Advanced search

Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.

very bad day with dd

(52 Posts)
springydaffs Mon 22-Aug-11 22:00:21

things have been bad between me and dd (25) for about 5 years. When I say bad, I mean very bad. sometimes I haven't known where she is for over a year. she won't stay at my house, insists I am abusive etc. I have thought and thought about what she means, really turned myself inside out, and I just can't see what she means. I'm not exactly slow about confessing my faults iyswim. I'd rather get it out of the way re if it's harming me or anyone else I'd rather deal with it. So far, I have drawn a blank about her accusations.

Except to say I have short shrift with people who are manipulative. I am also straight to the point, don't hang around; set boundaries if I absolutely must, make it clear what they are, then enforce them if I have to. I don't enjoy doing it - would much rather not - but sometimes you have to be clear with people who push. I know I sound like a sergeant major but there we go. I have very little truck with manipulative behaviour. It bores me to death.

dd hasn't been to my house since christmas. she stayed last night - a first since christmas (when she left promptly on boxing day, stating I had 'insulted her boyf's mother', twisting a comment I made, out of context and all proprortion). She stayed last night because we had a special treat we planned months ago for dd2 but because of the lack of contact with dd1 we haven't been able to do it. It was important we left on time and dd1 kicked up with major manipulative behaviour. The pressure was on - as at christmas. The upshot is that she mucked about so badly that I firstly warned that if she didn't get her act together the whole thing was off. all my kids know I mean this (but all my kids know how much it hurts me if I have to enforce it! I don't make a song and dance about it but it is a real downer - it does upset me). She pushed it and pushed it and then refused to get in the car - by now the time was really tight. I was well-frazzled by this stage - shouted at her earlier about a towel (should've known I was starting to go over the edge) - I now realise (though didn't at the time). Anyways, the upshot is that I left without her. I could cry my eyes out. I'm so upset!

I feel I was completely set up. She goes off with her 'stories' about what a terrible mother I am. She doesn't know how lucky she is, really she doesn't. I don't labour the point and have never said it (perhaps I should?). She has ruined another family event but for all the world it looks like I did sad

spectacular Mon 22-Aug-11 22:09:46

She is an adult and you are treating her like a child. Would you speak to your best friend like that, or to your partner? Setting boundaries is for two year olds and teenagers not for 25yos!

springydaffs Mon 22-Aug-11 22:13:50

Just remembered I posted about this before and got a pasting! uh-oh

It seems the only theme that goes down like a lead weight on NM is the theme of the abusive child. Abusive parent - tick; abusive partner - tick. Abusive child? ooh no. children (even adult children) are apparently not abusive.

Of course you set boundaries with adults, spectacular! you may not flag them up but you do all the same - sometimes. Sometimes you have to.

tethersend Mon 22-Aug-11 22:18:32

Can I ask what your childhood was like, springy?

carlywurly Mon 22-Aug-11 22:21:01

Do you have an equally straight talking mate or family member who you could ask for their take on this? I think you need to try and see this from your dd's point of view, and it might take an impartial observer to help you do this, especially if things have got heated.

From what you've posted, it does sound as though you're talking about a 15 year old rather than a 25 year old. If she hadn't been on time for the treat and knew it was important, personally I'd have just set off without her unless there was a really good reason. You need to find a way to avoid the conflict

unavailable Mon 22-Aug-11 22:21:47

I think you need to give more detail if you want useful replies.
What do you mean by her "major manipulative behaviour"

What do you mean by "enforcement"?

What was the big deal about the towel?

What really happened?

carlywurly Mon 22-Aug-11 22:22:50

Oops, pressed post halfway through. I was going to say, you need to break out of this destructive cycle. It sounds exhausting and no wonder you're barely seeing one another if every encounter involves this level of drama.

thisisyesterday Mon 22-Aug-11 22:31:58

"She is an adult and you are treating her like a child"

to be fair, she is acting like a child!
refusing to get in the car?? ffs, i'd have just gone without her.

I have zero tolerance for that kind of pissing about, which is done with the specific intention of upsetting other people.

IMO it does NOT appear that you ruined the day out OP. the other people with you can surely see how unreasonable her behaviour is? and wouldn't blame you?

i would stop trying to set boundaries and giving ultimatums though.
just relax completely.
if she refuses to get in the car just say "ok, that's a shame, we'll see you later though" and go.
don't give her the satisfaction of being centre of attention.

thisisyesterday Mon 22-Aug-11 22:33:08

it might also be worth trying some sort of mediation with her if she is willing, if you'd both like to improve the relationship?

springydaffs Mon 22-Aug-11 22:43:34

re towel. I have a foreign student staying, we all have our own towels. I noticed that the foreign student's (white) towel had a lot of make-up smears on it - this has never happened before with this student's towel and I was surprised (she doesn't wear much make-up). dd, however, wears a lot of make-up. (this story is so ridiculous, but that's how family things go sometimes...). I noticed that there was another towel hanging up, exactly the same as the marked towel (what are the chances of that - I hardly have any towels that are exactly the same!). I said to dd 'did you get out another towel?' She said 'you didn't leave me one'. I said 'I didn't know you were staying' (she had not made it clear whether she would or wouldn't be staying. I would, of course, have left her one if I had known she was staying. We also had a major celebration for dd the day before that took up the whole day - big event - and got to bed very late.) dd: 'are you saying I am not welcome?'. Me: 'no, I'm not saying you aren't welcome, of course you're welcome. I just need to work out which is the student's towel'. Believe it or not, I was still thinking the smeared towel was the student's - it's only now that I realise dd had used the student's towel (bit of a no-no. dd has always been jealous of the students. Doesn't want anything to do with me but doesn't like the students staying at my house, apparently). dd: ' well, thank you very much. You might not want to make it very clear that I am not welcome and you might want to make me feel welcome, that you are very glad I'm here' etc etc - this last speech went on and on and on. me (cutting in): 'Don't be ridiculous! I just need to know which is the student's towel, that's all!' that bit was shouted as by now, after her taking an age to get up, we were already beginning to run really late and she was going on and on about the not being welcome thing. I have said many, many times that she is welcome, that I would love to see her. The student was going to be back before we were and I needed to clear up the towel situation. imo should've been an ordinary conversation.

tethersend Mon 22-Aug-11 22:58:12

This is not about a towel.

WillieWaggledagger Mon 22-Aug-11 23:03:46

as tethersend said it's not about the towel. while her reactions are her own responsibility you could have avoided the argument by not rising to the 'you didn't leave me one'.

i do sympathise with both of you - i have had a tricky relationship with my mother for which both of us were at fault

Dozer Mon 22-Aug-11 23:06:24

Are you the OP who drove miles to see DD in a play but wasn't allowed to stay over?

If so, think lots of other stuff was said on the thread, perhaps you should resurrect the old thread?

springydaffs Mon 22-Aug-11 23:09:14

tether, do put a bit more effort into it. It's easy to dive-bomb into a difficult situation and post one-liners. Not helpful sweetie. I also wouldn't be telling you what my childhood was like - you aren't my therapist (re a relationship of trust that takes time to build). Of course it isn't about a towel! As is apparent by the 'towel' exchange, a lot was packed into the minute she opened her eyes - I couldn't possibly write about it all - and finally managed to get out the door. I needed to vent, to talk about it, that's all. I'm upset - it has been a very upsetting day.

dd also knows that the students are a good chunk of my income - usually a lot of students over the summer, only one left. She knows that they are paying guests and that certain things are off-limits. I don't want to think that she purposefully mucked up the student's towel but I wouldn't be surprised. However, I choose to think it was a genuine mistake when she was tired.

tethersend Mon 22-Aug-11 23:18:39

Actually, that last post has told me more about you than if you'd actually answered my question.

Good luck.

maras2 Mon 22-Aug-11 23:22:07

No need to be unpleasant Springy.I think that Tether feels the same as other respondants do,sorry that your so upset,but wondering why you tolerate this stuff from a 25 year old woman.Anyway hope you can calm down enough to get a good nights sleep.Perhaps things will seem better tomorrow. Mx.

nailak Mon 22-Aug-11 23:44:35

why doesnt she know where the towels are to get one out herself? she obviously feels very angry and the relationship between you both has broken down so that she feels she always needs to be on the defensive and you are always attacking her.

garlicbutter Mon 22-Aug-11 23:44:43

I'm going to try a different take, springy. I consider my mother to have been abusive (by contemporary standards, she would be.) She knows this, and why. She's gone out of her way to make amends - in her own eyes, and without consulting me. What she hasn't done - can't do - is what I craved: she can't validate my point of view. That's enough about me; I'm telling you this by way of explaining my suggestion.

Generally I enjoy your posts and there are many situations where it's worth being direct, cutting to the chase, etc. Dealing with a family member's hurt feelings is not one of those. I'm not at all doubting that your daughter is manipulative, annoying and obstructive around you. Either she is loopy or she's angry with you.

You haven't mentioned any suspicions of a mental illness or other disorder to explain her aggression, so it looks fair to assume she is angry. Why does she feel resentful towards you? Do you know what her complaints are? If so, then perhaps the one thing you could do, and haven't yet done, is listen to her openly and without judgement. Maybe there are some things you honestly hadn't realised were so hurtful to the child she was; maybe you could listen to them from her perspective and maybe you could show some genuine concern.

I understand why my mum did & didn't do certain things: god knows, I've been having to understand it from infancy. Her reasons can't give me a happy, secure childhood - that chance has gone forever. I'm saddened that I had to get true empathy over this from therapists, rather than the central figure. You strike me as more emotionally intelligent than my mum, so perhaps you can offer it to your own daughter.

springydaffs Tue 23-Aug-11 00:32:48

Thank you garlicbutter, what a lovely, measured post.

imo there are MH issues there, which I am struggling to accept. She has certainly not begun to accept anyting along this line - which is fair enough. I feel that holding boundaries is vital for her. She railroads over one and all, forcing them to dance to her tune - she is like a goliath, a tank. She can't do that with me, though I certainly pick my battles and let a lot go. The key boundaries are because I love her and won't let her be a monster. If this means I have to wait for ever and am unpopular then that's what it'll have to mean. My heart is broken though - I love the girl more than I can say. As one does.

I have listened to her - endlessly. hours and hours, discussion upon discussion (we generally know how to discuss, how to talk about very difficult things. or we used to......). Here's what I think: that she, being the eldest daughter, imbibed somehow the horror that was my marriage to her father. This is where I have a huge question mark over the 'not telling the children' thing. I have a friend whose father hit her mother most nights when the children were asleep in bed. My friend never heard or saw any abuse, but she breathed it, it was in the house. It was unsaid though. Nobody said it, much less did anyting about it (though in the end the mother left the father and the truth came out). It fucked up my friend. I wonder about so-say lower class households, where the truth is uttered without compunction: 'your father is fucking bastard!!', which would make middle-class toes curl. But what have we bred - a generation of narcissists.

I digress. I also (tether? you listening? now that you've got the measure of me wink) had a lot to get over from my childhood. but, here's the thing: you have to. You/one can carry it around for the rest of your life, crushing you; or you can put it down, say 'that was a shit deal I was dealt there'. I think that in order to do that you have to know what you're putting down, you have to grieve what you didn't have, what you needed desperately. You/we/she didn't get it. What ever my children didn't get will never be put back, it 's gone. But they got a lot of the good stuff - as I did, actually, in amongst the shit. I wonder if it's our parents' job to be the ones to say 'you were dealt a shit deal there' (though I have, as it happens - but not all of it was shit!. Not by a long chalk.) I wonder if that is something we have to come to terms with alone, that it is something our parents can't do for us.

I don't think I am the one to hear what she didn't get - that's what therapists are for imo. Maybe [honesty alert] I'm impatient with the process my daughter is going through - a bit like a reformed smoker who has no patience with smokers. Maybe I see it as a lot of fuss. I'm older, things don't matter to me as much, things about me. You get a lot less precious about yourself as you get older (though I'm not suggesting you or anyone who goes through this process is 'precious'). I've done it, I did it a long time ago. It took a good few years and a lot of money but I'm through it, moreorless. It jabs now and again but I don't go there - I know how needlessly painful it is - I did it, I'm not going to pick it up again. In the end, you have to forgive your parents. It's easier if you know without a shadow of doubt that they did their best, but are flawed. It's also, imo, not denial to focus on the good stuff (as long as you've come to terms with the shit).

I think it would be a good idea to make myself scarce, moreorless, and leave her to these years of processing all her shit. There was a lot, no question. One way and another.

springydaffs Tue 23-Aug-11 09:40:01

But I will think about what you've said garlicbutter. As always, I do mull things over, try them for size.

Perhaps you could clarify for me then the following. It seems to me that she wants me to say a blanket 'it was shit'. No mitigating circumstances. I have said 'it was shit' - many times; I have said I am sorry (and been sorry) for what happened to her/them - many times. It seems that she wants me to be forever in the bad dog corner. Like, permanently. To hang my head forever as a means of making it up to her, as a means of making up for the shit, for what she didn't get (and what she did). I have another friend whose mother is, in her words, a paranoid schizophrenic (I assume this was the diagnosis). My friend's childhood was seriously shit - from the age of 9 my friend was the 'mother' in the family in the full sense, cooking, paying bills etc. ss eventually got involved and my friend was put into care, which was a lifeline for her and she is still very close to her foster mother. Her mother had extensive treatment and, 20 years later, is stable and functioning very well indeed. However, my friend treats her mother badly eg if her mother wants to come over, my friend will say she can but, within 5 minutes of her mother's arrival, tells her to go home (her mother comes a long way). This happens regularly. My friend says she deserves it after what she went through in her childhood. What I would say to that is, how long will you be doing that? HOw long before the scales are balanced? (I haven't said that btw)

I agree that her childhood was shit, but at what point do you 'forgive' your parent/s? Particularly if, as in this case, the mother fully recognises what happened and how shit it was for her daughter? At some point, she (and my daughter) has to come to terms with what happened - and drop it, let it go. imo to hang on to it, to use it as a means of not facing your life, is a disaster. It is this that I have short shrift with - not heartlessly at all, but as a matter of vital importance. imo unless and until she does, she will be defined by it and will not be free to live her own life. INterestingly, my friend and my daughter have very similar traits and behave in very similar ways. One that stands out is a clear judgement of the mother (another is a rabid codependence). This judgement looks permanent, like it's meant to be a permanent state of affairs. Disaster, imo. You have your times, your years of judging, of being angry, of coming to terms with it - but there comes a time when you choose to drop it and to face your parent as a flawed human being, who got it wrong (sometimes very wrong). You stand on your own feet, as an adult, and face what life dealt out to you, without blame. That's just how it was - what now? You don't want to be bringing all that shit with you.

imo, therapists get you to the point of facing what happened re your parent/s, being angry with what happened - all well and good. But they don't take you through to the other side, they leave you with the anger as though that is the pinnacle of healing. Imo they don't promote forgiveness and that is a travesty imo - they are signing people up to a lifetime of shit to not bring them out the other side.

Obviously, if a parent continues to be abusive you have to step away. I would still say though that, as hard as it is, you have to forgive, to let it go, to drop it. It is not dishonouring what happened to drop it, it is accepting it as what happened then (even if it is still happening but you have chosen to step away).

Forgiveness gets a bad press imo. it is not a blanket 'that's alright then, you didn't mean it'. it's serious, it's hard. YOu have to keep it up, maintain it. But, oh my, it is not as hard as living with the shit of what they did for the rest of your life. imo it is at the root of a lot of mental illness, a lot of anguish. Why would you want to bring all that shit with you and let it poison your entire life?

tb Tue 23-Aug-11 10:54:07


Have you had a look at this ? We have similar problems with our 13 year old. We've spoken about it, and for her it's been a 'lightbulb' moment.

Except for a very few characteristics, she's the spitting image of what it describes. She was seen by Camhs, but they didn't do any sort of evaluation, just wrote us off as crap parents. It's happening here too (left UK 5 years ago).

Hope the description helps, I seem to remember another thread, but sorry, can't remember if it was you.

HarlotOTara Tue 23-Aug-11 11:13:21

Springydaffs, I have read all your post and I am sorry you are having such a difficult time in the relationship with your daughter. I have a complex fraught relationship with my mother which I am slowly working through. We will never be close but I hope that at some point we can get to a place where what has happened isn't 'alive' anymore and there can be acceptance and some sort of peace.

I agree that forgiveness isn't an easy path but would also say that we are not always in control of how our shit, anguish, call it what you will, affects our life - if only we could. These things unconsciously affect us at a very deep level. Your comment about your friend 'breathing' the abusiveness in her family is spot on. We may not be consciously aware but on an intuitive, emotional level we know these things and they have a profound effect. At least that is my view.

I don't agree that therapy doesn't take 'you through to the other side, they leave you with the anger as though that is the pinnacle of healing'. One of the points of therapy is to help you work through and lay to rest (as much as you can) difficult stuff. This isn't an easy process and sometimes people leave therapy when they are very angry maybe because it is too painful/dangerous to continue, or aren't ready to deal with their feelings. It can take a lifetime to come to a point where you are able to accept that what happened no longer has the power to hurt or affect you and it can rest in the past.

Your daughter is evidentally in a very painful place and only she can find a way out of it as only you can find your way of dealing with it. However these things really aren't in the world of rationality. I rationalised things that happened to me for years until I realised I was barking up the wrong tree. Being rational can sometimes be a defence against feeling utterly painful feelings and skimming over painful events.

RudeEnglishLady Tue 23-Aug-11 11:36:21

Hi springy I commented on your last thread about this. My pearl of wisdom was to stop arguing with her - the less you argue then the less you argue. I remember this because I was shocked at how angry you got and some of the things you wrote.
The situation you are telling about today sounds very unpleasant for you and your DD2 but I really think you are 'feeding' your DD1. She isnt 'setting you up', you are setting yourself up. Sorry, I'm not saying you are a bad mum - its almost the opposite you are caring too much, getting too involved. Really, her behaviour is overly dramatic and not acceptable but you are indulging her. If you've got mysteriously dirty towels chuck them in the laundry and put a clean one on each vistors bed! If she won't get in the car tell her you'll see her later! It really doesn't need all this discussion. Cut off her drama supply!

garlicbutter Tue 23-Aug-11 11:50:52

Thank you for your insightful (and agonised?!) replies, springy. I feel like discussing this with you for ages but can't this week, I'm afraid. Taking some of your points piecemeal, then:-

I agree with HOT that therapy doesn't necessarily leave you hanging at the point of discovery, with its resultant anger. The course of mine has been along the lines of: recognition -> anger/distress -> soothing/healing (inner-child work) -> overcoming legacy problems -> rebuilding values & identity. The forgiveness part comes under the umbrella of legacy problems. For your own part, it might be worth looking at inner child work here and here.

You theorised that children 'absorb' their parents' emotional state, even if problems are hidden: this is now recognised by child development experts. It can even start in the womb: the foetus is flooded with adrenaline as the mother goes through abusive cycles, becoming adapted to emotional drama (my paraphrase.) As to whether "middle class" silence beats public yelling: perhaps they just cause different kinds of damage. The child in the screaming household may grow up to expect stormy relationships and believe "all men are violent"; the child from the repressed household may come to expect secrecy, mistrust and a standoffish, resentful marriage.

It's interesting that you mentioned narcissism wrt DD1. The behaviours you've described do seem pathologically narcissistic - like a cross toddler, demanding attention no matter what sort. With the toddler, you would acknowledge the need for attention without validating the tantrum. I have no idea whether there's much to be gained from treating a 25-year-old like a toddler, in the sense of waiting out the storm then discussing the anxieties that provoked it? I did feel that your talk of boundaries was doomed to fail. I hope some others will pick that up and have constructive suggestions.

Please try not to feel guilty or responsible (I know, she's your daughter, you do!!) as that can lead to yet another spiral of aggression. I feel pretty sure the aggression comes, on both sides, from that age-old longing for love & acceptance plus fear of same.

It's not really possible to modify a 25-year-old's psychological makeup. She'd need to make that choice herself, and it's a hard one. There is, though, that "therapy miracle" ... as you modify your own psychology, the people around you start behaving differently. Just a thought smile

springydaffs Tue 23-Aug-11 12:25:17

"She was seen by Camhs, but they didn't do any sort of evaluation, just wrote us off as crap parents"

Another CAMHS survivor here tb. We should set up a support group. They did more damage to my family than I can possibly describe.

I have read your link but only got so far. I find it extremely hard, even impossible, to face this. I don't know why that is. Probably because her father had some sort of personality disorder and was hell on earth. I am finding it nigh impossible to face that she has it, or something like it. I truly feel I can't bear it. But I must, somehow??

I want to give a thoughtful reply to your post Harlet but feeling a bit scattered about the above. I am signed up to the fucked up by parents/life club, had the therapy etc etc. HOwever, I do believe that rationale has a solid place in emotional turmoil. It shouldn't be uppermost - but then, neither should emotional turmoil.

Here's where I am on forgiveness, or the rationale of forgiveness: I make a decision and stick to it - I'm not going to take this pain with me. I could be in a lot of pain for the rest of my life because of my life experiences. It's bad enough that it happened in the first place, I don't want to take it all with me (particularly as more has been added). I know the 'rules' by now, the therapy rules (if you like) and know how to keep a short account, know when things are getting out of hand - eg know to give something space that has got under my skin, either old stuff or new stuff. I give it a short (though rich, deep) space though, possibly allow myself an extension if it's still giving me a bit of gyp (can I use that expression? is it pc?) but am quite ruthless about time constraints. I can't afford to be flabby about it iyswim or I'd be snowed right under. I dont honestly take great store in emotions as reliable pointers in life (struggling to express this), I am philosophical about pain: it comes to us all, is part of the human condition (if you're half decent), I don't take emotions too seriously. Because they can give you the runaround. If you have been damaged then you know this (one knows this). I also find great solace in the arts, for instance - a shared experience.

I don't use forgiveness, or the philosophy of forgiveness, as a devise to avoid pain. It just makes - to me at least - perfect sense to practise forgiveness, to find out about it, to fit it to each circumstance, to work on it in order to clear out the pain. (it's not as simple as it sounds btw - I think we all know that). imo it is not possible to resolve some of the things that have been done to us - there is no feasible or reasonable explanation (or, if there is, you are lucky). Ultimately, I have to put it down and not take it with me; leave it as an unresolved, release whomever did it, for whatever reason (even if I can't understand the reason). It hurt like fuck at the time but pain heals if you let it, particularly if you don't pick at it for too long. What's next? I want to enjoy my life.

sorry if I'm rambling or not made much sense. Just off to come to terms with things/do the housework/get a job/enjoy myself a bit.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now