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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.

OPGangnamStyle Fri 10-May-13 17:44:13

Hi, three. Sorry you have gone through this too. Hugs to you, flowers.
I hope you feel at peace. I do. I feel sorry for my mother, sorry she is missing out on such a joyful time, missing out on seeing my little boy grow up. But I feel SO much better for not being criticised and nagged, and happy I am saving my child from the same. And really, the other members of the family, well, no great loss if that's how they behave. Wishing you very well, it's hard, but evidently not that uncommon.

threedeepbreathscounttoten Thu 09-May-13 20:55:07

Hi. I don't usually log into chatboards and such, but I just had to say thank you for this conversation. I chose to stop contact with my entire family, extended as well, because of my toxic mother. All the fallout of dealing with extended family siding with my manipulative mother and siblings was just too much. I have questioned a lot over the last five years if that was necessary and your experiences tell me it indeed was. I did have similar experiences with my brother and my uncle contacting my husband at his workplace during the first year. My alcoholic brother even went so far as to leave a message that my grandmother was dying and I would not contact them with my husband's co-workers in attempt to emotionally assault me and my family. My mother had my address, cell number, email address and clear instructions that I only wanted letters from her at this point as I needed time to prepare how I responded to her consistently harmful comments. In fact the only letter she ever sent, after uncle was told she had this pathway to me - she had told him otherwise, was essentially a great big "I don't know what your problem is and I'm sorry you feel that way." I think she would implode if she didn't have the illusion she's manipulating the opinion of extended family against me, and some of them are stupid enough to fall for it and, often inadvertently, will carry out her emotional abuse for her. It's easier and emotionally safer to stay away from the whole mess. My sister is a teacher and has looked up where my child is in the school system which is illegal but can easily be done "accidentally". She made sure I knew this shortly before I put my foot down. I am not certain if she has unofficially contacted the staff, but would not put it past her. She is just as abusive as mother, maybe more so with my mother's sister influencing her. That one is just evil. Geez I could go on, but this is way longer than I intended. I just was so relieved to see how many others here had gone through such similar experiences. Even the negative comments clearly illustrate how utterly stupid some people are about how harmful the actions of toxic family are, and how they further the abuse by attempting to slam the victims around. Reading this conversation has helped me so much, thank you for sharing.

tallpoppies Mon 18-Mar-13 15:14:49

Mummywithnosleep
I have reported your thread as you have mentioned your dh's name and you stated you didn't want to go into detail as mil might see! My apologies if you wanted his name to be in the message x

OPGangnamStyle Sun 17-Mar-13 23:24:33

Thanks, Miggsie, I feel well-surrounded by nice friendly people who enhance my life.
Waffly (love your name!), quite! Well, he's not a psychologist at all, certainly not one with qualifications anyway.

cuil, this was done at a time when things were civil. My mother has long tried to give back gifts my bros and I have given her, she is a big fan of not wasting money, and if she isn't going to use something, she'd rather it went to someone who would use it. I absolutely appreciate it's not the done thing elsewhere, but within my family, there was never any malice behind it, just honesty. Also, it is not as if I returned every gift she gave my son, only the really useless ones like winter clothes given in summer, and vice versa, when by the time the right season comes around wouldn't have fitted my baby. Oh, and the baby shoes, when I had specifically said I wouldn't be bothering with shoes until he was walking. Actually, that specific instance was antagonistic of HER, as I had actually said I thought shoes on babies were not a good idea as I'd read it was best for baby feet development to be barefoot for as long as possible, and that that's what we would be doing with DS. It was like she thought she knew best, and would overule our decisions. There's another example of when we'd said we specifically didn't want a particular baby item, and she turned up with one anyway.
At this stage, things were ok between us, and I thought it was prudent to nip it in the bud, save her wasting any more money on things we wouldn't use. She even used to say she's kept the recipts, so that tells me she is happy to have items returned if they are not suitable.

cuillereasoupe Sun 17-Mar-13 21:39:19

I agree with the few people upthread who've questioned your sending gifts back. That seems unnecessarily antagonistic to me, especially if you don't do it with anyone else, and if you can't see that (as you've indicated is the case), then I'm afraid I do wonder how reliable your account of your relationship with your mother is.

WafflyVersatile Sun 17-Mar-13 19:18:11

The brother is not a very good psychologist is he? He's not much of a salesman either.

I'll go read the rest now. blush

Miggsie Sun 17-Mar-13 18:52:54

Ignore the email - going behind your back and using someone near you to put pressure on is classic tactics by bullies.

Ignore all missives from all of them - they are mad and twisted and you can now spend time looking for people who actually like you.

OPGangnamStyle Sun 17-Mar-13 18:46:35

*mighty MNer...

OPGangnamStyle Sun 17-Mar-13 18:15:16

Thank you everyone for your input.

Hello again, Bertha. My father actually does look like Mr.Dursley!!! But my brother is wiry rather than robust.
I can already scoff at his crazy emails, scoff and pity him. They don't really get to me, as I know I am doing the right thing for my child and family (DH, DS, me), and that my brother is quite clueless about it all. Though he absolutely does know what our mother is like, the nagging and criticism, he's been on the receiving end of it plenty. I hope if he has his own children, he will protect them. Or his partner will!
I am not sure I need to show RL friends his emails. I do feel pity for him, and don't wish to embarrass him. Plus, I have always kept personal things private. Well, apart from on here!

LittleBairn, he means the non-confrontational email he sent me, the bright and breezy one, all innocent, as if he'd never sent that disgusting one to my husband only weeks previously. Crazy fool, like I wasn't going to be aware of that other email. I am glad you feel better for cutting out your family. Relief, like you said, that is how I feel. Far more relief/freeing/lightness, rather than sadness and anger. I mean, it is sad I don't have any siblings that I have a relationship with, but hey, we can't choose our family.

whocansay, thanks. Well, if I do hear back from anyone else that he's been slating me, maybe I'll show them this thread!

Ha, Hissy, quite! Never get of the wrong side of a might MNer! smile

I know, arithmeticulous! Luckily, my husband utterly adores and supports me.

kali, I don't blame you for not reading it all! smile It is rather long! But thank you for your vote for no contact.

Hi again, Attila. You were on my first thread about my mother, a year ago, and I appreciate your wise words again! And knowing there is yet another letter-writing crazy out there!!! Where do they all come from?!
I have read the list re identifying a narc mother. I am not sure mine fits, but it's difficult to know certain criteria well enough.

mummynosleep, oh my! Your MIL is awful! I think you have a clear case for getting a restraining order in her! Or can you emigrate?

WinkyWinkola Sun 17-Mar-13 17:36:51

Holy cow mummynosleep. I think I would have had a nervous breakdown if my mil did what yours has and is.

I think you've collected plenty of evidence to take to the police. This is harassment and even stalking.

You need to stop the woman from doing more evil stuff.

I'm staggered.

LittleBairn Sun 17-Mar-13 15:30:37

Bloody hell mummynosleep have you considered taking legal action against her that's clearly harassment? At the very least I would move and cut contact with everyone she knew, she sounds unhinged.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Have received similar crap directed to my salt of the earth DH from his mad as a box of cut snakes narc of a brother.

Ignore, do not get pulled in. They don't like it because you are no longer playing their mind games. Brian is also a narcissist to my mind, he is Mothers current favourite.

Would also suggest you read "Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers".

kalidanger Sun 17-Mar-13 11:50:24

OP, I read page 1 then skipped to this page and agree with everyone saying 'ignore!' Especially arthritic he'll be so bemused you aren't falling into line.

Some thanks for you, for your troubles and your sense of humour grin

Arithmeticulous Sun 17-Mar-13 11:32:12

No answer, no acknowledgement will leave your brother really perplexed. After all, he is clearly right. How come your husband cant see it? Surely he can't agree with you, his wife... no, no that just won't do

Hissy Sun 17-Mar-13 09:35:25

H is no in a no-win, especially if he actually replies to the prick.

If he replies to placate, he sides against his (mumsnetting) wife. Never a good idea.

If he replies to tell the twat to FTFO, it'll be a reply that is hawked around the entire family to show what a rotter and meanie he is, and how Gangnam is a total bitch, and has him under her thumb.

So the only answer, as far as I can see, really is NO answer.

That in itself, by being put in that position in the first place isn't ideal either as he's still been involved.

Whocansay Sun 17-Mar-13 09:22:24

I don't think it needs saying now, but I'm another one for ignoring it. What a totally pompous moron he is. He has zero self awareness. Cut them all out.

I love the threat about blackening your name! If he does start slagging you off to general acquaintance, start forwarding his lovely emails to people. And point out that they were sent to your husband. They're all the defence you'll ever need.

I'm sorry your share genes with such a twat. flowers

LittleBairn Sun 17-Mar-13 09:09:48

non confrontational email wtf is he out of his mind, that was one of the most confrontational meals I've ever read! I plying you have mental health problems, are a disgrace and embarrassment and a bad mother.

Personally my vote is for No reply, it will drive him absolutely mad. grin

I cut a large portion of my family out for toxic behaviour, is been 5 years, it has been the best decision I ever made the relief is immense.
Personally of you are happy to cut them out permantly then you need to make the decision, draw a line under it all and move on.
Change phone numbers, emails addresses and block on Facebook.

If I didn't know better I'd think that was written by a rather immature 12 year old in a strop. Although I'm also imagining a fat purple-faced middle-aged Victorian with dented pride and a frustrated power-complex. You know in books when they say someone is "apoplectic"? Or maybe Mr Dursley. Does your brother look like Mr Dursley? grin

Definitely ignore. Any reply at all will just fuel the next ridiculous attack. Ignoring him will send the best message - i.e. 'you are not worth a second of our time'.

I wouldn't worry about him "blackening your name". Let him get on with that - give em enough rope! Anyone worth knowing will listen to him and think "what an idiot, poor Opal".

Would your husband be willing to block emails from him too? I really don't think you need periodic emails from your brother. Not until you're able to look at them and laugh.

Have you got some good real-life friends you could show the emails to, btw? Because their reaction will be shock/horror/outrage for you/helpless laughter at him, and I think it might really help you to see that.

I do think you should print out and keep all the emails though, just in case they're ever useful in the future - when family members are ever denying that things were said.

OPGangnamStyle Sun 17-Mar-13 02:31:38

Sergeant, that's so true, about slagging me off to my husband. So out of order. And to put my husband in the position he did.
I will enjoy my lovely husband and beautiful little boy. Thank you!

SergeantSnarky Sun 17-Mar-13 02:23:38

Another vote for ignore

Opposite of love is indifference and that has more of an effect on people than any kind of reaction your side.

He sounds like an attention-seeking control freak and it remains audacious how he slags you off to your own husband.

So just ignore entirely - as he says himself if he hears nothing that will indeed answer his question (controlfreakery)

Enjoy your husband and kids.

OPGangnamStyle Sun 17-Mar-13 02:10:50

grin grin grin

KeatsiePie Sun 17-Mar-13 02:09:16

I really do love the threat thing. It's like "Now Harry, of COURSE I'm not going to go out of my WAY to tell anyone that Opal is a psychotic bitch, but if they happen to ask how our relationship is ... or ask how she's doing ... or ask how I'm doing ... or mention my mother ... or mention their own sister or mother or anyone else's sister or mother ... or even look like they might be thinking of their sister or mother ... or if a woman who looks like a sister or mother walks by while we're talking ... well, in THAT case my back would be against the wall and I would HAVE to tell them EVERYTHING."

OPGangnamStyle Sun 17-Mar-13 01:53:56

Thank you, DavidT and Keatsie. Ok, it's looking like an overwhelming ignore ignore ignore vote. Apart from your last line KP, about looking us up if he's ever over our way! Er, no thanks!
It does sound like a threat, like he's lining up all our mutual friends and will tell them 'the truth'. And oh, how grateful I am he's not now going to blacken my name after all! His first email said he'd ring up my friend and our cousins and tell them all about how horrible I am bring to our mother. Hm, wonder what happened to that!

OPGangnamStyle Sun 17-Mar-13 01:45:27

Thank you, Eldritch and LineRunner.
Very good memory to remember my first thread, *Eldritch'!
I will have a bit of a think about the projection idea (but not give him/it too much of my precious time and headspace). I am just baffled he's gone so apoplectic with rage, when he knows exactly what our mother is like. I'm also shock that he thinks I blocked him from my Fb 'for no reason'. Is he so dim as to think that I wouldn't see that first email to my husband, and work out that possibly this was my reason for blocking him? Does he think that obnoxious email would warrant no repercussions? I think he's a bit emotionally stunted. Or something.

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