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Archive for March 5th, 2009

As I shared yesterday, I am struggling with the question of why I feel the need to “coddle” my mother/abuser. The logical part of myself says that I have no obligation whatsoever to include this woman in my life in any way, shape, or form, so why is it so hard for me to just cut her out completely?

I got a little more insight into this dynamic after watching the Lifetime movie America that first aired on Friday night. (Lifetime generally shows its movies over and over again, so check it out!)

The title character America is a 17-year-old boy in residential foster care. At the climax of the movie, he reveals that one of the people who everyone thought took good care of him actually sexually abused him throughout much of his childhood. The thing is that the abuser was outwardly very good to him – bought him gifts, took him places, etc.

In fact, even as America is sharing for the very first time (with his therapist) about the sexual abuse, he says, “But he was good to me. He bought me stuff …” The therapist (played by Rosie O’Donnell) immediately says, “No, he wasn’t.”

That part of the movie hit me hard. I think that is part of why I wrestle with my mother being different from my other abusers. To the others, I was a body to be harmed. They didn’t care about me. They didn’t invest anything in me emotionally. They abused me because I was there.

With my mother, it’s more complicated. She was the one who clothed me, fed me, brought me to church, and taught me how to read. She would trace my face as she tucked me in at night, calling me the “little girl with the little curl in the middle of her forehead.” And yet, she raped me just as much as this man in the movie raped America.

She loved me (in her own way), and she also abused me. She gave me love and took it away, depending upon her mood and her whim.

Why can’t I see her as manipulative? In part, it is because I see her as too stupid to be manipulative. And yet, I have seen evidence of her manipulations.

Also, the guy in the movie threatened to harm someone that America loved. I remember no threats. My therapist assures me that there had to be some sort of threat, whether explicit or implied, because it is not age-appropriate for a young child to keep secrets. (Goodness knows, my own kid couldn’t keep a secret if his life depended upon it.) And yet, I never told.

I am so confused … or really so conflicted ….

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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