Home » Blogs » Strength Over Adversity » It Isn’t Easy

It Isn’t Easy

I made the tough decision many years ago to cut my narcissistic mother out of my life.  I’ve been applauded by some for my courageous decision and berated by others for having such a cold and callous heart towards my own mother.  It is heartwarming and comforting to read comments from people who lived a childhood like mine, people who understand what it is like to grow up in a household with no love, support, or guidance; a household full of abuse and pain.  But it hurts my heart to read comments from people who think I made the wrong decision, people who think that I’m a cold-hearted person who is unwilling to give her mother a second chance, and people who believe that I have damaged my sons forever because I did not allow them to meet their grandmother.

To those people I ask, how many chances do you give someone before the constant pain and reminders of the past start to affect your daily life as an adult?  How many chances does someone deserve when they continue to repeat the same destructive patterns again and again?  There has to come a point where enough is enough and tough decisions need to be made in order to begin your healing process and grow.

I have to admit that it does make me shake my head when it is assumed that I just cut Mom out of my life in an instant.  As if I just woke up one morning and said, “OK!  That’s it!  I’ve had it!”  I only wish it had been that easy, that I truly was that cold and that callous that I could have just woken up one day, snapped my fingers, and made Mom vanish.  But unfortunately, I had to learn the hard way and go through years of turmoil before I finally found the courage to cut Mom out of my life forever.

I moved out of my Mom’s house when I was sixteen years old.  I had finally had enough of the years of physical abuse, the mental abuse, the infidelity, the stealing, lying, and the daily battles.  I had been beaten and called a name for the last time and I left one evening with two garbage bags full of my clothes and never looked back.  I didn’t know when I would see Mom again, and back then I really didn’t care.  I just wanted peace and I wanted to fall asleep one night without worrying about Mom waking me up to beat me or berate me.

It was over a decade before I would lay eyes on my mother again.  I had already graduated high school, college, had a steady job, gotten married, and had my first child before Mom would walk through my door.  And the day she did was a day I will never forget for as long as I live.  I had extended an invitation for Mom and her new husband to come visit not long after I had my first son.  I wanted to give my son the opportunity to meet his grandmother, and I wanted to see if maybe, after ten years, Mom was ready to have a real relationship with her first-born daughter.

I remember her walking through the door of my house that day, laden down with gifts for me and my family.  I walked up to her and I remember her seeming so much smaller than I remembered her. I recall feeling a sense of power as I towered over her and looked down at that face that was etched into my nightmares.  But the moment I locked eyes with her, any sense of power I had was instantly washed away as I was thrust back into my ten year old self, looking into those eyes as they stared down on me with hatred and contempt while her fists were pummeling me.

And when she opened her mouth, it was as if nothing had changed.  The same voice, the same sneer, the same lies pouring out, and the same little digs at me.  But at that point in my life, I was so desperate for Mom to recognize my achievements, so eager for her to say how proud she was of me, that I accepted her digs, I laughed at her lies, and I acted like the past twenty six years had never happened, because that was the way she wanted it and that was the only way she was going to come around.

This unhealthy, fake relationship with me and Mom continued for quite a while and I found myself beginning to revert back to my childhood self; allowing Mom’s opinions and judgements of me affect my daily life.  I began feeling depressed, unworthy of love, and incapable of taking care of my son; I was letting Mom and her actions put me back into victim mode.    I had to make a change for myself and my newborn son.

Making a change meant that I had to say goodbye to Mom forever.  It meant that I finally realized that Mom would never change and provide me with a healthy mother-daughter relationship that would allow me to thrive and grow as an adult.  It meant that I wasn’t going to allow Mom to treat me like an abused child one minute longer and I was ready to put the past where it belonged.  So please understand, the decision to cut a toxic parent out of one’s life is not easy, it’s never something made overnight, and not something anyone takes lightly.  It’s just for some of us, saying goodbye is the only way to move forward.

It Isn’t Easy

Sarah Burleton NY Times bestselling author

Victoria Gigante Writes For Psych CentralSarah Burleton was born in a little town in Illinois to a very emotionally disturbed woman. Her first book, her child abuse memoir "Why Me," spent 26 weeks on the New York Times and the print version is endorsed by David Pelzer, author of "A Child Called It." Sarah is now realizing her goal in becoming an ambassador for abused children and adult survivors and is currently conducting workshops and seminars throughout the state. Her message of strength over adversity and her story will help counselors, teachers, and other professionals identify signs of abuse and learn ways to establish trust with an abused child.

2 comments: View Comments / Leave a Comment



APA Reference
, . (2015). It Isn’t Easy. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 15, 2020, from


Last updated: 8 Nov 2015
Statement of review: Psych Central does not review the content that appears in our blog network ( prior to publication. All opinions expressed herein are exclusively those of the author alone, and do not reflect the views of the editorial staff or management of Psych Central. Published on All rights reserved.