Wednesday, May 8, 2013

"If She Never Changes..."

If she never changes...kept repeating over and over, again and again in my mind. What if my mother never changes?

It was 1991. I was on the phone with a dear, girl friend when my mother came into the room screaming and lunged for the phone. She grabbed it from my hand and slammed it down on the receiver. In shock I stared at her and thought, "What if she never changes?"

She didn't like it when I would talk with anyone except her. She felt threatened by anyone I was close to. She wanted me all to herself. She had recently lost three daughters to a cult and was now living in complete fear of loosing me. I wanted to shake her. I wanted to tell her how crazy she was being. I wanted her to snap out of it. All I could do was try and reason with her, but it didn't work.

I called my church in desperation and asked if I could speak to a counselor. They scheduled me to see a trained, Christian psychologist and I met with her once a week for months. I shared my woes about my mother. I went on and on with one story after another of how living in my parents home was unlivable. How my mother couldn't be reasoned with and how she continued to do things that invaded my privacy.

She looked at me and said, "Ellen, if your mother never changes are YOU going to keep living like this? Are you going to keep talking about it and thinking about it every day? Are you going to try to keep fixing her? Or are you going to realize, "She's not your responsibility and move on with your life?"

Wow. I had never expected to hear those words. I thought she'd feel sorry for me and give me advice on how to fix my mother. Nope. I didn't get any sympathy. She told me that I was to live my life and place boundaries for my mother. To be strong and consistent in my approach towards her, and not to worry about meeting her needs, being there for her, or settling her fears. She said, "The truth is...she just may never change." I had never ever thought that, that was a possibility. I thought if you were there for someone, talked with them, gave them advice and in my mother's situation eased her fears she would change. So, as  hard as that was for me to believe, I knew she was right. I had to stop looking at my mother's life and feeling sorry for her and start focusing on my life and the responsibilities God had for me. I had to let my mother and her issues go.

My counselor helped me create a game plan. Changes needed to be made. The first thing I did was go out and buy a cordless phone. That way, when I needed to make a call I could go into my room, shut and lock the door and make a phone call in privacy. I also made plans, but didn't allow her to know the details of them. She no longer knew if I was going shopping or meeting a friend or studying at the library. I gave her my work days, but not my work hours. I had been saving my money and bought myself a used car so I could go and come as I pleased without having to ask for the keys and give a full report of where I was going and when I was going to be home. I worked very hard at getting a good enough job so I could pay the rent for an apartment. (Oye-oi-oye! When I told her that I found an apartment and was moving out at the end of that month-let me just say-I saw fireworks!). Bottom line I was taught how to set boundaries and how to be consistent with them. I wouldn't allow her to be co-dependent anymore. I realized that I could either sit around and stew over my hurts and demand change, demand an apology or get up and get going with my life. It all came down to choices. I loved her, prayed for her lots, but released her to God. He could handle her much better than I could.

I will be honest with you, life didn't really get any easier. It was a rough road. She didn't take kindly to my distancing her. She nearly cut me out of her life completely. Eventually, when my sisters came out of the cult, and saw the boundaries between my mother and myself and of course when my mother told them the the stories of my "hard-heart" I was ridiculed and rejected by them. Funny, I never thought I was better than my mother, never held a superior attitude, but that is what I was labeled. "Oh, she thinks shes better than us. She thinks she can forgive without an apology, but she's deluding herself into more bitterness."  I was labeled self-righteous.

Life may not have gotten any easier, but I had a direction and a purpose. I had new goals and my mind was free from worrying about her. I never got an apology for all the years she hurt me and said hurtful words, but releasing her gave me the distance I needed to see how very lost or broken she was. I was able to forgive her. She never did change much and I  never got an apology.

I have no regrets. I believe my counselor gave me the best advice and I believe too in many ways she saved my life. I went on and got my Master's Degree in Education, joined Campus Crusade for Christ, met my husband, and have grown deeper, and deeper in my love for the Lord Jesus Christ. I stayed the course God had/has for me, not the one my family wanted for me. It has been difficult, but I am free from unforgiveness. I am free from an unhealthy co-dependent relationship, I am free from lies.

 Forgiving someone without an apology is possible, hard work yes, but possible and I will say too, that it is only possible with the Lord Jesus Christ. Knowing Him and the power of His forgiveness towards me empowers me to do the same for others.

3 comments:

  1. What a testimony! God's healing power is divine.

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  2. God has truly led me to your blog, thank you for sharing your story. God Bless your and your family.

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    1. Who ever you are...I am grateful to hear that =D Whenever I go through a struggle or trial I say to the Lord, "Use this for someone else's healing beside my own." He has answered my prayer again and again!

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