Note: Mumsnetters don't necessarily have the qualifications or experience to offer relationships counselling or to provide help in cases of domestic violence. Mumsnet can't be held responsible for any advice given on the site. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.

My mother has sent me "the" letter - can I tell her I don't want to read it?

(79 Posts)
javotte Mon 26-May-14 08:03:39

My mother was mildly toxic when I grew up. She was completely unavailable emotionally during my teens and early adulthood, and said things that still hurt today.

We see each other regularly, mainly so that she can spend time with her grandchildren. We talk about the children, clothes, the weather, but we have never had a meaningful conversation.

A few years ago she started to see an alternative counsellor. Since then, she has started divorce proceedings (fair enough) and cut off from her life all the people who dared disagree with her, including her favourite sister, and sometimes one of my siblings. There have been horrible moments where she dramatically apologised to my siblings and me for being such a bad mother and ruining our childhoods, but it was still all about her and she was obviously waiting for us to tell her that of course not, she was a perfect mother.

Three years ago she hinted to the fact that she had written a letter to me. It arrived in my e-mail box this morning.
I feel that the past is the past and nothing will change it. I have put most of it behind me, but I know I will never have a close relationship with her. It is too late for that. I am also 99% sure that the letter will, once again, be all about her. To sum it up, I don't want to read it, but I don't feel strong enough to tell her I don't want to read it.

Can anyone offer advice? Just seing the letter in my e-mail has sent my heartrate through the roof.

wheresthelight Mon 26-May-14 08:09:26

I would move it to a file and read it when you feel strong enough.

Without meaning tonyour horrid you sound quite resentful in your post so the past is obviously not in the past iyswim? Maybe reading it might help in the long run? Do you thinking might open the channel to having a meaningful conversation about things?

If not then simply email her back saying that at present you are not able to read it but yiu will do so when you are ready. Hopefully she will respect that.

Auriga Mon 26-May-14 08:09:31

Delete it. You can think later about whether you want to tell her or not. It sounds like a horrible thing to have hanging over you.

Enjoy the rest of your day.

OddBoots Mon 26-May-14 08:09:40

Could you reply with something like 'thank you for your letter, I'm not sure when I'll be ready to read it but when I have I'll let you know' and move it to a folder where you don't have to see it.

DustBunnyFarmer Mon 26-May-14 08:10:17

Do you have a significant other or good friend who understands your history/dynamic who can read it on your behalf & precis the content? They'll miss most of the subtle subtext and barbs probably, but at least you'll have an idea of the nature of the letter. Then you can decide what to do next.

Walkacrossthesand Mon 26-May-14 08:12:21

If you can't face deleting it unopened, do you have a really close friend, who knows about the situation with your mum, to whom you could forward the email so she can read it and 'filter' it for you?

senua Mon 26-May-14 08:12:43

Read it. Do it now, while you have a bit of peace and quiet. Do it now, on your own terms. Get it over and done with.
Feel the fear and do it anyway.
It's only words on a screen.

Yes. Read it so you can process it. You don't have to tell her you've read it.

Also, do not reply straight away! If you do reply, you need time to think so it's not a knee jerk reaction.

javotte Mon 26-May-14 08:17:42

Thank you for your answers.

wheresthelight my 18-year-old self is still resentful, but I honestly try to put it into perspective - so many people have had it so much worse! I don't think a meaningful conversation will ever be possible (and ever if we had one, what would it bring?)

I will hide the letter and perhaps read it some day, but I still don't know how to tell her.

winkywinkola Mon 26-May-14 08:21:03

Why do you have to tell her anything?

You're a grown up. You do what you like.

She asks if you've read it and you say not yet. Ad nauseum.

If she asks why not, just say you've not had time, don't feel like it. Close down the conversation. She kicks off? Is she the type? Ask her to leave.

KoalaKoo Mon 26-May-14 08:23:30

I had this, the first one I read and regretted it. The second I deleted instantly and then deleted from recycle bin to make sure I wasn't tempted to open it later. I emailed back to say sorry I'm not going to read it.

A good alternative is to get someone you trust say spouse or sibling to read it and tell you if you would want to read it yourself or if its better off deleted.

Meerka Mon 26-May-14 08:24:56

brrrr, this is difficult. Im sorry but I dont think there is any alternative to telling her that you don't want to read it. It's a bit of an either/or (if you say it was lost, she'll just re-send it).

Are you afraid that she will cut you off too? Or your grandchildren? It -is- possible from what you say, but she may think twice because of your children.

But it does seem like you're slightly frightened of her still and as a grown woman and mother, you have the right to say to someone (anyone) who is pressuring you "no. This is my choice, I have a right to a choice, and my decision is no" without feeling bad.

eddielizzard Mon 26-May-14 08:25:08

i would ignore. if she asks, say 'no not yet.' you are not answerable to her.

MommyBird Mon 26-May-14 08:28:18

I would read it.
Just to see how it's written.

If it's 'Memememe' i'd stop reading and delete.

wheresthelight Mon 26-May-14 08:28:36

Javotte - my inner child is also massively resentful at both my toxic parents but I have had the meaningful row conversation and to be honest it made things easier and we are closer. So whilst I totally get what you are saying sometime it does help. Although in my case I took the bull by the proverbials and instigated it because I needed to be able to move on for my own sanity.

If reading it is not an option then simply send her an email saying that you have received it but unfortunately you are not ready to read it and yiu hope she understands. If it is partner her counselling then it may have been a cathartic exercise for her and she may not need yiu to read it if that makes sense

javotte Mon 26-May-14 08:33:29

Meerka if I didn't have children I believe she would have cut me off. There are a couple of girls to whom she refers as "my adoptive daughter" or "the daughter I never had", so she can do without me.
I am frightened of her. She is extremely manipulative and know exactly which buttons to push to hurt people. There will be lots of drama if I tell her I haven't read it.

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 26-May-14 08:35:28

Strikes me that the whole thing is manipulative attention-seeking dressed up as reparation and the effect is to ramp up yet more drama. Read? Don't read? Delete? Don't delete? ... all you need is the Eastenders 'duffer duffers' to complete the cliff-hanger. If you don't want to read it and don't intend to read it then simply delete it and move on. No more hand-wringing

Hissy Mon 26-May-14 08:36:59

This letter is all about her. She will justify the shit she pulled, and shift as much blame off her shoulders, probably onto yours.

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE just delete it. It won't be to help you, it will hurt you.

When you take responsibility for your actions, you say sorry in person, not sending a much threatened letter FFS.

She's ruining your weekend, your week, your peace, so that SHE can get some attention AT YOUR EXPENSE. Best case scenario, it'll all be apile of self serving shite, that doesn't actually say anything.

Delete and WHEN she asks, (cos she'll be bouncing in her seat with the expectations of your response) tell her you don't want to read it.

It's her letter. It's ONLY important to her.

Joysmum Mon 26-May-14 08:37:01

You can tell her that it took her many years to be ready to send that letter, therefore she can understand how it may take you many years to feel ready to read it.

hesterton Mon 26-May-14 08:37:42

Keep reminding yourself that you are no longer that child she can hurt. She sounds very destructive. Have you ever considered going non contact?

NMFP Mon 26-May-14 08:38:02

Counsellors often suggest writing letters to people who you have difficult relationships with, but NOT TO SEND IT.

Perhaps ask her to tell you, face to face, and in a two sentence summary, what she wanted you to get out of the letter.

Poofus Mon 26-May-14 08:38:37

I've had the letter too (welcome to a club you never wanted to join). DH read it for me and precised it. In the end, hearing him satirise the worst bits neutralised the damn thing enough for me to read it myself, and I coped with it fine - which I wouldn't have done if I'd had to read it all by myself. Don't get me wrong - I was still angry and a little shocked, but it wasn't the crushing emotional distress which it would have been had I been on my own, IYSWIM.

Hissy Mon 26-May-14 08:41:09

LET her have her drama! TELL her that you do what YOU want, not what SHE tells you.

Bollocks to her.

Seriously!

(((hug)))

ShoeWhore Mon 26-May-14 08:41:42

Whether you read it or not, you don't have to tell her anything.

DustBunnyFarmer Mon 26-May-14 09:01:14

I've had a succession of "special" letters over the years. Eventually I went non contact and moved house without telling my poison pen parent. I believe the last one went to my old house after the mail redirection lapsed - or so my sister told me. A bit extreme, but effective.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now