40 Years of Estrangement – A reader confronts her toxic family’s abuse

  • January 31, 2024
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A reader posted her story on my blog:

I confronted my mother with her immensely controlling abusive behavior and sexualized attachment to me in 1986. I had to get away so desperately to find myself that I cut off everyone in the family. Lucky for me, my father corroborated my experience but since he too was utterly dependent on her he could not continue to be in contact with me. When my brothers stated to my mother that they wanted to contact me she said “we don’t have a relationship with her anymore”.

I have had a successful life pursuing my life in the arts. I have had alot of psychotherapy. But something was unfinished.

After 40 years I looked at my presumption that my brothers were complicit and reached out to them. It was terrifying at first but there has been a payoff. My younger brother is a marvel. He has totally corroborated my view of our Mother. It was equally bad for him. At age 7 he was gang raped and felt he could not tell her. That says alot. He’s gotten help and is a wise and sensitive man.

My older brother does not have the same degree of awareness that my younger brother has. He has been trying to get me to forgive my mother as his pastor has recommended. I responded by pointing out that for there to be forgiveness there has to be a reckoning with the truth, as with Desmond Tutu’s Truth and Reconciliation initiative. Further, to insist on forgiveness without a deep and hard look at truths on the part of the abuser casts the adult child in the role of guilty party and the stigma one associates with that.

My mother denied everything that I brought to light and blamed me. I told my elder brother that I feel compassion for my mother’s very difficult childhood with a violent and aggressive german father. But I feel it is imperative on all humans to deal with their trauma so they do not repeat the pattern, as my mother did.

Talking to my younger brother has had me in tears at times and I am so grateful to my current therapist who encouraged me to reach out. It feels like a kind of counterweight to her abusiveness and is adding a puzzle piece to the very hard won sense of my own identity.

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