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Mother trouble(9 Posts)
Please help me to figure out this relationship with my mother.
My siblings and I had a good childhood, from what I can remember. Parents relationship was a bit rocky, they stayed together longer than they should have for the sake of the children. Finally separated when I was in my early 20s.
I think my relationship with my mum had always been ok and 'normal', aside from the usual teenage angst/bickering/not seeing eye to eye in my late teenage years. Whilst I was at uni and when I started working in another part of the country, I think it was also just ok. Not amazing, but we'd see each other occasional weekends and would be fine in each others company although I did find her extremely demanding, bossy, it was her way and only her way etc. I always felt I needed her permission or approval to do things such as go on holiday or buy a car and she could always talk me out of something that she didn't agree with. I would be anxious when I saw that I had received a text message from her and dreaded opening it incase it was me getting told off for something. Same goes for when I saw she was ringing me. There were a couple of fallouts, one major when I was about 20 where she told me that I'd become a horrible person and she was done with me, I was on my own from now on etc. I still to this day do not know what I did wrong. We didn't speak for many weeks. Anyway, writing this is reminding me of stuff, and maybe there was a lot more angst to this relationship than I remember!
Anyway, fast forward a few years and we both moved to the same area. This was only for about a year but we got on really quite well and would spend time in each other's company and enjoy it. I don't know if other factors in each of our lives contributed to this 'honeymoon' period. Of course, she was still herself (bossy, always right etc. but I guess I just thought that's her personality).
4 years ago when things were good, I moved quite a distance away. This means that we rarely see each other, but when we do it's for a minimum of 2 weeks. It started off fine, but in the last couple of years her behaviour and the relationship has become very difficult to manage. Sometimes things she says or does are just weird. Sometimes they are frustrating and she can't seem to understand why I'm not agreeable. Sometimes she does spur of the moment things. She is notorious amongst my dad, siblings and I for sending many many long ranting emails and messages to us. Since I first became pregnant it got worse. Very little interest in the pregnancy or my well-being (other than to boss me around), but wanting to cut the umbilical cord and basically dictate and make commands re. parenting ever since. When my husband and I have disagreed she gets angry and frustrated that we do not want to do things her way. This has led to a couple of major blowouts. The first was over a year ago, and things with the relationship have not recovered since then. She feels that we (my husband and I) have treated her like shit and she is a lost and lonely soul because of the way we (siblings and I) have behaved towards her. We ruined her special time with her grandchild and it's now the child that she feels sorry for.
In the past year there have been a lot of mean, long emails and messages. She has said she should just kill herself because she has been a terrible mother (I don't think she actually believes this because she will then say if I was so bad, how come I've never been on Jeremy Kyle? Or if I was so bad, how come none of my children were taken into care). She requested that I do not mark Mothers' Day, because she should never have been a mother, and Mothers' Day is just another reminder of that. Said day came and went and I was then informed that she had the saddest Mothers' Day ever and she had planned to tell colleagues that she did not have any children if they asked. She says it is so sad the way that our family has turned out. Nobody cares about anybody. She claims that she could be lying dead somewhere for days and nobody would realise or care. She has also said she has saved up money to retire somewhere and live a lovely little life on her own. It is all very dramatic and woe is me.
Anyway, a few days ago I received another tirade of messages all about how she is trying so hard and nobody cares. She believes that I have psychological issues that I need to seek professional help for and that I obviously have a deep-rooted hatred for her. I don't. But I do have a hatred for all this craziness that keeps repeating itself every few months. I'm so sick of it and don't know what to do next. I'm due to be spending a week with her at Christmas and dreading it. I don't think we're really speaking at the moment (well, the last communication was all her messages which I didn't reply to). I'm spoiling her excitement for seeing her grandchild and she gave me a warning that "one of these days enough will simply be ENOUGH for her to take". Enough of what? I don't know what I have done!! It's ironic, because that is exactly how I feel.
Sorry this is waffly, and the information I've given maybe doesn't sound like a big deal. I had written some examples of things that she has said or done that I have found difficult to deal with or rationalise but it would have made the post too long.
Oh, and I should add that one of my siblings has an extremely volatile relationship with her. They do see each other, but civility is a struggle between them and they fall out after most meets/chats. The other sibling went non-contact about 3 years ago and they haven't seen each other or spoken since.
What to do??
Oh, I want to add that she is very upfront and critical (she claims she is just being honest and if your mother doesn't say it, nobody else will). So for example, she will not hesitate to comment on my eyebrows, my hair, my make-up, clothes, behaviour etc. and really does not like that I tend to shop in the cheaper high street (it's all just cheap crap) whereas she always goes for the expensive ones. She knows that I do not like this so has toned this down a bit in the last few years and buys me great gifts of clothes, jewellery, make-up etc. that is the same brand as she uses (and pricey). She often leaves the prices on clothes that she buys and will say "It was actually quite expensive" as she hands over a gift, "Or your DHs birthday gifts cost me a fortune." She has also mentioned casually a few times that she has spent hundreds and hundreds on stuff for my DC and travelling to visit. Is this relevant to her behaviour, or am I just looking for stuff? It's all true, but why mention it? I didn't ask her to spend a penny. She also used to be a bit obsessed with weight management and would mention it if I gained a few pounds (and I've never been overweight), or would talk about which foods I shouldn't be eating even though I don't have a weight issue. Weird?
Have you read any of the Stately Homes threads? I think they may be very helpful to you.
You know that it's your Mum who needs help here. But it's not help that you can give her.
You mention that you have siblings. How do they deal with Mother? Can you come up with a common approach?
I think you mum probably has a mental illness. Not sure that helps you though.
A lot of now adult children who were raised by such dysfunctional parents like your mother often state that their childhood was not really that awful.
From the Stately Homes thread:-
"One thing you will never hear on this thread is that your abuse or experience was not that bad. You will never have your feelings minimised the way they were when you were a child, or now that you are an adult. To coin the phrase of a much respected past poster Ally90;
'Nobody can judge how sad your childhood made you, even if you wrote a novel on it, only you know that. I can well imagine any of us saying some of the seemingly trivial things our parents/ siblings did to us to many of our real life acquaintances and them not understanding why we were upset/ angry/ hurt etc. And that is why this thread is here. It's a safe place to vent our true feelings, validate our childhood/ lifetime experiences of being hurt/ angry etc by our parents behaviour and to get support for dealing with family in the here and now.'
Most new posters generally start off their posts by saying; but it wasn't that bad for me or my experience wasn't as awful as x,y or z's.
Some on here have been emotionally abused and/ or physically abused. Some are not sure what category (there doesn't have to be any) they fall into.
NONE of that matters. What matters is how 'YOU' felt growing up, how 'YOU' feel now and a chance to talk about how and why those childhood experiences and/ or current parental contact, has left you feeling damaged, falling apart from the inside out and stumbling around trying to find your sense of self-worth".
It is not your fault that your mother is the way she is, you did not make her that way (her own birth family did that). I would read up on narcissistic personality disorder and see if any of that resonates with your own experiences re your mother. Your mother mentioning that she is no longer planning on celebrating mothers day rang a bell with me too. I've also had a relative of ours tell us that he is no longer planning to celebrate either Christmas or his birthday and he is certainly narcissistic in terms of personality.
I would post on the Stately Homes thread and read the resources listed there too.
What sort of contact if any do you have with your mother these days. I think she is projecting; it is really she who has the psychological issues and not yourself.
Look too at the relationship your others siblings have with her; again unsurprisingly they are all problematic in nature.
I would certainly not be spending any time with her at all now even at Christmas. Concentrate on your own family unit instead, there is no law to say that you have to spend Christmas with awful relatives. You would not have put up with any of this from a friend, your mother is no different.
She does not deserve to have any of you in her life; she has driven people away due to her mad excesses of behaviour and I am not at all surprised to read that she has no friends. There's good reason why such people have no friends.
It is so true that she has driven people away due to her mad excesses of behaviour. This is spot on.
I have read a bit about Narcissistic personality disorder- she definitely displays some traits but I've also read on here and elsewhere that it's a very difficult thing to diagnose and a lot of people don't actually have it, but it's thrown about a lot.
What you said about children of abusive parents saying their childhood wasn't that bad is really interesting to me. I genuinely don't believe it was bad at all. I don't remember being physically abused (I did get smacked once or twice but a lot of kids in the 80s did, didn't they?) or emotionally abused. Or was I? Do I sound like a victim defending my abuser??!
I don't think that I am damaged as such, I feel contented in my life and don't want to go looking for problems that I don't have (does that make any sense?) the only thing that is causing me strife is this situation with my mum.
Re. Christmas I am in a very difficult situation as it is a long ago arranged trip which involves international travel and a lot of money. I've also committed to seeing other family members who have nothing to do with this or are unaware. Truthfully, I really don't want to go. I could make the trip and just not see her, but how could I be in the same country as here after so long and not visit her? I think that would just add more fuel to the fire. She really wants to see DGC and I think it would be a nail in the coffin and make the relationship even worse. At least at the moment we are (kind of) on speaking terms (not really though, I don't know!) but I'm sure if I did that it would be a major thing. I don't want that to happen but really looking at ways of trying to manage/maintain a civil relationship and avoiding future confrontations. I do have geographical distance on my side.
She has hinted that she may have a personality disorder and has suggested we seek professional help. From my understanding, people with personality disorders don't recognise this in themselves, so wouldn't that be an unusual thing for her to say? With regards to going for counselling, she suggested it and then made excuses for why this wouldn't work etc (logistics) and said that I needed to get counselling for my issues. It ended with all the raging messages and her saying she was not going to counselling with me if that was my attitude. I suspect she wasn't ever keen to do it in the first place, but would even suggesting it be consistent behaviour for someone with this kind of condition?
I will check out the stately homes thread, thanks
"What you said about children of abusive parents saying their childhood wasn't that bad is really interesting to me. I genuinely don't believe it was bad at all. I don't remember being physically abused (I did get smacked once or twice but a lot of kids in the 80s did, didn't they?) or emotionally abused. Or was I? Do I sound like a victim defending my abuser??!"
No, you sound like my DH who has recently said very similar. DH to my mind was emotional neglected because of his emotionally absent father and his all too cloying mother who made out that she did everything for them. They do not have to hit you to hurt you and to me his own childhood was really awful and sad. I did ask him once if his dad ever hugged him as a child, his silence spoke volumes. It is what you feel now that matters, he is also floundering around and is also having to deal with the thorny matter of grief now to boot (his dad is terminally ill).
I was a teenager in the 80s and I was never hit at all. The same applies to many of my friends, not all teens were hit by any means.
Why is your mother also suggesting that she has a personality disorder (she likely has some form of personality disorder) but the clincher here is that WE seek professional help?!. I would never sit in the same room at all with her frankly, let alone any professionally based session. Also she has then made excuses as to why she cannot do this. She does not want to do it or take any responsibility for her actions because she would rather blame you instead for her inherent ills. Her issues are not your responsibility to own and carry for her frankly.
You do not have to see her for Christmas, there is no law to say that you have to see dysfunctional and uncaring relatives. You can make alternative plans even if you are in the same country, honestly what is the worst she could do?. She could yet again moan and winge but this can be ignored by you. Mental as well as physical distance from such people is key. I am not at all surprised she has no friends, these people (and my FIL is yet another) simply do not.
I think counselling would be beneficial for you purely to unravel more the dysfunctional mother/daughter relationship. You need to find someone whom you can work with and has no familial bias about keeping families together despite the presence of mistreatment.
Thanks for taking the time to respond. I guess I have never really delved too deeply into my childhood and feel I would be making issues out of non-issues because I don't think a smack on the bum as a child has really affected me and I suppose I thought it was not an uncommon form of discipline at the time. I was never hit as a teenager. Neither of my parents were really that affectionate but again, I don't think that has really bothered me. I just assumed that they were not touchy-feely or emotional people. But now that I'm thinking about it, has it affected me?
I don't think I'm floundering around. But again, I'm now second-guessing. But by doing that am I looking for something to be wrong with me, or deep personal issues to exist?
The way I feel now is that I just want this to stop and to have a normal relationship with my mother. From what I've read, a lot of people have said that it is not possible, but I at least want to maintain civility.
She said that she had a personality disorder after a big blowout in which I had hinted that I wasn't going to be willing to be in this relationship if this is how it was going to be. She said her disorder meant she behaved like this etc. and was why she found it difficult to maintain friendships and to stay in the same job for long (in her words, "I don't like people"). After a few months she suggested that we go for family counselling when I visit. Her suggestion was for me, her and my siblings to all attend counselling together as "we all need it". According to her everyone is battling issues but we all deserve peace in this life. The suggestion was ridiculous for a number of reasons. Firstly, anyone can see that a counselling session with so many people there (all with different relationships with her and each other) just wouldn't work. Secondly, she wanted me and her to travel to a different city for the counselling which would be a 2.5 hr drive each way, two weeks in a row. Thirdly, she hadn't even mentioned it to my siblings but had thought if it was on their doorstep that they would come. Yeah right. One hasn't even spoken to her for 3 years, and has refused to meet her for a coffee so I don't think it's likely that he'd jump at the chance for a bulls**t family counselling session where everyone will fall out with her and she won't see anyone's point of view and believe we are ganging up on her. Next she hadn't considered the fact that I have a young toddler with me- nobody to babysit during the counselling session and driving 5 hours in one day two weeks in a row with said child would just not be practical. Finally she said that 6 sessions are required. I won't be around that long and one of my siblings won't be either. So what was the point in suggesting counselling that just would not work? I had my suspicions that she wasn't genuine about the counselling because she believes that we are the ones that need it, not her. Because all of these problems with her suggestion arose, she then said that I should arrange for counselling on my own and she would babysit. The discussion ended with her saying that she was "not going to go to any counselling with me if that was my attitude." I didn't even suggest it! That kind of confirmed to me that she wasn't really keen for it in the first place. The counselling thing was over 2 days after it was suggested.
I think I actually will try and speak to someone professionally just to help me try and figure out what the hell to do!
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