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Archive for March 12th, 2009

I have been reading the book The Shack by William Paul Young. This week, I am focusing upon different words of wisdom in the book that can be applied to survivors of child abuse. See my first post for more information about the book.

One of my struggles as a survivor of mother-daughter sexual abuse has been making sense out of and healing from my mother’s warped version of love for me. It would have been easier for me if she was always evil. However, she did sometimes do loving things for me, and then other times, she was extremely abusive. Trying to make sense out of this has been hard for me.

And then, of course people say things like, “She did the best she could,” to which I reply, “BS!!!!” I actually told a woman one time that raping a child is not doing the best that you can as a parent.

Here is a quote from the book The Shack on this topic:

In some sense every parent does love their children…But some parents are too broken to love them well and others are barely able to love them at all… ~ The Shack page 156

This is really another way of saying the following quote, which has brought me an enormous amount of healing:

Just because someone does not love you in the way that you need doesn’t mean that she isn’t loving you with all that she has. ~ Author Unknown

As abused children, we mistakenly believed that the lack of love was about our own shortcomings. If we were only prettier, smarter, better behaved, [fill in the blank], then we would be loved. The reality is that the abusive parents were broken and unwilling or unable to love us in the way that we needed. This was about their shortcomings, not ours.

It was a healing balm for me to be able to recognize that my mother could love me but also be too broken to love me in the way that I needed. I was not “crazy” to feel love from her sometimes while, at the same time, fear her as my abuser. I received both signals because she sent both signals.

Broken people might love, but they are unable to love as fully and completely as a child needs. As a parent myself, I know how much emotional investment it takes to parent a child – my mother certainly did not have that capacity within her. The failings were all on her end, not mine.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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