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Pissed off with my mum... (Warning - might be very long!)

(16 Posts)
CuddlyNemesis Fri 05-Aug-11 08:49:27

I normally have a good relationship with my mum, and she's normally very supportive, but a telephone conversation yesterday has really upset me.

A bit of background: she lost my dad in a car crash just over 20 years ago and has not been interested in anyone else since. She's 70 now and her health is not great.

I have been very ill since I gave birth to DD 2 years ago and I'm waiting for a hysterectomy. I fell pregnant at the age of nearly 40 after being told many years ago I couldn't get pregnant. It was a bit of a shock, and as much as I love my DD dearly, it's taken some getting used to. I was talking to mum saying I would love just once for someone to look after DD so I could do something for myself (like go shopping on my own for a couple of hours during the week) and all she could say was "How do you think I coped on my own with four children as your father never helped me with you". As well as the health problems, I think I'm suffering from quite severe depression, but she told me that she had health problems/depression too, when she was bringing us up.

She is happy to tell everyone what a fantastic, hands-on mum she was to us four children (I have twin sisters who are 6 years older and a brother who is two years younger). But I can distincly remember, as do my sisters - they systematically bullied me because of it throughout my childhood! - when I was a very young child, my sisters looking after my brother and myself every weekened and after school and mum swanning off to Croydon on her own pretty regularly! They can't have been older than 9 or 10 at the time and mum always made them take us out of the house. I was also sexually assaulted on the London Underground when I was four and neither of my parents noticed to stop it... WTF were they doing? The conversation got around to this yesterday and mum said that I either imagined it, or it must have happened on a school trip when they weren't there! She claims that I can't possibly remember that far back (I have distinct memories of being in a wooden playpen in our dining room and her nowhere to be seen, so I must have been about two!?) as it's just not possible to have accurate memories that reach that far back.

But the real cherry on the cake was when I mentioned about her not believing me when I told her I'd been raped in my late teens. I didn't mention it until about 5 or 6 years later because I didn't want to upset her after my dad's death. Instead of being supportive she told me I must have imagined it! I thought that, over the years she'd come to accept and believe me, but yesterday again she told me again she thought I'd imagined/dreamt it!

To make matters worse I was date-raped just after I originally told her (I didn't put up a fight because he went from being absolutely charming to instantly turning into someone very aggressive and violent - and I'd invited him into my home... I honestly thought he'd kill me if I tried to put up a fight.) I've never mentioned this to her because what would be the point?

My DP knows and believes me.

But yesterday's revelation that she still doesn't believe me has upset me so much. To make matters worse, it seems as though she truly believes that she was SuperMum to us all and never let any of us out of her sight! When I told her that my sisters had spoken to me years ago about how much childcare they had to do at a very young age, she went absolutely ballistic.

She's supposed to be visiting tomorrow (DP is self-employed and is working this weekend) and I'm not sure how to handle her visit. I don't want to cancel because DD is so excited about seeing her. I just don't know whether to mention our conversation or pretend it hadn't happen and try to be 'normal'. sad I'm sorry if this sounds self-pitying...

I don't know what to say but am very sad for you.

I too was told I couldn't get pregnant, had the big shock and have been very unwell since then and hav taken a long time to get adjusted. I know how you feel on this front - and it can be very overwhelming. Your not the only one who feels like this - an dI hope it helps to know it.

On a practical point though - have you spoken with the childrens centre or your child nursery? I found out recently that some childminders etc operate as proffesional babysitters and can often be happy to offer the service at weekends/ evenings etc (I truly never know this happened!). They probably have the details of someone. I know you would have to pay but it might help?

On the other things..... your mother probably tried to do the best she could be you, or at least feels that she did, so she is never going to take criticism of this very well or admit that she could have done better. But it's obviously something that bothers you. It may be better to focus on why this bothers you - I have a feeling its more to do with the latter part of your post.

And this is the biggie. You have been sexually assualted a couple of times and your mother has just dismissed it. I think you need to focus on this as it seems the real crux of the issue. Have you had councelling or victim support? Councelling may help you come to terms with some o f this, and your mothers reactions to it. Also I would consider taking a step back from your relationship with your mother until you have been abel to work through some of this.

Sexual assualt is still a very taboo subject for many. Perhaps your mother just can't bring herself to accept it has happened to you, or know how to react.

CuddlyNemesis Fri 05-Aug-11 09:36:30

Thank you, GPPE. smile Your reply means a lot to me.

I think it's a combination of two things - that mum genuinely (and I'm sure she's changed history in her mind, so to challenge her about it would be futile) does not believe that she ever neglected us as children - and totally exaggerates what a fantatic mum she was to us, looking after us on her own 24/7... The other thing, as you rightly say, is her disbelieving me about the two sexual assaults I told her about.

I forgot to mention in my original post, my dad was self-employed (doing something completely different to my DP) and worked very long hours and sometimes weekends. But when he wasn't working (about half of the weekends) he used to take us all out and mum would again have the weekend to herself to do as she pleased. Mum maintains that she never had a minute to do anything she wanted when we were children! When I was aged about 3-4 and my sisters were at school, I'd spend most of the day at a neighbour's house, playing with her three young sons.

To make matters worse, she told my MIL that dad never showed any interest in any of us children until we were 10 years old (something my MIL threw back in face a while back) and this is completely untrue! And all the while, mum tells everyone that dad was her soulmate and she's not interested in anyone else because no one else would ever match up!

We've been hit a bit hard financially recently, and I'm not working. I don't think I could justify paying for childcare, but thank you for the suggestion.

I'm just feeling really low today. I'm sure I'll be fine later/tomorrow.

ItsMeAndMyPuppyNow Fri 05-Aug-11 09:36:50

Don't apologise! You are not self-pitying: you are being very discerning about troubling elements in your life, because you want to fix things. That is far from self-pity!

Do give yourself the kudos you deserve for coping so well, having a good career and marriage, and caring for a two year-old despite everything you've been through.

Just a hunch, but does this website ring any bells for you? It helps to name and understand a problem as a first step to dealing with it.

Counselling sounds like it could be very helpful for you: you have the fallout from sexual abuse as well a difficult relationship with your mother to untangle. Although it is hard to face such trauma again in discussions with a therapist, it can free you of much of the emotional burden and equip you with more functional responses to life events.

jasper Fri 05-Aug-11 09:44:38

GPPE. I am
Astonished at the clarity and wisdom
Of your advice, having just read your own thread smile - you are stronger than. You think .
OP , purple is right. Your mum will find it very hard to accept you were sexually assaulted and raped.
On
A far less dramatic level. , when me and my sisters used to discuss our largely happy childhood with our mum she glossed over or denied the more negative stuff!

Agree with ItsMe - and also that website looks like it could help.

Thing is.... even if your mother feels guilty about the way she treated you, she's never going to admit it to you is she? That would be too hard, and would be admiting to herself that she could have done better.

I may be wrong, and have no experience, but perhaps her constantly making out like she was a great mum who had it so hard is a way for her to asuage her guilt or make her feel better.

Because if other people think she was a great mother who made the best of a difficult situation.... well then it sort of becomes true doesn't it? In the sense that she obviously wants people to think highly of her and believe thats how it was.

Have come across quite a few people that do this. One of my very good mates sometimes does it. I mean everyone wants other people to think highly of them.... some more than others I grant you. But most people would want to paint themselves in the best light..... but I think that because of the other issues and how she has dealt with you, you can't let this go.

Thanks Jasper - I know it sounds stupid but I feel like I have getting some great support and feel like I need to 'give back' in a way so have been hanging around the board a bit and seeing if I can offer any support. Not sure why I feel that way!!!

But also - it's always easier to give advice than to take it. Have learnt that one the hard way!

Talking is much easier than action thats for sure ...... but OP you just need to be brave and push on with sorting out how you feel about all this... thats the first step.

orchidee Fri 05-Aug-11 10:12:16

sorry, typing one handed, baby asleep on lap
others have given good advice
your mum may have narcissistic personality traits
mine has
similarities in story, reinventing the past
I recently realised my outwardly-perfect mum was a reluctant wife and mother
cildhood was all hand-made, lovely clothes and home-cooked meals but emotionally distant
outsiders see it differently, no point trying to explain, they wouldnt believe the truth
does your mum find herself in later life anxious / depressed / lonely / few friends? classic for narcs

anyway, her inability to understand or acknowledge the truth bears no importance.
you know the truth
if narc, trying to make her acknowledge or apologise is impossible, she genuinely can't empathise or see your point of view
there are many websites on personality disorders that may help you identify what you can expect, many personality issues co-exist, you may think she shows aspects of a few
the important thing is to realise you can't change her and can't expect normal behaviour
then stop expecting her to behave normally, get on with things, don't confide in her, look elsewhere for support and understanding

may be mentioned already, see outofthefog.net/

best wishes

janajos Fri 05-Aug-11 10:17:17

I agree with other posters, my largely happy childhood is remembered by me in all its various shades (i.e. positive and negative) and by my mother as an unrelenting period of happiness and euphoria! She will not allow that we were unhappy or that her parenting may have been less than perfect at any time. In all other ways, she is great, but I do find it very hard to discuss the past with her as our recollections seem so dissimilar!

I do know that she would find it almost impossible to accept that I had been sexually assaulted (at any age); sex itself is a topic my DM find it hard to discuss and she was very focused on my 'purity until marriage', (not in a good way!). This is not however a deal breaker for my relationship with my DM (perhaps as I haven't been assaulted as you have).

Well done for articulating your thoughts so well and good luck with unraveling the past and your relationship with it. Be brave and raise these things with your DM, but maybe think through how you will respond if she is unwilling to admit that your memories have a different perspective (truth) to her own. Could you just say, for example that you respect her recollection of the past but that it does not match yours and so you will have to agree to differ? Then move on and find the counselling/help you may need in order to finally learn to live with what happened to you and make it part of your rich tapestry of life?

janajos Fri 05-Aug-11 10:19:00

I agree with other posters, my largely happy childhood is remembered by me in all its various shades (i.e. positive and negative) and by my mother as an unrelenting period of happiness and euphoria! She will not allow that we were unhappy or that her parenting may have been less than perfect at any time. In all other ways, she is great, but I do find it very hard to discuss the past with her as our recollections seem so dissimilar!

I do know that she would find it almost impossible to accept that I had been sexually assaulted (at any age); sex itself is a topic my DM find it hard to discuss and she was very focused on my 'purity until marriage', (not in a good way!). This is not however a deal breaker for my relationship with my DM (perhaps as I haven't been assaulted as you have).

Well done for articulating your thoughts so well and good luck with unraveling the past and your relationship with it. Be brave and raise these things with your DM, but maybe think through how you will respond if she is unwilling to admit that your memories have a different perspective (truth) to her own. Could you just say, for example that you respect her recollection of the past but that it does not match yours and so you will have to agree to differ? Then move on and find the counselling/help you may need in order to finally learn to live with what happened to you and make it part of your rich tapestry of life?

janajos Fri 05-Aug-11 10:19:32

Sorry for posting twice! Please feel free to ignore second message! grin

CuddlyNemesis Fri 05-Aug-11 10:27:20

Thank you all. As pathetic as it sounds, your empathy has me in tears... sad

I don't think mum is narc - I feel really guilty because I've made her sound terrible... She's actually very kind and generous and has several very close friends. She's also someone people turn to for advice and support. It's just that yesterday's phonecall has really upset the balance and dragged up some very bad memories and feelings.

My partner spent most of yesterday evening and last night in bed cuddling me and stroking my hair because I became almost hsyterical about the fact she didn't believe I'd been raped. I know that sounds like a ridiculous reaction, but it's true. He gets very distressed because he feels so helpless and wants to 'get' the men who did this to me... To make matters worse, the rape in my teens was committed by a friend of the family, which I suppose is another reason why she finds it difficult to believe, even though she's always said (ever since I can remember) that she never liked the man...

Thank you again.

Its not pathetic. And its no wonder you got hysterical. You had something happen to you that is abhorrant and the worst of violations. By dismissing it, your mother is either going to make you feel abandoned, like you don't matter, or worse like its no big issue and is ok that it happened.

Are you looking for some vaildation from your mother that you went through an awful trauma that should not have happened, and accept that the first incident happen under her care, or at least express some regret or sympathy about it?

Things is she may not be able to face up to it herself. She may feel guilty. She may not want to deal with what has happened to you. She may not be mentally up to it.

Sounds like you have a wonderfully supportive partner, but some councelling might help you to come to terms with how your mother has dealt with this, they may even suggest your mother come to a session with you.

CuddlyNemesis Fri 05-Aug-11 11:44:58

I don't know what's going on in my head... I know what I'm posting here makes her sound terrible, when really she's not...

I forgot to say, she's sometimes one of those people who, no matter what has happened to you, has experienced worse (although she's normally fairly sympathetic as well.) And I think that's what I got yesterday... When I said how difficult I was finding things at the moment, especially with feeling so ill (I've had anaemia for over 2 years and all I get from my GP is 28 days' of iron tablets when I've got the energy to go there) and so low, I got "Well, I had FOUR children and never had any help. And I was ill and depressed." When I spoke about the assault when I was four, apart from denying it, she then went on to tell me SHE had been 'interfered with' on her way home from school one day. I know she's mentioned this in the past and I'm obviously very sorry that happened. I certainly didn't ask her if she "imagined it" or had made it up! Beginning to realise that I am now sounding like a Narc! It's all about me..! sad I'm not normally this pathetic!

DP has suggested counselling. I think I might take that route at some point. I just think for the most part that I handle it pretty well.

orchidee Fri 05-Aug-11 12:10:30

Cuddly

The thing about personality disorders is - and this makes sense if you think about it - people can show some traits to some people some of the time. Otherwise we'd all know much more about these personality types, as maybe 10% of the people we meet have them. My mum has some narc traits which she reserves for special people. She can also be nice at times to those same people that get the full-on narc treatment. And she can be nice all the time to other people. (Typically, narc behaviour is reserved for family members.) I think of it as a mental health problem that she can't see and can't help giving in to. Thinking of it logically "why would she do / say / think that?" would give me mental health problems.

Anyway, whether your mum does or doesn't have any personality disorder traits is a red herring. she seems to be unable to show you any compassion and is instead doing competitive martyrdom. Not what you need right now. At her age she's unlikely to change. For whatever reason, this suits her, that's why she behaves this way. Accept that you won't get what you need from her, but that you can get it elsewhere. As evident from your post about your partner smile

EldritchCleavage Fri 05-Aug-11 14:02:07

Sounds as though your mother relies rather a lot on denial to manage her own feelings about the past.

Who can say whether she truly doesn't believe you about the past, or says she does not because she cannot face addressing what happened. I did get this from my mother to an extent when she discovered I had been abused as a child. I got a lot of 'I can't remember' -as an endless, reflex answer-when I asked her to help me make sense of what happened (I was just over four, which is about the age reliable memory generally kicks in).

I think a lot of this was a guilt reaction, in which she avoided crushing feelings of guilt by refusing to engage with what had happened.

Do you think this may be what your mother is doing? All I think you can do to manage it is, for the time being, to split how you feel about your traumatic experiences from your mother's denials. Deal with the former and then the latter. Please don't let her repression cause you to doubt yourself. And I think you should still talk to her as and when you need to. Self-censorship is not a healthy option here.

In my case, my relationship with my mother was fairly good before. Since this all came out into the open it has improved, paradoxically, because I felt my parents' inadequate and to an extent self-interested response freed me from the need to look after them, pander to them and seek their approval. They know I know they know they were utterly crap about the whole thing. I know they are sorry about it. I know they'd be crap if the same thing happened again though. I forgive them at the same time as acknowledging that, on some level, the anger will never leave me.

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