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Help in replying to this letter from narc mum (sorry, long)

(44 Posts)
MillyMollyMandy78 Mon 13-May-13 10:44:23

I sent a letter to mum saying that i have had enough of her abuse, lies and emotional manipulation over the last 30 years. She has been told last week that she has borderline personality disorder.

I wrote that i would only communicate in writing until she was able to permanently change her behaviour (i know she won't change but was trying to lessen the blow for my enabler dad), so no visits or phonecalls (she only criticises or screams abuse anyway). I was not abusive, just firm as need to protect myself from the ongoing hurt. I ended the letter 'I would like to have a relationship based on mutual respect. However, it is your choice. If you are unable to do this then we will be unable to do this, then we will be unable to have any relationship at all.'

Received the following letter back:
I am sorry to hear that you cannot call or visit and that you have to write a letter. How embarrassed and hurt do you think i feel, you obviously think i do not hurt. Think again!
Why do you think i don't talk much on the phone? It is not because i do not love you.
I have a brain disorder. Do you think if i had known this years ago i would have done nothing about it? Thirty years is a long time to live with something that is treatable but left undiagnosed. I haven't totally ruled out treatment i just have to find one that may work. I assure you this is not because of a lack of trying.
What do you think? I am not being bullied into changing my behaviour when none of it is intentionsble. Only putting the phone down before i really do say something nasty. You should be able to recognise a clash of personalities.

So, i want to reply but not be unkind or getting into an ongoing battle. My first letter was to the point but not nasty. Any ideas? I will ignore future letters if they are going to be abusive etc, but would like to send one last reply.

EatenByZombies Sun 19-May-13 18:00:33

The call was a good thing then! Little things like that or asking him over (even if you know he'll say no) is what keeps the line open so to say. It's alright saying "the door's always open" but you have to show it now an then too or it'll be easy for both parties to slip into non-contact just because one may not feel able to reach out, if you understand me smile

apprenticemum Sun 19-May-13 11:28:56

Milly SNAP!! I have just done the same with my mother. At 53, it has taken me years and some pretty serious therapy to grasp the nettle so to speak and tell my mother that I refuse to be hurt any more by her behavior. Like you, I tried to engage with my father by meeting with him, having my brother present which didn't go well as he was quit aggressive and combatative. Although I kept cool and let him vent her spleen a resolution was not found and I later discovered in a venomous email from my Mother that he was carrying a dictaphone! I have now accepted that I do not wish to have a relationship with my mother on her terms as that is the only one that she is willing to accept. It is not a happy situation but it is the least painful option. I know that there are guilt issues that I will have to deal with in the future and I have resolved to take professional help to deal with them. On the occasions when I have replied to her communication, my words, no matter how measured have merely provided the oxygen that fuel her flames and so, no matter how provocative, her communication is never responded to. Be strong for yourself.

MillyMollyMandy78 Sun 19-May-13 10:58:19

EatenbyZombies - the craz thing is she is much worse with dad than with us. She makes his life hell, he knows she tells lies about him etc but he always makes excuses for her/ tries not to rock the boat.

Dad did phone briefly tthe other day for a chat and i got the feeling he was reaching out. However, he also doesn't seem to believe that I really mean what I say. Guess he will in time.

I avoided the urge to write back and spent the first couple of days really anxious and constantly thinking about things with mum etc. But the last couple of days I have relaxed and barely thought about it. Have been keeping busy with things I enjoy. I know it will take time to completely get over things but feel quite positive now.

I am shocked/ saddened to realise how many people seem to have awful mums too. Until coming on mumsnet I thought it was just me! Unfortunately it seems to be pretty common.

mathanxiety Sun 19-May-13 02:37:10

Get counselling, and maybe join a forum?. As demonstrated by Sandra upthread, what you are dealing with may not be a mainstream experience and you are likely to bump into people who do not understand what you are going through.

I agree with posters who say reply but then burn the letter when you are able to. It can be very cathartic to symbolically estrange yourself and disengage this way. Wait until the moment is right to burn the letter.

There is really no point trying to engage with someone with BPD.

I know someone who is trying mightily to get a parent to understand how deeply she hurt her for many, many years and the effort is driving the victim crazy and in fact hurting her own nearest and dearest the more upset she gets by it all. From hiding from her when she would come home from school and then jumping out to say Hahaha after the child had looked for her mother, feeling increasingly worried all the time, to assuring her that she would help her get home from the hospital after a crash CS but then refusing to drive her home as she had something else more important going on (necessitating my friend walking with her H and their precious baby), and in between offering absolutely no support financially or emotionally or practically when the friend was in university doing a masters and suffering from M.E. One visit in two years while at university. No acknowledgement of her graduation... Disengagement is the only option.

By disengagement I mean with your dad too, sadly. His loss. Yours too, but did you ever really have him?

ekidna Sun 19-May-13 02:19:32

erm am in slightly similar situation.
from my own perspective what has helped has been to:

maintain a distance but not totally detach, get counselling, read loads about bpd. read loads about being daughter of someone with bpd traits

but as said this is from my own perspective and if bpd is on a spectrum the effect it has on children is on a spectrum with all other variables and so detaching completly is probably best in some circumstances -in the long run

EatenByZombies Sun 19-May-13 02:03:53

On the flip side (relating to your dad), how do you know she's not just as mental with him as with you?

I'm not excusing his behaviour ( angry <fist shake> ) but you may be missing a whole nother side to his situation. I know logic says that he should side with you because you're his childbut that's not always how the human brain works. I think you should keep asking your dad to meet just you two, even if you don't talk to your mum any more, because that way you're showing him that the door is always open. If she's manipulating him as much as she has been/tries to do with you, then he may be feeling trapped.

It's got to be hard to choose between the absolute love of your life and your child, especially under these circumstances. sad

Saying that he may just be a git. If so, good riddance grin

thanks

SpecialAgentTattooedQueen Tue 14-May-13 22:52:58

Honestly if you know your mother will lie and spread rumours through relatives now and your dad will just go a long shock WHY do you want him in your life?!?

Hissy Tue 14-May-13 22:32:32

She just used to verbally/ emotionally abuse us: she always puts us down, tells lies constantly to gain sympathy/ turn family members against each other, suicide threats & letters, only interested in herself,manipulates and plays mind games, flies into rages/ tantrums if you ever challenge her/ disagree, etc. She has never hugged us or shown affection.

shock

just? JUST???

Oh my god love, she really IS horrific.

Your DAD is not someone to feel sorry for. He was complicit in your abuse, he willingly allowed and participated when it suited him.

He still is, in his way. In many ways he's WORSE.

Please get some distance from them both, you need the breathing space.

Windingdown Tue 14-May-13 10:59:53

I know, I know! All those years of thinking that your parents were extraordinary and exceptional and that it was you at fault....and now you realise they read the book and lived it out.

forgetmenots Tue 14-May-13 10:53:25

Windingdown I don't want to take this off topic but any time anyone posts examples of narc parent emails on here I'm always amazed by how similar the expressions used are to my ILs. It's the language of 'you should', of obligation and duty, of expectation. Genuinely fascinating that there is a script!

Windingdown Tue 14-May-13 10:49:57

My answer to how much abuse did I have before went no contact would be exactly the same as you go on to describe Milly. I wonder every day if I overreacted, but in this thread I read what Andthebandplayedon said, that it is "Death by a thousand cuts" and YY THAT. Every day the torture was different, more subtle, more devious, more unkind, more outrageous. It was exhausting and made me feel less of a person and powerless. Going no contact has released me from that treadmill of torture and whilst it's given me guilt it's given me release, relief and freedom.

On the subject of the jumbled letter, this is exactly like my parents' speech patterns and written words. They use cliches, proverbs and phrases like "water under the bridge" "truth will out" "blood's thicker than water" often completely out of context. I used to worry that I was missing something important in what they said because I was stupid and didn't understand. Now I wonder - is it an indication of what they hear in their heads and how their minds work? Or is it learned behaviour designed to throw you off track and render any reasonable discussion impossible?

jayho Tue 14-May-13 10:47:21

She sounds very similar to my mum. My older sister has gone nc and is much happier for it. My younger sister and I 'manage' her between us.

I had several years of therapy, originally started for a different reason but came to see that almost all my problems were routed in my relationship with my mother. I found it invaluable even though it boiled down to one simple fact: You can't change her.

all you can do is decide what you can live with and what is tolerable to you.

Oh, and the writing a letter and destroying it thing works.

forgetmenots Tue 14-May-13 10:40:43

No you're not over reacting, you have to do what is right for you - no one else will.

In our case it's DH's mother who is like this. The abuse is of a very similar nature to yours and she is great at hiding it from the rest of the world. The is nothing more draining than dealing with someone like this. Fwiw my DH has been NC for nearly two years and I have been for nearly four, life is so much better. That's not to minimise how hard this has been for him. But it truly is.

MillyMollyMandy78 Tue 14-May-13 10:05:21

Lori they are the exact words.There were a couple of sentences I actually left out because they were so jumbled I didn't even know what she was talking about! She writes letters of complaint about things ALL the time and none of them ever really make sense. The letter she sent me is actually pretty good for her...

I actually feel a bit more optimistic this morning although I know it will be a bit up and down for a while. I feel good about not replying and not having to agonise about how to handle every letter/ phone call etc like I used to.

And as for dad, I feel sorry for him and still feel guilty but I am going to leave the ball in his court. I have already told him I want to continue with our relationship and tried to see him twice, so he knows where he stands. I usually phone hime every week but will leave it for now. If he wants to contact me he knows where I am, and if not then he has made his choice clear.

It's strange really, but I have only just opened my eyes over the last week. I have spent years telling myself and everyone else that dad didn't see most of the abuse and that's why he never stepped in. But that's just not true... Especially when we were children, mum would start screaming at us for some non-existent reason, and dad would often start shouting at us/ smack us because he was angry that we were making her shout and he 'could do without this stress'. When mum told lies aout us, he always believed her and wouldn't even hear our side of things too. I am the older child (7 year gap), and when my mum was screaming at my baby brother saying she hated him etc it was ME that stepped in to try to protect him as he stood terrified and crying... That should have been my dad, shouldn't it? I was only a child myself.

Also, to those who have gone no contact with their mums... How much abuse did you have? My mum never beat us or sexually abused us. She never drank or took drugs. She just used to verbally/ emotionally abuse us: she always puts us down, tells lies constantly to gain sympathy/ turn family members against each other, suicide threats & letters, only interested in herself,manipulates and plays mind games, flies into rages/ tantrums if you ever challenge her/ disagree, etc. She has never hugged us or shown affection.

Am I over-reacting to go no contact? She isn't a nice person but I know many people have it much worse than us

Hissy Tue 14-May-13 07:39:20

Honestly, there's nothinmg you can do here, and maintianing contact will be seen as approval of the way she is somehow.
Her life is all memememememememe, no-one else figures.

If you reply, you'll fuel this. Contact with BOTH your parents is harming you.

Step back, get some distance AND some counselling, it will really help you manage your feelings over this. It helped me with my crappy family.

This is not your fault lovey, you don't have to let them hurt you anymore.

Springforward Mon 13-May-13 23:16:16

I agree with pp who say don't reply.

I would suggest counselling too. Losing any relationship, even a destructive one, can feel like a bereavement and looking for a little support while you work through it can do no harm.

forgetmenots Mon 13-May-13 23:09:32

My FIL sounds just like your dad Milly and sadly he has continued to ignore the possibility of relationships that don't centre around his wife. I feel for you - my DH also idolised his dad and has been even more hurt by this than by the years of abuse from his mother. I'm sure Sandra spoke from a place of misunderstanding, because those of us who have been there know how painful it is.

Don't reply. There's no point. We have had letters and emails like this over the years, don't feed the cycle of self-pity as it is what these people thrive on.

OhLori Mon 13-May-13 22:12:28

If they are the exact words of her letter, they sound completely incoherent to me. Very jumbled thoughts and ideas and blaming and justifications. Very few of the sentences make sense tbh. I don't think there is much point in replying. Can she even hear you?

I wrote the letters and kept them. It did actually really help to get the thoughts out of my head - like I'd written them down and so they didn't need to keep going round and round any more. Every so often I get an attack of the fear-and-guilts and realise the thoughts are going round and round again - so I go back and read through the letters I wrote. It does work.

MillyMollyMandy78 Mon 13-May-13 21:54:08

Thing that probably hurts most is although dad has played his part, he is a kind man and I love him. Completely idolised him as a kid. Anyway, i asked him twice to see me without mum and he refused. I know it is still early days and he might change his mind, but I'm not sure as he is always scared of upsetting mum and rocking the boat.
I've read a few times about writing a letter about your feelings and then destroying it. Does this actually work or is it just a load of mumbo jumbo? I will also look into getting counselling. i have had some before and found it useful for gaining a bit more confidence and moving forward with my life. I will see how I get on in the next couple of weeks and then if still struggling will start counselling again.
Also, does anyone have any tips they use for distraction? I keep having the same thoughts going round and round in my head.

thetrackisback Mon 13-May-13 21:04:56

Borderline personality disorder is vey difficult to treat as is narcisstic personality disorder. It isn't a mental illness that can sometimes be minimised by treatment it is that somebody's personality is disordered. In this case a leopard will not (probably) change it's spots. I personally would drop contact all together and deal directly with your dad. Life is just too short.

AndTheBandPlayedOn Mon 13-May-13 18:44:39

MMM, well done for writing that letter. That laid it on the table clearly, and with civility. The response you received is your answer. You are still invisible to her, so let that fact be the foundation of your connection with her, since she can not find any possibility of letting you be, iyswim.

I have cut out my sister. I think, imho, a huge hurdle is society's expectation about family duty...But that is for normal people. One thing my counselor helped me see is that I did not kick my sister to the curb; I made a boundary to protect my mental health. The constant degradation manifested in hundreds of different ways was seriously making me choose to be dormant in her presence (plus recovery time) which creeped into depression which was beyond my choice. It is "Death By Ten Thousand Cuts", and people who have not experienced it probably won't understand it - and thus do not qualify to judge you, however much they will anyway.

As Attila suggested, it is therapeutic to physically write a response, and then psychologically therapeutic to destroy that letter instead of continuing to subject yourself to the usual toxic bath that is inherent in every instance of contact.
Hth, good luck, stay strong, live your life.

MillyMollyMandy78 Mon 13-May-13 18:24:24

Thank you everyone for your words of support. I have spent years wondering what life would be like without my mum/ with a different mum. I have only been on mumsnet for a few months, but I have posted a couple of times and read lots of posts from other people in similar situations. These posts have given me the courage to take this final step.
I know it will take time but I think / hope it will be the right thing in the long run.

Windingdown Mon 13-May-13 17:24:35

"I am not perfect and have doubts sometimes about whether I'm doing the right thing. I understand criticism for my actions and came on here for honest advice"

That's why people don't think Milly is a Narc.

MrsDeVere Mon 13-May-13 13:11:38

Cutting contact with a narcissistic parent is a different issue from turning your back on a child with a mental health problem.

As a parent you have not grown up with the constant blame and abuse.
Sometimes parents do have to make that break but it is not the same thing.

So you cannot just say 'imagine if the tables were turned'

Having BPD does not absolve you from the nasty things you have done and said. It does not stop the child you have hurt, hurting.

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