Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Love and saying no

One of these days, I’m going to pack up my bags and leave. And then you’ll find out what it is to not have me around.”

I heard my mother yell those and similar words many times when I was a child. Usually it was during a tirade when she was complaining about how hard she worked and how little she was appreciated.
The words scared me. I pictured my mother packing suitcases—it was always two suitcases in my imagination—and leaving the house, leaving me behind.
What would I do without my mother?
It didn’t matter what kind of mother she was. I needed my mother, and I didn’t want her to leave.
I have been thinking about her words a lot over the past couple of weeks. Maybe they’ve been on my mind because her suicide attempt seemed like the ultimate threat. Perhaps that’s not a fair assessment, but that’s the connection I’ve made.

I told you in my last post that some wise people have helped me. One of those is my minister.
A few days after my mother was taken to the hospital, I met with him. I wanted to get feedback on my reaction to what she had done. I wanted to talk about the guilt that I felt because of all the anger and hate I felt, not just over the recent incident, but over a lifetime of pain.

During our conversation, I made the comment that I knew my feelings were wrong, that the Jesus of my faith tradition taught that we should love one another.
My minister said he couldn’t say what love was.

But he could say that love was not always saying yes. Sometimes, he said, love was saying no. Love didn’t mean that we had to put up with whatever someone did.

Those words helped me tremendously.
I have begun to see that loving my mother doesn’t mean that I have to place myself in circumstances where I am open to abuse.
I love my mother because that is what I needed to do as a child: bond with and love my mother.
She is my mother. She is not evil. She is not a monster.
But she has never acknowledged the truth about our past, nor does she admit that there’s anything wrong with the continuing put-downs, manipulations, and lies.
I was hoping that she would finally get the help that she needed. But she is choosing not to.
I rarely saw her or talked with her on the phone before her actions almost two weeks ago. I was trying to resolve my sense of guilt even then.
Now, I have a sense of resolution.
I cannot be around my mother, at least not now. I cannot talk to her or see her. I cannot have a relationship with her.
I don’t wish her harm. I hope she has a good life. I hope she is happy and healthy.
But for my own health, I have to stay away from her.


  1. I have learned that we can do much to change ourselves and our reactions to situations and people, but we cannot change others. It happens sometimes that we need to either separate ourselves or distance ourselves from others in order to stay focused on our feelings and needs and our relationship with God, and I wish you all the best, Tina, and that you find love and peace in your heart and that this time away from your mother will help you do just that. God bless you. Sending you a hug.

  2. not an easy process Tina, mother and daughter relationships or non relationships are always tricky business. I've known mothers like yours (not my own) and I've watched others struggle through very similar situations as yours. All but two have stepped away from their Mothers permanently, your Minister sounds like a wise man.

  3. Oh Tina HUGS your minister is very wise. I am sorry that is a tough oe. Hug B

  4. Well said, Tina. Sometimes those we love hurt us the most and that is sad. I am so happy that your minister was able to help you see that it's okay to move on.

  5. i hope you can keep your distance - physically and emotionally.

  6. You are fortunate that you are able to recognize and take action on this poisonous situation. It's very sad when someone prevents the happiness that should be in a family.

  7. A wise teacher once told me, "You have to accept everyone for exactly who they are...and sometimes they need to be that way someplace else." I'm glad you have a wise minister to help you reconcile religious teachings in a healthy way.

  8. I have quite a few friends who have made the exact same decision with parents who have mental health issues. You have to take care of yourself, and you don't have to be a part of a toxic relationship.

  9. I'm so sorry for what you are going through right now. I pray that God will minister to your broken heart.

  10. you made the right choice tina....i wish i were as strong as you are!!!!

  11. Oh my gosh, I have missed some things. I am so incredibly sorry for the pain your mother has caused you. There is one person in my life right now I need to say 'no' to and cannot gather up the courage to do it. I admire you. Stay strong and pray for your mother.

  12. Urgh Tina I understand how hard a decision that is and hugs to you for having the strength to acknowledge it and act upon it. I didn't speak to my mother for a few years after a suicide attempt and it was only from the wisdom of others that I was able to do so for my own health physically and emotionally. They are our mothers or which we had no choice or control over that but we can control how much the influence our lives now.

  13. That's a tough one. It's hard for me to separate the suicide part from the past treatment part .I've lost someone to suicide and I know that pain so well. But like the others..I am so sorry you have had to go through this and I think you have made the right decision. Sending hugs and prayers to you.

  14. Tina, I believe you made the right decision.. I am glad your minister could help.. Take care!

  15. I understand what you are saying, Tina, and I agree. You have to do what you have to do. Your minister sounds like a wise man.

  16. Sounds like your minister is extremely wise, Tina. Sometimes we have to distance ourselves from toxic people because it's the only way for us to maintain our mental and emotional health. It's so hard not to feel guilty when we make these kinds of choices, and it's certainly difficult. But absolutely necessary. I'm glad that you are taking care of yourself. It's the right thing to do.

  17. Your minister gave you a wonderful gift in his words. It is so good that you can accept what he said and start to move forward. You are handling a very hard situation with wisdom and faith. I wish you peace as you continue to heal and take care of yourself.

  18. Oh Tina, thank you for your honesty. You are such a special blogger. So glad you got some answers and are feeling better now. I wish I had a perfect relationship with my Mother, but I don't. I have to accept her for who she is and it's not easy sometimes.

  19. i remember once as a teen, getting into a huge fight with my mom and she actually packed a suitcase and left. scared the you know what out of me. my dad was furious with me. i was afraid to sleep that night that he'd kill me lol...she came home the next day but i learned me lesson, only for a short time though. i was a difficult teen. sending you hugs!

  20. You are so brave. Thank you for sharing so openly -
    You are a super blessing.
    love & love,

  21. You have a wise minister. And you are wise to listen to his counsel. I so admire you, so very much.


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