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Help me figure this out please(25 Posts)
So DH and I been together 10 years, have twin DSs aged 4. Relationship rocky of late but still good friends and co-parents. Nature of our jobs means that DH does a lot of the childcare/domestic stuff. This has been a fairly recent change (6 months). As far as I was aware he was happy with the arrangement. DM lives opposite end of country from us and has come to visit. She spent an absolute fortune on all manner of things for us. Clothes, cosmetics etc. Very generous but way too over the TOP. Kids fair enough she wants to spoil them but I near enough have a brand new work wardrobe!
After a few days she called me into her room to 'share'. DH had just finished cleaning up after dinner, swept and mopped floors etc whilst I bathed and bedded kids (DM hasn't really seen him being as domesticated prior to this visit due to different circumstances). He doesn't see it as being anything special, just what needs done. So anyhow, she starts going on about how she feels so sorry for DH being stuck at home with the kids a lot whilst I am living the high life- going to work (and I do happen to be going to visit an old Friend for 2 days on my own next weekend) and having the time of my life etc. whilst he will be abandoned with the kids. So the conversation started off being about me going away and what a shame it was for DH. I had actually already been feeling guilty and told her that I feel even shittier now. She was just kind of like oh maybe you shouldn't go, or you should all go together, that wasn't maybe such a foo idea etc. The time away was my Xmas gift from DH (along with a water bottle!) and he has said a number of times that he has no problems with me going- I think he even suggested it on the back of him having been away somewhere. He also on occasion does his hobby for most of Saturday so this was kind of 'my turn'. She then continued about what a shame it was for him now that he has to basically do a wife's job and that he is home with the kids most of the time and that he just seems like a sad man whose only purpose is to clean and take care of the kids (I don't believe this is the case, and I have asked him). I got very upset and started crying which then led into another discussion about how there must be something wrong with me because of being far too emotionally sensitive. She said she feels she can't give me 'constructive criticism' because I will just burst into tears and it is not normal to be like that. She said I obviously have issues within myself and said that I should maybe go and see a psychotherapist/counsellor to help me deal with whatever it is that I have/makes me not normal. She then said that she can't figure out what it is that makes me cry easily and that maybe I'm depressed etc. but this is not normal and so on.
I have never suffered from depression/anxiety (I don't think- I would know, right??). I kind of went along with it saying yeah I def have a problem, I'm damaged etc. And then she said she doesn't think I'm damaged but just need to get a grip. Which is it- I need professional help or I just need to get a grip?? She pointed out that she thinks my problem is only her and if my friends or colleagues said something (I.e.your hair is a mess) I wouldn't cry, but burst into tears whenever it's her.
Then moves back to poor DH having no affection and that I need to go out of my way to make him feel special and loved (cracks in relationship beginning to be visible to others i think) and said we need to make time for each other to avoid being just two people that live together. She has been there etc. and offered to watch the kids for a night and pay for me and DH to have a night away.
The conversation wound up with her saying I should go on my trip, and just put it down to a lesson learned (wtf?) and to not mention anything to DH as she doesn't want him giving her daggers/having a run-in. I gave her a hug and said sorry for doing this (crying for half an hour etc.) and she said don't apologise it's just the way you are.
There have been fallouts in the past. Once before she said she believes I have a deep-seated hatred for her and need Counselling to deal with my issues.
This is a mind-f*ck. Any insight into what is going on here?
Yes get a grip - of her throat with your bare hands!!
She is meddling in your marriage and how you and your dh have chosen to run your household. It's none of her business at all. . You need some big girl pants and tell her to mind her own business. . Giving you gifts etc doesn't t give her the right to criticise you or the way you are living your life. If your dh is happy for you to do the job you have and if that means he has to' help out 'in his own home with his own kids then what he hell is wrong with that??
It and def tell your dh the entire conversation - your loyalty is to him. . And he needs to know how crap she is making you feel.
I asked him if he was ok with me taking the trip, ok with his role (he is enjoying it and it has given him other opportunities) and if he thought there was something wrong with me! Then told him the whole conversation. I'm just trying to analyse why she is deliberately trying to make me feel guilty, insinuating I have mental health issues and then changing her mind saying no I'm actually just pathetic and need to get a grip?!
Your DM is very caught up in outdated stereotypes about women's and men's roles.
If you and your DH are happy with your arrangement it is none of her business. She's interfering, she's toxic and she's emotionally abusive, playing mind games.
With a mother like this, who needs enemies. Read Toxic Parents, Susan Forward.
This is so...manipulative on her part. The gifts are probably not gifts, but debt obligations. The gaslighting about your emotional state? Ugh! The wedge she is driving between you and your DH? Horrible.
All mind fucks. Intentional mind fucks. Mind fucks for sport.
I bet you have more stories....
Is it possible you cry easily in front of your DM because of your history with her? Does she have a habit of putting you down so as to big herself up?
Normal people do not accuse their children of mental health problems so readily. Normal people would be supportive of their children if it was a possibility, not using it as a stick to beat them with. I bet she's projecting about herself.
For your own wellbeing, you need to consider distancing yourself from her emotionally more.
Here's another book recommendation: Whose Pulling Your Strings?, Harriet B Braiker.
Be reassured. It's not you, it's her.
Jeez tell your mother to do one and keep her nose out of your marriage. Reduce contact with her to none or if you must see her, very low contact. She is toxic and must be avoided at all costs. You poor thing
she sounds awful
glad you told your dh
Do you cry a lot in front of her? And why did you cry and say you had problems and were damaged ? Why were you unable to say it's working well, this is my Xmas gift and thanks for your concern, then close it down?
On one hand I see it as none of her business, but I also know when my mother in law pulled shit like this I didn't sit crying and saying I wasn't normal, I just answered the questions and ended the conversation.
Oh sorry, it's your mum, not your mother in law. Ok I guess a history there?
Very blunt Blunt. Think yourself lucky you haven't been ground down by growing up with this nonsense since the day you were born.
Have a trophy and pat yourself self-congratulatory on the back.
Thanks all for your replies. I did wonder if she was playing games and projecting about my mental health. She tried to make me feel guilty and I did feel guilty rather than be defensive which I think is what she was expecting so she moved on to the next thing about how I must be mentally ill.
Yes there is history with her making me cry (and her being mean/falling out etc.) by criticising my hair, clothes anything. I am also quite sensitive too I think.
Me just kind of going along with it saying there must be something wrong with it I guess was a weird attempt for an easy life by just agreeing, but there was a sense that we both know it's not true and I felt she wasn't satisfied with me agreeing. DH and I discussed it and questioned if you really believed your child was emotionally damaged and struggling with their mental health, would you actually use the phrase "there's something wrong with you?" or "that's the way you are?" You'd be concerned and want to show support and make them feel better, right? I just don't get what she is trying to achieve here. Does she know that she is doing this and that the reason I cry is her? She says she can't figure out why I'm so emotionally sensitive- is that true or does she know (she said she thinks it's only with her)? I just wonder if she genuinely can't figure it out.
Thanks for the book tips- def going to get these and read on the train!
Oh and the gifts are getting embarrassing now- somebody mentioned indebted and I also said to DH it's kind of like she is trying to "own" me (she has bought me nearly every dress I own, designer handbags, expensive shampoo/conditioner, Jewellery etc.) It's like I can't really say anything because she's always so thoughtful/generous. It usually is my style for fashion and the cosmetics etc. is stuff that I need (obvs not the fancy version!)
Kids are spoilt rotten too, but then she runs out of patience with them.
Bubblingup- there are more stories. This is the first for a while though. I do wonder though- maybe she genuinely feels bad for DH and feels she has to voice it (that's her way, she's not one to keep her nose out of pipe down) and then when my reaction is to cry she's just like ffs not again when all she wanted to do was make an observation. The tears didn't come immediately. This was after 15 minutes of chat and me feeling like a really bad person for dating to go somewhere alone.
Its not you, its her.
Your mother is deliberately trying to undermine you by projecting her own issues onto you. She has not changed an iota really since you were a child. She is being very manipulative towards you here.
Do read "Toxic Parents" by Susan Forward and visit the "well we took you to Stately Homes" thread on these pages.
I would further lower all forms of contact and keep her well away from your children as well. These gifts are not gifts in the usual sense of the word because they are loaded with obligation; your mother is trying to buy your affections.
She will end up giving you spaghetti head.
Bullies often accuse people having a normal reaction to their nasty behaviour as oversensitive, thereby deflecting the problem onto you when they are the problem.
She provokes you to get an emotional reaction and gets off on your tears, distress and confusion.
It's really hurtful but people like your DM are seeking power and control over others. As her child you are a very easy target. She's capitalising on the inherent power imbalance between parent and child. She is controlling your autonomy and self-expression through clothes by giving the appearance of being kind and generous. If you reject it in any way she will see it as a rejection of her and she may well turn on you, calling you ungrateful.
Blimey I wouldn't have her visiting me again! She has ISSUES, do not let her meddle in your marriage.
Out of the Fog website may give further insight. FOG = Fear Obligation Guilt.
I also recommend learning about setting boundaries e.g.: Boundaries, Henry Cloud. It's very difficult to have proper boundaries to protect yourself when you have a controlling, suffocating DM.
Strikes me the lavish presents are a way of buying influence, of making you feel you have to listen to her. Then she uses that influence to put you down.
It's your marriage, your DH and it's absolutely none of your DM's business how the two of you live your lives.
I couldn't work out from your post whether your DM is still staying with you. If she's still around you could have a revised version of that conversation. If not, just make sure she doesn't metaphorically shred you again.
You and she have a history so she can make you cry for no real reason. We often seem doomed to repeat unhealthy relationships and it takes years of examining what's happening to get a grip on those old, damaging patterns. The only counselling you can get on the NHS these days are brief courses of CBT. If you can afford it I'd try a private counsellor. I found private counselling worth every penny.
This is all very helpful and kind of confirming what I thought- this is not normal. I do wonder if there is something wrong with me though, she has said this before.
She is still staying with me and will actually be here with DH and kids whilst I'm away. Her Husband is here too. His presence helps. DH said that I should avoid being in a room alone with her! She did ask me next morning how I am feeling and said to try enjoy the trip. So confusing- it's now like she feels bad that I feel guilty, but at the same time thinks I'm daft for getting upset about nothing.
I read it as your mil as well! Very unusual behaviour from a mum and very dated too.
Why is she at yours for so long? It sounds like she is in your life too much, knows too much and is poking her nose in. That would be hard work even if your mother was supportive of you.
I think Atlast is right. Your DM is far too deep in your life, poking and judging.
Do not assume that because your DM suggests that there is something wrong with you that she's right. My reading of what you describe is that she wants to demoralize you, to make you doubt yourself. This isn't loving or normal.
We are brought up to assume that our parents want the best for us. Sadly that isn't always the case. Perhaps it would help to regard her as "the enemy". I don't mean you should be aggressive, just that you should regard her interventions as ill intentioned. Because that's how it sounds.
As for you having anything wrong with you, we all have things wrong with us. It's called the human condition. Your DH loves you the way you are, so bollocks to your DM. Tell her to keep her beastly opinions to herself. to you, OP.
Your DM is projecting to make herself feel better, knowing there is actually something wrong with her not you.
When she buys your entire wardrobe of clothes, she is ensuring you look the way she wants you to look - not because she cares particularly about you but because you looking good reflects well on her image to others as your mother. The way she sees things, everything is always about her: what she wants, what boosts her image, how she can use other people to her own advantage for sympathy, adoration, attention seeking.
You can no longer blindly assume that your DM puts your best interests first and foremost, which you would be forgiven for doing since that is what normal parents do.
Children of self-absorbed people tend to be treated as either a golden child who can do no wrong or a scapegoat who does everything "wrong". It appears you are in the latter category.
It's a painful lightbulb moment but reading the stately homes thread you will find you are far from alone in your experience.
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