What a gutsy, eye-opening piece, Tara Nicole! As you can see by my highlights, a lot of what you write about felt very familiar to me, especially the bit above.

My mother has done this many times. There’s nothing quite like being utterly distraught and having your own mother laugh in your face then grab her purse, open the door of her condo, and go out slamming it.

Just like that.

She left laughing and she left me behind.

All I remember of that day is that I made the most enormous cup of tea in a bid to regroup.

It was in 2012.

Fast forward to 2019 and every single visit since I’ve come back to Europe in Dec 2018 has been getting worse, to the point that I didn’t want to go anymore as it took me days to recover every single time.

But my beloved stepmom kept telling me to go.

So I thought I’d give it one more try, adopting a different attitude this time: I detached completely.

It is the hardest thing to do with those closest to us but I have years of practice (this is how I survived the collapse on my marriage while in the throes of major depressive disorder). My focus was razor-sharp, and I also uncharacteristically set my work aside for a while so I could give my mother all my attention.

And it worked.

She has always been as desperate as me for us to build a relationship that works but it has taken us that long to find a way.

I’m the stubborn type and “Go on, give it just one more go” is pretty much my motto.

But regardless of all the above, you make the most important point of all : ultimately, we must protect ourselves so our abusers can’t get to us anymore. If that means cutting ties then needs must, ditto if we have to keep our abusers at arm’s length.

There cannot be any real compassion for others until we find, embrace, and practice self-compassion. It’s a matter of self-preservation, i.e. survival, just like the old airplane oxygen mask metaphor: Put yours on first before assisting others.

Thank you for sharing your story, Tara Nicole, I wish you greater ease going forward.

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