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Dear Mum

(129 Posts)
NameChangeToGo Tue 06-Aug-13 08:40:34

You've just left and as usual, I feel broken. Sad and guilty and hopeless and, oddly but as always, ill.

Our relationship is the most complicated and saddening thing in my life. My friends simply don't understand it, but I make a point of keeping you out of my 'real' life as much as I can, so they only see a very small side of you. DH and SIL get it, at least to some extent.

To anybody else, I think I would seem quite 2 dimensional given the limited input you get from me. But given that you don't actually seem to see me as a separate entity, rather as an extension of yourself, I don't suppose that really matters. It's a claustrophobic and stifling perspective. The disappointment whenever a situation occurs which clearly disputes this is palpable but is soon 'rewritten' and forgotten.

You consider yourself to be so 'nice' that any perceived criticism results in an extreme defensive response. I always end up feeling as if I've just booted a small puppy, no matter how light-hearted or innocuous the comment.

You are a little girl in a women's body. You consider your childish affectations to be somehow charming. I champion strong women and it pains me that the woman I should be able to look up to and respect is such a child.

Your ability to turn every topic of conversation, every achievement of mine, everything my children do, even the bloody weather onto yourself is mind blowing. I still can't quite fathom how you can be so self-deprecating and so self-obsessed at the same time.

You seem to think you are a big help. In reality, you do nothing except add another person trying to claim my full and constant attention to the mix. I'm not sure how you aren't embarrassed to just lounge on the sofa while we run around organising or clearing up after family get-togethers.

I can't hug you or tell you I love you. I turned it off during my teenage years (a very dark time at home for me) and can't turn it back on again. I hate it when you touch me.

You have lied and manipulated, and when challenged you deny everything. It's all done in your little girl, I'm just so nice persona, and it leaves me disorientated about what is real. You also make stuff up in order to appear empathetic. Or to make a point. Or to make you sound more wise. Or for a hundred other reasons. If we challenge you on it, the booted puppy makes a reappearance.

You fill every pause in conversation by telling us how much you love us or love spending time with us. This should be a wonderful thing but it feels stifling. Something about the rise in intonation at the end and the pause which suggests you're again fishing for validation (the search for validation, about everything from your clothes to your opinions, is constant and draining). Is it wonderful to see us? Can it really be wonderful for you while I'm struggling so much just to be in the same room as you? Probably not and it again means that it's not clear quite how much of it is truth.

When you're around, I can hardly breathe. My stomach is tight and there have been occasions when I've had to fight a panic attack. There is no other time when I feel like this. The only way I can cope is to switch a part of myself off when I'm with you. But your words about how much you love us are in my psyche, even though I doubt their truth, and it means that as soon as you've left I feel cripplingly guilty.

In many ways I would love to cut you out but know that I will never be able to. I wish I could find a way to allow us to get on, but I think I finally have to accept that it's never going to happen. Every single time I let my guard down I regret it. I don't know what the answer is and I'm so, so tired.

CrazyCatLady13 Tue 06-Aug-13 13:56:12

I didn't want to read and run, hopefully a poster with much more experience than me will be along soon. I didn't want you to think that no-one had read your message.

It sounds exhausting - what are your reasons for still staying in contact?

I know that the Stately Homes thread is useful for people with parents like your mum.

NameChangeToGo Tue 06-Aug-13 15:26:24

Thanks for your reply.

I think the main reason I can't cut contact is because it's so difficult to pin down anything tangible. I tend to view it as a personality clash and it doesn't seem fair to cut her out on that basis. It's just so subtle.

The more I think about it, it's not quite that simple though.

My dad is no picnic either but he is tangibly crap, which makes it easier to deal with - I don't feel the guilt or as if I'm going mad. I could cut him out easily, I'm not sure he'd notice for quite some time tbh, but don't need to. Whereas cutting out my mum would be incredibly difficult as she wouldn't let go. The pair of them are very extreme in completely opposite directions.

Many children now adults of such toxic parenting often underplay what has happened or actually think that well it was not so bad after all. But it was and you seem to have FOG in spades - fear, obligation, guilt.

In your case your mother seems to be narcissistic in terms of personality and all such women need a willing enabler to help them, your Dad fits that bill perfectly.

Would certainly visit the Stately Homes thread on these pages and post/read there too.

RippingYarns Tue 06-Aug-13 15:34:23

I hear you.

I could have written your post apart from my 'D'M takes more of a 'I've done my bit bringing YOU up' than the wounded puppy stance.

Some people have kind and supportive parents, others have ones like ours.

I can't say anything that will make you feel better, just wanted to tell you that you're not alone.

NameChangeToGo Tue 06-Aug-13 16:10:46

I've just visited the stately homes thread and stumbled onto this

Oh my word. It's my mother. I'm a bit speechless.

Poutintrout Tue 06-Aug-13 16:22:45

Another one here to let you know that you're not alone.

I could identify with much of your post especially the feeling stifled, the not wanting to be touched by her, the me me me stuff, and of course the crippling guilt of not actually liking her or wanting her around. I don't know about you but I also feel incredibly two faced which makes me feel awful about myself. I too would love to cut her off but have only managed to reduce contact (which she has heavily resisted and I have had to be quite hardened to the relentlessness of the calls and the manipulative messages and constant invites) which has helped me feel less stressed and angry & also allowed me to take a step back and look at things with a clearer head.

You mentioned feeling like you don't have cause to cut her off other than a personality clash. While I think that it sounds like more than that I wanted to say that I also went through a stage of feeling like I needed some massively huge issue to initiate cutting her off but am realising that the drip drip effect over several years is reason enough to have had enough also the fact that when somebody brings nothing to the party and just emotionally drains you then it is okay to draw a line in the sand.

Have you tried a bit of distance not least to give yourself an emotional break & hopefully to try and redefine the boundaries of your relationship a bit?

NameChangeToGo Tue 06-Aug-13 16:30:36

I've just finished reading the whole article. A lot of it is worse than or describes an extreme version of her behaviour. Quite a bit of it is uncannily accurate and also helps to explain why I found my teenage years with her so hard.

I think I do need to allow myself a bit of space from her. I've had 7 messages from her (text and email) since she left yesterday which I've not yet answered and have a niggling guilt about. It's crazy.

The end of your third paragraph has made me think, pout.

Poutintrout Tue 06-Aug-13 16:54:20

I get the incessant & persistent phone calls too and it was one of the biggest things driving me to distraction. Every time the phone rang it felt like she was stood in the corner of the room shouting for attention & I just couldn't escape her. It got to the point where I was feeling harassed in my own home. I just wanted to scream at the thought of having to speak everyday for an hour listening to her cry & bemoan how awful her life is and making me feel like she was my responsibility. In the end, after years of this, I decided that I would unplug the phone and ignore. Like you I still get the guilt, sick feeling when she leaves messages but I am learning to see every time I don't call back or pick up the phone as a little victory for me. Like I am retaking a bit of myself back. It gets easier too.

I read that article too a while ago and it was like a lightbulb moment for me too. It was kind of nice to know that this kind of behaviour isn't right and there was a problem and it wasn't just me being dramatic.

RippingYarns Tue 06-Aug-13 17:09:54

I get angry answerphone messages, the tone accusatory, the content demanding

i'm learning how to not react. my 'D'M feeds on reaction

Meery Tue 06-Aug-13 22:59:10

OP you write so eloquently. Sorry that you have a poor relationship with your mum, i hope that coming on here and seeing that you are not alone is a comfort to you. I also hope that the resources available help you develop coping strategies that allow you to move forwards without guilt.

NameChangeToGo Wed 07-Aug-13 08:56:44

Thank you so much for the replies, they've given me a lot to think about.

It is a huge relief to know I'm not going completely crazy. It's interesting though that even though the article describes my mum so accurately in so many ways, even echoing some of the words or phrases I used myself in the OP, I still can't seem to properly accept that she's anything other than what she says she is. It's very strange. I need to try to get past that block and explore some of the resources.

Pout, our mothers sound quite similar. I'm taking a lot from your posts thanks

Meery, that's really kind smile

NameChangeToGo Wed 07-Aug-13 13:14:23

On Monday, the day I wrote the OP, I was feeling very low. I had arranged to meet one of my best friends and she could see I wasn't myself. We talked briefly about it (we both had children in tow) so she knew the reason behind it. As we were leaving, it came up again (in the context of me looking knackered) and she said "you and your mum....." in a rolling of eyes, what are we going to do with you kind of way. It really hurt me that she could be so dismissive of something which causes me so much pain.

But the fact is, my friends just don't get it. I keep my mum away from the rest of my life as much as possible as I always end up regretting it.

When I was getting married, I decided to try and make sure that mum and dad felt involved. Bear in mind, particularly at that point when it really did just seem to be me who couldn't get along with her (brother is golden child), I felt that it was my fault. So she has met my friends on the following occasions:

1. She came to my Hen Party. Everyone brought something which made them think of me. My mum brought the most generic gift you could imagine. In the story to accompany the gift, she spoke about something which had happened to my brother. After the hen party, she emailed all my friends (using addresses from the emails sent to organise the party), as if they were now all her best friends too. Overstepping boundaries - check - but try explaining that without sounding possessive.

2. She came to my wedding. 6 months later, at Christmas, she took me aside and told me something my friend (who I saw yesterday) had said about my dad. Mum made it sound as if I'd been bitching about him to my friend and she'd let it slip out. It was something that I knew I would never have said but I felt guilty anyway, because it was all very between-you-and-me and she's been fretting about it ever since. It put a small shadow over what had been a wonderful day. I can't mention it to my friend because I'm normal and don't want her to fret about it too. But again, it means it's something I can't explain to her about my mum.

3. She came to my son's naming day. This time it was something my FIL said which had hurt dad (as reported by her) which again had the unspoken suggestion that it was based on something I'd said to FIL behind their backs.

But all my friends see is the very nice lady they speak to for a bit at these events.

Unfortunately many people who have actually come from normal healthy functioning families do not get it and never will. I had a feeling she was narcissistic in terms of personality (the crap gift giving is a clue, the acting as a six year old girl in an adult's body is yet another big one which made me think NPD re her in the first place=).

Your mother is all me, me, me and lets talk about me some more. It is NOT repeat NOT your fault she is like this, her own birth family did that lot of damage to her. What if anything do you know about her own childhood, that will provide clues as well.

Trying to appeal to a narcissist;s good nature (they do not have one) is about as effective as spitting in the ocean.

Establishing boundaries that will work as well is going to be impossible as well because she will keep trying to break them, she will disregard any boundaries you put in place anyway because she regards you as an extension of her. I would block her e-mails and at the very least not read them.

Do read the Stately Homes thread too, this can help also.

NameChangeToGo Wed 07-Aug-13 13:36:44

Her crap gifts are a bit of a standing joke actually. She buys stuff for herself basically, wraps it up and gives it to me. I send it to the charity shop after a suitable period of it sitting unused in my wardrobe (guilt).

Her own childhood is a bit fucked, so the background is certainly there. As is her own conviction that stuff happens 'to' her as a result of this, victim mentality I guess, and that she is powerless to change things.

something2say Wed 07-Aug-13 13:37:52

Oh dear poor you.

But look. You are responding to not hurt her. It seems everything is about her - including you.

A good healing tool would be to think for your self and your needs. Who cares how many texts go unread? Who cares if no-one understands?

I would advise you to create some space and if she asks whats up, tell her square on WHY you are doing it. You don't need her to understand or agree that it is right - and she won't - and that doesn't matter.

YOU count.

It sounds like it is time to see things from your pov, not hers any more. It doesnt matter if she doesnt understand. It doesn't matter if she feels hurt by your actions - you matter - you have been hurt all these years - now it is her turn - and she is the one causing the issue not you, yet you have been hurting over it. Do you see?

I think also i would advise not pretending anymore.

Why invite her to things if she is going to behave the way she does? Do you think she will change? I would advise you to spend some times learning about dysfunctional families, and how they often never change, and neer accept that they are in the wrong - so we have to leave them behind knowing they will happily blame us for it all - and often to our friends or remaining family.

Here is why I said it is important to create a sense of yourself. You are the only one who needs to understand what you feel and why. and then act upon it. Are you in a position to be able to pay a counsellor for some support in the early days? That will help understand her when she lies, tries to drag others into her side, chases you, tries to make you feel guilty etc.

Good luck. But dont feel bad and ill any longer. This personality defect is her problem not yours. x

NameChangeToGo Wed 07-Aug-13 13:44:47

Also, just to add that my understanding of her childhood is based solely on her own relaying of it, all of which is 'poor little me' and requires sympathy. So I feel guilty for not always being sympathetic of that poor little girl and angry that she can't take responsibility for her adult response to that and guilty...... And so on.

This is rather enlightening.

NameChangeToGo Wed 07-Aug-13 13:45:51

X post, have to go but will come back to yours soon, s2s

MumnGran Wed 07-Aug-13 13:56:19

I empathise so much with feeling totally isolated in your pain, because everyone sees your mother as being 'lovely'. Mine was a social success in every way, was the pillar of the community, my friends thought she was super. My brother was also a golden child, so any attempt to verify my view of my mother ran into the wall of his totally different experience.

I empathise also with the extreme subtlety of the manipulations and punishments, although mine could be very obviously abusive if the mood took her.
It is particularly hard to deal with the guilt feelings if one rejects or disagrees with them in any way. That stems from being trained from the cradle that their approval is crucial to ones' wellbeing.

You are, I think, at that most difficult stage of having finally realised the reality of your relationship, and of all that entails. It is so hard, and you might find that you experience an emotional backlash of depressive feelings in the coming days.
Deciding on a No Contact relationship is a scary decision, and the right one for many people, but is not likely to be right for you when still at this very new place of realising what has really been happening in the parent/child dynamic, for so many years.
Take it stage by stage.
Perhaps the first of those stages is to accept that you are not in the wrong to defy your mother if you wish. Daughters with normal mothers do it all the time, because their mothers support their adult choices. You have absolute validation, and can find it on the highly supportive threads here.

It takes time to work through the feelings, and to learn to establish new boundaries. I really recommend organising some counselling or therapy so you have backup for yourself in the process of disengaging.
It helps a lot.


NameChangeToGo Wed 07-Aug-13 20:31:50

S2S, you mention telling her square on WHY I am choosing to create some space between us. This is an interesting one. Firstly, while I'm usually pretty outspoken, I do avoid bringing up anything with mum because the defensive, poor little me act is insane and drives me to distraction. And yes, does make me feel horribly guilty despite how ridiculous I can see that it is. Secondly, I've reached the point where I care slightly less about all that and would be prepared to say something. But what? It's the sum of a million parts over nearly 40 years and individually, it's all so difficult to summarise and easy to deny.

You're right about the invites. That's one area I can safely say no more. I've spoken to DH about that this evening.

Mumngran, sorry to hear that your mum was so obviously abusive. That must have been really hard in contrast to her social image. Your comment about approval rings true. I thought briefly about showing this thread and my first thought was 'I could never do that, she'd be so hurt'.

I've been thinking about getting some counselling. I'm not quite ready though, I seem to be in denial in RL that this is actually true, iykwim. Writing on here has made it clear that there is a tangible issue when it comes to her mixing with anyone except immediate family, which is why I can feel strong about putting an end to that.

foreverondiet Wed 07-Aug-13 20:42:16

My mum is a bit like this, I don't cut her put yet I have emotionally distanced myself and accept she can't change. I leave it for her to call me, communicate mainly by what app in group with my Dad and siblings so if she is rude it's seen by everyone and she can't gaslight. I have moved in iyswim .... She lives in different city - comes to stay for a weekend maybe 3x a year. It's fine- we aren't close but it works for me.

something2say Wed 07-Aug-13 20:52:03

Name change, hi.

Often at your stage of working things out (in my view anyway..) the temptation is to talk to the person to try and hash it out.

Then you get stuck in THEIR cycle and behaviour.

Or you just cut them off and nothing ever really gets said.

I am in favour of a middle ground, if she won't physically hurt you for it.

I would think it all through yourself away from her. Work out a summary, such as 'you piss me right off with your childish self centered behaviour. I've had enough of you for now so don't ring me please.' Then she knows that you are upset, and a bit about why, but you dot get caught in her cycle.

This is quite scary to do though and watch for an aftermath.

After that, it reads to me as tho you really would value some support in the way you see it and the millions of little cuts that have added up to this ow great wound. Can you either get to that stage yourself and with your husband, or can you pay to talk it through with someone? You don't have to explain to her and if you do, she won't understand and will trot out all of the behaviours.

But it really is alright for her to know, fact, and you to say, baldly, and for her to be open mouthed and you to walk off. It is alright to feel scared after that, but then let the dust settle and see how you feel. Maybe proud? Maybe lighter and free?

Avoid talking about it with anyone who will put you down and not understand. I think you need to get to the heart of what she is all about and what she has done to hurt you, so that you are able to take it from there.

Has she been selfish and immature? Has she been deliberately weak and fake? Has she sold you out or let you down? Is there any sort of real connection there?

That is the heart for me. The sadness. The reason we don't give up a lot quicker. Get support for any grief you may feel as you come to the realisation that she may never be the mother you wish. But even as that is true, you can be the woman you wish xxxx. Starting by being true to yourself. Even with your own mother, who should have taught you that very thing xxx

NameChangeToGo Wed 07-Aug-13 21:27:16

You're spot on when you say I need to avoid talking about it with anyone who doesn't understand. And as I slowly start to feel like I understand it more myself, I feel less bothered about that.

Somewhere up thread someone mentioned histrionic PD, I'm sorry I can't seem to find it, but this also describes my mother to a tee, she must be a combination of the two.

I just feel such relief that I'm not going completely mad and the support on here is absolutely priceless. Even DH, who is also driven crazy by her, doesn't understand the half of it.

thanks to all of you, more than you may know.

NameChangeToGo Wed 07-Aug-13 21:47:48

PS... again s2s I'm going to come back to some of your other questions and comments a little later... giving myself a little time to digest what I've read this evening, but I think working through some of what you've asked will be very constructive x

NameChangeToGo Thu 08-Aug-13 12:03:19

One of the symptoms of histrionic PD, and actually it seems to be one of the key summary features, is being overly or inappropriately sexual/flirty. While the other points describe her very accurately, this one is not so much the case, but again has made me think.

Weird things relating to this......

1. Her inappropriate 'flashing' - sitting in a ridiculous position on the floor whilst wearing a dress and no underwear. I pick her up on this every time she does it so it doesn't happen too often, but it happens.

2. Her bizarre approach to my own sexuality as a teenager. My sex ed was 'not before you're married' and that I would go to hell if I did (she's a firm Christian). When it became fairly clear that my uni boyfriend and I were sleeping together, she cried all morning and barely spoke to me for a long time. There were other examples... she absolutely could not entertain the possibility of me having that kind of relationship. My boyfriend when I was at school was entirely unwelcome and I was made to feel like some sort of floozy for having one at all. The same applied to male friends. I could write for hours about my teenage years.

3. Her general [portrayed] prudishness about sex. She has often told stories about someone at work fancying her inappropriately, or someone who upset her once with their demonic flirty behaviour at a party. Or an ex-boyfriend who, would you believe it - wanted to KISS her! [Shock] Come to think of it, I can't imagine relaying any comparable stories to my own daughter unless there was a very specific context. She's only one though, so I can't say for sure smile

4. Strange, quasi-sexual body language. I would never have labelled it as sexual until DH tentatively joked about it one day. Now I find it quite unnerving! It's mostly a discomfort thing I think. But yes, the actions themselves would usually be described as flirtatious or sexual, when not accompanied by the wrong facial expression.

5. Her body image is terrible. I am certain she has an eating disorder, which manifests itself in an ongoing series of diets/allergies. Every time she will talk to us at great length about the benefits and the difference it's made to her, she will buy in all the necessary ingredients to follow it religiously, make us all do the same so that we can accommodate her when she comes, then binge eat exactly the foods she should be avoiding.
She has obsessed about her figure for as long as I can remember, although when we were little she was skinny "because we didn't have enough money to feed all of us and you two came first".

NameChangeToGo Thu 08-Aug-13 12:21:46

S2S I would LOVE, really love to be able to get to the heart of why she hurts me so much. I think that's a big part of the reason I'm writing so much on here.

I think I might be getting there though, I'm pretty sure it has something to do with insecurity and jealousy on her part. We're fine as long as she can take credit for everything, or relate everything back to herself, or generally view me as an extension of herself. If she's ever challenged though, things get a bit messy.

Your comment that I can be the woman I wish is something I'm really trying to take to heart. I worry that I've had such a crappy parenting model that I'll fall into the same traps, in the same way as I sometimes come out with stuff she says without realising it until it's out there. But that fact is, when it's out, I realise it. When I do stuff that is a bit 'narcy', I check myself fast, even before I knew what NPD was. I need to believe that I don't have to be the same as her.

NameChangeToGo Thu 08-Aug-13 12:33:20

Since she left on Monday, I've had 9 messages from her. The first one I answered.

Message 8 said (to summarise) that she was worried about me and I sent a brief reply.

Message 9 said "thanx 4 txt. Good to hear from you. Hope you had a good day with B. love to aj [assume that means all!]. Mumx

My initial response was aargh ffs, good to hear from me?! You were HERE two days ago and I've text you twice since then.

And then I felt completely unreasonable. It's a head fuck.

NameChangeToGo Thu 08-Aug-13 12:36:18

Last one for now.... I've just reread my post above where I said that as long as it's all about her, we're fine. But we're not. She is. I am not fine at all being considered solely as an extension of my mother. It really does need to change.

something2say Thu 08-Aug-13 12:50:13

Just on the sexual post - what I sense is that she has issues with sexuality...maybe she was abused....maybe she internalised how things used to be for sex is wrong because it can get you pregnant and then how can you take care of yourself, so avoid sex and pregnancy at all costs.....juxtaposed with the fact that sex is natural and normal, hence the way her sexuality comes out sideways...with the weird sitting positions and not wearing any knickers.......

However, none of this is your problem and she obv doesn't have the wherewithall to go off and get her head straight on the matter....all she is doing is being the problem herself......I support you in distancing yourself while you sort it out yourself....

Now I will read the reas of your posts...

something2say Thu 08-Aug-13 12:53:53

Re your post at the top of this page, we could go on and on about why she is like she is, but the real thing I am interested in the impact that she has had on you.

Her problems need to be pushed back to her space now, and yours dragged out. It sounds like it has been all about her for too long, so now it can be all about you.

I think after a while of being apart from her, you will feel better all by yourself. Anything else you do to tweak your own thoughts / behaviour / actions will just be icing on the cake.

But in the meanwhile, maybe start a list fo things you need to think through? Such as your fight or flight response, your boundaries, your self image, your pattern around anger, your denial - all of which will have been forged in her crucible, but now can come out into the light of day and be assessed in their own light in terms of how useful they are to you today....


something2say Thu 08-Aug-13 12:56:59

It seems to me that your mother has an issue with boundaries - where she ends and other people begin. And she has to be made happy by others all the time, regardless of their actual thoughts and needs.

So whats your plan for now?

And if you did not have her and the guilt to contend with, what would your plan be? x and is there a differenmce, and if it has to be different because of her response, then you are being controlled by someone else's behaviour (guilt, fear, sense of obligation, demands etc) - and that is no way to live....and it is OK to tell them this, point blank, and then cut them off for a while......x

NameChangeToGo Thu 08-Aug-13 13:06:53

Your posts are brilliant, they're really making me think and are pulling me out of my usual dead-end thought process on this.

Again, I'll come back when I've thought about them a bit more x

MumnGran Thu 08-Aug-13 13:15:44

As I've said OP. I think this is absolutely a real problem with your Mum, and you are in a stage where you need to look at lots of aspects. It may be very useful to focus on how your experiences were as a young child, because much of that will have informed the way you react to both your mother and many other 'issues' today.
Finding a real diagnosis for her may help you in validating exactly what you see as being unreasonable, or unhealthy, but it is not the most important thing. What matters most is acknowledging how her behaviours are affecting you, and disengaging from damaging patterns.....whether they fit into a profile or not.

One word of caution. It is easy, and normal, to ascribe everything as being abnormal - if it presses a button for you - but not every behaviour will be aberrant (I would hope!) Some aspects will be 'normal' irritating mothers stuff .... your last post actually made me seriously question myself, as I could very easily have had the text exchanges you write about....and have done! though I would probably have made more than one typo in the texts
From a 'normal' parent standpoint (and I only have my kids validation on that one, but they tell me I am definitely not the narc that my mother was) I would have made text 9, in those circumstances, and added the 'good to hear from you' not as an upbraid or criticism, but just because I would have been relieved to hear if I had sent a text mentioning I was worried about my DD.
That is because I text pretty much as I think ....which might not be a good thing, but is not exclusive to narcs!! And also because we text a lot in our family, so continuing to chat after seeing each other a couple of days before would be very usual.

As I said right back at the start .... I think your concerns and feelings are wholly justified, so only wanted to mention this because it is important to sort in your own head what crosses your boundary line as 'wrong' ...and what is a foible which all mothers have one form or another. another.

YoungBritishPissArtist Thu 08-Aug-13 13:17:42

Gosh, namechange, I can really relate, in my case, it's my dad.

The stomach feeling tight and verging on panic - yes, this hmm
When he's gone after we've spent time together, I feel so drained and exhausted, like an empty shell.

Maybe your mum was sexually abused? Not that this in any way excuses her behaviour towards you, but could be an explanation.

Well done for writing this, and thank you x

HowlerMonkey Thu 08-Aug-13 13:19:36

I just saw the opening part of your post and was going to recommend the Daughters site, but I see you've been there already.

My mother is like this too. It sucks. ((()))

HowlerMonkey Thu 08-Aug-13 13:23:50

Jesus, I've now read your WHOLE post.

You are a little girl in a women's body. You consider your childish affectations to be somehow charming. I champion strong women and it pains me that the woman I should be able to look up to and respect is such a child.

I can't hug you or tell you I love you. I turned it off during my teenage years (a very dark time at home for me) and can't turn it back on again. I hate it when you touch me.

Something about the rise in intonation at the end and the pause which suggests you're again fishing for validation (the search for validation, about everything from your clothes to your opinions, is constant and draining).

I always end up feeling as if I've just booted a small puppy, no matter how light-hearted or innocuous the comment.

Yes, yes, yes, yes.

NameChangeToGo Thu 08-Aug-13 13:25:27

Mumngran, thanks for your perspective and it's part of the reason it's so tricky. I suppose the question is, would you have sent one of your kids 9 (it was 10, actually, I forgot one of the emails smile ) messages over the course of 36 hours, even if they hadn't had the chance to reply (or had chosen not to) for 24 of those? I answered the first text so chances of me combusting without her presence were at least eliminated smile Would you really have been that worried had you not heard anything -knowing how busy we are- for a day?

But yes, the text could just as easily have been completely innocuous.

NameChangeToGo Thu 08-Aug-13 13:25:54

Oops x post will read the others now

MumnGran Thu 08-Aug-13 13:43:33

No, I would not have sent 10 texts without having had replies that made it an 'exchange' not a monologue. At the most, I might send two (because I had a swift follow-up thought, or if I hadn't heard back to the 1st after a day, simply because that would be unusual)
So, you can safely move that one into the 'not normal' column smile

You will identify more & more screwed up things because you are now fully aware. You are likely to see-saw a lot, emotionally. It is likely that anger, worry, fear and possibly depressive feelings will dominate your life in the coming days, and may run riot. This is very normal in your situation. However badly skewed your growing up has been by your mother, it has been your normality and realising that the relationship really is very far from normal is a real shock to the system. The validation is a wonderful thing, but takes some getting used to after so long.

I am concerned if you have support though, because even when we are intellectually aware, emotions ride high? do you have someone close to you that you would be happy to really open up to about this? maybe show them this thread so you don't have to explain everything, if that might be hard? just someone who will be rock solid for you, as you start to disengage?
What matters here is not your mother ...but you.

NameChangeToGo Thu 08-Aug-13 13:45:45

YBPA it's rubbish isn't it. And really strange that it can evoke such a physical reaction, don't you think?? I find the more people are around, the more diluted it is. If it's just me and her - the first panic attack was out at lunch, so we were facing each other and there was really no distraction - it's incredibly difficult. Thank you for replying, it's helping so much to know I'm not the only one who feels this way x

Howlermonkey, that site is good, isn't it. The page on engulfing mothers could have been written about mine. I nearly cried when I read it.

NameChangeToGo Thu 08-Aug-13 14:24:54

Also howlermonkey, it meant a lot that you related to those parts of the post.

Mumngran, you see I wouldn't have placed it so firmly in the not normal column had you not challenged it. I just get caught up in a fuzzy kind of guilt. I don't know if I have anyone in RL I can talk to properly about this. I can talk most honestly with DH, but even he doesn't really get the extent of it, although he is affected by it too. The fact that he doesn't have the history or the biological connection means that ultimately, she's just his weird, annoying MIL. He's good to talk to if it's focusing on a clear plan, but he's not so great at talking for hours about feelings. If I do get the crash, I think I'll need to consider counselling more seriously. At the moment, I feel relief. I suspected there was more to it, I spoke to DH about that the last time saw her, but neither of us had any idea what it could be, so that was that.

tangerinefeathers Thu 08-Aug-13 14:36:18

I remember well reading the description on that daughters of narcissistic mothers website and going into shock. I was completely in denial, though, thought my mother was a saint, whereas it sounds as if you were already more aware of the effect yours had on you.

It is really true that there's only so far you can go with trying to understand her. Once you see what she's up to it can really mess with your head - narcs are so predictable and obvious once you are onto them - and there's a strong urge to pull them up on it, to confront them, but really it's pointless as they don't change and don't think they have a problem.

What is more important is managing the effect that she has on you and finding ways to protect yourself and also make yourself feel less drained and affected by her. A break can help, as can gradually reducing contact. It does take time, but I can now spend time with my mother and be quite firm and straight with her about what I will and won't accept and when I leave she isn't filling my head so much with her gameplaying and scapegoating.

It's about achieving a more cool-headed distance so you can think to yourself 'now she's manipulating me; now she's lying, now she's being melodramatic, now she's bringing up the golden child's superior behaviour ' etc but without getting drawn into it. Sometimes these days I even have a good laugh with my DH about something she's said or done.

It's hard though. It would be so lovely to have a normal mother, one who is genuinely maternal and kind and straightforwardly supportive.

GoodtoBetter Thu 08-Aug-13 15:39:55

Hello OP.

Your thread struck a chord with me as I have a mother who fits very well into the narcissistic engulfing/histrionic disorder. She doesn't have all the traits, but I expect most people don't and she doesn't really have the weird sexuality thing (although she was abused by a trusted adult...not a family member but an adult in a position of responsibility).

I had a long running thread about my mother and gradually realising why she seemed to hate my DH and eventually moving out of the house we shared with her (that she'd manipulated us into moving into, "to look after her"). I'd always known we had a bit of a stifling relationship and had always felt totally responsible for her happiness, but it didn't really all slot into place until she over played her hand and I came here for advice and then read the daughters of narcissictic mothers site and it was like someone describing her, even down to the stock phrases.

I haven't gone NC, but have been working at detaching and I totally agree with a PP (sorry, can't scroll back to see who said it):
It's about achieving a more cool-headed distance so you can think to yourself 'now she's manipulating me; now she's lying, now she's being melodramatic, now she's bringing up the golden child's superior behaviour ' etc but without getting drawn into it.

Mine does the opposite about contact, I see her once or twice a week with DCs in carefully controlled situations, but she rarely contacts me apart from that. She moans about my brother not being in touch, but then doesn't contact him herself.

She had a golden child (me, hence the engulfing) and a scapegoat in my DBro. Now reversed since I moved out. She also appears to have a gc and a sg in my children, my DS (5) being golden and my DD (2) being the scapegoat. In fact, we're away at the mo and I last spoke to her on Monday and mentioned DD had had d&v and there's been nothing since, but when DS had a slight urine infection that I mentioned on a Sunday, she was texting by the Tues to ask after him. sad.


Do you still seek her approval on some level?.

It is nigh on impossible to actually be able to carefully control such situations. She will do to them what she has done to you and your brother, you are already seeing evidence of this.

I was not surprised to read that your mother now has established for herself both a scapegoat and golden child in your own children now. Some parents really should not have access to their grandchildren.

I state that as these dysfunctional toxic people make for being dysfunctional and toxic grandparents as well. I would think very carefully about the current level of contact she has with your children; they need positive role models, not toxic ones.

GoodtoBetter Thu 08-Aug-13 16:10:11

You are probably right Attila but it's the best I can do atm. I only really figured it out at xmas and moved out of her house in Jan so I'm still finding my way and getting used to her not occupying my entire headspace all the time and walking on eggshells all the time. It's been a huge, life-changing event and I'm only at the start of a long journey.

NameChangeToGo Thu 08-Aug-13 20:37:54

It's hard though. It would be so lovely to have a normal mother, one who is genuinely maternal and kind and straightforwardly supportive

This made me cry a little. That's the real heart of it for me, right there. I'm going to have to get better at managing her behaviour, which has been difficult because it's all so subtle that it creates a shifting sense of reality. Often, when I haven't seen her for a month or so, I'll actually be looking forward to seeing her. It's like a kind of amnesia. Because its never actually any different. I've always felt that I don't want to be the bitch who tells her mother she's not welcome in her home (and she has previously completely ignored specific limits I've put in place anyway and I've caved because of this guilt). I do feel optimistic now about this side of it, that I'm gaining a different perspective and can approach it with greater strength.

But, I've always felt the loss of the mother I thought I had when I was very young deeply and consciously and that's a side of it which isn't going to go away.

NameChangeToGo Thu 08-Aug-13 21:06:36

GoodtoBetter I think you're very brave.

TheCrackFox Thu 08-Aug-13 21:10:34

You have my huge sympathies

My mum is very similar - nothing truly awful (I wasn't made to eat out of a dog bowl or anything like that) - just a drip, drip effect over 40 yrs.

It must be lovely to have a mum who is supportive and, well normal. My triumphs and successes have been rubbished and my tragedies revelled in.

GoodtoBetter Thu 08-Aug-13 21:31:01

Aw thanks Namechange I'm not really. I think braver would be to go even lower contact and spell out the favouritism with my DCs or maybe even complete NC but that's complex and I'm not up to it. Low contact and boundaries seem to be working okayish for now. I put up with too much shit for a long time and then she just went too far and went for DH the last time and then when I wouldn't back down as usual she went apeshit and showed her true colours and the FOG lifted and then you can't unsee it iyswim. So there's no way but on thru it, like in we're going on a bear hunt. sad

YoungBritishPissArtist Fri 09-Aug-13 08:17:44

Namechange - yy to more people diluting the effect! Meeting my dad alone, if we're in a cafe or restaurant, is so draining, he's like an emotional vampire. I'm going to read up on narcissism.

I can also recommend a book, Toxic parents by Susan Forward. I bought it a while ago but couldn't continue reading as it was too upsetting. Like you, I wish I had a "normal" dad and it was just too painful to pick up this book and see my dad's behaviour written there.

LemonDrizzled Fri 09-Aug-13 08:52:30

Hi Namechange it is good to hear you gaining clarity and strength from this thread. It sounds as though you are helping a lot of people too.

My exMIL is just like your DM, down to the little girl voice, the weird flirting and the insistence on my DH spending all his spare time with her. he is the GC and his DB is the SG.

Very early on we realised we could never please her because she always wanted more of him, and in due course the GC. SO we decided how much time we could spare her, and limited it to that.Whatever we had decided would have been too little.

Incidentally I have come to feel sorry for her now she is 80. She has no real friends because she drives them away. Her huge family treat her like a joke when she kicks off. And when my marriage broke down one of the plus factors was never having to see her again!

GoodtoBetter Fri 09-Aug-13 08:53:14

YoungBritishPissArtist my mum ticks about half of those things on the will I ever be good enough site. sad

NameChangeToGo Fri 09-Aug-13 09:33:54

I have to share a very strange realisation I've had <dramatic pause smile >

I grew up believing my brother was the favourite. I hated him for it, we did not get on at all until we left home. When it turned out we got on brilliantly. But anyway. The understanding that he is the favourite is actually a part of my identity, it was such a massive part of growing up.

At first I didn't bother reading much about the SG/GC thing as it was so obvious.

But then... Something I read rang a very distant bell. And I started reading more and have realised that I was the golden child. It never felt like that, because she was so engulfing, it felt like my brother had more trust and freedom and less expectation (I interpreted it as she'd still love him even if he didn't achieve highly). It's been like a light has been turned on. And explains about a million things.

Very very strange to get my head around.

Sorry, will come back to other posts later x

HoleyGhost Fri 09-Aug-13 09:52:31

I think scapegoats are better off in the long run compared to golden children.

It must be lovely to have a mum who is supportive and, well normal. My triumphs and successes have been rubbished and my tragedies revelled in

This. All my life my mother has undermined me.

MumnGran Fri 09-Aug-13 09:58:13

Another shock to the system, OP
Deep breath time.
You have taken a massive amount on board, in a very short space of time.

I don't agree that GC's have a worse time than SG's. Just different. But still just as destructive to the child, and sense of self.
My GC older brother went NC years before I managed to.

MumnGran Fri 09-Aug-13 09:58:58

apologies Holey ....I realise you didn't say "have a worse time"!

HoleyGhost Fri 09-Aug-13 10:37:12

It is just an opinion based on limited experience. It often seems easier for the rejected sg to break free

I do envy the gc for having had someone on their side and having had happier childhoods compared to the sg

NameChangeToGo Fri 09-Aug-13 10:59:47

Holey - in our case, my childhood was not at all happier. It was dreadful. The thing is that she did (and does) revel in my achievements, but only in the sense that to her, they were her own. I don't know how to describe how suffocating that is.

Mumngran, I think you're right. I won't be able to get on as much in the next few days, which I think is probably a good thing. I'll be dipping in and out though and will be back properly next week. There are many, many thought provoking questions and statements on this thread.

NameChangeToGo Fri 09-Aug-13 11:00:29

(Ps holey, not at all trying to make this sound like a competition! I can imagine it is equally shit to be a SG)

NameChangeToGo Fri 09-Aug-13 11:01:26

Oh, and she wasn't 'on my side', it simply isn't a normal relationship for any of us, I guess.

NameChangeToGo Fri 09-Aug-13 11:45:48

Yet another ps for holey - I think I may have got a bit confused about your side of it and can't even work out quite where I got it wrong, my head's spinning a bit. Sorry if I've got what you said mixed up (I think I need a wine !)

tangerinefeathers Fri 09-Aug-13 13:33:55

I think being a golden child is tough because you have to remain in denial to stay in favour. My sister is the GC and my mother is totally smothering, to the point where she steals from my sister the achievement of living an independent adult life. I remember seeing a mother's day card from her to my mother saying 'I could never thank you enough for everything you do for me.' And that is genuinely how she sees it, whereas I see that my sister has to share the parenting of her children, for example, with my mother; she wouldn't feel capable of looking after her children on her own, because she's never been given a chance.

Being a scapegoat is shit because you're the scapegoat. Fundamentally problematic. It's hard not to believe that, because it gets drilled into you so much from such a young age.

I also know what it's like to have a mother who revels in your failures and sadness. I didn't realise my mother did this until I read that DONM website, but her behaviour suddenly made sense. When i hit rock bottom she's the kindest soul in the world, but I have to be really down to see that side of her. When things are going well it's as if she simply doesn't see it. And yet if I tried to explain this to anyone it would be almost impossible to get them to see it - except I can write it here and know that it's understood.

I know how it feels to wish for a different mother. I had a rather tragic moment a few months ago when this lovely children's tv presenter was rocking her teddy bear and singing to it and it completely undid me because she looked so loving and kind blush. But tears are good. What I have realised is that because I didn't get that loving mother it's something i have to do for myself. And luckily my Ds will never feel the way I did, it stops with me.

Anyway NameChangeToGo thanks for starting this thread with your letter. It does get easier. And there are many people on MN with a similar experience, I have had some wonderful insights and advice on here, probably the best was someone saying simply 'your mother is crazy!'

NameChangeToGo Fri 09-Aug-13 19:53:49

tangerine sad (()) I know what you mean about those moments. Seeing my friends with their mothers always sets me off, although I guess that's a bit more predictable!

I'm wondering if anyone else gets the amnesia.

Firstly, I get it every time I've seen her - the first couple of days are the aftermath, when I have to physically recover. Then the relief that I have my own space back when I can start to get over it emotionally. Then, and it takes less than a week, I struggle to remember exactly what caused the problem. I can remember the effect but for the most part not really the cause. Does that make any sense to anybody?

Then something else I hadn't realised. Me being the GC makes a lot of sense but I can't remember my brother being the SG as such. I can think of certain clear examples in a general sense but remember, until today I was certain he was the favourite, in the more traditional sense. So I tried to think back to our teenage years. Again, I can remember the effects - the times of depression and some pretty self destructive behaviour on my part and spending as much time away from home as I could in the last couple of years there... As a result of spending so much time away with friends I also have some wonderful memories of that time. I also do remember some of the particularly notable incidents as there were some awful scenes as I fought for my independence. But day-to-day stuff at home... Nothing. How strange is that?

GoodtoBetter Fri 09-Aug-13 20:29:13

I know what you mean a bit about the amnesia. I am currently engaged in a game of chicken with my mother. Haven't spoken or texted since Monday (when I said DD had had d&v) and I'm interested to see how long she'll leave it without contacting us. We're not back til about the 17th so could be an extended game. My mother is the opposite to yours OP and doesn't contact. I do all the running. I'm not sure why really. I suppose it means the contact is in my terms and I also feel beyond reproach...she can't do the whole martyr thing about being abandoned if I keep in touch. But I really want to see how long she'll leave it, especially knowing her GD has been ill. sad

NameChangeToGo Fri 09-Aug-13 20:43:20

I wonder what she'd do if you just didn't get in contact for a very long time hmm. What's the longest you've ever gone without speaking to her?

GoodtoBetter Fri 09-Aug-13 20:50:52

Since moving out, not very...about this long? That's why I'm tempted to do nothing and see what happens. Especially as she knows DD has been unwell.sad

NameChangeToGo Fri 09-Aug-13 20:57:47

My mum would never think of calling in those circumstances, either. She might call by chance after some event or illness, but even then it doesn't occur to her to ask about it, she just talks about whatever fluff is in her head that day. Very occasionally she might remember, but it's rare and sometimes just a ruse to start another conversation about her!

How's your daughter now, is she any better?

GoodtoBetter Fri 09-Aug-13 21:11:43

But what's pissing me off is that if it were DS I think she'd have texted by now. DD is fine, thanks smile . My mum also does the talking about fluff thing. She tells me these great long monologues about tennis players (she loves tennis)...on and on and on. She knows I have no interest in it but she can talk for 5 or 10 mins about it.

GoodtoBetter Fri 09-Aug-13 21:12:34

with me going "um, ah ha hmmm" the whole time.

NameChangeToGo Fri 09-Aug-13 21:20:59

5-10 minutes? That's rookie ;)

When I was at uni and our talks were on the landline, I could put the handset down, go into the kitchen, make a drink and get back to the phone without her ever noticing I'd gone. I told her that once, a few years later, joking around. The next three phonecalls she didn't say a word, not one it was bliss . Then it went straight back to normal.

Yep, I've got the um ah hmmm down too, although it's entirely superfluous smile

GoodtoBetter Fri 09-Aug-13 21:29:53

Mine talks and talks and talks in social situations...if I have friends with me or she's with me and we bump into someone. Really embarrassing. When I lived with her I never had people over cos she jusy took over the conversation completely.sad

NameChangeToGo Sat 10-Aug-13 07:37:57

How is everyone - goodtobetter have you heard from your mum?

Playing on my mind this morning.... I believe that I was the GC in the sense that I was the one she saw as an extension of herself. She has fantasies of what the mother/daughter relationship should be like and tries hard to mould us into that. Unfortunately (for her) I'm not really cut out for that, being insanely independent since being very tiny, and so I have never really achieved true GC status because alongside my (her) achievements, I disappoint her on a daily basis. My brother doesn't have the same capacity to disappoint, so has never achieved true SG status.

I think if I was like the sister of a poster above (ie, grateful on any level for the interference), we might fit the more traditional roles.

GoodtoBetter Sat 10-Aug-13 09:14:50

Nope, not a sausage. That rings bells though about being an extension of her but then I am also independent. I remember wanting to emigrate to Canada when I was about 10 and I now live abroad and have done since I was mid 20s. She unfortunately followed me and now lives in the same village shock (see engulfing reference from beforegrin ). At least we don't actually live in the same house any more. The wanting a perfect mother daughter relationship also makes me think. My mother had a terrible relationship with her mother. Says she remembers knowing as a little girl that she didn't love her. She also felt unprotected by her over the sexual abuse. My mother has made a big thing of how "close" we are/were and one of the things that provoked her narcissistic rage when we had the big row was that I was a disappointment (by disagreeing) and that I was disrespecting her (by disagreeing). My DBro has always fitted much more easily into sg as he was a pain when younger in terms of pissing about at school, drinking etc.

mrsdavidcassidy Sat 10-Aug-13 09:36:55

Sorry but I haven't read all the replies.
That was my mum. Everything was about her etc. I cut her out of my life for about six years. It was lovely. I then started to contact her again a couple of years ago as I felt guilty.
She died suddenly in May. Since then all sorts of skeletons have come out of the closet.
I don't know how I feel about her dying, and don't know what to do with my feelings. It's very strange.
I don't really have much advice to give you. All I can say is that I'm very glad I cut her out of my life, but very glad I had resumed contact before she died.
I'm sorry for hijacking your thread. You do have my sympathy as its an awful situation. I think you have to do what makes you feel happy and not think about what other people might think about your actions.

GoodtoBetter Sat 10-Aug-13 16:42:14

Really struggling with not texting her. Feel I should somehow, but I know that's silly. Such a hold over me still. sad

NameChangeToGo Sat 10-Aug-13 18:06:26

Mrsdavidcassidy, not hijacking at all. Sorry to hear about your mum. I can sort of imagine how confusing and complicated those feelings are sad I do think about that sometimes.

Goodtobetter do you want to text her? Do you think you could gain anything from not getting in contact yet?

GoodtoBetter Sat 10-Aug-13 19:44:21

I phoned her and it was the usual old crap. <Sigh>

NameChangeToGo Sat 10-Aug-13 20:00:39

One of the strangest things for me, linked to the 'amnesia' I guess, is that on some deep rooted level I can't quite shake the feeling that next time it will be better. Or that if I could just be a bit more tolerant it would be fine. Despite decades of evidence to the contrary. But I would have to actively ignore her to not speak to her. Do you think that's what makes you phone your mum?

GoodtoBetter Sat 10-Aug-13 20:21:57

She's obviously in a strop. I last phoned on Monday and mentioned DD had vomiting and diarrhoea. I thought she'd text to ask after her in a few days.....nothing. So I got a bit annoyed because when DS was ill last month (with a slight urine infection) on a Sunday she asked after him by the Tuesday. So, I thought...hmm...wonder how long she'll leave it. We're on holiday, she can ring or text me if she wants...nothing. It's Saturday and nothing so I decided to phone so she can't accuse me of abandoning her or anything. And it's all the sad sounding short answers. It's hot, blah blah. No attempt at conversation. Obviously feeling all woe is me, alone, abandoned, they don't even phone me blah blah. So after about 5 minutes of trying to get blood out of the proverbial stone I said it was time to put the kids to bed and I'd send a text with a photo of them, which I've just done and there's been no response.
This is because I haven't been phoning every couple of days like I used to do. But's only been 5 days...why can't she just text? Why does she do that, never ring and then throw a pouty wobbly when people don't go running after her?

GoodtoBetter Sat 10-Aug-13 20:24:52

yy I spent years desperately trying to "fix" things, to make her happy, to the point where she came first in everything, we ended up living with her and she took up so much head space and nothing I did ever made things better, in fact she just got more and more difficult and miserable. There is a deep rooted urge in me to be perfect, make things perfect or her. And that is what I'm trying to stop and what she doesn't like. It's a hard habit to break.

NameChangeToGo Sat 10-Aug-13 20:42:00

S2S and others asked some really insightful questions earlier up thread about moving on from mum's behaviour and focusing on my own... When DH is out tomorrow eve and my head has settled a bit after all that I've realised, I'm going to back and try to answer them.. Maybe we should do some of them together?!!

GoodtoBetter Sat 10-Aug-13 20:48:12

Good idea Name (and sorry if I'm hijacking your thread a bit).

I'm going to have a good think about this from S2S:
It seems to me that your mother has an issue with boundaries - where she ends and other people begin. And she has to be made happy by others all the time, regardless of their actual thoughts and needs.

So whats your plan for now?

And if you did not have her and the guilt to contend with, what would your plan be? x and is there a differenmce, and if it has to be different because of her response, then you are being controlled by someone else's behaviour (guilt, fear, sense of obligation, demands etc) - and that is no way to live....and it is OK to tell them this, point blank, and then cut them off for a while......x

NameChangeToGo Sat 10-Aug-13 20:56:07

Much less lonely with a hijack grin

And yes, that's the part I've had bouncing around in my head, though I haven't found a clear space to actually answer it yet!

I had similar (not identical) experiences with my mother but what is interesting is the effect she has on you physically.

You're describing what was happening to me - but the effects started to control my whole life. When I got married I moved away - she moved as well to be close. I felt despair like nothing before - I could never be free.

Nearly three years ago I cut all contact. It was the most painful thing I ever had to do and I still feel distraught some days that I have no family at all now ( they feel sorry for her and cannot understand the effect she had on me). But she was making me mentally and physically very ill.

I can only suggest the same action for you because I cannot even conceive of living like I was for ever...I would have ended my life. Please put yourself first - you need to protect yourself.

NameChangeToGo Sat 10-Aug-13 21:08:06

You both describe something which scares me - my mum currently lives a long way (plane ride) away, so while her visits are frequent and increasingly long (which needs to be more carefully controlled...) she cannot be part of my everyday life.

However, she talks A LOT about moving close to us. I honestly think that she thinks she might move in with us one day. Which simply cannot be an option and yes, I need to protect myself and my family from this.

youcanring that sounds incredibly tough, you must be so strong to have cut contact.

GoodtoBetter Sat 10-Aug-13 21:16:25

Yes, be careful. I moved across Europe and my bonkers mother followed me and reused to take my advice to rent first, then quickly decided she hated it but couldn't afford to go back. Guilt tripped me and manipulated me into selling my house and moving in to hers to "look after her" (turns out she can manage fine when she has to).
During a row a few years ago she told me it was wrong of me to have moved away and that she "had to" follow me hmm.

Namechange - I feel weak for doing what I did and not just getting on with it. But I hit rock bottom - panic attacks before visits..days afterwards in a daze and shock. Nothing obvious would even happen...but that subliminal control from my mum and her jealousy over my step dad 'liking' me (too much as it turned out sad)

I hope you find the strength to do what is best for YOU whichever way that is. I sent a letter. I heard nothing from them since but I was convinced they would show up at my door. Instead they were 'broken' apparently and that was how it ended.

NameChangeToGo Sat 10-Aug-13 21:28:42

There's a chance that yours might even be a teeny tiny bit bonkers-er than mine........ hmm

NameChangeToGo Sat 10-Aug-13 21:31:36

Above post to good

youcan sad that sounds horrific. From what little you've told us I think it can safely be labelled the strong option. ((())) x

You are not alone Namechange - so many of understand the long term effects of a parent that is controlling and overly involved.

You saying you cannot stand your mum touching you...I would feel physical panic when my mum moved in for a hug/ kiss goodbye. You get to the point where you shut down there are so many 'emotions' going round and round in your head.

I often didn't even hear what my mother was lecturing about - the amnesia would set in about what we actually spoke about - but I would feel exhausted afterwards.

GoodtoBetter Sat 10-Aug-13 21:39:45

Bloody hell, you that's awful. So sorry the rest of your family have sided with her too. sad.
what is it with some people? What baffles me always is why people are like this to the ones they supposedly love above all others, their own children???

GoodtoBetter Sat 10-Aug-13 21:42:24

My mum often sits too close on the sofa, right up touching me and I hate it, always have. I get the amnesia about rows, can't remember what she's said straight afterwards.
She hasn't responded at all to the photo message with a pic (a very very cute one) of DCs, so that's another thing that shows she's in a strop.

Ah the strops [winks]

I feel for you all - I really really do thanks

All my friends say 'you only get one mum - you should make it up with her (not knowing the gory details)'.

I get shivers down my spine around mothers day.

Ignore such stroppiness and keep your distance (this distancing certainly works with my narc ILs. Infact I do this for my own sanity because they do not do empathy, a typical narcissistic trait, I certainly do not visit my ILs alone, perish the thought!).

It's very hard to have a simple, uncomplicated good time with a narcissist. Except for odd spells of heady euphoria unrelated to anything you can see, their affective range is mediocre-fake-normal to hell-on-Earth. They will sometimes lie low and be quiet, actually passive and dependent -- this is as good as it gets with narcissists. They are incapable of loving conduct towards anyone or anything, so they do not have the capacity for simple pleasure, beyond the satisfaction of bodily needs. There is only one way to please a narcissist (and it won't please you): that is to indulge their every whim, cater to their tiniest impulses, bend to their views on every little thing.

There's only one way to get decent treatment from narcissists: keep your distance. They can be pretty nice, even charming, flirtatious, and seductive, to strangers, and will flatter you shamelessly if they want something from you. When you attempt to get close to them in a normal way, they feel you are putting emotional pressure on them and they withdraw because you're too demanding. They can be positively fawning and solicitous as long as they're afraid of you, which is not most people's idea of a real fun relationship.

I would suggest you read "Children of the Self Absorbed" written by Nina W Brown as this may also help you.

GoodtoBetter Sun 11-Aug-13 15:35:37

I got a reply this morning to my text msg so I think cutting the conversation short and not pandering to the guilt tripping worked. You're right Attila distance works.

NameChangeToGo Sun 11-Aug-13 20:13:50

Distance works very well with my mum too. As long as I can put a lid on the guilt!!

Just getting my head in gear to answer some of these questions.


NameChangeToGo Sun 11-Aug-13 20:23:01

Something else I noticed earlier which I hadn't noticed before... Whenever I think about ways to manage our relationship, my first response is to think about how it would affect her (she'd be mortified/so upset etc).

I did the checklist on 'will I ever be good enough' today. I ticked so many, there were maybe 2 or 3 which didn't apply. That's when I chose to tell DH properly about what's been happening this week. But I am still in denial on a very deep rooted level that it's anything other than a bit of insecurity on her part.


NameChangeToGo Sun 11-Aug-13 20:51:33

The Plan.

1. There is no longer any need for my mum to be included in my social circle. She is no longer welcome or invited to anything apart from our immediate family gatherings. I've already put my foot down about two instances, I'm quite proud of myself. The only potential problem here is that in-laws are very sociable and already think it's odd that they see my parents as little as they do. Christmas is going to be tricky. But tough. I've told DH he can tell them what he wants, but that I'm no longer inviting my mum into any other area of my life. I really hope he supports me on this if they do push it.

2. We currently have weekly Skype marathons. Sometimes this is OK, the kids entertain them. Sometimes I'm not in the mood and neither are the kids and I resent it but feel guilty if I don't. New rule: I'll only call if I feel like it. And will try really, really, REALLY hard not to feel guilty about it (someone please tell me how to do this....!) I haven't called them this weekend, despite two texts to remind me that they're in. But hey, only two texts. And they weren't too guilt inducing either.

3. I need to manage her visits much more carefully. She has a habit of railroading me into longer or extra visits, blaming the flights, or another appointment she has and can't possibly be in the country and not see me. This is one area where I've given up and basically just agree to a vague period of time, during which she books us in whenever she likes. It's very difficult to turn her down when she just happens to have booked an extra night or two at either end, "because of the flights", because it feels very inhospitable. I think our diaries need to become a lot 'busier' over the coming year... And if necessary I need to tell her outright that it's just not convenient. Because its not.

NameChangeToGo Sun 11-Aug-13 20:57:30

A question for tho of you whose parents moved to be closer to them... If you could go back to that time, knowing what you know now, do you think there is anything you could have done to stop them following you? X

NameChangeToGo Sun 11-Aug-13 20:57:44


I should have cut contact before they tried to move closer. Nothing else would have stopped them from following so they could 'own' me.

GoodtoBetter Sun 11-Aug-13 21:27:51

Good question. My mother started saying she wanted to come out here about 9 years ago. At first she said she'd live on the coast a couple of hours away but then decided she wanted to be closer, which is fair enough with it being a foreign language etc. But then she started saying she could get much more for her money if we lived together instead of us each buying property. DH was only a boyfriend then and I was about 29.....scared the shit out of me. I said (and it was really hard to do) that I wanted my own place. She took it badly and has since said I was horrible to say it and refuse to buy a shared house, but basically it didn't stop her and she came anyway. Bought a 5 bed house for her alone and then managed to injure her back (after having decided she hated it here and going on ADs etc) and ultimately guilted me into selling my house and moving in with her....right round to what she'd wanted in the first place....sad

GoodtoBetter Sun 11-Aug-13 21:29:27

Long story short...I should have told her not to come and taken the consequences. I didn't realise her plan was to gatecrash my life and try to control every aspect of it.

NameChangeToGo Sun 11-Aug-13 21:41:29


4. Subvert every and any suggestion that she should come and live close to us.

The fact is, I would love to have family living close. I'd love to have a mum around for the mum stuff, even if she annoyed me a bit sometimes. Which is why it's feels so wrong to actively do everything I can to stop it happening. But she's never going to be that sort of mum. There's no point dwelling on that, really.

GoodtoBetter Sun 11-Aug-13 21:46:09

I think if I'd known then what I know now (impossible of course) and told her not to come she would always have come anyway....she couldn't help herself. She doesn't engulf Dbro like this. Do you have siblings?

NameChangeToGo Sun 11-Aug-13 21:54:46

I have a brother. It won't just be her, it will be dad too (although she's a bit obsessed about 'something happening to him' which I can't get to the bottom of and am hoping has no foundation other than her love of drama) which makes it less likely she'd come anyway if I was rudely discouraging. Dad is her opposite and would never move close of his own accord.

NameChangeToGo Sun 11-Aug-13 21:56:13

If it was just her then yes, she'd just do what she wanted.

GoodtoBetter Sun 11-Aug-13 22:05:30

My mum used the being single thing as a big bargaining chip. Ironically she's probably lonelier here...

Meery Sun 11-Aug-13 22:09:38

Oh god yes the flights. My dm lives in Europe and comes to the UK once or twice a year. We invite her for a week tops but this invariably turns into at least two. Also the flights are always booked before we are asked whether the dates work for us. Suggestions to go and visit some of her friends (aftetall she is so well liked) fall on deaf ears.

Dm has been threatening to move back to the UK for the last ten years. At first we tried to helplooking at locations etc but all suggestions were rejected. Now i refuse to engage. Her ideal is to move close enough to pop in. No no no!

NameChangeToGo Sun 11-Aug-13 22:24:34

Ooh that's tricky, good.

meery smile mum is quite open about the fact that she wants to spend all her time here with just us. In fact, point 1 of my plan is only really so easy to instigate because she doesn't want to 'share' me anyway (her own words). Her friends are often busy too when she's over.

DH is a bit of an inconvenience but he avoids her where possible, which reminds me...

5. Limit alone time with mum when she visits. Plan visits around time when DH is home, rather than inviting her when he's away. Dilution effect!

GoodtoBetter Sun 11-Aug-13 22:38:03

I had a long thread on here called my mother hates my husband (can' t link on phone). She'd always seemed to like him but as she enmeshed herself more and more into my life the more he seemed like you see that happening with your mum?

NameChangeToGo Mon 12-Aug-13 19:29:42

Hmm no, she tends to engulf him too.

As MumnGran predicted, I'm feeling pretty low today. I've realised that I can try to manage things, but there's no real way of solving it all.

MumnGran Mon 12-Aug-13 19:49:47

I think solving/solution is just too large a concept at the moment.
Acknowledging the realities of this relationship is such a recent thing for you, and you have absorbed so much in a short space of time, that just managing immediate problems is a big step forward .... and enough for anyone to cope with.

People who have known the reality of their parent/child relationship for years still struggle to structure long term solutions, and you really will not fix it in a day, a week ...or possibly a year!
What matters is that you are now aware, and that gives you a power in its own right. You will be less prone to manipulation, more able to analyse.
The steps you have outlined to manage the relationship are a very positive start. Other ways to cope will come to mind, slowly but surely.
At some point you are likely to feel tremendous anger.

One step at a time. And the next step for you should probably be some time just to be good to yourself, while the new mindset really sinks in.

Phalenopsis Mon 12-Aug-13 20:02:35

You might find this thread useful OP. It's on another site but I assure you there are folks on this thread who have been in very similar situations.

NameChangeToGo Tue 13-Aug-13 07:58:33

Thanks MumnGran. Sound advice, again thanks

Phalenopsis, it did make me smile that it's on money saving expert - pretty random! Thanks for the link.

GoodtoBetter Wed 14-Aug-13 17:12:51

How are you doing, OP?

NameChangeToGo Wed 14-Aug-13 20:51:56

Hi, good. I'm alright, thanks. Had a wobbly week, it's been quite tough actually, but the plan is working. I've already had to use my new resolutions on a couple of major issues, which I do feel proud of. Particularly as one of them is important to my children too. My mum is VERY quiet and little-girl-lost, but she's being much better in terms of noticeably trying to show an interest in us, and I'm trying not to feel guilty. It truly is crazy that I do, I'm really trying to rethink my own thought patterns. iyswim!

How are you getting on? Any mum stories on your end this week? X

GoodtoBetter Wed 14-Aug-13 21:33:08

Sounds good. Mine went into full narc rage when I originally pulled her up on criticising DH, involving suicide threats and disinheriting (not that I give a fuck) etc. Although quiet anf little girl lost is awful mum alternates that with hyperchondriac illness and sheer rage. wink There has been some passive aggressive illness via text msg but I just texted back "oh dear. get well soon". And nothing since grin . Before we came away on holiday she did ask me to write down the numbers for fire, ambulance and police "in case something happened" which from anyone else would be innocuous but from her is a PA dig about us daring to go on holiday and "leave" her. I can laugh about it now from a distance. Well done Name, it's so so hard.sad Especially the guilt. I still suffer the guilt 8 months on. But I am so much happier with some distance between us. I am me again.

MumnGran Wed 14-Aug-13 21:38:44

God, I'd forgotten about the inheritance thing.
My mothers Will looked like a revolving door, brother & I went in and out of it so often.

I can laugh, in hindsight.

GoodtoBetter Wed 14-Aug-13 21:39:33

You might find your ILs don't push it as much as you might think. I had to tell mine a certain amount because we then moved out of her house and although they'd always got on with her (as much as they could with the language barrier) they just accepted the new situation and it's all been ok. We have been on holiday very close (although not sharing accommodation) with DH's lovely and enormous extended family and they are my surrogate family smile

GoodtoBetter Wed 14-Aug-13 21:41:02

smile mumngran. My mum uses money and gifts to control, divide and conquer.

HoleyGhost Wed 14-Aug-13 21:54:15

Hypochondria is a recurring theme on these threads. I guess it is a kind of manipulation really

Yes that is true - my mum convinced herself that she was dying of lung cancer (bad back actually) and blamed it on me getting married and the stress it was putting her through to 'lose' her daughter. Everyday she was convinced she was dying.

NameChangeToGo Thu 15-Aug-13 08:50:30

Drat, just closed the window on my reply angry

good , I've not really experienced the rage you get from your mum, not since being a kid anyway but even then it mostly wasn't her style. She's more insidious, it's all so subtle. "PA dig" sums up a lot of it very nicely. That and manipulating circumstances. And twisting stuff.

Mumngran , smile at the revolving door. Interestingly the inheritance thing has been on my mind this week, the fact that I feel like that's an issue but that I can't remember it ever being mentioned specifically. Although she talked another it a lot in relation to her dad.

Hypochondria - yes. Often linked to eating issues.

youcan just... shock

NameChangeToGo Thu 15-Aug-13 08:59:42

It's mostly triangulation (new word...) my mum uses at times like that. She's just trying to help (by creating tension and pressure and resentment).

GoodtoBetter Thu 15-Aug-13 14:07:52

Mine's on "woe is me" atm. Had the weepy PA "I can't cope alone" phone call this morning. Apparently she might have to go back to the UK and go into a home....hmm

NameChangeToGo Thu 15-Aug-13 20:08:55

Yay grin

(Not really.... Well, you know wink )

I've just replied to you on other thread, it just sounds like you're finding a level of detachment which is great.

At the moment I feel like we're in the calm before the storm! I'm reminding myself not to let my guard down.

GoodtoBetter Sun 18-Aug-13 16:02:08

How are you Name? Did the feared storm arrive, or are you still in a lull with your Mum?

GetYourSocksOff Sun 18-Aug-13 20:39:34

Hi * good*

Thanks for asking... I haven't heard from mum since I last posted. All or nothing hmm She's coming over quite soon, not for long (due to some careful crisis management last week) but I'm a bit stressed about it. I'm planning the time carefully.

How are you getting on? I've not been on so much this week so haven't had chance to check SH thread either. Hope you're ok x

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