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October 11, 2012


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I wanted to thank you for this very good read!! I absolutely enjoyed every bit of it. I have got you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post…

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Hi just wanted to givce you a brief heads up annd let you know a few of the images aren't loading properly. I'm not sure whhy but I think its a linking issue. I've tried it in two different browsers and both show the same outcome.

That's the kind of image that i really thing is super image like. If more images very real like this were out there we'd be super full of graet images in the world.

Posts like this one is why you're my all-time favorite blogger. You hit the truth right on the head and bring it out for all of us going through the same thing(s). Keep on keeping on.

I could totally have written this. THANK YOU for actually writing it. It sucks that you had the experiences necessary to do so but it helped me a lot and I'm sure it helped a lot of other people too. I hope you find strength in that.

You're awesome. A great reminder for us all, no matter what the upbringing situation. I'm sure you're a kick ass mom and we all needed to be reminded that we are too, so long as we break the cycle!

I'm so glad I read this today. I needed to read it. I, like a surprising number of people, have "mommy issues". My mother made some choices that I could never fathom making. In doing so our relationship has grow distant and soured, which is hard to take because she has a good (but far from perfect) relationship with my other siblings.I have shed many tears over decisions and comments she has made. She is probably is clueless to how it has affected me. I choose the path your on, which is too limit my contact with her. Sure, I could eliminate her from my life and I could probably be ok with that, but then I would miss out on the rare happy moments I have with her. I also know that she loves me and my child, but she isn't capable of seeing and dealing with the harm she has caused.
When you said, "The second you break the cycle of whatever sort of dysfunction that has plagued your life, you're changing the path for yourself and your kids'." That hit home for me. I've already made different choices from my mother and vow to learn from her mistakes. Will that make me a perfect parent? No, but its one step in the right direction. It's all about the small victories and steps in the right direction.

This comment from Issa is my biggest fear "Maybe the truth is, I fear that I'm a big mess and so how can I do it better."

I work hard to disconnect from my parents. They are who they are, and that's not my fault. Do I still sometimes wish (on every star in the galaxy) that my mom would just apologize to me? I do. But mostly, I wish I could just reboot. And since I can't, I wish I could see all of the "issues" they left me with BEFORE I unleashed them on my own kids. I fear I'm too fucked up. I'm afraid I can't see my own faults well enough to fix them so that I'm not harming my kids with all my negative energy. I TRY so hard to be the kind of parent they deserve, but I'm not sure. Sometimes, just a little, I get why mom's leave.

Thank you so much for sharing this and putting words to how I have felt. Another de-lurk.
The best thing ever told to me by one of my therapists was that you do not have to love your parents, and you are not a bad person if you choose not to. You didn't get to pick them - you had no say in how shitty they are/were/will continue to be.
That was a hard one to accept, I mean, everyone should love their parents, right? It took me a while to be okay with not loving them. Cutting them out completely would be so much easier but I choose to tolerate them and decided that telling them that I didn't love them would just cause more drama/grief than necessary. So I minimize my contact, go through the motions and bite my tongue. That's definately me being the bigger person because the things that I was put through and the contsant revision of history is enought to drive even a normal - non-heavily medicated person mad.
In our house the parenting theme is definately, "What would my parents do? - We're doing the COMPLETE opposite!" And our children have turned out Bad-Ass and Awesome - just like me but without the emotional baggage.
Thank you again!

I love this post so, so, much.

I love the part about acceptance because the alternative is...keeping everything active and in motion, alive inside even after everything else turns to ash.

I struggle with that shit every single day with my kids in a way that is so completely different than when I was childless. I wish so much that things were different (for you and me, too) but the lightness in this post, I'd like to bottle and take out later.

We all know that some people are jerks. It's hard for a kid (at any age) to accept the fact that one or both of their parents are too.

My mother isn't abusive, but she is not a happy person and her toxic attitude is something I only can take in little doses. (And I sure don't want it to rub off on my kids!)

I believe that happy is a CHOICE, not an expectation. Life can be shitty, but those who decide to handle the shit in a positive way are the real winners.

You're right. Happiness is the best revenge.

I cannot begin to explain how much I identify with this post. It feels AMAZING to break the cycle. Thank you for sharing.

I was raised (actually I raised myself and siblings) in a horrifically abusive environment. Because of it I was certain that I did not want children for fear of what I might pass on to them...yes, me the lady with five kids. Therapy and a very patient, supportive, loving husband made me brave and well, five kids later...I was determined to break the chain of abuse that spanned generations according to my mother. I was stubborn enough to believe I could. I don't imagine that I am 100% better than my parents ever were but I am certain I did break a few links and separate that chain from my kids. The proof was recently watching my own daughter dealing with a difficult discipline issue with her stubborn child(where does she get that from?). I seriously teared up a little with happy tears because, yes, the chain is breaking and the cycle did not repeat itself. Celebrate this Kristen! This is awesome what you are doing for your Fab Four. Someday I hope you witness what I did with my child and her child. Then I hope that you will truly be convinced that you are a good mom because of what you broke away from.

I think the fact that you and your husband are trying to do better than your parents is a big thing. Most people don't even think about it.

I am trying my damnedest to do better. In some ways, it's not hard. I'm emotionally involved which my dad wasn't and I'm not so wrapped up in my life that I miss the indicators that my kids have been abused...which my mom sadly did. Don't get me wrong, I have a great relationship with my mother, but oh she missed so much because she was too busy. In other ways it's hard to know if I'm not just screwing mine up in different ways than my parents did me. Maybe the truth is, I fear that I'm a big mess and so how can I do it better. Shrug. This parenting gig is hard.

The maybe this just is who she is? Sigh. It probably is honey. Once you fully accept that, maybe it won't hurt as much? I have come (in the past year only) to accept that my dad just is who he is. He loves me and he did the best he could with his very limited skills. Since then, we've gotten along. Basically when I have no expectations of him, I feel better each time we do talk or connect in some small way. I've stopped wishing it was more.

I whole-heartedly agree with jen. That sentence looks at the big and little picture all at the same time.

Again. You are following my life.

As an adult, I can honestly say that at points, my mother bordered on neglect. Didn't give a rats ass where I was as a teenager. She made really bad choices on a daily basis and when I ever expressed doubt to it-- the rage came out to me.

She has very openly picked favorites with her kids (as kids and adults) and it has driven a HUGE wedge between all the family.

I'm finally to the point where I realize that I don't have to deal with it. I don't have to have her be my mommy. She can be my kids grandparent (as long as she doesn't pull this crap on them). She can be my mom...but as long as this idiotic cycle continues with her, it will not be much more.

Also? My parenting motto? If my own mom would do it, I don't.

Thanks for writing this. I needed to hear this today.

You take the good, the bad, squish it all together and upcycle. Make something useful and functional and beautiful from what seemed like garbage and useless junk.

This is so me. Or, I suppose in more correct terms, this piece absolutely and completely resonated with me. I'm not sure if it's that holidays are the trigger or what, but sharing this -- especially the axe analogy -- is phenomenal. Thank you so much.

When I was teenager, and having lots of issues with my mother, I blamed myself. Then I grew up a bit and realized that I can only be responsible for my own actions, not hers. And yes it still hurts, but I'm just keeping my actions in check and that is that.
But what floored me was comment from my friend's mom (clinical psychiatrist) that one is destined to repeat same parental mistakes UNTIL one fixes issues with parents. That comment was keeping me down for so, so long like life-long sentence. And now that I have my kids, and I think with my head, and I understand my feelings, I know I can not change my mother, but I can be mindful about my reactions and conscious about my parenting (and everyday) choices. I finally took "fix issues with your parents" as "make peace with your past and move on". Break the cycle of dysfunction by being happy for who you are NOW.

I've read your blog for years and have commiserated with you through all your mama drama. It hits very close to home in A LOT of ways. I've also done the big 'clean out' for her, only to be accused of throwing everything away. (She even went as far as going to the Goodwill and demanding her stuff back! It was awesome!)
But this post is the best. You've put into words what I've struggled with for years. I've played the 'maybe' game, too. But I've never realized how to end it. It's like some dysfunctional merry-go-round that just doesn't end. you nailed it..."maybe this IS who she is."

Thank you for helping me find the perspective. I try, with every cell I my being, to be a better parent than she was. And for the first time I realize, that, just maybe, that's enough.

Thank you thank you everyone. I'm rendered a puddle at the coffee shop.

Wow maybe we are all the same. So needed this to feel less alone today. Thank you for sharing.

this post really speaks to me - recently i've realized that the coping skills i learned to get me through my painful childhood were no longer useful and, in fact in harmful, in my current life.

and you're right, once you've made the decision to not be like the dysfunction you know, you're on the right path.

"The second you break the cycle of whatever sort of dysfunction that has plagued your life, you're changing the path for yourself and your kids."

I am saving this sentence because I need a constant reminder.

Wow. This really spoke to me. I see the other commenters that were able to pick out lines that were particularly significant, and I can't pick just one. The whole thing really hit home. Thanks for sharing. It's awesome to have a moment where you go, "Hey! It's not just me!"

Adjust the variables and I could have written this myself about my own relationship with my parents. I've learned over the years, that while my parents may have the power to still hurt me with their actions, I will never let them have that type of power over my own children. I will fight tooth and nail for my kids to never feel the type of pain I've felt with my own parents. And I may not always be perfect and I may sometimes fall, but like you told your husband, I KNOW I'm changing my children's path because I've already broken that cycle for myself. Giant squishy inappropriate hugs to you my friend.

"Maybe this is really who she is."
This line spoke to my core. I have spent a lifetime trying to come to grips with this regarding my own mother (as has my husband about his own parents). Just when I think I am there...something happens to remind me that I still haven't fully accepted it.

I do know that I will work really hard to not make my children feel like they aren't good enough (especially my daughter). I hear things come out of my mouth and the first thing I want to do is say I am sorry. I too will screw up but will never pretend it was someone else's fault.

Thank you.

You know I could have written this myself.

But you've put in words what I only subconsciously knew: That my happiness and that of my family is what matters. If I can be satisfied with that, on my terms, then I will be at peace.

I'm getting there. You guys are too.

So, I totally broke down at ...
"Every time I look at myself miserably in mirror or feel guilty about the extra piece of birthday cake, it scores a point."
Thank you for sharing this, you do not know how much it will help me.

So glad you are seeking help in making the break from what your family's dysfunction has done to do. In my experience each of us needs to make a break from being a child of our parents to being an adult in our own right. When our parents have been very controlling and 'powerful' it is so much harder to do this. I wish you the very best on your journey. Please do remember that your children too will need to make this break when they are older so don't take it too much to heart when they start to reject your advice and input. I found it hard when mine started to do this but have learned to let go (a little). Although they will always be 'my babies', they have their own lives and own ideas. I now sometimes go to them for advice.

Hell yes.

I will break the cycle, even though it hurts sometimes, and it would be easier to just give in and be the asshole.

De-lurking as well... this is the sentence that got me: "It seems small, I know, but it's like a pick axe chipping away at a stone wall. Each hit matters. And once you do it once, you've got the momentum to do it over and over again."

My mother and I had a blow out last week, and I have spent a good amount of time beating myself up for allowing her to have some hold over me. And I despair I'll ever break free of the dysfunction.

So. Thank you for giving me hope that even though it seems insurmountable, the small cracks I'm making will eventually make a difference.


I was thinking about my grandmother the other day, about how when she died, she left. She went far away. She doesn't visit as a butterfly, or a spirit blowing through the room, or a fleeting thought.

I realized that maybe this has just as much to do with me as it does her. She was ready to go, but I was ready for a break from her intense meanness, her judgement, the words she would hurl at my mom and me trying-and succeeding- to hurt us.

Your last "maybe", and your realization of our imperfection as parents combined with your willingness to do right by your kids...you're breaking the cycle. When I find myself reacting to something the way my grandmother would, I stop, acknowledge the connection, refocus, and move on. It's a process.

You're aware, and honest. And I really appreciate that, always.

Much like Jen above, I just de-lurked.

Thanks for sharing.

Yes. This. I've often worried about the same thing, and had my therapist assure me that even being conscious of these kinds of worries means that a cycle is being broken.

I'm going to share this w/my husband. The only acknowledgement of our son's recent bday from his side of the family was a card (for wrong year bday at that). He somehow ended up being down on himself even though he is a great dad. Thanks for reminding me of how hard things are for him sometimes. You're a great parent!

"The second you break the cycle of whatever sort of dysfunction that has plagued your life, you're changing the path for yourself and your kids."

+1. That sentence compelled me to de-lurk and comment. So simple but so huge at the same time.

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