Challenges of Recognizing Emotional Abuse

A comment over on ‘Signs of emotional abuse’ pointed out that defending your space, trying to set the ‘record straight’, and other ways of protecting yourself and family may appear like emotional abuse.  My DH tried to get me to see that my mother is not a safe person.  I argued and suspected him of trying to isolate me from my family.  When I was in counseling, my therapist suggested I go no contact with my family, they weren’t healthy for me to be around.  I was stunned.  My counselor also pointed out that since I was raised in a toxic environment, I did things that were toxic to my children.  I was devastated.  I also took responsibility to change.  This is a key between everyday screwing up relationships and abuse.  When a person messes up or says something unkind a healthy person apologizes.  An abuser will shame, blame and turn it around to be the victims fault.  I do recommend getting counseling for several reasons validation tops the list.  DH was validated in his statement that my mother is not safe to be around.  He wasn’t isolating me, he was trying to protect me.  Pulling back and seeing my parents less, I became the bad guy.  Comments came at me like “your parents are just getting older” or “that is just the way your mother is, she doesn’t mean it.”  On the first one my mother has been the same to me as long as I can remember and the second one she actually looks around to make sure we are alone before she tears into me.  She will then deny any conversation occurred, I am too sensitive, or I misunderstood.  Toxic Parents was one of the books that my counselor had me read.  WOW.  It was a tough read. I challenged myself to try to see this information from my children’s perspective.  I messed up.  I also worked at changing how I interacted with them.  I still mess up.  I try to check in with them to see if there is something I can do to improve the relationship.  I accept that sometimes my children need space from me.  I respect that.  I wait until they let me know they would like a different relationship with me.  I am blessed with amazing children that have stood by me through the drastic changes I made during counseling.  I continue to evolve.  I am happy to say that my children are some of my strongest supporters.  I appreciate and love them so much.  DH stands by me through thick and thin.  Pointed out when I was unfair and hypercritical of our children.  He has my back and encourages me on my continued journey to healthy living.  I am still in contact with my parents but with a wide emotional distance and I never allow myself to be alone with my mother, ever.

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