There is a tendency for those in recovery [from toxic parents/families] to fall into the blame game — blaming the toxic parents or family for any or all unfortunate circumstances in one’s life, not taking any accountability and responsibility at all for their life as [recovering] adults.
They may fall into the trap of victim mentality — and be affixed in that space of feeling victimized.
They define their life or themselves based on their wounds.
I am very much aware of this unhealthy tendency — in others and myself. [Caroline Myss, Ph.D. calls it “woundology.”]
Hence, I’m on my guard that I am not bonded in my past, do not become paralyzed, and unable to move forward with my life, with or without the home and family toxicity.
This, while not overlooking how my severe wounding childhood [even adulthood] experiences [maternal, paternal, and familial], have a deep and damaging impact on every aspect of my life.
Healing and recovery is a tricky balance between not identifying with the wound and not dissociating from it.
Following my mother’s demise early this year, hurts and pains have re-surfaced — some of which, I am realizing, I may have blocked out somewhere in my psyche as a coping mechanism.
And rather than cast them aside — which only deepens the wounds and delays the healing process — I have been giving myself the permission, space, and time to process, while being mindful that I do not fall into the victim mentality and get stuck in the blame game — and the past.
There is no quick fix remedy or easy solution for healing and recovering from abuse and trauma.
It is a lifelong — and complex — process.
But it’s doable and achievable.
And “thinking only positive thoughts, sending good vibes, and holding the abuser in love and light” most certainly will not do the work!
Any form of relief from such spiritual bypassing and feigned positivity techniques and conducts is superficial and temporary.
I should know — I have fallen in that trap [of spiritual bypassing] as well. And I continue to see it being propagated among many spirituality and healing circles and finding its way in pop culture, which I find disturbing. [More about this in future posts.]
Forgiveness of my [narcissistic] mother, insofar as my maternal wound is concerned, is not the goal or yardstick of my healing and recovery.
My focus is on managing the triggers and my reactions — or responses — to them.
How often do I have the fight-flight-fawn-freeze response? How long do I stay in each of those responses?
Do I have those responses for every trigger or only when the situation calls for it? [Like fight back when there is a real attack.]
How often do I over-react? How easily am I able to relax — in general or after having a distressing episode?
Does my inner critic continue to have a strong hold and power over me, or am I able to dialogue with it and uncover what it wants?
How effective are my self-mothering and re-parenting techniques in making my little Nadine feel loved, honored, heard, seen, valued, validated, and respected?
The answers to those questions are the focus of my healing and recovery and the yardstick of my growth.
Abuse — in whatever form and to whatever extent and degree, studies have shown — negatively impacts one’s brain and nervous system.
As such, re-training and re-wiring my brain and re-programming my nervous system — to create new and healthy patterns of relating, interacting, and responding — are the goals of my healing process.
I have control only over my experiences — no one else’s.
I have [had] no control over my mother’s wounding and unloving behaviors, including the lack of acknowledgment and apology —- particularly and even more so now that she has passed away already.
As I shared in my previous post, Acceptance — Not Forgiveness — Is Much More Effective & Therapeutic, if any hurtful feelings would arise, it is towards how my mother had refused to acknowledge and own up to her shortcomings and wrongdoings.
The other source of my triggers and hurtful feelings is the lack of support, condemnations, and unfair judgments from those outside of our relationship — who do not even know what truly transpired between my mother and me.
And that — being unreasonably bothered by the lack of support and invalidations — is an indication of my excessive need for external approval, resulting from the emotional neglect and all my unmet childhood emotional development needs.
Having said that…..
I am not allowing the effectiveness of my healing and recovery to be hinged on the offender’s acknowledgment of the wrongdoing and apology — neither should the lack thereof diminish it.
In time, all my validating and compassionate self-talk, together with all my other healing and recovery practices and techniques will find their way and sink in the deepest recesses of my psyche and permeate every cell of my being.
The hurtful feelings will diminish to the level, at least, that there is no need to go through an extensive releasing process.
The releasing is much quicker, easier, and effortless.
I have exhausted all the possible explanations as to why I had such a traumatic and challenging relationship with my family — and mother, in particular.
Quite frankly, there have been times when I found it a futile exercise, keeping me bound to and stuck in the past, derailing and delaying my healing and growth process.
Sometimes, rightly or wrongly, I just tell myself that I have been dealt with a lousy set of familial and maternal cards — not so much with a defeatist or victim attitude but a quiet and calm surrender.
As I wrote in my previous post, I had accepted the difficult relationship that I had with my birth mother [and family of origin]. And aceptance — rather than forgiveness — I have learned, is much more effective and therapeutic.
I would rather and what is more productive is to focus my healing on overcoming the ill effects of the familial [and maternal] wounding, how I can use the wounding experiences as growth opportunities, find the gifts beneath the wounds, and use them to help others in similar situations heal.
It truly is the journey, not the destination.
I continue to take one day at a time. One trigger at a time. One flashback at a time. One hurtful memory at a time. One reaction or response at a time.
That’s all I can do.
That’s all I must do — if I want my healing and recovery to be effective and long-lasting.
Then, perhaps, forgiveness would take place. It becomes the byproduct instead of the focus of the healing process — or its prerequisite.
Forgiveness then, when not contrived and premature, happens organically, authentically, and effectively.
Forgiveness then is a result of the healing process rather than its goal — because it was given its rightful space and time, it was not made compulsory, not hastily done, and not made a prerequisite to healing.
• Daughter Detox: Recovering From an Unloving Mother and Reclaiming Your Life by Peg Streep
• Daughter Detox Q&A Book: A GPS for Navigating Your Way Out of a Toxic Childhood by Peg Streep
• Don’t Rush Into Premature Forgiveness by Bethany Webster
• Forgiveness: Not Necessarily What You Think, What the Bible Really Says, and What It Doesn’t Say by Sr. Renee Pittelli
• Mothers Who Can’t Love: A Healing Guide for Daughters by Susan Forward, PhD
• 6 Reasons Not To Forgive, Not Yet by David Bedrick J.D., Dipl. PW
• The Process of Forgiveness by Dr. Karen McDonald
• Toxic Parents: Overcoming Their Hurtful Legacy and Reclaiming Your Life by Susan Forward, PhD
• When You and Your Mother Can’t Be Friends: Resolving the Most Complicated Relationship of Your Life by Victoria Secunda
• Will I Ever Be Good Enough?: Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers by Karyl McBride