You Don’t Owe Anything to an Abusive Parent

A step-by-step process to find peace in letting go

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Photo by Christopher Campbell on Unsplash

It’s been months since I ended the relationship with my mother. We had an on and off relationship for years and for a moment we had found a simple way to stay in touch.

Most of our conversations were not meaningful. I was constantly left feeling disappointed and wanting more. It was unclear to me as to what would become of our relationship but at the time I didn’t want to live in regret if I did decide to sever all communication.

What I didn’t realize was how abusive and emotionally manipulative my mother had become. Through the years I looked for ways to accommodate her every emotional need as she hid behind the “mental illness” label to reprieve her of her negligent actions.

Over time they expect their children to only stay in the toxic cycles of abuse with them even as they get older. They expect us to stay by their side until death as they continue to make us feel wrong and less than worthy.

My father was sexually abusive to me and so over time I think I held onto my mom as one last shred of hope that I’d have at least one parent there for me.

But the truth is, she never changed and she was not there for me to protect me from my father. She didn’t grow or evolve into a wiser, more emotionally responsible human.

I think as children of abusive parents we will long for a healthy relationship with our parents.

It can feel foreign, emotionally confusing and scary to speak up for yourself and reinforce what you deserve in the relationship.

I felt often afraid to place a boundary because I was afraid she would stop talking to me out of punishment.

This is no way to have a healthy relationship with anyone. You aren’t living a real relationship with someone if you can’t have healthy boundaries on what feels right and safe for you. It just won’t work.

These are some steps that helped me in the process.

Your needs matter

Every relationship has a give-and-take element and an ebb and flow. Abusive parents are takers and don’t consider anyone else’s needs besides maintaining control of the situation.

In the process of letting go of my mother I had to remind myself that it was time and that I deserved peace in my life.

I needed to feel safe and being in a relationship with her did not make me feel safe.

Practice this every time you doubt your choice in letting go and walking away. It is a sure step to finding peace and clarity if a bubble of confusion comes up.

State your reasons why it can’t work

When you have reached the turning point in the relationship and know it’s time to let go, be clear on your reasons why.

These reasons are your boundaries.

Be clear on what is not working in the relationship and why it’s time to take care of you first.

Abusive parents won’t get it but you get to do this for yourself. It can bring closure in a way that your parent won’t.

Let go of the dream of it becoming any better

This might be the most painful part of the letting go process of an abusive parent.

For me I had to finally put to rest a dream that my mother and I would reconcile and be happy together.

I realized this fantasy was not helping me grow emotionally but only allowing me to stay in an abusive dynamic with her.

Abusive parents may show good sides to them but those moments are short-lived and very few in between.

To be free is to find peace in the idea that there won’t be a someday or that perhaps one day things will get better.

The only thing we have is right now. Peace is accepting the way people are and making a choice to either be in relationship with them or not.

You deserve to live a life that feels whole, complete and free from the ties of abuse.

Written by

Self-help & mental health writer. Can't do small talk. Mama. Yogi. Coffee lover. Nature explorer. Get my free meditation mini-course here:

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