*Age 36 – My May 10, 1988 Letter Disowning My Mother


The letter I wrote to disown my mother:

May 10, 1988 (I was 36)

Dear Mom –

I cannot find the letter I began to you after your nest-to-this last telephone call.  I wish I could as it came to me much easier than I think this one will.  So I will have to begin again.

I feel that I need to say that I cannot be your daughter any more.  At least not in the way I’ve been your daughter and you have been my mother in recent times.  I say this because I continue to struggle very hard to deal with the reality of what I experienced during the first 18 years of my life.  I say this because I am the Linda that existed then.  Each day of my life I experience and continue to build upon the experiences that form the fabric of myself and my life.

For many years I have lived with a big hole in the fabric that is my life because I chose to deny the experiences of my childhood.  I know now it is not wrong, but rather necessary for me to reclaim the reality of who I am and what I have lived through.

When you call me it is as if you are entering my life from a corner I am not able to protect.  I could not protect myself as a child from your actions toward me.  As a child you were a danger to me.  As an adult, I have denied that reality.

I see no easy or gentle way to say these things to you.  I just know that as a parent if I am angry and hurt my children, I hurt myself and I feel that inside.  Each day I pray to be a better mother to my children, and God has answered my prayers.

I do not believe that you are able or have ever been able to see your relationship with me clearly.  Because when I was a child I was hurt so badly by you I cannot trust you.

I apologize for my lack of courage that prevents me from addressing any of these feelings with you when you call.  I think we both keep busy denying the reality of our past together.  I must have integrity within my whole person.  I cannot have that unless I address these facts honestly.

Years ago you told me that [D.P.] hurt you when she wrote that she could no longer be your friend.  I’m sure you will similarly question this letter and my statement that I can no longer be your daughter.  Yet unless and until the reality of my childhood as your daughter can be fully exposed and dealt with in a healthy fashion, this is the stand I am forced to take for my own well-being.  You were not a good mother to me during the years I needed one most.  I was battered, beaten, isolated and abused mentally, physically, psychologically and spiritually during all the years I lived under your hand.  I will no longer be party to the denial about this that has continued in our family.  To be healed myself I must face reality.  And I must face it with you.

It is in part important for me to do this before my life becomes entwined with Cindy’s through the mutual sharing of our children and our family’s futures.  [I was going to her town to graduate school]  Your relationship with Cindy has nothing to do with me.  It never has.  Nor will it in the future.  I mention this now to allow you to make your own decisions about how you feel about this.  I want you to know that I will be mailing Cindy a copy of this letter in order that I also be open and honest with her about this new position that I am taking – which is very simply that I do not and never have had a mother.  The fact that Cindy has you for her mother doesn’t bother me.  (That is between you two.)

You used to tell me that they must have gotten the babies mixed up in the hospital, and that I couldn’t possibly be yours.  After all these years I will say here that I’m not.  You thought that then – I think it now.  I also know that I cannot take these words back any more than you can take back yours.

I have buried the pain of my childhood away far and deep within me.  I have also buried away the rage I feel at the things that were said and done to me.  I can no longer pretend that their existence is not real.  And I cannot carry on a real and honest relationship with you in their absence.  So to free my own little girl inside of me I will say good-bye to you as my mother, and hello to you at some point as a woman I have known or do know in my life.  Because from this moment forward I choose to be free to be me —- the me I have been since the moment of my birth into this world.  For birthing me I will say thank you.  For your love in my adult life I will say thank you.  For everything that happened in between?  I say “God be with you.”

Sincerely, Linda

PS.  This may seem a drastic step because it is.  I do not write this letter out of vengeance.    I write it out of an acceptance of a reality that has been for a long, long time.  And, Cindy, I do not in any way want you to be in the middle of this.  This is between Mildred and me.


This is a copy of the note I enclosed with the copies of the above letter I sent both to my sister, Cindy, and to my father:

It would not surprise me in the least to see Mildred try, with any means at her psychological disposal, to interfere with – and if possible destroy, my relationship with my sister Cindy.  I pray to God that Cindy is not in a position to allow that to happen.  I also know that I am strong enough to handle that, though I would hurt and feel very, very sad.  God help us all.  Amen.


My journal entries for the days surrounding the writing and the mailing of this letter:

(This entry was made the day I wrote the above letter)

May 10, 1988

I know I dreamt about Alaska last night.  Not the homestead so much as Eagle River.  I remember crying and crying (grieving) in the dream.  I wonder how my anger would show up.

We were driving down Eagle River road in a gray van.  A small black horse raced from behind us and crossed more than once right in front of the van – we were going at least 45 mph.  That horse, a little female and a baby belonged to some young man up there.  That black horse was black with maybe a little white on him and seemed oddly misshapen.

I also dreamt about a big old house with lots and lots of stairs – ‘cept in this dream I said “I know when I dream about houses I’m dreaming about my body.”  I wanted to show whomever was with me the stairs, even though I knew from other visits to that house that many had been in dangerous repair.  Yet I didn’t find any.

As I went up and up on one floor that used to be vacant I found Kerensa’s [age 17] things cute and neat in rooms there and even in the hall, on the landing, and going up the stairs.  It was light, airy and pretty – and NEAT – there, but I didn’t see Kerensa.

I wonder why I keep going back to Alaska [in my dreams] – Eagle River Valley – in my dreams.  It must represent safety of some kind, because I always cry there.


I just wrote a letter in which I effectively disown my mother. I will take it to my therapist tomorrow and discuss its contents.

May 11, 1988

After writing the letter to Mom last night I dreamt about being very threatened by someone who was going to rape me – he had 2 big sharp knives, and I knew he was going to put one inside of me.  There were others there, and somehow I was spared – I don’t remember how – but in the dream for a long time I suffered trauma.

Katie [my dogsled-mushing, farming, country friend] came in the dream and showed me some kind of weapon and a safe hiding place for it.  I wondered how I would ever get to it in time.

I don’t know.  I am about to start a brand new life.  It’s strange that I’m aware of so few feelings as I look at this letter I have written.  I suppose all the feelings will come after I mail it.  Maybe I can start to grieve after I let go.

I wish to say that Glenda’s [my therapist] assessment that my mother’s actions toward me were in fact male has helped me to see things more clearly —

— Well, well, well – the second letter is completed.  Still don’t know if I’m meant to mail it.  Therapist, Kerensa and Ramona read it.  I read it to [P.]  Kerensa said, “You have to mail it” – don’t know – still want to deny and discount….

May 12, 1988

I feel – depressed today – wanting to believe that sending that letter to Mildred will make a difference – afraid I’d be doing it out of anger and looking for a quick fix – that I still have my life to deal with – that nothing would change ‘cept Mom would be upset – more “creating a crisis” than solving anything.

Hard to stop and just allow myself to FEEL!

Dear Heart –

You are caught between the past and the future – in your present unrecalled memories stir in forgotten places.  I wander around in the present sometimes like a person lost.  Lost and aching.  Like this is my real life, but it isn’t, ‘cause I’m not all here


If I mail this letter will it make any of my neediness go away?  Will I be able to meet myself half way?

Will mailing my letter set me free?

“I’m doing it, little girl.  I’m setting you free!”

I mailed the letter.  My 3rd divorce as Ramona [age nearly 12] calls it.

I called Cindy and read her the letter.  She wasn’t a bit surprised.  Ramona suggested I call her – She knew Cindy would understand.

Mildred – rape – that dream – rape/castrate – invasion of me – yet I was helpless, but also protected.  She could not get to me.  Yet I was traumatized in the dream.  Paralyzed by fear.

I read the letter [to another art friend] today.  He spoke of cataclysm and unfolding.  Creation versus destruction.  For a seed to fulfill it’s potential it must break.  Take a new form.

When the inside becomes the outside.  He thanked me for influencing his work.

Rheta and I went for pizza.  She read the letter, cried and was silent.


This is related to my October 18, 2009 post today:


See this link also for events leading up to my writing this May 10, 1988 letter:



25 thoughts on “*Age 36 – My May 10, 1988 Letter Disowning My Mother

  1. We can “fake” love or any emotion…we’re superficially charming, we’re empty but we can mimic or mirror happiness, love….I can watch a normal person display emotion..and act it five mins later.I’m a master at it.Sometimes, I want to fake it, other times I deem it useless, ( this person is not worth my energy).The people that are close to me, ( my husband) know I’m empty because i can’t consistently display love or concern.So we can turn it on and off at will.

    • The effort, the pretending, faking – sending out ‘appropriate’ responses – did you watch the movie, Temple Grandin??? Do if you can get it – we were MADE to be more like Temple than ‘normal’ – but we are in our essential pure essence STILL HERE inside this body that has been so changed…..

      • I’ve never seen that film..I will make the effort to see it.May I recommend a book?It’s a biography about Angelina Jolie, she’s a BPD sufferer.She talks about her early childhood, being in her crib looking out a window, the various nannies that cared for her because her mother was depressed.She self mutilates, has black and white thinking, hoards children ( indiscriminate attachment) .Anyhow, faking emotions is all I can do at this point…funny thing when I show sadness or anger it fires up like fire starter anything else is extremely challenging.I will post the name of the book, ( I have to find it)…the cover of it shows AJ’s back filled with tatoos.She banned hugging, laughter and emotions at one point out of her life.To this day she can’t hug.

        • Yes, will be looking for the name of the book……

          there’s info online (on this blog somewhere, as well) – about ’emotional kindling’, ‘limbic kindling’ – akin to seizures in the right brain

          if you could possibly read the books I posted about yesterday – you would understand them ’cause you understand yourself




          • It’s unauthorized…but the book makes sense.I was a little hesitant about reading it but I read it anyhow, ( for something to read).I was shocked that they mentioned that her early childhood was spent living away from her mother….essentially she spent it in solitary confinement.I obviously don’t know her but, from what’s been said about her and her relationships with her family this book makes sense.She is a borderline….she has self mutilated ( that’s even been said by her).The book is called, “Angelina Jolie Unauthorized)”.Oh and thank for your kind words about my writing…I’m currently writing a book called, “The Man with the Tethered Rope”, I hope I get my message out about RAD, and how it not only impacts the individual but society as well.

  2. Hi,
    I’m just coming across your posts now, 2 years later (?) I”m 50 and have a 71 y/o mother who is bipolar with narcissistic tendencies, and also possibly a touch of BPD in the mix. I also have a wonderful family that I have chosen with my husband of 20 years and my daughter who is 13 and with my father, stepmother and half brothers (parents divorced when I was 8).

    I want everyone out there who has to deal with a toxic parent to know that you should cut your losses in life as early as possible with these lunatics. Looking back, I always had to be the adult, the bigger person, the wiser person. So exhausting. During the decades my mother and I had many “separations”, but again, I always bent over backwards to try and maintain the relationship out of a sense of family obligation. This became especially true when my daughter came along, I had hoped my mother had grown enough that she could be a decent grandmother.

    She never did anything directly abusive to her granddaughter, HOWEVER, as always, she tried to sabotage our family – tried to put wedges between me and my daughter, me and my husband, etc. In fact, my mother has next to no friends left in life (they all stopped taking her calls), and no living thing in her house to care for (not even a plant to water). I’ve not loved her since the age of 4, never trusted her, and I was right not to.

    About 18 months ago we had another telephone knock down drag out argument. I hung up on her and never spoke to her again. It was like the weight of the world was off my shoulders. BUT she still tries to keep contact with my daughter and even continues to email my husband with pleas to help her by making me “come to my senses”, still trying to be sneaky and undermine my marriage by creating alliances to assuage her loneliness at my expense.

    I wrote a 3 page letter a few weeks ago, outlining WHY I want her to let go once and for all. It’s pretty harsh, so I won’t send it to her, in the interest of my own spiritual well being (I’m not about putting more negativity into the universe). It was very helpful to me. Now I just wrestle with whether I should send a short note to curtly tell her to leave us alone. I want to be sure her toxicity doesn’t seep into my daughter especially.

    Bottom line, I regret not cutting her out of my life as soon as I went off to college. Not that I could have done it at the time, being so damaged by her emotional abuse even by then, even so, I regret that it’s taken me this long to let go of any hope I had of fixing our relationship or changing her.

    So those of you out there with toxic parents – ditch them as early n as feasible. Save yourself decades of distress, break the cycle of toxicity and protect future generations from it by getting these nutjobs out of your life asap!

    Namasté and all good wishes for your own healing.

    • Thanks so much for writing!! These stories are ‘timeless’ – repeated in so wide a variety of families – and some parents (etc) ARE hopeless!!! Very sick people who will not get well in this lifetime because they cannot. Reality is reality – and finally owning our OWN reality instead of theirs is a truly freeing experience.

      I never had one instant of regret after I disowned Mother. NEVER! She was impossibly ill……

      Again, your words are greatly appreciated – and understood by many of this blog’s readers. THANKS!!

  3. Linda,
    As I am reading some of your blog entries, I am crying and at the same time, grateful that I found you and your site.
    I also have had MANY experiences with a borderline mother and have felt SO isolated because of it. I never spoke of anything that happened to me because I just felt that no one would fully understand or for that matter, believe me. I have heard many times how “perfect” our family seemed. Until age 34, that is what I thought too. Like you, I sent a letter two years ago to speak my truth and have not heard from anyone in my family…including my father who, I was extremely close.
    Please keep writing and know that it helps others who have gone through similar things that we are not crazy.

    • Hi there, and thank you so much for writing to me! I am very glad you found this blog. Oh, what stories we need to tell — and we NEED to be heard!

      BPD is nuts and makes everyone else nuts! Once we begin to figure that out, those OTHER nuts people made nuts by a BPD in their lives are very likely to STAY nuts. BPD is a disease that is dangerous to everyone’s sanity that is in connection/relationship with them.

      I never regretted saying good bye to my mother! It is not possible to have a sane relationship of any kind with someone as crazy as our mothers!! Please post comments as you read! It is SO affirming to me to know that my writing can assist others in their journey back from hell! all the best, Linda – alchemynow

      • Hello….
        After 42 years living like this, I to have chosen the same road. Looking back, I have tried to appease my mother consistently for the duration of my life and if not done as dictated, even at 42, God help me! She chose to call my daughter, her grand daughter a slut last summer and then requested her grand daughter apologize to her because she was her grand mother and has the right to call it as it is she said. I refuse to let my daughter to be treated as I was!! My daughter told me last week she has 2 words for her grand mother that are ‘F****** Insaine.’ I am raising my daughter, as I would have wished to have been raised, and althought it is never easy, we have a tight bond and open communication. I believe my mother envies that and when she couldn’t convince my daughter of how bad I was as a mom, then my mom started with the demeaning and name calling of her grand daughter. You are so right. Cut the apron cord and leave the toxicity behind!

        • Enough was enough a LONG time ago – !!! My mother never had any access to my children – I lived too far away, in exile I called it for so long – but it was worth it. It’s a tough call to cut that cord, but eventually all 6 of Mother’s kids in our family HAD to do this. I am so sorry she got to you daughters, but with you as their mom the understanding will only grow over time. This disease is a terrible one – but NOBODY should be made to suffer just because they are ‘family’. All the best to ALL of you!!

  4. Linda, I am curious about your relationship with your parents as an adult. In your blog, you mention a visit to your parents home with your infant daughter at age 20. Your letter to disown your mother happened 16 years later. I assume there was a reconciliation after the early visit with your baby that led to a rather positive relationship with your mother. You thanked your mother for her love of you as an adult. What led to this “mother love” in your adult life with your mom?

      • How was your mother able to pretend to love you as an adult when she was completely unable to even pretend to love you as a child?

        • I don’t know! Good question! Sounds like conversation-fodder with my sis when she’s over for a visit after July 28th! Fakey-cute “I love you” Hallmark Mother’s Day, etc. Pretend, ‘make believe’ grandmother love for my children. She never came to visit me but once – and I was married, perhaps ‘pleasing the man’ that time.

          But I don’t know. But I think she did ‘fake love me’ when I was a child ‘in public’ if it suited her. Perhaps this upcoming interview with JV Saturday might shed some light on that.

          • Yes, superficial cards.My stepson’s mother ( BPD sufferer) was notorious for this.The cards were short, superficial and inappropriate for a small child.It demonstrates the emptiness and disconnect she has.Or, sometimes the card can be gushy.The whole theme here is social unrelatedness.When is something appropriate?How should I “feel” about this individual that I’m sending a greeting to?My SS’s mother sent a four year a card that would normally be appropriate to send to your 60 year old father in law…”As you are sliding down the banister of life, I hope the splinters face the opposite direction”!It depicts an old women with a birthday hat sliding down a wooden banister.At the end of the card she signs, “Tracy” xoxoxooxox.My stepson was puzzled.

  5. Hello. I am very near this point with my mother and father. It’s not the first time I’ve disowned them and then they create a situation where I am utterly dependent on them again. That can’t happen anymore and they know it, and I’ve sent a couple of letters about boundaries in the past several months, and they have not tried to contact me. I know they may try something, and they did find my blog, so I had to start a new one, which doesn’t really bother me too much.

    I’m reading your stories and I’m amazed they are not triggering me. There are many similarities (my mother is bipolar and went off of her meds around 1975 because it embarrassed my father) in experiences, but the original abuses are a bit different.

    Sometimes I get information overload reading your posts and I need to reread them, but I really appreciate what you are doing for everyone. I can’t imagine doing all of the research you do (where the heck do you find the time?), and I read with great interest your body-mind-generational-genetic connections. It just makes sense. I’ve been stuck in Jung World for years and getting lost.

    I nearly abused my son in a different way and until recently (with the help of my current therapist) I was still punishing myself for it and believing that the evil was within me to do what my father did to me to my son. Telling my therapist that story was more difficult than anything else yet, and I had been harboring that guilt for 16 years.

    Sorry….I’m just rambling. Out of everything you have been through you’ve become a terrific advocate and font of wisdom. Thanks.


    • Hello, Lisa, and I am so glad you are finding something useful to you in among all these words. That means the world to me! I think of an eastern saying I read about “the tree beyond which there is no passing.” Our parents are NOT that tree! We can get past them and accomplish positive changes for ourselves that they will probably never be able to begin to imagine.

      I had to ‘do the research’ – it got to a point where my life depended on it. I had NOT found answers anywhere else that I desperately needed. I knew something MORE was wrong, and I needed to know what it was/is – beginning with right brain developmental changes and ’emotional dysregulation’.

      Did you happen to catch the PBS NOVA link on epigenetics I posted yesterday? I haven’t been patient enough yet to sit in front of the computer and WATCH it, but plan to. I just find it so affirming to see the topic making it into the public mind-sight. It’s so important. I believe eventually researchers will find within the ‘workings’ of epigenetic factors what happens that makes some people physiologically incapable of feeling remorse.

      You and I are among those most fortunate that this did not happen to us.


      And, the post I just wrote – how grim is that? And how realistic.



      Some of us don’t get to have mothers, or even fathers. They are a ‘something else’, and we owe them NOTHING!

      Lately when I think about ‘the book’ I still hope to somehow be able to write, I think more and more that it might end up being about exactly this: Disowning parents who were never our parents to start with.

      It’s not about being mad at them or about forgiving them or not — I think it’s about the final realization that they are/were such ‘changed beings’ that they COULD not be our parents. From there it’s a very short step to — they are NOT my parents and that’s a fact.

      I believe that the physical death of my parents set me free to write what I needed to write. Their passing put them on the other side of the last and final boundary I needed. Now I think about the ‘minimum criminal sentence’ my parents SHOULD have received for what happened to me (my mother as perpetrator and my father as participant bystander) of 14,500 years and it helps me be very clear about myself in relationship to them.


      I am posting the following links for anybody who arrives at this comment section and might find them relevant and useful.





      • I haven’t watched the Nova episode yet, but it’s bookmarked. My kids are clamoring for this thing they call “dinner”, so I have to figure that out.

        I am hoping that the deaths of my parents will be liberating. Is that a terrible to wish? But I’ve always wished that as long as I can remember.

        When I read your latest post about the dead lizard there was a little chorus of “YES!” inside because it really resonated with me. It’s inspired me to collect my thoughts and compose a post myself about my mother. It may do me good to write it out a little as I have been avoiding the topic in therapy.

        Thank you again!


        • I would like to read your post if that would be OK – perhaps post the link here? I didn’t ‘wish’ my parents dead, really, just knew that it would feel good to me when they were gone (freeing) – I can’t believe some of the long lifespans some of the commenter’s parents have – into their 90s!

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