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Am I being childish?(22 Posts)
To keep a loooong story shorter, I have never had a close relationship with my mother due to childhood emotional and physical abuse and her being unsupportive/ignorant of my depression diagnosis. I moved out of home at 18. Through therapy I have accepted that I will never receive emotional support from her and we will never have that close mother-daughter bond. That's fine.
In the last 5 or so years she has seemingly realised her "mistakes" (although isn't apologetic or showing any insight in the slightest) and is almost obsessive in wanting to know exactly what I'm doing, where I'm going on holiday, can she come along etc. She's been over to mine for Christmases and short stays (I live in a very pretty part of the country). I make an effort to take her out, daytrips, dinners etc.
However, the emotional warmth just isn't there. She's a stranger to me and I can't get over it.
I recently divorced and have gone on a short holiday to clear my head and be alone with my thoughts. Prior to departure, she called every day to ask where I was going, that I was selfish for not taking her with me and that it's hard for her too.
I admit that at the moment I have made a conscious decision to look after myself and make sure I can cope with work etc, considering how easy it is for my depression to become overwhelming.
Am I being a selfish child? Do I make more effort to be with her? At the moment I can't see past the fact that she was a terrible parent and is now basically a stranger to me.
I don't think you are being the slightest bit childish. You can't help how you feel. I have a similar situation myself. No abuse involved but my mother basically had no interest whatsoever in my life for a good 15 years. Her husband recently died and now she has become full on mother/nan again. I'm really struggling with it and totally empathise with how you are feeling. I plan to have a chat with her about it as soon as I can face it. Would talking to your mother help with how you are feeling?
"hard for her too"?!
How did you not laugh or shout at that?
You don't owe her anything and she sounds like a leech. I'd go very low contact - I certainly wouldn't be going on holiday with what sounds like a self absorbed drama queen.
Tingly - thank you for replying. I'm sorry to hear you're experiencing a similar situation. Re talking to her - honesty, over the years I've tried quite a few times but she keeps making either making inflammatory remarks such as "of course it's soooo bad for you" or flat-out denying anything she's done anything wrong. I waited and asked for some kind of an apology for the abuse for years but she denies it was "that bad". I feel like I'm done talking to her, the out come is always the same.
Ellisandra - thank you as well for your reply. I used to try and take the high road but now I can't anymore. Yes, her saying how hard it is is laughable. I'm not saying it isn't but I'm not responsible for making it better. She never did it for me and as far as I'm concerned she is reaping what she sowed.
I do recognise that because I don't have children, my perspective might be skewed but honestly, she was so horrible to me and kept repeating how she paid for my food, clothes and dance lessons growing up. That's not normal, I didn't ask to be born.
In her defence, I have to say that she doesn't leech off me in any way when we're together - or she pays for her share on holidays etc (we've been a few times when I was still trying to repair things)
You're not being selfish. You are guarded and protecting yourself because of how she's behaved in the past. That's human nature.
It sounds as if she has a personality disorder. She does not operate in a way that will make it possible for her to understand what you are trying to say to her.
I think you are absolutely right in doing what you need to do to keep yourself on an even keel. It sounds as if any contact with her puts this under threat
I'd love to go low contact but she phones me most days and when I don't pick up until a few days later, she lays a guilt trip - "why can't you call me, what's so important...." and I never know what to say. It's all brewing up and I'm scared I'll say "because I feel like shot every time I speak to you and I'm much happier without regular contact".
Have you come across But We Took You to Stately Homes thread? There are many people on here who are negotiating life as an adult with a parent like this.
Thank you for the replies - so much appreciated!
How do I tell her though? Because I can't just cut contact. I did that once (had a nervous breakdown in my early 20s, hospital, the works) and when I contacted her after 6 months, she proceeded to tell me that she's had the worst time, cried for me, was depressed etc.
NotYoda - I have, yes, thank you. I must make more of an effort. Previously I've found it hard to follow and get involved as people know each other and newcomers kind of get swallowed up in the stream of posts. I'll try again. Thank you
I hope that some more people will come and help here on this thread too. I know what you mean
It seems to me that what you're experiencing now, is the same behaviours as you were on the receiving end of as a child - the child of a self-absorbed mother - so in reality nothing has changed - it's just that you're now an adult.
Even her reaction after a period of no contact - she made it all about her, rather than empathising in any way with what you'd been through - speaks volumes.
Do you think you can build up your defences against her, see her and interact with her on your terms, offer just as much as you can spare, and no more?
Have your minibreak on your own - you're not being selfish, she can book her own if she wants one!
You are not being selfish! Your mother, however, is! She sounds obsessive and a little narcissistic maybe? I would tell her you need space and that she's being overbearing. I would also tell her that it is NOT selfish to want to go on holiday alone or be left in peace without daily check up phone calls! You need to be honest with her really. It doesn't sound like she's given you any reason to want her in your life so she should count herself lucky!
I hope you find a resolution soon and you feel better in yourself
Walk - thank you. She does come across like that but that's where I struggle because she did work a lot and we didn't have much growing up. She herself grew up in total poverty and it was obvious that she wanted better for herself and her children. She was very young when she had me and I think the abuse stemmed from her not being able to cope (not an excuse, just a possible reason). I have since disappointed her by not completing my degree due to MH issues although I've been working now in a good job for 7 years and MH is under control. I think she's very disappointed in me and doesn't hide it.
I agree that your mother sounds like she has done narcissistic tendencies : you don't sound to me like you are doing anything unreasonable
It's hard to accept that a parent has not been very emotionally nurturing (and do you have missed out on what other people got like air when they were kids) - sounds like you handle it well x
Thank you for the suggestions, Goosey. I've tried to be honest with her (admittedly, maybe not forcefully enough) and it's like she can't take it in. And then she cries and I feel like the worst child in the world.
Pass - thank you for the reply. I do feel sad when I look at what others have with their parents (my father took off before I was born and step-father ignored me) but I try to remind myself that it can't be changed so the best I can do is to be nice to people and not repeat the cycle with my own children, if I ever have any.
Very interesting that your worst case scenario involves you telling her the truth about how you feel. For healthy people that's usually a good scenario, especially when the explosion of truth is as mild as yours would be.
It is quite simple really. You don't feel close to her. The childhood damage was too deep and cannot be repaired. You've tried because you appreciate her making some effort to try to repair the damage but in the end, it hasn't worked, it is actually making you feel even less comfortable with her. You want to go low contact. You are allowed to do that.
If she's anything like my DM, she will lay a big guilt trip on you if you step out of line at all. This means you cannot make choices based on what will keep her happy. What keeps her happy, keeps you depressed and anxious. Although I might be projecting somewhat there.
You want low contact. With my DM I find it is easiest if I make myself a cow in her eyes, don't try to make it about her behaviour, who is right or wrong. (She'll never accept she ever did anything wrong. Ever. Except in a martyrish passive aggressive way).
I would send her a message (which she will show to everyone if she's like my DM), no chat first.
"Mum, as you know, my mental health isn't great right now and I am trying hard to get better. Unfortunately when we are together, I find myself falling into my old ways of thinking and it slows my recovery. I need space to sort myself out so I'm going to cut contact with you for a few months while I get my head straight. I'm sorry if that is painful for you, I hope you understand that I wouldn't be doing this if I didn't feel it was absolutely necessary for me to get well. Love TheMD."
She will phone you of course. Repeat only the sentences in the message. Any response other than understanding and cooperation shows she is the loon. You would be fine to hang up on her if necessary and ignore the barrage of calls as she tries every trick to get you back in your box (because she cares about her own needs and yours are irrelevant to her).
Again, I might be projecting but that's what I'd do.
Rabbit - that sounds great and makes a lot of sense. I should print out and frame what you've said! Thank you, what you've said is really helpful. I think email might work better for me, as I get really flustered and defensive on the phone. I hope your relationship with your mother is what you want it to be and I hope to get there someday too.
Tell her you're really busy with a project at work and won't be able to contact her much for a while.
Or ignore her calls. Just send a text ... saying you're tied up with stuff, but your fine.
Keep doing that and she may well get the message. If she tries to guilt trip you. ... hang up.
Then send a text ... saying the reception was bad ... but you're about to go out.
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