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Estranged from mother.. Absolutely heartbroken but can't see a way back

(23 Posts)
Snowboarder777 Mon 06-Jul-15 12:03:07

Perhaps no one will read this. It will be long and messy and probably full of self pity but it's been 18 months and I need to get it out.

Here's the context. My mum remarried my stepdad when I was 9, over then next 20 years he became increasingly emotionally controlling over the whole family and as a result became estranged from his own two children.

My brother and I (from my mum's first marriage) quickly intuited that we would need to 'fall in line' or we too would be 'cut or pushed out' as they had. It seemed as though we children were an inconvenience to them both. My mum always seemed happy with how things were and her domineering husband and would not hear a word said against him, even in private. As a result our relationship with her was very limited. The casual coffees and shopping trips that most girls enjoy with their mothers didn't happen. We weren't close despite my desire to be. My brother would phone and my stepdad would claim my mum had gone to bed - even at 6pm on an evening.

When I had my two children she wasn't really there for me either. When all I wanted to do was cry and tell her how hard I was finding it or even ask her advice she wasn't there. I assumed it was him. She took a week off work to 'help' me after my second child had been born as I'd had a c-section and my oldest child was still very dependant and couldn't walk (and I couldn't lift him!) and stayed a couple of hours a day before heading home because she 'felt sorry' for my stepdad at home on his own. Bear in mind please this is a man who had taken voluntary early retirement and was by his own admission 'loving it' - he is young and healthy and didn't need her, but I did.

Fast forward. She meets someone at work and begins an affair. This is happening whilst my grandmother (her mother) who my brother and I were extremely close to is in hospital ill. For what it's worth my mum has always had a difficult relationship with her own mother.

My husband, children and I go on a disasterous holiday with my mum and stepdad for a week. It's clear their relationship is strained and my stepdad takes all his frustration out on us, shouting at me one evening and booking flights home early for him and my mum.

When we return my mum leaves him and moves in with us. She uses his terrible behaviour toward me whilst we were away as an excuse to leave him. She doesn't tell him the truth which is that she is leaving him for another man.

We invite her to live with us and our children whilst she gets sorted. She's with us for 12 weeks in a too small house. I don't ask for anything from her, it's nice to be able to help. I am secretly over the moon to at last have some time with her but she spends all her time texting her new boyfriend like a teenager. She doesn't help with the children or even really act like one of the family (as you might expect a grandparent to do), it's like having a stranger living with us.

One evening we're having a couple of glasses of wine whilst I cook our evening meal, the children are in bed. Out of the blue she mentions that whilst she was with my stepdad that they had altered my grandma's will (she is still very ill with little hope of recovery at this point). She tells me that originally we had been left a small lump sum but that the will had been altered so that the money would go directly to her with the understanding that she would then give it to my brother and me. She says that my brother is useless with money (true) but that in the event that the will will as executed she would pass mine on to me and think of a way of giving my brother his so that he would spend it on something 'worthwhile.' My husband is there during this conversation so hears it all - she is very clear 'I will give you this money when the time comes.' I'm a bit shocked - it's strange to be thinking about the will of someone who is still alive, and I just KNOW in my bones that this scheme was concocted by my statepdad who would have had NO intention of passing any inheritance on to us.

I'm still thinking about this a day later when I tell my brother everything my mum has told me.

Fast forward 8 weeks and my grandma dies. I write my own reading for her funeral and stand up to read it, managing not to cry. My mum brings her new boyfriend and they sit giggling and holding hands like they are on a date.

About 5 months later and my mum and her boyfriend have got a flat and I now barely hear from her at all. Its almost like when she was with my stepdad again and I'd always assumed it was him that prevented us from having a relationship. I have to accept that she is one of those people who puts 'everything' into their relationship and doesn't value her family as much as I value mine. I couldn't go months without seeing my children or knowing if they were ok.

We meet to have a family meal for her birthday and I mention to my mum that we (including her grandchildren aged 3,3 and 18 months) haven't seen her in 3 months. She genuinely doesn't seem bothered.

The conversation we had in my kitchen all those months ago isn't mentioned again but unbeknownst to me my brother asks her one day - he rings and says 'snowboarder tells me that you are intending to give us some money from grandma's will.' He and his wife are thinking about finally buying a house (they've rented for 10 years) and wanted to know whether they would be receiving any money to put towards the deposit. She tells him 'snowboarder is mistaken... I never said that. You and she were NEVER in the will and there is no money for you.' He presses her saying 'well, she says you had a conversation where you said the will had been altered but grandma was clear about her intentions' and my mum tells him I must be lying (!)

Fast forward 18 months and here we are. My mum claims this conversation didn't happen as I remember it, that we were NEVER originally in the will and that she does not have any money to give us and will not give us anything. The inference is that she and her new boyfriend now need any money they get to build their new lives together.

From the point where my brother challenged her she completely cut us both off. We met up with her once to discuss it and she just said we were attacking her and was very defensive. She can't hear any criticism at all - her view is that if anyone so much as asks her to explain she is being 'bullied.' She feels very much at home being the victim. I don't know what she's told her new boyfriend but I suspect we are not painted in a very favourable light.

I have not seen or spoken to her although I did send her a text message telling her that we were both hurt and devastated and that she has treated us disgustingly. She has not even tried to explain. There's been no phone calls, no letters. She sends birthday cards to my children and doesn't even put a note inside. Nothing. My two children (now 4 and 3) don't even remember her and I spend a lot of my time depressed and tearful.

I don't care about the money. I don't really need it. I only ever wanted a relationship with my mum. BUT - I can see that she is willing to rip off her children for the sake of a small amount of money. Money, after all that her mother had wanted us to have and that my brother at least really could have done with to help buy his family a secure home. This also comes hot on the heels of 20 years of feeling like she didn't love my brother and I enough to have a 'proper' relationship with us.

The only way forward I can see is if she admitted the conversation took place and apologises but she won't and I can't forgive her without an apology. I just feel utterly betrayed and heartbroken and have no idea what to do.

I can see no way at all out of this.

LazyLouLou Mon 06-Jul-15 12:14:34

There is a way out of this. It takes a bit of time and determination, but you can do it.

One way, my way is this: you have to say out loud "I do not have the mum I always wanted. I have something else instead, something I do not like or respect."

Tell your DH this as well. Saying it out loud can be a wonderful feeling. Saying it to someone else can be a really freeing experience.

You stop allowing her any space in your head. You say she does not contact you... so don't contact her either. Do not initiate any contact whatsoever.

Your way out of this is to realise that your mum is not who/what you want/need from a mum. She never will be and you can't make her change.

So your way out is to change your needs and expectations.

After decades of supporting DH with his tricksy family I suddenly realised that I needed to take my own advice. I am still in occasional contact but having allowed myself to say, out loud, that I really do not like or respect ether of my parents has been a breath of fresh air.

I hope you find your own resolution. Good luck.

Baddz Mon 06-Jul-15 12:16:48

I'm sorry.
Sounds awful.
Please check out the stately homes thread.

TongueBiter Mon 06-Jul-15 12:22:32

Was she the executor of the will? You can order a copy on-line, just to satisfy yourself regarding what was in it. It sounds like she coerced your DGM to alter it.

I think even if she somehow admitted the conversation took place, there would be something else that she screws you over with (emotionally). She appears to not want a relationship with you, so I suggest that you have to just let it go. She will never be the mum you want.

Lulioli Mon 06-Jul-15 12:59:45

Hi there. I read your post with great interest as, unfortunately, the behaviour you describe is familiar to me. I think the comments on here are very honest and you must work towards acceptance that this woman is a lousy excuse of a 'Mum'. I, too have a narcissist for a mother and it's taken til my late forties to accept that she will never 'come good' no matter how long I wait or however many lifelines I throw her. I am so sorry for you. It is a very painful, confusing relationship to be in. She does not deserve your loyalty or your unconditional love. But I think you can move on from this. There are far more people in a similar position than I think you suspect. Draw on them for insight and support. Please pm me if you think it might help. Counselling at Relate really helped me work through all this crazy stuff, define boundaries and go virtually non contact. My life and that of my children is so much better because of it. Yours will be too xx

ThumbWitchesAbroad Mon 06-Jul-15 13:17:54

So so sorry for you but I think you have to accept that the woman who gave birth to you is not a decent mother in any sense of the word, as you would like her to be.

I agree that counselling would be useful - to help you come to terms with the fact that your mother isn't the mother she should be. There is nothing you can do to change her, nothing. All you can do is change your response to her, your response to her failings and learn to live without a "proper mum".

Really really sad for you, but I think you should walk away. thanks

MiddleAgedandConfused Mon 06-Jul-15 13:32:30

I agree with LazyLouLou - the first step is accepting that she is not (and never has been) a caring mother. You can't turn her into one. Once you accept that, you can decide if you want to spend time with the person she actually is. It's OK to spend some time grieving for the caring mum you never had, but then look at her for who she actually is and decide if you want her in your life.

Snowboarder777 Wed 08-Jul-15 18:27:36

Thank you all. I took a brief break before coming back to read these because I just find it all so raw and upsetting.

I agree with what so many of you have said. Thank you LazyLouLou - I will try saying it out loud! Hard as it is she is not the person I would like her to be and no matter what I do or say, she is not likely to change.

Thank you to each poster who read the post and commented, you have no idea how much your support and understanding has helped me to accept that this is not my fault (my self esteem has taken a battering because I feel like the reason I don't have a loving relationship with her MUST be because I am not loveable).

Hidingmyidentity Wed 08-Jul-15 19:33:32

Try & get a copy of the will. It may be that you & your DB have been left something & she has kept quiet about it. This will not improve your relationship with her but at least you will know what you are dealing with.

goddessofsmallthings Wed 08-Jul-15 20:00:54

Enter your dgm's surname and year of death here probatesearch.service.gov.uk/#wills and you can buy a copy of her Will for £10.

The reason why you don't have a loviing relationship with the woman who gave birth to you has nothing to with you, or your db, being unlovable - it's because she doesn't have a maternal or moral bone in her body and she's not worthy of love and respect from her dc, or anyone else for that matter

newstart15 Wed 08-Jul-15 20:08:52

My husbands mother is the same and the grandchildren were left money when her father died but she has never passed it on.It's not a massive amount but it shows her selfishness.Dh'a brother says kindly "I think she loves us but loves herself more".
Like your mother she has a new bf and he is the focus with practically zero contact with her children.

Dh's ex (dsd'a mum) is very similar.She prioritises her love life over her children yet tells the children she "does everything for them do now is her time".Her children are teen and primary.She is also the victim and fails to take any responsibility.

It's so hard to process as we all have the image of a nurturing unselfish mum but that isn't the reality for some people.Nothing you did caused this and you may actually be a better mum as a result which shows how fabulous you are still you have not had a positive role model.Dh accepts his mum and has very limited contact maybe an email a few times a year.She is too toxic to be close to.Over time it gets easier, I don't think you can make sense of it but you do just learn to live with the reality.

kennyp Wed 08-Jul-15 20:21:32

the mother extranged thing is so tough. i've not spoken to mine for 12 years and i'm still a messed up mess.

do you live near her? hopefully not. if you're not wanting to have any contact it's easier if there's no mutual parties ... or else these will fade over time (in my experience. although people might be prodded to "spy" on you).

such a difficult and traumatic time for you :O(
you've ultimately got to put your mental health and happiness first, which is a tough thing to do in the situation you're in. but best of luck with everything.

Optimist1 Wed 08-Jul-15 20:24:59

You're not unlovable Snowboarder, you gave your mother the benefit of the doubt for so many years. The fact of the matter is she is unloving.

I hope that the remaining members of your family prove worthy of your love, and wish you well. flowers

DeckSwabber Wed 08-Jul-15 20:28:47

How do you get on with your brother?

Snowboarder777 Wed 08-Jul-15 20:54:33

Thank you all, she does live fairly close by about 20 minutes by car and I do panic sometimes that I will come across her one day when I'm on my own with my children. That would be horrible although I know neither one would recognise her now. (My eldest asked me why I was sad a couple of days ago and I told him truthfully 'I miss my mum' he said 'she doesn't like you does she mummy?' - I have no idea how he knows this, he's 4!)

The worst thing is she works at the same company as my best friend who sometimes comes across her through work and EVERYONE who meets her thinks she is so lovely, so kind, so beautiful (she is VERY into her appearance). This just makes me feel worse to be totally honest because I just wonder why my own experience is so at odds with everyone else's sad

Luckily I get on with my brother fantastically. He is also NC with our mum because of what's happened. At least we have each other.

DeckSwabber Wed 08-Jul-15 21:03:41

Selfish people often come over as very charming. Being liked is very important and being charming is a strategy to influence and control.

I'm glad you've got your brother.

Castleonacloud Wed 08-Jul-15 21:15:42

Your experience is not to dissimilar to mine. Ive spent years and years trying to make the relationship work, but cant be bothered anymore. You need to focus on you, your family and your brother. Do things that make you happy.

Someone said to me once, there comes a time where you have to cut the toxic people out of your life, only then will you be truly happy. Its not easy and of course you will think its you that's done something wrong, but it not. Not at all! xx

Finallyonboard Wed 08-Jul-15 21:16:19

She can't put you or your DC first. She has chosen someone she had just met over you and has not honoured her own mother's wishes. She sounds like a terrible mother and doesn't deserve you or your family. One day she will need you again and may even apologise, you will need to decide how you respond but for now focus your energy and attention on your DH, brother and DC.

springydaffs Wed 08-Jul-15 22:43:11

Oh love. This isn't about you at all! Of course you're loveable! Is just your mother is incapable of loving sad

I've been watching this thread, waiting for someone to come on who knows all about narcissistic mothers - which is your mother btw. I think there is a book called 'Narcissistic Mothers'? Hopefully someone will come on who knows more about it.

Until then, p-l-e-a-s-e rest assured this has nothing to do with you, your self-worth, your personality, your lovableness. Your mother is imo a narcissist (or at least behaves exactly like one). It's a painful road to healing but it is possible to get there - but once you realise it's not you who has the problem you're half way there.

Grieving for the mother you long for but never had is a process. You can't rush it but be kind kind kind to yourself - you deserve all the kindness the world to make up for all the hurt. It is not your fault! It was never your fault flowers

Aussiebean Wed 08-Jul-15 23:57:14

I want to reaffirm what someone said up thread.

Go have a look at the stately homes thread.

You will find that there are many of us who have mothers who don't care. It sucks and is hurtful, but hen we realise that it has nothing to do with us, it is very freeing

ThumbWitchesAbroad Thu 09-Jul-15 03:12:52

I'm very pleased for you that you and your brother are close - surely that should indicate to you that you are fine in terms of loveability.

Your mother will have a "public face" that she puts out to everyone else, because it will be important to her that she is loved - she is self-centred to the extreme and needs others to love her, but sees no need to reciprocate unless it's in her own best interest.

derxa Thu 09-Jul-15 08:39:55

flowersSnowboarder
Your mother is a classic narcissist. The most telling thing is the difference between the way she treats her family and the way she treats her adoring public. If it's any consolation I don't believe that narcissists are very happy people and that they end up being very alone and lonely. She has alienated the people who should be the most important people in her life- you and your DB. My course of action would be to do nothing. Expect nothing from her. Harden your heart. Of course when all this beauty fades and she starts to become old/ill she will try to reel you in and lay a guilt trip on you.
Because you are a lovely person you may try to help her but beware.
Do what you have to do but never let her actions impact on your precious family.

derxa Thu 09-Jul-15 08:40:51

narcissists are *not very happy people

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