One of the overly frequently encountered “helpful advice” one get when being on the receiving end of systematic long term abuse and/or neglect is that we are supposed to see things from the POV of the person being so hurtful to us. I do think this is one of the most destructive pieces of advice you can give to a victim because it keeps them from becoming a survivor and keeps them in a state where they excuse their abuser/neglector.
Also by and large the people being hurt are trained to see things from the hurtful persons POV anyway to such an extent that they often do not even have an own perspective. It’s all about the person actively hurting others and never about the person being hurt. We call that victim blaming.
To put some words where my words are I’d like to present you with the perspective of my parents. Because you know
it’s all about them and I’m not good enough if I don’t. this advice is filled with so much wisdom and why haven’t I thought of that myself yet?
“mothers” childhood as told by her
Mother had a hard childhood. Which she does not hesitate to remind everyone of frequently. She was the third child and third daughter to her parents who had severe relationship problems and somehow thought having another child would fix things. Mothers two older siblings are 8 and 10 years older respectively and Mother always was the little annoying tag alongs.
My grandfather was one of those sexist idiots who was obsessed with having a Y-chromosome carrying offspring. So my mothers gender is her first failure in life. There’s this story floating around in her family that her birth certificate states that she is male. Apparently everyone thinks this oh so funny. Her second fundamental flaw is that she did not keep my grandfather from cheating. Obviously this is the task of the youngest child.
Grandmother allegedly found him in flagranti when Mother was 7. Before then they lived together with my grandfathers parents. Divorce was heavily frowned upon by the state and the church. So logically grandmother was punished for standing up for herself and consequently instilled a sense of worthlessness of this idea in her daughters.
Being a single mother to 3 underage children and shunned where ever they went. From the divorce onwards my mothers pre teen life was spent on the move. Another new place, another new school, another teacher who made my mother stand up in class and be shamed by the teacher for having divorced parents… Often they lived in houses where they had only one bedroom, so when mothers eldest sister would wake up with nightmares, everyone was wide awake and did what they did best I assume, make it all about themselves and create unnecessary drama.
This kind of strain and oppression obviously was hard to deal with and both Grandma and her eldest daughter fled into fundamentalist religion. For a long time I did not understand why they would turn to another institution who shunned them for their divorce. But recently I read about people growing up in oppressive environments will likely turn to another oppressive environment, like many traumatised people recreate their traumatising situations.
I am not sure how strongly the middle sister followed this doctrine but I know mother is a moderate christian. For my grandmother and the eldest it may have been a way to finally be good enough somewhere somehow, you know learn all the songs and prayers and become a close minded bigot to fit in with the other close minded bigots. My older aunt has once said to me at home it was always loud and chaotic while at church there was this sought after silence.
When my mother was 14 she got cancer. She was made into a guinea pig to be prodded by a number of medical students for examination. Everyone thought she was going to die. Her teachers gave her passing marks out of pity so mother feels she never earned even her school graduation. She says this was the only time her father took an interest in her, driving to the city where she was in hospital, spending time with her.
my paternal grandfather expert people skills and legacy
Meanwhile Grandfather had simply gotten a new girlfriend, which he never married and never had children with. She was the one badgering him to write birthday and festive cards to the girls. He left his affairs untended to and his demise consequently was a complicated mess with his new girlfriend attempting to settle his three grown up daughters with bills from up to 20 years ago for anything ranging from a new car to a snack gotten on the streets. She was trying to hold the daughters he never cared for accountable for his empty promises.
I’m sure the middle daughters second husband knew very well to employ his businessman toughness with her. She quickly stopped that BS. That BS worrying my mother was the only time I saw my mother get really drunk with our neighbours. I was already off age that day. We visited these neighbours often, usually involving alcohol for the adults. But never even close to the point where mum started to have difficulty walking straight and being giddy and carefree. Seeing my normally tense, paranoid, blame spewing mother loosen up was quite a treat for me and I think given she only did it this one instance it was a good thing. I liked her better that night. Sad that alcohol has some rather dire side effects when used long term.
I assume grandfather treated his children much like he treated us grandchildren, barely shows up at all and if he does he brings some toys and sweets but numbered in a way that its impossible to share them easily between the number of children/grandchildren present. Apparently it becomes very different to calculate the number of non Y-chromosome carrying offspring and Y-chromosome carrying offspring in one go…
I did not attend his funeral and never regretted it. Mother did with my brother and father. Seeing her father being held up as a caring father and exemplary human being did quite some damage to her. But obviously by then she had internalised the message about the worthlessness of standing up for oneself and having healthy boundaries like all the children do who are never enough to their parents and try so hard to win their approval by any and all means available.
my mothers adult life
So mother obviously survived the cancer. She to this day needs to take medication to aid her because she lost an organ to cut the cancer out. This makes her emotionally unstable among other things. She married young, got cheated on as well, divorced as well. There. My mother dutifully repeating her mommys trauma in her own life, only all within 2 years and without common offspring.
While still being in the process of divorcing she started to date my father who was at the time still living with his mother. They had a car accident on one point and mothers painkillers for the broken leg did not agree with the birth control medication. Apparently my father didn’t care. I wonder how nice that must have been, being in pain and with your leg in a cast and having such “caring” young man whose sexual urges right now are much more important than the consequences.
Apparently I was a fussy child, refusing to drink milk from my mother. She had to go to hospital to have it pumped out because her breasts got all inflamed or something. (If this is TMI remember this the next time you tell someone to look at it from the others persons point of view. Guess how often I had to sit through this story. You will only read it this once. You are welcome!) A year after I was born my parents married. Which was when my name was changed from my mothers first husbands family name to that of my father. I think he officially had to adopt his own child…
A year later my mother had a miscarriage because of my father being politically active and thus state oppression becoming a topic again. Of course she still was the overly anxious and fearful person who refuses to get help because of her bad experiences with the cancer doctors when she was 14. Living with her mother in law certainly didn’t help. Nor did that she still had frequent contact with her own judgemental, non supportive mother. Both my grandmothers live for drama and are experts at making everything about themselves.
A year after that (when I was 3) my brother was born. By then the oppression was lifted and my father started a new job 2-3 hrs away, my parents only saw each other on weekends and during the week my mother was left to endure her mother in laws antics on her own. She frequently took out all the tension and her medication induced mood swings on us children. Never having time to explain or teach us stuff, hitting us when we didn’t miraculously know the right thing to do, yelling about our malignancy and pestering nature, leaving us to our own our our grandparents devices, you get the picture. (The last two sentences are NOT my mothers perspective for once. I am cheating here.) Maternal grandma visited often and still complained decades later about my childish games she did not approve of.
Mother took on odd one year timed jobs here and there, having the children didn’t make her very employable and there weren’t many opportunities to train where we lived. Also unemployment at that time was generally high and our region was most definitely not thriving economically. When I was 8 we moved out of my paternal grandmothers house. Father got a job closer to us and we moved to the new place which is an hour away from my grandparents place. In the new city mother trained for a better job and father studied in the evening and worked during the days.
my mothers childrens childhood seen through her lens
My brother didn’t fit in well in the new kindergarten and later school. Never having been taught any social skills by our mother (my words, not hers) he frequently didn’t know how to solve arguments or be socially acceptable any better than he knew at home. Now he didn’t only get into vicious fights with me but with other boys in school as well. How unfortunate for my poor strained that these kids had different parents and thus a lobby.
My mother did fight heroically to get my brother out of the bullying situation (and I write this without sarcasm). He was eventually diagnosed with ADHD, which lead to my father being diagnosed with it as well. Both got medication and my brother went to a different school. All the old teachers frequently compared my brother and me and would undermine his self esteem by saying how this musing stranger was so much more well behaved and smart and whatnot than my brother.
Eventually this calmed down as my mother got a stable well enough paying job (she basically earned our rent) and brother went to this new school which had an amazing supportive teacher. Meanwhile the other child (me) slowly began to show signs of all the neglect and abuse, which of course was turned into drama, gas lighting, invalidation, blame shifting and denial by mother (again my words not hers, unsurpringly perhaps).
My sleep pattern began to be weird when I was 10 and it got steadily worse for years. More and more lack of sleep during my growth spurt teenage years. Lack of sleep always makes me loose appetite and nauseous. So lack of sleep, lack of nutrition -> puny little kid looking sickly. Some teachers inquired after me but mother always had an answer blaming something outside of the family. I was academically achieving well enough so no one pursued it any further.
My mother did not transfer her fear of being treated by doctors herself to fear of her children being treated. While my brother prospered with this approach, I met people who enforced my mothers policy of me not being good enough, being sick and broken… Naturally I declined further, giving her a reason to feel sorry for herself and blame herself and me for being such a terrible mother and a wayward child respectively. I do not know why me being bullied as well never let to mother not putting up the same fight for me.
Somehow it wasn’t all that important that I still managed to gain very solid A-levels at an elite school and enrol in a prestigious study subject. I guess that’s just what they all knew I was going to do. (“All” referring to teachers, priests, therapists, family members…) It’s not like I’d need to be rewarded. You know just like you don’t reward people for breathing…
Ever since I left “home” I don’t know much about my mothers story from her POV. I only get messaged when something dramatic happens. For a few years now my mother is dying for example, late consequences of the cancer treatment catching up. She tried to use this to force-guilt me into having more contact again without needing to be accountable for anything. She did not get what she wanted but at least she got another reason to complain.
why all this poisons survivor further
And now don’t you feel sorry for my poor poor mother who had her child stolen away from her through no fault of her own? Yes let’s all feel sorry for her because this is what she wants. It’s not like my own needs have any place in this. They never had unless it was convenient for my mother. In fact when seeing my mothers perspective only no ones needs have any place in this but my mothers. Because other people are not feeling individual people, they are golems, little string puppets to be manipulated to her liking.
Let’s all wallow in my mothers pain for having lost a child while forcefully forgetting that sad child lost a mother too. And a father and a brother and a number of aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, grandparents siblings asf. Because you know what? They all are so busy feeling sorry for my mother that they don’t spare a second of even a first glance to me.
Let me be very clear. I think weighing my own pain at being so cut off against my mother of being cut off from only one person is destructive and leads us only further into the toxic mess that is my family. The only thing I am saying is that my mother does not have all the pain monopolised. She uses it to make other people do the things she wants to be done. I only want my own pain to be heard and not being led around the nose, manipulated and guilt tripped into parenting my parents because their life is oh so hard.
Because mine isn’t a walk in the park with no support either. Because parents are supposed to support their children and not the other way around. I’m done listening to their tripe about how terrible it is that I am putting my own needs above theirs. If they truly wanted me back I’m sure they could work on stopping this BS. But they want things their way and I’m the one who has to put in all the work to make it happen. Naturally.
I will not help my mother be dependant on me for dealing with her own emotional problems. I tried two decades and it didn’t work. If this wasn’t enough, nothing will ever be and I will just be sucked dry of every drop of happiness and energy I have forever just because my poor poor mother is unable to get over her problems. She bathes in them, holds onto them because to her this wounds are power and control. I will not play the revolting game of seeing things her way and seeing how hard her life was any more.
You know normal people want to talk to you, so they call you? My own mother wants to talk to me so she complains whenever I am around about how I never call. And not just to me directly, because that isn’t enough to keep me weak and submissive but to everyone who will listen. So that everyone will join her in making me feel properly ashamed for being such a terrible person that actually is an seperate person and can not telepathically long distance guess what she wants.
Here is the line I am drawing: yes my mother had a very hard time and many of her poor decisions are a result of poor familial support, being left alone with terrible childhood experiences and incompetent, unfeeling or even downright malignant authorities. But I can not change that. That is on HER plate and on hers alone.
I am more than willing to move on from the beatings, the verbal abuse, the neglect, the yelling out of nowhere and numerous other transgressions against my emotional and physical health and well being. I can see how life was difficult for her and how no one is perfect. A childs bond to a mother is a strong one and adapts to a lot.
But I am not ready to expose myself to a person who thinks that all these and numerous other ongoing inacceptable behaviours and opinions are MY fault and mine alone. My mother still frequently states how we begged for these beatings, how I am sick, malignant and pestering, so demonises her own child, crucifies me in order to escape truly looking at her own behaviour and seeing that she makes mistakes.
The last time my mother used physical force on me was when I was 19. I wanted to go for a walk to cool down during a heated argument. I could not voice that upon her bossy and enraged inquiry. She felt entitled to physically and rather forcefully block me from leaving. I locked myself up in my childhood room and packed my clothes for the last time. (Luckily back then the memorise of my mother breaking into my locked room multiple times during my teenage years were still surpressed.) I already lived in a separate flat in a different city. Meanwhile my dearest mother threatened to call an ambulance to have me institutionalised (for daring to have agency presumably).
That was the last time I was in the house she lived in while she was as well. I will NEVER set foot into her territory ever again. That trust was broken and she is very busy pointedly NOT repairing it. I will not excuse everything she has done and go back to that “family” just because she is my mother and she had a hard time. I had a hard time too and somehow she nor any of these oh so very knowing advisors who want me to see things from her perspective do not make excuses for me. Nor should they, because I actually want to own my deeds.
As long as she refuses to move from the position of being the superior person who does not need to change because of all her pain I will continue to protect myself. The last time she may have come close to putting me in a wheel chair by smashing me on the stairs. I have no wish to find out what she does the next time she arbitrarily decides that crossing boundaries and resolving a fight through physical force is a good idea.
I am well aware that by refusing to be accountable she refuses to confront her own past demons. Given that she has lived a day or two already many many demons have accumulated already. I know that confronting this is painful and stressful. She made the decision to not expose herself to this pain at the cost of the relationship to one of her children. I’m guessing confronting all this past demons might be so stressful for her that it might as well kill her. It is her right to chose her own life above the well being of her daughter if that is how it looks in her mind.
But I refuse to be accountable for her choices. I also refuse to interact with someone who pretends she does not need to make that choice and works on getting me into an early grave because I’m somehow supposed to deal with her issues and carry her anxieties, pain and stress. This is my right and I am ready to live with the consequence of having no family worth speaking of because no one in this circus can allow anyone to heal or else they all see a demonstration of how it could be done.
This is what they truly try to prevent. If I manage to succeed it means they have no excuses for their own choices and cannot hide their own rotten inner lives that easily any more. So to them it’s a war they have to win at all costs. It’s to bad I won’t show up at the battle field to be slaughtered by the assembly of my familys most vicious battle tactics, right? I’m such a terrible child.