I self-harm because of my upbringing but my mum won't accept responsibility

DEAR DEIDRE: AS I grew up, my parents were always arguing, fighting and cheating on one another.

Sometimes my dad would leave and sometimes my mum would go.

It massively affected me and I ended up self-harming.

They divorced when I was 16. I’m a woman of 32 now but I’ve always pushed people away, as I believe anyone I love will hurt me just like my parents.

My mum constantly bad-mouths my dad. She’s so bitter and can’t let go of the past. My relationship with her is very strained.

I’ve tried telling her what their relationship did to me but she just calls me horrible names, like she did when I was a child. She won’t accept responsibility for any wrongdoing.

I really want nothing more to do with her but I feel guilty. Should I just cut my losses and get on with my life?

DEIDRE SAYS: I can understand how hurt you feel. Your mum probably learned much of her abusive behaviour from her own upbringing but that doesn’t excuse it.

You can’t change her but you can change how you react to her. Why not keep up minimal contact with her but stop looking to her to heal your emotional wounds?

She’s not got the capacity, but through counselling you could stop your past affecting your future. My e-leaflet How Counselling Helps explains.

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