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How can I support my mum but not go under myself?

(7 Posts)
WhitePeacock Sun 30-Sep-12 19:21:59

I've posted before about my difficulties with my very controlling, very self-focused, very aggressive mother. In the nine years since my dad died, my mum found a new DP. He's a lovely fellow, but I was always a bit worried that mum would drive him away by being super unreasonable and selfish about his wanting to see his family. And now she has.

They were just going to go on holiday together, but instead they've broken up and mum is devastated and has almost no-one to talk to or lean on. I have to say that is largely her own doing - she's driven away or let slide all her old friends and our relationship is strained at best.

In fact I've been having therapy to deal with her effect on me - a short short visit leaves me desperately unhappy and a quivering wreck for days because she seeks out my soft spots like a piranha. I can't, for my sake and my DD's (and DH's), be in contact with her too much. But it upsets me a lot to hear how broken-hearted she is. It's like a flashback to when dad died. Does anyone have any advice about how I can help and support her a bit without letting her too close?

Katisha Sun 30-Sep-12 19:35:02

I'm not sure you can. You don't want to get sucked in...For you own sanity I think you can't be her white knight here.

Thinkability Sun 30-Sep-12 19:37:18

You can have empathy but don't try to rescue her. She is the only one who can sort this.

She sounds like she needs to join a club or do some voluntary work instead of playing the 'It's all about ME' game. Perhaps get her some details about clubs from your local library and then leave her to decide what she's going to do with the information.

Feeling guilty for her situation will help neither of you.

Good luck smile

AttilaTheMeerkat Sun 30-Sep-12 19:42:55

Bearing in mind how your mother has treated you and by turn your family over the years, why do you think it upsets you so much to hear how broken hearted she is?. I ask that as many children now adults who were raised by toxic parents often have FOG in spades. Fog stands for fear, obligation, guilt. I wonder if any of those (misplaced) feelings are coming into play here (that you are the only one who now puts up with her).

You cannot help or support anyone like this, she does not want your help. You're already in therapy because of the effects she has on you, do not open yourself up to yet more emotional carnage because she has not changed.

NotmylastRolo Sun 30-Sep-12 19:44:40

Send her a card saying how much you wish her well and are sorry about her loss. Send her flowers with a lovely worded card. BUT realise that this misery is HER stuff and not yours. If you take responsibility for her unhappiness you deny her the opportunity to work it out for herself.

Of course she can find your soft spot as you sound a lovely caring person and she will (probably unconsciously) want to make you feel as miserable as she is so she does not feel so alone in her unhappiness. Forgive her those trespasses (as someone once said!). She is your mum and deserves your respect and love but you do not need to buy into her neediness and manipulation. Put an image in your mind when you are together of pushing back towards her any behaviour she shows to you that is unreasonable when it happens. Only engage with her if she keeps it friendly and politely get up and visit the loo or even politely excuse yourself to go home if you feel that she is not being nice to you. Remember that people can only hurt you if you let them. Most of all have a nice big bubbly bath and some good chocolate or your fave meal waiting for you when you get home so you spoil yourself for being brave and looking after yourself.

Best of luck.

WhitePeacock Sun 30-Sep-12 23:08:51

Thank you all very much. Yet again MN helps me to build flood defences! I'm mega grateful for the reminder that I can't fix all this and it's not my job to.

Thinkability Mon 01-Oct-12 23:08:10

Attila. I love the FOG stuff.
Not. I love the leave the room for the toilet.

Years ago I would have been in the FOGgy loo! Thank God for therapy!

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