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DM problems - apologise or go NC?

(6 Posts)
phantasmania Fri 18-Nov-16 13:41:40

Would love some advice on what to do here if anyone has similar issue with their DM. Sorry if this is very long.

I'm starting to think I'd like to go NC with DM, I really cannot afford the emotional energy she takes up anymore and am tying myself up in knots over whether I'm awful and treating her badly or whether I should just admit we don't get along anymore and deal with the huge fallout of going low/NC.

For background, good relationship with DM until 4 years ago when I got married it started getting rocky. Had some ups since but this year it's been awkward and horrid and we've had arguments. I find it very hard not to be tense around her.

I think the reason for the recent problems is me having DC2 - a DD and starting to analyse my upbringing and see how my parents aren't actually as great as I thought they were!

There's a lot of competition between me and DB and after years of being set against each other we've both realised it's DM that's the problem, not us.
There was some real inequality growing up, sibling "rewarded" for poor behaviour by being sent to posh boarding school while I was dumped in a crappy comp because "I didn't need anything more" aka they could only afford one so they chose their fav! My family has always been odd about boys and made a huge fuss of them. I had a Set of GP's who lavished sibling with money and presents while I would get nothing or something awful like a box of broken biscuits! I remember being very upset about this when young but got used to it!

Anyway, this all came up in an argument this year and DM failed to understand my viewpoint and just guilted me and threw mud.

She takes the smallest Critiscm badly and also doesn't listen and interrupts which makes it hard to communicate.

I've tried to forgive and forget and move on with our relationship but she's told me today she's upset with me for treating her badly recently and being terse when she caused some minor problem but failed to apologise for a lack of common sense.
We then had a mild difference of opinion when she was "slut shaming" a celebrity saying she does nothing for women dressing like a tart and I said I thought she was inspirational and id dress the same if I looked like that, that it's empowering not threatening! I get quite bored of her binary/ black/white thinking about things and can't just bring myself to be quiet and agree as I'm aware that if I don't make her consider what she's saying it will affect my DC later. She's very appearance obsessed and I don't want my DC feeling under pressure like I felt as a child. She bleached my hair as a 5year old and told me I shouldn't tell anyone, yet also called me vain if I looked in the mirror too much so I've had to get my head around a fair bit of this.

I know this all sounds really bad but she's also really lovely and kills us with kindness often too, was amazingly good to us when DC1 was born, it just makes me feel guilty and beholden. It seems to bring out the worst in me and I can't help feeling she doesn't actually like me, is resentful of my successes and financial position and is only seeing me to see the DGC. Unfortunately she's becoming more like her own mother was! I've probably changed too but not sure what I can do about it without living a lie around her.

What can I do here? I don't really think being honest with her is working as she gets so upset but fails to see upset in others. I don't want to rip my family apart but selfishly I don't need them, and don't have the energy for this Agro anymore as have my own problems and a young baby who never sleeps!

How can I fix this mess?
Thanks in advance, sorry for the epic essay and if you got this far!

phantasmania Fri 18-Nov-16 13:57:28


AttilaTheMeerkat Fri 18-Nov-16 14:04:10

Hi phantasmania,

re your comment:-
"How can I fix this mess?"

You cannot. Unfortunately your mother is and will never be the kind and caring mother you want her to be either. You will really have to grieve for the relationship you should have had rather than the one you actually got.

You do not mention your Dad in all this; where is he now?.

You probably got on better with her prior to you getting married because she was able to more easily control you back then/train you into serving her. Meeting and marrying your H enabled you more to become your own person and she did not like that at all.

Your mother has done more than her bit to rip the family of origin apart; the rot started years ago and before you were born. Her own mother was herself emotionally dysfunctional.

I would read up on narcissistic personality disorder re your mother and see how much of that resonates with your own experiences of her. I would also read the website entitled "daughters of narcissistic mothers".
I would also read up on fear, obligation and guilt because you seem mired in all of these (not unknown at all in now adult children of dysfunctional parents).

Post too on the "well we took you to Stately Homes" thread and read the resources at the start of that thread too.

Its not your fault your mother is like this, her own parents did that lot of damage to her. Such toxic stuff like this can and does go down the generations.

This is a good website to read re no contact:-

Do you think she is doing the same with your children now this time around as she did with your brother and you when you were younger. She may well be playing out the same golden child/scapegoat dynamics as she did back then.

Your mother was not a good parent (understatement) to you, she is I would say not a good example of a grandparent to your children either. I would keep them well away from your children. You all need to be around people who bring a positive influence to your lives and your mother certainly does not fit that bill.

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Fri 18-Nov-16 14:24:10

onkeysDontRideBicycles Fri 18-Nov-16 14:02:43
You say you noticed a difference in your relationship when you got married I don't think that's a coincidence. Sometimes our parents only really acknowledge us as adults when we celebrate a milestone in life and I suspect she felt the balance of power shifted.

Now you have had your own DCs and naturally you reflect on your own upbringing. It's normal to challenge ideas and beliefs our parents hold, and if you were quite compliant and accepting before, now you have begun to question and argue. You are both adults now so she can't dictate to you.

I admire you for getting to know your DB better. If DM knows about this she probably found that unsettling because 'divide and conquer' or playing favourites becomes an ingrained habit. She can be lovely, oh that's nice, but wouldn't that usually be a given, bestowing gifts isn't a pass for mean behaviour the rest of the time.

Standing up for yourself might feel new and scary but it doesn't mean you are wrong or have anything to repair. In the normal course of events with mutual respect disagreeing on a subject doesn't mean a lifelong feud. If you always make allowances for someone when you differ on opinion, you can't be genuine with them.

Agree with the previous poster, sometimes it's not in our power to fix a situation, depending on the back history we learn to adapt instead. You can play for time by being massively busy with your young family. You could try writing her a letter but you don't have to send it. See if she waves an olive branch or makes a move. You don't have to go NC just ration your time?

hellsbellsmelons Fri 18-Nov-16 15:16:52

Go onto Amazon and put Toxic Mother in the search.
Have a look and see if there is a book you could maybe read to help you through this bit.
I've no idea what you are going through but it must be hard and I really do wish you well.
I hope you get the resolution you need.

phantasmania Fri 18-Nov-16 21:16:07

Thank you so much for your replies, I'm sorry for the delay in a response, I've spent the day in turmoil trying and failing to get anything from DM but self pity - no empathy at all. I've had a look at all the links you recommended too. It's definitely sounding familiar.

Your replies have been insightful and given me so much to think about. I really feel like I'm getting some validation that I'm not just an awful person. It's like a veil has been lifted from my eyes and there's no changing that now.

Still not sure what long term steps to take but I have unconsciously been doing lower contact the last few months by being deliberately busy and it's clearly not working, I'm also getting guilt over her only seeing the dgc every couple of weeks.
Things are better on her territory so may just try meeting there. I do see that she will never change and am concerned about letting her have too much control as a grandparent. She's very critical of our parenting abilities too which is wearing thin, didn't agree with breastfeeding, cosleeping etc. Will see how it pans out I guess.

Hadn't thought about DH being part of her problem but on reflection you're right. She's quite dismissive of him recently and uneasy around him and there's really no reason for it, I do think she feels threatened by him as he can see through her.

Haven't mentioned the healed rift with DB to her, I agree she'd be uneasy - mostly as she'd no longer be able to cadjustate me for being such a crappy sibling. We've agreed to not discuss each other with her.

My DF is still around, he tends to enable my mum though and plays a passive part, I've sort of given up on involving him as it just made it worse last time and I don't think he can really be bothered, he's emotionally distanced himself from me and DB in the last few years.
I'll certainly be keeping a beady eye on DM causing sibling rivalry if contact continues, it's not been a problem yet.

Thank you, all of you, so much for the sage advice and kindness. I really appreciate it. flowers

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