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Trouble with my Mum (again...) v long, sorry

(55 Posts)
IncogKNEEto Fri 02-Nov-12 17:14:46

Name changed for this, just in case it's stumbled across. This is very long (sorry) but I wanted to include the whole conversation so as not to drip feed. I would really appreciate others opinions as I am struggling with this at the moment. I have had a very rocky relationship with my Mum since I was a child, and am realising that maybe it's not just because I am 'difficult', and that maybe she is toxic sad Since this exchange we haven't spoken, and I feel relieved, I feel sad and guilty too, especially as it's her birthday today, but my overwhelming feeling is of a weight lifted off my shoulders sad


I have decided to email this, so that I can say what I need to say without getting side-tracked or emotional about it, and so that you have time to digest what I'm saying and your response to it.

I have been thinking since we spoke yesterday and I have a few things that I want to say. Firstly, I want to say thank you for all the help and support you have given me during my recent separation from dh. I really appreciate that you have made time to help me with the kids and to listen to me talk (rant!) about things.

I have spent a long time thinking about mine and dh?s relationship, where I feel we went wrong, and whether or not I truly want to be with him. I appreciate that you may have concerns (grave or otherwise) that we might not be able to work things out and that you only have my best interests at heart.

I am happy. Since we have been talking, openly and honestly, for the first time in years, I feel as though we can solve our differences and that this is the right thing for us to do. I love dh, he loves me, we both meant our marriage vows, and believe that we owe it to ourselves, each other, and our children to do our very best to work things out between us. It is not a decision that either of us have entered into lightly.

I would love it if you would trust me as an adult to make my own decisions and to be pleased, for me, that I am happy with my decision to reconcile with dh. This is after all my decision to make; it is my life, my husband and my choice.

Dh is making every effort to make me and the children happy, and is entering back into our relationship with positive intentions for our future together, as am I. I don't believe that dh has anything to 'prove' to you, he is an adult and is not answerable to you, his mother-in-law. I expect him to treat you with courtesy and respect, and vice versa. I am not asking you to become 'best buddies', or even agree with my decision to give him another chance, but it is my decision.

You mentioned when we were talking about dh seeing his Mum this weekend that you wouldn't ever do what she did and put me in the position of having to choose sides between my husband and my Mum, and then did exactly that when you said that you didn?t want dh to come out with us all on the 3rd November.

I feel very uncomfortable with being put in the position of having to tell dh that he is not welcome, or upsetting you by saying that none of us will be coming if he is made to feel unwelcome. I don't even know yet whether he is working that Saturday, but if not, why would you want to make me choose? Is your desire to punish him stronger than your desire to see me and the children happy? We are a family, and whilst I appreciate things have been difficult and awkward in the past, the past is the past and we are moving forward from it, learning from our mistakes and concentrating on building a better, stronger future. I would appreciate it if you would try to do the same.

Well, that was longer than I planned! I hope it makes sense, let me know what you think when you've had a chance to think about it.

Love xxx

Her reply

I have a couple of things to say about this.
I obviously want you and the children to be happy and emotionally secure in the long term and that is and always has been my main and over-riding concern. If that turns out to be with xxx and he makes you all happy again then I will be very glad and obviously would want him to be accepted back into the family.

When I was trying to ring you this morning I was going to say that if xxx really wanted to come to my birthday outing then I wouldn't say no although I would really rather it not be the first time we see him after all that has happened. I don't think he would expect to be invited anyway. None of us could really relax and it is after all my birthday outing and he has never wanted to come to one before. I would like to enjoy it and not have to be on tenterhooks lest I say the wrong thing.

I don't see that this was making you choose between us at all. When we made the original arrangement xxx was not included because at that point, if I remember right, so far as we knew, he was still incommunicado and pretty much reviled and the last person on earth you would have wanted there. I seem to recall that the last contact from you to him had included a lot of words beginning with F and you felt much better for having sent it. You've changed your mind very recently and are now saying the complete opposite. As you say you are an adult and capable of making your own decisions. As an adult you should also understand that all of us have a right to that too and to time to make our own minds up. There is no reason why just because you and xxx have decided to get back together we should somehow just be expected to include him immediately because you say so. And I can't believe you would threaten me with not allowing the children to come. That is pretty low, especially after our conversation yesterday. I know you are on a high about you and xxx and want everything to be rosy, but a little bit of consideration and respect for our feelings as opposed to just xxx's would not go amiss.

You seem to be convinced he has changed and all will be well, and hopefully that is true, but I (and am sure your brother too) remain to be convinced. All of us have only your and the childrens' best interests at heart and it is insulting of you to imply that any of what I have said has got anything to do with punishing xxx.

If he has really changed as you say he has then I am sure that he will understand my feelings and want to prove he has changed and both of us should not be worried about telling him what I have said. I would say exactly the same to his face if I had the chance as I am sure he already realises. It worries me that you feel you have to go to such lengths to protect his feelings about this. If you want things to move forward then I really think you should forward both these emails to him and see what he has to say himself about it. I actually don't think he will argue with much of what I've said. Maybe he and I should get together for a chat sometime soon and he can tell me himself.


And my reply

Dh and I have discussed the emails.

He had no intention of attending your birthday celebration (even if he was not working). He is aware of your feelings towards him and they are reciprocated, so we think this is for the best.

See you tomorrow.


Her final message

Oh dear - luckily I have cancelled it anyway. Can't believe it could cause so much hassle and it just isn't worth it. I wouldn't be able to enjoy it anyway, not now.

I replied

Ok, if that's what you want to do, it's your decision.

I just don't know where to go from here. Thank you if you've managed to get this far smile I just feel so furious and feel like I'm being manipulated (again) and I have no desire to see or speak to her atm, but am I overreacting?

sneezecakesmum Fri 02-Nov-12 17:25:14

Sorry, but I think you are.

You no doubt spoke to her at length about your marriage and in disparaging terms, so her view of DH is coloured by your distress. Just because you have done an about face, its not reasonable for her to follow suit so soon. I totally agree with her that it was HER birthday and therefore she should feel comfortable with those present. She says that in the future if all goes well her opinion of DH may change, but until then she has the right to hold him at arms length, and adopt a wait and see approach.

I cant see any manipulation on her part, just frankness and honesty.

Hope your reconcilliation goes well and remember that ALL your family are important to you. Dont force people to take sides. smile

IncogKNEEto Fri 02-Nov-12 17:34:24

sneezecakes thanks for your reply, I never seem to be able to tell with my Mum, I think I probably hold so much resentment stemming from my childhood experiences with her, so sometimes can't see the wood for the trees.

I have spoken to her a bit about my marriage difficulties, but felt that whenever I did it was turned around to being all about her divorce from my Dad (who she still hates after 30+ years, despite her leaving him!) so I tended not to tell her all the details, and she has never liked dh anyway...

I fully accept that she is entitled to her own opinions, I just wish she'd do the same for me...

kasbah72 Fri 02-Nov-12 17:36:10


Going on this alone I would say that she has been perfectly reasonable in being reserved about welcoming back your (ex)dh so effusively so early on in your reconciliation and in expressing her reservations that she hopes everything works out as you hope it will.

I also think it is reasonable for her to say that the first time she sees him is not on her birthday if it comes so soon after the change in your circumstances and if it is an occasion that he would not have wanted to be part of previously.

However, this is just one exchange and you are obviously upset which suggests that this is just the tip of a very large iceberg.

If you feel that she manipulates you and is toxic then you need to deal with that separately to the reconciliation with your husband and their relationship with each other.

Threestepsback Fri 02-Nov-12 17:40:20

I think yabu, i have been in a very similar situation to you. My mum had put her trust in my DH to look after me and the kids. After 8 years of being wed my mum was pretty cut up about how badly he hurt me. It took her quite a while to forgive him (longer than me). Dh and i have been back together for 10 years now and he and my mum get on like a house on fire. Also it is your mums birthday, absolutely her choice who she spends it with.

LindsayWagner Fri 02-Nov-12 17:40:37

I completely agree with sneezecakesmum. Your mother's response seems to me to be logical and honest - not manipulative. I understand that it's not what you want - but you can understand why she wouldn't want your husband at her birthday celebration so soon? And if you don't understand, exactly, it's true that by your own logic, she is an adult and can make her own decisions.

I do think that it was extremely childish of you to tell your mother that her feelings towards him are reciprocated - this was a massive escalation which really changed the tenor of the whole exchange and from which it will be very hard to recover. She feels negatively towards him because of how he has treated you in the past. You have now told her that he dislikes her qua her. It was extremely unkind, and if your husband really did discuss this with you as you say, then I think that reflects very badly on him too.

Sorry, this probably isn't the answer that you want and I don't usually post on relationships, but I felt pretty shocked by that.

LindsayWagner Fri 02-Nov-12 17:41:46

Though I do agree with kasbah that there may well be a gigantic toxic iceberg which we're not seeing and which caused you to respond in such an apparently unkind way.

AttilaTheMeerkat Fri 02-Nov-12 17:55:48

I also think this is the tip of a bloody great toxic iceberg below the surface with regards to your mother. You mention that your relationship with her has always been difficult.

You did not make her this way. Her own birth family caused that particular damage.

FWIW I believe your mother has been very manipulative in her replies to your e-mails with particular reference to her cancelling her own birthday celebration. On one hand she did not expect to invite him anyway but still blames him for cancelling same.

Your mistake is to actually get her so involved in your life in the first instance. Like many children who were and remain victims of such toxic parenting, you are perhaps still in the FOG with regards to your mother (fear, obligation, guilt).

I would suggest you post this too on the "well we took you to Stately Homes" thread on these pages as I am certain you would receive more replies that way too.

RabidCarrot Fri 02-Nov-12 18:00:03

I am with your mum on this

AttilaTheMeerkat Fri 02-Nov-12 18:01:30


re this part of your comment:-

"I fully accept that she is entitled to her own opinions, I just wish she'd do the same for me..."

You can forget all about that because she will never grant you that particular right. Her opinion alone matters, yours does not count.

Her e-mails as well are mainly about her and her feelings and she has deigned to speak also for your brother.

Is your Dad still a part of your life, if so was wondering if he has an opinion on her behaviour?.

If you have never read Toxic Parents by Susan Forward I would suggest you do so.

Vix07 Fri 02-Nov-12 18:09:51

Cannot see anything toxic here either, sorry, think your Mum is perfectly reasonable and very clear about her reasons. fwiw my mother also found it harder to forgive my XH for his behaviour towards me than I did (not back together just part of my own process of moving on) so this reaction is fairly normal I think.

IncogKNEEto Fri 02-Nov-12 18:14:01

kasbah I agree that based on this one exchange, it seems petty, and that I am being unreasonable. I do understand that she would need time, and that as she's disliked dh for years that she is unlikely to change.

It isn't really about mine and dh's relationship at all, that exchange (together with having started to reevaluate my whole life during my recent cbt/counselling) was just the catalyst for me to rethink my interactions with my Mum.

I have read a few of the stately homes threads on MN and a lot of what has been said by others really resonates with my experiences as a child sad

Lindsay I agree saying about the reciprocated feelings was childish and did escalate the situation, I was trying to be brief and less emotional in my response, rather than justifying myself and sending a long placatory email like I do usually, but I should have been more tactful and kinder.

I am always the one who has to apologise after any disagreement, and I feel that I can't ever do anything right for my mum, I do my best, but always seem to fall short of her expectations sad

Mum has always disliked dh (in fact all men are treated with disdain and suspicion) and her interactions with my dcs just catapults me right back to the scared, stroppy and despised teenager I was when I lived at home with her, I find myself terrified that I'm becoming like her in my parenting and I swore I'd never do that.

IncogKNEEto Fri 02-Nov-12 18:16:21

Vic and threesteps thanks for your messages, maybe is it me, I guess she's right about me then sad

AttilaTheMeerkat Fri 02-Nov-12 18:19:23

Hi Incog,

Was wondering what your previous user name was.

Re your comment:-
"I find myself terrified that I'm becoming like her in my parenting and I swore I'd never do that".

That won't happen because you know that what she did to you was wrong and you learnt from her mistakes. You learnt from her how not to parent and thus do not act like she did (and still does) towards you.

weegiemum Fri 02-Nov-12 18:22:22

I think your mum has a point .. A bit.

But cancelling her birthday do in case your newly-d-h came along? That's either ridiculous, stupid or manipulative. Not sure which.

I have a mum who detests my dh and I've not spoken to her for over 8 years. Best 8 years I've had, but for many other reasons as well. She was VERY toxic.

IncogKNEEto Fri 02-Nov-12 18:25:15

Attilla thank you, you are one of the posters I've seen on the stately homes thread, and I do believe that there's so much more to this, the FOG bit really makes sense, and you've identified all the bits in her emails that really leapt out at me too sad

I have been thinking about posting on the stately homes thread, but find all the things that upset me aren't 'bad enough' iyswim? So didn't know where to start sad I am on the waiting list for some more counselling so will explore this more there I think.

My Dad is still in my life (my parents divorced when I was 10 and now I'm nearly 40 though) and he is quite reserved emotionally, always there but a fence sitter, who tries to see the best in people (even mum after she left him) and he just says 'that's how she OS's.

You are exactly right about not sharing too much, every time I convince myself it'll be different but it's not sad

IncogKNEEto Fri 02-Nov-12 18:28:18

weegie this is the second time I've stopped contacting her (the last time was about 14 years ago for 7months) and both times I've felt relieved and lighter somehow by not having to try (and fail) to meet her expectations for me.

bigmouthstrikesagain Fri 02-Nov-12 18:29:40

I have a rather fraught and difficult relationship with my mother and she can be infuriating and say really odd things about my DH (she doesn't really like him but it is not his fault). But she can also be sane and reasonable - no human being is entirely unreasonable all the time surely?

Anyway the email exchange you have posted OP does not read as particularly toxic, both of you are very emotionally involved in the break-up and reconciliation of your marriage - you have used your mother for emotional support. She is less forgiving of your husband she has never loved him and has no reason to forgive him until he proves himself in her eyes - maybe he never will. This is up to your mum and your husband. But just because she is not toxic in this email does not invalidate your childhood experiences. There is obviously more going on than can be covered in a single post.

If your Mother is making your efforts to repair your marriage more difficult then withdraw from her for a while and come back to her when you are feeling stronger. smile

VivaLeBeaver Fri 02-Nov-12 18:29:42

Sorry but I think yabu.

The 2nd email you sent your mum where you say that your dh is aware of her feelings to him and that they're reciprocated is also plain rude imo. Even if thats true was there any need to tell her? I'm not suprised she's cancelled the day out.

IncogKNEEto Fri 02-Nov-12 18:32:17

Attilla I really hope that's true, I'm so scared that I'll damage my kids, I feel damaged, have low self esteem (thankfully improving) and find myself reacting to stress exactly how she did (except I don't beat my kids) and shouting too much, but at least I've realised at last and now I'm striving every day to be the sort of Mum my kids deserve (and I wanted).

Badvoc Fri 02-Nov-12 18:33:02

From what you have posted yabu

AttilaTheMeerkat Fri 02-Nov-12 18:35:18

Hi Incog,

re your comment:-

"I have been thinking about posting on the stately homes thread, but find all the things that upset me aren't 'bad enough' iyswim? So didn't know where to start I am on the waiting list for some more counselling so will explore this more there I think".

I post the following from the current Stately Homes thread (this is the latest of a series of threads that goes back about 5-6 years now). I would urge you to both post and read that thread. (There are some good resources at the beginning of that thread):-

"One thing you will never hear on this thread is that your abuse or experience was not that bad. You will never have your feelings minimised the way they were when you were a child, or now that you are an adult. To coin the phrase of a much respected past poster Ally90;

'Nobody can judge how sad your childhood made you, even if you wrote a novel on it, only you know that. I can well imagine any of us saying some of the seemingly trivial things our parents/siblings did to us to many of our real life acquaintances and them not understanding why we were upset/angry/hurt etc. And that is why this thread is here. It's a safe place to vent our true feelings, validate our childhood/lifetime experiences of being hurt/angry etc by our parents’ behaviour and to get support for dealing with family in the here and now.'

Most new posters generally start off their posts by saying; but it wasn't that bad for me or my experience wasn't as awful as x,y or z's.

Some on here have been emotionally abused and/or physically abused. Some are not sure what category (there doesn’t have to be any) they fall into.

NONE of that matters. What matters is how 'YOU' felt growing how 'YOU' feel now and a chance to talk about how and why those childhood experiences and/or current parental contact has left you feeling damaged falling apart from the inside out and stumbling around trying to find your sense of self-worth".

Your Dad seems like the bystander in the overall dysfunction; a man who acted out of self preservation and want of a quiet life. He failed you also by not protecting you from his wife at the time. People from dysfunctional families end up playing roles.

Re counselling BACP are good and do not charge the earth. (NHS counselling certainly has its place but the waiting lists can be long and you may only receive a limited number of sessions).

IncogKNEEto Fri 02-Nov-12 18:40:20

bigmouth this isn't impacting on my reconciliation with dh, as he understands that this is separate, and between me and my Mum. He will support me no matter what I decide to do.

I did talk to my Mum during our separation, but I now realise that was misguided. It did just give her the opportunity to tear dh (and my Dad) to shreds, and made me feel even worse about the situation. She did tell me that she prefers me when I'm not with him, but I think that's because she likes me to need her, I just wanted yo be able to confide in my Mum and get some support, I just feel taken advantage of though sad

Pooka Fri 02-Nov-12 18:42:31

Another saying sorry but I think your expectations and responses were unreasonable (on the face of it).

I'm not reading toxicity in her emails. The cancellation of the do was the result of you firstly saying that you were going to have to choose (the implication being that your family, including dgc, would not not be coming if he wasn't welcome), and then saying that you'd discussed the emails and your dh feels the same way about her as she does about him. I can understand why she'd maybe think "to hell with it, it's not worth the angst" about the birthday thing.

stifnstav Fri 02-Nov-12 18:43:44

Wow, you were really quite rude. I take it you were happy with her support during the separation?

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