in the trenches of an Estranged family

     – yes, I am a Christ Follower

Hello, my name is Deanna and I am estranged from my parents. 

My relationship with my Mom was always tumultuous and for too many years I believed it was my fault.  There were clues along the way that our family relationships were not normal (but what is normal, anyway?). But, there was also a gnawing sense that things really were out of balance.  It wasn’t until my surprise second pregnancy that things came unglued and I began to see more clearly than ever before. 

I believe that, even though I have not done everything right in this painful process, I have always tried to do what I thought I should for the health of my children, my marriage and my own physical health.  I believe God led, and continues to lead, me down a path that most don’t understand. They think I’m cold, hard and unfeeling.  My husband and children will tell you that the opposite is true.  I struggle with this reality more than anything else up to this point in my life.  The commandment to “Honor thy Father and thy Mother” was drilled into me as a child and it still rears its head (especially from said parents yelling on the other end of the phone line).  I have believed many lies about myself told to me over and over and over again by my own mother. 

It started incongruously enough.  A comment at the end of a phone message when my mom didn’t realize she was still on the recording.  A comment so laced with venom.  A comment my daughter heard.  It was literally the straw that broke the camel’s back.  This statement is not cliché’.  My parents never understood how I could so completely break free because of one little statement she doesn’t even remember making…and that’s the point.  She doesn’t remember.  She doesn’t remember all the hurtful things she said to me growing up.  Sometimes emotional and verbal abuse is the hardest to quantify, to make people realize that it is real.  I know it took my husband 12 years to begin to see it.  Then, it took him about three years to realize it fully. 

God led me to a book one day in March of 2008, about a year after the “comment” incident.  The book was called, Surviving a Borderline Parent by Kimberly Roth, et. al.  It was like reading my own life.  I remain convinced that my Mom suffers from Borderline Personality Disorder.  She is text book.  The book was life saving for me emotionally.  It is not a book from a Christian perspective and that’s too bad.  I believe there are a lot of adults out there who grew up in legalistic, “Christian” families with a parent who suffered from BPD.  Legalism is right up a BPD’s alley.  It is a form of religious life that seeks to control others and manipulation and control are the goals of BPD’s.   Not being from a Christian perspective, I disagree with their perspective on forgiveness.  I knew I disagreed with it while I was reading it.  The book says that you can forgive your parent, but only if you want to.  I believe I must forgive because I’ve been forgiven.  But what does that look like?  I still don’t have a clear picture.

These things I do know, no matter how diametrically opposed:

1.       I am a Christ follower.

2.       I believe I must forgive and live in peace as much as I am able.

3.       My mom is toxic to me.

4.       There is a time when it is too late for restoration or reconciliation.

I got a note recently in the mail from my mom.  On the face of it, it would not be offensive to anyone with a normal adult relationship with their parent.  For me, the undertones were all there.  She is still trying to manipulate my emotions to bend toward her will, to pretend everything is fine and have a “relationship”.  Unfortunately for her, my idea of a relationship does not mean subjecting myself to her manipulation and cruelty just to keep up appearances or just to make my dad happy. This note clarified #4 above for me – there is comes a time when it is too late and you must move on.

Do I miss a relationship with a mom?  Absolutely, but I know that I’m healthier without them in our lives…for now.  Will there be a time when it’s too late? Yes, but I cannot allow urgency to dictate the healing process.  I am making small progress, imperfect progress.  Sometimes it’s so slow, I ache so much.  I fail so completely and utterly in the relationships I do need and desire.  I know it’s all connected and I must be okay with that…for now.

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