This would be another lessen that came from a meeting of the Unicorns. Our amazing leader asked the question why do we run back to our parents so many times before we even consider that their behaviour might be toxic? Yes of course does this have something to do with trauma bonding, where you confuse abuse with love because the parent is not abusive all the time, but provides just enough kindness to keep you hooked in their toxic game. Emotional abuse wouldn't work if they were abusive all of the time. Intuitively they know this. If they then show us a little of the attection we so badly crave here and a grain of false empathy there, we think 'well, maybe they aren't that bad' or 'maybe I got that wrong'. It always is just enough kindness, to keep us guessing. Experts also refer to that dynamic as "bread-crumbing". The stress relief we experience in those moments of so called bread-crumbing feels so good that it literally is addictive. We run back for another hit, to the person who will always hurt us the most. This is what a trauma bond is. They are incredibly hard to break.
What about those who worked through the trauma, those bonds create and don't run back to their abuser? I would consider myself stable enough, to not ever going back to have regular contact with my mother. I know that she does not care about me. I know, that she is (sadly enough) too broken to truly love someone. I know that she hurts people in order to make herself feel better.
What Is Left Is Her Bullying Voice In My Head
I can still hear her say, that I was too stupid to ever accomplish anything in life. That I had no worth. That no one would want me anyway. Those words are hard-wired into me. It almost feels like they are a part of me. Because they have accompanied me for as long as I can think. Believe me I am so sick of them. They make me feel like a mess, whenever something triggers me and activates them. The key point is, that I believe them. Even if, after all the work I have done on myself, I know that the are in fact not true, they still feel true. It is one thing to know. But it is an entirely different thing to also feel what you know. Which very often is much more difficult.
Our unicorn leader pointed out that there is some comfort in the devil you know. Even if you know, this person is definitely going to hurt you, all about them is familiar. It is not the abuse we crave. It is not that we can predict the abuse. To the contrary, I believe we hope for the opposite. That they didn't really mean it. That they can and will change. That they will have an epiphany which enables them to see, how hurtful they behaviour was. That they will acknowledge the pain they have caused us and that they will make amends. That everything is going to be okay. One day. If we just showed up enough. You only get one mother after all.
All these fatal hopes exist, because of the familiarity. It is her voice, her face, her expressions and the little things she does, that made me feel at home. I now know that all of this was just an illusion of safety. Because deep down I always knew, this woman wasn't safe. There is always a straw that breaks the camel's back, one thing that happens, they insult you, they deceive you, they let you down in some way or they control you. Whatever it is, when you finally do wake up, you will ask yourself, how you could not see this earlier. The simple answer is, you didn't see it earlier, because she is your mother and a simple survival mechanism of your brain, called denial, saved you from having to face the ugly truth, you were not ready to face. It really is that simple. Which is why I did double the work all my life. I worked so hard on the relationship with my mom. But there is no use of all that work, if you're the only one showing up. It needs two people to form a healthy relationship and this is true for every relationship, the one with your mom included. Actually, as she is your parent, she should probably even work a little harder than you. But she doesn't. Believe me, there is no realisation in this world that hurts more. Period. You have not experienced real heart break, if your mother loves you. Period.
There Is Comfort In Self-Sabotaging
Why is it so hard to break free from her, then? When all you knew all your life were bullying voices, you feel comfortable only if you are miserable. That is why people self-sabotage. Because being a failure has been engrained into your identity. Being a failure and probably being miserable. For traumatized people uncertainty sets our alarmsystem off, our heart rate goes up, our breath shortens, we go into emotional flooding, which is when you get so overwhelmed by emotion that you cannot think clearly. At that point we'd do anything just to soothe our firing alarm system. The answer often is simple: Self-sabotage. Don't apply for that job, to university, don't approach that person, don'tt speak up for yourself, don't go on that journey. And most important: do not sepperate from your mother. Keep yourself small in order to keep yourself safe. You don't know who you are apart from those limitting beliefs about yourself. That is why positive change is scary. It is unkown territory.
So. In order to get anywhere we might have to put ourselves in an uncomfortable position. I did apply to university. I even got accepted. So, I study psychology now in my second semester. This was so scary at first. Actually, it still is. In my head the voices were screaming, that I could never do that! Who did I think I was? Somehow I got through my first semester which was kind of rocky but here I am, fighting. Still, I catch myself being inattentive, distracted and thinking, I can never put that much knowledge into my head. I thought about delaying exams because I feel unprepaired and I think too much about that I can't do this. Self-sabotage.
But there is another voice in my head that tells me that I can do it. I cannot see myself at my end goal in any way. The distance just seems to far. But this new calm and encouraging voice tells me, that I don't need to see the entire way up to the top of that proverbial mountain. The only thing I need to do is putting one foot in front of the other. Sometimes I think, this is what a loving mom would say. Maybe my work on re-parenting myself is acutally working. It still is a battle with myself every day. Yet, here I am, fighting.
Sometimes the fear won't go away, so you'll have to do it afraid. I think the cure of fear actually lies in doing the thing you are most afraid of. Not by jumping right into the deep water, but starting at the shallow ends and then slowly move towards the deep. Yes it is scary. I freak out almost every day. But I am still here, determined to convince myself that I ca do it.
Thanks for reading! I am sending all of you hugs!