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I had one of those horrible female biological parents. Lots of abuse of me and animal abuse, and she took bad care of my dad for 5 years until he died. My sainted grandmother tried to keep me safe by keeping me, but that couldn't last forever and that's when the abuse started, when I moved back with mthr right before my father died. (For those of you who don't know, I spell her name mthr because she was missing something important inside). I rescued her from her hoard, had her cancer cured, and placed her in a home close by where she was well taken care of.


Evil mthr died in the recent past, and I've waited until the legal coast was clear so those who financially abused mthr would not jump in (those vultures that I felt were circling in a previous post). I called her cousin that found me on FB at Christmas and she previously gave me her brother's phone # who had been close to mthr. He had not answered any Christmas cards from me in years, and I'm suspicious they stopped when I mentioned mthr's abuse in a letter, but I can't remember exactly. The cousin said that she would not tell her brother so I could. I left a VM yesterday.


On the phone with the girl cousin, I played the sweet bereaved daughter role. No point in bursting their bubble from 1960, or so I thought. What I did find out is that mthr had been a twit as a youngster and that she had given her parents trouble (not in the running around kind, in the arguing constantly kind). I left a VM for her brother who mthr was closer to in age and interests. But - I had a rough night. I feel like I was not honest with myself. I ground my teeth last night for the first time since mthr died.


I'd like to have extended family for once - this is part of the family that she kept me isolated from, so they would not know her secrets. Do I message female cousin on FB and tell her I'm just not up to telling male cousin, that she is welcome to? He has my message that I wanted to catch up; but his sister is expecting me to tell him about mthr's death. Do I tell them about her abuse? Or do I just continue to agree with their cheerful assessment of her personality?

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Surprise, I'd say "sorry for your loss" but I'm just happy for you that that part is finally over. I'm going to vote "no" on telling people about the abuse just yet. Let people who would sincerely grieve over her passing do so. You'll have plenty of time in the right circumstances, the right time and the right people to tell them. I would totally understand that not telling them right away may feel disingenuous and that finally getting it all out may be cathartic for you. I wish you peace in your heart as you move onward and upward!
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surprise Jun 12, 2020
Geaton, thank you for being with me. These are not the people who saw the abuse going on, so I'm not mad at them. I can let them grieve the memory they have. That would be the nice thing to do, and I'm a nice person. I'm proud to say I'm rebelling against the way I was raised by mthr. Instead, I embrace the care and concern of my grandmother. ❤️
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I'm most interested in family history and establishing some roots for my grands who live in the state where this family originated. None of these particular people would have ever been up to visit mthr and seen the hoard, so I would expect it to be a complete shock that their cousin was so awful. I bought tickets for the male cousin to come to my wedding that he was in, and he saw for himself what a patooey she was then. So I'll leave it up to him to call me.

I don't even need their acknowledgement of mthr being a bad person. I just felt like I was too agreeable with the cousin's positive assessment of her. Last night I also friended the youngest cousin, who did not even know I existed. No reason to even mention mthr to him.

I'm not concerned about telling the people in her home town. I've said nothing to them in years... I sent Christmas cards/notes for 3 years and when there was no response, cut them from the list. I think I'll place a very short obit if that's even needed. What do you all think about a very plain obit with a scholarship fund & child protective services as suggested memorials?
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BarbBrooklyn Jun 12, 2020
The absolutely best idea.
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Update: Cousin called and we chatted about everything else for an hour. The part about mthr lasted about a minute at the front end, with him sucking in his breath at the news and asking how long she'd been diagnosed. We had lots in common, including wfpb vegan diets!

Such a relief to have that convo over. Now for that obit!
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Surprise, I think I would "catch up" with the cousin and do lots of listening. Your mthr was mentally ill and I would be curious to know from those who knew her back in the day if there were signs of that early on. Maybe owning to a "fraught" relationship with "difficult mother" might be honest enough for you and palatable enough for him? And maybe the start of a meaningful exchange.

The truth is that no one can tell you how to feel. If they disapprove of you for telling your truth, they are not folks you want to hang out with. I hope can find some peace. (((((Hugs))))))).
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surprise Jun 12, 2020
Barb, those are good words to use. I know I reached out to my father's sister in law when I was a young married and her response was tsk tsk, grow up. I'm afraid of that happening again.

I'm afraid of loosing these new family connections... I actually remember going to this cousin's wedding but all I remember is a distant view of her in her dress in front of the church. I don't know that mthr actually appeared at the wedding. Cousin said she'd looked at her wedding pictures and didn't find us in them, which further boosts my suspicion that mthr did not actually join the festivities. But I think you are right about listening. I did lots of agreeing and mmm-hmming.
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Surprise, my mother was not abusive but...distant, I guess is the right word. She had a pretty awful childhood and I think that her idea of motherhood came from 1950s TV...everything was supposed to be perfect. A she had 3 imperfect children and a lot of dying elderly relatives who got dumped on her (and us).

My mom was the youngest child by many years in her family. I have a much older cousin who has been really helpful in articulating ways in which family tales have been relayed to me because my mother experienced stuff through the lens of a small child, while my cousin's mom, 12 years older saw them with a more mature eye. I understand a lot more about my mom's issues having heard some of this stuff.

As to your tsk tsk-er, I think at least in some families, there is more acknowledgement of how much damage a parent can do these days. Maybe not in yours. But I would make sure that these new relatives are a "safe space" before you open up to them.
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surprise Jun 12, 2020
That's wise advice. They are not my therapist, and they were not part of the problem. Best to leave them out and just listen for clues. The arguments with her parents was news to me, and explains that it certainly was not me that made her that way. I've been examining the family lore and I don't know which parts come from my grandmother and which from mthr, but I'd like all of them to be accurate!
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One thing that I say to people that have very different relationships with my parents is, "Yes, each relationship is different and we can never judge by our own experiences exactly what kind of relationships others have with one another." It says it all without telling them anything.

Unfortunately people really don't care about the abuse you suffered at someone's hands. So I would change the subject and try to have a relationship that doesn't include your mthr or her memory. Maybe say something glib, like I am glad for you that you had that kind of relationship with her and change the subject.

Great big warm hug! This situation just sucks from the word go.
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surprise Jun 12, 2020
Ooh those are great words to use. I wouldn't want to dump on these people; they are not my therapist. But putting it that last way is perfect.
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This may or not obtain here. Years ago, I went to a H.S. reunion. I said to a classmate that I remembered my 5th grade teacher as being emotionally abusive. She posted our grades, with names, on the bulletin board at the end of every semester. I was generally a good student, but had terrible handwriting (and do till this day) and she made us copy from the board. It was not until the end of that school year that I realized that I was having difficulty seeing at a distance and finally got glasses. (You think maybe my parents or teachers should have noticed that? To this day and throughout my career as a psychologist, if I see a child squinting to see, I find their parent and tell them to get their child to an ophthalmologist. If I can't find the parent, I tell the child what to say to their parent, their teacher and their doctor.)

So at this reunion, a classmate came up to me, having overheard what I was saying about Mrs. G. She said to me, Barbara I hear that that was YOUR experience of Mrs. G. But when I transferred into this school in the 5th grade, woefully behind because I had been attending an inferior school, she stayed behind EVERY DAY for an entire school year and tutored me until I caught up to the rest of you. THAT was her commitment to education.

I was floored. There were several other people in my class who had the same perception of abuse from this woman, but apparently there was another side to her.

People are complicated. Some of us who have/had parents who aren't able to bond with us, who are mentally ill, or who suffered trauma themselves that they were not able to overcome. God knows that there was a dearth of understanding of this sort of disorder 50 years ago.

The truth is that some people can be kind and generous to some but not to all. It's not the fault of the person on the receiving end of the lack of kindness. There is something off in the wiring of the person who can't empathize with the recipient.
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Maddkattier Jun 13, 2020
Amen!!
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I think family is who you make family, and trying to resurrect family from the mouth of lies about your Mom will not work. I would simply say that you had a very uneasy relationship with your mother, that you suffered abuse and saw abuse even to the extent that you saw animals abused. That you wish to move on with a quality life now and put to rest a person who was very unhappy in life, and will now hopefully find peace in death.
Release her.
Let her go. She did not have anything of value to give you. She was unable. To complicate that grief with lies to family you don't even know seems to me asking for more trouble. Go on with friends and your own family who is quality and your own life. You owe them nothing. Had they wanted to know about her DEATH they should have been present in her LIFE and in your own. I doubt these people have a thing to give you but their judgement?
Do you need that? Because to my mind you have been through quite enough, thank you. Now put her to rest and let her go. It is time. I am so sorry for all you have gone through, but my sorriness nor anyone elses amount to a thing that can help you.
Hugs to you. Go on. Make this world the BETTER every day that you are in it, so that no one has to consider what decent things they can find to say about you when you are gone.
Surprise, I just lost my bro. He was one of the kindest most decent and gentlest people I ever knew. And we, he and I were lucky to have the kindest most decent people ever as our parents. I would that it could have been the same for all. Between us all we have rescued and cared for likely 100s and 100s of animals. You note is heart wrenching to me. Try now to just live in love.
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surprise Jun 13, 2020
Thank you Alva, I am so sorry for your loss, but so thankful you had a wonderful family! Thank you for caring so much. <3
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I think it would be nice if you could have a relationship with cousins but I think you should feel them out. You may find they were aware of more than you think. If questions like "why did you live with your Gma for a while" then maybe you can say that Gma thought you were safer with her because she saw the abuse. Years ago people looked the other way. They may have felt it was none of their business or just keep it in the family thing. You don't have to go into detail (some really don't want to hear it). Just say there was another side to Mom that people never saw. I have been in therapy and have tried to move forward. I did my best by her. I made sure she was cared for in a safe environment and did what needed to be done to get her there.

I can imagine a great weight has been lifted.
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surprise Jun 12, 2020
Fortunately everyone recognized I lived with my grandmother because my father was completely disabled. No questions on that front!
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(((((hugs)))) surprise.

When my abusive mother died I sent a mass email to the cousins and a few others who had kept contact. There was some response, but little follow up. I was part of the lack of follow up as I couldn't see my way to denying the realities of my mother's lifelong illness and the effects it had on me. When carefully "speaking (a small amount of) my truth" hit a brick wall, I chose not to pursue the relationship.

I think you have fulfilled your obligation to your cousins. You left a VM. He can follow up if he wants to. If he chooses not to, I don't think there is much hope of a relationship.

It would be nice to have a supportive expended family. In my experience, those that still thought my mother was wonderful when she passed kept that illusion. The ones who had some idea of what she was really like figured that out years ago. I carefully shared with a few extended family over the years with about 50% success. On that basis I gave up the idea of a supportive extended family, I have fb contact with a few relatives, though I have friends who are closer.

I don't think it is good to lie about your mother, but neither is it good to share everything with all. I would say, for your own good, tread carefully in what you reveal, and lower your expectations on your extended family. Sometimes a non answer or a facial expression can convey more than words.

When people enthused about mother, I chose to 1) not answer and keep a straight face, 2) say something non committal like "That's nice", 3) answer something like - "She had those strengths/good qualities". You get the drift. I could not be untrue to my experience.

Thinking of you and the things of the past that cling and affect the present.
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surprise Jun 13, 2020
Yes, Golden, I'm there. That's what I said pretty much, and I'm glad to hear you say that it's not being untrue to your experience. I'm much more relaxed this evening now that I'm over that second hump. <3
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