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Ill mother - feel terrible

(8 Posts)
confusedandfeelshite Sat 16-Jul-11 20:43:35

I am a terrible person. A really terrible person and would like some advice on how to deal with this situation. Have changed my name as I don't want anyone in RL to know what's going in inside my head. This is long, apologies. Would really appreciate some help.

I have always had a very fraught relationship with my mother. My childhood wasn't great, my mother was emotionally abusive and I was told very regularly I was fat, lazy, greedy and stupid, all whilst hearing the plaintive cry ' oh why can't you be more like your little sister'

My mother is a bitter women. She suffered some family shit herself when her mother died which made her very bitter and vindictive. Over the last ten years she's lost most of her friends due to the bitterness - she doesn't have a good word to say about anyone (apart from my sister) This can get quite wearing.

I moved away at 18, have had help and have to a certain extent moved away from most of the bad feeling - it all comes back when i go and visit her. I keeps visits to a minimum.

My mother has recently been diagnosed with cancer. It's touch and go treatable. I have been spending more time with her since the diagnosis as she wants her family around her.

Here is where is gets horrid. All of her character traits which make me so uncomfortable have become worse since her diagnosis. I am just home from 3 days with her and I couldn't wait to get away from all of the poison, bile and nastiness. In her words 'now I'm ill I'm allowed to behave as I wish'

Not one person was safe from her character assassinations.

I feel awful, I am starting to detest my ill mother. I want to get away from her as soon as possible. Deep down I know this is her way of dealing with the illness but I can't stand the negativity and the personal digs, jibes and criticisms.

At this time we should be pulling together as a family but i want to run for he hills. Does anyone have any tips as to how I can cope with this and get over my bad feeling. I want to be able to shake / laugh off her behaviour.

I am the biggest bitch in the world. Please help me with this.

RuthChan Sat 16-Jul-11 21:00:30

Firstly, you are not a bitch.
You sound like a very reasonable and well balanced person, especially considering your up-bringing.
The very fact that you have written this message proves that you are considerate and self-aware.
Many people would have told their mum where to go years ago and would show little interest in visiting her now, even though she is ill.
It is also to your credit that you have not turned out the same way. It's good to look at her and decide not to be like that.

I am very sorry about your mum's illness. I wouldn't wish cancer on anyone, even those less pleasant and more bitter people.

Shaking off her nasty comments must be really hard, but you have to take solace in the fact that they are not only aimed at you, but at everyone.
It is clear that she is negative towards the world in general. How sad. What a lonely and sad person she must be.
Try to be thick skinned and take it in your stride.
Is there anyone else to share this with other than your sister? Do you have any other siblings, your father or any other relatives with whom you could talk/laugh/cry etc?

ShoutyHamster Sat 16-Jul-11 21:03:13

Good God of course you are not a bitch!

Your mother, on the other hand...

Someone getting ill doesn't cancel out all the horrible things they've done in life. It doesn't make them suddenly a better person, because they are suffering. It doesn't change the reality of people's relationships. So your mother is acting true to form. All her life it sounds as if she's heaped any and all of her problems onto those around her. Here's the biggest pile of crap she's yet had to deal with... surprise surprise, guess who's copping it??

You reaction is totally normal. Someone is being horrible to you, so your natural reaction is to recoil, to want to get away. Because you are actually a lovely person (I think I'd have waved goodbye to this mother a long time ago!) instead of saying, 'fine, I can clearly do no right, you have my sister with you which is what you prefer, I'll leave you to it' - you bite down your feelings and are prepared to stay in the firing line.

So no you are NOT a horrible person. smile

To help you - I would say that contrary to what you may think, it's YOU you need to focus on here. Your mother is ill - it's no-one's fault. Unfortunately because she's that kind of person, she's going to make sure that if she suffers, anyone else in reach is going to suffer too. Some people are like that. She sounds like one of them. I feel for you as a little one. You must have had a hard time with her.

So, if you want to last the distance here (whatever the outcome) and not end up backing off or exploding at her, look at strategies which instead of prioritising HER feelings ('she must feel so scared'), prioritise YOURS.

- A normal person doesn't like being sneered and shouted at. It's ok to feel angry.
- Most people who had been hurt so much by the person meant to love them most wouldn't be doing what you're doing, being there on demand. Praise yourself for this. I do actually really admire you here. You must be very strong at some level.
- Little and often. Feel absolutely NO GUILT at lying through your teeth to get away for a breather when you feel you need to. You are doing your mother a favour by releasing the tension and anger she's heaping onto you - she gives it to you, you smile... and head out for a drive, for a walk, for a couple of days of blessed peace during which you don't see her - and you shout or scream it out. Or de-stress with wine, chocs, and a good DVD and the ones you love (and who love you back!)

If you approach this with not only honesty but KINDNESS to yourself, you stand a better chance of being genuinely able to show a caring face to your mother, even when she is horrid. If the worst happens, you'll want to have done that - so it's worth it for both you and her.

Good luck.

notsogoldenoldie Sat 16-Jul-11 21:10:25

confused - you are not terrible! You do not have a brilliant relationship with your mother at the best of times. Remember - you have had a shock too, and it is understandable for your mother to be reacting like this at the moment.

My mum had terminal cancer, and died two years later, and I always felt guilty about our fraught relationship and wondered if things could have been better for her at the end if our relationship had been better.

Howefer, your mother is your mother, and is unlikely to change her behaviour now. I would suggest a spot of counselling to help you deal with your reaction to your mum's illness (the hospital may have an in-house service).

Also, my mum took a great deal of comfort from the hospital chaplain (she was quite religious anyway), and knowing this helped me feel better, and less guilty somehow.

Other than this, I have no suggestions, but people react to illness in different ways, especially when faced with their own mortality, and she may surprise you yet!

Meanwhile, best wishes to you both and your family at this difficult time.

confusedandfeelshite Sat 16-Jul-11 21:27:29

RuthChan, ShoutyHamster and notsogoldenoldie - I can't tell you how comforting your words have been.

nsgo - I think you've really hit a nail on the head - I feel deeply guilty, as I did throughout my childhood for not being the right sort of person.

Sorry for the short post - DS1 is kicking off - someone's had the nerve to move his blanket! I'll be back soon.


ShoutyHamster Sat 16-Jul-11 22:02:49

She should have supported you - instead she undermined you.

She should have made you feel safe - instead she made you feel nervous and unsure of yourself.

So now even as an adult, thanks to that early training, your default setting is to turn the blame in to yourself. Because the person who should have taught you to love yourself and made you feel right in yourself, didn't.

Learning to let go of this kind of guilt is so hard, because it's an emotion that's been fundamentally imprinted on you. However, it has no basis in reality!!!

You sound lovely. I can see that you are going to do the best by your mother because you're the sort of person who would. Amazing that despite your early ups and downs, you have the basic strength of character to do so. So start letting go of that guilt, confused - you don't deserve to carry it smile

Inertia Sat 16-Jul-11 22:19:46

I'm sorry that your mother is ill; this must be a very fraught time for you all.

It doesn't explain why she has been so foul and abusive to you for your entire life though. It sounds as though, in her case, it's not that the cancer is making her behave so nastily towards people- it's giving her an excuse to justify behaving how she's always behaved, and it means that everyone is too worried about her health to call her on it. You are absolutely not a bitch for finding your mother's behaviour intolerable; it must take a huge effort on your part to maintain a relationship with someone who seems determined to sabotage all the relationships they have with family and friends.

Is there a response that you could wheel out, repeatedly, when your mother's behaviour becomes hurtful or vindictive? For instance "I want to be here for you and help you, but I will not listen to spiteful comments" - repeat as required.

Don't take on the guilt for your mother's unfair treatment of you- it wasn't your fault as a child, and it isn't now.

confusedandfeelshite Sat 16-Jul-11 23:18:48

Having restored blanket to it's rightful place I wanted to come back to the thread.

I am really touched by your replies. Tonight you've given me perspective on something which has been eating me for two weeks both in regards to the illness and the feeling that i am still not quite good enough.

Thank you for the advice, there's a lot of very wise advice to absorb.

I've decided I'm going to talk to DP about my feelings - I've held back as have been feeling like the wicked witch of the west for disliking someone who is facing such an enormous health battle - usually is isn't really appropriate to say you're upset with the behaviour of someone who's been diagnosed with cancer.

We've also been assigned a McMillan (sp?) nurse who I will talk to when I meet her on Weds.

I feel a bit sad for my mother really, her misery has pushed so many people away. All wonderful people who would have given her the immeasurable love and support she needs to get through the next few months.

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