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How do I approach this with my mum?

(10 Posts)
GinevraFanshawe Wed 04-Jan-17 20:49:53

I don't want to post too many details but how do I sensitively ask my mum to stop telling me about her childhood abuse? She had a horrific childhood and obviously needs to talk about it, but some of the things she's told me play on my mind and I can't stop getting upset about them, even years afterwards.

I feel very guilty about this because I love my mum but I just feel like I'm carrying a burden and I'm beginning to dread her visits because I'll end up with more mental images I can't delete. I can't look my grandparents in the eye.

She is going to be upset. I've suggested therapy but she said no.

665TheNeighbourOfTheBeast Thu 05-Jan-17 06:43:54

How about something along the lines of,
You appreciate that she needs to unburden herself and feel privileged that you have such a close relationship, but that you feel traumatised yourself by what she is telling you, and that you simply don't have the mental or emotional tools to deal with it.
Part of being a professional counselor is having those tools, and having access to therapy themself so that this sort of stuff doesn't accumulate and that they too have somewhere to vent it.
You don't have that at all and much as you love her you can't allow her to use you as a sounding board in this way as it's not healthy for either of you. You don't feel confident offering advice, and you have no way of dealing with what she's telling you.
So either she needs to get proper professional therapy, or you will end up having to.

Manumission Thu 05-Jan-17 06:49:45

Just tell her that it's painful to hear because you love her.

Sometimes, survivors of abuse and dysfunction can become a bit overly committed to openness as a reaction against the secrecy and repression in their childhood. It's easy to slip into thinking that all talking is good.

Interestingangelfish Thu 05-Jan-17 07:34:08

This is really difficult, and I wish all the best to both of you.
I'm not sure you CAN tell her this without really hurting her - but you could suggest you are not coping with being her ONLY source of support, and try to re engage with the idea of her engaging in some kind of talking therapy or support. Why doesn't she want to? Would she call a non-directive helpline, like Rape Crisis or similar? These can be great for survivors who feel they need to talk through their experiences.
Good luck to you both!

Timeforteaplease Thu 05-Jan-17 10:13:00

Tell her you love her but you cannot cope with it and do not want to be her counsellor.
After my dad left my mum, I ended up being her counsellor, despite me asking her not to treat me like that, and it has done a lot of long term damage to our relationship.
When she starts talking about it, just walk away every time.

GinevraFanshawe Thu 05-Jan-17 22:50:19

Thank you for replies. It is just so horrible and difficult.

Timeforteaplease Fri 06-Jan-17 10:36:31

When she talks to a real counsellor, they have the benefit of not knowing who the involved parties are. They don't have to imagine someone they love being hurt by someone else they love. They can stay detached and focus on helping their client.
You can't do that. You have huge conflicts everywhere you turn.
It will be tough to tell her to stop, but in the long term it really is the best thing for both of you.

GentlyOnTheShort Fri 06-Jan-17 10:56:20

I think you just need to tell her, plain and simple, its not fair to burden you with this - she should see a counsellor. And leave it at that. It might be better if you tell her as pleasantly, but as unemotionally, as possible. Then move on to another subject fairly quickly.

There is a possibility that she doesn't realise the effect she is having. I do agree that we are encouraged now to be so "open" that sometimes we forget what is appropriate to share.

BUT you don't have to listen to this, you really don't. Its completely unfair on you. Tell her its not on. If she doesn't want to see a therapist, as you say, thats really down to her.

If she continues to bring up the subject, each time tell her you don't want to discuss it. Be firm.

GentlyOnTheShort Fri 06-Jan-17 11:17:20

And try and be confident when you tell her.

debbs77 Fri 06-Jan-17 14:49:36

Can you suggest therapy toTOGETHER? Then you go for the first one and agree that she then goes alone?

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