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How to handle parent(14 Posts)
Quick Background. My Mum has always been very matriarchal, critical and over bearing. A complete joy to the outside world, done lots for other people and does have many good qualities.
Growing up she had frequent passive aggressive tantrums and sulks. Some after an event such as telling her I was moving out to live with bf. She just started chucking my stuff out the next morning whilst I was out. I came back to no bed. Most of the other times we had absolutely no idea!
Telling off was being made to sit down and shouted at for hours, being asked the same question over and over again but all answers rejected! Pre-teens it resulted in trousers down and hit several times on the bum pretty hard with a stick. In between it was little comments like Why are you always like that ... Its always you ... Why can't you be ....
Don't get me wrong in between she could be lovely and we did all have many good times. However, in retrospect, I think we were always walking on egg shells around her and still are to this day. Life got better with her when I had kids as they were the focus.
During the last 10 years I can't remember her saying anything nice to my Dad, it got worse and worse. During the last few years it was constant correcting, sit up, not like that, not your hand there, go to bed you're tired. Disdain and snorting every time he gave an opinion. Anger and her going on about how controlling he was if he dared ask her what she wanted to eat. My Dad died after a short illness, the weeks up to her death you'd think she would become softer towards him but no she was worse.
Anyway that's some context as to why I find her recent accusations so ludicrous.
During and after my Dads illness I have done nothing but run around making sure that she was ok. Along with my siblings sorting out all her personal admin. She had the odd go at me accusing me of trying to take over from my Father and wanting to control her but I put this down to stress.
Then after the funeral she kinda looked at me one day and told me how I'm just like my Father. Then started with little comments in front of different people, stating that I am a bully, controlling, bossy. It was all said in a normal almost joking voice and very easy for the others to ignore.
I then went to visit her in Europe by myself. From day one she started snorting and sniffing every time I said anything, actually sticking her nose in the air. Constant comments and "helpful advice" about my driving Taking offence and complete nothingness, it was hard to say anything without a "if that's what you say Seior" " If that's what you think Seior". At one point she was a metre from my face, staring at me going on about how she was winding me up. I nearly left for a hotel but managed to stay and tried the tactic of not reacting, ignoring it all. I was trying to be the bigger person because she was living for the first time without my Dad.
Soon as I was back she carried on calling me as if nothing had happened. She then visited and chucked a few of her derisive snorts at me, the odd thought about how controlling I am. In-between acting like we should be best mates.
Now I have booked to spend an extended time in Europe with her and am now dreading it. There will be other people to take the heat off and I have booked several day trips etc Once out there it will be a logistical nightmare to just leave if she starts on me again, I will have to remain out there for several weeks. I can't afford hotels for that amount of time.
If she does start with her crap how should I react? If I confront she will explode. If I act even slightly angry she pulls the poor me, my daughter hates me, what have I don't wrong behind my back. Then increases her shite. If I don't react she seems to feel the need to keep pushing and pushing me. When other people are around it's always kept below a certain level and passive aggressive digs at me.
I think she genuinely can't understand why I'm not being all best mates over the phone with her. She probably really does believe that I'm being nasty to the poor sweet old her. Aghhhh The reality is she tries to bitch to me about my other female relative.
Why on earth did you book to spend several weeks with her.
You are her new emotional punching bag.
You should not be anywhere near her until you can tell her "I will not accept this treatment", walk out, stay out, until she gives you a heartfelt apology. Which might be never.
What you have described is bog standard emotional abuse. Stay away from your abuser. Cancel the trip. Nothing good can come of it.
Presumably you have good reason for committing to this extended stay with her? If so, I suggest you mentally break it down into manageable chunks of time and concentrate only on the period of time you're currently in IYSWIM. It would be good to have a few strategies to have a bit of time away from her (taking a long walk might not be her idea of a pleasant time, half an hour or so to "catch up on my emails" a couple of times a day, offering to cook a meal which takes a long time to prepare and so on). Does she watch TV? If so, encourage her to watch her programmes and enjoy the time that you don't have to interract.
All the above suggestions are based on her more or less behaving herself. (Can you tell I've had occasion to put them into practice myself?). If things take a turn for the worse, have some pre-prepared phrases ready to trot out - the MN favourite "did you mean to be so rude?" has its place here, as does "that was a very hurtful thing to say" and "just think how it makes me feel to hear you say that".
In the event that things get unbearable then for heaven's sake change your travel plans and come home early - you owe yourself that much.
Wishing you luck!
RunRabbit I arranged both trips quite a while back when she was behaving herself, I'm an idiot. Since her last visit here I think I have been waiting for her to be rude to me, or about someone else, over the phone, so I can ask her directly if she really believes what she just said. Then use that as a spring board to say I'm not coming, very cowardly I know. When I've been with her in person it's taken me too much by surprise and I've been trapped somewhere with her. I'm not good with confrontating her and need to practice what I want to say But instead she has been perfectly nice.
I think she knows I have nearly been pushed too far because everytime I pick up the phone and say hello she immediately carries on about if I am alright and what is wrong with a big show of concern. There is nothing in my hello to indicate that I'm not OK because I usually pick it up without looking at the number and it could be anyone.
If you aren't willing to cancel then you'll need a superb escape plan for when you are out there.
Your current plan, of no escape route for several weeks, is a disaster waiting to happen.
Could you take a day trip to visit her soon? Spend a day just you and her in lots of non-public places? See what happens. I rather suspect she won't keep up the nice guy act and you can feel justified in pulling out of the trip.
Yes, there are reasons why ideally I want to go out and get through it with some dignity, even if she kicks off.
Runrabbit There is always an option to take a trip to Decathlon, buy a cheap tent and drive my kids to the nearest available campsite.
My Mum lives over on the continent, so they were trips to visit her out there.
re your comment:-
"Yes, there are reasons why ideally I want to go out and get through it with some dignity, even if she kicks off"
And what are they?.
She was not a good parent to you and that is an understatement. You were and remain ill treated by her. Re any children you have she probably has her favourite. Such people also tend to overvalue or undervalue the relationship with their grandchildren, such people really do not make for being a decent sort of grandparent.
Honestly I would not bother with your mother from now on. You are basically setting yourself up to have a miserable stay with her if you do go and visit her. You would frankly be an idiot only if you did go and stay with her at all now given her behaviours. You also would not have tolerated any of this from a friend, your mother is no different.
It seems to me that you are very much in a FOG (fear, obligation, guilt) state when it comes to your mother. I would read "Toxic Parents" by Susan Forward if you have not already done so as this could well help you.
It is not your fault she is like this (her own family of origin did that lot of damage to her) and I would think she has been like this your entire life. Your late father got what he wanted from the relationship but he failed abjectly to protect you from her. He was basically a combination of her hatchet man and bystander.
Many abusers like your mother are indeed quite plausible to the outside world but its an act they cannot maintain. You probably remind her of her husband on some level, this was someone else whom she disliked intensely. He was also her scapegoat as well for all her inherent ills. Women like your mother as well cannot do relationships at all and it is of no real surprise to me that their marriage was as you described.
How do your siblings get along with your mother these days?.
That depends on age. The younger one had a slightly different childhood and probably just had the overbearing side with less anger. The others have either emigrated or done like me in the past, keep the visits short and sweet before she goes into strop mode.
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