As I have shared before, I cut my mother/abuser out of my life back in 2003 when I entered into therapy to heal from the mother-daughter sexual abuse. I told her that there would be no more personal contact (visits or phone calls). She was emailing me to death, which messed with my head, so I cut that back to monthly. Since then, she has canceled her Internet service and just sends me monthly letters through snail mail.
She does send me a one-page letter every month. For the most part, it complies with my boundaries – no talking about the past, reconciling, etc. Since we have nothing in common, there is not much substance to it. I respond when I can handle it, which is often a few months later. If I go too long without responding, she comes up with stupid ideas like trying to call me, which I really, really don’t want.
So, she sent me her letter a couple of week ago. The mere fact of receiving a letter from her triggered me, even though she said nothing “bad” in the letter. I set it aside and haven’t done anything with it since it arrived.
Yesterday, I decided to get responding to the letter off my to-do list. Generally, I write a letter to someone else I care about and fill her in about my life. Then, I strip out anything that matters and send that version to my mother. It makes it much easier for me to write a page, and it takes very little time.
Even with these precautions in place, writing to her is very triggering for me. It finally hit me why – the pretense of these letters ignores the realities of the damage she inflicted upon my life.
I send her letters like this:
It’s good to hear from you. I am glad that things are going well on your end.
[Insignificant information about my life that everyone around me knows.]
It does not include that, thanks to her choices, I cannot sleep at night. My dreams are filled with nightmares. I have spent thousands of dollars on therapy to recover from the damage she inflicted on me. Every single area of my life has been tainted by her choices during my childhood.
Her responses are never about the stuff that matters. Her letters talk about how she wants to counsel other people – what a joke!
So, why do I continue the contact? I don’t know. At first, it was to stay true to myself – my way of showing her a kindness by having this little bit of connection with my life. But now … I don’t now … now it feels like I am continuing to betray myself by pretending that it is okay that she did the things that she did.
I am not sure where I am going with this or what I am going to do with it. All I know is that I sent her a letter and then had a bunch of nightmares centering around her. I awoke at 5:00 flooded with adrenaline.
Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt