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Estranged Toxic Mother and the Family Fallout

(137 Posts)
OPGangnamStyle Thu 14-Feb-13 02:10:04

Hi, Wise Ones!

I would really value some input on my situation please. I am actually in a really good place, but would like some insight re my brother's behaviour. I also think I just need to get it all out.

This is going to be looooooong.
I shall try and be as succinct as possible, whilst imparting what I think is relevant information.

Background.
My father left the family home when I was 12, and my brothers were 10 and 7. My mother raised us as a single parent, my father barely saw us, and when I reached adulthood, I officially cut ties with him as I felt he wasn't that bothered about any of us. Haven't seen or heard from him since I was 21. I am now nearly 40.
My mother did her best, struggled financially. I know she had a lot on her plate, and no help. All of her siblings live on the other side of the planet, and her parents were dead before I was born. The only tangible family I had were her and my two brothers.
She has always been opinionated, bossy, critical, grade A never enough; why didn't you get A+, her way or the highway, stubborn, strict, overbearing. I don't think she managed well when we hit adulthood and had our own opinions.
We all muddled along ok for the next 20 years, didn't all see loads of each other (her, my brothers, me): this seemed to suit us all, as we all lead independent lives, and I don't think we have much in common.

More recent times!
I get married, we have a son, born autumn 2010 (first and currently only grandchild). Straight away the opinions come in, I should do this, do that, that's not how it's done. We used to do this in the seventies, times have changed, mother, I tell her that current research supports this or that, HV is happy with newborn and development etc, he is thriving, happy, thanks for your opinion, please feel free to offer me advice once, but if we (husband and I) say we are doing it another way, you drop it. We aren't going to change our minds just because you go on and on about it. You don't have any say in how he is raised. But she couldn't ever stop, and I felt undermined, belittled, nagged, stressed. When our son was 13 months old, I felt he was really starting to understand that I was being undermined, criticised, and I didn't feel this was a healthy environment for any of us, so I said more firmly to her, that she had to stop. She said no, she could say what she liked, regardless of my feelings (if you recognise this, yes, I did post about it on here at the time, and was told by most of the people replying that she was toxic and I was being reasonable to distance myself: indeed, I should, for the benefit of my child). I was so stressed, her visits sapped my joy and my strength, and I'd had enough. She stopped visiting, yippee.
A few months later, my husband got a new job and we moved a 90min flight away. I feel relieved. I feel like a weight has been lifted.

A poster on my original thread warned me to watch out for the family fallout. Well, here it is. My brothers have only recently been made fully aware of the situation.

Autumn 2012, six months after we moved away, my brother sends a group email to me, my mother and other brother. Just general chat, nothing great. I reply to both brothers, cutting my mother out of the CC field, as I do not correspond with her any more. My brother demands that I reply all in future, and I say no, his mother and I aren't speaking. Both brothers push to know why. I don't feel it is fair to colour their judgement of my mother, so say it is between her and me. They get some info from her, obviously, so I give my version, pretty much as spelled out above. They don't get it at all, and tell me I must let her into my life, she should be able to say whatever she wants, she is our mother. I say no, I don't need the stress, thanks, and I am very happy with how things are.
My younger brother emails me to tell me he thinks I am pathetic and cruel, that when he has children he'd love our mother's input oh how I chortled at that and blocks me on Fb. I don't see why he felt the need to take sides, our relationships are separate, in my mind.

Xmas 2012 my eldest brother sends my husband the following email. I will change the names to protect our identities, and rather than DS, DB, DH etc, I'll give us names as with it being from my brother, I think it will get confusing.

I will be Opal (OP for short!).
My husband is Harry.
My son is Stan.
My friend is Felicity.
Eldest bro is Brian.

I'll do it in the next post, as this is already long, and I think it will make it clearer. I would like some insight please into what my brother is on, basically! I don't feel any great need to respond to him (the email was to my husband, he didn't reply). I feel he does not enhance my life, and is no great loss. In the 18 months of my son's life, before we moved further away with my husband's job, when we lived a 30 minute drive from this brother, we saw him maybe three times. So, really, no great loss.
My younger brother was CCed in on the email to my husband, replied all just basically saying he agreed with the other brother.

Today I get an email from him, CCed to other brother and mother, all breezy, hi, how's everyone, just checking in! Like nothing had happened, and he wants a reply, despite sending that email at Xmas to my husband. I think I should just ignore him, draw a line under my family, and focus on my lovely husband and son. Or should I reply?

Thanks so much if you have read to the end!!! Ach, it was good to get it out anyway.

HotDAMNlifeisgood Thu 14-Feb-13 12:59:47

Shame and embarrassment are what narcissistic people fear above all else, Oogla.

pluCaChange Thu 14-Feb-13 13:41:24

Don't reply. He was posturing with that email: it could never have convinced a normal person, because he was more concerned with aggrandising himself and belittling you (notably before getting to the point) than his points. It wasn't, therefore, an argument (to persuade), but a rant.

As to the other intended audience of his email, do you think he could have bcc'd your mother, to prove "what he was doing" (it doesn't sound as though she's self aware enough to realise he was alienating you more than ever and diminishing his perspective in the eyes of everyone who read it).

I think she (mother) will see it at some point, or else there would be no point putting such an incriminating document in your hands.

Sounds as though he's scared and lost, and wants desperately to be pivotal... and it's a bit of a shame for him that he's just made himself into a jackass.

weegiemum Thu 14-Feb-13 13:49:49

OP, this is very reminiscent to me of the emails I and my dh received from my sister and my mother's husband (I do not dignify him with the title of stepfather, though he's been with my mum for almost 30 years) after I cut my toxic mother out.

All the "you were wrong", "you're evil", "you don't understaaaaaand!" and how I was "killing" her by not letting her see her grandchildren.

Well it was her who left dh and my oldest 2 in the lurch when I was air ambulanced out to a big hospital with dd2. It was her who told me not to bf, who criticised me for even letting my dh make folk a cup of tea (I'm not a step ford wife but she is). 2 years after I cut her off my Gran died (I'm so glad I was able to retain contact with Gran until then) and my own mother "blanked" me at the funeral.

I'm convinced her husband is a narcissist and she is his enabled.

Background: my mother left us unannounced the day after mothers day when I was 12, to live with my Dad's best friend, with whom she'd had a 3 year affair.

We got numerous emails and letters from my mother, sister, mothers husband. They stalked me online, threatening a website I posted on at the time with legal action to read my posts. They probably still do but I don't care anymore! I'm convinced she reported me to SS, it was an anonymous call (no problems found).

My only regret is for my wonderful Dad. His 2 daughters don't speak (through her choice, not mine) and so family gatherings are awkward.

Sorry to go on .....

Ignore, is my advice. He had no right to lecture your husband. He's playing big brother but you're all adults, so no one has that right! Look after your own wee family and sod them all!!

Whocansay Thu 14-Feb-13 13:51:38

I'd ignore the lot of them. They don't want to bring anything positive to your life, they just want to control you. They have no respect for your wishes or your boundaries, so I'd treat them with the contempt they deserve and block them.

Sailormercury Thu 14-Feb-13 13:55:14

I think you shouldn't respond to them in any way shape or form.

OPGangnamStyle Thu 14-Feb-13 14:07:23

Thank you all so very very much for all your replies, I appreciate them, they mean a lot, and I am feeling better. It is good for me to offload here, I feel better for talking.

A quick couple of answers, sorry for not namechecking.
No, I don't think he is likely to have children any time soon, last I knew, he was not in a relationship, but that could well have changed. I would love to know how he feels when he does have children, when he realises unwanted opinions are a drain on your emotions, and that his mother has no place dictating how he raises his child. I'd love to see a DIL stand for it! Though likely my mother would not be as bad to a DIL as she is to her own daughter. I mean, she doesn't say all her drivel to my husband, directly. And, there is a chance she will be slightly more restrained in her behaviour with future GC, seeing as how she has alienated herself from my DC.

No, none of us really saw that much of each other, we lead quite separate lives. Though my mother would love for everyone to think we were the closest family ever, that is the impression she will give.

Smellslikecatspee Thu 14-Feb-13 14:22:17

17 years ago I would have ripped 50 shades of shit out of him. And got legal advice on his threats to slander me.

However after 17 long long years of dealing with OHs toxic family I as have many others on this thread realised that toxic people like this don't care if the attention is good or bad its the attention they want/need, and the best thing you can do for you is ignore ignore ignore.

There is the added benefit that this will drive them up the wall. . . grin
'How very dare you not dance to their tune.
Don't you know how important I am?? Don't you?
Look at me have my tantrum, waaahhh waaahhh!'

I will say that 17 years ago I too would have though really how bad can she be, this is all a bit over the top isn't it?
Having been through it with OH's family, I know how depressing and demoralising it can all be, and how hard it can be for someone who hasn't been through to to understand.

We haven't gone no contact for many reasons, and when we do have to see the main stirrers I just smile and nod. They know by now that I will walk away if they start, and that OH will back me up to the hilt.

OP you and your DH just carry on as you are, remember you're doing the best for your DS keeping this toxicity away from him.

And I would guess that his more recent email is to check that your email is working. He seems to have assumed that your DH has either put you in your place!!! Or just not told you.

OPGangnamStyle Thu 14-Feb-13 14:32:51

catpee, thanks, you have put into words many of my thoughts. 'Nod and smile' is something I said I did on my previous post last year, and I did, I would usually nod and smile at my mother's nonsense, let it go over my head, and keep the peace. But now my child is here, I can't let him see me undermined all the time, nagged, criticised. This is just not the example of a healthy set of relationships I want him to grow up around. Sure, he needs to see people have different opinions and can still get along, and sure, I can even be wrong, but it was so constant, so wearing, so demoralising, so draining, so stressful. The stress was a big one, it felt so unhealthy for me.

So I do think people saying to cut ties is too much, just don't understand what it's like to be on the receiving end of it. I was used to her nagging, and her crazy ideas and wanting things her way, but I just realised I didn't want that for my child.

I wonder if DH will get another email! I mean, my bro is a man of action, apparently, and when I don't reply, what will his course of action be!

LtEve, your email especially made me chuckle. Yes, I am writing this from the asylum.

OPGangnamStyle Thu 14-Feb-13 14:42:22

monsterchild, your oily comment also made me smile. grin

oldwomaninashoe Thu 14-Feb-13 14:48:16

I would just send a short email in response,
"thank you for your recent email, the contents of which, are noted"

LtEveDallas Thu 14-Feb-13 14:55:27

LtEve, your email especially made me chuckle

That was my aim grin. I know you must be feeling hurt by all this, but for your own sake, and for that of your family I really think the best thing you could do would be to ignore it, let it go over your head and laugh at the pompous arse and his followers.

Now you aren't falling for it, now you aren't being the scapegoat for all the family ills, he may find that the attention is aimed at him...and won't that be a kick in the teeth.

OPGangnamStyle Thu 14-Feb-13 15:32:29

Thanks, LtEve, it was amusing! smile

I think completely ignoring the email is the best thing too.

Fluffycloudland77 Thu 14-Feb-13 16:02:02

Just ignore it, it bothers them more because when you engage it gives them something to analyse and pick over.

I get Christmas cards and birthday cards off my parents, I ignore them. My mum likes to buy cards with hidden meaning so if I sent one back it would be examined for subtexts.

I'd change email addresses and mobile numbers too but that's just me.

Smellslikecatspee Thu 14-Feb-13 16:15:28

Hi again, I wasn't clear in what I was saying which I realise when I re-read.

Its fine for me to smile and nod because it really doesn't get to me any more. But I am an adult, with good support, we don't have children and I have made it clear that if we ever do they will not come within a million miles of these gits.

I wouldn't want a child to see anyone been treated in that way and as you say it is not the example of a healthy set of relationship, and you as his parents have the full and total right to make that choice.

I think 90% of why it doesn't get to me is that I grew up in a reasonably healthy family, so I know that they are wrong (if that makes sense) and exposure to my family has helped OH see how toxic they are. And by not exposing your son to it you will be giving him that same sense of self belief.

As I said we haven't gone non contact and the main reason is to keep in touch with the DN's, and show them that you can disagree with someone and still not only speak to them like a human but its totally fine for couples to have different opinions.
That it is not acceptable to over-ride others feelings and expect them to accept it.
That women should and will be respected as people in their own right and they have a voice and a mind and an opinion (big cultural clash).
That disagreeing with your husband/ father does not give a man the right to hit/kick/beat/ throw his wife/child out of the house etc.

Once all the DNs get to an age where they can maintain a relationship with us or not as they choose we plan to go no contact.

OPGangnamStyle Thu 14-Feb-13 17:15:57

Thanks, catpee, it's ok, I did see your first post as positive. smile

I hope your DNs are ok.

OPGangnamStyle Thu 14-Feb-13 17:17:30

Thanks, catpee, it's ok, I did see your first post as positive. smile

I hope your DNs are ok.

OPGangnamStyle Thu 14-Feb-13 19:19:31

plu, he could well have BCCed his email on to our mother. I would not put it past him, but I have no way of knowing, at this stage anyway.

He may well be scared. He used to disappear every single Christmas, as soon as he was independently mobile, to his best friend's house, which was always warmer and more fun than ours, I imagine. I am talking like from the age of 13 or so, he would escape our small dull Xmas to see his friend with his respective family. I imagine now that friend is married, with a new baby, he isn't as welcome, so he is stuck back with his mother, brother and sister. Obviously I'm out of the picture now, and last xmas, younger bro buggered off to Asia with his new gf, so letter-writing bro was stuck at mothers with just her.

KeepCoolCalmAndCollected Thu 14-Feb-13 19:33:51

Regarding x-mas email - I see this as your brother venting an enormous amount of hatred on to you. Is he very jealous of you? TBH he sounds a bit unbalanced and very embittered for such a young man.

Re: today's email. If you decide that you do want to retain contact with your family, you could always carry on as normal and pretend your internet was down over x-mas etc.

However, if you can't see a way forward from his disgusting behaviour (and I for one don't know if I could), then I would not engage at all. But you must be very certain about this course of action.

Good Luck!

JuliaSqueezer Thu 14-Feb-13 19:45:37

Your brother might be correct, you might be the naughty one for not bowing down to his/ your mother's wishes, you could very well be the black sheep of the family and to blame for every single argument that ever existed...but even if all that was true it doesn't mean that you have to justify yourself or your behaviour to them. You are an adult and as such should have the right to contact/ not contact whoever you want. Your choice, not theirs.

pluCaChange Thu 14-Feb-13 19:50:26

He's definitelt trapped, then... So no "sense" out of him fir ages.

Unless you think he might be disarmed by a sympatheric response to him about the pressure he must feel under, to compose such a shitty email and defend her? If you do do this, take great, great care not to sound patronising, as that's how he alienated you, in his agenda-driven, insincere message.

LineRunner Thu 14-Feb-13 19:56:51

Yeah, I think your brother did this to get your mother off his back.

Ignore them.

He is trying to make himself feel better by shoving you around. I would be prepared to bet that he had you earmarked as the person who would care your mum in her old age and is now scared he might have to do it.

I stopped contact with my parents a couple of years ago. Eventually my brother phoned my dh and ranted at him in similar fashion. He also said there was no point in talking to me because I'm too pigheaded and unreasonable etc etc - all the characteristics that my parents decided I had when I was a baby and have stuck on me ever since. Dh listened for a long time, going "mmm" and "I don't have anything to say to that" and generally not reacting at all, and eventually my brother ran out of steam - and dh said "bye". Haven't heard from bro since.

I also wondered whether cutting contact was over the top - but it is so wonderful, like a ton of bricks has been lifted. And the more I'm away from them, the more I realise that it is better for my children not to have a relationship with my parents. I'm not denying my children something, I'm giving them something.

I have an email filter set up to delete all emails from my ex-family that don't contain the word "sorry" grin. They don't phone. They send cards but they go straight in the bin - if they have a dramatic change of heart they won't tell me about in a birthday card to my children.

Are your mum and brother focusing on the fact that they don't get to see your son (who is a piece of property that they have rights to)? Or have either of them said " you are a wonderful lovely person and we love you so much and we miss you?"

OPGangnamStyle Thu 14-Feb-13 20:14:06

Cool, there are things he could be jealous of, but he chose his lifestyle and scoffed at mine. So whilst possibly jealous, he probably also thinks I am a dork, and dull. I scrimped and saved in my mid-20s to get a deposit for a house, saw my mortgage costs reduce and reduce as I chipped away at it, whereas he is still renting at 36, and has debts, whereas I have none. I'm a save for a rainy day type, he's a spend while you're young type (as is my other brother). So whilst I still went out and had fun, I'd go to parties and not drink, I'd mostly do dinner parties with friends rather than fancy restaurants, I'd happily trawl through TKMaxx for clothes, I didn't get a car, they both would drink loads, dine out loads and get takeaways, buy designer clothes at swanky shops, and buy fancy cars. Both of them went to private school (on scholarships due to mother's single low income) so had pressure to keep up with all the rich boys, I think. I've never cared how I compare financially to anyone else.
And I have a wonderful spouse, and a delightful child, so I expect he is jealous of that.

plu, I don't feel it's really worth fixing anything after that utterly despicable, vile obnoxious email to my husband, going behind my back, just abhorrent.

Julia, you are so right.

Ignore. Ignore, ignore, ignore! Nothing will bother them more than a complete lack of response.

He's an absolute twat. Who writes like that?!

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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