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Archive for October 15th, 2009

Last week, I shared that the television show 90210 is dealing with the reaction of child abuse survivors to learning the news that an abusive mother is terminally ill. The storyline continued this week, and I am pleased with the direction that it is taking. You can read more details about the storyline on my professional blog.

In a nutshell, the terminally ill alcoholic/drug addict/abuser has two daughters, Kelly (who is in her mid-thirties) and Silver, who is a teenager. Kelly is Silver’s guardian. Kelly’s reaction was pretty much, “That sucks for you. I am sorry that you are sick, but it doesn’t change anything.” Silver’s reaction is much more conflicted as she feels responsible to help take care of her dying mother. Kelly told the mother to leave Silver alone, and Silver reacted by moving back in with her mother.

I think that both reactions (again, one extreme or the other) is normal for a child abuse survivor. If my mother was told that she only had three months to live, I would not be sure how to react. I would feel a certain amount of pressure to see her one last time, but I would not want to do so. My sister, on the other hand, would rush to her side and nurse her through the entire ordeal.

Does that make my sister kindhearted and me an ice-cold b@#$%? I don’t think so. I think that both reactions are normal for child abuse survivors, and we have to do what we feel like we need to do. We need to listen to our inner wisdom and do what we feel is best for us in that situation, not what anyone else thinks is best.

On the show, Silver asked Kelly how she could care so little about her mother’s plight. Kelly’s response was, “I do care about mom, but I care about you more.” I think that is how I feel about myself and anyone else who chooses not to go running to support an abuser who is ill or dying. It’s not that I am a completely unfeeling person – it is that I care about my inner child more than I care about making my abuser feel better. If I must choose, I need to choose myself. I already sacrificed my childhood for my mother – I feel no compulsion to sacrifice my adulthood as well. Her terminal illness (if this ever happens to her) does not change things.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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