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Does being emotionally abused make this ok?

(22 Posts)
Spottyhands Mon 21-Nov-16 14:18:39

Will try to cut long story short...my mother has had various episodes of difficult behaviour, one of the hardest of which occurred when I was 19 years old. She would self harm and show me the scars, she one time blamed me for the fact she was self harming because I'd done something teenager like (drinking too much at a party). On another occasion she told me to take the scissors and knives to work with me (I was living at home) and when I didn't she said I clearly didn't give a shit about her. Other times she would go into a rage and break the crockery on the kitchen floor whilst yelling at me for something.

Years later I have confronted her about this stuff in the hope of some repentance/resolution as I am still angry that it ahppened, but the answer I get is that she'd been in an emotionally abusive relationship for three years and I should read some books about what that does to a person. I am compassionate to her situation at the time, but I can't bear the fact that it is used as an excuse. I should also mention that this behaviour was never discussed at the time, only when I built up the courage to talk about it in my late 20s.

I guess I'm asking whether she has a point...does being abused excuse certain behaviours? Thought I'd get some different perspectives on here. I'm really busy so apologies if I don't respond quickly to posts.

Losgunna Mon 21-Nov-16 15:20:29

Not at all. It might explain them but it does not excuse them.

crispandcheesesanwichplease Mon 21-Nov-16 16:22:45

Oh op that's really awful for you. What she has done to you, and is still doing to you is emotional abuse, without doubt. It's sad that she was in a bad relationship but it was her choice as an adult to be in that relationship.

Ask yourself this, if your mum had been in a violent or sexually sbusive relationship would it be acceptable for her to physically or sexually harm you?

I appreciate that she's your mum and such relationships can be complex but abuse is abuse. It's not acceptable. Like the other pp said, her previous experience may explain her behaviour but it's no excuse. She's an adult and she has to deal with her own shit. Please try not to let her manipulate you regarding her harmful behaviour.

Offred Mon 21-Nov-16 16:23:54

It explains it but it doesn't excuse it.

She abused you and you should feel she is responsible for that.

ILostItInTheEarlyNineties Mon 21-Nov-16 16:39:25

Perhaps your mum has minimised her past treatment of you in her mind or blocked it out and doesn't realise the impact it had on you? I'm stunned that she is not showing any remorse or regret.

Has her behaviour improved now? It certainly sounds as though she was manipulative, almost using emotional blackmail to get her own way. Were you aware that she was in an abusive relationship, was it your father?

The fact that your mum threw that information at you when you confronted her makes me think she is still trying to manipulate your feelings now. She is twisting things so that she is the victim who needs your pity, and trying to make you feel guilty, just as she did when you were a child. sad

redannie118 Mon 21-Nov-16 16:48:33

I was in a ea relationship for 20 years and never even cried in front of my kids. We talk about it now they are grown up and they had no idea what was going on, because as a mother your duty is to protect your children , not offload your pain onto them. She really owes you a apology

lostinthedarkplayground Mon 21-Nov-16 16:49:23

I have a 17yo living with me as she feels unable to live with her mum. Mum is an alcoholic with bpd (several suicide attempts) and has spent the last few years telling the dd she is the cause. Now that she no longer has access to the dd, mama is blaming her own father for being distant and cold, and causing her addictions, mental health problems and being emotionally abusive to her own child. Or her husband. <the story changes depending on how she feels and how much she has had to drink>
As someone up thread said, it may be the reason for her behaviour, but it is never an excuse. Sadly the mama here is unable to see that anyone else has been damaged by her addiction and abuse, and feels strongly that she is the only victim in the situation and deserves unequivocal support from the people she abuses.
It's very sad, but ultimately mental health issues are notoriously difficult to get decent support for, and ultimately you have to be willing(or able) to access support and consider your own agency and role in a relationship. Sadly some people are unable to do this. And it is impossible to force them to. You are better off putting your own boundaries in place for self-protection.

Spottyhands Mon 21-Nov-16 19:29:00

Thanks everyone, really interesting to read your replies.

To answer some of your questions is not straightforward. She has sort of apologised, in that when I said that it might be nice to have an apology she shouted "well of course I'm bloody well sorry". But this was part of another very dark spell after I confronted her about her behaviour and she went crazy for 6 weeks telling me I'd ruined her life and stalked me via text and voicemail.

More recently she has had spells of behaving well but is now an alcoholic (she didn't drink when I was younger). She went on a big binge recently and was hospitalised twice. Whilst she has now stopped attacking me when other things in her life go badly, I find the episodes very difficult to deal with still, especially as she has told me she drinks because of me. This time I did try to help and suggested she should get help for the underlying mental health issue I think she has (all said very gently and caringly). I have had boundaries in place for a while now, but following this recent binge I limited contact even more and that led to her telling me that I am judging her, being unsupportive, and can't I see she is better and why won't I let her grow. Apparently I'm the only one who thinks she has mental health problems. When I point out that this latest binge is part of a pattern which leads me to believe she's unwell she'll say "oh for gods sake, are you dragging up the past again, i was in an abusive relationship". I guess when I write it all down in black and white it seems quite clear but that doesn't stop me having enormous self doubt and thinking maybe I'm just being unkind and should get over it all. I'm in my mid 40s now and really bored of thinking about it. I do think cutting ties is probably the only way but am part looking for justification, part looking for a different opinion that might allow me to mend things.

Redannie - I'm sorry for what you went through and well done for protecting your children. I am now a mother and increasingly I reflect on her behaviour and wonder how she had so little self control.

crispandcheesesanwichplease Mon 21-Nov-16 19:55:56

spotty I'm so sorry to say this but if she still blames you when anything goes wrong and refuses to acknowledge that she has a problem then I doubt that she's ever going to change. I really don't know how you've managed to stay so strong and sane. She sounds to have hugely immature emotional development.

So, insofar as the possibility of mending things goes I don't think that's an option. She's going to continue to erode your self-esteem and try to undermine you, or you're going to have to grow elephant skin or drop her.

Not a great or easy situation either way.

baconandeggies Mon 21-Nov-16 20:11:44

Could she have personality disorder? Either way, it wasn't ok. She should not have done that to you. Nothing makes it right.

Nope, doesn't excuse.

Can't really add anything to the wise women above. fsmile

Spottyhands Tue 22-Nov-16 23:07:34

Thanks for your comments which are really helpful. I'm convinced she has a personality disorder actually, but I'm not a doctor so could be wrong.

It's such a shit choice but I think you lay it out very well crispandcheese. I also really like the comment upthread that I should hold her responsible for her behaviour. Problem is, in doing so I feel I am causing her more pain and suffering which makes me feel so very guilty.

FaithAscending Tue 22-Nov-16 23:27:03

Spotty that sounds awful. Have you ever had counselling about this?

Offred Wed 23-Nov-16 02:12:22

I think the main problem here really, and it is very understandable because she is your mother and there is a lot of difficult emotion tied up in that relationship, is you almost seem like you are wanting her permission to hold her responsible or her acknowledgement that she is responsible.

You will never get this from her.

I know why you want it, just like every child of parents like this, but you will never get it.

You understanding that she is responsible and holding her responsible inside yourself, no matter whether she acknowledges this as a fact, is what you need.

She is responsible. She is using an explanation as an excuse and that means she is not really your friend. Your relationship will therefore never be close or healthy but you can be healthy if you give yourself permission to hold her responsible inside yourself for the things that she did.

Offred Wed 23-Nov-16 02:17:08

Her blaming you for ridiculous things BTW has no real meaning other than deflecting responsibility for her own behaviour.

Until/unless you can get to a place where that cycle of deflecting things onto you is like water off a duck's back then you need to absent yourself from this cycle of trying to kindly rescue her and getting a load of stick for the privilege of it.

Offred Wed 23-Nov-16 02:19:44

I would be willing to bet the kindly rescuing is more about you trying to prove yourself as a good person in her eyes anyway than really being kind to her.

But you'll never get her to acknowledge you are good. You are the focus of abuse for her. She has abused you all your life in order to cope. Her treating you this way says nothing about you and everything about her.

CouldIHaveIt Wed 23-Nov-16 02:24:05

I'm sorry 💐

Your Mum sounds very troubled, she needs professional help.

You need to do what's best for you. Limited contact. No contact.

You need to believe that NONE of what she has done or does now is your fault. It's horrible she says xyz is your fault, that's a terrible thing to lay at someone's feet, especially your own child's.

differentnameforthis Wed 23-Nov-16 03:59:12

I was emotionally abused as a child until I left home at 18 (one time I set upon physically too) and I do not treat my kids like that!

Sounds like you were emotionally abused too, to be fair.

Problem is, in doing so I feel I am causing her more pain and suffering which makes me feel so very guilty.

Granted, of course. You're a very caring and kind person, and this does you credit.

But you have to push past that feeling. Not only are you not responsible for your mother's misfortunes, she is responsible for here, and yours, to a great extent. She failed in her single most important mission in life: to nurture and protect you. Doesn't that make you angry? It should!

"well of course I'm bloody well sorry". - I think you know this isn't an apology. fsmile

I'm in my mid 40s now and really bored of thinking about it. Perfectly understandable, really! A part of you, and I'd venture that it's growing to be the majority - just wants to get on with the life you know you can have without this albatross if a problem. Damn, I rather envy how healthy that makes you. fgrin

I do think cutting ties is probably the only way but am part looking for justification, part looking for a different opinion that might allow me to mend things. I won't supply the latter, but how about this for justification: if you're such a crap person who makes your mum do dreadful things and are so oh so tediously looking for answers, why not give her a break. See? Turn it round.

Angleshades Wed 23-Nov-16 07:57:37

Oh Op you need to get away from this woman. I know she is your mum but until she sees the light and admits her problems and seeks help she is only going to drag you down with her. She sounds like a master manipulator and knows the exact things to say to make you feel guilty.

You sound like a really strong person. Focus on your child and try and distance yourself from your DM.

Your post has brought back memories for me. My DM was also an alcoholic and blamed me and my dsis for everything wrong in her life. There was the odd (pretend) suicide attempt thrown in here and there that she let everyone know about. She told lots of lies about us to anyone who would listen so that she could win sympathy. The drama was insufferable.

It didn't matter how much we tried to help her, she always had a reason not to seek help. It was almost as if she liked it when things were going wrong. My teenage years were the unhappiest of my life because of my dm's drinking. She too was a master manipulator and even now I wonder if I was in the wrong and should I have done more.

Don't look for apologies from her. You won't get them unless she's ready to face up to her decisions. It doesn't look as though she's ready to accept she's at fault because she's blaming everyone else for her actions and playing the victim. Just focus on your own life and the good relationships you currently have. You deserve to be happy. It sounds like you're doing a great job. Just try and cut yourself free from the emotional baggage your DM is saddling you with.

Spottyhands Wed 23-Nov-16 20:57:15

Thanks again everyone, such lovely and helpful comments and so much wisdom. I'm so very sorry to hear what some of you have been through, life can be so tough sometimes.

I realise that in previous posts I've given you some of the worst info about my mother, but to complicate things she DID nurture and protect us when we were little. My sibling and I are both happy, well adjusted, successful people (although I do struggle with self-esteem and some anxiety issues - hardly surprising!). Whilst I believe in self determination I don't think you get to be like me without having been loved well for some of your life. She did a great job as a single parent (dad left as her craziness then was directed at him) and I do feel I owe her something. And she does love me, of that I'm sure. When she has these episodes (and there have been several from when I was about 7) it's like she's a different person and I really don't think she understands the impact..."well everyone breaks things when they get upset" (erm, no) ..."I didn't mean I was going to drive my car into a brick wall, I was just frustrated, why do you take things so seriously" (because I was 10 and that's a terrifying thing to hear when you're being told you're the cause) ..."well of course I was upset, you were horrible to me" (but normal upset doesn't involve screaming "why do you hate me" at your adult daughter). In her eyes, these things are things I should be able to move on from as they are in the past. I actually try to help her so I can forgive myself if the drinking does kill her one day, not to be a good person in her eyes, because despite the above I do think I am. Argh, it feels so complicated.

And to the pp yes I have had two short spells of counselling but think it might be time for another!

CouldIHaveIt Fri 25-Nov-16 12:04:16

I know it's really hard when it's your Mum and she hasn't been bad/horrible 24/7/365/30 years, BUT she has messed you up and is continuing to hurt you and destroy your mental well being.

I think more counselling wouldn't hurt. You need to find a way of either going N/C or genuinely understanding that it's NOT your fault and being able to stop feeling there's any truth in it. Both are hard 💐

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