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Why does my mother do this?

(20 Posts)
Santaseasonalfireplace Tue 29-Nov-16 12:01:39

I am the eldest in a large family and left home quite young and have always been very independent. On the one hand my mother is proud of this but on the other it sort of irritates her, but I've kind of let it go.

I've noticed however, that's she's only really kind of "caring" if I show vulnerability, which I generally don't do. I started as a very young girl, hiding when my period was, because my mum kind of weirded me out about it by being suddenly all pitying.
Anyway fast forward to my late 30s and horrible though it is to say, she gets v weird if I'm upset or tearful. (Again this is rare for me.) For example I was a witness to a horrible accident. She knew about it obviously, and I talked it all through with my husband and had counselling. But she would push and push till I cried and then say "I am so glad you could open up like that, it's good to cry." I remember thinking "good for who???" I had done my crying and didn't want to rake it over, but she just carried on.

She's done the same with other things over the years, and seems to thrive on being able to try to swoop in, when really it would be more supportive if she didn't make me cry in the first place! angry

I'm not explaining this well, but does anyone understand?

Blossomdeary Tue 29-Nov-16 12:05:41

She is meeting her needs and not yours. Some people are just like that.

I know someone (she happens to be a vicar!) who asks how you are and if you say anything even hinting at things not being 100% brilliant, she goes into a new voice and oozes sympathy even when it is not needed. I have to say I find it intensely irritating! It has the negative effect of making things that you were just soldiering on with seem even worse. She has some sort of magnetic beam which hones in on the merest hint of something negative. I avoid her. Not so easy when it is your Mum though! Good luck smile

Santaseasonalfireplace Tue 29-Nov-16 12:10:46

Oh yes the different voice!!! Ugh!

Santaseasonalfireplace Tue 29-Nov-16 13:14:51

What do they get out of making someone else emotional???

Lottapianos Tue 29-Nov-16 13:22:00

My mother can be like this too, loves it when people are ill or emotional or dependent in some way. To say that she meets her own needs rather than other people's is an understatement. I think she likes being the one in control, the one who gets to 'soothe' and give advice to other people. She gets to play the role of someone who is caring even though she's actually very cold and critical. I think its a power thing, it usually is with my mother

Your example in the OP reminded me of my mother going on and on and on to my SIL about her father who was dying at the time. SIL was coping well and was feeling pretty strong about it at the time, but my mother just kept on and on about how sad it all was and such a shame and poor man etc etc until SIL left the room in tears. Its actually horrible behaviour under the guise of being 'caring' and 'sympathetic'. Quite disturbing and very unpleasant

I can't help but think about a toddler pushing your buttons until you snap, because any response is better than none.

There are many ways to "be a mum", practical and emotional. Being there and supportive when your child is feeling upset is but one. Do you think perhaps she simply can't manage the rest (or even if she only thinks she can't or, more neutrally, mainly thinks of "trauma support" as her wheelhouse).

(Just my armchair psychoanalysis.)

Not that any of this means you have to put up a with it, btw.

greenleaf1 Tue 29-Nov-16 13:58:03

Ugh. My mother's the same. It's what lottapianos says. Mine definitely gets a kick out of making people sad or scared. Sort of an emotional vampire. The only way to deal with her, I find, is to have very little to do with her, and share precisely ZERO interesting, personal information. That way she can't push your buttons! It's hugely satisfying to shut down any juicy line of conversation she opens up, and watch her stamp her foot in frustration.

Lottapianos Tue 29-Nov-16 14:12:41

Same here greenleaf1, I share nothing of any interest with her, or with any of my family. It hurts and its very sad but its self preservation ultimately. Emotional vampire is spot on!

BantyCustards Tue 29-Nov-16 14:16:04

Yup. I understand completely. That is narc behaviour that's being displayed by her: it's about her and her needs and she used you as 'supply'. Your reaction by finally crying fulfilled her needs by allowing her to be 'the rescuer'

I'm betting once you start learning about narc behaviour you'll identify a lot more behaviours that fit the profile

TheCakes Tue 29-Nov-16 14:20:21

My mum is right there in a crisis, especially a health one. New job, promotion, joyous news, boring. But give me a good meltdown and she's there like a shot.
I feel guilty typing that. confused

Santaseasonalfireplace Tue 29-Nov-16 14:22:27

Ive wondered about narc behaviour too but more from the POV of triangulation. She doesn't much like my DP, they rub each other up the wrong way somehow, and she would constantly moan about him to me rather than tackle him directly. She couldn't see how divisive that was/is, and how undermining to my relationship.

But I never thought about it from the POV of emotional vampirism, but yes that rings true. She LOVES being a rescuer even if you don't need rescuing.

Santaseasonalfireplace Tue 29-Nov-16 14:25:23

Yes yes TheCakes!

Santaseasonalfireplace Tue 29-Nov-16 17:16:15

Pondering this more.

So, the narc thing. Does it explain this? Whenever I'm under BIG pressure, or really need to rely on her - eg house move, going away for my birthday and she's minding the kids overnight, that kind of thing, she invariably kicks off. Not always a big screaming fit although that's been known, but changes the plans so they can't go ahead, becomes ill, accidentally double books herself. I end up dealing with that ON TOP of whatever else I have going on. It's like she gets stressed on my behalf!

ethelb Tue 29-Nov-16 17:44:50

Thanks so much for verbalising this. My own parents and PIL do it. I start a new job tomorrow, which I am very proud of. I have not had permanent work for two years since losing my last job in a nasty redundancy during which they were awful and just made everything worse and couldn't see why.
I avoided a family get together at the weekend, to avoid having to discuss the new job with them, and lo and behold my mother has invited herself to a visit I am making to another relative this weekend.

It would be fine if I wasn't in a stressful situation that she is going to pick and pick at.

I always told myself that it was just their anxiety being projected, but maybe its more than that.

Santaseasonalfireplace Tue 29-Nov-16 17:55:07

It's like they get into your head isn't it? That's how my mother feels to me. I've also noticed that things are only a good idea if they're her idea, from the largest to the smallest thing. We booked DCs birthday party at venue A, complete with food and entertainment, and even though it was a fine plan, and the invitations were printed, she kept saying "but what about getting X entertainer, Y venue and Z caterer?" Changes just for the sake of it. It really stresses me out.

Lottapianos Tue 29-Nov-16 18:02:12

That sounds like more control freakery to me. Nothing is ever quite good enough or quite right. There has to be constant picking at stuff, unwelcome suggestions, trying to take over. Drives you crazy

Santaseasonalfireplace Tue 29-Nov-16 22:29:42

It's like she has to have an influence on things that are important to me.

The making me cry thing, horrible. It's very manipulative. She went abroad for 6 months and without prompting, my childminder commented on how chilled I was. I've no idea how to renegotiate all this.sad

Walkacrossthesand Wed 30-Nov-16 01:49:20

Sounds like a situation that needs a combination of not keeping her in the loop when plansxare being made (because you know how she'll react and it's not what you want); the 'broken record' ('it's all sorted now mum, we're not going to change it') when she's pick pick picking at plans; and stonewalling when she's trying to get you to open up eg about new job 'it's fine thanks. How's Aunty maud after her op?' etc. Think of her as someone you need to defend yourself from, and yourself as a well defended citadel with the drawbridge up; think about scenarios and have responses ready. flowers

pallasathena Wed 30-Nov-16 07:22:48

I think some people follow a script in life generally. I notice it everywhere these days: in supermarkets, standing staring at a display of beans, within ten seconds there'll be at least three people barging in front of me to grab a tin or two. At a railway station, minding my own business, reading a newspaper, someone will stand next to me and scan the page I'm reading. Its annoying. There's no sense of 'other', its all about them, all about what they want not about what I want which, in both cases was to be left alone to contemplate the price of baked beans and the war in Syria.
Anyway, your mum is following, in my opinion, the 'I'm the Matriarch', script which means she has to react according to the socially accepted contemporary archetype which, given her generation and the dominant social influences surrounding her, manifest themselves in the shape of the rescuer/drama queen.
She can save the day you see, become a hero and write her own narrative by playing the role of: 'She who knows best and must be obeyed because she is the expert interpreter of all matters pertaining to how you are feeling and how you are supposed to feel'.
Its very wearing but I think that most families have at least one and its best just to ignore it.

SSF - I see you asked a question that nobody fully tackled (1716). My guess goes as simple as "talk is cheap". Your mum can make a "full-on Monet"* show of support, but not when there's any real effort involved.

* From the immortal words of Cher Horowitz. "Fine from afar, but up close it's just a big ol' mess" And Jane Austen herself couldn't have said it better.

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