Paula hesitated when her therapist told her that if she removed her bullying, narcissistic, adult daughter and her even more vicious husband from her life, she’d spend the rest of her days feeling guilty and living miserably.
For years, Paula’s daughter had used and abused her. She demanded money for a car, furniture and vacations. She demanded instant child care any time, day or night no matter what else Paula had planned. The worst: she demanded that Paula accept her blaming, demeaning, critical tantrums any time her daughter wanted to dish them out; in person, over the phone, on Facebook and at family holidays. If Paula didn’t instantly accept all the blame for her daughter’s problems or bad feelings, Paula was denied seeing the grandchildren she loved.
Paula’s therapist told her to accept everything.
Her therapist said, if a mother distanced herself from her child, no matter what the cause, the parent would be the one at fault; she had not loved her child unconditionally. Even worse: her therapist predicted that Paula’s guilt would haunt her forever; she’d never be happy again.
I think that’s all wrong. We wouldn’t encourage a woman to let her husband batter her because she’ll miss him. Much harder with a child but still the same principle.
Something in Paula rebelled.
Paula had fought all her life to make something of herself and to be a loving mother. She’d given her daughter everything she could and she’d never done anything her daughter accused her of. She’d always encouraged and provided for her daughter. She loved her daughter; she simply despised her daughter’s personality.
Now, she refused to be bullied and abused, even by her own flesh and blood. She saw her sporadic visits with her grandchildren, under fear of setting her daughter or her husband off, were not really helping the children. She refused to show her grandchildren that bullies won.
Sometimes, the only way to avoid being killed and eaten is to get away.
Nothing Paula ever tried had changed her daughter’s behavior. In fact, the more she accepted, compromised and negotiated, the more demanding her daughter had become and the more viciously she’d treated Paula. Paula saw her daughter as some combination of a rattlesnake and a vulture; she was poisoning and eating Paula.
After Paula made distance from her daughter, she was pained, sorrowed and grieved, but she didn’t feel guilty.
More importantly, she began to feel alive again. She felt like a crushing weight had been lifted off her whole body.
She prayed for her daughter, she lit a candle on her daughter’s birthday and the holidays were hard. She felt the loss keenly. She created a ritual to help her grieve and to let go of her daughter and her dreams of her daughter, as if the daughter she’d hoped for had died. She weeded through her family and friends, keeping the ones who cared about her and understood the heart-breaking choice.
And she made new friends and even became a godparent to children who returned her love with love of their own. She was surprised when she started spontaneously laughing, singing and dancing again.
Of course, there are many complications depending on your situation. The best way to learn how to take power in your life and to be the person you want to be is to hire Dr. Ben for personalized coaching and counseling so you can:
Develop the strength, courage, will and determination to be and to act your best resolutely, diligently and effectively.
Develop a plan and master the skills necessary to create the life your spirit has always hungered for.
Since all tactics depend on the situation, call me at 1-877-8Bullies for expert counseling and coaching by phone or Skype.