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Stately home folk, Do I reply to toxic mother?(34 Posts)
Long story short. Life time of EA from Mother followed by almighty tantrums whenever I tried to talk to her about her behaviour.
Went no contact about 6 months ago and it's been blissfully peaceful until my birthday yesterday.
She sent me flowers and a card. The card said "I hope you are happy. You will always be in my heart".
Soooo what now? Remain no contact or send her a Thankyou note?
Clementine, imho, no contact sounds like the best solution for you.
Six months in is still, relatively, early days so I guess what the flowers have done is create a bit of second guessing yourself (from creating this thread). In action though, binning the objects straight away, is your truth. That is the holy grail that cuts through the FOG (fear, obligation, guilt).
The thing about what she is saying to other people about you is hurtful...but in a way who cares what her associates think? They are tainted by association with her and you do not need to care for their opinions either. Let them live with her for decades and then give an assessment. And I bet a good percentage of those people may nod in the moment, but think she is a toxic loon in private. People understand that people do not go NC for no reason. (Sorry for the double negative.)
Also, she needs narcissistic supply or whatever the dynamic is and she will use you. You have made the executive decision to just not participate in it anymore. She will still use you, out of habit, out of lack of someone else to fill the spot, etc. So you are effectively a cardboard cutout of a person to her...and as a cardboard cutout person would say:
Good for you, and never doubt that you are most certainly doing the right thing regarding protecting your dc from her.
I don't think I can even contact her to say a polite thank you. Even the thought of her makes me nervous and I start getting a horrible sick feeling. I know she will use this to tell anyone who will listen that I'm such a cruel daughter because I didn't even thank her for the flowers but I can deal with that as long as it means I don't have to have any contact with her.
I long for the day when I can move so she doesn't know my address. Only then will I be truly free of her. I honestly can never see a point where I will want her in mine or my dc's life. I spent hours talking to a counsellor about her and she validated my feelings.
That, combined with read all the stately home threads on here, has given me so much strength!
If your instinctive reaction was put the flowers and the card in the bin YOU are not ready to have any further contact with her at this point.
Such a strong reaction, and you said you were actually frightened of her, tends to show that you need quite a bit mroe time - possibly a great deal more.
A polite thank you note on teh lines of Boffin's suggestion might be possible in the (far?) future but for now, no. I hope you are in a position to take stock of how she's affected your life and work out how to handle the damaged caused, either by psychotherapy or reading Toxic Parents. Takes a long time to recover even partially!
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And I have a for you as you have set the boundary for the holidays. Ho Ho Ho
That is what I would do too, Clementine. Or perhaps do what was suggested up thread and donate to senior home or let a neighbor have them. Or, children love disecting flowers!
And the "you will always be in my heart".... another trick : not the same as saying she loves you is it? You are in her heart because she loves to abuse you.
It is bait, leave it.
Gifts are tricky. They create a sort of moral obligation to respond or reciprocate. If you don't respond then she has "won" a superiority point at your expense (to which we say, "so what" ).
If you do respond then she can make hay at your expense. And if you find out about it, most certainly will require a more extended period of detox time.
If you do feel a need to respond because it is something you feel you should do for yourself, living by your code of conduct...which is exclusive of any connection to her (even tough she will never get that) then perhaps the following could be of use to you.
Before achieving NC with a toxic one, I was in a period of very reduced contact. I would send the same two line thank you note for any gift giving occasion, and even prewrote them so I could pop it in the mail the very day, or next, of receiving the "gift" package:
Thank you for your generous gift.
Your thoughtfulness is very kind.
Sincerely, (it was a leap to not sign off with "love"...baby steps!)
Congratulations on your seven months of peace!! Well done!
Happy Birthday <hypoallergenic
I too thought the 'I hope you're happy' was a dig at me! It's just the kind of thing she'd do.
I put the card and flowers in the bin and will not be contacting her. I really appreciate all the advice. I'm feeling quite strong again.
Only read the title, the answer is "no".
Will read now.
I'm a bit late to the ignore party. Can you take the flowers to an Old Folks home as an unwanted gift?
Def ignore - just trying to make herself look like the caring mother she isn't. It's all playing a game
I would ignore too although it is hard to do so. I've moved country now and they don't know where we are so I am free from such guilt messages.
I actually think the "I hope you are happy" message has toxic undercurrents of "with what YOU have done to ME".
One suspects Toxic Mum may be enacting a tragedy so she can wail to her friends that she sent Clementine a card and flowers for her birthday and got no thanks at all, not even an acknowledgement, after she worked her fingers to the bone bringing her up for all those years etc etc... and friends are all duly shocked and sympathetic (if they don't know her very well). This is far more important than what the daughter actually feels about the matter. Only a guess, of course.
I think the fact she sent you flowers when you have hayfever says it all OP! Seriously, I agree she's just baiting you to get your attention -any response, good or bad, will be a result for her - she's still trying to manipulate you.
Plus, you said you are frightened of her: she frightens you darling, why would you allow someone like that in your life? You don't need her!
Difficult to know how to take this.
Personally, I would probably wait until her birthday and send her a card with the exact same message in it.
Her reaction would tell you everything you need to know.
She's baiting you. You've cut her off and she needs you to pay attention to her (I've heard this referred to as "hoovering" - trying to suck you back in to a dysfunctional relationship.)
The "I hope you're happy" can be read two ways, right? You give her the benefit of the doubt by believing she means it nicely and get back in touch, she wins, and you have a niggling wonder if she was actually jabbing at you. Or, option two, you tell her she's being abusive and you don't appreciate it, and she tells you you're overreacting, imagining things, and why are you out to make her look like a bad person anyway?
No matter how you respond, she has something to chew on, grouse about, hold over your head, and tug you around with. Sounds like classic manipulation to me. I think you're better off throwing everything she sends you in the bin.
FWIW I had a 7 month NC period with mine - instigated by her - which she ended by mailing a card and cash for one of the DC's bday with an emotive message in the card (along the lines of 'I hope mummy will let me see you soon', for a 3yo FFS).
I was feeling robust that day and just picked up the phone and called and said thanks and she behaved as if nothing had ever happened, no major tantrum/huge narcissistic episode, no apology or anything just as if there'd never been a rage or tantrum. The selective amnesia continues a year and a bit on...(of course she would be unaware of her behavior being anything but perfectly justifiable).
The peace was nice but she is my mother and I am glad to be back in touch with her for DC's sake if nothing else.
I await the next rage but feel more confident about setting boundaries if and when it happens.
Good luck with whatever you decide.
I don't know. My mother would NEVER have sent me anything. Just starting the thought around the word 'sssss....' would have resulted in spontaneous combustion.
I would go with your instincts, and also with how internally strong you yourself are feeling.
the issue is not contact, it is setting boundaries. So if you are strong and resolved, you could acknowledge the card and flowers, and if she started her
shit again, state a clear boundary ('if you continue to talk to me this way, I will leave/put the phone down'), and then the consequences (leave, put the phone down).
Apparently even the self-absorbed learn after a while.
She's your mother, she must know you have hayfever? If you were "always in her heart" she wouldn't have forgotten that little detail!
The classic crap, unsuitable present!!!
I bloody hate flowers too!! I have hayfever!
You have done so well so far, 6 months of bliss, don't go back in time for a bunch of flowers. She won't change and the reasons for non-contact are still the same as they always were x
I'm non-contact with mil i once allowed a meeting and nothing had changed, it was all the same as before. Weird thing is she bought me flowers too (it's to cause guilt).
Since then i learnt my lesson and things remain calm again now we are no longer in contact.
Dh still hears from her, & very rarely sees her and he is all the more better for it although he is still pulled by puppet strings at times!
Maintain radio silence would be my advice. Any response just provokes more contact in my experience.
It sounds like ignoring is the right thing for YOU, particularly if you think a thank you note will be taken as a sign to get in touch.
You're Mum frightens you and you have felt blissfully peaceful with no contact so there's your answer (and don't feel guilty!)
I just need them to stay away from me to be honest. I'm actually frightened of my mother. But I'm full of guilt because I never wanted to hurt anyone.
I actually just put the flowers and card straight in the bin.
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