Blood may be thicker than water but you can still drown in it

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I will not allow my son to have contact with people who have abused me, my family or my friends.
My rule to anyone looking after my son — my father and grandmother are at the top of this list.


“Yes, in the presence of everyone, including you on Sunday. (sic) I made a deliberate point with his GG-mother that everyone in our family cares for Victor.”
Email to me from my mother justifying shoving my son into my grandmother’s face at a family BBQ on Sunday.


For six months I have had one rule regarding who can be around my son, and under what circumstance. It’s pretty simple, if someone has abused me or my family, they don’t get to be near my son.

It basically comes down to my father, and my grandmother. Both have abused my mother, my brother and myself in horrible ways, and I do not consider them to be part of my family anymore.

My mother has been pushing the boundaries of that rule for months. On Sunday, August 29, she finally broke it in a way that left my girlfriend and I both feeling livid and violated.

For the past week my mother has refused to apologize, or even acknowledge she has done something wrong.

Until my mother apologizes for her behaviour, and agrees to follow the one rule as my girlfriend and I have laid it out, any visits with our son will be supervised by either my girlfriend or myself.

We will not prevent my mother from spending time with our son, but we must know where he is, and who he’s with, and after what happened on Sunday, and the fact my mother refuses to acknowledge she did something wrong, we cannot trust my mother to follow our rule.

The problem, as it always has been in my family, is my mother’s relationship with her longtime abuser, her mother. My mother, at a Sunday family BBQ, and without the approval of either myself or my girlfriend, decided that she would use our son to make a point to her mother regarding something I don’t really even understand.

She sent me an email after I asked for an apology and, as best as I can interpret, she shoved my baby into the face of the one person I told her not to allow to be around my son, because she wanted to make a point to her mother about how loved my son was in the family.

In response her mother, as my son was thrust into her face, screwed up her face in disgust, clamped one hand around his mouth, and pushed him away. My mother didn’t seem to see this, she just turned around, walked back to me and handed me back my son.

In fact, the look on my mother’s face during the entire episode was just truly bizarre. I haven’t been able to adequately describe it even to myself… almost a mix of hate, disgust, pride and a few other things. Like, if she were talking, she’d have my son jammed under her abusers nose and saying “look at this you old bitch, look what I’ve got”. Or something. I haven’t figured it out yet.

Her eyes, however, were focused and unblinking. Her eyes looked, if anything, manic.

It was not a moment, as I said, that my girlfriend and I wanted or expected to happen, under any circumstances.

When we finally got out the door with our son, my girlfriend’s first words were “what the fuck just happened?”.

The incredible betrayal in this is my mother knows about the abuses her mother has done to my brother and I, she knows all about the abusive comments her mother made to me six months ago about my girlfriend, my son, my mother and myself.

My mother agreed to my rule, told me she’d follow it. Told me if there was a family event, and both her mother and my son had to be there, that the family would “shun” (her word) her mother.

My girlfriend and I were only at the BBQ on Sunday because we believed there would be a separation, that her mother would be “shunned”.

And for the two hours we were there, it worked perfectly. Her mother stayed away from my son, no one made any attempts to bring the two together, it was exactly what we hoped it would be. Then my mother lost her fucking mind.

We knew she had lied to us on a few occasions about having our son near her mother. She would constantly ask us if it would be okay:

“I’m going to take Victor and visit with my father.”

“Okay… will your mother be in the room?”

Then she’d roll her eyes and, if she were talking to my girlfriend, she’d say “well, I’ll ask Gabriel”. Or, if it were me, she’d tell me her father is dying, and won’t have a lot of time left to visit with my son. Then tell me a recent anecdote regarding her mother’s oncoming dementia.

The ‘dementia’ thing is something my mother started talking about after my ‘discussion’ with my grandmother, it’s my mother’s way of telling me “the ‘outburst’ wasn’t deliberate, so it’s okay to have your son around my mother.”

So there were times we knew, without being told, that my mother had our son in her mother’s presence. But after we ignored one instance, we’d make our point a little more forcefully the next time my mother asked to go visiting with our son.

My mother has been abused by her mother for sixty years because my mother was conceived before her parents were married. In other words, her parents got married because her mother got knocked up.

As a result of the abuse — some physical, almost entirely manipulative — my mother has been desperate for her mother’s forgiveness for having been born. It’s not an uncommon behaviour for long term victims of abuse.

Just before my mother took my baby and shoved him into her abusers face, she actually passed out bags of crab apples to all of the women present, and in the bag was her mother’s recipe for crab apple jelly. She told everyone in the house how proud she was her mother won an award for the jelly at our local fair, and how much I had loved it when I was younger.

She was standing a few feet away from her abuser — from the woman who abused her, her brother, her two sons and even her father — bragging about her abuser’s crab apple jelly, and then not ten minutes later grabbed my son, and shoved him into the old evil bitch’s face to make a point about how everyone in the family loved my son… and, what?

“Everyone cares about Victor except you”, is that it? Well fuck you, and fuck you. I don’t want her mother to love my son, or even acknowledge my son. She lost that right when she demanded I get a paternity test, told me I should have forced my girlfriend to have an abortion, and told me I was just waiting for my grandfather to die so I could collect an inheritance.

A few years ago my mother almost convinced herself she had been adopted. Her mother took out her will one night, about twenty-five years ago, and made a point of showing my mother that the farm she loved so much was going to her brother. My mother was to only receive $25,000 because, her mother told her right to her face, it was expected that my mother would be a bag lady.

During our little chat her mother told me “don’t make the same mistake I did”, meaning “you should have had an abortion, like I should have”.

And she still believes it to this day… . And still my mother is searching for forgiveness.

I’m bringing this stuff up because I’m just… stunned, outraged, betrayed, confused, pained, because I look at the abuse my mother has suffered through, and have to ask myself why she’s so willing to just take another cut. She’s not going to ever convince her mother of anything.

Her abuser is going to die, soon. And my mother will have never once held her abuser truly accountable. I love my mother. I do not want to hurt her. My hands have been shaking, and there’s a huge hole in me because of what I think I’m doing to her… and also of where I think this situation could go.

My mother cried when I told her about my chat with her mother. That night my mother made promises to me, regarding my son, that she has not kept.

So my girlfriend and I have told her she is allowed to visit with our son whenever she wishes, day or night. We want her to have as much time as she’d like with her grandson, and we’ve never said no to her, and we never will.

But until we receive an apology for what she did at the BBQ, and until she promises to never break our rule again, the visits must include either my girlfriend or myself.

It doesn’t seem difficult, or irrational to me. For Christ’s sake, her mother wants nothing at all to do with my son, so she’s not being inconvenienced at all. So if my girlfriend and I don’t want our son around her mother, her mother doesn’t want our son around her, what the fuck is the problem?

At this point it has been a week since my mother and I have spoken, a week since I’ve asked my mother to apologize, and three days since my girlfriend and I laid out the consequences of not promising to follow our rule.

To date the last contact I’ve had with my parents was a short conversation I had with my step-father where he tried to tell me that, as my son’s grandparents, they “had a right to have Victor around whoever they wanted”.

Bullshit. They don’t get to have my son around my father, or my grandmother. No one who has ever abused my family, or me, gets to be near my son. They. Do. Not. Deserve. Him. Period.




About Gabriel...

...diagnosed with manic depression when I was nineteen, for the next 14-years I lived without treatment or a recovery plan. I've been homeless, one time I graduated college, I've won awards for reporting on Internet privacy issues, and a weekly humour column. In 2002 I finally hit bottom and found help. It's now 2022, and I have an 8-year old son, and a 12-year old son... I’m usually about six feet tall, and I'm pretty sure I screwed up my book deal. I mostly blog at
This entry was posted in Clinical Depression, crazy people with no pants, Depression, Granny, Health, Intervention, Living With Depression, Living With Manic Depression, Manic Depression, Mental Health, Zombies. Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Blood may be thicker than water but you can still drown in it

  1. I know you are doing the right thing in protecting Victor. We had to cut off all ties to my husband’s father and step mother for similar reasons.

  2. NiroZ says:

    Personally in that situation, I’d tell her that she’d betrayed my trust (thus removing any ‘rights’ she had), and so she’d have to win it back. Probably also emphasise that this was about respecting your beliefs regardless of whether she thought they were right or not, because that’s the only perspective you’ve got.

  3. schpaksie says:

    It’s your house, so it’s your rules. I don’t see why some people find it so hard to grasp this concept. In the same vein, it’s your son, so you set the rules.

    Keep on playing hardball with your mother, she may not understand, but you’ll feel a lot more comfortable. Don’t back down from your position, ever. Not only will it just feed nervousness, you also run the risk of having her do something rash, whether she means it or not.

  4. Gabriel... says:

    Thanks for your comments. If you ever see a place where you believe I’m being irrational, or have gone too far, please point it out.

    I spoke to my parents yesterday (Sunday) afternoon. We yelled at each other for roughly an hour. I’m honestly not sure if we’re still a family at this point. My step-father said some incredibly stupid things. He kept insinuating that I had accused my mother of abusing my child. He did that four or five times before I finally turned to him and told him in a very scary voice to “shut the fuck up with that bullshit, you keep insinuating and hinting that I’m accusing my own mother of abusing my child, and you will not do it anymore”.

    At another point I made the point that my grandmother’s abuse to me and my family has been almost as great as the abuse from my biological father, so would my parents hand my child to him if I left them unattended. My step-father instantly said “yes, of course”. My jaw just dropped, I could barely breathe at that point.

    My mother promised to “do her best” in the future, which was barely what my girlfriend and I were asking. She also refused to apologize which is something for which my girlfriend will not negotiate. So I don’t know where we stand.

    I tried to make them understand that I’m the Good Cop in this situation. My girlfriend is prepared to cut off contact all together — I’ve managed to calm her down, but she’s made it very clear to me as recently as last night that she doesn’t trust my mother with our son.

    Right now, after the things that were said to me by my mother, but especially by my step-father, I do not feel comfortable being around my parents at all. And I do not believe for one second that I’ll ever get an apology for those things they said.

    Anyway… I’m in the process of writing the next post.

  5. Rhiannon says:

    What a mess.

    I think your reaction and the boundary you set up here is reasonable.

  6. Bromac says:

    Ugh. She’s using Victor to try to win her mother’s approval or to try to prove something to her mother. I don’t know which. It certainly seems tied into the fact that your grandmother is dying and your mother has obviously not resolved her issues with your grandmother. She’s, in some backward ass way, using Victor to accomplish this goal.

    And I’m in no way saying your mom is doing this consciously or intentionally. She has an abused mentality and has never dealt with that.

    But your number one job is to protect Victor. You’re absolutely doing the right thing. One, your desires/rules as a parent must be respected. Two, you can not allow anyone to use your son for their own gain, knowingly or not.

    Hang in there.

  7. Gabriel... says:

    My psychiatrist and I talked about the possibility — with my mother’s mother dying (eventually), and those issues of abuse being unresolved — my mother might start to see me as the abuser… or at least a need to be seen as a victim of something I’ve done. Right now she is willing and prepared to sit in her home and never have contact with her grandson again, because we want an apology, and a promise what she did won’t happen again.

    Her rationale, and the one my step-father kept repeating during our meeting, is that “families don’t have to make promises to family, and family means never having to say you’re sorry”.

    …and on it goes.

  8. Finola says:

    I agree with you and the others here that your mother betrayed your trust. You and your girlfriend make the rules regarding your child and your mother should understand that she needs to respect those rules. What a difficult situation you have going on and it must be so hard. You are doing such a great job keeping focused on Victor’s well-being throughout it all.

  9. Addie says:

    You are doing the right thing – you have not gone too far in any way. She may not be able to apologize – she just may not be able. You may need to come to terms with that, stop wishing it of her, and simply see it as a function of what has happened to her over her life. But that doesn’t mean you back down – it just means she doesn’t get to see your son alone, and that becomes the new normal. As for your stepfather, I just don’t know…

  10. Bromac says:

    Bullshit, in my humble opinion. Family are the ones you should most expect an apology from. AND the ones whom you should expect to keep promises.

  11. Karen says:

    You’re entirely right. You have to keep your son safe and happy above ALL ELSE.
    Love, hugs and thoughts to all three of you xxx

  12. Pingback: We celebrate the abusers in our family with smiles and cake | …salted lithium.

  13. Pingback: The inevitability of my grandmothers abuse and the apology we owe her for receiving it | …salted lithium.

  14. Pingback: Friday Conversations With My Psychiatrist | Reexamining the causes for exile | …salted lithium.

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