Friday, March 9, 2012


I spent a considerable amount of time on the phone recently with someone whose mother is getting on in years and is showing signs of Alzheimer's.  In the normal course of events, this might be seen as a way to give back - to care for the person who cared for you.  But this situation was different.

This woman had - out of a misplaced definition of what "love" is - abused her children: physically, verbally, and emotionally.  None of them (including this person to whom I was speaking) wanted to have anything to do with her.  Yet her church buddies all considered her to be a saint, and condemned her children right along with her as she called her kids down to the lowest - quite often within earshot of the very ones she was criticizing. 

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All the resentments that this woman felt toward her child started surfacing and becoming blatant, about five years ago.  Every cruel thing she ever did and said to her "baby" was multiplied a hundred-fold as she lost more and more of her inhibitions, and her short-term memories at the same time.  "I don't know what to do," her child told me.  "I'm not well.  I have a heart condition and this stress is killing me. There's never an end to it - she's constantly tearing me down, never has anything good to say about me. Or any of her other children ... at least the ones that lived."  

Ouch.  I know this woman, and have known her for a very long time.  And I know that what this person was telling me was true... I'd seen it happen.  Her idea of mothering started with the letter S.  Smothering.  She wouldn't let any of her kids do anything for themselves; she didn't believe they were capable of doing it as well as she could.  She found fault with anything they did to surprise her. She wouldn't let her kids work out their own problems between themselves - she had to take over and forbid confrontation of any kind. She was the only one allowed to get angry.  And when she got angry - she beat them.  Hard, fast and continuously.  Over and over again.  She threw the most twisted guilt trips afterward, saying look what they did, that they bruised her hand when she had to "spank" them.  How sick is that!

And now she is losing her autonomy and railing against it - and against anyone who reminds her that she is more and more alone.  It's so tragic.  All because she just would NOT let go, she would NOT let her kids grow up and be independent.  So afraid that she would be abandoned, she ended up creating the very thing she was so afraid of.  Yet she sleeps the sleep of the just, secure in her knowledge that she "did the right thing." And she garners the support of those who have no idea what she is really like, as they stroke her ego and say, "There, there dear - nobody could have done more for those ungrateful children of yours than you did..."

How very, very sad.  
Please.  Please look for the signs of abuse ... and confront it.  You'll be doing the children a favour.

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