We are ThorMoms–wrecking your dreams of endless sugar and tv. We are FirefighterMoms, talking your crazy cat emotions out of your trees. Sweetearth moms, easy as a breeze, soft as water. Ruefully weeping with laughter as we slip in your puke. Abundant as summer, skating like a penguin in winter. Wisely calling in the rains when we dry up; that is, locking ourselves in the bathroom because we need a minute. Overall, terribly glorious. And this is our day.

Congratulations, mothers.

Today I want to give special congratulations and encouragment to those mothers who are parenting children while managing the ongoing destructiveness of an abusive partner. Motherhood is demanding enough without the overt attacks perpetrated by the partner intent on demeaning you and undermining your authority. Abusive partners target what we love the most as a way to inflict the most damage. So it is no surprise that they often use every means possible to undermine a mother’s relationship to her children. That this erodes the emotional health of the children is not important to an abusive partner, whose aim is to control you. What matters to him is is the consolidation of his power that he will gain by manipulating your children away from you.

If your relationship to your children is threatened, there is almost nothing you wouldn’t do to protect it. The abuser knows this, and works to control you accordingly, not hesitating to threaten you with the loss of rights to your children if you do not do what he requires. And sadly, these threats too often come to fruition. Because abusive people are already well versed in lying, denying and blaming, they  often successfully apply these well honed skills to a family court system whose record on supporting protective mothers is abysmal.

If the abuser is not successful manipulating the legal system against you, he can also use the same tactics to destroy your relationship with your children.

Women enduring the ongoing stress of having their parenting sabotaged by an abuser tell me that their first priority is to restore their relationship with their children. They feel a sense of urgency about this that only a loving parent could understand. I’d like to offer one thought to help address the sense of pressing urgency and loss that mothers feel when they are separated either physically or emotionally from their children because an abuser has interfered in their mothering.

It’s a Big Picture thought. Because a wound such as this is so big, we need some big medicine to help salve it. The idea I offer here will not help restore your relationship with your child in the immediate sense that you want. I do honor this pressing need and I want you to pursue every legal avenue you need to; I also want you to offer every olive branch to your children that  you can. But today, I am asking you to pause from these efforts, to take a step away from the pressing urgency you feel on this Mother’s Day, and consider something.

You are still ThorMom and FirefighterMom and SweetearthMom. Even if you have a temporary breach from your child, one that may last for years on end–know this to be true: every loving act you ever gave, every kindness–the thousand wipes, rockings and caresses, all seemingly EtchASketched away by time, exist in your child. Look at the bigger picture of the life-long well-being of your child, even if you have an adult child.

Your gifts will be available to your child, even as an adult, for the rest of his or her life. Your child’s journey is one of figuring out how to relate to the abusive voices inside of him or her. She or he must learn to discern the love from the manipulation. Your child will know that there are two paths always available, and one, the one of honest loving,  will have your name on it.

In everday time, the abuser may seem to win–older children of abusers often choose to spent holidays with the abuser because it simplifies their lives not to go to war with him. They also argue with you in ways that they would never dare argue with an abuser–because they can. This is not fun news for you. This is not what you are due. But if you can remember the long haul–your child’s long haul ahead, some of the pressured feeling that you must get your child to return to right relationship with you might be lifted a little. You might hold the temporary distance you experience from your child differently. I say ‘temporary’ because your child will recognize love–even if it is years and years from now. Your truly loving gifts will become clear.

Think how hard it was for you to untangle yourself from the abuser–to understand what he really  was to you. It is as hard for your child. You can focus on this today: that for your child’s long life ahead,(God willing) your gifts of love, already given in such plenty, will always be available. You can never not be the mother of this child; his or her very cells were made in your love. You may not get the shiny, breezing Mother’s Day that you so well deserve, but your true gifts have already arrived. Your child will spend a life learning to harvest them.

Written on May 13th, 2012 , Uncategorized

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  1. Felicity Dalton commented

    This is my first time reading your blog, and it is just what I needed. I live in Glastonbury, England and wonder whether you can give me some links to resources over here for leaving and healing from a destructive relationship within the framework that you work with? Do you ever run retreats here? Would you consider that if I help organise it? Yes, over 14 years, I am now mainly only affected by the way that he still subtly undermines my ability to be a good mother because it has been there from the very beginning when my two babies were born and I was already at my most vulnerable, coping with his rejection, disrespect, bullying, control and violence. After reading “Should I stay or should I go?”, because he won’t move out, my strategy is to work silently and fervently on my healing with no turning back, regardless of whether he changes. I thought about whether to print the pages from the website designed for him but I just don’t want to face yet another rejection and resistance from him. Until such time that he hurts enough to wake up to the fact that he no longer wants to live with so much self-hatred, nothing I suggest will ever make a difference. In the meantime the wellness of me and my daughters aged 10 and 9 come first. We so deserve so much better, and I thank you and Lundy Bancroft for the books that you have written which are invaluable resources, a saving grace for me. I have become a Titan as a result of 14 years of living with so many twisted forms of abuse that reading your books have brought to light, and it is now time for me to live and LOVE AGAIN. I realise that I have given my husband some of the greatest gifts that a woman can possibly offer, and he still whines about how little sex he gets, how we have nothing in common except the children, etc, etc – you know the story. How spoilt some men can be!! I thank you both for your boundless love, wisdom and compassion.

    May 30, 2012 at 3:21 am
    • Ingrid Fischer commented

      Never give up hope. You have all that it takes to recover and more. I have been through it myself, including the life of a single mother doing it al alone wishing I were a widow for that would have been so much easier than having an abusive ex husband in the back ground. Today I embody the promise of healing. I am a happy Certified Life Transformation Coach and Authorized Healer, a happy mom and grand mom, and a later second marriage has been a turn around in a man supporting my success , and not just the other way around a “helpmeet”. Do NOT give up! It is NEVER too late! The Universe is ON your side! Love, Light and Happiness, Ingrid.

      August 23, 2012 at 9:29 am
  2. Ingrid Fischer commented

    As a certified women’s empowerment coach and a certified energy healer and positive change facilitator, for women whose significant other was very keen on control, and keeping her in very narrowly defined roles and places as “appropriate for her gender” my heart sings to see this page. I have been through it myself, and journeyed from Victim to Victor to Vessel for Healing and my heart is full of warmth and support for women who make the journey back to their Inner Selves and Outer Joy.
    Thank you JAC for showing your won growth in such a beautify way, and sharing it with women. Our time is NOW.
    Love, Light, and Happiness, Ingrid

    August 23, 2012 at 9:14 am
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JAC Patrissi is a Communications Specialist who uses writing, performance art, training and collaborative facilitation in order to support healing for women who are questioning the health of their relationships or who are healing from destructive relationships. This is her blog.