Death of an Abusive Parent

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LittleBoat

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Death of an Abusive Parent
« on: June 29, 2020, 12:05:03 PM »
Hello.  Please direct me to the right discussion area.  I am the survivor of childhood abuse at the hands of my parents.  My father was physically violent and threatening.  When he died, I felt relief.  My mother was emotionally abusive and neglectful.  She is now in her final days in a nursing home.  Her dying is more complicated for me than my father's was.  I am feeling enormous ambivalence, guilt, and a bunch of emotions I can't even unravel and identify.  Please help me to find the right topic area to discuss the death of an abusive parent.  Thank you.--LittleBoat

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Three Roses

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Re: Death of an Abusive Parent
« Reply #1 on: June 29, 2020, 05:55:56 PM »

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LittleBoat

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Re: Death of an Abusive Parent
« Reply #2 on: June 29, 2020, 09:31:50 PM »
Thank you, Three Roses. 

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Three Roses

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Re: Death of an Abusive Parent
« Reply #3 on: June 29, 2020, 10:10:24 PM »
You're very welcome. Sorry you're having to deal with this.  :hug:

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Bodhi_§

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Re: Death of an Abusive Parent
« Reply #4 on: July 06, 2021, 10:52:33 AM »
Hello, I am going through the same situation right now and also feel lost in anger, grief and a lot of other emotions that are blowing me away on a daily basis. This is very complex to me and I just recently started traumatherapy for CPTSD. All very confusing at the moment...

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Jazzy

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Re: Death of an Abusive Parent
« Reply #5 on: July 06, 2021, 10:59:09 AM »
Hi Bodhi_§,

I am sorry to hear this is overwhelming, so I am glad you have reached out here. I understand this is all very new and confusing to you, we have all been there.

I gently encourage you to write out as much as you are comfortable with. I hope my response here is helpful, and that the others can provide more as well.

I feel I am not the best one to speak on this topic, as I have not yet experienced it myself. My first thought upon reading "Death of an Abusive Parent" is "good!" No doubt this is due to how my own parents have and continue to treat me, as well as how others are treated by their own parents.

<3 Jazzy

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Bodhi_§

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Re: Death of an Abusive Parent
« Reply #6 on: July 06, 2021, 02:42:23 PM »
Hello Jazzy,

Thank you for the reply. It's a lot to take in at the moment. Especially after reading Awaking the Tiger and now currently reading Complex CPTSD: From Surviving to Thriving. I feel guilty at the moment even talking like this about my parents, even when I had to endure horrendous situations with both of them...

Which is a good way to start using OOTS ? Any advice is welcome at the moment...

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Jazzy

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Re: Death of an Abusive Parent
« Reply #7 on: July 06, 2021, 03:53:43 PM »
I understand! Here is a warm and gentle hug, if you would like it:  :hug:

The feelings of guilt and shame are perfectly natural and understandable. It is okay to feel that way. :)

I think you're doing a great job starting here. I've found it extremely important to take manageable steps, which are usually small, when dealing with something new, especially something so massively overwhelming as trauma.

When you're ready, I think it is good to make your own posts. Journalling here at OOTS has been very helpful for me too, though that is a much bigger step.

Another key thing I've come to realize is how important it is to listen to ourselves, make our own choices, then act on them.

While everyone may not agree with me, which is fine, I think the best way to start using OOTS is in whatever way you feel is comfortable enough to complete successfully, yet challenging enough to result in character growth.

All the best to you, Bodhi_§!
<3 Jazzy

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Armadillo

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Re: Death of an Abusive Parent
« Reply #8 on: July 06, 2021, 05:18:17 PM »
Hi Bodhi_§,

I'm glad you've posted here. I'm sorry for what you are going through right now, including starting the difficult process of trauma therapy.

I'm not sure if your parent(s) has/have passed already or if you are dealing with end of life issues. But like <3 Jazzy suggested, starting a journal here might be helpful to get support and get your thoughts out.

I'm going through end of life issues right now with my mom. It's been a difficult 5 or 6 years of stage 3 cancer, falls, and now terminal stage 4 cancer for which she has been told she has maybe 3-6 months. You can see my journal for the angst. But for here I'll just say you aren't alone. I feel a lot of guilt and shame and anger and sadness and hurt. Interactions with her leave me badly dissociated. Not interacting with her leaves me filled with guilt and shame.

They subjected you to horrendous situations; while I understand the feeling of guilt for how you feel or speak about them here, those feelings are due to their actions toward you, not a moral failing in your part.

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Kizzie

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Re: Death of an Abusive Parent
« Reply #9 on: July 06, 2021, 05:56:42 PM »
Quote
Hello, I am going through the same situation right now and also feel lost in anger, grief and a lot of other emotions that are blowing me away on a daily basis. This is very complex to me and I just recently started trauma therapy for CPTSD. All very confusing at the moment...

I think a lot of us understand what you're feeling at the moment Bodhi  :grouphug:  We have to deal with a lot of anger and grief at what our abusive parents did to us, but as humans they are our parents and fellow humans and few of us want to see anyone in pain or ill. That can lead to quite a mixed up bunch of confusing, contradictory and painful feelings.

I feel a lot of mixed feelings too so the compromise I have made is that I will not directly express my anger at her because she is 90 and I couldn't live with it, either causing her pain at this very late stage in her life and/or having her deny any/all of her abuse.  Neither of us would 'win'.  But I do let myself be angry in private, with my H, with my T, here ....  I am also quite low contact with her so I don't have to contend with her N behaviour much.

You said you're reading Pete Walker's book at the moment; he has a good section on angering if you haven't read that far yet.  Same idea is to let it out in safe places with safe people.

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Larry

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Re: Death of an Abusive Parent
« Reply #10 on: August 27, 2021, 02:23:23 AM »
I am really waiting for the day my dad dies.  i probably will not know when that happens.

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Bach

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Re: Death of an Abusive Parent
« Reply #11 on: August 28, 2021, 05:33:32 AM »
I started replying here, but it turned into brain spew that didn’t really belong in this thread.  So I posted it in my own journal because it is relevant to the topic even though it takes a good while to get there.  Link below.

https://cptsd.org/forum/index.php?topic=12057.msg115025#msg115025

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Armee

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Re: Death of an Abusive Parent
« Reply #12 on: September 03, 2021, 05:19:08 AM »
I keep trying to respond to this but it's just so very much. It's too much to write out at once especially while it's all so raw. My mom died a week ago, after 6 years of cancer and broken bones.

It's not just about the death. It's about all the stuff before the death, too.

My mom was severely mentally ill, psychologically and physically abusive and neglectful. And with a history of suicidality and shocking self harm that had left me traumatized as a kid.

As she aged, her propensity for self harm shifted to flagrant self-neglect which served as a huge PTSD trigger for me.

As she lived alone, had no friends, and I was the only one nearby, care fell to me. Through 6 years of cancer treatment and half a dozen broken bones (ribs, pelvis, vertebrae), then stage 4 cancer, liver failure, and hospice care. While going to grad school, working, and raising my own family.

I learned that shame and self-blame kept me going back to help her despite her treatment of me. That shame and self-blame protected me from abandoning her, which would have meant in my trauma mind that I would have been responsible for her death (PTSD trigger).

I learned that she did not care about me, at all. She did not care how her behaviors impacted me or her grandkids.

I learned that it is true, death does not change someone. She died hating me, labeling me as bad for not fawning over her enough, for not doing enough for her and for doing too much for her.

I learned that the more I did for her the more she hated me.

I learned that I wanted her to die so I could finally be free. After one hospital visit I sobbed for days when I learned she would be ok. That she wasn't dying. I learned that as shameful as that feels, to feel that way , that it was ok to feel that.

I feared that when she died I would have regrets. That I would feel sad about her death. That I would regret not putting up with anything and everything. That I would feel like I hadn't done enough, hadn't tried hard enough. That I would discover too late that I actually did love her even though i thought only that I hated her and she was my cross to bear.

I learned that I was right. I did not. Do not, love her. I am not sad she died though I cried watching her die. I do not miss her and I do not feel grief, regret, or sadness about her death.

What I feel is all the things I couldn't let myself feel before. The hurt, the anger. The fear...not for her, but from her. I feel the hatred and disappointment so strongly now.

I don't have long-term perspective yet to offer as it has only been a week. But my distress is gone. My muscles have relaxed. My mind has eased. I feel light and carefree. I do not feel trapped or helpless hopeless or ashamed.

I have been having gruesome nightmares related to her abuse. Right now just as it affected my sister. I suspect I will start to have more memories of my own abuse soon as well as my brain starts to feel safe enough to process this.


ETA: rereading this, there's still a part of me that worries I sound like an absolute monster. I want to add that although I occasionally got frustrated with her outwardly and told her her behaviors made it really hard to have a relationship with her, overall I was doting, caring, and forgiving.

And yet the trauma reactions were all there too which caused me to be a bit cold, and she could probably pick up on them...actually she probably did and knew what buttons to push.

But I feel the urge to say...I took her to her appointments and cooked for her while she was ill up until she pushed me away the last few months.  I tended to her lovingly in her home while she was on hospice. I held her hand, stroked her head, changed her diapers as soon as they were soiled, and made sure she could say goodbye to people.

I behaved lovingly, even though I felt differently inside. I still feel a bit of guilt about setting up some boundaries at the end, but deep down I know that she got way more from me than she deserved and that any issues in our relationship were 100% on her and of her own doing. But she was mentally ill, too.

I'm leaving this little internal monologue here because sometimes this is what it's like to lose an abusive parent. There's some clarity and peace, but also still some guilt shame anger and fear, too. 

Of course this is just my experience and I didn't have the level of abuse some who read this will have encountered with their own abusive parent, and I'm not recommending tending to an abuser in their old age. Because of my specific traumas, abandoning my mom would have caused more instead of less trauma for me. For others, that won't hold true.  :hug:
« Last Edit: September 03, 2021, 03:26:43 PM by Armee »

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Bach

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Re: Death of an Abusive Parent
« Reply #13 on: September 03, 2021, 11:56:27 AM »
Sending caring and support, Armee, and hugs if those are good for you  :hug: :grouphug:

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Papa Coco

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Re: Death of an Abusive Parent
« Reply #14 on: September 03, 2021, 04:39:49 PM »
Armee,

All that’s going through my mind as I read your post is My gosh, what a beautiful person you are to take the high road the way you did.. You gave love to a person who could not give it back, even though you didn’t feel it in your heart. Mother Teresa used to say “Love not put into action is only a word.” Love can be a feeling, or it can be an action. It doesn’t have to be both. All you did for your mom speaks volumes of what a quality, loving person you really are at your core.

I have a theory: You can’t start healing from a train crash until after the train stops crashing. Now that your mom has passed, I honestly believe your path to healing is going to get some real traction now that your abusive relationship has ended.

That’s what happened to me. My mom died in 2009. My siblings, who had been horrible to me my entire life, became such monsters around how to take care of Dad (hoping to take his retirement money from him) that I had no choice but to estrange from the entire family before Dad’s death in 2011. I was 50 years of age when all this went down. At 50 I became free from my abusers. (It took a year or so to get their judgemental voices out of my head, but that problem eventually ended also).

I had been in therapy since I was 22. But from 22 to 50, therapy just kept me alive and functioning. It wasn’t a cure. It was a coping mechanism that kept me strong enough to keep taking the family’s abuse year after year after exhausting year. But on the day I finally lost my connection to all of them, my therapy got traction.

After they were gone, I stopped coping and started to finally heal.

The past 10 years of therapy have changed me so much I can’t even believe I was ever as miserable as I was when I was still connected to those monsters.

I sincerely hope you find a new level of inner peace, and a renewed empowerment in your lifelong healing process. I think your train has stopped crashing.

I love your post. So honest and so real. Thank you for sharing it with us.