In this episode, I talk about why I removed my narcissistic mother from my life and why it is so important to make hard decisions in your life...
See show notes at: https://www.thinkunbrokenpodcast.com/e368-i-removed-my-narcissistic-mother-from-my-life-cptsd-and-trauma-healing-coach/#show-notes
In this episode, I talk about why I removed my narcissistic mother from my life and why it is so important to make hard decisions in your life.
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Hey, what's up, Unbroken Nation, Michael Unbroken here — author, speaker coach, and advocate for adult survivors of childhood trauma and you are listening to the Michael unbroken podcast. Hey, so before we get started today, I just want to as usual say thank you guys so much for listening for being a part of The Unbroken Nation. I just want to let you know, if you have not, we are starting coaching sessions monthly at healtraumacoach.com.
Before we get in this episode, I'm going to preface this by saying that “in life sometimes, you're going to have to make incredibly difficult decisions.” And so recently, I posted something on Instagram and someone asked me, you know, how was my relationship with my mother? And I just said, you know, and in passing almost, it feels because I've shared this story so many times, you know, when I was 14, I did this, I'm 18, I did that. And, they were like, can you talk about that experience? So, I'm going to talk to you in-depth about the experience with my mother. Something I've actually never done before because I recognize the importance of needing to do so, that you can have an understanding of why it is so important to make hard decisions in your life.
When I was a kid and I've shared this before at 4 years old, my mother cut off my right index finger. My mother was a drug addict and alcoholic, she was narcissistic, she was bipolar, she was manic-depressive, she was suicidal. She tried to kill us as kids a couple of times by driving the car off the side of the road and into bridges and you know, like chaos guys. Give you a second to digest that. The truth about this is that my mother like me and her mother before her, and so forth, suffered a tremendous amount of abuse, a tremendous amount of trauma, a tremendous amount of pain suffering, and hurt. And whereas I and like you who are listening have decided to create the change in our lives to heal to step into what is next in our lives, to get the support while she at times, did she never committed? And that's why I talk, so often when we're talking about coaching when we're talking about anything in life, that there is a commitment that you have to make in order to create the change that you want to have and see in your life, and because of that, that becomes the difference between success and failure. And I've shown that guys with you guys before. So at 14 years old, and actually let me rewind. I'm going to go back a little bit more, and I'm going to share a story that I've I don't think I've ever shared maybe I have but I don't recall. When I was nine years old, we were at home, it was summer, and we had just come back from eating lunch. I think it was me, my mother my stepfather, and my new baby brother. My mom had just had a kid, like, I don't know, a year, prior something like that and we don't typically go out to eat when we do often my mother will, like, find a way to finagle a free meal out of it, there's always some kind of complaint, there's always some kind of why there's always something that she can kind of leverage. So we don't have to be responsible for the services that we just had and we had just done as this had happened again, I distinctly remember, went to a restaurant called Chi-Chi's, that place is now since closed, but they were all over Indiana. And so will come back home, and as we're getting out of the car and I'm walking to the front door, she who was driving the car falls out of the car lands back first into our gravel driveway and begins to have a seizure and this was a Narcotics induced seizure which she had before because she was having an overdose, she had taken, too many, whatever pill of choice it was that she happened to be on that time. And my stepfather runs around to the side of a car, puts his wallet, and her mouth to keep her from swallowing her tongue and all the while screaming at me to call 911, well, our phone had gotten turned off because we didn't pay the bill, well, they didn't pay the bill, I was nine years old and luckily a neighbor did and she didn't die that day, which was wonderful, right? And she got serious briefly about going to rehab, and so in this window, I talked often about living with multiple families between like 8, to 10 years old, 8, to 11 years old. And this was one of the catalysts for that there were others, but this was one, and she went into rehab, my stepfather who is over the road trucker, was out there doing that thing and I lived, and my brothers lived, we got separated at this time. I want to say, it was probably four months, five months, I vaguely recall, and we just lived with various families 3 days here, 4 days here, a week there. And I mean, it was just time and time again.
When my mother comes back and she's in this belt of sobriety, which is amazing, as the first time I ever remember her being sober and she was up at a St. Vincent Hospital, and we would go and visit her. And when we were there, we would be in the like, AA and NA meetings with her and things of that nature. And so what would happen is, we'd go up there, we'd see her was basically like visitation, she was because she was suicidal, she was on, whatever that number. I cannot remember the law in Indiana where you can legally commit, someone who is suicidal but she was legally committed under doctor's orders. And so with that, she was not allowed to leave the hospital. So for this six or seven months that she was there, we would go and see her on Saturdays and we would sit in the room and during this, she would share about, and this was what was crazy to me. And even a little kid, I remember like, what the fuck are you talking about lady? And she would like, it's my kid’s fault. I'll never forget this till the day I die. She's like, it's my kid’s fault. This is why they made me do this. They drove me to do this and, you know, obviously at 9 years old like, which is crazy. I thought to myself, this is nonsense, this makes no fucking sense at all, and so, we would go and visit and she would get in and she would get out and, you know, we'd live with us stranger, we'd live with my grandma or whatever. Well, around 12, which was my eighth-grade year of high school.
She went deep, deep back into relapse and so deep that she literally disappeared. Now, look, I know I'm sharing a lot of heavy stuff with you, but someone asked me and I think this is important because there are people in your lives right now where this story is going to resonate because you're going to need to make some hard decisions in your life. So this isn't a therapy session for me, trust me, my therapist we had this conversation but I'm trying to help you guys understand something important. If it's too heavy, like hit the eject button, I totally get it. And so at 12 years old, she disappears. I'm living in a house in speedway Indiana, right by the racetrack by myself. And I'm going to school and eating at school and showering at school at home, there's no running water somehow we have of the internet, which is very strange, I'll recall, I spent a lot of time on the Internet by myself just like doing whatever and we don't have running water and then the power went out. So it didn't matter if we had internet because we had no power and it's like blistering hot outside and June, July, and Indiana. And my grandmother, luckily just happens to swing by one day of like five or six weeks into this and she's like, where is your mom? Am I? I don't know.
I can't even call you because we don't have a phone and I was stealing food from the big lots on the corner right there, if you are familiar with Indiana in the Raceway area on 30th and Georgetown, there are big lots, and so I'd go over there, steal food and water and I would only be showering at school, and I decided to go to summer, I enrolled myself, that's in summer school. So I can go to school so I can be out of that house and be around other kids. And So eventually my grandmother takes me and should have this isn't saying you're coming to stay with me and my mom was kind of in and out of this rehab in and out of hospitals, and out of this chaos at 14. I'm heading into high school, my freshman year and I'm living with my mom again because my grandmother couldn't take me and my other brothers.
And so, she said, I need you to go back to live with your mom, which was heartbreaking for me. Even though my grandma, this is fucking crazy racist person. Another story for another day, guys. And so I go back to live with my mom and I get enrolled in Pike, High School, which is, you know, it's Township school and living in this townhouse. And my mom starts to go back deep into the drugs, deep like the D, and this was the deepest, it has ever been. And I'm like by myself again, she's disappeared into rehab again, she's totally gone again, and you can literally look at my report card.
I've posted and shared it before where I have, like, basically straight FS straight up because I'm not going to school. I'm I still haven't at this point yet lived like my grandma goes on taking me yet and so I get kicked out of Pike. They're basically like, dude, you're done, like, I don't even know why you're here. This is the first time I got kicked out of school and my grandmother came, and as we were heading into the end of that first semester going to the Christmas break, she was like, that's it. You're coming to live with me, your mom's out of control, and in that time, like my grandmother kind of seeing what was happening, and you know, she's an adult and she made an adult decision and my mother was obviously super abusive, and she was dealing with all these drugs and alcohol.
And my grandmother said something to me, she's like, you know, we can make your mom stay away from you and it was like, oh shit, we can, how do we do that? Sign me up and we put a restraining order on that 14 years old, I put a restraining order on my mother because I knew that I felt at the time, my grandmother had my best interest in heart. And, secondly, I knew that my mother was not going to change. Because I've seen it time and time and time and time and time again. Now, something about this particular time and this restraining order and her being removed from her children entirely. I mean, it was a don't call, don't come restraining order, like, she was not allowed to be in contact with us at all. And something in this must-have sparked her to at least, step into this journey, a little bit more. And so, she'd for the first time ever and my memory, She Like Sober Sober, She got a job again, She was taking care of herself, She was taking care of like trying to be better and at and you can literally watch my report card my second half of my sophomore year of high school after I had gotten expelled and put into the last chance program, I got straight as one semester, that never happened in my life. I was showing up as doing the work, I was doing the homework. I was taking care of myself, I was playing sports. I was really involved in my own life because I didn't have the chaos around me, right?
I wasn't in that place where it's just alcohol bottles and no electricity and stealing food for the first time, I actually felt safe and secure, right? And that predominantly one of the most important things that a child needs to be is successful in life than he's safety, and need security and I never had it really, until that moment. And in that, one of the things I should mention as a caveat like my mother had divorced, so he wasn't abusing us anymore. He was he would pop around every now and then because of, you know, having a baby brother and shut like that. But for the most part, I never saw him which was amazing, He talked about stress being lifted off of me and so, my, my grandmother gets this restraining order from my mother. I started to do well in school, my grandmother gives my mother the option to come and live with us again after she gets out of rehab my mother again, relapse is now as an adult, what I've done is I've taken connected the dots, of course, my mother relapse, because she moved back in with my grandmother who was abusive because she had been abused. And now we're into this cycle, generational trauma at 17 years old. I was like, fuck this my mom's a fucking alcoholic, she won't take care of herself. This is her fault and yes, of course, it's her fault your culpable, you're an adult, you make your choices and decisions. So yes, it is your fault. But what I didn't understand then was she was likely very triggered by being back environment because even my grandmother was so incredibly. What is the word I want to use here? I totally just got caught up in my own words. She was verbally abusive and this really intense way. And so I could see that play out in real-time in retrospect in hindsight diving into that experience, and looking at it from being in the home and watching it happen. And when this happened, you could literally watch my grades start to decline. Boom. Almost straight up again my senior year, as you guys know, did not graduate high school on time was skipping school selling drugs, getting high all day because I also was now having the words for it triggered. I was living in the chaos of this home between them abusing each other. And them screaming at me and my mom, one night attacking me with a pair of scissors that became this thing where I was like, okay, hold the fuck up. I'm done with this. Like done and s. There's this evening where my mother is trying to figure out why she can't turn on the computer. Now in her drug-induced stupor what she felt to realize as you have to press the power button, this is not a joke. Fucking crazy, right? And so she comes into my bedroom, I'm sitting in bed, I'm doing homework, like, I'm actually trying to like fucking graduate high school and like I never did it though. Like this was a bullshit attempt, I'm not gonna lie, it was just basically sitting there looking at the book like I don't want to do this, and she came into the room, and she starts accosting me and she's like, what did you do? The computer just freaking out this whole thing, right?
And if you've had an abusive mother, and for father, or someone in your family, you know, this experience this moment where it goes from zero to full-on collision. And at that moment, she started physically hitting me again, and I'm 18. I'm like, you know what? Fuck this I'm done with this, and for the first time I hit her, I was defending myself and I kicked her to the ground and I looked at her and I said, and look, I'll be honest with you. I said these words, if you ever touch me, again, I'll kill you. And I'll tell you this, she never touched me again. Like, for real, for real, what I've killed her, I don't fucking know. I just know, I was tired of it and so, because of that, and at that moment I went into her bedroom because I knew she was back on drugs. I knew, she's back on alcohol and I went through and I just dumped her closet shelf, she had this like, armoire thing and I just knocked it over and behind find it just twenty like no bullshit like 20-gallon jugs of vodka. Empty vodka bottles pill bottles and she was back in a relapse. Now again, I can look at this point to it and go. Oh, of course, this makes perfect sense. She's back in this environment that is not conducive to success, for a person who has a drug alcohol problem, eating disorder suicidal ideations who's living with their abuser again. That I did not connect the dots, the only thing I knew at the moment was okay, my mom's a drug addict alcoholic. She's back into this shit again, and my grandmother kicked her out and forced her to go to figure it out because we were all done with her. Like new could not be eventually you’re at this place where go how many chances can you give a person and those conversations for forgiveness and all that?
And you know you've heard those episodes of talking about these things, but what I want to share with you here is in this moment, I had to make when I start this episode. I told you something about hard decisions. At this moment, I had to make the hardest decision of my life, and I told my mother, I would never talk to her again. That was not only the most difficult decision that I've ever made in my life, but it is also the most important decision have ever made in my life. What do you have to understand is that you have someone in your life right now who is in the way of your future? You have someone in your life right now who is in the way of your future and you are letting them take from you. You are letting them seep from you. You are letting them destroy you. Every single day that you stay in contact with them. It may be your mother, your brother, your cousin, your father, your best friend, your wife, your husband, your partner, your job, you're whatever. Could be your kids like, for real, for real. And your life won't change until you make a decision. Change only happens when we make change happen.
You guys have heard me say this a million times and so at 18 years old, I made the most difficult decision and 18-year-old could ever make fast forward, 20 years later almost 20 years later I still believe in my heart, it was the best decision of my life because if I wouldn't have made that choice, I'll tell you right now, I would not be speaking to you. You would not be listening to this; I would not have written this book or any of the books. I wouldn't have this podcast, I wouldn't have coaching, I wouldn't have helped thousands of people around the world, talk about this shit if I wouldn't have made that decision and I kept it because I meant it.
Commitment to the choices that you make is everything in life, everything.
There is no question asked that, if you commit to what your heart gut, intuition tells you, that you will never be wrong. And my heart got intuition at that moment, said, Michael, if you don't make this choice, this will haunt you. It will kill you, it will destroy you, you will never have the life that you're capable of having. And so at 18, I make this incredibly difficult decision and between 18, and when she died I want to sound like 24, maybe 25, I did not talk to her except one time and that just happened to be because it had to happen, right?
And I want to share something with you. How do I add a phrase that is that you're not going to understand until it happens? That's probably the easiest way I can preface this especially when it comes to abusers. I've shared this with some of my clients one-on-one who have had this kind of experience as well and they kind of had the same reaction but I want to share it with you today because I want you to think about something. “Freedom” I want you to think about the word freedom and the role that that plays in your life when you remove those from your life, who do not and should not be involved in it and in those hard choices and decisions when Freedom becomes abundant, you are the ability to have the life that you want to have becomes unbelievably possible. There's no other way to phrase it, unbelievably possible, everything that you want because you're not tied into this person or people controlling your destiny.
Now you are in a position of becoming the hero of your own story. And on the day that my mother died. I'll never forget this. My little brother calls me and he goes: “Hey, man, mom died.” - I go. Thanks, have an awesome day and I hung up the phone. And at that moment, I did not feel shame, I did not feel guilt, I did not feel sorrow, I did not feel regret, I did not feel hurt, I did not feel suffering. I did not feel anything except for lack of a better term, and I wish I had another way to phrase this of a huge fucking weight being lifted from my shoulders and I don't wish death on anyone. So please don't interpret what I just said like that. But what I am saying, what I am saying is, at that moment, I felt freedom, I had felt Freedom previously because I did the restraining order out 14, because I told her, I'd never talk to her again at 18, but this was a different level of freedom that existed.
Because now, for the first time in my life, I knew that the stress of this human being existing, didn't have to be a part of my experience and I know that's a difficult thing to hear, it's oftentimes difficult thing saying, but it's true and it's the reality of my human experience and all this does to say something important today, almost 20 years removed from that decision of telling her I'll never talk to her again. I confidently can sit here and speak with you without a shadow of a doubt and in my mind, I can say; “I put myself first. You have to put yourself first,” if you want to be a person, one of you would hear this. I really if you're like driving, pull over, listen to what I'm about to tell you to stop at the gym, just stand here and listen for a minute. “If you want to be the hero of your own story, if you want to go through this healing journey, if you want to create the life, you want to have, if you want to live within conjunction of your values, your once needs interest and boundaries, if you want to be a person who when they look in the mirror gets to say, I love you. I'm proud of you. I'm sorry. I forgive you. Thank you for being here and have that feel true within your heart.” If you want any of the things, I just said, you are going to have to give something up. You're going to have to give something up and for some of you, it's that abusive parent who still has control over your life. Some of you listening right now. I know there are some teenagers, I know there are some people in their 20s and 30s and I know some of you are in your 50s and even 60s and you still let this person control you. Because here's the thing, you have to understand often.
Often we are groomed into it and our parents say, I'm doing this for you. I'm beating the shit out of you because I love you. I'm bending over backward. I'm sacrificing myself for you. Feel guilt feel, shame about your existence. I brought you into this world, I'll take you out, you've heard it all and then they send you awful text. And when you need them, they're not there for you and they send you emails that are destroying yourself, love in your livelihood.
And then when you need them they don't come. And they scapegoat, and they are narcissistic and they are hurting you and you're letting them. I hate to say that to you. And I hate to say it to you because it's hard to say and it's probably hard to hear, but what you have to understand and this is fucking difficult, and I know somebody's going to try to cancel me. I'm going to get an email after this. I already know, I don't care. This is your fault because you are no longer a child.
And I'm not saying that you're culpable for the bad things that happened, you know how I feel about this. You are not responsible for that shit, but everything happening in your life, from this moment forward is on you, nobody else, but you. Change only happens when we make change happen. And you are not doing the thing that, you know, in your heart, in your gut and an inner intuition that you need to be doing and yet, you're blaming the world. Yet you're saying it's their fault. Yet, you're putting it on them, you are passing the buck, you are leveraging the scapegoat, you are making the excuses. And I get it, trust me. I get it. This is not, this is not a condemnation. I want you to understand this I'm not throwing you under the bus. I'm not saying that somehow you're not doing the right things because you don't know better. I'm saying that you're not doing the things because you're not listening to yourself, you're not putting yourself first because you're terrified on the other side of the action is reality. On the other side of the action, in reality, you sit here and you say they destroying my life, but you let them. They're hurting me, but you're allowing it. At some point, you have to make a decision point, you have to make a choice.
And at some point, you have to be the hero of your own story. Ultimately, at the end of the day, I believe that we all are capable of this. I believe that entirely, I believe that we all can do what we need to do to take care of ourselves to put ourselves first. And putting yourself first is not selfish, that is not selfish and I hate when people say that because it's so dismissive, put yourself first and by proxy, your environment will change.
Stop being tied down by people who do not want you to succeed, stop allowing yourself to be hurt by people who don't want to care for you. Stop allowing yourself to be taken advantage of by people who in my grandmother's words wouldn't piss on you. If you were on fire, I know that sounds crazy that such a hillbilly country thing to say I love her, but you know how it is. At the end of the day, my friend, the truth is that I believe in you, I believe you're capable of doing whatever you want to do.
You would not be listening to this podcast fucking 30 minutes in if you did not believe that you had potential in your life and I know it's scary. I know, I get it making those hard decisions and removing the people within your circle who do not deserve to be, there is one of the hardest things you will ever do. But in seven years, 12 years, 18 years, 27 years from now, I believe that if you follow your gut response, your intuition, and your heart on this, you will know that you made the right decision.
My friend. I want to tell you, thank you as usual for staying with me and listening to this. I know we went deep today, there's probably an emotional episode for you, and I want you to know that we are here for you. The Think Unbroken Nation as a community, we are a tight-knit, close Community about building each other up and creating real change in the world.
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My friend, Be Unbroken.