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Can't tolerate seeing my mother- dysfunctional family- any advice?(9 Posts)
I started NC with my father a year ago. I didn't announce it as it was a gradual decision. The first time I told my mother he wasn't invited, she tried to persuade me otherwise, but since then she hasn't mentioned him to me at all (they are married).
My mother visits me and my DC around once per month. If she needs to telephone my father during the visit she goes into a separate room and tries to hide this from me. Once he insisted she come home early and she pretended she was leaving for a different reason (I had overheard the call accidentally). She never brings him up in conversation.
Until recently I found her visits fine. She plays with my DC with me there. We just chat about the DC and avoid any significant discussion, unless I force it. I spent a year persuading her to see a Solicitor to talk about her finances in case she wants to leave my father ever, after a year she finally saw the Solicitor. I treated this as a 'project', chipping away at her resistance each visit. Since then I have completely lost all energy and interest in this- I haven't even asked if she followed the Solicitor's advice- in fact I have no energy for talking to her at all now.
She has been contacting me asking to visit again and I can hardly bring myself to even text back and say no. I don't know why I've had this sudden onset of apathy. I feel exhausted thinking about communicating with her.
In our family important things were often unsaid. My father was intermittently violent towards me (sudden outbursts when he was unpredictably angry, then all laughter and smiles in between), and also behaved very oddly and could be cruel, in what I think was an emotionally abusive way. This was never really spoken about (except in a 'he's so eccentric, ha ha ha' way), indeed I felt discouraged from speaking about it both within and outside the family, so it wasn't until I was in therapy in my late 20s that I realised just how damaging my family was.
My mother has chosen to stay with my fatherthroughout. When I have tried to ask why she is still with him she will minimise his behaviour ('oh my friend's husband is also very difficult, he never picks up his socks' kind of comparisons). I don't think she realises what a healthy relationship actually is. And I don't think she finds it odd that we only make small talk when she is here, that we never have any substantial conversations, sadly I think to her this is absolutely normal.
I just don't know what to do about her future visits. I don't want to go NC with her too. DH and I have very little family who live close enough to see regularly, and she does get along well with my DC, and although she let me down badly when I was a child she has also done many positive practical things for me. However as my DC get older I don't want them to pick up on the awkwardness during her visits, so I feel that we need to communicate in a more relaxed, healthy way. I just wouldn't know how to initiate this, or how to proceed if (as I expect) she just doesn't get it.
Saying anything emotional or personal to her just feels excrutiatingly awkward, like I am a teenager, just thinking about it makes me physically cringe. This is odd as I can easily have emotional conversations with my DH and my friends, I could be more open with someone I got chatting to on a bus rather than my own mother!
This has wound up longer than I expected, thank you for your patience in reading it, I have actually found it really helpful to write it out. I'd appreciate any thoughts/ suggestions, especially from anyone with similar families.
I would imagine you are suddenly apathetic because you are exhausted by all the energy it takes to maintain a relationship with her and you can't be bothered anymore. That's what happened to me.
Maybe taking a break from her is a good thing. You can work on yourself, get some councilling and be free of the constant reminders that she is not the mother you needed.
Your dc won't really get it yet, their concept of time isn't there so don't worry about them.
Maybe have a look at the stately homes thread as that may help you on the next step.
I don't think it's your place to insist another woman leave her husband. That that woman happens to be your mother is immaterial - it's her life, her choice.
I'm not saying it's not difficult - I have just posted on another thread that my mother has been abused by my father for nearly 70 years. So I know precisely where you're coming from. Just that it's not my place to force her to leave him. She's an adult, she's made her choice.
Tbh I do feel you're the one who is behaving badly here. She has agreed to make space for your estrangement with your father (which is more than my mother will do - I still have to see the old goat if I want to see her) yet this isn't good enough for you. You seem to want an enlightened, free, modern woman. But she isn't that. She chooses to stay with him and that is her business.
I'm not in the same position but I am struggling with those 'more than the weather' conversations with my own mother. So much so I haven't seen her in over a month. It's getting ridiculous now I have no idea how to start a conversation even if we did meet up now! It's causing me all sorts of anxiety.
Anyway my advise would be to you to keep up these meetings where the conversation is never too deep. Otherwise once these have stopped it's difficult to get back to even this light relationship. I hope I'm making sense. It's hard though easier said than done I've failed!
I agree with Springy it seems like you are expecting your dm to fall into line with what you think is right for her and resent it that she doesn't. Unfortunately people are rarely so obliging that they do what we think they should just because we think they should!
My advice would be to try and focus on the present in her company. Try to just accept her as she is and value the good bits and ignore the rest. Accept that your relationship is imperfect but try to appreciate what you can about her.
If you feel angry towards her I would strongly suggest counselling. Unexpressed/unresolved anger can be very debilitating.
It could also look like you are forcing her to side with you in the estrangement. To choose between her husband, her marriage, and her daughter. That's not fair of you. I wonder if she feels she's being crushed between two strong-minded people: her husband and her daughter.
As excruciating as it is for me sometimes, I take my mother's Morse code way of relating with me - which doesn't go much further than talking about the weather, what's in the local paper, that cousin Gerald twice-removed has had his hip replaced. This is her world, admittedly drastically reduced because of decades and decades of being married to her bully boy husband. It's the best I can get. She loves me in her truncated way and I want some of that.
I don't know how old your mum is, but she may have been brought up in the "you do not divorce.....in sickness and in health" camp. It could also be "better the devil you know", rather than the scary thought of suddenly leaving her home, having to find somewhere else to live, and losing all her friends.
You only have to look at some of the mumsnet posts to realize how long it takes some fairly new wives to leave their abusive relationships. It's probably much harder the longer the marriage has existed, where the children have all left and have their own families now.
I feel sorry for both of you. Perhaps some counselling for you both?
Maybe you are exhausted because when she visits you can't be your true self? Editing what you say, reining yourself in etc is very hard work. That's why I hate networking and socialising at work dos.
Accept her as she is, ask nothing of her that she won't give (to shield yourself from more disappointment) and detach. I'm not claiming this is simple-it took me 10 years! In the meantime, is there anyone you could invite to be there when she is to dilute the strain on you?
Very likely, you've just had enough with the relationship. Its not progressing, it sounds static and that can be enervating. Suggest you just view it as a duty call and try your best to be pleasant. I know how you feel.
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