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#457976 - 01/04/14 02:26 PM How to recover from hurtful mothering?
gaatt Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 11/02/08
Posts: 124
It seems to me that a key part of my healing process is to find ways to nurture myself psychologically, emotionally, and physically. This isn't something that comes automatically to men, yet I think it crucial for men who were hurt and/or neglected by their mothers in their youth.

Do you guys work on this? How do you go about it?
_________________________
"Love yourself and watch...Today, Tomorrow, Always." Buddha.

My Story: http://www.malesurvivor.org/board/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=468661#Post468661

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#458023 - 01/05/14 01:09 AM Re: How to recover from hurtful mothering? [Re: gaatt]
focusedbody Offline


Registered: 02/03/13
Posts: 401
Loc: NY
Gaat:

Yes, self-care seems unnatural. It's a kind of shoring up a sense of me that never got nurtured by someone else.

The ways I've done this have probably changed over the years. At the moment, I'm acutely aware that when I am with my mother, there is a kind of begging in her that I pay attention to her. It's like a wall inside collapses and I feel the pull to give in, to pay little attention to myself.

In small ways, I try to compensate by listening and watching closely. I try to take in me and her at the same time. It can feel grotesque, awkward, monstrous, disturbing, all of the above. But I try to do it because I want to feel free by being present.

In my own life, I reflect on the moments that are truly connected to the person I know as me. I allow myself to feel into them as often as possible and do things that lead me there. It's a continual resetting of the goal to be authentic.

Thanks for the question. Curious to hear more of your own journey and process.

FB
_________________________
Lose the drama; life is a poem.

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#458105 - 01/06/14 02:30 PM Re: How to recover from hurtful mothering? [Re: gaatt]
gaatt Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 11/02/08
Posts: 124
Hi Focussed,

I totally understand the begging part of being in the presence of my mother. It doesn't stop with her. I end up doing it with women who are already in couples (and/or uninterested in a healing approach to relating) and who seem warm (yet are often deeply frustrated underneath that facade). It's like I'm still looking in all the wrong places for the kind of affection that a newborn needs.

My history with my mother is a subtle one. There was no physical violence (other than one spanking) in my past with her at all (or my father for that matter). There was lots of subtle/covert aggression however and a definite sexualization of our connection. The cultural connections are very powerful (military & the effect of 60's feminism on women).

There was a great deal of emotional trauma in her life when I was very young and my father was completely incapable of taking up the slack. So my need for the kind of physical nurturing that newborns need never really got met. My longing for it can be intense and very disruptive to socializing. The longing and the frustration of it not being met are often paired. I think that my role as a youth was to take on my mother's emotional needs and accommodate her sexualization of our connection just so that the basics could get met.

These days I look for the psychological and emotional aspects of nurturing myself by seeking men who understand what the effects of sexual abuse are like and are interested in healing. This site is a good place for that. The physical aspects of nurturing are more demanding. I do alot of work healing myself of Crohn's disease (Gabor Mate seems to think it is related to taking on the emotional trauma of mother in youth (see "When the Body Says No")). I also hire a massage therapist who is quite good. Very recently (after basically giving up on this community after many years of struggling) a couple of guys offered to support me with Quantum Touch. This is a big change.

I long for cuddles, healing touch, a sleeping partner and yet can't tolerate the sexual charge that is normally stirred up with these activities. I become too angry, confused, and my digestion goes way off. So this new development is a move in the right direction. I hope it continues to deepen. I'm amazed at how much frustration I had to tolerate before it came about and how solid I had to be in my commitment to satisfy my own needs before it happened. In my mind, I was preparing to leave town.

Sincerely,

GAATT


Edited by gaatt (01/06/14 02:33 PM)
_________________________
"Love yourself and watch...Today, Tomorrow, Always." Buddha.

My Story: http://www.malesurvivor.org/board/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=468661#Post468661

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#458137 - 01/06/14 11:41 PM Re: How to recover from hurtful mothering? [Re: gaatt]
focusedbody Offline


Registered: 02/03/13
Posts: 401
Loc: NY
Gaatt:

Thanks so much for relating some of your experiences.

First of all, I identify with the physical symptoms. When I was nineteen, I developed a lactose intolerance. While this is somewhere near the normal spectrum, eventually I had the makings of irritable bowel syndrome as well. What followed was much work of cleansing and some yogic practice, and eventually leaving behind the stress of a life spent with people who kept me busy doing the wrong things. Somehow I came to a good place of being able to more directly follow the emotional effects of anxiety on my digestive system. It can get touch and go from time to time, but with the kind of effort you mention, real results can be seen.

Yes, the sexual charge still leaves me incapacitated as well, especially compared to how I used to live. Small wonder since my life used to be a lot crazier and involved tons more denial. Now there's something kind of wonderful when I recognize that that deepening of hope happens on a physical level.

Other things you mention resonate with me, such as the cultural connections. I'm not sure if this is what you meant, but I will say that my mother's slowly growing frustration with men has at times been supported by a feminist perspective. I consider myself a feminist man, but also understand that feminism can easily miss the boat when it comes to what men need, not just what they have destroyed.

For instance, attachment theory is a key part of understanding the needs of a child. But during the time of the women's rights movement, the growing consensus that early attachments to the mother had a great effect on children may not have reconciled well with feminism. The reason for this is that if a child's needs were taken that seriously, then whatever was lacking in them would be first blamed on the mother. That would be seen as another blow to the growing feminist consciousness.

As a father of young children myself, I now see how easy it is to get trapped in the blaming of either parent. All the more reason then, to work on healing the abuses of the past.

Nonetheless, this renewed and wider perspective does not make things easier. My own mother was abused by her brother when she was young. It was somewhat innocent according to her, but when I think of how much she misunderstood me and perhaps men in general, it begins to become clear to me that she's not owning up to everything. I wonder what it would be like (and would have been like) if she looked at what happened, reflecting on what might be painful and not only the liberation of seeing a man in a compromising position that puts her in control of the situation.

What happens of course as I consider these things, is that I get caught up in the experience of her trauma. Perhaps this is what you refer to as the accommodating her connection with me. The difficult legacy then becomes my burden and it becomes necessary to see myself as separate myself from it and her, thereby achieving some of the kind of growth that couldn't happen before.

Getting back to your first statement about how important it is to nurture ourselves, I often find myself treading the thin line between my somewhat passive "feminine" side and a true need and desire to take care of myself. I know for certain that one defense I developed in the face of my mother's sexual aggression was to overly develop a capacity for feminine energy, i.e. yin. This has left me lacking in the yang department. So more recently, I've been taking more seriously the need to enjoy being a man in ways that I like to be.

For a lot of men this may seem a normal, natural and easy-going part of life. But for us whose normal male development has been haunted and thwarted, being male and relaxed about it is about as easy as hang-gliding.

When I do feel centered and in touch with an authentic maleness, I try to breathe and accept that it may be something I never really nurtured at all. I try to listen to it and say hello in the best way possible.

Thanks again for your honest thoughts. I hope your path continues in good directions.

FB





Edited by focusedbody (01/07/14 06:15 AM)
Edit Reason: clarifying my thinking
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#458194 - 01/07/14 05:32 PM Re: How to recover from hurtful mothering? [Re: gaatt]
gaatt Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 11/02/08
Posts: 124
Hi Focussed,

Your thoughts on feminism intrigue me. I read in a summary of "The Feminine Mystique" by Betty Friedan that women who embraced the feminist rebellion of the '60s had a less hurtful effect on their kids than women (like my mother) who resisted it. I too have had strong feminist tendencies over the years. More recently I've recognized the need for balance and coming to peace with my own maleness.

I too took on my mother's anger at men and generally have a strong feminine side and a weaker masculine. I think I have repressed my energy a great deal which has been harmful in many ways. Recently, I've been exploring a meditation technique that involves paying attention to the root of my penis (1st chakra). This seems to help me stay in the positive root of my male energy and get me out of my many thought patterns that would condemn it. That was pretty easy to do in my youth. As a child of a military officer who was part of the plan to destroy all life on earth, it wasn't difficult to see the problems with unbalanced maleness. Coming into my own (and hopefully much healthier) version of maleness is a big part of my healing process too. It often involves taking the initiative (maleness) to find ways to love myself rather than trying to seduce (feminine approach and more typically me. I smile alot and tend to take on the emotional turmoil of women in distress) the people around me into providing it.

I really celebrate your willingness to heal yourself as you parent your children. This is so important. I see much of my woundedness as being the result of parents who could not see their own woundedness at all, let alone make any effort to heal themselves. Congratulations on taking this path. I hope your children recognize your efforts (if not now, then someday) and celebrate you for it.

Sincerely,

"GAATT"
_________________________
"Love yourself and watch...Today, Tomorrow, Always." Buddha.

My Story: http://www.malesurvivor.org/board/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=468661#Post468661

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#458270 - 01/08/14 10:38 PM Re: How to recover from hurtful mothering? [Re: focusedbody]
Jacob S Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/01/13
Posts: 617
Loc: where the shadows lie
Originally Posted By: focusedbody
Gaat:

Yes, self-care seems unnatural. It's a kind of shoring up a sense of me that never got nurtured by someone else.
FB


this is so much what I deal with.
_________________________
I come here now, and I see lots of anger.
I don't blame anyone for that. It is perfectly understandable.
But it is not healthy for me.
So I'm going somewhere else.

Goodbye and good healing.

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#458346 - 01/09/14 02:53 PM Re: How to recover from hurtful mothering? [Re: gaatt]
gaatt Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 11/02/08
Posts: 124
Hi Jacob,

I had an interesting development recently while dealing with my frustration at the lack of interest in clean physically nurturing practices in this community. A couple of guys from a men's group I helped form 4 years ago came over and offered me a healing touch session (Quantum Touch). This was a major breakthrough for me because it gets me clear of being exposed to the sexualization (and accompanying lack of communication) of most mixed groups and yet still offered the physical nurturing the young part of me still craves.

One thing I was doing prior to that was imagining that I was physically caring for my "inner child". It seemed to help.

Have you found ways to support your own self-care?

Sincerely,

"GAATT"
_________________________
"Love yourself and watch...Today, Tomorrow, Always." Buddha.

My Story: http://www.malesurvivor.org/board/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=468661#Post468661

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#458537 - 01/12/14 11:37 PM Re: How to recover from hurtful mothering? [Re: gaatt]
focusedbody Offline


Registered: 02/03/13
Posts: 401
Loc: NY
Originally Posted By: gaatt
Coming into my own (and hopefully much healthier) version of maleness is a big part of my healing process too. It often involves taking the initiative (maleness) to find ways to love myself rather than trying to seduce (feminine approach and more typically me. I smile alot and tend to take on the emotional turmoil of women in distress) the people around me into providing it.


Gaatt:

Many thanks for mentioning this difficult aspect of identity. I too have been caught in this oddly experienced place of distance from myself and other men, while experiencing this strong connection to women in distress. What at first I thought was a healthy appreciation for women and sense of empathy has over the years managed to become more distorted at times. When it does I experience a kind of frightening and displaced passion that is both caustic and disturbing.

In this kind of dissociative state, I feel immense sadness as well as some confusion. it is also possible for me to float into a kind of empathic fugue with particular women and then I have to watch and listen to myself to see if what I am doing and saying feels strongly connected to who I say and believe I am. To stay in this place can be exhausting, but it does help me find more consistency little by little. I appreciate this kind of discussion, as it helps me allay the constant fear of these states, that I probably try to set aside too quickly.



Originally Posted By: gaatt
I really celebrate your willingness to heal yourself as you parent your children. This is so important. I see much of my woundedness as being the result of parents who could not see their own woundedness at all, let alone make any effort to heal themselves. Congratulations on taking this path. I hope your children recognize your efforts (if not now, then someday) and celebrate you for it.


Thanks for the positive thoughts. Yes, it is hard to see if any of what I'm doing is really going to pay off for them. In any case, I'm glad to keep the information flowing, about myself and about how a sexual identity is formed.

Peace,
FB
_________________________
Lose the drama; life is a poem.

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#458539 - 01/13/14 02:21 AM Re: How to recover from hurtful mothering? [Re: focusedbody]
pufferfish Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/26/08
Posts: 6875
Loc: USA
I want to say more about this a little later. But I want to add at this point that several things helped me recover.

I saw the movie: Mommie Dearest, which enabled me to see myself as the boy growing up in the home of a narcissistic mother. I cried all the way through it. But it was healing because in the act of crying I was grieving and understanding the emotions I had experienced as a little boy before I had the ability to see what was going on.

Puffer

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#458595 - 01/14/14 03:05 PM Re: How to recover from hurtful mothering? [Re: gaatt]
gaatt Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 11/02/08
Posts: 124
Thanks Puffer,

I'll look that up. It sounds like an interesting movie.

Thanks for your thoughts too Focussed.

I've seen the immense frustration in myself when my fundamental need for the nurturing I never got doesn't happen (it usually doesn't unless I clearly focus my attention on it). I guess being with such a traumatized mother at such a difficult time for her, taught me to hide my needs in very early youth and find indirect ways to get them partially met. Learning to hide my maleness was a trick I learned very young. Perhaps this is a common pattern to survivors of female abuse.

Sincerely,

"GAATT"
_________________________
"Love yourself and watch...Today, Tomorrow, Always." Buddha.

My Story: http://www.malesurvivor.org/board/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=468661#Post468661

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#458722 - 01/16/14 10:29 AM Re: How to recover from hurtful mothering? [Re: gaatt]
focusedbody Offline


Registered: 02/03/13
Posts: 401
Loc: NY
Originally Posted By: gaatt
I've seen the immense frustration in myself when my fundamental need for the nurturing I never got doesn't happen (it usually doesn't unless I clearly focus my attention on it).


Yes, this seems to be a kind of learned helplessness that is only overcome by conscious will.

Originally Posted By: gaatt
I guess being with such a traumatized mother at such a difficult time for her, taught me to hide my needs in very early youth and find indirect ways to get them partially met.


Not sure what needs you might be speaking of but in considering this I also recall the experience of fear and trepidation because getting them met again might not be easy. Just thinking about this can get my stomach tied in knots of anxiety.

In adult relationships, one learns that no one person can meet all our needs. These days I'm reflecting on that knowledge and realizing that I anxiously and vigilantly kept my mother at the center of my existence, partially because I had to be ready to get some nurturing whenever possible. Unfortunately, it also ensured that I would be there for her, not always in ways that I liked.

Undoing this tangle of interaction has been slow, but deliberate. I have stated in my actions and words that I don't want to go back to the old ways of being a secret source of comfort. Although my mother has not explicitly said that she understands everything that happened, I can tell in other ways that the message is getting across.

Originally Posted By: gaatt
Learning to hide my maleness was a trick I learned very young. Perhaps this is a common pattern to survivors of female abuse.


I wonder if my mother was under some undisclosed stress at times, in which case I would be watching for when this would ease up, for when she would be herself. Of course, I had no control over this, although I may have imagined that I did. That may be where the gender confusion came up. By hiding my maleness, it was probably easier to imagine her responding to me.

The price I paid for losing an essential part of me was heavy, though. It has colored my adult interactions. With the help of therapy, I have been able to begin looking at what may have been lost and what I'd like to recover.

The road of true contact is still painful to walk down, feels right because it feels real. Working with the pain is a process. It tends to push me into feeling isolated. I can usually tell when that is starting to happen and am trying to learn how I have been accustomed to dealing with it. This can be a bit horrifying, since I've been doing it for so long. Some of the coping mechanisms are still firmly in place. I am comforted by the fact that when my body calms down after facing it, I start to feel real feelings.

Thanks so much for continuing to share your experience. It is awful and mind-boggling to examine, but helps me feel less alone.

FB
_________________________
Lose the drama; life is a poem.

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#458741 - 01/16/14 02:36 PM Re: How to recover from hurtful mothering? [Re: focusedbody]
gaatt Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 11/02/08
Posts: 124
Hi Focussed,

Originally Posted By: focusedbody

Not sure what needs you might be speaking of but in considering this I also recall the experience of fear and trepidation because getting them met again might not be easy. Just thinking about this can get my stomach tied in knots of anxiety.

In adult relationships, one learns that no one person can meet all our needs.


There was lots of emotional trauma in my mother's life starting from when I was still in utero. She lost both a much younger brother to cancer when I was born. At three she lost her twin sister in a tragic accident. She was the last of her siblings. Emotional (and sexual) support for her in a military context (my father was an officer) was close to zero.

I think a newborn needs to feel loved in a very physical way. I suspect that my mother was so taxed emotionally that she didn't have the emotional resources to communicate that kind of love to the degree that was ideal for me. She also has a hidden anger at male sexuality that comes out in various subtle ways. That has been very hurtful to me.

I crave loving touch in a very clean (non-sexual) social environment. When I get it, it is very helpful to me. My body responds strongly as does my mood. There are some ways I can provide this for myself. I trained in Quantum Touch a long time ago. I can give the little boy I once was healing sessions through distance healing this way. I also pay for a massage therapist (and my mother helps with that expense). I have had a couple of guys help me with a healing session once. It was good to feel their support. Women are trickier for me. They generally don't want to hear about what I'm going through when the social atmosphere becomes unsafe for me. It would be nice if I could find a partner for a deeper exploration of healing. Marnia Robinson has described one that interests me a great deal (see: http://www.reuniting.info/node/1734). Finding a partner is very challenging for me. I have explored her approach for three nights once. It was a remarkably powerful and healing experience for me. It was a very good first taste. Unfortunately that was all this partner could handle. Finding people who share my interest in healing at this depth are very rare in my experience. So I just keep on plugging along with what I can do on my own. My body needs lots of work, so I'm not in lack of things to do! :-)

Originally Posted By: focusedbody
Thanks so much for continuing to share your experience. It is awful and mind-boggling to examine, but helps me feel less alone.


You are welcome. This is good for me too. I find it often very awkward talking about the way I struggle with most people. They don't seem to understand. The taboo against seeing the way mothers can hurt their kids is very strong. When you combine that with the subtlety of what I experienced and the way my mother behaves in general (she is easily seen as a saint), then honouring my own reality and need for healing becomes challenging. It's great to be able to communicate with people who understand. Thanks for your help! :-)

Sincerely,

"GAATT"
_________________________
"Love yourself and watch...Today, Tomorrow, Always." Buddha.

My Story: http://www.malesurvivor.org/board/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=468661#Post468661

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#459635 - 01/28/14 09:54 PM Re: How to recover from hurtful mothering? [Re: gaatt]
focusedbody Offline


Registered: 02/03/13
Posts: 401
Loc: NY
Hey, Gaatt.

Have you ever tried any social dancing?

Ballroom dancing can involve some degree of touch, in a controlled but fun way. I've been finding that it's a good place to gradually address some of my confusion.

FB
_________________________
Lose the drama; life is a poem.

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#459700 - 01/29/14 01:23 PM Re: How to recover from hurtful mothering? [Re: gaatt]
gaatt Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 11/02/08
Posts: 124
Hi Focussed,

Thanks for the idea. It has occurred to me in the past but I haven't really done much about it. I'm leery of it because the focus on healing is so weak.

Currently I'm looking into a group that specifically focusses on non-sexual touch as a form of relating. The group "Cuddle Party" (see: www.cuddleparty.com) seems to be strongly structured and alot of fun. I'll have to travel to get to it, but it intrigues me. They have a emphasis on openly setting healthy boundaries that is generally absent in most social groups.
_________________________
"Love yourself and watch...Today, Tomorrow, Always." Buddha.

My Story: http://www.malesurvivor.org/board/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=468661#Post468661

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#459763 - 01/30/14 10:09 AM Re: How to recover from hurtful mothering? [Re: gaatt]
focusedbody Offline


Registered: 02/03/13
Posts: 401
Loc: NY
Hey, Gaatt.

That sounds really good. Taking time to understand boundaries is important. I think it opens up the possibility to healing.

I frequently get disoriented. It seems to happen more in the presence of both genders. Ballroom dancing helps me move through that experience and calm down a bit. I agree, however, that it might not directly address what is asking to be healed.

Here's to taking brave steps and feeling good about where they land!

FB
_________________________
Lose the drama; life is a poem.

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#459848 - 01/31/14 02:19 PM Re: How to recover from hurtful mothering? [Re: gaatt]
gaatt Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 11/02/08
Posts: 124
Hi Focussed,

I hear you on the disorientation piece. I get easily confused and triggered emotionally in most social settings. All it takes is one sexually frustrated woman with an unresponsive partner and I'm into it.

I think part of it is my intense craving for the kind of non-sexual touch that newborns need and I still crave. It is so much not a part of adult relations that I think I try to force myself into a culture that isn't addressing my needs at all! So I get confused. I'm much less confused now, (particularly since finding this cuddle buddy group and reading Marnia Robinson's thought's on healing from early childhood bonding trauma (see: http://www.reuniting.info/node/1734)), but it's been a difficult ride where I live.

I'll have to travel to explore this Cuddle Party idea, but it inspires me a great deal. I've got alot of work to do on my health before I can travel too.

Thanks for your wishes for brave steps. Yes, we are both taking brave steps. I hope that yours land well too.

Sincerely,

"GAATT"


Edited by gaatt (01/31/14 02:20 PM)
_________________________
"Love yourself and watch...Today, Tomorrow, Always." Buddha.

My Story: http://www.malesurvivor.org/board/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=468661#Post468661

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#464667 - 04/27/14 11:39 PM Re: How to recover from hurtful mothering? [Re: gaatt]
andyp3 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 06/25/06
Posts: 6
Loc: Fort Worth, Texas
My mother sexually abused me from the age of 7 to about 12. Aside from the beatings and other sexually charged violence, she would many times compare my sexuality with that of my estranged father. It was only in my late 20s, when both my parents passed away, that I discovered I was adopted as a baby. I am now 62, I've been married three times, and I have five natural children and nine grandchildren from my first wife. I'm still trying to get over the idea that it's not all my fault. I feel lonely and abandoned most of the time, I've been through years of therapy, and I still can't get over the belief that the reason I'm so lonely and have no friends is because I'm such a bad person. On the surface, I seem to be a happy person but underneath I wonder if this will ever be resolved. Guess I'm going thru a phase of self doubt, depression and loneliness.


Edited by andyp3 (04/27/14 11:55 PM)
Edit Reason: Rephrase my thoughts
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AndyP

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#464734 - 04/28/14 10:24 PM Re: How to recover from hurtful mothering? [Re: gaatt]
focusedbody Offline


Registered: 02/03/13
Posts: 401
Loc: NY
AndyP:

Your post, and the responses elsewhere, reminds me of how hard I have worked to look at and understand how the hard feelings of the outside world were brought into my own being. Even though I never consciously really believed I was a "bad person", there was plenty of behavior that said otherwise. I had to spend a lot of time each day accepting that these feelings were there and then ask myself about their validity.

When I say a lot of time, I mean it. I have two young children and sometimes while they played at home I simply lay down on the floor for long stretches of time to try find what I was truly feeling.

These days I feel like I've been through hell and have gotten a little stronger. I'm prepared for the waves of shame to return anytime. Taking the time to feel them seems counterproductive at first, but I find that allowing them to be in the world also allows me to accept that real things that caused them occurred. It can be difficult to get there mentally and although it can be difficult to do so emotionally, that is where the healing lies. There were real feelings that were not acknowledged and they need to see the light of the present.

Please don't be a stranger here. Whatever you have to share and say is welcomed. We know that the strong stuff needs to come out. I think that's the best way to find out that it's truly not your fault, at all.

FB
_________________________
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