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I don't think I like my DM very much :(

(29 Posts)
TwentyOneGuns Thu 07-Apr-16 07:25:48

I've finally realised this and don't know what to do. She means well and would do anything for me but I just find her so manipulative and irritating although she thinks we have a wonderful relationship. I do have a lot of resentment stored up from things that have happened in the past but I could never speak to her about it because she sees herself as such a victim and doesn't consider how her actions have affected other people.

Trouble is, like it or not I have to see her - I know she will expect everyone to rally round her like they did her own DM as she gets older, she already see herself as the 'matriarch' of the family we're not on bloody Eastenders. I need to get over my issues with the past and try and do the dutiful daughter thing, after all she has been a good mum in many ways, I just find her such hard work and I know other people do too. I guess it's not her fault but that doesn't make it any easier.

I need some strategies for coping. She lives 1.5 hours away so I try to visit or see her about once a month, we speak once a week and text as well. In between I try to put her to the back of my mind and get on with my life but it's getting harder to keep her in that mental 'box'. I hate thinking about her this way, can't bear that my DD would ever think like it about me, but sadly it's the way I feeL sad.

AttilaTheMeerkat Thu 07-Apr-16 07:38:10

You seem full of FOG - fear, obligation and guilt when it comes to your mother which often happens when now adult children fully realise (often only when they become parents themselves) that their own parents were and remain toxic, inadequate and self serving.

You do not mention your dad at all; is he still in your life?.

Your second sentence contradicts itself; manipulative people are only in it for themselves. I would certainly think she neither means well or would do anything for you. well anything anyway that did not in some way benefit her or make her look good. You've been led to believe probably that she means well by other people; well they have not seen the full reality of what she is like. It is also NOT your fault she is the ways she is; you did not make her that way.

How has she actually been a good mum to you?. She may have provided material things but emotionally she seems bereft and you have suffered as a result. Why do you have to see her and play the dutiful daughter role; is this what is expected of you from the wider family?. Sod that, your mother does not deserve to have someone like you in her life at all. Why is her past ill treatment of you all your fault; the fault lies with her.

What boundaries do you have when it comes to your mother; can you further limit the current level of phoning to say once every two weeks then gradually extending that. You have physical distance between you and she; you also now need to put mental distance between you as well. Maybe cutting down the once a month visit to say every three months may also benefit you as well.

A good rule of thumb is that if any relative is too difficult for you to deal with, its the same deal for your child as well. How old is your DD?. How does your mother interact (or not) with her?.

I would also suggest you read and post on the "well we took you to Stately Homes" thread as this could help you as well.

TwentyOneGuns Thu 07-Apr-16 08:12:35

I didn't want to bore anyone with the history of all this but I think it's hard to understand without knowing a bit more.

Very happy idyllic childhood until I was about 10 when my sibling was killed in an accident. Parents handled their grief in different ways and eventually spilt up, seems they had not been happy for years anyway, only married so DM could escape an unhappy home life and possibly abusive father. We move in with a family friend who DM subsequently falls for and marries, he turns out to be an emotionally abusive arsehole and myself and DB have a pretty shit time living with him.

Many years later after I've met DH (who's lovely but sometimes I wonder if I picked him because he's sensible and stable rather than because he was really the one) she finally gets the courage to leave the bastard but she's pretty messed up by it all.

I see all that as having made her the way she is - needy, picky, self centred, determined not to be pushed around to the point that it becomes uncomfortable.

But she has been a good Mum. She is there any time I need her and would do anything to help me. I just feel that it comes with strings attached - I don't see my Dad as much but we get on OK, he doesn't do as much for me and never has but he never asks for anything either. She always tells people what a wonderful close relationship we have but I think she's trying to convince herself.

It's true that your feelings change when you have your own kids. I went through a rough period after DD was born, DM thinks it was PND but the counsellor called it reactive depression and attributed it to the events of the past. Now that my DD is a teen I seem to be feeling like it again and I think it's because she's now the age I was when evil exSD came on the scene and I can see how different her teen years will be in comparison to mine. Incidentally she gets on OK with DM but is much better than me at seeing what she's like, that makes me a bit sad as I'd like them to have a good relationship.

Rushing now as I need to go to work but that's a bit more info, very grateful for any thoughts on all this. I genuinely think DM is not a toxic parent but I do need help learning how best to handle her.

Walkacrossthesand Thu 07-Apr-16 08:26:55

So when her 'determination not to be pushed around' makes you uncomfortable, can you unpick that and see what that's about, how it impacts on you? And how is she needy? Maybe if you can shift emphasis towards 'managing expectations', her reaction would make things clearer.

TwentyOneGuns Thu 07-Apr-16 17:42:47

I think in many ways she's just becoming needy like a lot of parents do as they get older but I think I'm a bit resentful about having to be there for her because of how I feel she let us down by staying with the evil ex. I know abuse is not that cut and dried but she refers to it often (currently banging on about the Archers storyline) without ever appearing to realise how it affected us as well as her.

The other thing is, everything's a battle. I decided years ago to set definite boundaries and put my own family first but she pushes and pushes all the time - if we're visiting for 1 day she wants it to be 2, if she suggests doing something I don't fancy she just goes on and on and on about it (very nicely and subtly but never letting it go - the phrase 'dog with a bone' was invented for her) until I back down. I find it very hard to say no or stand up to her but I'm not sure why that is.

Mellifera Thu 07-Apr-16 19:51:23

She doesn't sound very nice.
I think putting down - and enforcing - your boundaries has to come first. She will probably be surprised but I don't think she will put up much of a fight if you persevere.

I was sort of in same situation growing up. My mum brought abusive arsehole stepdad into our lives when I was six. He stayed and caused long lasting damage for 10 years.
When I had my dc stopped feeling any sort of sympathy for my mum, how could she watch and let him treat us the way he did? She is quite manipulative herself and told us we must have done something to cause him losing his temper.
She also liked to hit us as well and on the other hand neglected us quite badly.

I'm afraid our relationship has never recovered. I moved countries and see her once a year. It was quite a deliberate decision not to have her as a permanent fixture in my dc's lives.

I don't know what to suggest regarding your mum, but a bit more emotional distance sounds a good idea. Have you ever talked to a therapist about your upbringing?
I look at my youngest child (7), how vulnerable she is, how trusting and innocent. Her life couldn't be more different from mine. Anyone trying to undermine, belittle or abuse her would be dealing with my rage.

Mellifera Thu 07-Apr-16 19:54:12

PS I'm glad you have a calm and stable DH (so have I) you have probably picked him, because he's the one for you.
You haven't repeated the pattern.

TwentyOneGuns Thu 07-Apr-16 22:00:34

Sorry you have gone through this too, it's rubbish isn't it but makes you very determined not to repeat the pattern. I worry about it all the time - DM had a hard time with her own mother who I think she feels didn't protect her from her father's abuse. Now I feel like I do about her and my biggest dread is that my beautiful DD will ever feel that way about me.

I did have counselling briefly after I had DD but I sometimes think I'd like to talk to someone again. It's hard to discuss with friends as people have their own problems and DH is too involved to be unbiased.

I should say in the interest of being fair that DM could never be accused of being abusive or neglectful herself as you say your mother was. She did try to stop him being unkind to us but it wasn't enough. I can't imagine even staying in the same room with someone who treated me and my child that way, much less marrying them and staying together for many years.

Mellifera Thu 07-Apr-16 22:29:09

Your DD won't feel the same way, because you haven't let anyone harm her and stood by not doing anything.

You did break the pattern, but of course you feel the way you do. A child needs to feel safe. Your mum didn't keep you safe. It was her job.

TwentyOneGuns Fri 08-Apr-16 08:11:19

I do think that's true. I know it wasn't her fault but looking back I really really resent that she let us go through what she did. Nothing she has done or can do now will change that.

HazyMazy Fri 08-Apr-16 08:28:35

she's just becoming needy like a lot of parents do as they get older

This is an awful 'rule' of our society which really only affects daughters. It is also influenced by what you said below-

She always tells people what a wonderful close relationship we have but I think she's trying to convince herself

Running your life so that any neighbours or friends approve. Is just so not the way to go. It's you and your DD that matter.

Believe me a needy parent will get needier and needier as they age. This happens such a lot. Do not get sucked in. No way will I expect my DDs to be my guardian/ friend/ buddy when I age. It's not fair and I will entertain myself thanks, and pay for handymen etc.

Mellifera Fri 08-Apr-16 10:43:18

I think watching and letting your children be emotionally harmed is being a really bad parent. Why do you think it wasn't her fault?
She was the adult, you the child! A child needs protecting, and she didn't do that.

I think the main issue you have is that she tells everyone what a wonderful relationship you have, while you feel justified resentment. Take a step back and let your mum know that you have your own life, needs, responsibilities as a parent etc.

HazyMazy Fri 08-Apr-16 11:13:30

I know it wasn't her fault but looking back

But you don't have to be nasty or cruel to her, just matter of fact and put your wishes and your DDs wishes first - that's not being unkind that is being normal.

I find it very hard to say no or stand up to her but I'm not sure why that is
My inexpert view is that you want to be/ are a nice person and want to be thought of as a nice person by others - who doesn't?
She is forcing you into a position where your natural being nice and polite doesn't work due to her 'dog with a bone' pushing. You are going to have to be firm and brusque to get her to stop pushing you and that makes you feel uncomfortable, it doesn't come naturally.
But in the end the relief will far outweigh any temporary discomfort.

SuckingEggs Fri 08-Apr-16 11:24:04

Show her some compassion. She lost her child and then was abused.

You can understand this and treat her accordingly. That means cutting her some slack and then doing your utmost - as you have - to break the cycle and live as well as you can. Your DM is simply not equipped to provide the emotional support you need and that won't change. I know how this feels, too, but no one is perfect and knowing she may have shut down due to trauma can make some sense of it, which might be helpful.

SuckingEggs Fri 08-Apr-16 11:25:29

I don't mean let her walk all over you btw. Just recognise it and move past it, hard as it is. flowers

TwentyOneGuns Fri 08-Apr-16 11:38:57

I totally agree with what you say SuckingEggs and believe me I've given her the benefit of the doubt many times because of what she's gone through where many other people don't. But what gets me is, all the things that have happened to her happened to me and DB too and that is not always acknowledged. We lost a sibling, and we suffered at the hands of an abusive person. She had very little or no choice, we had none at all.

I do want to be seen as a nice person although I try not to be a pushover, it's hard sometimes not to go too far the other way though. I'm so determined not to be like my mum but I don't feel I've the right perspective on what's normal and appropriate sometimes.

flowilliamson Fri 08-Apr-16 12:02:05

It's the same thing with my DM and my Nan and it's hard to watch. In the end my DM couldn't get over her issues from the past and the fact that my nan denied it and wouldn't talk about it.

But, she has other members of the family and my DM put her health first. The past is the past for a reason yes, but I do think it should be acknowledged especially when you can't forget about it.

SuckingEggs Fri 08-Apr-16 13:42:22

Twenty, it's true that she has failed you in some respects, but she's probably in denial that she's done anything wrong (a weakness on her part). She didn't protect you and your DB and was not strong enough to extract the three of you from the environment.

She's probably deeply unhappy, but that doesn't help you and your DB. In circumstances such as this, I reckon it's almost a case of cutting your losses to avoid going mad and to avoid rifts that will cause more pain than the status quo. Kind of: saying it is what it is and then striving to overcome the legacy of the poor choices your DM made and to actively stop the pattern repeating (which you already have. The fact that you are not bitter says a lot about you.

Counselling, CBT in particular, might help to deal with these complex and conflicting emotions.

TwentyOneGuns Fri 08-Apr-16 16:52:17

I think you're right, there's no point going back over the past and mostly I don't but when I see her some of the things she says or the way she behaves wind me up so much.

I'm not sure if counselling would be a good thing - I'd love the chance to talk it all out with someone impartial and have my feelings acknowledged but that seems a bit self indulgent - the past is what it is and nothing will change that. It doesn't affect me day to day really, my life's pretty OK although that's down to me and the choices I've made. But for the sake of my relationship with DM I do wonder if I should do something before it comes to a head and I end up saying things that will hurt us both.

AttilaTheMeerkat Fri 08-Apr-16 17:01:11

Why should you have to cope or be the dutiful dd to someone like your mother at all?. She seems to have played the victim her whole life, it serves her to keep on doing this.

TBH even if you were to have a full and frank conversation with your mother, I doubt very much she would want to hear what you say let alone take any of it in. She has after all never apologised or accepted full responsibility for her actions.

It is not at all self indulgent to have your feelings acknowledged in counselling so please put that thought out of your head. That may also be your mother's conditioning of you at work here.

You have never been responsible for your mother's poor choice of man; that was her doing and hers alone. She also failed to protect your brother and you from your stepfather's emotional abuse.

HazyMazy Fri 08-Apr-16 17:50:42

* I'd love the chance to talk it all out with someone impartial and have my feelings acknowledged but that seems a bit self indulgent*

Yes, its very easy to convince yourself that what wasn't right or wasn't good in the past isn't worth worrying about or is irrelevant now.

Couldn't be further from the truth ime.

I'd convinced myself that childhood events were nothing really, not worth worrying about. Until I finally talked about it all.
It was life changing. Not sure if it was the therapist or just that I'd reached that point in my life. But definitely do not brush things aside as irrelevant. See someone and take it from there.

FrancisdeSales Fri 08-Apr-16 18:17:09

Also I think OP what you're struggling with is that by not getting out of an abusive marriage/relationship your mother was an enabler of you and your DBs abuse.

She refuses to acknowledge your pain and any part she had to play in it.

You keep saying how you must forget the past, put it behind you etc. but it sounds like you are so stuck emotionally because the past is still affecting your present, especially your present emotional life in a big way.

I think therapy would be cathartic for you as you really NEED to be listened to and recognized.

SuckingEggs Fri 08-Apr-16 19:29:20

Therapy will be great, honest. Find a good person who you click with and take it from there. You may feel greatly relieved.

DistanceCall Fri 08-Apr-16 20:39:42

I agree that therapy would be great. You can't change the past, but you can certainly change the way in which you deal with it and process it. It made all the difference in the world to me.

TwentyOneGuns Sat 09-Apr-16 07:39:17

How would I how about finding someone to talk to? Is this sort of thing available on the NHS or would I have to pay and if so, any idea how much?

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