How can I thwart a verbal attack from my mother?

I can’t, because I am not in control of her brain or the choices it appears to make upon her dialogue with me.

I can, however, alter how I react to her.  I can change the habit of a lifetime and no longer behave and respond as the victim she perceives me to be, and expects me to continue to be.

This phenomena; this idea, has wrapped itself around me like a cloak over the past few months and I can already sense shifts in patterns of behaviour when she is around.   One simple step I made was no longer apologising for things I hadn’t done wrong – my counsellor explained that I should only use this word when I truly wish to express regret for something I may have said or done and subsequently regret.  So when, a few months ago in mid-December, mother paid our house a visit and returned some empty tupperware boxes at our door before leaving with no other note or text, I sent her a text.

At first, from habit, I started to type:

Hi mum – I’m sorry we were out when you called.  We were buying our christmas tree! xxx

I paused before pressing send and re-read it.  Nothing jumped out as wrong with it, but then I recalled my counsellor’s words.   So I deleted most of the text and re-typed:

Hi mum.  Thank you for returning the tupperware; I hope you enjoyed the cake.  We were out choosing our Christmas tree.  Perhaps we can catch up later this week? x

The subtle differences are that I took out the word sorry as I had nothing to apologise for.  Mother had not forewarned me of her intention to call, so it had been a gamble on her part as to whether we would be in or not.  I show gratitude for her action at leaving the box, and empathy when I ask about the cake.  I choose to explain our absence with a statement which is followed with a simple full stop.  The first version I feel the exclamation mark leaves an element of defensiveness from me – do you see it?  I finish with a suggestion we get together and close with one kiss.  Not a flurry of desperate kisses.

Subtle differences .. which left me feeling more in control of my emotions.   Result!

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