How do you handle this?

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Mom passed on March 2017, as you might know from my posts. So I am feeling much much better. But every now and then I remember things from my past, my growing up years, etc. Unfortunately I had an abusive childhood and my parents were never there for me growing up as far as emotional support. So I was angry at my mom for never having stood up to my father (deceased when I was 21) for the things he did and said to me. She had a nervous breakdown when I was young and it took decades for her to get just a little better. So I realize why she wasnt able to stand up for me. But I suppressed those feelings of anger I had toward her, and him. And I realized that fact after my moms passing. So now I regret being angry with her (and never being really aware of that fact and why) all these years and never discussing it with her, as I wasn't really aware of it. So how does one handle these regrets after the passing of a loved one? Thanks.

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Maybe you can accept that you have the right to be angry for her not having your back. Women of her time tended to be dependent on men and wouldn't speak up to them. It wasn't right, but it was the way many women were. A lot of people weren't ideal parents. They had big shortcomings. If your mother had a nervous breakdown -- an anxiety disorder? -- she was probably focused on making it through the day herself. Sorry that you had to grow up in such an environment.
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Bloom; isn't it amazing all the feelings that show up after a parent you have ambivalent emotions about passes away?

I had a fairly normal but kinda strange childhood, with lots of unacknowledged death, illness and other dysfunction. My mom truly believed that life was supposed to be like Father Knows Best and the Donna Reed Show. She felt terribly inadequate because she wasn't dressed in heels and pearls every day.

From my perspective, a lot of good therapy, years ago, helped me see that my parents did the best they could with the knowledge and means they had at their disposal. They were good people and I owe them a lot. It doesn't mean that they understood me.

I've had to separate those two thought streams; giving credit for the trying but acknowledging the fact that they never "got" me.

I hope that you can find a process that brings you peace.
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Bloom, first you acknowledge the issues and resentment, which you're doing now. You've made excellent strides in that analysis. You've already rationalized the situation and isolated the factors. That's a big first step.

Now ask yourself what if anything can be done about past hurts. Your mother is no longer here, but those hurts remain in your mind. You're the only one now who can do something about them.

I've read that some people write a letter of apology to a deceased family member; although it's not read by your mother, it can release some of your emotional anguish. But sometimes not.

I like the mid-course correction theory. Analyze the situation, determine what you can do about it now, and in the future, then move on.

It's not as easy with emotions, especially with a close relative. But do ask yourself, what CAN you do to change the situation except acknowledge it, recognize how it happened, chastise yourself if that helps, and resolve never to let it happen again.

Some people may recommend therapy, as you've discussed earlier in I believe your first post. That might be a option, but only with a real therapist and not an online shyster.

You might also simultaneously try to redirect your activities these days, while you're deciding whether and where to move. Do some volunteer work; drive for Meals on Wheels and deliver to housebound people.

Make friends with them, treat them as you now wish you would have treated your mother, and compensate for what you wish you could have done.

Call your local Senior Center and ask if there's any other way you can help as a volunteer. You may have to contact different centers; some are mediocre (like the one in my city); others are outstanding and have excellent outreach programs (like the one in my father's community.)

If it's any consolation, you're not alone in reminiscing and regretting. I think it's part of the post-death survivor's experience for many people. I still wish I'd had the common sense or insight to learn more about caregiving and cancer before my mother and sister died.

I did speak with staff at infusion centers as I wanted to start a cancer quilting program, after teaching quilting and finding it's just as relaxing and absorbing for my students as it is for me. So I planned to adapt it to those people still getting chemo at infusion centers, or perhaps even work with a Gilda's Club program.
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I feel for you--bloom---my mother was also "not there" for me, and allowed a lot of things to happen to me that should have not happened-- severe abuse by a sibling, for one. She also had several nervous breakdowns and we kids were all to blame for them. I am by far the most sensitive one of the bunch and I took the responsibility to make her "happy" all upon myself. VERY unhealthy.

Mother is still alive, but there is just no way I can talk to her and get the "acknowledgment" from her that she knew and is sorry for how I was raised/treated. It's just not going to happen.

Realizing this took me into therapy, where I am learning to forgive and to re-process a lot of the negative stuff and put it away and not let it control me. It's hard work, and it's not fun, but slowly I am coming to terms with the things I cannot change.....

Anger at someone who is now passed is just exhausting. I'm truly not angry at my abuser any more. BUT, it's taken me a long time.

I hope you can find hope and healing somehow. My faith is my rock, and that, for a lot of people, is very helpful. But healing from abuse and neglect is a long term trial. I hope you can find a good therapist. Mine's a gem.
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Thanks all! Such great thoughts and answers. A lot to think about. I went to the cemetery this morning and I usually talk to my mother and father and tell how sorry I am, wished things were different. Apologize to my mom. Cry. Then ask for their help. Give me a sign to let me know they are alright. And without fail, up to today, I get signs. Literally, signs, well license plates. With my fathers name on it (Jarvis) a rare name, or NY state plates (which is where I want to move to), always after asking at the cemetery. Except for today. And today, was different. I realized that, you know what, it's entirely up to me. Whatever choice I make for whatever goal, etc., it's my choice. And that was my big realization today. I've lived my life up to my moms passing, doing the career she chose for me, living close to her, helping her, being her crutch, and then finally caregiving. Not living my life. With my quack therapist I've written about here, we were working on that and other issues. But now I have a little more clarity and realize it's simply my choice, my life. Just have to figure out what those things are. And that the anger I've felt, or expressed towards my mom, whom I've loved with all my heart, is passed tense already, those days are over. That life, my life until now, is in the past. And as I believe in a continual existence after death, I feel my mother has moved on. And I feel like Tom Hanks did in the movie The Castaway, where he was marooned on an island for some years. Gets rescued. Comes back home. And at the end of the movie he is driving in the farmlands somewhere, and comes to a crossroads, doesn't know which way to turn, and makes a decision and goes for it. I feel like I am at or near that crossroad and will have to make a decision which way to turn. That's my feeling for today. Thanks.
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GardenArtist made a good point about what can be done about the past. I've worked through this in my mind several times. I had negligent parents and a bully older brother who filled my young life with constant dread and anxiety. My mother even admitted one time that it was better me than her having to deal with my brother. My father was mentally absent (Asperger's probably) and my mother was mentally ill and a covert narcissist. I know these things and wish I could change my childhood to something better, but it is all water under the bridge. I do think that bad childhoods can either make us abusive like our parents OR give us strengths to help others going through these things. One thing that hurts us most is to get stuck in the anger of the abuses. Maybe the anger is guiding us toward what we need to do. GardenArtist had excellent advice on finding ways to work through the anger and just not to suppress it. I have a feeling you have empathy for other people, after what you've gone through. There are a lot of people who need an empathetic shoulder to lean on.
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Jessie and Barb, you wrote what I thought but in a more concise and eloquent way. Barb, your observation that your parents did the best they could under the circumstances is one of the most elemental facts we caregivers need to consider. It's helped me through some time times.

We also need to remember that information wasn't as widespread and available as it is now, that many of our parents struggled through the Depression or served in WWII, and those experiences left scars on our parents and their siblings. And some of our grandparents may have fled their homelands b/c of political reasons or purges; those horrors certainly must have affected the rest of their lives.
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This thread is really generating very insightful answers. Jessie, your comment that trial and tribulations can produce either result, with the positive aspect being the "strengths to help others going through these things". These are the ones that I try to cultivate. Well said, Jessie, and good advice.

And that gave me another thought. I've watched a few programs here and there about the trials of returning Vets, the efforts to help them, as well as the pet therapy that's been so successful.

I would love to get into pet therapy, training dogs and taking them to AL, IL, rehabs and other areas where there are groups of help who can benefit from pet therapy.

Another thing I've wanted to do is connect with a local ballet or general dance company that's offering dance workshops to Parkinson's patients. I've seen the program on PBS and was amazed at the responses. It was very, very emotional to see people brought out through the soothing elements of music and the physical exercise of dance, adapted to each person's specific abilities.

Bloom, do you have any interest in these kind of outreach programs? It would take some investment of time, but from everything I've read and all the pet handlers I've met, they yield wonderful rewards.

I've also just remembered that my father's senior center as well as the VA have outreach programs, by which volunteers visit shut-ins and bring outside contact, some companionship and hopefully some cheer into your life.

We try to include some programs like this in our home activities. Senior centers take unused cards; we have many to donate. The VA accepts donations, but check first with them. We have hundreds of books, good NatGeo magazines, and more to donate. (Right now it's an issue of getting them all together).

One of our regular posters volunteers at a hospice.

It's challenging, but you have the comfort of knowing that you're reaching out to someone and making their life better. And sometimes that brings atonement to people addressing the side effects of parental issues.
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This post and the comments have really spiked my brain activity today! I just keep thinking of things I want (and need?) to write. Bloom, you asked a very relevant question; I'm probably getting as much from the answers as you are!

I just thought of something that although sad to consider, might just be a contributing factor to a generation of children growing up in dysfunctional families: tech devices.

It's no secret that the Millennials communicate differently from us. They grow up with tech devices, and perhaps some of them are more comfortable with a flat screen and a keyboard than with people.

Being good parents involves so many factors, not the least of which is learning how to adapt to changing situations within the family. Tech skills might contribute to good STEM skills, but can those translate into familial harmony?

Imagine what kind of parents these kids will make when their primary interfaces are with devices? How will they handle a fussy baby, the Terrible Twos?

Something to think about, and be glad I'm already grown up.
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Any of you who haven't already, please read "The Drama of the Gifted Child" by Alice Miller. It has nothing to do with being "extra intelligent" and everything to do with being extra sensitive.
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