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My Mum - sorry long, rambly and guilt ridden....(12 Posts)
My DM has chronic health issues. She was very ill earlier in the year but has improved dramatically. She has lots of friends and a carer who takes her out once a week (she has to have oxygen for part of the day so uses a wheelchair when out).
This is where it all gets a bit messy. We have a very difficult relationship and have done so since I was small. TBH I never felt loved by her and my childhood wasnt a happy one really. I was close to my Dad but he died many years ago.
To try to explain what it was like, here are a couple of random examples:
Being marched to the postbox as a small child so she could post a letter to have me taken away. I had been naughty apparently.
In adulthood, she was criticising me as a child one particular time and I plucked up courage to say 'you never say anything positive about me as a child' Her response'there's nothing positive to say'. Just to be clear I was a shy child who as far as I recall never really did anything really bad and did fine at school.
There are lots of other examples but hopefully these give an idea. A number of years ago, DD and I moved areas to be with my now DH (having survived awful DV and a very messy divorce a few years earlier). She was very upset at the time about us moving and subsequently decided to move too. She eventually chose to live over an hour away and at the time I suggested moving nearer as it was a bit far from us if she was ever going to need looking after. She decided to move to this place anyway and I understand why (she knew people there).
I try to be a 'good' daughter by phoning each day and visiting every few weekends. But you know what? The love, it just isnt there, however hard I try to find it. It feels like a duty rather than something I want to do. She keeps telling me she has no-one to take her shopping; I assume this is aimed at me and that she wants me to take her out, although she doesnt actually say so. I end up veering between childishly feeling 'why should I after the way she has behaved to me' to overwhelming guilt that I should be doing everything possible for her. Any wise thoughts to help me sort my head would be greatly appreciated. Am feeling a bit fragile so please dont be too tough.
No toughness from me - she sounds absolutely toxic. You don't owe her anything.
I don't have any advice, but am sending you some as it sounds like you need them. You sound like a really nice person, and it's so sad that she's treated you this way. x
Thank you sunny, flowers very gratefully accepted. Obviously DH wasnt around when she was at her worst, and she is very charming to him, so sometimes I do wonder if he thinks I'm a bit hard. Luckily (odd choice of word I guess!) my best friend from childhood soon reminds me that it really was as bad as I recall.
Lydia, I am sending some more . I was a bit in a similar situation, only I decided to marry and move abroad. Mother didn't like it, but there was nothing she could do.
She was well looked after, as is your mother, I too, as far as was possible tried to be a 'good' daughter.
I'm pleased that I did, she has been long dead, but I am glad that I did what I did then, even if there was really no love lost.
Get rid of the guilt, you are doing loads,ignore the hints and give yourself a pat on the back that you are giving her far more than she ever gave you.
I think you have got to the root of the issue Dutch. See, am I being a good enough daughter? When she is gone, which I suppose won't be too far away, there will probably be an overwhelming guilt that I didn't take her shopping and spend more time with her. Am I just being the stubborn child? Then the other person in my head says that she probably doesn't feel the slightest bit guilty about the things she has done to me over the years.
When I posted something similar Attila pointed me in the direction of the 'Stately Homes' thread. Have a read through that, honestly it will enlighten you. It most certainly did me.
Like FW I would also suggest you visit and post on the "well we took you to Stately Homes" thread on these pages.
BTW you did not make your mother this way; her own birth family did that particular brand of harm. What if anything do you know about her own childhood? I would bet you a crisp £5 note that hers was both cold and emotionally abusive. That is still no justification for what happened to you in your childhood; she chose for whatever reasons not to address her own problems but took all of that out on the next generation i.e you instead.
You owe her nothing really. She failed you utterly as a mother and she is still failing you now.
You like many adults who were and remain victims of such toxic parenting have FOG - fear, obligation, guilt. There is a website called "Out of the FOG" which you may find helpful.
Would also suggest you read "Toxic Parents" written by Susan Forward.
FOG. That is exactly it. It feels like it has all suddenly become clear in my head. After all these years. Thank you.
I am not very sure about her childhood. Her parents were strict, her mother particularly opinionated and quite tough. My memories of them are so distant to be honest. Although I do recall DM being cross about 'having' to visit her mother each week and complaining that her mother ought to pay my DM's petrol money for her visits
Interestingly she is very different with DD. Mind you, DD has grown into a confident and happy young woman.
You know though, that voice in my head still says 'you really should take her out to the shops. It's not much to ask'. Whilst the other voice reminds me that when I needed major surgery as a result of DV, she chose to go on a pre-booked holiday abroad rather than cancel it to look after my then very small DD. That delayed my operation by a fortnight
And the other thing, Lydia, because you are so much the better person, she will always be able to guilt trip you. You cannot satisfy her, whatever you do, so you might as well draw the line and say to yourself: "Enough is enough."
"Her parents were strict, her mother particularly opinionated and quite tough. My memories of them are so distant to be honest. Although I do recall DM being cross about 'having' to visit her mother each week and complaining that her mother ought to pay my DM's petrol money for her visits"
You can see how this dysfunction has played out in the above interactions between your mother and your grandmother. Your mother basically wants you to act the same as she did with regards to her own mother nowadays. Toxic nonsense like this does go down the generations. However, it is to your credit that you do not and would not act like this with your own DD so this toxic crap has stopped with you. She can take no credit for how your DD has turned out.
What you need to have is a boundary with regards to your mother and that needs to be set far higher than it already is. You are likely still looking for her approval (many toxic parent victims do this) but that is something she will never give you freely or even willingly. She has only thought of herself and it is okay to walk away from her now. Listen to your proper inner voice; not the one that say, "well you should be taking her to the shops".
Yes an only child. She wanted a daughter who would be her best friend apparently.
Attila you are making so much sense. Especially the seeking approval thing. It does have to stop as it is never going to happen is it? Whatever I do will never be good enough for her, although interestingly she tells me that she tells other people how proud of me she is.
She told DH the other day how grateful she is that he came into my life and that I adore him. See, he thought that was a nice thing for her to say (he always thinks the best of people), but actually it makes me sound like I somehow needed saving and he did that for her. Does that make any sort of sense?
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