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Very difficult mother is sick just as I was withdrawing contact. WWYD?

(55 Posts)
HugeSigh Mon 11-Mar-13 11:32:10

My mum is difficult, well, Toxic really.

Recently I had decided for my own sanity to withdraw contact with her and kep it to a very bare minimum.

About a week later she was sent to hospital with pneumonia. I visited her the day after she was admitted and even laying there with an oxygen mask on she lied and manipulated and pushed for her usual game playing and it made me realise she'd never be happy. It doesn't matter what level of sympathy or support we give her she will still push for more - it'll never be enough.

I don't have the energy to deal with it any more. I kept my distance despite her being ill because I had good updates and knew she was getting better.

3 weeks later and she was asked for a scan yesterday as they were concerned about some other test results according to my brother.

I was kind of talked into going over because of mothers day and because I've not really explained to her I wanted this space I felt I should go and be civil.

My brother took her for the scan and she is now saying she has a tumour. She's saying it's in her chest cavity and wrapped around some valve or vein connected to her heart.

Apparently she left the room after the scan and was very very upset and shaken and the nurse was comforting her. My brother said by the state of her he fully believes they told her something was found and I'm inclined to agree. She is apparently getting a biopsy today of tomorrow.

My problem is that over the course of a few hours she went from having a tumour and needing a biopsy to having a fist sized mass with long reaching 'feelers; wrapping around her heart and needing surgery this week etc

It's exhausting. She obviously has great reason to be scared but why do this? Why try and make it into an even bigger problem then it is? We were all sat with her, she was being given plenty of attention but it still wasn't enough.

I don't know what to do. I had to keep leaving the room because I just wanted to shout at her that her REAL situation is bad enough. That we are scared ENOUGH already and there's no reason for this.

I keep thinking that in her situation I would do everything to minimise the situation for my kids so they wouldn't worry. I know we are adults but it got to the point where she was mentioning losing all her her to the grandkids.

I know she must be scared and I want to support her but how can I make myself ignore all of this extra crap? I'm still so gutted at recent behaviour that if this wasn't happening I'd be nowhere near her. Part of me feels a bitch and a horrible daughter because she will need me for support but in the back of my head I'm questioning if she deserves it and if I can emotionally afford to give it.

If she was just honest and decent about these tests etc it would be so much easier. If I try to tell her that then I'll be this weeks "awful daughter", nothing will change, she will have even more drama to feed off of and I will have a whole heap of guilt from myself and most likely my siblings too.

WWYD? Would you go despite feeling it's not what's best for you?

This is so long - I'm sorry but I can't talk to anyone in RL about this.

lougle Mon 11-Mar-13 11:35:48

I'm sorry, I don't quite understand this perspective. Yes, you are her daughter, but you are a grown up now. She shouldn't have to protect you from how she's feeling.

If you feel she's manipulating you, fair enough, but if she is scared and upset about something then she has every right to say so.

juneau Mon 11-Mar-13 11:40:08

Well, I think if it was me I'd want to know what the extent of this 'thing' is. Can you be present next time she sees the doctor and at least get the information from the horse's mouth? That way you can sort your mother's anxiety/attention-seeking from the real issue here and decide what support (if any), you're prepared to give.

FWIW, she sounds exhausting.

TheRealFellatio Mon 11-Mar-13 11:42:28

I'm confused. What else that you find so unnecessary is she doing, exactly? confused Are you saying that she should put a brave face on things for your sake?

CrazyOldCatLady Mon 11-Mar-13 11:42:40

I think that while she's seriously ill, you have to give your support, regardless of it not being the best thing for you.

I know how you feel, my mother has health problems and uses them to manufacture extra drama at times. It's terribly irritating but doesn't diminish the seriousness of her problems, or her right to support from her children.

MisselthwaiteManor Mon 11-Mar-13 11:47:56

Is her illness the only thing stopping you from cutting her off? What was making you want to withdraw from her before?

HugeSigh Mon 11-Mar-13 11:52:27


That was a bit of a jumbled mess sorry.

I don't feel she should protect us at all. I just feel that saying there is something wrong is enough. The truth of her situation is enough. She doesn't have to embellish it so much to get us to be sympathetic. We were all there, all trying to help but it wasn't 'big' enough on it's own. She had to make it so so much worse.

Everytime she explained what the doctor had said she added yet another thing onto it like chinese whispers. This is very very common for her really.

TheRealFellatio - it's so much more then this honestly but I can't go into it all.

I guess, in all that mess, I was just asking if people would put all past and present bad behaviour aside to support someone through bad health despite knowing it'll be an emotional wreck for you?

And if you would/have done it then How?

HugeSigh Mon 11-Mar-13 11:58:52

This past few months have been leading me to withdraw from her for various reasons. I think I've just hit my limit with dealing with her really.

She's done so much to hurt me and when it started effecting my kids recently I finally admitted I couldn't just normalise it as mum being mum.

This probably doens't make much sense with out the background stuff though. Sorry blush

Thumbwitch Mon 11-Mar-13 11:59:12

I think that you probably need to keep the contact light, just for your own sanity. Will the doctors talk to you at all, give you the real picture without all the exaggeration? If so, then you would have that knowledge to counteract any dramatics she might throw in.

And you're right - most parents would play it down - my own mum didn't tell us that she had cancer before we got married - she was in hospital at the time, and despite being scared, she never mentioned it prior to the wedding, or indeed before we went on honeymoon for 5 days. We only found out the day after we returned, when her heart stopped and was restarted - the consultant who mover her to ICU then told us that she was terminal. We still don't KNOW that Mum knew but we're pretty sure the docs would have at least told her - but no one told us until that last point.

She's going to use this situation to its fullest to try and manipulate you as much as ever - pull back, do the least you are comfortable doing and try to stay clear of her mind games.

TheRealFellatio Mon 11-Mar-13 11:59:14

Oh I understand. I see - she is feeding off the drama, which is stressful on top of the drama itself. Sounds a nightmare.

HugeSigh Mon 11-Mar-13 12:13:26

Thanks Thumbwitch - I was starting to think I was being unreasonable there. I guess form my perspective I'd not want my kids to worry even more so. I don't get it - or her - really.

I think because so much of what she does seems designed for sympathy I assumed having a real reason for plenty of it might slow her down some...

She has lied about cancer more then once. I know that faced with a real possibility of it must be scary but honestly, she has acted like she wanted this in the past so many times it's hard to understand her behaviour now.

Yes TheRealFellatio - I did a very rubbish job of explaining it in my OP!

HugeSigh Mon 11-Mar-13 12:14:59

And Thumbwitch - I'm very sorry about your mum. She sounds like a wonderful mother for giving you a happy wedding day and honeymoon despite her own situation.

SayCoolNowSayWhip Mon 11-Mar-13 12:26:44

It's a difficult one - my DM is similar although on a smaller scale. She had cancer a few years ago and is completely fine now, but uses any excuse to bring it up and hint that it's coming back again.

As you say, it must be a terrifying thing to go through and face, but it's like she wants it to be bad so that she gets attention.

Sorry, not hijacking really. I would say, for you, do the bare minimum you can. It's not fair to emotionally exhaust yourself unnecessarily, but at the same time she will obviously need some support from you. However it sounds like she has other support from your siblings etc so she's not completely alone.

How are your DCs dealing with their GM being unwell?

dothraki Mon 11-Mar-13 12:27:04

Huge - I totally get where you are coming from. Have a look at the stately homes thread. You will see that alot of other people have mothers like yours.

lougle Mon 11-Mar-13 12:28:17

I think you are being unreasonable, to be honest. People have different reactions to being seriously unwell. Why does everyone have to be 'toxic' if they are insecure. It seems so strange to me. Insecure as a child -sad but ok. Insecure as a woman -sad but ok. Insecure when a mother - toxic confused

Ok, so she's attention seeking in general. She's not going to switch personality because she's ill, is she?

Imagine for a minute that your roles are reversed. You are insecure anyway and then you find out that you have life-threatening illness, which if a tumour is wrapped around her heart it is, regardless of whether the tumour is benign or malignant. Now imagine that instead of supporting you, your DD is more concerned that you are making it 'all about you' instead of hiding your upset to 'protect her'.

"I had to keep leaving the room because I just wanted to shout at her that her REAL situation is bad enough. That we are scared ENOUGH already and there's no reason for this."

Perhaps this isn't about you? Perhaps she was just telling you how she felt confused

LittleEdie Mon 11-Mar-13 12:30:58

It sounds like you're looking for permission to disengage.

Of course when people cut their families off then terminal illness can be a time for reconciliation.

It is up to you if you choose to support her. If it is affecting your DCs then it must be difficult to maintain contact.

Plinkityplonk Mon 11-Mar-13 12:34:30

She sounds very much like my mum although mine hasn't had a serious illness to contend with. She does attention seek so every little illness she has is blown up- meanwhile my mil has bravely battled cancer with no fuss or drama and my mum comes over to visit talking about how low she feels just after we get the diagnosis!
My suggestion would be to maintain contact at a level you can manage but just try to detach as much as possible when she is being dramatic. I've come to realize I won't change my mum all I can change is my reaction to her behaviour.

forgetmenots Mon 11-Mar-13 12:47:57

To be fair lougle OP has said there's lots more to it. And I do believe actually that being a mother or a woman means you have a responsibility not to make others accountable for your happiness (at one way or another this is often the root of this kind of behaviour). Children are obviously exempt!

The definition 'toxic' doesnt really help as it's a short-hand for many behaviours that are often the result of personality disorders, mental health issues etc so it's difficult to know the precise problem.

I feel for you OP. I agree with whoever spoke about keeping contact light. Be there as much as you can for your sake - you will no doubt still be hurting that she is ill - but don't allow her to minimise you or make you feel responsible for anything other than you and your feelings.

HugeSigh Mon 11-Mar-13 12:53:57

Lougle - I don't use the term toxic lightly here. Honestly, it's taken a lot for me to get to this stage towards her.

Yes, she is scared and has reason to be.

When I said I needed to leave the room it's because I just want her to be honest for one moment. Honest that she's scared. Honest about what's really happening. I don't need her to protect me - you've missed my point about that. I just meant that the reality is bad enough, there's no need to invent an even worse situation.

I'm not trying to make this about me. I did everything expected of me yesterday. I'm here now, sounding out my worries about myself because I'd NEVER raise them in RL with her or my siblings. I felt I could be honest here. I am worried that emotionally it's too much on top of everything else and I'm asking for advice on how to deal with that. I'm doing it here so that she never has to know I'm feeling this. I guess in that respect then yes, I'm making this thread all about me and how I'm processing this problem at a time when I was already very very confused about my feelings towards her given our long long history.

Thank you to everyone that has answered though. I'm trying to get it together in coherent sentences but it's a whole heap of mess at the best of times!

HugeSigh Mon 11-Mar-13 13:00:36

LittleEdie - Maybe I am. Maybe I'm just desperate for someone to tell me I wouldn't be the absolutely worst daughter ever for pulling back from her as I'd decided to despite this latest thing.

So far the kids have been kept out of it as much as possible. I've packed our weekends with alot so they didn't notice the missed visits. With the illness thing, they just think she is still a bit poorly from her hospital visit but I'm trying to keep them out of it.

She talked of losing her hair but I managed to explain that as a worry about growing old to DD.

It's hard because parts of my life she's had me terrified she was going to die when it was nothing. I won't have the kids feel that for her too.

Lemonylemon Mon 11-Mar-13 13:10:43

OP: Why can't you talk to your siblings? Do you think they wouldn't be sympathetic?

It's really, really difficult to get to the nub of what's going on because obviously, you've had to be cautious about what you've written.

SayCoolNowSayWhip Mon 11-Mar-13 13:11:39

Hugesigh, you're not the worst daughter in the world.

If the way you feel is anything like how I feel, it's as if there's no more room for any more sympathy iyswim. You say your DM has had you scared for her life on numerous occasions - do you think it's got to a point where you're just so desensitised to her that its hard to feel any more sympathy than you've already got?

DistanceCall Mon 11-Mar-13 13:15:10

She is toxic, and she is unbearable. And you can expect nothing reasonable from her, much less refraining from milking the drama, much much less putting on a brave face.

However, you need to see this through. Because if she dies, you will feel truly terrible about it afterwards. It's not so much for her own sake as for yours. Just grit your teeth, scream into a pillow when necessary, and see it through.

HugeSigh Mon 11-Mar-13 13:15:45

forgetmenots - crossposted sorry. Toxic isn't a very helpful word I agree. But difficult doesn't seem to cut it sometimes and Abusive seems too harsh.

You are right - she makes us all solely responsible for her happiness. She cried for days over my brother buying his girlfriend a 'me-to-you' bear for valentines day when he knows full well She collects them and his girlfriend doesn't. She makes our every move personal to her. Every reaction we have to this illness will be pulled apart by her and deemed selfish if it's not to her liking. That's partly what I'm afraid of. My name will be utter mud if I continue with my resolve to distance us from her. I just need to learn not to let that get to me I guess.

I agree light contact seems to be the way forward. I want to support her and do what I can for her, she's just making it so hard sad

Lemonylemon Mon 11-Mar-13 13:22:28

OP: Can you answer my post above please?

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