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Is simply being happier when you don't see your parents reason enough to not see them any more?

(22 Posts)
DeafLeopard Wed 02-Jan-13 21:44:59

DH has done similar. Not a big "this is it no more contact", but after a big argument, he has just withdrawn and now limits contact to a couple of phone calls a year - this is made easier as they don't live in the UK.

He is much happier for it.

bisley Wed 02-Jan-13 21:12:56

offered it round, not just to my sisters.

bisley Wed 02-Jan-13 21:12:09

About the adult child saying what I've said to me, I have had that thought, that I'd try anything to understand what I'd done to make them feel that way, and that 'I'm so sorry', would be the very first thing I'd say, but it's easy to think that, when that's exactly what I want my mum to do.

At the end of the conversation at Christmas, I felt totally beaten into submission. I was still crying, but couldn't bring myself to try to talk any more about it. Mum took this as conversation over, got up, warmed up some mulled wine, offered it to my sisters, sat down and joked with them about it misting up her glasses.

bisley Wed 02-Jan-13 21:07:14

Thanks Bertha, those are really interesting questions. I have long-standing friends, from university and pre-dc, who I love but don't see as often as I used to, since everyone started getting married and having children. I have made a few 'mum' friends, but I have found it difficult. I sway between feeling like I'm bothering them if I arrange meet-ups, and they are too nice to say anything and would rather I just got the hint and went away, and realising that's my insecurity talking and putting loads of effort in to see people, then when I get down again feeling like a fool for doing so. At my most rational moments I can see that blowing hot and cold on people like that is just going to confuse them and make them think I'm not that interested, but when I'm down I honestly can't see why anyone would want to spend time with me.

I absolutely love DH's family. They are wonderful and a big part of me realising what a loving, supportive and close family should look like.

I don't think I can give an objective answer about my mum's relationships. She had one long-standing friendship through work, but from my perspective it seemed to be based on them repeatedly saying to each other, 'oh, aren't you wonderful, I couldn't possibly do [that thing you've done] as well as you, I'm no good at that at all', 'oh no, it's nothing, you're much better than me at it, I've just got lucky on this occasion', etc. etc. That friend moved away a couple of years ago though, they visit, but I haven't heard much about her recently. Mum does go to a book group, but in general she isn't a very social person. She volunteers and stuff so does see people, but I can't say I know of any friends particularly. But then I've been avoiding her a great deal recently so perhaps we just haven't talked enough for me to hear about them.

We don't have much in the way of extended family. She has two sisters, one who emigrated in her twenties, and one who lived a couple of hours away but has recently moved further away to be closer to her son and grandchildren. I wouldn't say she is close to either of them, but not estranged or anything. Dad is an only child, so no in-laws. Both her father and father-in-law died before I was born. She had a pretty tense relationship with my dad's mum, and I only really remember her relationship with her mum as defined by her increasing frustration with her dementia. Both my grandmothers died about 10 years ago.

In answer to the thought that maybe youre mum actually is perfect and this really is all your fault:-

The huge red flag with your mother is that everything is your fault, and none of what she said is that bad, you're just over-sensitive. A reasonable mother would accept that, some of the time, some of the things she says are not ok. That some of the time you are misinterpreting and some of the time she is being horrid. But according to your mum, the fault is all on your side, and you are the one who must make all the changes.

If your adult child said to you, the things you've said to your mum, how would you react? If you'd react by saying "no, it's all your fault, I'm perfect, you must stop being so silly, there, all sorted, back to normal" then yes, you're the one with the problem! Or at least, you and your mum are both the problem.

But actually I guess you'd be hurt, maybe cross. But you'd think about it, wouldn't you. You'd look at which things might be true. You'd apologise, try to make amends, try to change. Other things you'd think "no, that's been misinterpreted" and you'd try to explain. But you'd still feel sad that something you said caused hurt, even if you didn't intend hurt. And you'd apologise for that too, promise to try to be clearer and think more carefully before you speak. And other things you'd think "no, thats outrageous, I didn't do that" and you'd say so. But you'd also say "I love you and it is important to me that you're happy".

Can I ask what your relationships with friends are like? And your dh's family? Do you have healthy relationships with other people? And the same question about your mum. Does she have long-lasting healthy friendships? How does she get on with her extended family?

GiveMeSomeSpace Wed 02-Jan-13 20:19:01

It's easier said than done. I'm sure I'll be gritting my teeth next time. My wife always encourages me to see the good in them which helps a lot.

Good luck

bisley Wed 02-Jan-13 20:14:11

Thanks GiveMeSomeSpace. I've been to the GP and have a number to call for an appointment for counselling, I called last week but they said call back at the end of this week so will be trying them again tomorrow.

Perhaps I should be able to cope with them by counting to ten more often.

GiveMeSomeSpace Wed 02-Jan-13 19:57:48

bisley I've struggled with the same thing.

How do you know if you're being rational? Well first of all you're here asking questions. That's a start. I think a counsellor or a life coach will help. It helps me work out a lot in my life. We end up going from through so many different aspects of my life when I meet him that it really helps.

My parents wind me up no end. What I find is that the more I worry about it and think about it, the more they wind me up and the quicker they wind me up. Like you, they are not abusive or evil (though I have issues with how my father sometimes treats my mother) but their behaviours can be highly irritating and selfish. I have to count to ten very often.....

bisley Wed 02-Jan-13 19:27:25

Hi, I need a bit more help with this, if anyone's willing.

How do I know if I'm being rational with all of this? Mum isn't an evil and abusive person, she's just damaged and has been unhappy for as long as I've known her. When I read some of the other threads of people dealing with toxic mothers it all seems so extreme compared to my situation.

When we had the big talk at Christmas, she didn't become angry or insulting, she just didn't get it. And seemed to think she was making things better by explaining patiently that I remember all the bad things said to me and forget all the good things. (I'm trying to keep in mind that even if that's true, the bad things aren't cancelled out by good things, they've still been said.)

Since I left on boxing day I've spoken briefly to two of my sisters, who've both tried to insist on me working to 'fix things'. One admitted she would never change and that's who she is, but still thought I should be giving 'fixing things' a chance.

I'm struggling with the fact that there haven't been big incidents that I can point to and say 'what you did there, that was unacceptable'. It's all in her general attitude to life and other people, she's judgemental, and doesn't seem to like it when good things happen, she always finds the downside. She can't give a compliment without being sad for herself that she is not this or that. I'll stop before I get on a roll...

The point is, it's all in the interpretation of what she says. And she says I misinterpret things. So how do I know who is right? I'll admit that I'm sensitised to the things she says, confirmation bias if you like, but it didn't come out of the blue, she has acted like this all my life.

But could I be the one with the problem? One of the things she said during our talk is that my younger sister 'coped better with her (my mum's) misery'. Should I be able to cope and not let it get to me so much?

bisley Fri 28-Dec-12 11:29:33

Yes eliza, that's exactly what I meant by babysitting starting to feel wrong, I don't like handing my dds over to her. They are 4 and 2.

forgetmenots Fri 28-Dec-12 10:53:33

Thumbs up elizaregina. Good advice.

elizaregina Fri 28-Dec-12 09:06:45

Yes it is enough reason for NC but I wouldnt neccasrily make a big announcement and tell them that just do it - as Hotdam said until YOU are emotionally in a place where you can gain strengh from the distance.

Personally I had to cut two siblings out of my life for several years. Both would try and contact me to lament over this - eventually after about 5 years I gave them both a try, one was much more respectful of me - and I think values our relationship much more - now they know what they have to loose again....hasnt put a foot wrong in two years now and I am also very thankful to have that relationship back....

The other sibling - after lots of " talk" and chat about how much she loves me - was after only one week - abusive, rude and nasty again....and showed no interest in me whatsoever. I have not contacted her again since and wont now - for good. She wont change - she wont respect me and she doesnt value me.

My poor DH is in a horrid situation where he would happily have NC with his Paresnt but the other relations esp his granny seem to absoltuty insist on contacting him through his DP. his DF is griping onto him with a steal grip...and because of this - DH is still affected.

Bisley think very hard about much contact how old your DC are etc.....we mistakenly in the begining let MIL have alot of access to DD and now DD is five that has been cut right down - and its hard to break it off - she wants more and more and more - it was never enough in the first place. She feels she has rights I frankly feel she doesnt deserve...its hard as DD understands so much more now as well....she notices I dont go there...

It feels so wrong to hand over my precious DD to a woman who broke her own son - tried to break me - and succeded to a degree and is now in contact with my darling DD.

I have a second DD now and they dont even know. And it feels RIGHT, so right not to have involved them....

Handing over children to GP who dont like thier own DC is like handing over your children to a mad cult in my opinon you wouldnt do it....

HotDAMNlifeisgood Thu 27-Dec-12 18:21:54

I am answering "yes" to this question wrt to my own parents at the moment, bisley. NC kind of happened after a blow-up, and I have to say that the past 10 months without them have been the happiest in my life. For plenty of other reasons too, but gaining emotional distance from them via NC is a big factor. I'm not sure I could have gained it any other way - i.e. with them still present and interacting with me - and I think that this period NC may be the way for me to eventually regain contact with them on a totally different footing than what existed before (in terms of my own reactions to them: they will never change). Time will tell.

Maybe don't see NC as something final and dramatic, but just something that you may need, for you, for now, to deal with certain issues?

bisley Thu 27-Dec-12 17:46:05

Thanks for your thoughts. Their behaviour isn't extreme, but I always leave their company feeling a bit rubbish about myself, either from direct, if subtle, criticism, or just from being around her joy-sucking personality for too long.

I got away with much less contact pre-dc, and was happier for it. Recently I have been limiting time I spend with them but allowing the relationship with my dc, i.e. babysitting, but that's starting to feel wrong.

noddyholder Thu 27-Dec-12 15:00:36


scarlett372 Thu 27-Dec-12 14:51:04

sounds like the same situation S myself. although problem is my mother is under going chemo so now I feel like an awful daughter.

I have tried and tried but after another falling out with my father in the summer, we have not spoken since. wouldn't be seeing my mother either but for her illness.

it's so tough as I want to tty SMS maintain a relationship for the grand children but after seeing them, I am depressed, low, snappy.

I do wish my family was less dysfunctional. I had counselling and although I learnt strategies for dealing with them, I still struggle

good luck

forgetmenots Thu 27-Dec-12 14:35:49

No contact is extreme. It is sometimes the only option if the family behaviour is extreme. I would limit it bisley and don't be afraid to reduce and even cut if it's what's best for you. It's hard to give specific advice without knowing lots about the dynamic but don't put up with behaviour that repeatedly hurts you - you wouldn't from a partner, why would you from a parent?

silversnow Thu 27-Dec-12 14:15:24

I don't know the answer to your question, but I can say with certainty that, having avoided mine for the last 2 days and having quiet days with my DCs instead, I am much happier when I don't see them.

I'm not going to go no contact, because we live in a small town and she'll just turn up when she feels like - probably in a barely-concealed rage.

Instead I am forging ahead with new boundaries that I put in place towards the end of last year - contact when I want it / polite texts in between times. Enough so that she can't tell the rest of the town that I have abandoned her; not so much that my lovely friends need to constantly counsel me about her latest toxic nonsense. So far, so good.

Good luck to you x

Lueji Thu 27-Dec-12 14:00:49

No contact may be a bit extreme, but maybe visit for a short while not during emotionally charged times of the year.
Say, one weekend a year.
And regularly phone to keep updated? If she starts with crap, just tell her you have to go and hang up.

And find somewhere else to go next Christmas.

Regarding your title, being happier when they are not there may not be a good reason, but being miserable when they are there definitely is.

bisley Thu 27-Dec-12 13:31:48

It feels that simple right now though, but probably because everyone has backed right off after the showdown on christmas day. However, I can't see how it's going to go from now on.

What stopped you breaking contact?

3b1g Thu 27-Dec-12 13:07:51

It would be lovely if it were that simple. In many cases there are more factors to take into account. I do understand though, a few weeks ago I was considering breaking off contact.

bisley Thu 27-Dec-12 13:06:03

I posted before christmas about the extremely negative thoughts I was having about my mother in the run up to christmas, and a little of how it played out. Short thread here

Before we left I told them in vague terms that I didn't want to see them again. I have made an appointment with my GP to hopefully get a counselling referral, as I would like to talk my decision through with someone neutral. I either want to know that this is a sensible decision, not just something I felt in the stressful environment of a family christmas, or, if I change my mind and get back in contact, that it is the right decision for me and not capitulating to my family.

So, the way I was feeling before Christmas was definitely exacerbated by a general dread of the whole family getting together, but even in normal life I don't like my parents and too much time spent with them always brings me down. Is that enough to go no contact? Given the consequences in the family as a whole? I have three siblings who are sympathetic to greater and (much) lesser degrees.

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