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to think I can't stand my mum any longer?

(19 Posts)
Chucara Fri 22-Jul-11 12:18:55

I see my mum two times a year as we live in different and quite far away countries.

She is visiting us (DH, DD and my pregnant self) now in London and each time I see her I feel I can't stand her any longer. I think she is depressed and badly self-medicated, and does not seem to enjoy anything in life. She is 58 but psychically very inactive and deteriorated, and does not seem to take care of herself properly. Her head does not work very well for her age either, and I feel I can't have a decent conversation with her about anything really.

She has been like this since she divorced my father, 15 years ago. A few times she declared she wanted to commit suicide but nobody in the family took her seriously as she is a very manipulative person. Many members of the family (including me) have tried to persuade her to see a psychiatrist/psychologist but she refuses and says she is perfectly fine.

On the other hand, I sometimes feel I'm being stalked by her: in one single day, she can send numerous emails, text messages and leave quite a few voicemails on my answering machine. Now that she is at home, she sits in the kitchen and does not take her eyes out of me, it feels very uncomfortable.

What I can't really stand and feel ashamed of are her levels of self-abandonment. I never feel sad about her but on the contrary really angry as I can't understand how a person can lead such a non-joyus, lazy and unproductive life.

Anyone out there with a difficult mum who can give some advice on how to cope with the emotional difficulties in dealing with such complicated creatures?

Any words of advice much appreciated, as I can't stand her any longer.

AKMD Fri 22-Jul-11 12:22:40

My friend's mum is like this. She's in her mid-sixties but you would think she was about 80 from the way she looks and behaves. She also refuses to have the treatment she needs and only leaves the house once a week. My friend has given up trying with her and just gets on with her own life. They share a house but that is about it.

Luckily for you, you only see your mum twice a year. How long are these visits? Can you ask your mum to stop calling you all the time? Unfortunately, there are some people who are just waiting to die and there is very little anyone around them can do about it if the person doesn't want help.

CogitoErgoSometimes Fri 22-Jul-11 12:22:59

It's very draining to have someone like that, I agree. My mum's a lovely person but she's very dour, pessimistic & can bring me down flat inside two days, every time. You can't realistically do anything to help them if they don't want to be helped, and you can make yourself very miserable worrying about it. Only solution I've found is to live at a distance (which you already do), keep visits in the 'short and sweet' category, keep them busy when they do visit and pick them up sharpish if they get out of line. 'Stop staring at me' might be a good start point in your case, for example.

HairyGrotter Fri 22-Jul-11 12:28:08

I feel sad for her, but then, she's not my mum. Sounds like she's very very depressed and unhappy. Not sure what advice to offer, but I feel for her and you

izzywhizzyletsgetbusy Fri 22-Jul-11 12:32:10

Was her behaviour markedly different prior to her divorce from your df, and did she instigate the end of her marriage?

Do you have any siblings who can share the load, or any relatives living close to her who can provide some input as to the quality of her life and her interaction with others when she is at home?

How long will she be staying with you?

Chucara Fri 22-Jul-11 12:45:51

Thanks for all your kind comments. AKMD, you are spot on, she is just waiting to die.

She has always been a complicated, really neurotic person, but I think she became depressed since my father divorced her. My two brothers and aunt live in the same city as her, but as they are also fed up, they usually try to avoid her and see her very occasionally. The good thing is that she has a partner, who we think is with her because of her really little money (things can get this nasty in the poor third world). Being with someone does not seem to have make her any better, but despite of the money thing we think he is a good person and takes care of her.

Fortunately she is staying till Sunday. I think it was good in some way that she came now as I'm now sure I don't want her around when new baby arrives.

Cocoflower Fri 22-Jul-11 12:54:43

It sounds like she could do with a new realtionship after 15 years? Can you encourage her to get fit, active and join a dating agency?

A new realtionship can really energise people and put a spark back in their life.

Plus selfishly it takes the pressure of you...

Cocoflower Fri 22-Jul-11 12:55:46

Opps just read she has a partner. Whoops

Conflugenglugen Fri 22-Jul-11 14:08:18

Chucara - approaching what you've written from a different angle ...

Psychologist Carl Jung said that, "Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves."

Have you thought about the possibility that your reactions are as much about you as your mother? Is it possible, for example, that if you dug deep, you might find some fear that you might end up the same way yourself?

It is frustrating having a parent who seems patently not to act in their own best interests - I know this only too well. But I also ask myself why it is that I need my own parents to be any other way. Absolutely, I would have preferred things to be different, but the fact is that they are who they are - and now it is up to me to deal with my own feelings in the absence of their dealing with their own or with mine.

MeconiumHappens Fri 22-Jul-11 14:43:27

i feel a bit sorry for her. Maybe she feels like she spent 20 years raising her children, then her husband and kids buggered off, and now they avoid her. Try a be a bit more understanding? She's probably excited about your pregnancy, and feeling sad that she will miss so much of it because shes a long way away, hence the many emails?

Chucara Fri 22-Jul-11 15:20:54

Thanks again for all your insightful comments.

Conflugenglugen, I think your post is really interesting. I keep thinking about why I have such strong feelings towards her, and how those feelings are related to my own feelings, especially since becoming a mum myself.

I'm terrified about being like her and a lot of effort in my life is put towards that direction: I'm super healthy, exercise, care about my mental health, try to be positive and make something out of my life. Maybe each time I see her for some reason I feel this effort needs to be duplicated and that I am not doing enough with my life and myself to not end up like she is. Like as if I should be doing more and more...

What might be interesting to add, is that since I was very little, my mum told me explicitly that I should not try to attempt being like her when I grew up, because she was rubbish, and that I should look at other women as role models, as she was a really bad example on how to lead a life. So apart from my own fear of becoming like her, I have the added extra pressure from her of having to be somebody different !

twinmummy24 Fri 22-Jul-11 15:38:22

i find myself in a similar situation, ever since i was young my mum has struggled with both physical and mental illness, in the past few years she has been diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrom which has basically given her the excuse she needs to totally withdraw from life. she hasn't worked for years and sociallises with people considerably older than her, she is 53 friends in late 60's and 70's, although she is more than able to choose her own friends i do feel that this has aged her.
she has also managed by some fluke to find another 2 people in a small village who also have CFS and whenever i try to encourage her to do something she always has some pearl of wisdom from one of them as an excuse not to.

she rarely sees her grandchildren even though we live 5 mins away by car, i have tried so hard to maintain contact and change the nature of the contact from days out etc which she says she cant cope with to us visting her but she still says she cant cope with the girls.
it makes me so sad because i feel she has withdrawn from life hardly ever goes out even if i offer to take her and spends her time fixating on her illness.

it is probably worth mentioning before i get flamed that i do not question her diagnosis, i work as a nurse so try so hard to support her take her to appointments etc and know that people with CFS can struggle with daily life but this is really extream she can go for weeks without going out, has an unhealthy relationship with her GP who she sees very frequently and has had so much therapy that she decides how the session is going to go before she even goes!

brass Fri 22-Jul-11 15:42:07

She does sound very sad, like she gave everything of herself to everyone else and now they don't need her anymore she's a nuisance meanwhile her self esteem and mental health have taken a proper nose dive.

On the divorce front, it is one the most stressful things in life along with death and moving house. She is also of another generation which might consider this to be the sort of failure which can't be repaired. End of the world and all that.

As her family can you not sit her down and talk to her about all this? She may listen to what you all think. It may at least alter her behaviour a little when she is around you even if she wallows in it when she is on her own. I think some effort should be made rather than avoiding her and letting her slip away.

Curiousmama Fri 22-Jul-11 15:44:47

'What might be interesting to add, is that since I was very little, my mum told me explicitly that I should not try to attempt being like her when I grew up, because she was rubbish, and that I should look at other women as role models, as she was a really bad example on how to lead a life.'

sad That is so awful.

Conflugenglugen Fri 22-Jul-11 15:56:45

It is, isn't it Curiousmama?

So your mother really has handed over a legacy of not being good enough, and of fear of failure.

You don't have to be like her, you know? Holding her in your heart, you can move in a different direction. The challenge comes with the fact that sometimes we try and run so hard in a different direction from our parents, that we come to a point where we stop, look around, and find that we are exactly where we started: we've come back to them, full circle.

I'm not saying that's where you are - but it feels like that's where you fear you'll be. I'd deal with that fear first and foremost. Therapy can be very effective, and there are many different modes out there - enough to find one (and a therapist) that would suit you.

This is really about breaking a pattern that has held your mother prisoner, the shadow of which she has unwittingly passed on to you. You'll know you're breaking it when you look at her and the anger that is nipping at you right now is no longer there.

redheadbedhead Fri 22-Jul-11 17:23:54

conflugen said what I was going to add - I was on the point of cutting off contact with my mother, for different but equally depressing reasons, but after seeing what effect this had when my sister did the same I decided instead to have therapy.
I went for 2 years. About half way through it I genuinely wished she was dead, but then I came out the other side, and after several years of working on our relationship, it has definitely improved to 'neutral' and 'dealable-with' instead of raging fury and nightmares.
The most important thing for me to realise was that she was too old and stubborn to change her ways, and I had to do the changing. It's not fair, and it's frustrating when you see someone so convincingly and blindly f**king up their own life, but at least you then learn to deal with it better yourself.
Sorry if you've already done therapy - just thought I'd add in case not. I had psychotherapy with a centre in London that does cheap rates for people on low income/students. It only cost £10 an hour, and changed my life.

JamieAgain Fri 22-Jul-11 18:02:22

Conflungen - you are hitting many familiar nails on heads for me ......

JamieAgain Fri 22-Jul-11 18:02:58

Confugenglugen, rather

Conflugenglugen Fri 22-Jul-11 18:16:47

Hey, no worries, Jamie smile I'm happy you're getting nails hit.

And, yeah, redheadbedhead - there have been points in therapy where I have truly hated my parents ... and the younger versions of myself that it calls up. One of the things that kept me going was knowing it is at that point where clients can express that hatred, without fear of reprisal or - worse - annihilation, that things are starting to shift.

One thing I wanted to add about breaking patterns: sometimes you have to repeat something to the point where it feels disconcertingly familiar ... only then to realise that you did something significantly different this time around. So if you feel like you're slipping back, it might be that you are simply approaching the threshold of change.

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