Q After many years of emotional struggle I’ve made the decision to have no further contact with my parents because of the way they’ve treated me since they adopted me as a baby.
I don’t know my birth parents and so this decision feels all the harder as I’m rejecting the people who took me in after my own mother rejected me.
I know I need the physical and emotional distance from my nasty mum and aggressive dad (although calling them mum and dad still doesn’t feel ‘right’ for me).
What I’m wondering about is this – will my having no contact allow me to heal from 25 years of physical and emotional abuse?
A Some children of abusive parents opt for low contact – whereby they have less contact or they withdraw emotionally and aren’t ‘fully there’.
That seems to be a well intentioned first step; and if it doesn’t work then there’s the option of having no contact whatsoever.
Expect to doubt yourself and feel isolated either way.
What matters most is re-parenting your inner child and becoming your own inner mother and father – and ensuring that you get your needs met both physically and emotionally. You will have lost two sets of parents so that’s all the more reason to become your own loving parent from now on.
There will be gains and losses, fears and doubts – as with most things in life – and you need to be sure that you are ready to throw the towel in with them.
Personally this was the best thing I did. Not having to endure the old games, manipulations and assaults was truly liberating.
Now, as to whether having less or no contact will be enough for you to heal from the years of abuse.
I’d suggest you opt for the belt and braces approach. I think that you’d benefit from a therapeutic relationship with a professional who really knows about this abusive parent/no contact stuff (and isn’t going to project her own beliefs and ignorance onto you, or persuade you not to do what feels right and self-protective for you). One who knows about abandonment and lack of emotional attachment will also be most beneficial.
We all internalise our significant relationships – whether we like it or not. You will have parts of your parents held in your psyche and you will still hear their voices, opinions, put-downs and nasty comments played over in your mind. Particularly when you’re feeling vulnerable.
It will be much more helpful and beneficial to be able to challenge these internalised parents when you know what to expect from them, and what triggers them too.
When their voices of abuse of disapproval kick in, then silently speak back to them as a powerful adult who is advocating on behalf of your inner child.
Writing down these inner conversations is even more effective.
That might sound a bit weird – but try it and you’ll see how powerful and healing it can be.
If you do decide to go ‘no contact’ then you’ll need very clear and robust boundaries. Prepare yourself to deal with comments from friends or other family members – who may try to change your mind.
Your inner child might feel overwhelmed and coerced into complying with other people’s suggestions, demands or guilt-tripping. You will need to be committed to doing what feels best for you and your inner child.
If you need any help with this process of recovery from your troubled childhood and toxic parents then please let me know.
There are some free resources on my website that will help you to become clearer about what this process entails, and the need for recovery and of re-parenting your inner child.
Maxine Harley (MSc Psychotherapy)
www.maxineharley.com Where you will find FREE e-booklets and other free resources designed to help and inform you on your journey of self-knowledge and development. To re-parent your inner child, and to recover from a troubled childhood, toxic mother (and toxic father).