Archive for December 14th, 2007

Plant (c) Lynda Bernhardt

I entered into therapy to heal from the mother-daughter sexual abuse four years ago. It took me a couple of years of intensive focus on my healing to make peace with my past as it relates to my mother. I found that I had to forgive my mother (which I define as letting go of the bitterness) in layers because the damage she inflicted upon me ran so deep. First, I focused on healing the pain from her direct abuses. Later, I focused on healing from her role in the abuses that I suffered at the hands of others. She was the common denominator to almost all of the abuses I suffered because she is the person who gave the others access to me. It has taken me a long time to work through the pain and anger and then let go of the bitterness.

I chose to end personal contact with my mother. I allow her to write me a monthly letter, and then I respond when I feel able. I also continue to send her presents for her birthday, Christmas, and Mother’s Day. Acknowledging her on Mother’s Day is very hard for me, so I generally have the present come from my son instead of from me. I do this as a kindness to her to spare her the embarrassment of having to tell others why we are estranged. I know she does not deserve it, but this is a way that I stay true to myself.

Despite the fact that I am going above and beyond what she deserves, she has now chosen to stop writing to me. She is tired of asking for a reconciliation (which will never happen as long as my son is young enough to be vulnerable to being abused by her), so I guess she has decided that I am not worth pursuing a relationship with. I am sure she has painted herself as the victim in her own head. As much as it bothers me to admit it, that hurt me. Even now, after years of healing and after all she has done, it still hurts to know that my mother does not think I am worth pursing a relationship with.

I rarely talk about my mother, which I am sure is odd to most of my friends who do not know about my history. (Some of them might be learning about my history by reading my blog this week.) I ache when my friends talk about their good relationships with their mothers. I do not long for my mother, but I still have a place inside that craves a mother’s love. I have accepted that this need will never be met, but it still aches sometimes when I am reminded about what I am missing.

I have managed this unmet need by turning to my spirituality. Through meditation, I have found that I can tap into an unending Source of love that is available to me at all times and is safe for me to receive.

I have worked hard to push through my difficulties in trusting others. I have learned that the key is in trusting myself. I have also worked hard to accept physical touch from others. Because I never knew whether my mother’s reaching hand held nurture or abuse, I have always tensed up at receiving hugs from others for most of my life. I am slowly learning to accept loving touch from others. I can even accept a hug without tensing up if I sense one is coming first.

The good news is that, despite the residue, the gaping wounds have healed. I can talk about the abuse now without feeling shame or self-loathing. This post is a huge step for me.

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Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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