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Should I say something to my (virtually) estranged mum?

(11 Posts)
AgentZigzag Fri 02-Sep-11 20:49:53

I had a falling out with my mum three years ago, and we've (me, DH, DD1 (10) and DD2 (20 MO)) not had any contact as such with her over that time.

Things started to thaw in June and I've been arranging for DD1 and 2 to go round for visits.

Thing is, apart from the texts, I just can't bring myself to have much else to do with her.

DD1 stopped over at hers last night, and she said my mum said to her on at least five occasions about me going round for a cup of tea, me and DH doing this or that with her, etc.

She's also said in her texts that I could go round for a cuppa any time I liked, but because so much time has passed, I just wanted to take things slowly.

The thing that gets to me is that part of the reason we fell out is because she's very manipulative, both directly with emotional blackmail, and also manipulating people using a third party.

It just feels like she doesn't think I have a choice in the matter. They're 'requests' (atm) rather than demands, but they're coming in thick and fast.

I see her asking constantly about me going round as trying to manipulate me though DD, it gets to me that she's making DD1 feel uncomfortable trying to think up answers, but also that she's not above using her to put pressure on me.

I'm going to thank her for having DD1 and wondered whether it'd be worth putting something on the end of the text to say I don't really want to see her at the minute (probably never if the truth be known, but I won't say that) or will that rock an already very unstable boat a bit too far do you think?

ItsMeAndMyPuppyNow Fri 02-Sep-11 21:17:02

Do you want her back in your life? ie. where is this "thaw" coming from, and how far does it extend, since you also say you can't bring yourself to have anything to do with her beyond texts about your DD's visits.

As you no doubt well know, manipulative people don't change their stripes, and giving them an inch means them taking a mile.

Think carefully about whether you really want to end your 3 years of no contact. Have they worked for you? If yes, you may want to keep it that way. If you are ready to be back in contact with your mother, in full knowledge that she is the same person as before, then more power to you. Can you remain emotionally detached from her tricks, though? It sounds not, or not completely, since you are upset about her using your DD as a messenger.

And fwiw, I don't think your text idea is a good one: it would be giving her an insight into how she still has the power to upset you, and also be a cause for her to open up the topic of your visiting directly with you (since you will have been manipulated into texting about it first). Just thank her for having DD if that has been your standard pattern with no mention of her manipulations for you to visit (or even have DD send her the bread-and-butter thank you text, if she and you are comfortable with that)

AgentZigzag Fri 02-Sep-11 22:26:52

I'm nodding at your post Puppy smile

She sent me a birthday card, I passed her in the street and thanked her for it. I'd thought before I saw her that I might contact her anyway when I got the card, so it was a choice I'd thought a lot about beforehand so not done for the wrong reasons (ie because I felt I had to).

The three years have been bliss fine, it never upset me to not see her, which speaks volumes to me.

I contacted her for the DDs, DD1 obviously remembers spending time with her, but DD2 hadn't even met her up to us seeing her in the street, and regardless of how she is with people, I know they'd mean a lot to her and she hasn't been a 100% bad mother.

I agree that telling her know how I feel will let her know she can still upset me, but this is one reason against contacting her, that she can really do what she wants because if I say anything she'll be able to tell anyone who'll listen it'll be me being unreasonable.

Shit, maybe I shouldn't have thanked her for the card in the first place. I just thought I could separate her seeing the DDs from me having any contact with her.

garlicnutter Sat 03-Sep-11 02:02:46

Thanks are manners, not a contract!

If I sent you a card, I'd like you thank me but wouldn't expect you to move next door and be my best buddy because of it.

I assume you know your mother will read something more into a simple thank-you, but what she misreads is her problem. Just keep the thanks simple, is also my advice.

garlicnutter Sat 03-Sep-11 02:09:04

DD1 is just about old enough to get to grips with the value of "Don't involve me, please, Granny" and/or a bit of fogging: "Mmmh, yes, tea ..."
Useful lessons at any age wink

AttilaTheMeerkat Sat 03-Sep-11 09:58:15

You have been given some good cousnel here and I hope you take heed of it.

Re your comment:-
"I just thought I could separate her seeing the DDs from me having any contact with her".

No, because such manipulative toxic people like your mother are more than adept at using their grandchildren to get back at who they see as their "errant" offspring, in this case you. These people as well are more than happy to pass on all their issues to the next generation.

AgentZigzag Sat 03-Sep-11 18:36:59

Thanks for answering smile

I think saying thank you for the card kind of did mean more to her garlicnut, because I'd not made any contact at all for all that time.

She took it to be things getting back to normal and is trying to build bridges, and although I don't like to think of it in such final terms, it's never going to be the normal she's thinking of, again.

DD is very good at brushing off her remarks (takes after her mum grin) but because I accepted mums birthday card olive branch and can't go back on the decision, I feel responsible for DD being uncomfortable.

So mum's in effect making me responsible for DD having to do it.

Do you think I've made a mistake letting the DDs have a relationship with her Attila?

I don't know how I can back off now without hurting DD1, maybe just not initiate any more visits and wait to see what naturally comes about?

I've not texted her as yet, I'll end up just leaving it and leaving it then not sending one at all.

ShoutyHamster Sat 03-Sep-11 21:12:20

You can indeed go back on the decision, any time you like.

You don't even have to give her a reason why, really. Though of course you would, if you made that decision. If I were you, it would be along the lines of:

'I'm sorry, but this really isn't going to work. I thought it might work having you see the DDs without me and DH - because to be honest we don't want to rekindle any relationship with you, those days have gone - but I can see that it't not going to. Already, you are showing that you will manipulate and put pressure on DD to push for what you want - one of the reasons why we fell out. I'm not willing to let you treat my daughters the way you treated me - so, let's leave it there.'

My prediction on this? In two years' time, you will be back exactly where you started. Because two things are clear: 1. that your mother has changed not one jot - she's not even treading very carefully to start with, is she? Utterly thick skinned entitlement, already - 2. you still aren't equipped to have her in your life and effectively keep her harmless - 'She can still upset me' - 'I can't go back on the decision.'

I think to cope with having her in your life, you'd have to be hard as nails and not give a shit about hurting her, just in order to keep her at bay.

You aren't.

Three years of bliss - don't look back on them as your golden time!

AttilaTheMeerkat Sat 03-Sep-11 21:46:47

Hi AgentZ,

re your comment:-
"Do you think I've made a mistake letting the DDs have a relationship with her Attila?".

You did what you thought best at the time, you acted as a reasonable person would and gave her an opportunity. However, you are dealing with your mother who will patently never act reasonably; that is the difference here. Your mother has clearly not changed her damaged learnt ways and she has not come from a healthy and emotionally healthy family herself. BTW you did not make her this way, her own birth family did that.

I can only reiterate that such manipulative people are more than adept at passing on all their crap to the next generation i.e the children. I would also agree with ShoutyHamster's post in its entireity.

AgentZigzag Sun 04-Sep-11 00:12:04

Hehe, it's like you both know her grin

She won't change Shouty, I was banking on the fact that I have to make the difference.

Apart from knowing the way she works, so able to sidestep the games she likes playing, and not feeling obliged to follow the social niceties with her any more, the lack of any sentimentality I feel when I think of her isn't something that'll be at risk of being switched on at a later date.

But it's all theoretical of course, I am good at detatching myself from people, but it's different because of the DDs.

She was neglected when she was a child Attila, which is why she wasn't a 100% bad mother, because she managed to show love to her children when she'd had none herself.

I admire that, despite the other less than perfect ways she can behave (and who does get full marks on the parenting exam?).

But then there are all the underhand ways to discredit what I say, the tests she sets up to guage what you feel about her, trying to get other people 'onside' so she can feel she's scored a point and can relay what they say to other people to make her feel she's in the right.

Like you say Shouty, she's come so heavy already that even DD has noticed it. I don't want that for them.

Fuck, I hope I'm not passing this shit on without realising it.

ItsMeAndMyPuppyNow Sun 04-Sep-11 08:42:12

Fuck, I hope I'm not passing this shit on without realising it.

Well, you're aware of the danger, so you know you'll guard against it as best you can.

You know your mother inside out: you'll be able to notice whenever you are doing/saying things that sound just like her, and then question whether those are healthy things to be doing/saying, or whether they are narcissist's fleas that you should get rid of.

You probably will behave like your mother at times. It's normal: after all, she raised you. But use your awareness to recognise if any of that learned behaviour is in fact dysfunctional, and change it if it is. You have the power to, and the desire to be better.

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