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Reflecting on asking for help: my work

IHatePickingName posted 1/29/2020 08:18 AM

Ok, i am posting this on the wayward side, because you seem better at responding to introspective threads working on yourself. This isnt necessarily limited to my wayward hat, but it effects it and it definitely effects me addressing my own issues.

I have a lot of conflicted feelings about my upbringing and my mother has contributed to a lot of my distorted thinking about myself and the world. I have put distance between us, physical and mental, most of my adult life. But when my daughter was born, we moved closer to my parents and she was active in our lives for 7 years. This corresponds to a complete collapse of my mental health and to the period when both of our infidelities started. I know tyat is not the same as causation, it is just a period i am examining. We have since moved away and i have extremely limited contact, a decision i made for my mental health.

For more background info, see my ill fated post in general, called Cognitive Dissonance. It ends with a discussion about my struggles to ask for help. As i have been thinking about asking for help and shaming, i am thinking about affirmations about how i deserve help and should ask. And i started hearing them in my mother's voice. Because they are things she said to me, taught me as a kid. And i wondered, how then, that she was also the source of the shame i feel when i do it. And i realized, these things she tried to teach us are what she believes. But the feelings i have are based on what she did, and the difference between the two is both a lack of coping skills and skills to do better, plus a steadily increasing mental illness she never addressed.

Background info on my mom: She was raised in an extremely abusive home (verbal, physical, sexual) and she concentrated on shielding us from that. She did better than her FOO and to my knowledge, successfully shielded us all from physical and sexual abuse as kids. She did less well with emotional stuff, and as the oldest child, i bore the burden of a lot of her inability to cope.

Well the other day as i was thinking about this, i realized i was trying again to take responsibility for the way that she treats me. I was thinking that if i know it is mental illness, i should support her better because it isnt her fault. But i caught myself because it isnt my fault either and i need to have healthy boundaries to protect myself and my own kids. Which she taught me. She hates that i apply it to her but that is on her and not me. She could have chosen differently and didnt.

But it clicked that this is why she doesnt understand why my sisters and i see her as a source of own own issues. I am the only one who limits contact, but they all have created distance in their relationships and expressed similar experiences to me. She is only able to see her beliefs and not the fact that she didnt live up to them. So feel like i finally understand her. And as such, i feel like i have resolved the cognitive dissonance in my head that sees both the good mother, and the abuser. And that makes me able to forgive her, to let go go of the struggle, while still maintaining the boundaries we need to be safe.

I feel like this is an important step for me in resolving a conflict within myself about my FOO.

It also reinforces the direction i have to take in my own family now. I need to take advantage of my opportunities to get help, so i can choose better and do better for myself and our children. I am actively addressing my own mental health issues now, and working on coping skills for myself and to teach my children. This is the way i can change the legacy of poor or broken relationships and estranged families.

[This message edited by IHatePickingName at 8:19 AM, January 29th (Wednesday)]

hikingout posted 1/29/2020 13:08 PM

I am not sure I have anything to offer. I also have a very complicated relationship with my mother. Mine was very emotionally abusive, very uneducated, and her being a SAHM until I left home gave her a lot of time for over thinking. She melts down easily to this day. Has no ability to cope with anything, and we kind of established a relationship long ago in which I do the parenting and the helping and she is the child. It's helped me to see that she was doing the best she could at the time she was doing what she was doing.

One thing for sure our own flaws and bad decisions certainly provides a humility and extends our ability to be compassionate with others.

I have pretty good boundaries with her, but I don't think I feel quite resolved in the perspectives that I feel came from her and some of the distortions and fears she passed on to me. But, unwinding it has been interesting.

Need2Do posted 1/29/2020 13:32 PM


'And as such, i feel like i have resolved the cognitive dissonance in my head that sees both the good mother, and the abuser. And that makes me able to forgive her, to let go go of the struggle'

This may not be something that you can answer, but how did you do this? What were the steps you took, if any, to resolve the dissonance so that you could forgive and let go?

Pippin posted 2/1/2020 09:49 AM

Hi IHPN, I completely get what you are talking about. My mother and father had HORRIBLE FOO issues of their own. For a long time I intellectually understood that and pre-forgave them anything they had done to me because their lives were so much worse. You know what? That didn't help at all. Comparing pain never helps with your own. It wasn't until I felt the loneliness and emotional abandonment in all it's reality that the healing really began. Dismissing it because someone else had it worse (including your parents) doesn't heal anything.

I stared hard at the honor thy father and thy mother commandment for quite a while trying to reconcile that problem. How do I acknowledge the pain they caused and their deficiencies and still honor them? One day it came to me, all the many, many things that they DID give me. Life, if nothing else. I literally wouldn't be alive without them. A physical home I could be in. Food, clothes. Really good birthday parties. I was in school every morning clean and fed and with all the stuff I needed to learn. The list of what they did for me is very long. Gratitude can't be forced, I think, you can set the stage for it by regular practice, but when it comes for real, it is overwhelming, and it is also healing. I sure hope my kids find a way to be grateful for what I do for them and forgive my problems because I'm a pretty good parent but FAR from perfect!

So now I'm at the place where I know what the difficulties were, where they screwed up in ways that had lasting effects, and forgive them and am grateful for what they did do for me (still have wobbles but mostly in this direction). Including the screw ups, because working on those myself and with my husband and a couple of friends has been one of the most meaningful parts of my life. But first, you have to know and feel and mourn the care and love that you didn't get. Don't bypass that.

Your post in general was not ill fated if you learned from it. Did you? That's one of the nice things about SI, an extremely low stakes environment for these enactments from our past.

I take great care in asking for help around the issues that matter most to me. I've learned that from SI. When something is intensely painful and I feel very vulnerable, a dismissive "that's a damned excuse" or eyeroll and "FOO issues again, stupid cheaters never get it" is something I can't deal with. Or even a less compassionate response than I am looking for, that can be as painful as overt hostility. I ask for help around the most difficult issues from 2.5 people, and only in real life. Second tier issues by PM or a couple of other IRL friends. I haven't asked for help on the forums in a long time. Too much space for pain and repeats from the past. Maybe at some point I'll be able to use that as a tool for overcoming it and welcome the callous responses to check whether I'm very internally steady. At the moment I doubt it because I think surrounding myself with compassion and generosity and kindness has worked better. You never know though!

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