My mom has been in an emotionally abusive relationship with my father for many years. She recently separated from him, moved into a new house and has grown into her sense of self. It's been incredible to watch her grow, but there's still so much depression, loneliness and hopelessness in her. I want to be there for her and help her, but there's only so much I can do. She needs friends. She needs a reason to leave her house. I'd like advice on what I can do to help a woman in her 50s find self worth. I'm also searching for suggestions of activities she could do in Athens, or if there are support groups where she could make friends. Thanks!
Forever a Mama's Girl
I'm very happy to know that your mother found the strength to leave and is now living her life on her terms. Leaving is one thing, but getting your life back together can be a whole 'nother struggle. With the shock of such an intense change in the face of a lifetime of emotional abuse, I imagine there's plenty of self-doubt and anxiety swirling around in her head. She's lucky to have a super-supportive daughter like you, but cultivating a network of support and friendship will help her out even more.
I wanna start by recommending Project Safe as a starting point for finding support from women with her unique experience. They can put her in contact with abuse-survivor support groups and provide access to other therapeutic interventions that can help her heal and get back to herself. Their 24-hour crisis hotline is 706-543-3331. There are lots of free and reduced-cost therapy options in Athens, as I always mention, and they're located all over the city for ease of access.
My mom is in her late 60s, and she also recently sorta “got her groove back,” in a way. She realized that she was retired and all of her kids were adults, so why not do what she wants? For example, my mom got some seriously HUGE frames for her glasses—like, Carrie Donovan huge. She wears crazy culottes now and shows her arms, which she always complained about when I was growing up. She drinks less, because she feels her mortality nowadays, but she won't turn down a sip of moonshine. She exercises for joy of movement and its meditative benefits, not just to keep her body in an acceptable shape. She travels with her sisters. She buys Usher albums. It's amazing to see her this happy and vibrant, especially when I think back on times when she certainly was not.
To your mom: Get out there and let your freak flag fly. Do what you want, and joy will find you. Athens is a great place to get older, and it's crawling with active and jubilant mature types like you. Specifically, I'd like to recommend yoga.
As we get older, our bodies cooperate less with the lives we want to live, and I believe staying limber and active is key to longevity. The physical and mental benefits of a regular yoga practice are indisputable, but within our local yoga community is a scene that is mature in age and lifestyle, and I know they'd welcome you with open arms. Rubber Soul Yoga Revolution, in the Leathers Building at the tracks on Pulaski Street, is a donation-based studio that offers gentle yoga for beginners. Urban Santosha Yoga Studio, on Nantahala Avenue, offers classes to address stiffness, arthritic pain or back problems. Also, I can’t resist mentioning that both of these fine establishments are run by silver foxes just like you, Mom.
Health benefits aside, I think pursuing a yoga practice or some other wellness endeavor will put your mama in touch with people who are also trying to live better and stay connected as they make their way through life.