Confronting the elephant. Thursday October 5, 2017
Mary recently wrote about an elephant in the room. I was immediately moved to write about my attempt to confront the elephant in my family which didn't go exactly as I wanted, but has improved the situation nevertheless.
My elephant is that I suffered what I call emotional abuse from my mother from being a child until, well, who knows? Other family members have acknowledged it, although they may call it something else. Not getting on. An odd situation. A difficult relationship. She calls it... well, nothing. She refuses to accept that any of it happened. She won't even concede that our relationship has ever even been difficult. Any time I have tried to raise even the smallest incident it has been denied and I've been told that I make things up. That's partly how she got away with it all for so long, by convincing everyone that I make things up.
After 40 years, which have contained unacknowledged periods where we haven't spoken for months or even years at a time, I decided enough was enough and I was going to confront it head on in a way she couldn't easily ignore. I wrote her a letter. It wasn't a huge blaming kind of a letter, just letting her know that I wasn't going to be able to see her until we could at least talk about the past.
She replied saying she hoped I was better soon and able to see her again. It was pretty much what I expected but still sad. My mental illness was once again positioned as the problem rather than her behaviour.
Since then, I haven't seen her, but I feel a lot better. I have faced up to the elephant even if she isn't able to. Sometimes it's hard, not having her in my life, but then I remind myself how hard it was having her in my life and I feel okay about it. I have regained some control. So, even if seeing the elephant doesn't work out the way you'd like, it can still be the best thing to do.
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