Joan Crawford was a popular actress during the middle of the 20th century. Not long after her death her oldest daughter Christina wrote the book Mommie Dearest describing her mother’s alcoholism, rages, and abuse. After its publication Christina was publicly vilified for tarnishing her mother’s reputation, and accused of making it up for purposes of revenge. The outcry contributed to the near-fatal stroke Christina suffered a few years after the publication of the book. Some years later however Christine Ann Lawson wrote Understanding the Borderline Mother, where she references Christina Crawford and the plight of children of mothers with borderline personality disorder. Not being believed can be one of the most painful and confusing parts of having an abusive mother. While child abuse in general tends to be minimized and ignored, maternal abuse is most often discounted, and its victims, for years abused in private, are now abused in public. It seems the notion of “motherhood and apple pie” is essential to our collective sense of the proper order of things. Alas some survivors of maternal abuse grow up to be abusers themselves. Those who don’t are proof that miracles still happen, and we should recognize them as such.
Kimberly April says
This is my first time reading your blog. I came here because of your kind words on my post regarding termination. Everything you have shared here is so tragic, and so true. Even moreso if a person grew up in the 1960’s. I can share with you that the pain you mention is hard for me to put into words. That’s why I experienced a severe depression a long time ago. I couldn’t face it, live with it, make peace with it, or even stay in the same room with it. Survivors of this type of abuse carry around a stigma that seems to add to the shame. However, there is so much hope for living a fuller, richer life, especially if a person finds an experienced and compassionate trauma therapist. For a long time I was dead inside and didn’t want to live. My therapist met me where I was, painstakingly built a connection of stability and safety, patiently endured my mistrust, acting out and impulsivity, along with normalizing my feelings and validating my experience. This therapeutic relationship has made all the difference. I am finally realizing that I didn’t cause what happened to me, I am not bad, I am not dirty. I was a child. I had no power, but power was used to control me. As Dr. Frank Ochberg wrote in Survivor Psalm, I was in a fight. It was not a fair fight. I did not ask for the fight. I lost. There is no shame in losing such fights. I am grateful for blogs like this where you dare to tell it like it really is, not like society in general which sometimes believes things like “this” never happen. Thank you for more hope!
This is spot on. You’re right, we don’t want to really look at abusive mothers.
I check this site often as posts like this are so informative.
Superb! I have been looking for something like this for some time now. Many thanks!
This is very helpful, thanks.