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What do you think of this re DM? So sorry about massive length

(34 Posts)
AlexMcLitty Wed 17-Jul-13 10:50:33

I am not sure what I am looking for with this post. I suspect it is for others to look and tell me what they think. I am also unsure if I can offer a fair representation of myself or DM as so much has happened that I will need to be selective in what I write or it will be a bloody book. It will be massively long even just with the snippets
I am married with one child I am close to my parents and they help out a lot.. I am in my mid forties. When I was a child DM was loving towards me but as I reached around 14 I felt completely smothered. Felt I couldn’t even have a thought of my own. She was almost obsessive in her love for me and was overwhelmingly affectionate. When I left home she completely changed. Would not touch me or be touched by me. Will actually flinch if I put my arm round her etc. She had a pretty rough time as a child but will not really talk about it and says she is the way she is and best to let sleeping dogs lie. I totally respect that.
My DD is 10. DM is obsessive about her. Some examples are when she was small I called her “my baby” in conversation with DM. She said “no she is my baby”. I laughed but the look she gave me made it clear she wasn’t joking. She has told my daughter she loves her more than she loves me. This upset my daughter to the point that she asked me if she was to have children would I still love her. She has also told my daughter that she loves her more than I do.
If I ask her not to do something with DD she will ignore. Gives sweets regularly when asked not to is an example. When it emerges that it has happened she will laugh or deny or huff.
She will undermine me when I dealing with behaviour issues with DD. Make excuses for her, talk over me to DD etc.
I have tried to talk about it to her but she either says I am attacking her or if I try to tackle it more generally she will agree but carry on as normal.
She sometimes calls me accusing me of doing something she considers bad parenting. She will be accusatory, tell me how upset she is, that DD has told her x,y,z and that I must not tell her she has told me. This will ring alarm bells for me and Obv. I speak to DD and she is shocked and hasn’t said anything like it. I know my DD is telling truth as she wants to confront my DM to ask why she is telling lies. I don’t let her because I know it will become an unmitigated disaster. If I try to confront the issue afterwards tactfully, I am told that I am being defensive/that I am the one who over reacted etc.
We are given help from them financially, even when unnecessary, and there is no way to not take it without a massive argument. Even trying to pay for a meal out becomes about sneaking payment to the waitress to the point it is competitive. If we are going out we often consider not asking them along as we know they will pay and we don’t want them feeling we have invited them for that reason.
There are times when it is a godsend as things are tough for us just now so I really don’t want to sound like I am ungrateful. But they give us so much that myself and DH feel we cannot challenge anything as we are beholden to them for their help. (God I sound like a spoiled bitch there)
They help out a lot practically too but often I feel judged. Will always come to house and then will start unloading dishwasher, wiping surfaces etc. This would be lovely but makes me feel like it is done to highlight that it should already have been done IYSWIM. My house is clean and pretty tidy too and I feel there is an element of looking for something that hasn’t been done, There are also lots of comments about why I haven’t done XYZ for my DH. DH wouldn’t dream of have me iron his shirts etc and we share household chores. I am SAHM now but have worked FT until last year.
I really love DM. And one to one she can be so lovely and funny. I don’t want to cause a rift in my family. DH family live other end of country and my side of family is small. My DH is treated like royalty by both my parents and he never really sees this side I describe but does see them being generous (which they are) and giving/buying DD too much. Anything that she evens says she likes in passing. I walk round on eggshells in case something I say is taken the wrong way or is a perceived slight. He sees it as spoiling.

If you have read this far thank you. Please ask anything you like as I don’t even know if what I have put here are the relevant bits. And be as blunt as you like too about me if you feel I need it.

AlexMcLitty Thu 18-Jul-13 22:59:40

Off to stay with inlaws for couple of weeks which will give me space to gather thoughts and courage! x

AlexMcLitty Thu 18-Jul-13 13:25:07

I really like the idea of family tree and think you might be right about it being a non threatening way for her to acknowledge it. It would also be really beneficial to DD - she finds that kind of thing really interesting. DH's family have done a bit of family tree and she laps it up.
DM has occasionally spoken about it but it is clearly very painful for her. She goes all kind of stiff upper lip and says its just the way things were in that era. (it really isnt)
Ipsissima - I totally agree with everything you have said..I just would ideally like to do something in a way where she isnt backed into a corner.
By posting on here and reading the advice I have been able to see things in a clearer way. and more able to sort out my thoughts
1) people acknowledging that it is not right makes me feel more sane
2) I am going to deal with money issue first as not so emotive as DD and it will be first steps to putting some boundaries in place. From what people have said this is a much bigger part of the situation than I had recognised and I have been nodding away when reading posts as sums up a lot of how I feel and the intentions behind it.
3) DD - I will not make an attempt to confront this until a situation comes up (and it will) If I try to do it without something concrete and in the here and now (rather than bringing up situations from before) it will at least be real to her (IYSWIM) I can give examples of previous issues if totally necessary. This will also give me the ability to cut it dead rather than get into "that didnt happen" territory and hopefully shut off any roads that could become an invitation to manipulate/deny/make it ALL my fault.
4)I am going to at least try to stop second guessing everything I say. I dont hurt or irritate anyone else in my life by speaking without overthinking so I KNOW I am not a hurtful person.
5) The things that I keep repeating in my head that have been said by posters are - I dont need approval, I dont need to feel guilt or fear, it is NORMAL to put boundaries in place. The big one though is the bit about DD already being damaged by no other way for it but to stand my ground.

You will not know or probably understand what your posts have done for me. In bed last night I felt "lighter" thinking about it. It was like being given permission to have felt the way I did and dealing with it.
I do love DM and I really feel for her in why she is this way. But I also accept I need to deal with it.
Thank you for your kindness and advice

Ipsissima Thu 18-Jul-13 12:31:55

No, but you can stop being responsible to them for their excesses.

Am guessing you do not come from an abused childhood, dahlia?
That is not in any way meant to be rude {smile} but really does alter the way these matters are perceived. What seems simplistic to someone from a non EA background, is fraught with meaning and manipulation to those on the receiving end of EA.

Dahlialover Thu 18-Jul-13 12:26:30

Sorry "Ipsiss" I disagree.

You can't change other people.

Ipsissima Thu 18-Jul-13 12:12:16

Sorry "dahlia" I disagree.
The OP doesn't need to work on accepting something she isn't comfortable with. That just perpetuates the abusive situation.
It is the parental behaviour which needs to be modified.

Dahlialover Thu 18-Jul-13 12:04:40

re: money - you need to work on not feeling over grateful/guilty about accepting it. If she wants to, that is fine. It is her choice and her money. Accept it and say thank you and stick it in an account somewhere. If you were going to buy something, put the money you would have spent into the account, or buy something else. Think of it as tax planning - handing inheritance over before she dies - rich people do it all the time.

With her past - can you start a family tree, that she can put photos and personalities to? It would be a good project for your dd as she is now old enough to be interested in who is who in the family. It might be a way of making a sideways approach to the past which will help her think, without the confrontation which she obviously avoids. It almost becomes like characters in a book and allows her to detach a bit and assess them from a less interpersonal and painful view. If it doesn't help with her behaviour, at least you will have the family tree/history.

Ipsissima Thu 18-Jul-13 10:32:34

The thing is Alex is HER nose and HER face. Toxic parents make their children responsible for all the woes, sufferings and emotional issues that the parent has.
Her actions are not your responsibility. Or your concern, if they are damaging to her.

Your DD is your responsibility.
Your own ability to be free to make your own choices, and live as you wish, is also a responsibility you owe to yourself.

AlexMcLitty Wed 17-Jul-13 17:26:47

I clearly need to do a lot of mulling over. I am able to be strong without doubt if it is to protect DD. But I also need to consider all possible and probable outcomes of such a discussion. DM is perfectly capable of cutting off her nose to spite her face to a massive extent. I know despite her being a grown up that this stems from her own warped relationship with own DM and that the smothering love she gave me (and nowDD) along with the need to control comes from this. It would break her to not have contact with DD but it is entirely possible she would put herself in this position.

AttilaTheMeerkat Wed 17-Jul-13 16:48:28

I was not altogether surprised to read that tbh with you.

Religion is often used as a cosh or weapon to beat their victims into submission, its often used as a tool for instilling a profound sense of guilt (utterly misplaced) into their victims as well.

AlexMcLitty Wed 17-Jul-13 16:37:46

DM background is a very dominating and physically abuse RC mother. I mention RC as guilt features heavily in DM life

AttilaTheMeerkat Wed 17-Jul-13 16:34:05

I do agree Cogito with you and the OP must not cave in at all when she confronts her mother. Boundaries need to be raised higher as well as being steadfastly maintained. I am suggesting though that she will need to be stronger within herself in order to do this. OPs mother will certainly go on the attack immediately if her overall authority is challenged and the OP needs to be prepared for such an eventuality.

AttilaTheMeerkat Wed 17-Jul-13 16:31:21

The thing is with toddlers as well is that they do grow up. Unfortunately (and that is an understatement) for you as well your mother's emotional development seems to have stopped at around 6 years of age.

What if anything do you know about your mother's childhood?. This may well be highly relevant as well.

Narcissists have normal, even superior, intellectual development while remaining emotionally and morally immature. Dealing with them can give you the sense of trying to have a reasonable discussion with a very clever six-year-old -- this is an age when normal children are grandiose and exhibitionistic, when they are very resistant to taking the blame for their own misbehaviour, when they understand what the rules are (e.g., that lying, cheating, and stealing are prohibited) but are still trying to wriggle out of accepting those rules for themselves. This is the year, by the way, when children were traditionally thought to reach the age of reason and when first communions (and first confessions) were made.

AlexMcLitty Wed 17-Jul-13 16:30:05

You guys are so lovely. I am taking it all in. A bit shell shocked as I do love my parents and like them a lot of the time. I have clearly minimised a lot as I would really like evryone to be happy and I know that they love DD and despite all the shit I have always seen that as the bottom line.
Optimist - that was a very nice thing to say about me being a good daughter. I dont feel it after biting the bullet and posting this.

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 17-Jul-13 16:28:47

"Are you actually strong enough within your own self OP to actually tell your mother to back off?. "

She has to be. There are no 'non strong' options from here. No contact requires a huge amount of strength to get past the self-imposed guilt and all the 'what ifs' and the silent hurt treatment. Standing up to mother in person requires a lot of short-term strength to get past the innate feeling that it's wrong to tell your mother off... but it's far better for the self-esteem ultimately to know you've stood your ground rather than scuttled off and hidden.

AttilaTheMeerkat Wed 17-Jul-13 16:25:34

These responses are all fine if you are dealing with someone who is on balance emotionally healthy. The problem here is that you are dealing with someone who is basically unreasonable to start with. Letters can also be used against you, you could well receive a stinging attack on your own self even if you did send a well measured letter. Do write a letter to your mother but do not actually send it.

Many children now adults of such toxic people do tacitly seek their approval. It is ok not to seek such approval from parents but you have been so conditioned that you still look for same. Small wonder too that you people please; she ingrained and trained you to do that for her as well.

Are you actually strong enough within your own self OP to actually tell your mother to back off?. What if she starts going on the offensive in response, what is your Plan B?. Confronting her is the ideal but you need to be far stronger than you are now emotionally; this could become your finest hour ultimately.

Am not suggesting at all that you do not challenge her, she certainly needs to be pulled up on her complete lack of boundaries but you need to be fully prepared for an attack on you if you challenge what has been until now well established roles.

AlexMcLitty Wed 17-Jul-13 16:18:04

Thanks Attila. Do you really think it sounds as profound as that? (You are another poster who I always agree with and really appreciate your POV)
I have read many of the DM threads and while I could see similarities I always felt my situation was not in the same league as others. I never felt DM was toxic just difficult I suppose. But then I am in middle of the situation and not looking at it objectively maybe. I will look at that thread now.

Optimist1 Wed 17-Jul-13 16:14:48

I agree with Burnt about writing a well-considered letter, including the date you'll call her to arrange a face-to-face discussion. Would advise keeping a copy for yourself, so that she can't misrepresent what was written at a future date.

You sound a wonderful daughter, doing all possible (against formidable difficulties) to maintain a close relationship with your mother and making sure that her parenting style isn't passed down to the next generation.

(And yes, Cogito is full of wise words, as usual.)

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 17-Jul-13 16:03:34

"I dont know HOW to start the conversation and how to keep it calm and measured. Ihave attempted in the past but it turns pretty quickly to being me over reacting/ ungrateful/ too defensive about things."

My suggestions on this one
1. Pick your battles. Don't try and pick up on everything or you'll lose impact.
2. Remember, this isn't a law-court. You don't have to provide evidence or convince a jury with scintillating arguments. This is about what is acceptable and what is not acceptable to you. Your house your rules. Black/white. Unreasonable/irrational mothers are just toddlers with a buss pass. You don't get into a discussion with a toddler.
3. Set expectations often & promote your own standards. Make statements rather than pose questions. 'I don't want DD to have too many sugary foods. I'm sure you agree' 'I think it's very important for self-respect to pay your own way in life. I'm sure you'd support that'
3. For conflict situations decide what you're not happy about. Then keep it brief and again make it a statement. 'I prefer to unload my own dishwasher, thank you'. If the person goes on a personal attack with accusations of overreacting, ungrateful, defensive or whatever don't rise to the bait but just repeat what you said a little slower and a little more firmly each time until the behaviour stops.
4. Finally, practise some conversation closers. 'This stops now', 'that's enough', 'I'm not discussing it any more', 'that's my final word', 'if you don't like it, you know where the door is' ... those kinds of things. And repeat.

AlexMcLitty Wed 17-Jul-13 15:55:49

Thank you Rural and Burnt . I think putting something on paper to her is a good idea as as you say it would give me the oportunity to get it right. Rural - the buying the behaviour is right I think.
I am a people pleaser without a doubt and just seeing it down in black and white makes it clear I am complicit in this by my people pleasing going into overdrive with DM. Dont want to rock the boat but by not addressing things at the time honestly everything has built up in me and I feel I have missed the chance to deal with those things. I also know that (sub) consciously - I want her approval.
When it comes to DD - I never want her to be hurt by this. I parent SO differently than my DM did me. Open/honest and try not to put any pressure on her (other than manners and kindness). Again seeing others say in black and white that it has/is damaging her is really the line in the sand for me. Cant really shove my head in the sand anymore.

AttilaTheMeerkat Wed 17-Jul-13 15:30:24

I would have to say that if she is too difficult for you to deal with she is too difficult for your child to have any sort of contact with. This type of dysfunction goes down the generations, you've already been profoundly affected by her actions and your DD will be as well if she is not already. Infact she is already being affected by her toxic grandmother.

As an adult who was brought up by a smother mother (some women who have a narcissistic nature are smother or engulfing mothers) you are now mired in FOG - fear, obligation and guilt. Infact you have FOG in spades. She will never let you have a life of your own and your boundaries with her are practically non existent as well because she's never allowed you to have any boundaries re her. She's made you dependent on her, she wants to keep you dependent. Its all very damaging.

You may want to look at the "well we took you to stately homes" thread on these pages as well.

BurntCheeseStinks Wed 17-Jul-13 15:01:51

Could you maybe write her a letter, giving yourself plenty of time to think through your wording and what you want to say to her, and write that you'd like to arrange to see her to discuss what you've said to her in the letter? And maybe put something along the lines of 'I will phone you on Wednesday to arrange a convenient time for us to meet' so that you have to follow through and so that she can't ignore/sulk/laugh it off. Even if you don't get her to change completely, you could have some achievable aims to the discussion eg regarding her paying for stuff. Yes it's v formal but that might get her to take it seriously!

Ruralninja Wed 17-Jul-13 14:50:06

I'm sure its unconscious, but your dm is 'buying' your behavior & role and letting you believe that this is a fair trade - needless to say, it isn't. Dynamics like this can't change overnight but I would think about taking a new approach to her help and money. You also need to throw off this guilt she's foisted on you for growing up & not needing her as much any more.

AlexMcLitty Wed 17-Jul-13 13:56:53

Thanks Ipsissima. I am not happy for it to be this way. I suppose I am used to it but since DD came along it has been more obvious to me and I am scared I suppose. I am an independent, confident person in just about all other aspects of life in all but this. In honesty I dont know HOW to start the conversation and how to keep it calm and measured. Ihave attempted in the past but it turns pretty quickly to being me over reacting/ ungrateful/ too defensive about things. I am quickly left wondering "what happened there?"
Moving would be impossible due to other factors but in honesty (cringing in saying this) even if these factors did not exist the guilt would be crippling. DD adores DM. Although has started to make noises over constant attention when she is at their home. Too many cuddles, too many questions etc. I recognise all of this from my own childhood but am really careful not to project it.
Fuck - I am an ADULT. Why cant I bloody behave like one in this?
I am truly grateful to all of you for replying. I really thought people would read it and think i was being an arse

Ipsissima Wed 17-Jul-13 13:09:23

There are a lot of issues here.
Certainly on the matter of paying for everything, what should be a nice gesture actually just reduces you to being permanently 'grateful', Dependant, even.
Which nicely approximates the dependency you threw off by growing up and leaving home.
The issue over being touched is, I suspect your punishment for that rebellious independence. Your mother may even be unaware of the reason behind this physical rejection of you, but its a faiorly safe bet that punishment is the root.
Your fathers lack of challenge is classic of an enabling partner

I am not going to shout that you should stop contact, protect your daughter from the manipulation etc etc, because you do not sound to be anywhere near to wanting that to happen.
If you are asking whether this is a healthy family dynamic, then the answer is no.
If you are asking if your own child will be affected, then the answer is yes - she is already affected.

A solution would be to take a leaf from Cogito's book, and move a distance away. More than an easy one-day return, in distance. As soon as you are financially able. This avoids a huge upset, but effectively removes you - and your child - from further damaging behaviours.

You need to do something, OP. Unless you are happy for it always to be this way.

AlexMcLitty Wed 17-Jul-13 12:51:34

Nanny Ogg - I have thought exactly that. It is horrible to have that "withdrawal" and dont want my DD to experience it.

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