When parents still abuse their adult children:

Discussion in 'Family of Origin' started by SomewhereOutThere, Dec 17, 2015.

  1. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Good article. My abuse extended far beyond childhood, however did not involve money since I didn't have any. It was more alienation and criticism and ridicule and causing strife with my siblings and calling me "mental" (when they all had mental illness) and refusal to know my precious children and shunning... but this article hit home anyway.

  2. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    As I read the article, I flashed onto my mother's eyes even after I was an adult. It isn't that she ever stopped abusing; I stopped seeing threat in it. All those posts I wrote about the strange things my mother did being seen as "That's just my mom.", had to do with incidents that were actually abusive ~ or would have been, had my mother been able to swing it.

    The "rich man's hostas" incident.

    A thousand others.

    And I never really connected those disparate realities. I am a grown up and supposedly safe and invulnerable to her now...except that does not mean she is not still abusing.

    She is!

    I am so surprised.

    Remember I was forever posting that I was uncomfortable around my mother. I would always say things implying that if I had been able to behave toward her with warmth or compassion and blah, blah, blah.

    My mother still indulges her abusive fantasies with each of her children.

    You could blow me over with a feather.

    Add all the terrible divisiveness in my family of origin and then, add the murder mystery my mother intends to incorporate into the story of my maternal grandmother's life. And those are top of my mind stuff.

    Wow, Serenity.

    I am blown away.


    Great article. I never once thought to look for adult children still being abused by their dysfunctional families but I suppose that is exactly our ~ or for sure ~ my, situation.

    I never saw it this way.

    Thank you.
  3. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    I am thinking about M's sister's 2nd daughter of 5. She was abused by her husband. Beaten senseless and starved. She was 80 pounds when she escaped to her parents' home with her 3 children.

    Well? She gets welfare for the kids. The parents are near poor. She contributes to the household. Her mother wants to monitor her choices in men. To protect her. They want to counsel her about life. Including the counsel to not file charges against her ex. After all, he is the children's father.

    At 32, for 7 years, she has lived with her parents. This is a form of abuse, too, if you think about it. Of course in traditional cultures, and here too, it was customary for a child, usually a daughter to stay with the parents to care for them in their old age.

    The daughter should have been urged to find her feet, to establish independence and autonomy. Instead she was undermined. M feels that the daughter may have been permanently harmed by this over-protection. He feels it is the needs of the parents that are served.

    Call things by their name. Is what I think of here. Tell the truth. That is the underlying lesson here. Abuse is abuse. Using your kids is using your kids. Manipulation is manipulation.

    Why do we lie to each other and ourselves?

  4. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    This piece made such an impression on me that D H and I discussed parents abusing adult children at some length last night. It is interesting to note that D H told me he has been saying exactly this about my mother for years and that my sister is no better but that I refused to see it.

    Attaching the name "abuse" to my mothers behaviors has had the strangest effect on me. Of course this is true. The conversation D H and I had last night revolved around denial, and how strange a thing it is. I can be consciously in denial. I can know the feeling of pushing against an invisible barrier that denial is. On one level I do know my mother is someone who abused over time, that she could be a person who is a narcissist or something far worse. On another level, a brighter, more active one filled with something that feels like hope I suppose, is that family dinner I thought I'd grown beyond.

    But there that imagery still is.

    There are even candles. I can see the happy glow and feel it, in the room. The linen is white and clean. We are outside, beneath the stars and I wonder whether that is a closer interpretation of what is real than the ugliness and deceit of this time.


    Denial is so desperately strange and painful a thing.


    D H and I concluded that my denial, and the pain I am still in over my family of origin and their pointless wickedness this has to do with moral, or with ethical, choices.


    My morals; my ethics.

    Something like two years ago, maybe three, I began (finally) taking an ethical stand, first around issues of exclusion having to do with the behaviors and consequences my mother and sister were levying against my brother and then, implacably, at my sister's response to daughter's beating. My problem is that I am refusing to stand up to the consequences of the stand I take. At some level, and who even knows why anymore, I continue to believe in that family dinner. D H says that as long as that is true, I will be vulnerable. He also said that while he is sorry my family is as it is, that the person who needs to begin making ethical choices and meaning it (in other words, and not punishing myself for the choices I make with guilt or self-recrimination when the truth is I would do it again in the same way) is not them, but me.

    I made a choice, a series of choices. Now, I am (whining was D H word: roar I hate D H sometimes) trying to evade or cover or pretty the consequences of the choices I did actually choose to make because I don't want to acknowledge myself as that person who does not have something she never had to begin with.

    That is the key to denial.

    Identifying myself as that little girl, walking home through the dark and through the cold and to the house where my mother was.

    And where things were not good. Because Mother....

    Denial; that feeling of invisible barrier.

    We are done with Mother, here on FOO Chronicles, for now. There is still pain there behind that invisible barrier, but for now, I do not need to explore it. Suffice it to say that Mother has not changed.

    A feeling of dissonance, like the world goes watery and snaps back with crystalline clarity.

    She is the same, my mother, then and now. The expression, the watchfulness.

    The same.


    That is the memory, the place where I feel so alone and ashamed, and part of that is that I am old enough to know, now, that things are not right with my mother.

    I was eight.

    The problem gets stickier. I wanted a mom like my best friend's mom. I wanted to be loved like that, though I did not have the words to say so. I wanted that security and love that I saw in the homes of my friends. I wanted it so much that in my adulthood I based my own home on those visits to that home, and on that wonderful mother, of this girlhood friend.

    I wonder whether that mother is still alive, and whether she ever knew the difference she made in my life.

    So, there is a lesson for us all: We do make a difference, whether we know or not.

    That is why we need to do our best and stand by our choices and stop hurting ourselves needlessly with guilty recrimination. If these things are true about our situations, if we can get it on an intuitive level that our abusers abuse because they are evil, then we can understand that we can change things for someone else through simple decency to one another, and through standing up.

    We cannot stand up when we weaken ourselves with guilty self-recrimination to protect the abuser ~ or to protect ourselves from fully understanding what we know already about our abusers.

    We need to stop being surprised by what we know.

    Our stories have been ugly, painful stories in so many ways...but there is triumph in them too: Copa's Sleeping Beauty Kiss.

    Thank you Serenity. This was an excellent subject for me.

    I am so glad you are back.


    We missed you very much.

  5. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Yes. I agree with you.

    What I am working on now is respecting the choices, the decisions I make. Understanding it is a betrayal of self to not fulfill them. And behaving with integrity to myself.

    I seem to be batting 50/50. I did not retreat into the room I go to to seclude myself all day or night. Just to use the printer. My buying is much reduced, but not stopped. But much reduced is a start.

    I am seeing that a major barrier for me was the overwhelm that comes from seeing the whole thing all at once--instead of small, discrete steps or moral choices, that accumulate to make a whole. And the whole, I see now, is my. My inner Germany.

    How is is easier to see her as an abuser, than as a narcissist, with sociopathic traits? A malignant narcissist is a newish term. We can forget about it.
    I think this is a tough one, Cedar. Because you have constructed a maze to shield yourself from pain, which now has become an encumbrance in some of its aspects, but nonetheless it is you, and it is beautiful. You must feel that by challenging it, you lose part of who you are.

    Realize, Cedar, that you are in the center and always have been. You and the idea of excellence and formal beauty. You can build a bridge over that does not destroy the maze. We will do that. No loss in that.
    You chose one concrete idea, a family dinner, to define yourself and your dreams. It is you who believes in it. Nobody can take it away. I do not see your understanding of your real family as taking away that ideal.

    But it is an ideal, a perfect thing, that stands as an aspiration. Perhaps it might help to read some of the idealist philosophers. Plato? I am not sure. I will look. And see how others have maneuvered the implementation of idealism into the real world.

    Cedar, you are being hard on yourself. You do make ethical choices. Except like me, you may not act with one hundred percent integrity in relationship to yourself. Because it feels like you that to get out of the maze you need to cut off part of yourself. Build a bridge over. Or better yet, fly. We will find an image of a beautiful bird, or flying craft. Or a catapult. Or you can be Tarzan. Is he the one who vaulted over by the suspended rope/like vines?
    Well put, Cedar.

    I had a dream this morning. Everything about waking up because M got up at 5 to work. I got up at 8 to let the dogs out, and went back to sleep.

    I woke up having dreamed about my mother. My sister had taken her from my home (actually our childhood home) and put her into a hospital far away. She would not give me the phone number or tell me where she was. I was desolate and frantic.

    Except I never did call my attorney, when I knew he could help me. Because a tiny piece of me liked the freedom from responsibility.

    When I finally was able to secure the phone number to where my mother was, my mother was happy to talk to me, but wishy washy about wanting to return. I was hurt.

    Is this how my mother always was?
    I do not think they are evil. They choose evil. Over and over again, they have the opportunity to choose well, they do not. They can stop. The power and responsibility is in them to choose well. They can.
    Yes. I would be interested to see this with concrete examples. An instance where this occurred and what the ethical choice would be, and what the compromising choice would be.

    I will think and think about this, because it applies to our children, too.

    There is a new set of developments with my son. I am weary to write it but will sooner or later.

  6. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    I intellectualize everything Copa, to keep myself safe. That is why I write in such flowery ways about emotion, maybe. I cannot have the real of it without having the fraud of it, without hearing the hissing "Don't you dare." Or the drawl of "Just don't think, Cedar."

    The certainty behind those words that I need Maya to witness, for me to hear.

    They freeze me in place, Copa.

    I am testing reality with descriptors to see how that flys, maybe.

    Malignant would describe my mom I think, Copa. Malignant, is what I mean when I write about contempt in my mother's eyes.

    Malignant; contemptuous.

    Those are such hard names for such a little girl to have carried.


    I don't know Copa, but I see the same theme that I see when I am battling through something with my own mother. Always the conclusion is the same: My mother is fine. She is being well cared for. She is in her eighties, true, and I should be there, true, but she is happy and well taken care of. There is nothing I need to do: Good. That was part of our discussion last night. Whether I understood my mother clearly enough that if she should "need" me, I would be able to see through it. D H point is: Your mother is the spider at the center. You refuse to see that. You dance around that fact. Your contortion does not change that truth.

    And etc.


    You breasted all kinds of impossible currents to reach your mother's side when she required your protection, Copa.

    Maybe the dream is you forgiving yourself.

    Oh, I hope this is so for you, Copa.

    But they do not.

    Ethical choice.

    Free Will;
    call Ethical...

    Recall an ancient Wizard's voice

    I will watch for that post, Copa.

    So, I believe so wholeheartedly in that stupid dinner. I believe it so much that I do not see anything that happens as serious. I do not see my mother pulling her arm back to strike me for what it is. I say I am surprised. I post about it here without knowing what to think.

    Serenity posts: Adult children of abusive parents are still being abused yes it can happen and here is proof and I go numb.

    I stumble through the rest of that day.

    I waste another night of the life I have with my own D H talking, and talking, one more time and forever and how D H puts up with it I will never know, about people he has seen through from the beginning and believed in too and been hurt by and seen me hurt by and seen our children hurt by and I still go numb and guess what freaking imagery comes rising out of the dark: Family Dinner.

    Family dinner Copa, like I never did all that work to see what is for what it is.

    D H said: Just be aware that you are vulnerable to them and you will be okay.

    And he said: There is no win. You are fooling yourself.

    And he said: There is no helpless elderly widow alone in the world. There is only your mother. Look in her eyes and there she will be.

    So, that is why we have a little more work to do.

    We have come very far, but we have some little cleaning up to do still, Cedar says, envisioning Sisyphus and the stables and the river whose course was turned.

    That was a joke, you guys.

  7. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Cedar, there has to be some way that you feel that you cannot have yourself freely. Seeing your mother as she really is. What would that mean, with respect to the dinner? Realizing that she can never be present at a family dinner, without pulling the tablecloth out from under so that everything is disrupted; or spitting on the centerpiece?

    Do you feel that it is you that always loses, not her? That she always has the power to wreck everything for you? Is that why you cling to the fantasy, because the reality is so ugly?

    The thing is as long as you need to hang onto the fantasy (where your mother is present) it is you that you continue to trash, Cedar. You are blamed. By you. Because she blamed you for everything. As long as you keep the fantasy, you persist in resurrecting and maintaining her ugly lies. That is the problem. Because in your fantasy she is an impostor. As long as you maintain that lie for her, you are skewering yourself as the fake. There has to be a choice.

    There has to be a way out for you.

    We are at the hardest time of the year for this, where most of us skewer ourselves.

    You wrote about the book club lady who buys beautiful dishes on Ebay. I love the idea of mismatched place settings. Is there a way that you can make your family dinners for you and D H and for your friends near you? Every single one of them, I am sure, would delight to be part of your family dinner.

    Like Serenity says. We make our families of choice. What about choosing to make your family dinners of what you are? What you have?
    You are saying here that you discount every ugliness on her part, minimize it, to hold onto the ideal. You compromise yourself, each and every time, you choose to elevate her by discounting her bad behaviors. Until nothing is left. Because there has been so much bad behavior, and so much shutting of eyes, that it is all a joke. The family dinner has instead become a tableau of horror. The reality of things, rather than the ideal.

    That is the moral issue, Cedar, when there are too many compromises, the reality ends up far, far different than the ideal. It becomes to show the truth.

    It is time to decide. It is a choice point. You have to decide for the real you. Or not. You know what the latter means. Can you risk choosing for you? Think about what that would be, Cedar?
    Is he saying here, D H, that there is no win for you, or for her? Or for anybody?
    Is the fantasy that by prettifying everything, your mother will be transformed? Will she turn into a Madonna, her eyes?

    Look at my mother, Cedar. Until the end she was willing to sacrifice me Cedar. As long as she could. The love I saw in her eyes, was my own for her.

    I am not saying she did not love me. She did. But the way I needed her to love me, was my own for her.

    How very, very sad for us.

  8. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    I think the issue is that I never see the wreckage, Copa. I see the incident, the thing I cannot incorporate into the category of normal family interaction for the life of me, and I just leave it out there disconnected from anything that does not fit with that dinner imagery. It's like that with the "rich man's hostas" and the drawing back her arm to strike me and then laughing as though that was funny or so many other things that are out there, separated from what I am deternined will be that dinner one of these days.


    Because the reality is unbelievable. Not even in its ugliness, but in its "where is the win" for them in what they do.

    None of the pieces fit.

    This makes sense, Copa. Even to think it as I read your post though, I felt a reluctance or a painful something or an echo of "Who thinks like this about their own people."

    "As long as you maintain that lie for her, you are skewering yourself as the fake."

    That would be the genesis of "fraudulent" then, Copa.

    I am still wondering who is the liar here, me or my mother. Even to write those words seems wrong.

    So, this means I still believe her.

    If I did not, I would not require the fantasy of dinner.

    We do that, Copa, in real life. Here is something beautiful. I think it may be a Jewish blessing, but I am not sure where I found it. So, as we work to create and prepare the dinner, we are to think of each of our guests, of where they will sit, of what they will see from their position. Of whether they will be comfortable. As we begin to serve, our blessing, whether we say it aloud or not, is: "This food was prepared for you."

    That's it. For each of our guests, to honor them and ourselves.

    Isn't that beautiful?

    But that Family Dinner has to do with acceptance maybe, Copa. And we are learning that the person I need most to honor at that dinner, the face I most need to see reflected in the glow of those candles, is mine.

    Here is an interesting thing: In every representation of that fantasy My face has not been among those faces at my table.

    That must mean something important.

    Thank you, Copa.

    You are right.

    That is the dynamic.

    In the movie War Games, the computer shuts the whole thing down because Mutually Assured Destruction is not rational.

    That was the imagery D H used to explain what he meant.

    And then, instead of destroying the world, the computer says: "Would you like to play a game of chess?"

    Because the game Global Thermonuclear Destruction was insane.

    That is heroic, Copa.

    Again, the Sleeping Beauty Kiss, and the awakening.

  9. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    I am thinking about the family dinner and my version of it. If I have one.

    I will use maze imagery here. When I rushed to help my mother, I circumvented the maze and I went directly to the center, cutting through the hedges that I had constructed to protect myself. What were those hedges? The lies and half-lies I had told myself for all of my adult life.

    I was indifferent to my mother.
    I was afraid of my sister.
    My role in the family was peripheral. I was marginalized, by choice.

    In one fell swoop I defied these beliefs. My maze. And I cut through them, as if they did not exist.

    So on the face of it, Cedar, it looks like I did the opposite of you.

    To save myself I left. I had holiday dinner with my son at the zoo. Or McDonalds, with the play structure, I sitting on the side. I had no illusion that I belonged anywhere, with anybody, preferring banishment to belonging. I embraced the idea of being alone. Having no one. Being nobody except who I decided I would be.

    I used the imagery of the hero on a quest. In far off lands. Alone. Away from his people. Perhaps discredited. He was banished. To return, strong and brave. Perhaps.

    And when my people needed me. I returned. I claimed my place. I fought for it.

    I cared for my mother. I sacrificed myself. Because the person that came back to her people had never healed the wounds. By my intentions and honor I did it. At the cost of all of the defenses I had built all my life. I cut through them, destroying all of my security. Looking back, that is what I think I did.

    Maybe I have spent these two years plus in rebuilding them. Or better, yet. Maybe I have built a bridge to the heart of the maze. I hope so.

    So how does this correlate to your family dinner?

    I believe you are a hero Cedar. I believe that you, a small girl, threw a gauntlet down and decided that you too would have that family dinner the table set with crystal and Limoges and the best sterling flatware, after the mother of your friend, you emulated. You decided that would be you. That you would construct a persona and a life with that ideal. And a family, too.

    So, where I left, and abdicated, you believed you could do it and you did do it. At a cost. Every thing that did not conform to the picture, you tried to deny.

    I knew why I left: my sister was mean and my mother did not love me in the way I needed. I was left to live with a different reality. Alone.

    But the problem was not just I was alone, but I bought the idea that I was unlovable. That what I wanted, belonging, inclusion was unattainable. Because something was wrong with me. It seems like while I thought I was leaving, because I wanted more and to get more, really, I was accepting that I was unlovable, that they could not love me.

    Each of us was wrong and hurt ourselves very much. You cut yourself down to size, every time your mother or sister betrayed you, believing it was your fault.

    I lived a life alone, because in my heart I must have believed it was all my fault that my family was mean to me and did not love me enough.

    The truth you have written over and over again: We were jewels in cesspools, Cedar. But because we were always touched by the decay, we declared ourselves to be the smelly ones.

    The family dinner exists, Cedar. You are it. The letting go has to be of the illusion, the idea, that your family members can be invited. They will always spit in the champagne, and throw the stemware onto the floor. Their only motivation to show up is to wreck the table to show you up as a fraud, your dreams beyond you. Like Cinderella. Their motivation is to spoil your dreams, Cedar.

    You are the family dinner. They have never belonged.

    So what is my story? I do not know. My return was to protect my mother. But maybe in doing so I saved myself. Maybe I needed to return to the kingdom to own my power and my realm. To my self.

    That could well be so, if I look at how my sister reacted. She surely acted as if I had come back to claim my mother, my mother's love, and what she had thought was hers. I have to accept that as a possibility. She sees me as making my mother choose between us, and herself as losing. She sees me as a victor, that I have claimed the throne.

    And that is why I have for so long closeted myself in my self-made dungeon. Because I have felt I was either ill-suited, unprepared or inadequate to step into a role of power in my own life. That must be because I am protecting my sister, not myself. Or maybe, my mother too, still. Blaming myself for every single thing. Every time.. Maintaining myself still, the impostor, in my own life.

    So I am doing the same thing, or I have been. A variation of what you do.

    You maintain the illusion of the perfect family dinner. When something goes wrong, you blame yourself. Instead of facing what you already know: Your mother has spit into the shrimp mousse and your sister is dancing on the table, naked. It is right there in front of you: her nakedness. But you blame yourself.

    I will send this post and think about what I did.

    Last edited: Dec 18, 2015
  10. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Hi Cedar,

    You are probably at happy hour now with your D H. If you have not yet left, say hi to him for me.

    I have not yet read your newest post. I was writing mine while it came up. I will read it and think about how my own way of living my life might have been similar or different than your own.

    Right at the top, I think I believed that the only way I could have anything, was to leave. I abdicated like King Edward. I believe I was forced to. Either accept our rules or leave. Nobody said it, but I knew the power structure.

    Why did I not fight? Perhaps the realization was there was nothing there to fight for except for myself. And that is what I never realized. That I had left part of myself there. That needed to be saved.

    I will think about it all and write some more. I am glad you are here. I am glad I am too.

  11. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Think back this past week at our discussion of my response where the the seeds of division were sown. And how I reacted, based upon my role in my family.

    My reaction was knee-jerk. You are not alone, Cedar.
    I had seen and felt every little thing. But I could not, would not allow myself to put it into a coherent whole. Until you gave me permission and immediate full-blown I disgorged the reality of my perceptions and feelings, which I had not felt entitled to hold.
    We cannot anymore look for a win, in any sense that we would understand. The win is attention. The win is power. The win is winning itself. And winning itself can be hoarding so that nobody else can have anything. Like gorging on all of the food so nobody else can eat.

    Remember what I posted contrasting Trump and Bush. That one thinks of the win is having more or being bigger or the capacity to shun, humiliate or destroy. And the other thinks of win as constructing or expanding the interests of his group. A win, each of us defines according to our own needs. The win we need to think about is our own.

    What would it be for me to win? For myself?
    The choice is clear Cedar. You either think it about them or you think it of yourself. Thus far, you have sacrificed yourself, to maintain that illusion that they will behave at a family dinner. With you, the turkey.
    For the longest time I have wanted to celebrate the Jewish Sabbath. I have even wanted to keep kosher. It was the desire to incorporate this sanctity into our lives, the care and devotion.

    I am not there yet (I just ate a Papusa with Chicharones and Cheese M brought home.) But I would like that beauty and devotion and order in our life. In my own. Really, it is formality. A formality that comes from G-d. Maybe this can be the family dinner that you can realize Cedar? I know that you are not Jewish. But maybe we can find a way to make Sabbath. Awhile ago I told you guys about a wonderful book, by Heschel. Abraham Heschel. The Sabbath is the title. He talks about the meaning of the Sabbath as an ideal apart from conventional life, especially the dominance of Time. He sees the Sabbath as being an island apart from time where G-d is present. I have been meaning to re-read it. It is a beautiful and brilliant book.

    Perhaps to get to the next step, ritual will help. And understanding that most everybody else, whether they know it and acknowledge it or not, is struggling with something similar. And some have worked it out.

    Yes. Because it is only about you, Cedar. It always was.

    Oh wow. How can you get yourself present, first, and later at the center?

    Cedar, why not look for the book The Sabbath? I will too. I may have it.

    In a sense this is what I have been getting at with my idea of textiles, of needlework. By making, representing real life, we create it, anew. Our own.

    Last edited: Dec 18, 2015
  12. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Cedar, I am not sure this is true.

    I think you hang onto the family dinner, because you feel it is the cornerstone of who you are, and if you give it up, the part of you that you believe is most fundamental no longer exists. The thing is, the family dinner is a symbol. It was never, ever important in itself. You used it to build a self and a life of integrity and grace and excellence. You used it as a measure against which to weigh every choice. A criteria, so to speak, to help you live. It worked.

    In so doing you have built a superstructure of moral choices, which is now you. The family dinner has served its purpose. It has served you well.

    But it is not you. You are the choices and relationships, and values, and actions that define you and your life. You no longer need the family dinner. It is archaic.

    Everything it can teach you you have incorporated already. Now it is holding you back, making you smaller. Because it is fooling you. It tethers you to false beliefs about yourself and your family.

    Really, I think ritual may help. A coming to age ritual, like all traditional societies have to help young people come of age, that our society lacks.

    There is a ritualized way that people say goodbye to the past, which they have left behind, need to leave behind, in order to grow.

    I am thinking now of my Dolly, the boxer. She insists sometimes of trying to fit into the cat's bed or Romy's crate. (Romy is maybe 14 pounds. Dolly is over 50.) That is the image that comes to mind with the family dinner.

    You are too big. Trying over and over again to achieve it, just makes you smaller than you need to be. Than you are.

    Last edited: Dec 18, 2015
  13. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member


    A ritual remembering, to honor things I cannot name. I will find a menorrha. I like the imagery of lighting the candles and increasing the light. I love the story of rededication ~ of all those things I posted for us here about Hanukka.

    This is beautiful imagery, Copa.

    I don't have to be all pretentious or even know what it is I am lighting candles to.

    I really like this idea.

    Thank you.


    I have written on this thread for hours now. Condemning myself and coming through it and condemning myself again and finally, maybe, a sense of gratitude; of appreciation.

    Part of the self condemnation involved the nature of the value system created. The role of Hero; the arrogance of linen and crystal.

    Or was that honor.

    I will change the imagery to fill the endlessly long table, with abundance upon abundance; with nourishing, freshly prepared food.

    I will add a menorrah, to remind myself about sincerity, and about ceremonies of re-dedication.


    If the family dinner had nothing to do with my family of origin (or my children), if it could be seen as the value system by which I created a path for my life ~ and if the maze, the beautifully living greenery of the mazes, could be seen as the protections erected around your heart, around the core of you...if we could understand that our hearts and moral structures are safe by our own choices and actions and certainly having nothing whatever to do with our families of origin...that would free us, too.

    I had not looked at my imagery of the dinner as imagery of self, Copa. The linen is snowy white; spotless. The crystal rings so beautifully, the wind gentle, the stars ringing too. There is an exquisite balance to a maze; to a beautifully appointed table with candles and flowers and shivering, sparkling crystal.

    Could it be that there is a Hero component in that dinner imagery.

    It truly is beautiful imagery...and it is equally true that the reality it covers has to do with very ugly things.

    I have never seen the imagery that way, Copa. I saw loneliness, and longing and hope.

    What would be the imagery of someone who was healthy.

    That is the issue for us, I think this is true. We have the imagery ~ the beautiful table, the burgeoning green of the maze...but at the center, we are protected by the imagery. For that family dinner to happen in sincerity and in celebration of the true things, there would be love and open communication and joy, which may be a pseudo (whatever that word is: synonym?)

    A pseudo synonym for joy because I mix joy and gratitude up in my thinking, maybe.

    And because I am the one who has prepared the dinner...but was this an act of generosity...or hubris.

    I am thinking alot about pride, this morning, and about the concept of hubris.

    noun: hubris
    1. excessive pride or self-confidence.
      synonyms: arrogance, conceit, haughtiness, hauteur, pride, self-importance, egotism, pomposity, superciliousness, superiority;More
      informalbig-headedness, cockiness
      "the hubris among economists was shaken"
      antonyms: humility
      • (in Greek tragedy) excessive pride toward or defiance of the gods, leading to nemesis.
    Excessive pride toward or defiance of the gods, leading to nemesis.


    Copa. A maze. I did not expect to find a maze, in searching for imagery of nemesis.

    This is the myth of Nemesis, goddess of retribution and false pride:


    Maybe the answer here would be whether there is respect for the daughter. Or has she been enslaved to the family dynamic and is she now seen as less than. It goes back to Serenity's research about flexibility and rigidity.

    Remember Copa when we discovered that dynamic in my relationship, in my thinking, about my son. I try to remember to watch for it now in my thinking about my daughter and grands, too.

    Thank you, Copa.

    That was hard to acknowledge.


    To the living, beating heart.

    Is it true Copa that having made that decision you accepted the consequences (automaton). What rotten choices we are presented with. How to say no. How to live, if we say yes.

    So we die just a little.

    Every day.

    Until it becomes automatic to do so.

    Sleeping Beauty kiss for us, again; for the sakes of our children, we awaken.

    Who is saving who, here.

    A Buddhist koan: "Ah! At last, I am awake." And the answer: "So you believe."

    Frozen do you think, Copa?

    I believe you loved your mother in Nietzsche's sense of love. The love came first, but you learned that you needed to protect it. Without it Copa, who would we be.

    I know darn well I am onto something here but I don't know what it is.

    I am thinking I am very afraid of my sister, too. In both (in all of ~ I include Serenity here) our standing up and seeing and speaking with and inviting our sisters into our lives instead of blocking them out of our lives as we should have, I believe we were confronting the fear surrounding the things we came to believe during our upbringings and disbelieving all of it and standing up. According to the reading I was doing last week, we would be better served to run.

    There is no win, there.

    The sisters will have come to very different conclusions about how to deal with family of origin issues.

    However beautiful it seems to us, and we do see other families which are beautiful, there is no winning whatever this is that keeps happening in our families of origin.

    D H said that, too.

    The battle for us then, I think this is what I think, is Neitzsche's love.

    Something bitter there, or bittersweet. How to reclaim it?


    It could be that I am misleading myself about that dinner. That is the embodiment of the dysfunctional Hero role, successfully played out.

    That's okay.

    I like that I did that.

    I wonder if this is a version of D H saying: A decision has consequences. Ethics has to do with claiming the decision, whether the consequences are good or bad.

    D H seldom says he is sorry.

    Maybe he never says it.

    It has to do with internal versus external locus of control. Whether my D H is sorry has to do with how he values me (enough to change) or himself (enough to require that I change).

    It is a different kind of morality, and very clean.

    "I was marginalized...." Versus: "I found in them nothing of value; nothing to hold me but dependence. I rejected dependence...but, ashamed of my strength, and of the courage to have used it to save myself, I did not want to say so, aloud."

    You fell into the seductive trappings of family and hope of belonging though Copa, once you were home. They are seductive in their familiarity, those old rhythms. How does that Shakespeare go: For this surcease, much thanks; for 'tis bitter cold, and I am sick at heart.

    It's like that.

    You were strong enough to survive it in the first place.

    So was I.


    That dinner imagery may be the heart of me, Copa.

    My maze.

    A certain set of standards and requirements.

    That could be. That is why it rises out of the dark water at this level of healing.


    So...is the conflict that we did not break. Arrogance. "Don't you dare. Just don't think, Cedar."

    And the mother falls in my regard.

    She has not met me on terms I am able to understand.

    Is that the nature of the crime, here. That I require no witness in these instances. I was no longer a child. I know what I saw. Is that why I cannot forgive myself. I cannot turn this against myself, cannot name myself coward because I could not protect a sibling; cannot in good faith condemn myself. And yet, there is breakage. I wanted to love my mother. I can only love her if I believe she cannot help what she does. We all do the best we know.

    Two sides of the same coin.

    Nietzsche: When we peer into the abyss the abyss peers into us.

    Because I know what it cost me to survive.

    Something human.


    I grew up; came into the power every young woman (and every young man) comes in to, steps into, is drawn into. The other feelings are the abuser's interpretation of what is perceived as rebellion.

    "Don't you dare."

    "Just don't think, Cedar."

    And I do not see my mother in the same way.

    And I protect her from that and condemn myself for needing to protect her but defiantly refuse to accede, to bend the knee to something I no longer believe or believe in.

    How many times have I posted that very thing, those very words, about my sister. "I believe you. I no longer believe in you."

    Like that was a condemnation.



    I read a book whose title I don't remember now Copa, but it is part and parcel of how I see you, and me, too. I am bound through and through with something having to do with the Benedictines, and with my experiences, there.

    With the answers I found, there.

    This imagery of you has to do with your sister and the luncheon. Here is the attending imagery: A nun retreats into a monastery, into celebration and challenge and spiritual quest and honor and into the mystery of why at the core, having nothing to do with family; they are shades, are the story of how the Sister was come to be in the world. Her life and her nature and everything about her a mystery; a flame.

    There are no words to understand or describe fire. The essence of it, which is transformation.

    Everything here is on fire; energy conversion.

    A death occurs or is coming or some other event that requires the presence, the knowledge and understanding and involvement of the cloistered Sister.

    She comes to the barred gate between the monastery and the rest of the world.

    There is no sympatico there. No judgment, no change in the beauty of the Sister's regard.

    All things, she holds in high regard.

    She does nothing.


    Leaves the bars; returns to the cloistered existence where everything is on fire.

    White candles, in an Innocent's mirror

    The flame burns brighter, clearer.

    It is most beautiful.

    Prince Charles is not likely to take the throne, either.

    But having met his obligation, he lives openly with the woman of his choice.

    But he did not have children with the woman of his choice.

    Yes I like this imagery; this intention.

  14. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Why is it arrogance, Cedar? And not a symbol of excellence, of craftsmanship of something clean, clear and true?
    Yes. Think of a template or a stencil. Think of our families as the ground on which the stencil is applied, the design. Think about figure/ground and the concept of negative space. There are all kinds of images used by the Gestalt Psychologists in their study of perception that illustrates the tricks of imagery where it is not quite clear which is the image of choice.

    While both exist, are existing always, we can only perceive one at the time. I will google them so you can study a few. To see they are always existing both at the same time. But we choose to attend to, perceive only one.

    I think that is what we are dealing with here. A perceptual problem. With a maze there is both the hedge which guides us and the space, the pathway on which we walk. The ground on which we walked was our early life, including our family members. The hedge is us. Part of us, as you put it, our choices and actions.

    If you think of it as a figure/ground conundrum, we are both heroes and victims. Because our hedge/our maze can only be built upon the life we were given. It takes just a switch in the brain to see our heroism. But always beckoning is the contempt in the mother's voice denouncing us as her victim, hers to define.

    It is the sirens' call of Ulysses. The age old call to crash on the rocks. We are Ulysses, Cedar. We have the power to defy the sirens, even if we have to tie our hands to the mast so that we do not crash our ship. We always be vulnerable, but less and less so. We can choose. Hero or victim. It is a decision. The two are always present. Is a perceptual choice.

    Do not blame yourself for that vulnerability, Cedar. It is present in all of us. Some of us have been frozen into one stance or another. How much better is it to be able to choose. The reciprocity, the empathy, that is present in that flexibility. That is us.
    That has to be among the most beautiful imagery, evocative, I can recall. Can that be us?
    I do not like this, Cedar. Are you saying your mother is a god? To choose powerfully is arrogance? I do not think so. You are so, so hard on yourself. Still. Judgmental.
    Wow. I love this. M has changed so much for us. For himself. For us together. He will say he is sorry. But only to restore order in the family. He has said he was sorry, Perdon, twice to me that I recall. Both times he cried. Both times he had hurt me. He cried.
    Where is this quote from, Cedar?

    Why is it so hard for us to claim our strength? Why are we both right now dealing with this perceptual issue of volition or subjection?
    Yes. I believe this is true.

    I think this is the key to understanding. Remember my issue recently about seeing but not allowing myself to acknowledge what I saw and felt. It must have to do with the repercussions of knowing. Of really knowing.

    For all of the years I would not let myself really see what my sister was doing. I really still do not understand why, I could not see her.

    Perhaps if I did I would have to own my own power. And that would have felt very very scary and alone. Because I could not have felt my power at 8 years old. Where would I have gone?
    This is the type of imagery or practice you are seeking, Cedar. Something similar.

    The nun does not feel bereft because she has left her family dinner. She embraces a new imagery of her quest. That is what we are each trying to do here.

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  15. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    I am having trouble uploading examples of Gestalt Figure Ground examples. But if you are interested you can google those words.

  16. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Is it hubris to want more? Is it arrogance to reject pettiness and spite? To want to better yourself, to want more, is it something to be respected or ridiculed?

    We do not control the decisions of others. But we must, I think, finally decide for ourselves. Not for them. It is already too long.

    This is a choice point Cedar. You cannot have it both ways. It must be decided. Figure or ground.

  17. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    I think to allow oneself to know, really see what they do and accept why is to understand we are truly alone.
    I think to see the power in the family dinner, is to see your own power, Cedar. And to be alone.

    But as adults alone means individual. It means strong. Independent. With the capacity for self-actualization.
    I think to see her for what she is, is to be bigger than she is. All the time I knew I was, but to acknowledge it was too powerful.

    That might have been part of the struggle these past 2 plus years, to grow strong enough, to grow into the role I took on at the end of my mother's life. And in a way, at the beginning of my own.
    I will see it this way. It is hard to hang onto. At the beginning of this post I was clear. I am now a bit confounded.

    It has to do with power. I know that. It has to do with seeing others for who and what they are. It is easier with my mother than with my sister. I think it has to do in part with my mother's honesty. My mother did not pretend to be other than what she was. She just did not want to take responsibility for it. She wanted her cake and to eat it too. She did not think it was right or just to hold her to account for what she did. She had the right to do it. She just felt she should not be held accountable.

    My sister is equally brazen, so now I am confused again. But she has this victim thing going on. That is what confuses me. My sister is a wolf in sheep's clothing.
    She is aggressive to the max. If somebody were to say anything she would say she is being victimized and start screaming. That is what confuses me. And frightens me.

    As soon as I hear her screaming in my mind, I begin to think I am the aggressor.

    I have for my whole life tried to hide my power.

    That must be why I do not allow myself to see my sister. Really. Because I would face her vulnerability and weakness, and feel my own potential for aggression towards her. I wonder if I ever wanted to hurt her when I was a child. Really, really hurt her.

    It would fit.

  18. A dad

    A dad Active Member

    Yeah do not know about this after all she went in their home she asked for their help and parents as we know really wanna protect their children. I will not put the blame on the parents they are doing the best they can and how they know how to do it.
    And in some cultures independence is not that valued actually most cultures. Yeah I doubt what her parents did was abuse I think they reacted in a good way when they saw how their daughter was.
  19. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Thanks, A Dad. I am inclined to agree with you to a point.
  20. New Leaf

    New Leaf Well-Known Member