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How to handle holiday and LC mother? (slightly Stately Homes)

(21 Posts)
EssentialHummus Tue 01-Mar-16 15:10:34

(Sorry - this might be a bit long.)

I'm 30 years old and have a poor relationship with my mum. I don't want to diagnose her, it may be a MH issue, she's just very unpleasant to be around. Recent highlights include her blaming me for a distant relative changing their will and suggesting I be "nice to my grandparents" so they don't do the same. When I was younger she told me I needed a nose job, blamed me for her breast cancer... sad

She has almost no life outside the house - she walks the dog twice a day, and that, as far as I can tell, is it. No friends, no close relationships.

I tried to speak to her last time I was there (July) and explained that she says some hurtful things that can't be explained away with "But I'm telling you this because I love you" (which is her usual way). I haven't spoken to her since, bar a short call after DP proposed she insulted me then too.

She lives overseas in her home country, along with my surviving GM, cousins, aunts, etc from both sides of the family. I go over twice a year or so, and it's always been assumed I'll stay with her - there's a spare room with my books in etc. The thing is, the last few times I've been there she has alternated being very cold to me / apparently upset, with hugging me madly, with talking non-stop (I mean non-stop), with ranting about apparent slights by other family members. She sometimes says things that are very plainly not true. I ended up waiting until she was out in the morning, then getting up, getting my things together, and spending each day out of the house until very late to avoid confrontation. I felt like a fucking vagabond, going from beach to coffee shop to long walk etc just to be out the house.

I haven't been back since July. I miss my cousins, and as my gran lost GF last year she would probably like me around for a few days or more. Ironically, I now WFH and could be there for extended periods if I wanted to.

I haven't been back because I can't figure out where to stay. I don't want to stay with my mum as it was seriously unpleasant to be with her. My family members aren't in a position to host me (young DC etc), and it also feels like "making a statement" to stay with Aunty A instead of mum. Gran lives in a remote town. I'd like very much to stay in a hotel and just make plans to see everyone (including mum, for a short while), but the stress of what people will say, what drama this will provoke from my mum, is stopping me from doing it.

(More background: Dad is married to Mum but he's worked abroad as an expat for decades. Mum has alienated herself from most of her family, so she's on speaking terms with all the family named above, but doesn't see them much.)

When I have spoken to Dad about some of the things DM has come out with I'm told that she's not well and that I need to suck it up and be there to liven her up a bit.

WTF do I do?

EssentialHummus Tue 01-Mar-16 15:11:42

Jeebus that was long! Sorry.

Summary: I usually stay with unpleasant mum when visiting home country, but can't bear it. Scared to book hotel or stay elsewhere because of emotional fallout.

FishWithABicycle Tue 01-Mar-16 15:16:14

Is this "spare room with your books in it" quite small/not ensuite/with only a single bed - could you therefore take DP along with you and say "oh we booked a hotel so that DP didn't have to invade your bathroom/DP could stretch out his legs in bed/whatever feature that room can't offer.

Chocolatteaddict1 Tue 01-Mar-16 15:20:44

well your dads got a nerve hadn't he considering he left the country to get away from her

I've been NC with my mum for around 15 through similar issues.

In your situation I'd go ahead and book the hotel. I'd say it was for purely selfish reasons as you just want to be able to relax, use the pool/spa and spoil yourself. Once booked I'd invite your mum for one day if you could do and it looks like you were spending 'quality time together' treat her to a meal and grin and bare it. It will look to others that you are making an effort and save embarrassment on both sides.

Lottapianos Tue 01-Mar-16 15:25:02

Loads of sympathy OP. My mother (both parents actually) is very unpleasant to be around and like yours, alternates between smothering me and giving me the deep freeze treatment.

You absolutely do not have to suck anything up. You are an adult and you get to make your own decisions. Oh I know she doesn't see it like that, but its how any rational, reasonable person would see it. You should absolutely not have to spend the whole day wandering around, feeling like a vagabond, just to save your sanity. It sounds like she is absolutely horrible to you so I don't blame you in the slightest for not wanting to spend much time with her.

You say there would be 'emotional fallout' if you booked a hotel room. What do you think this 'emotional fallout' would involve? Might it be worth it anyway for the peace and quiet and freedom to do your own thing when you choose? Remember that parents like this leave you deep in FOG - fear, obligation, guilt. Not doing what they expect you to do can feel pretty scary. However, you have a right to put your own sanity and wellbeing first. No way should you be tolerating your mother's behaviour just because she's your mother.

RaptorInaPorkPieHat Tue 01-Mar-16 15:30:27

WFH = need for super speed hotel Wifi? (clutching at straws)

EssentialHummus Tue 01-Mar-16 15:31:26

Fish - it's easier if DP is coming along as the dog is a feral Boxer who lunges for him playfully so that's well into hotel territory I think. DP's family live in a 3rd country so usually it's just me going on my own though. But there's no easy excuse re room size and I want to somehow, kind of, be honest or not lie outright.

choc - I really hope I have it in me to do that. I'm so torn - I really want to be there, but am scared to go ahead.

Yes my dad is a whole other story sad I sometimes resent the both of them.

I'm in therapy, not that therapist is forthcoming with advice unfortunately!

AttilaTheMeerkat Tue 01-Mar-16 15:35:46

"When I have spoken to Dad about some of the things DM has come out with I'm told that she's not well and that I need to suck it up and be there to liven her up a bit".

What was your response to his above example of verbal diarrhoea?.

I think he is a crap example of a parent as well as his wife, he seems like a weak bystander who has acted out of self preservation and want of a quiet life. He has a right cheek saying that seeing as he has not been around. There's a reason why he has been working abroad for so long, it seems that theirs is a marriage in name only. Why should you have to suck it up when he does not?. I guess you do not have much of a relationship with him either.

Like many adult children of such toxic people you have FOG (fear, obligation and guilt) in spades. It is but three of many damaging legacies left by such inadequate people to their now adult children. I would suggest you read "Toxic Parents" written by Susan Forward as a starting point.

It also does not surprise me in the least that your mother has no friends or close relationships at all; they really do not and they cannot do these. Such people really do manage to alienate everyone they come into contact with.

I wouldn't go and see her if you go back to your home nation for a visit; what would you get out of that apart from being more hurt and insulted?. See the rest of the family instead if you want to, you are not and should not be beholden to your awful sounding mother at all. You would not tolerate any such behaviour from a friend either, family are really no different.

EssentialHummus Tue 01-Mar-16 15:38:32

Thanks lotta. I don't know what the emotional fallout would be. In the past when I have (in a veeery mild way) suggested that she was being hurtful and that this was impacting on our already fragile relationship, she was fine while I was there, then (apparently) phoned DF in floods of tears after to say that I told her I didn't love her. I say "apparently" as obvs DF then phoned me to say that I need to be nice to my mum.

I'm incredibly sad about the whole thing.

Chocolatteaddict1 Tue 01-Mar-16 15:41:37

My advice with folk like this is to go completly NC. But I think if you do this it will effect the family you want to visit. Seeing as your visit won't be lengthy I'd just do damage limitation.

If you sandwich the fact you are staying in hotel between the fact you are taking her out for a treat 'as she deserves it' and I'm booking you in at this fab hotel I'm staying at for a swim/massage ect it kind of traps her in to not exploding. I actually do this with my mil. Also everybody that you tell that you are staying in the hotel sand which it between the two positives you are doing for your mother. Plus if she is a narc she will lap it up.

If anybody questions it just act surprised ect that they think this and forge on making out your treating her then other family members will relay it back to her.

Family warfare is an absolute nightmare but if you want a stress (ish) free trip I'd just play along.

EssentialHummus Tue 01-Mar-16 15:46:55

I guess you do not have much of a relationship with him either.

I have a bizarre and not that comfortable relationship with him Attila - most recent example is him asking me to find an investment property in London without DM's knowledge, and to give him high-level advice about how to invest a large chunk of money. (I know nothing about investment.) Last time we went down this road with DM's knowledge she freaked out at the last minute and said that if they bought a flat here she'd get cancer again. He now wants to do it behind her back, more or less.

(I said no, obviously, though I'm now having nightmares about their destitute old age if they don't get their act together.)

I'm also angry that he's worked in some of the worst shitholes in the world rather than deal with her (Mali, Angola, Congo, Colombia...)

Lottapianos Tue 01-Mar-16 15:47:37

'I'm in therapy, not that therapist is forthcoming with advice unfortunately!'

Good for you. Therapy has been the pathway to sanity for me. Incredibly painful, but ultimately the best thing I've ever done. The therapist won't give you advice, its not their role, but a good therapist will help you to understand the impact of your mother's behaviour on you. This is dark, murky stuff and I think having professional support with it all is invaluable.

It sounds like your mother can't see or hear you as a separate adult. She needs you to still be the little baby who adores her and relies on her for everything. But you're an adult now, not a baby, and you are a separate person from her. She can't really hold your needs in mind, so when you (quite reasonably) pulled her up on her behaviour, thereby giving her a chance to change and put things right, she interpreted it as an attack, pulled the emotional manipulation card and sent in her 'flying monkey' (your father). This is absolutely her problem and her bad behaviour OP - not yours.

I've slowly, painfully and very sadly come to realise that my parents will never change - they are incapable of changing. I cannot talk to them and expect a reasonable response. I cannot rely on them for any emotional support. So I've long since given up sad Like you, I'm very low contact with both of them and my god, it hurts. Its something you have to grieve. Just the other week, I had a surge of pain again and was in tears for a long time.

But actually, removing myself from their toxic crap and minimising the amount of contact I have with them has been a very good thing for my self-esteem, my self-respect, my sanity, my health in every way. Its worth the pain, and these days I'm 'ok' much more often than I used to be.

This is terribly painful, complex, hurtful, horribly sad stuff OP, so go easy on yourself.

AttilaTheMeerkat Tue 01-Mar-16 15:56:19

What Lottapianos wrote.

Women like your mother cannot do relationships so the men in their lives are often kicked out, leave by some other means or are actually as narcissistic as she is. I think he is a flying monkey sent into do his wife's bidding. He really is her hatchet man here who cannot be at all relied upon.

I would not worry at all about their supposed destitute old age (that old obligation again); these people have not ever shown you one ounce of consideration whatsoever for you or your circumstances. Your dad's been telling you re his wife to suck it up and be there to liven her up a bit!. No, no and no again.

Keep going with the therapy.

EssentialHummus Tue 01-Mar-16 17:57:56

Thanks both flowers. I think I need to live with the idea of hotel+short lunch or whatever with mum on neutral turf.

As I said to my therapist, I'm doing my best so my future DC have different issues have a better relationship with me.

Chocolatteaddict1 Tue 01-Mar-16 18:05:11

Yes Essential, I have really worked hard at trying to be the complete opposite with my too girls. My worst fear was to be like my mother.

Obviously you won't be like yours as you are self aware.

pocketsaviour Tue 01-Mar-16 18:07:08

Bear in mind here that your dad has abandoned his marital responsibilities to her and expects YOU to pick up the slack. He has no fucking right on earth to tell you to keep her sweet! Jesus, what a self-serving prick!

Helipad Tue 01-Mar-16 18:48:23

Hummus, you know what, I've had exactly the same dilemma, well before I went NC with my DM and SF (been NC 18 months now).

When visiting my home country I used to stay in their house but after having DC it became really difficult. For many reasons, their shitty behaviour towards me as well as the house being a death trap for a toddler. On one visit, during the breakfast my SF totally character assassinated me whilst my DM just smirked next to him. I was so deep in FOG that I didn't have a clue how to stand up for myself and just brushed it under the carpet as I've always done. BUT, it was a start of my "journey", a slow start but I finally started to question their behaviour and it was the first time I realised that she had never stood up for me when my SF was hurling abuse at me.

After that visit, I knew I couldn't stay with them anymore but I dutifully carried on with my yearly summer holiday visits and went through a huge effort trying to find somewhere else to stay. They live in a small village, fairly rural, there's no airbnb, bnb or hotels anywhere near. The first visit back since the character assassination, I managed to find a small flat for myself and my small DC. I was terrified of telling my mother, it sounds pathetic considering I was 38 at the time but I really was very scared of her reaction. It definitely was a done thing within her family to stay with the family members and anything else would have been considered an insult. In the end I dropped her an email, saying that I've booked flights and at this time I'll be staying at so and so's flat. She actually never challenged this, it just became another unspoken elephant in the room.

The subsequent visit was better, being in my own digs and having a breather from them. But it became increasingly difficult to tolerate their behaviour and now couple of years later, I am NC.

This is not much help but I thought to share as I know where you're coming from.

Helipad Tue 01-Mar-16 18:57:39

Just to add, I've been to my home country with my DC since NC and we had the best summer holiday ever. This time I finally had a chance to visit relatives other side of the country and really spend time with them, rather than a hurried day visit, well if I was lucky to visit them at all.

I met up with both of my DM and late DF families, and we were so well received. One of my aunties made such a fuss of my boys, a way more than my DM has ever bothered to do. The first time ever I really enjoyed my visit, it was just so free without the dead weight of my DM and SF and the obligation to spend time with them. Towards the end of our holiday I was desperate to extend our stay, first time ever I felt this way since I moved away 1998 grin (one year I paid £230 to fly back three days earlier as I couldn't bear them anymore). I didn't extend the stay as the cost was sadly too much.

EssentialHummus Tue 01-Mar-16 19:36:31

Helipad that's really helpful to hear, thank you. Well done for doing it - I'm terrified at having to write that email, even as it feels absurd to say that. But I want to be there more and connect with the rest of my family, especially as I'm an only child. There are lots of new Hummus family babies out there and I'm missing out on cuddles!

Helipad Tue 01-Mar-16 21:55:33

Hummus - I guess all of your family lives in the same place then? So if you want to see other family members, you can't avoid your DM?

If and when you gather the courage to let her know that you'll be staying in the hotel, then the best plan is to invite her for lovely lunches etc. Like someone suggested earlier. You could be lucky as she might not take up your offers. I made my DM a variety of suggestions of fun things to do with my DC and I but none, I mean none of these happened. She made noises but wasn't really interested in the end. And these activities would have been with her only grand children, the same grand children that she only sees once a year. She makes a big noise how important they are but that's it. There's no substance to it, she just couldn't be arsed to make the effort. I travelled from another country with two small DC, paid flights, hire car and accommodation but her crocheting and tv-shows were more important.

The last summer before NC, I once again suggested some easy and cheap activities, really tried to make her feel included and this time she pulled out a corker. Apparently her Dr had warned her about DVT so she possibly couldn't make the 20 min car journey. It was so bad that I just had a chuggle to myself.

Lottapianos Wed 02-Mar-16 08:17:03

Helipad's examples chime with my experience with my parents. Lots of noise about how much they miss me, devastated that they hardly see me any more etc etc but do they ever visit me? Almost never. Im a very short plane ride away, with a spare room, they are fit and healthy and comfortable financially. They have visited 3 times in 13 years. People like this are only interested if absolutely everything happens on their terms

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