Kidnapped by Mom

I was held hostage for years. It was a painful and confusing time.

I didn’t realize I played an active role in my imprisonment. I held the key to my own freedom and didn’t even know it.

Sounds dramatic, doesn’t it? It sure felt so at the time, and it was emotionally expensive.

While I wasn’t locked in a physical cell, as an adult, I found myself held hostage in my mother’s mind.

When we’d visit home, Mom treated me like a teenager. Even though I was a mother, and had matured and grown, every visit home was filled with some kind of drama between the two of us.

Nobody could hurt me or cause me to act as unskillfully as my mother.

Even though I’d long given up my teen behaviours, all my skill and maturity flew out the window when Mom hit an old button. She knew where they were and could hit them with precision. I reacted poorly and predictably.

The most challenging part was watching myself revert to teen behaviours in response to her goading. We fought like two teenage girls; it was embarrassing. I knew it had to stop.

I came to realize, in my mother’s eyes, I’d always be held hostage until I changed my view of her and of myself in her presence. I’d forever be the teenage version of myself because I also hadn’t let go of the past and how I saw her.

I couldn’t change her, but I could change myself. I had to be the one to make the change.

I played a major role in our relationship; it takes two to tango.

I had to forgive my mother and myself. I had to let go, to forgive, to free myself from the tethers of the past and create possibility of a new tomorrow.

I was no longer the person of my youth, and if I wanted the keys to my own freedom, I needed to stop reacting as I did way back then.

I made the conscious choice to free my mother from my judgment. I had to act like the adult I was, with all of the skill and ability I’d developed over the years, and meet her there. I engaged with her like I would any other person, with respect, patience, and curiosity.

It was very confusing for Mom at first. She’d grown accustomed to my reactions, and she wasn’t sure what to do with the new me. Peace prevailed, and a new way of being with each other developed.

What I’d done for years was to react; re-act, follow old patterns of behaviour that only served to keep us locked into a way of relating that wasn’t healthy.

This was such a great life lesson for me.

I realized my own tendency to hold other people hostage in my mind, connected to the memory of who they were, not who they’ve become. I missed out on really knowing them anew.

Where do we keep ourselves and others stuck in roles, or the mistakes of the past?

When I released my older brother from the role of scary dude, and he realized I was no longer the kid, we discovered good things about one another. I saw him through a new lens and I liked what I saw.

The casual relationship we had has been transformed into a caring, respectful, and mutually supportive one. It’s a blessing.

Most people change and evolve over time. When we make the assumption that people have remained static, we lose out on discovering who they are now.

I’ve learned to be conscious, not to hold my own children and others hostage in my mind. I remain curious and meet people where they are at. I love the relationships I have with my adult children, nieces & nephews.

I respect them and I love what I get to learn.

In reality, we’re all humans becoming; humans evolving and becoming more and different than we were in the past.

As we remain curious and open when engaging with people in our lives, we can be delighted at who we get to meet.


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About the Author

Corinne is first a wife, mother, and grandmother, whose eclectic background has created a rich alchemy that serves to inform her perspectives on life.

Corinne, a registered nurse with a master’s degree in Health Science, is a staff minister with the Centre for Spiritual Living Kelowna, and a hospice volunteer. She is an adjunct professor with the school of nursing  at UBC Okanagan, and is currently teaching smartUBC, a unique Mindfulness program offered at UBC, to the public. She is an invited speaker and presenter.

From diverse experience and knowledge, personally and professionally, Corinne has developed an extraordinary passion for helping people to gain a new perspective, awaken, and to recognize that we do not have to be a slave to our thoughts or to life; we are always at a point of change.

Through this column, Corinne blends her insights and research to provide food for the mind and the heart, to encourage an awakening of the power and potential within everyone.

Corinne lives in Kelowna with her husband of 41 years, and can be reached at [email protected].

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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