Trigger warning: mention of child abuse
Today I give thanks for having been able to send an honest email to my mother, in reply to her trying to use my little niece’s start of school this summer to guilt-trip me into coming for a visit.
She says she “wants her three children sitting at one table for the first time in seven years”, and that she “would have thought that auntie [me] would not be able to resist an invitation from her cute little niece…well, think again”.
Adding “I love you, even so”.
Well, a) it pissed me off, and b) it upset me.
And this time, I was actually able to put words together in reply that say what I needed to say, honestly, openly, and not in an angry way.
I told her that it’s emotionally very difficult for me to visit them, even more so at big family celebrations. That it’s an emotional effort every time I come, not a time to relax or a holiday, and that it takes quite a bit of time for me to find my emotional balance again after I leave. I said I feel able to be in contact via email and telephone, so that’s what I do. I do whatever I feel able to do. I wrote that I can understand that she would like to see the family together in harmony but that, at this time, I’m not able to be part of that as if the experience of the last years hadn’t changed anything. [The “experience of the last years” is me for the first time talking about having been sexually abused by my father. And her responding with little more than “It’s not my fault”, and “Forgive your father – it’s your duty as our daughter and as a Christian”. Just so you know. People usually assume that I’m the issue when I mention “tricky” family relationships.] I told her that I felt hurt by many things in the last years, and that I’m trying to deal with that as constructively as I can, constructive for myself and for them. I also asked her to not use my nieces and nephews to get me to come visit. And I said that if it does matter to her how I feel, to please leave out the “even so”.
Her reply may not be progress, but this certainly is.
Thanks be to God.
My mother sent a reply the next morning, and it was okay. This may help both of us to say more of what’s needed. Praying for grace to be able to continue the conversation…