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Very difficult mother is sick just as I was withdrawing contact. WWYD?

(55 Posts)
HugeSigh Mon 11-Mar-13 11:32:10

My mum is difficult, well, Toxic really.

Recently I had decided for my own sanity to withdraw contact with her and kep it to a very bare minimum.

About a week later she was sent to hospital with pneumonia. I visited her the day after she was admitted and even laying there with an oxygen mask on she lied and manipulated and pushed for her usual game playing and it made me realise she'd never be happy. It doesn't matter what level of sympathy or support we give her she will still push for more - it'll never be enough.

I don't have the energy to deal with it any more. I kept my distance despite her being ill because I had good updates and knew she was getting better.

3 weeks later and she was asked for a scan yesterday as they were concerned about some other test results according to my brother.

I was kind of talked into going over because of mothers day and because I've not really explained to her I wanted this space I felt I should go and be civil.

My brother took her for the scan and she is now saying she has a tumour. She's saying it's in her chest cavity and wrapped around some valve or vein connected to her heart.

Apparently she left the room after the scan and was very very upset and shaken and the nurse was comforting her. My brother said by the state of her he fully believes they told her something was found and I'm inclined to agree. She is apparently getting a biopsy today of tomorrow.

My problem is that over the course of a few hours she went from having a tumour and needing a biopsy to having a fist sized mass with long reaching 'feelers; wrapping around her heart and needing surgery this week etc

It's exhausting. She obviously has great reason to be scared but why do this? Why try and make it into an even bigger problem then it is? We were all sat with her, she was being given plenty of attention but it still wasn't enough.

I don't know what to do. I had to keep leaving the room because I just wanted to shout at her that her REAL situation is bad enough. That we are scared ENOUGH already and there's no reason for this.

I keep thinking that in her situation I would do everything to minimise the situation for my kids so they wouldn't worry. I know we are adults but it got to the point where she was mentioning losing all her her to the grandkids.

I know she must be scared and I want to support her but how can I make myself ignore all of this extra crap? I'm still so gutted at recent behaviour that if this wasn't happening I'd be nowhere near her. Part of me feels a bitch and a horrible daughter because she will need me for support but in the back of my head I'm questioning if she deserves it and if I can emotionally afford to give it.

If she was just honest and decent about these tests etc it would be so much easier. If I try to tell her that then I'll be this weeks "awful daughter", nothing will change, she will have even more drama to feed off of and I will have a whole heap of guilt from myself and most likely my siblings too.

WWYD? Would you go despite feeling it's not what's best for you?

This is so long - I'm sorry but I can't talk to anyone in RL about this.

MaryRobinson Mon 11-Mar-13 13:23:06

lougle OP has said she has previously lied about cancer which I think escalates from insecure to toxic.

OP It sounds grim and exhausting. I think the long term consequences of being physically absent may be high in terms I the relationship with siblings and wider family. Are you able to mentally disengage while physically present? e.g. by pretending you are really Florence Nightingale or a historian interested in her oral history? maybe even play toxic comment bingo?

KeepCoolCalmAndCollected Mon 11-Mar-13 13:28:04

I hope I am not going off on too much of a tangent here, but my experience with a very ill mother was that it did NOT stop her from being nasty and manipulative in the slightest. In fact to a large degree it made her worse. She even bit my head-off the night she died!

Don't believe that things will be lovely and rosie in terms of her character/nature if things do take a turn for the worse.

I always conducted myself towards her with kindness, decency and respect because I personally thought it was the right thing to do, but it was never enough even when she was dying. With hindsight, would I do the same again, yes - I would grit my teeth and bear it.

It's not an easy situation - Good Luck!

forgetmenots Mon 11-Mar-13 13:29:32

Wasn't trying to get at you hugesigh when I mentioned the use of the word 'toxic', it's just hard sometimes to separate out the complex issues that come under that heading. I often think abusive is nearer the mark but people are reticent to use that word except in physical or sexual cases.

Mary's idea above about comment bingo is a good one. All you can do is ensure that any contact is not causing you further harm. Any support you can give her under this is admirable but don't do it at your own expense, as you will know too well this isn't the normal kind of situation where you can gladly sacrifice time and energy for a loved one - it can become a power struggle about controlling you and that could be very detrimental to you.

I second the poster who mentioned the Stately Homes thread if you need a vent, we are a supportive bunch!

HugeSigh Mon 11-Mar-13 13:29:32

HUGE cross posting. I went to put the kettle on mid post!

LemonyLemon - we all know what she is like. We all agree she has lied and hurt us but we differ on how to deal with it. My brother feels we should just accept this is what she's like, accept we can't change her and rise above it. He is convinced the guilt of not being 'right' with her should something happen would be worse then just putting up with her now.

Her little ways are normalised for us and mostly they just roll right over us but I started considering what she was doing, really looking at her and how she's raised us and it's left a very raw feeling that I needed to step back from. Some of us have gotten to that point before the others I guess. I have found it hard to talk with them about this because I'm scared I'll seem like her - making a big drama over her for attention. And once she knows that I'm feeling anything other then "I love my mum" she'll ramp up the sympathy or push me as unreasonable to the others.

I was expecting that. It's just that she now has a very real thing to need support for and a very real reason to label me as a failure. I'm scared they would start to believe her and resent me. ANd honestly, I don't want to leave it all to them or for them to have to listen to even more drama caused by me.

SayCool - I am certain that it has to be very real and obvious before I start to worry because of what she's done in the past. She told us she had cancer before. Dissapeared for chemo every week, laid with sick filled bowls when we got home from school and it was all a lie. She will go to great lengths to have us scared and fussing over her. We have real proof that this is happening and that's what's spooked me I guess.

KeepCoolCalmAndCollected Mon 11-Mar-13 13:31:25

What MaryRobinson says - mentally disengage while being physically present.
Excellent post altogether.

DontmindifIdo Mon 11-Mar-13 13:35:39

It sounds a bit like she's cried wolf a lot and now she has "a wolf" to deal with, you'd think that would be enough, except rather than you dealing with that, you're still having to wade through a pile of bollocks about whole packs of wolves, and are pretty sure the lions and tigers will be rocking up soon...

The actions that have annoyed you in the past shouldn't be a problem now, but she's still lying, so you still can't believe her and get on with supporting her, you still can't believe a word she says, except this time you have the added complication that you know something is wrong, yet you've got to wade through all the lies to try to work out what that is so you can start dealing with it. It must be very draining to never really be able to get the truth out of her.

I think either you or your DB need to insist on going to the next doctors meeting with her to get to the bottom of it.

But yes, it's ok to still walk away just because someone is ill. It's not like the illness has changed her, she's still doing the stuff that hurt you in the past.

HugeSigh Mon 11-Mar-13 13:36:06

Forgetmenots - I know, I was agreeing with you on the toxic word. And very much so about abusive.

I love the comment bingo idea.

I need coping strategies beyond confusing you all with my ramblings.

I really appreciate the help everyone's offered here. I don't want to drip feed but I thought I could ask the WWYD on a stand alone basis but really, it's all tangled together and not that simple is it?

LemonyLemon - I'm sorry I missed your post. I wasn't avoiding the question. Hopefully the above answered it smile

forgetmenots Mon 11-Mar-13 13:36:45

Your story about her faking cancer to her (young) children is actually chilling. Sometimes even after years of an abusive MIL I can still get shocked - this is one of these times.

Lemonylemon Mon 11-Mar-13 13:36:52

Thanks, OP.

I asked this question because my brother, sister and I are dealing with a very similar situation to you at the moment. We have our different ways of dealing with it, and at various times, we have different reactions.

At the moment, my sister's stress levels are through the roof. My brother is laid back and says that she should let things go over her head. At the moment, I veer between the two reactions to my Mum.

I've been to my Mum's house and have come across sick filled bowls. Unfortunately, it wasn't all a lie.

To be honest, I think you need to get at the actual truth of what's happening if you can. Ask for your Mum's permission for the doctor to speak to you "so you can help her". This also give you the chance to get first hand information.

I also think you do need to speak to your siblings about this because your views are as valid as theirs.

To be honest, I'm having to grit my teeth regarding my mum, but the emotional manipulation is very hard to bear sometimes. My siblings and I are forced into situations where if we don't do things together with my Mum, we may have missed out on the last chance to do those things, although we may not feel like all spending the day together on Mother's Day.

If you really feel that you can't speak to your siblings, then maybe you can ask your doctor to refer you to counselling. Or vent on here - the Stately Homes thread may be very useful for you.

VenusRising Mon 11-Mar-13 13:43:56

OP you need to disengage, and do what you need to do.

If that means getting reports from the doctors only, and not going into see her, so be it. Your own health is important- so, safeguard it.

I have a toxic mother myself, and know how they can manipulative illness to create a 'poor me, nobody cares about me' drama.

Every time I was due to leave the country my mum would suddenly have to have tests, or she'd say she was having a heart attack, and I had to bring her into the hospital. Honestly, she's fine, but it was all about controlling me.

I learnt to ignore the mindgames and am on very low contact - I'm just too busy for the self absorbed stunts she pulls.

The fact that your mum is quite ill, is something you'll have to get your head around, as you would if she wasn't toxic, but remember to disengage from the drama.

You need a mantra. I always found "I love and approve of myself" to be a good one in times of mother induced stress and drama. Concentrate on yourself, and put her needs below your own, and that of your own partner and kids.
Act with dignity, don't get triggered, and behave as you would like to remember you did. If that means being disengaged, and keeping a low contact, or no contact, well, so be it.

I've always found medical staff really can assess the situation very clearly- you may get a nurse to pop in every 5 mins or so if you ask.

Good luck: you're not alone.

HugeSigh Mon 11-Mar-13 13:47:30

Yes thank you MaryRobinson.

Deep breathes. Lots of head nodding and not expecting her to suddenly drop her ways and deal with this truthfully.

We are going to try and make appointments with her in the future. It doesn't stop her though. When she was in with pneumonia she was adamant the nurse was wrong with her updates to us. She will hint that whoever has spoken to the doctor has lied etc. But at least we can keep each other in the loop.

I will keep visits to a minimum and use not wanting to upset the kids as a reason - it's true of course and I'm a single parent with very little support for babysitting etc so it will be easy to explain it away to her. But she will want to see the kids at some point and I'll be horrible for depriving her of them.

Midwife99 Mon 11-Mar-13 13:48:40

I totally understand how you feel. My mother has been "dying" since she was 49. She's now 72!! Every damn holiday I've been on with my DCs has been spoilt by a phone call from one of them or their neighbour saying one or other of them is seriously ill & "might not make it through the night". Always turns out to be a chest infection or urinary tract infection or something. The night after I had DD my father kept texting to say my mother wouldn't survive the night (she had had a routine operation). He then tried to bully me to take a newborn baby to visit her in hospital where they had MRSA & norovirus. They cry wolf do often that the sympathy runs out doesn't it? The woe is me attitude! Grrr! I hasten to add that any time I've had surgery or a baby there has been no visits or cards or concern from them!!

HugeSigh Mon 11-Mar-13 14:08:04

Lemony - sounds very similar to us here too. One of us will feel bad about missing a special day etc and the others feel we have to stand together in these things to help each other. I know in reality that they will back me. But I still feel a little scared they may believe what she's pushing if I'm the bad one.

And I like the cried wolf analogy. It's very true.

Venus - Some great advice thank you. I need to be able to look back and be proud of how I handled this. sometimes I just get so angry at her for purposely causing us pain or anxiety it's hard. But I'm glad to see it can be done.

I've popped into the stately homes thread before so I'll give it another go I think. I do need to see the GP about some kind of counselling too. Some better coping strategies and getting my head around all this may be good for me.

HugeSigh Mon 11-Mar-13 14:12:37

MIdwife99 - exactly the same here. I had surgery last year and she hated the fact I had some sympathy. She pushed family members to pick supporting her over me because she had flu and I only had routine day surgery (gallbladder removal) so she needed them more.

Luckily I am very much the leave me alone until I'm better type and was happy not to be fussed over smile

bishboschone Mon 11-Mar-13 14:15:20

I don't think anyone will get this unless they have a toxic mother. My mil is like this and my dh has given up contact ( his choice) because he just can't deal with it. I feel for you but I would go to the appointments and get the information and go from there . Try not to get caught up in anything but the facts .

lougle Mon 11-Mar-13 14:54:02

HugeSigh I apologise unreservedly. When you said she had lied about having cancer before, I took that to mean that she had told you she had cancer before tests had revealed her problem to be non-cancerous. I didn't imagine for one second that you meant that she had pretended to be having chemo and provided (fake) evidence to the effect.

I hope you find a way through this.

HugeSigh Mon 11-Mar-13 15:11:50

Lougle - Accepted whole heartedly. I did a pretty awful job of explaining myself today. I'm blaming sleep deprivation.

Springdiva Mon 11-Mar-13 15:13:45

I had to have surgery following mammo and it is v stressful, the waiting for results etc, I didn't need chemo etc and have regular check mammos so hopefully all is ok. I just say this as I wonder what a 'supportive' family member is sposed to do.

My MIL kept phoning every day after initial bad result and it drove me mad as I didn't want to keep being reminded that i might die sooner than expected, nor did I want someone telling me everything would be fine and 'not to worry' when no one knew if all would be fine and possibly I should be v worried.

I knew family were concerned and hoping for a good result like me. And that they would take me to and from any treatments required - but what else are 'supportive' people sposed to do?

Probably you need to take a step back, but look and sound concerned when you need to, which I'm sure you do, that's all imv.

Midwife99 Mon 11-Mar-13 16:22:36

It's when this cry wolf syndrome happens on top of many other toxic behaviour over the years that makes it hard to cope with.

Midwife99 Mon 11-Mar-13 16:24:10

Oh I have been told my mother has the "Big C" by my father because of bleeding from the back passage. They hadn't even seen a doctor. It was haemorrhoids! shock

Midwife99 Mon 11-Mar-13 16:27:07

Yeah come join us on Stately Homes!!

Thumbwitch Tue 12-Mar-13 02:30:14

Huge. thank you for your kind words about my Mum. It certainly helped us all to have a better time while in ignorance of her true condition, despite missing her at the actual wedding (we went to see her in hospital so she didn't completely miss out)

I think you are getting your head around how to deal with this now - and I think it's probably better to tread a lone path with it just now, so that your mum can't get any ideas about collusion. But hopefully you will be able to get your sibs to understand that it truly is difficult for you to be there much for her and they will be sensible about it.

jynier Tue 12-Mar-13 04:01:21

OP - Stop beating yourself up! You will get through this! Best wishes, x

HugeSigh Tue 12-Mar-13 09:35:34

Thanks everyone.

She should be getting a biopsy soon so we are closer to some actual facts at least.

I am just going to quietly step back, keep it a minimum and see where this goes.

It really helped to get this out and hear some other opinions so I will probably pop onto the thread to use it to vent smile

Corygal Tue 12-Mar-13 09:44:31

Your mother's a cow - just because she's a victim of illness she doesn't have to be a nice person.

Speak to the nurse in charge, explaining discreetly that yr Mum has form for exaggeration, and get the lowdown.

Then grit your teeth and be nice to her.

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