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my mother

(25 Posts)
EndOfRope Wed 21-Aug-13 08:41:10

I am an old poster here but aware that postings can come back to haunt you so I've changed my name forms one - it's likely to be long I think

It's about my mother - I don't know what I am asking for - maybe just an ear or a shoulder or a kind word or to know that I am not mad or maybe some advice about my daughter

A long story short is that my mother is a narcissistic alcoholic - sounds horrible to write it down - but she always had been and it is only getting worse. I could write pages of examples (she hides the bottles in the bottle of the neighbors bin so dad can't see how much she drinks every night, she made up a terminal illness for sympathy, had to have counseling when I was divorced so she could face the shame in front if her friends, cried at my wedding in front of everyone and had a hissy fit because she didn't have enough of her friends there, had to have a bath when I was sexually assaulted as a teenager because "she" felt dirty, didn't feed me and would not let me take food from the kitchen for four days when I was thirteen because I was too fat, etc etc etc)

I can handle it - I came to terms in my thirties - and manage the behavior with no pain now - just sadness and perhaps grief at the loss of a mother relationship that I never had - i was so envious of my friends' mothers and it took me a long time to understand why - but it was because they got to be the child and I always had to be the parent

In any case I now have a beautiful 7 year old daughter - I am painfully aware of my childhood and trying to be the mother to her that I never ever had - all good so far

Where this is falling down now is my daughters relationship (for want of better word) with my mother (her grandmother) - my mother is very demanding of her and manipulative and now that my daughter is getting older she is more aware and finds it hard to cope with

My dd said to me yesterday "I'm sorry but I just don't like her - she (grandmother) makes everything about her and she always has to be the centre of attention and I just feel like screaming". This made me so sad because my daughter is exactly right. I have no idea how to deal with this because I dealt with it my subjugating my needs and probably enabling my mother to keep the peace and I don't want my daughter to do that.

Many years ago I tried talking to my dear old dad about it but he wants to keep his head in the sand. I tried talking to my mother but that didn't go well and I was punished for well over six months (would not talk to me, sent cruel emails, pretended to get sick, made up illness, etc) and dad blamed me for being "rude" to her. So addressing the problem with my mum (she is elderly now - I am mid forties ) won't work and will only prevent any decent relationship with my dad from continuing.

So I guess my question is - how do I help my daughter deal with my mother without my daughter being damaged along the way as I was and am?

Sorry for length - thx for reading

Forgetfulmog Wed 21-Aug-13 08:46:33

Gosh, what a horrendous time you've had of it. I'm afraid I don't really have any words of wisdom. I too have a toxic mother & decided to sever contact with her about 2 years ago. It was not a decision I made lightly, but it was definitely for the best.

I have a daughter and don't intend for my mother to ever meet her, let alone have a relationship with her.

Sorry if you have said, but am on phone so can't see your OP right now, but do you have siblings? If so, how do they get on with your mother?

AttilaTheMeerkat Wed 21-Aug-13 09:20:18

I would say that if your mother is too toxic and or difficult for you to deal with, she is too toxic for your vulnerable child as well.

You have been and remain profoundly affected by such experiences (I would also suggest you read "well we took you to Stately Homes" thread on these pages and read the "Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers" website).

Your DD is right, she is being used by your mother as you yourself were as a child, as narcissistic supply. Its not at all healthy for you let alone your DD to be around such people at all now.

I would cut all contact with such people as of now; it is not your fault she is this way (her birth family unleashed all that on her during her own childhood, pound to a penny there was abuse as well) and your Dad enables her. He has also failed completely to protect you from her mad excesses of behaviour acting out of self preservation and want of a quiet life. Such women like your mother always but always need a willing enabler to help them and your Dad fits the bill here. He will also always choose her over you and has continued to do so.

Re her alcoholism the 3cs are ones you would do well to remember:-
You did not cause this
You cannot control this
You cannot cure this

You may find contacting Al-anon helpful as they work with family members of problem drinkers.

This from Lightshouse may also prove helpful.
"Some grandparents really shouldn’t be allowed access to their grandchildren.

A percentage of the general population is dysfunctional and/or abusive. That percentage, like everyone else, has children. Then those children grow and have children of their own. The not-so-loving grandparents expect to have a relationship with their grandchildren. The only problem is, they’re not good grandparents.

Many adult children of toxic parents feel torn between their parents’ (and society’s) expectation that grandparents will have access to their grandkids, and their own unfortunate firsthand knowledge that their parents are emotionally/physically/sexually abusive, or just plain too difficult to have any kind of healthy relationship with.

The children’s parents may allow the grandparents to begin a relationship with their children, hoping that things will be different this time, that their parents have really changed, and that their children will be emotionally and physically safer than they themselves were.

Unfortunately, this is rarely the case, because most abusive people have mental disorders of one kind or another, and many of these disorders are lifelong and not highly treatable. (Others are lifelong and treatable; however, many people never seek the necessary help.)

The well-intentioned parent ends up feeling mortified for having done more harm than good by hoping things would somehow be different — instead of having a child who simply never knew their grandparents and who was never mistreated, they have an abused child who is now also being torn apart by the grief involved in having to sever a lifelong relationship with the unhealthy people they are very attached to".

More Here:

2rebecca Wed 21-Aug-13 10:48:33

If your daughter isn't happy spending alot of time with your mother then you don't see as much of your mother. It sounds as though you don't enjoy her company either so I'd limit visits to every few months. This will affect how often you see your dad as well unless he chooses to visit you alone.
Your mum can only make demands of your daughter if you let her. My kids see their grandparents every few months because they live several hours away, they are lovely, so I don't think just seeing her every few months will adversely affect your daughter. If your mum moans then your mum moans. You don't have a duty of care to your mum.

MadBusLady Wed 21-Aug-13 11:02:03

I think you know what the answer is really. You can't help and encourage a seven-year-old to manage a narcissist - asking how you can help your daughter deal with her is perpetuating the pattern of your own childhood, where you were the one who had to fit in around the adult's moods. You obviously don't want that for your daughter. So the only way is to stop or massively reduce contact between them, no matter what the fallout for you.

EndOfRope Wed 21-Aug-13 12:11:50

Thank you all

Forgetful - my other siblings have vastly reduced contact for similar reasons

Attila - thank you for the links - I will read

Rebecca - yes we live a long way apart so reducing contact is easy but countered by longer visits which are intense and hard

Madbuslady - yes you are right - I do know - I just wanted the validation I guess that it is the correct decision - thank you

Pawprint Wed 21-Aug-13 12:18:31

How absolutely awful sad I would cut all ties, I'm afraid, for your daughter's sake and your own.

EndOfRope Wed 21-Aug-13 12:23:35

Thanks paw print - I know I must - it is just so hard because she sulks and cries and says she is taken for granted and very passive aggressive statements like "we'll I guess I am just not important enough"

I recently went camping with my family and she had a complete fit because she didn't know I wouldn't be at home - said it was clear to her that I didn't care so she would not bother to tell me when she goes away - I just said " ok whatever you think is best" but inside I wanted to slap her :-(

2rebecca Wed 21-Aug-13 12:28:49

Can you stay in a local B&B or hotel when visiting? You don't have to stay with them for a long time and could stay in the area for a few days and limit contact with them so it is more pleasant, or have stop offs on the way there and back and just a day or 2 with them.
You don't have to spend alot of time with someone on visits just because they live a long way away.

2rebecca Wed 21-Aug-13 12:33:57

An adult crying because she didn't get her way would just annoy me. I'd be inclined to tell her she isn't visited much because she is a self centred alcoholic.
Sad she's so horrible, I presume your father is getting something out of the relationship or he'd have left.

WeAreSeven Wed 21-Aug-13 12:50:34

EndOfRope, you can try to give your dd coping skills to deal with your mother but the long and short of it is that she shouldn't HAVE to deal with your mother. You had to, you shouldn't have had to,your Dad should have protected you. You need to protect your daughter now.

impatienttobemummy Wed 21-Aug-13 13:01:52

I agree with other posters you need to protect your daughter, its not fair that she endure this as you did. however I think you know this.

My DM is an alcoholic also which is easier to handle without the Narc tendencies that sounds harder. When she 'starts' on one of her poor me drinking marathons that last a few months I cut her off. She knows the only way to have a relationship with me is to not show that side of her life. If I thought her behaviour effected my DC id have to cut her for good. (not an easy option) but DC/they must come first. She made these choices. You and your DC did not. You are just coping with the hand you were dealt.

MummyBeerest Wed 21-Aug-13 13:45:46

You have my sympathies OP. Apart from the drinking, I have a toxic mother not unlike yours and often wonder what my DD's relationship will be with her when she's older.

There is no law that says grandparents have rights to their grandchildren. Forcing your daughter to have a relationship that will inevitably be a negative one lets your mother continue to have power over you. It sounds like your daughter knows this too.

You both deserve better.

CailinDana Wed 21-Aug-13 15:21:33

Why do you continue to see her?

EndOfRope Wed 21-Aug-13 20:06:44

Rebecca - yes we can stay in a b&b - it's more of a problem when she comes to us - 3 weeks of inflicted pain /dad loves her and has for almost 50 years

Weareseven and Impatient - agreed

MummyB - thanks it's so hard I hope you don't mAke the same mistakes as I

Cailin - Attilas post is most excellent I think - I have seen here because I thought she would be different And wanted to have hope of a proper relationship - it is only now that I realize that I was so very wrong and hence this post

Cutting off all contact is hard - it would break my dads heart - I know that he has enabled her but he wouldn't even know what the word enables meant - he loves her and believes marriage is for life - you don't leave (hence his comment at my divorce asking why we could not just sleep in different beds) ;-)

But I KNOW I have to for my daughter - ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhghhhhhhhh

EndOfRope Wed 21-Aug-13 20:18:11

For those of you who have cut contact, if you don't mind me asking, how did you do it?

Thank you all for writing on this thread it has really helped

Most of the time I wonder of I am going mad and just being very mean - it helps to write it down and get feedback from other daughters/mums

catsrus Wed 21-Aug-13 20:24:08

First of all - well done - you have raised your daughter to have enough self awareness that she recognises your DM is not behaving as a normal grand
Parent should. That's a huge plus. Where most damage is done its because a child thinks they have to accept a version of reality that does not agree with their perception - they think they are odd for not loving X.

Talk to your dd honestly, but in an age appropriate way, about your mother - you will be giving her the tools to cope with all kinds of situations that she might one across in life. My dcs had to learn to cope with a BIL that was toxic, it was never taboo to talk about how they felt about him and how I was not comfortable with the things he said and did. They learnt to protect and defend themselves and recognise that sadly some people behaved in selfish ways that meant they always put their own feelings first.

You can tell your dd that it's very sad her GM is like this but it's not anything you or she has done that has caused this.

Good luck!

EndOfRope Wed 21-Aug-13 20:36:18

Catrus - what a thoughtful post - thank you

2rebecca Wed 21-Aug-13 21:04:58

You don't let her stay for 3 weeks. It's your house you decide how long you invite guests for. I'd be telling her she can stay with you for 1 week and if she wants to spend more time in the UK (I presume she's from overseas with 3 week stays) then she can stay in a hotel or B&b and travel around a bit. If she gets upset she gets upset, it sounds as though her getting upset is an every day occurrance so she can choose to have a paddy if she wishes, not your problem.

Kundry Wed 21-Aug-13 21:15:50

Three weeks! I really like my mother and wouldn't let her stay for 3 weeks.

Three weeks is not a normal length of time for someone to stay - a long weekend would be plenty.

I'd never offer her to stay and leave her to ask. Then put it off as all the dates are unsuitable. If you eventually have to offer a stay, then you can only manage a long weekend and she'll have to stay in a B&B as your heating has broken down. Or something.

But never ever three weeks!

EndOfRope Wed 21-Aug-13 23:29:38

I don't get a choice about the 3 weeks - how pathetic is that for a woman my age

I get an email saying "we've booked our flights - we arrive on x date and leave on y date - the airfares are unchangable and unrefundable and non cancellable - but let us know if its not suitable and ill talk to the airline"


2rebecca Wed 21-Aug-13 23:51:08

Tell her now that in future 3 weeks is too long for her to stay and that you'd be happy for them to stay for a week but if they want to stay in the UK for longer they'll have to stay elsewhere for the other time as you find being a hostess for that long too draining. Tell her now before she books anything.
If they still book a 3 week holiday then tell them which week they can stay for and they'll have to sort out somewhere else for the other 2 weeks. You can't control her flight bookings but you can control how long she's in your house for.
She's trying to manipulate her by this completely disfunctional way of telling you exactly when she is visiting. Normal people don't do this. I'd tell her you won't have her visit at all if she's not going to be sensible and considerate about it.

EndOfRope Wed 21-Aug-13 23:56:36

Rebecca you sound very strong - do you do this with you parents too?

garlicagain Thu 22-Aug-13 01:22:44

Hang on a sec, she's booked a three-week visit so you have no choice?
That's incorrect. She doesn't have the right to requisition your home at will.
Please use this thread, the Stately Homes thread, Attila's superb advice, and every other bit of support you can muster - and say to your parents, "That doesn't work for me."

If you must, offer to accommodate them for a certain week, or long weekend, during the visit. They can find alternative digs the rest of the time.

I understand this is hard for you, and I understand why. You're still in thrall to her. I would like you to break that hold, and MN is a truly powerful resource for this. Just for now, since you aren't yet able to see the obvious answer to your DD, here it is: "Yes, Granny can be terribly difficult and you're right, she does twist things to suit herself. Well done for noticing! You haven't got to play along with her, you know, she's a bit of a bully. Let's remember what we know about bullies ... "

Stick at it smile Freedom will be yours wink

2rebecca Thu 22-Aug-13 08:07:33

My mum is dead but my family don't tell people when they intend to visit they say they'd like to come and sort out when is convenient first and no-one stays for over a week.
The way she is behaving sounds completely unreasonable to me and I would rather not be visited than have a drama queen alcoholic in my house for 3 weeks. We don't have lots of space in the house and have 4 kids between us so unless visits are arranged in advance there wouldn't be room for uninvited guests to stay anyway as the kids have priority, we also go away alot at weekends and both work.
The booking flights first would really annoy me so if anyone did that to me once then I'd make sure they didn't do it again. We are quite a strong minded family though and we do tend to speak fairly clearly to each other about stuff like this and do respect each other's privacy and way of doing things.

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