Posts Tagged ‘Why not cut ties with abuser?’

On my blog entry entitled Letter was for Me, Not Mother/Abuser, a reader asked me the following question:

I really hate to quote Dr Phil but sometimes he does make sense here goes…”What are YOU getting out of this “relationship” with your mom? There has to be a payoff for you or you just wouldn’t do it.” “People just don’t do things that don’t pay out for them in some way” I do not mean the above statement in a malicious or rude way just a thought provoking healing way. ~ EB

I think this is an excellent question, and it is one that I have given some thought. I used to watch Dr. Phil when he was on Oprah and the first couple of seasons with his own show. He used to ask people why they continued to do something that was harmful to them. They would answer, “I don’t know.” Dr. Phil would then say, “How many times have you stuck your hand in a blender?” The guest would laugh and say, “Never.” Dr. Phil would point out that we don’t do things that don’t “work for us” on some level, so you need to identify what your motivation is for choosing to engage in a destructive behavior.

My answer would be that what I get out of having some sort of relationship with my mother/abuser is fulfilling a duty. Nobody has ever told me that it is my duty to stick my hand in a blender, but numerous people have told me that it is my duty to have a relationship of some sorts with my mother. Religious people quote the Bible. A spiritual leader told me that spiritual healing surpasses any damage done in the physical realm. When I have numerous people in authoritative positions telling me that I have a duty to maintain a relationship with someone, I feel conflicted about what is right for me versus what I am being told my duty is.

I feel a duty imposed by outside influences to continue to have a relationship with my mother/abuser simply because she is my mother. I would be happiest if she would just drop dead and be out of my life forever. (Sorry, but that’s the truth.) However, in church and in society at large, there is a lot of “pressure” to do your “duty” of forgiving and reconciling, particularly when the transgressor is your mother. I have fought this influence for many years, and it was HUGE for me to set any boundaries at all.

I feel guilty just telling her to go to hell forever because I feel like I don’t have the right to do it, and it goes against my underlying belief of all of us being interconnected. A part of me feels a duty to help everyone, even her, heal, but that feeling of duty is in direct conflict with the wounded little girl inside. So, I stay conflicted, vacillating between reaching out and cutting out. Can anyone relate?

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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