationship with you that won't be damaging to me, so if you want to write back, please do.



« Last Edit: October 04, 2019, 03:38:58 PM by Kizzie »

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Tee

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Re: Letters To My Family
« Reply #1 on: June 23, 2019, 04:50:51 PM »
I think it's very well written. :hug:
« Last Edit: October 04, 2019, 03:39:45 PM by Kizzie »

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Blueberry

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Re: Letters To My Family
« Reply #2 on: June 23, 2019, 07:51:25 PM »
I'm not sure from your post whether you're thinking of sending that letter or not. I've been told over and over again about that kind of very open letter to parents "Good that you wrote it, but don't send it, you're making yourself too vulnerable."

Now I look back at emails I sent my parents 4-5 years ago, I was busily explaining this kind of stuff. It didn't make any difference, it didn't help me, even though at the time I hoped they understood.

I've also been told on here and on OutOfTheFog (our sister website) that the most important thing is to protect myself. More important than trying not to hurt family-of-origin (FOO) members by changing my mind, saying 'No' etc.

If you're just writing the letter here to get it out of your system and to let your feelings evolve without letting your M know about any of it, well that's what this part of the forum is used for mostly.
« Last Edit: October 04, 2019, 03:40:07 PM by Kizzie »

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Bach

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Re: Letters To My Family
« Reply #3 on: June 23, 2019, 08:08:50 PM »
I'm not sure from your post whether you're thinking of sending that letter or not. I've been told over and over again about that kind of very open letter to parents "Good that you wrote it, but don't send it, you're making yourself too vulnerable."

Now I look back at emails I sent my parents 4-5 years ago, I was busily explaining this kind of stuff. It didn't make any difference, it didn't help me, even though at the time I hoped they understood.

I've also been told on here and on OutOfTheFog (our sister website) that the most important thing is to protect myself. More important than trying not to hurt family-of-origin (FOO) members by changing my mind, saying 'No' etc.

If you're just writing the letter here to get it out of your system and to let your feelings evolve without letting your M know about any of it, well that's what this part of the forum is used for mostly.

I'm definitely thinking about sending it to her.  I want her to know it.  And I do actually want her to write back.  I understand there's a risk that I might regret it, but at this point, I feel that the risk of my regretting NOT sending it is greater.
« Last Edit: October 04, 2019, 03:40:27 PM by Kizzie »

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Tee

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Re: Letters To My Family
« Reply #4 on: June 23, 2019, 08:35:43 PM »
I think you have to realize that if you send it that several senarios could happen. Most of them would be harmful to you and your recovery. Because most likely your mom will not understand and will take it as a personal attack.  Even though it is well written.

   In order to send to something like that you have to be ok with whatever response you get or not getting one at all which to me is the most harmful.

You know where you are in your recovery and what you feel you need to do.  But just realize this will be hard to hear if it is actually heard. And would most likely have blow back that could cause you more damage.

I agree with blueberry protect yourself first. :grouphug:
« Last Edit: October 04, 2019, 03:40:46 PM by Kizzie »

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Three Roses

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Re: Letters To My Family
« Reply #5 on: June 23, 2019, 08:59:15 PM »
I love your letter and think it's eloquent, well thought out, clear, and healthy. Sometimes, self protection is the act of expression - what we need, what we want, what won't work for us. I lived for many years in a state of no-contact that just sort of happened. When my FOO member contacted me after thirteen years, I talked with him a few times on the phone and then was able to review the situation, ultimately telling him I wanted no contact with him. This, too, was self protection. Speaking with him those few times allowed me to see exactly what it was I needed. Speaking up for ourselves and taking the initiative to pursue what is in our best interests can be very healing, and for me this is what happened. Best of luck to you.
« Last Edit: October 04, 2019, 03:41:04 PM by Kizzie »

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Regret

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Re: Letters To My Family
« Reply #6 on: June 23, 2019, 10:13:29 PM »
I discovered long ago that what I didn't tell my mother could never come back to hurt me.

I learned during my first 30 years of life that anything I told her was used critically against me to others or used directly against me critically. It was her way or no way. I did not know about cPTSD at that time and kept trying talk to her, to have a relationship with her but that was never going to happen. I tried to do whatever to get her to like me and everything she knew about me came  back in one way or another to hurt me. Nothing I did would make her happy.

After some 30 or 40 years, I gave up trying to have a relationship with her. I stopped telling her anything about me or my life.  I always felt guilty for shutting her out of my life and sad that I could not talk to her. But, those feelings were easier to take than what I would feel after she used something I told her against me.

Not knowing about cPTSD or that I was suffering from it, there was something inside me decades ago that realized being a fawn or please typology with her was futile, not in my best interest in any way. After that, I told her nothing about me, my life or my feelings.

She died about the time I discovered I suffered from cPTSD, about two years ago. Knowing what I do today, I might be able to visit with her in a casual manner but deflecting any questions about my life, having compassion for what she went through, not being confrontational about all that happened to me when young that gave me a lost life, a life without emotions, regrets over what I did unknowingly that hurt others and regrets over all of the opportunities I missed by never having had a chance to live my own life. She could never change, would never understand what I might say and would become defensive if I tried to explain my life to her, this disorder to her. And I know anything personal that I said would come back to hurt me in one way or another. I tried to talk to her once in the 80's and remember her reaction well. It was not a good few days. Maybe it was about then that I quit telling her anything about me.

I felt bad about not being able to say anything to her over 20+ years but I know, in real life fact, that nothing came back to hurt me over those 20+ years.
While I have no regrets about not telling her anything for so long, I know that having to do so makes me sad at a deep level and is an emotional hole in my life.

We are all in different places in this disorder but it seems the replies above from others supports or justifies my personal decisions. It helps me feel better about shutting her out. I hope this anecdotal story helps a bit in what to send to your mother.
« Last Edit: October 04, 2019, 03:41:29 PM by Kizzie »

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Bach

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Re: Letters To My Family
« Reply #7 on: June 24, 2019, 02:14:23 AM »
I appreciate all of these responses so much.  Thank you all for giving them.  I'm doing a lot of deep thinking about this and will not make a hasty decision.  Too often in the past, I have rushed myself through a decision about dealing with my mother simply because of the stress of thinking it through, but I'm not doing that this time.  There's further background I didn't go into about why this came up for me after the four years of almost no contact, and I'm onto about seven months of careful consideration how to handle it.  I have taken great care so far to give myself plenty of time and space, and to take everything I'm thinking and feeling seriously.  I will continue to do so.  I feel that I am close to clarity about my objective and how best I can achieve it.

I love your letter and think it's eloquent, well thought out, clear, and healthy. Sometimes, self protection is the act of expression - what we need, what we want, what won't work for us. I lived for many years in a state of no-contact that just sort of happened. When my FOO member contacted me after thirteen years, I talked with him a few times on the phone and then was able to review the situation, ultimately telling him I wanted no contact with him. This, too, was self protection. Speaking with him those few times allowed me to see exactly what it was I needed. Speaking up for ourselves and taking the initiative to pursue what is in our best interests can be very healing, and for me this is what happened. Best of luck to you.

Three Roses, thank you especially for this.  My need for expression is very much at the core of this.  I said above that I want her to know it, and that I want her to write back.  Upon further thought, and in light of re-reading this thread, I don't feel as sure that I want her to write back.  Part of me does, part of me doesn't, and part of me is just curious to see whether or not she will.  But ALL of me wants her to know it.  So I have to think some more about the implications of that. 

Time to put it away for the night, and run it by my therapist at my session tomorrow...Thanks again, everybody!   :grouphug:
« Last Edit: October 04, 2019, 03:41:54 PM by Kizzie »

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Tee

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Re: Letters To My Family
« Reply #8 on: June 24, 2019, 02:40:37 AM »
That sounds like a great plan.  Good luck Bach. With your decision and dealing with the effects after.   :hug:
« Last Edit: October 04, 2019, 03:42:15 PM by Kizzie »

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Bach

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Re: Letters To My Family
« Reply #9 on: July 06, 2019, 03:19:13 PM »
To communicate in some way, whether by sending or by having a conversation. 

Dear PP,

I cannot come see you when you are "in town" next week.  It is too long a drive too late at night for me to be able to properly enjoy time spent with you.  You know how important it is for me to take care of myself these days.  In the past, you have seen and acknowledged what happens to me when I push my physical health too hard in an effort to accommodate your complicated schedule and still spend quality time with you.  I think that for a while now, you have been so wrapped up in your own pain and misery that you have been unwilling or unable to see anything but rejection in my being unable to make the kind of extraordinary efforts to see you that I used to.  My feelings for you haven't changed one little bit.  I miss you and think of you every day and still wish keenly that you would have more space for me in your life, and I would have more opportunities to see you without so badly taxing my body, but after all these years of wear and tear on me, I just can't do it anymore no matter how much I want to.
« Last Edit: July 08, 2019, 09:37:50 PM by Bach »

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Three Roses

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Re: Letters To My Family
« Reply #10 on: July 06, 2019, 04:16:49 PM »
Good self-care!  :applause:

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Blueberry

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Re: Letters To My Family
« Reply #11 on: July 06, 2019, 05:44:47 PM »
 :yeahthat: You're setting the boundaries you need and putting yourself and your needs in first place :thumbup: :applause:

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Bach

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Re: Letters To My Family
« Reply #12 on: July 07, 2019, 02:44:06 PM »
I softened the tone of this letter quite a bit, but not the boundaries set, and elaborated a little on the reassurance that I still care, and after careful consideration sent the result.  I feel good about how I handled this.  At the moment, I'm also feeling good about not having fears or expectations about how or if PP will respond.  I hope that lasts.   
« Last Edit: July 08, 2019, 09:38:08 PM by Bach »

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notalone

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Re: Letters To My Family
« Reply #13 on: July 07, 2019, 10:03:07 PM »
I feel good about how I handled this. 

 :applause:

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Three Roses

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Re: Letters To My Family
« Reply #14 on: July 07, 2019, 10:45:14 PM »
 :applause: