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My mother.

(16 Posts)
Ormirian Tue 14-Dec-10 22:22:47

I am slowly piecing together what my mother did to me when I was a child. It has taken me 45 years to realise it but I am getting there.

She wasn't malicious just damaged. And even what was done to her wasn't deliberate.

I spent the first 30 years of my life feeling guilty and insecure. She bequeathed that to me, as her mother did to her. Convinced that the world was a scary and dreadful place, and that terible things were just waiting to happen to you if you stepped out of line. That whatever you did wasn't good enough.

Sex was for men. Sex was what women submitted to. Marriage was the only choice available to women. Only married women should have children. Mothers should stay home. That was the purpose of women.

I didn't want to leave home because I worried about my mother. She always made DB and I feel guilty about not wanting to be with our parents. As soon as we got home for Christmas she'd start with 'Oh it will all be over so soon, and you'll be off again . I'll miss you all so much'. If I showed any normal teenage desire to be away from her I;d get 'we never do anything as a family anymore'. It was about her and her needs all the bloody time.

DB fucked off asap and sees her once or twice a year with the safe cushion of his family around him. I stuck around because I felt guilty. The first few years with DH I used to see them every weekend and feel guilty if we couldn't. Christ knows why DH put up with it especially as she didn't like him.

I broke out of the guilt by the age of 30, about the time I had children. Because I realised that what she did wasn't normal or even OK. You didn't have to mother that way.

I have wasted so much of my life worrying about her. I have had enough guilt to last me 20 lifetimes.

It explains why I have so little patience with suffering, and people who
portray themselves as victims. I had enough of that when I was a child. Mum was the eternal victim. I was the one forced to eternally make things better.

DOn't know what this is for, just to get it all out and sort it in my head.

I have DC who care about me and are sorry when I am sad or tired but it freaks me out because I don't want them taking care of me. I don't want them to feel obliged or guilty.

How do you deal with this? How do you stop being guilty or trying to make amends?

madmouse Tue 14-Dec-10 22:33:21

I think one thing I would say to you Orm is that I found it helpful to for a while (that in my case turned into permanently) not worry about why the person who screwed up my life did so, to not be interested in their poor hard life, in that it wasn't their fault.

To separate their hard life from the damage done to you can set you free to assess the damage and decide what you want to do to heal. It takes their weight off your shoulders a bit.

It is hard to accept that you were wronged if you are preoccupied with how she is feeling and how she didn't do it on purpose. And yet i believe you need to accept that you were truly and unacceptably hurt before you can heal from that. Not in a poor me way but in a this really happened and it was wrong way.

Gah what a ramble. I'm tired sorry.

MarineIguana Tue 14-Dec-10 22:43:39

Not quite the same situation, but I recognise a lot of your feelings - the guilt especially. (For me it is more than one family member who's like this.)

"It explains why I have so little patience with suffering, and people who portray themselves as victims. I had enough of that when I was a child."

I know EXACTLY what you mean - I overreact completely if I sense someone is being manipulative, trying emotional blackmail on me or being martyrish. I can't BEAR it - probably because it pushes my buttons because I was trained so comprehensively to respond to it as a child. I'm also at pains to point out to DS that he doesn't have to look after me!

I have recently become harder-nosed and withdrawn emotionally from some family members a lot more. In one case I've explained a few things and put my point of view, which of course didn't go down well. I do feel freer - then I get renewed waves of guilt!

I don't think you'll get rid of all the guilt completely but you can think positively about what you need and want, and what you won't stand for. You can do practical things like, in my case, stopping weekly phone conversations with family members who drain you. I used the excuse of being too tired now I have DC - so I was cowardly, but anyway it worked and I don't have to do it now, which makes life much less stressful.

Ormirian Tue 14-Dec-10 22:48:24

Thankyou both.

I have cut back the contact a lot since I had my DC. And the guilt has faded a little. But I want to know how not to do the same to my DC. I have to be constantly aware of my interactions with them.

I have also become more aware of what an amazing parent my dad was and is. Hugely accepting and patient, uncritical, loving unconditionally. I used to feel guilty for preferring him but now I realise why I did. Mum was a chore, dad was a joy. That is very sad.

madmouse Tue 14-Dec-10 23:13:08

I firmly believe that you break the chain of abuse once you realise what went wrong and vow not to repeat it. It doesn't make you perfect but it sure helps.

My abuse history is outside the family and therefore unlikely to be repeated but my dh had huge fears that he would be abusive like his f*cking stepdad and he is nothing like it and the best daddy in the world.

Ormirian Wed 15-Dec-10 08:08:12

Yes madmouse. I hope that is so - I've witnessed it so I don't have to do it myself. SOmetimes I catch myself saying things to my DC that remind me and I stop myself. But I wish I could be a natural parent. And I didn't really piece it all together until recently so wasn't so aware. Hope it will be well.

You mention the 'abuse'. I wasn't abused in any sense, but I was twisted into shape by mum. I have spent a lot of my adult life untwisting myself without quite realising why. I wish I could go back to my mum as a little girl and be her friend - she needed one so badly and it would have been a good investment for all of us. I love her very much still but it's the sort of protective love that you feel for a tiny child, or someone who is ill. And I am wary how close I get.

madmouse Wed 15-Dec-10 11:17:27

Hi Orm I mentioned abuse because that is my background and DHs - not necessarily yours.

I do know what you mean with wanting to be a natural parent. DH and I are both terribly aware of how we do things and what messages we give. eg my ds is 2 and yesterday dh and I were having a cuddle and ds came straight over babbling away. I jokingly said 'stay out of it, you' and dh said 'don't say that he will feel excluded'. We are both oversensitive. I got in a total flap when a checkout assistant called ds 'a sexy little boy' and I didn't say anything..

At the end of the day all we can do is our best.

Ormirian Wed 15-Dec-10 13:14:40

I guess I just get worried that what my mum did/does would be compared to real abuse. It makes me feel guilty to even seem to be comparing myself to someone like you who suffered real abuse. I see my mum like a bruised peach, the rot passes to the fruit next to it but there's no malice involved.

Ormirian Wed 15-Dec-10 13:15:43

It might also help to explain my repeated bouts of anxiety and depression. I only had treatment for them over the last 10 yrs or so but I have had them since I was a teenager.

Ormirian Thu 16-Dec-10 06:58:31

She and dad were here last night. All went well. She was very nice to everyone. Evenings like that make wonder what my problem is.

But she still went OTT with praise, "Oh that was a lovely meal', 'Isn't your cat gorgeous', 'Doesn't DD look beautiful'. I still look for the hidden critisism and wonder if she's being sarcastic. I wish she'd tease me and make jokes like dad does - I am still on tenterhooks with her.

sparklyjewlz Thu 16-Dec-10 07:08:09

Perhaps you need to be a little less hard on your Mum? Although in an earlier post you recognised that she was a victim too of what "her mother did to her". It sounds like she loves you very much.

Ormirian Thu 16-Dec-10 08:04:48

sparkly - I have only just started being 'hard' on her sad. I spent years feeling inadequate and guilty - I've just managed to accept that there was never anything wrong with me. I know she loves me, I love her too, that will never change. But maybe I should just let it go.... go back to feeling that I was the problem?

MarineIguana Thu 16-Dec-10 09:34:37

Orm I know this feeling too. My mum can be fine, she can be funny and nice. Other times she's shockingly hurtful or breathtakingly crap. She never takes responsibility. She loved us, but she was still a terrible mother, because she was the victim and I had to be the adult. The fact that she can be nice, and that it's not her fault (she's also v damaged) doesn't change the fact that effectively I didn't have any proper parents (my dad was actively abusive, she stood by and was self-pitying).

Friends meet her and say "well she seems nice" or she visits and is OK, and then I feel I must have made it up. But then I'll report something she has said or done to me to DP or a friend, and they're beyond shocked.

I know it's not her fault but the point is, it's not my fault either and I have to adjust my outlook so that I can stop feeling responsible for everyone.

Orm what I find with this issue is that there are people who haven't experienced this type of problem who will say words to the effect of "but she's your MUM, you owe her just for that reason". Then there are others who know it can be more complicated than that. Everyone means well but I've realised that there are families where things really are in order and the parents play the role of parents, and people from those families don't really get it. (Which is as it should be of course! - that's who I want my DC to be, kids ho have proper parents.)

Ormirian Thu 16-Dec-10 10:03:17

"She loved us, but she was still a terrible mother, because she was the victim and I had to be the adult."


I will never challenge her over it because it would be entirely pointless and unkind, as I am sure she thought she did her best. I am just acknowledging to myself, and her on MN, that there are reasons why I was so insecure and unhappy for so many years. So I don't have to be anymore.

doggiesayswoof Thu 16-Dec-10 11:04:30

I've had a slightly different dynamic with my mum but I totally understand where you are coming from Orm.

My mum was always a martyr and at the same time refused to look after herself properly because she has very low self esteem and feels she is not worth looking after (I realise this now, but didn't when I was a child). There are pretty obvious issues with someone like that supposedly caring for others. Me and my sister (and my dad) were never good enough.

I was in this weird situation where I was quite independent - because she left me to fend for myself a lot - while at the same time being told that I would never cope away from her.

I too wish I was a natural parent - I overanalyse everything with my DC in my efforts to be not like my mum. She is often ill now and still won't look after herself and I still feel guilty - for what I don't actually know.

Sorry that was a ramble. I don't really have any advice but huge sympathy. It's just always with you isn't it?

madmouse Thu 16-Dec-10 12:24:11

'the point is, it's not my fault either'


that is the point

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