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FFS, I am right back to feeling like an anxious ashamed 10 year old all over again.(34 Posts)
This is a long stream of consciousness rant. Sorry.
My bloody mother. AAARRRGGHHH! I am a middle aged woman for crying out loud. I am usually so together, pragmatic, calm and accepting of the fact that no-one is perfect, we all make mistakes as parents. I am self sufficient, I don't ask for help from anybody, least of all emotional help. I am a coper and a 'get on with it and don't make a fuss' type. I bloody well should be, I've had a life time of practice, but I'm pretty damaged on the inside. I have dealt with it, buried it, come to terms with it, had therapy for it, I thought I was mended and now she's gone and raked it all up again. I feel on the edge of something I can't get a grip of.
I want to blurt it all out on here but what's stopping me is the fear that it somehow get back to her and she'll feel such hurt and bewilderment that I'd betray her like that after all she's done for me - never mind how I feel, have felt my whole life, I still have this need to protect her from the harsh reality of what is has been like being her daughter.
Emotionally, I am the mother and she is the exasperating errant child who needs my patience and understanding. It's always been like this. Because for all her many faults nothing she ever did was with malice or cruelty, just stupidity and self absorption.
She really thinks she's been this fantastic martyr mother, she tells herself and everyone who will listen this, still forty odd years later. I can't stand her being around my friends or my DH's family because I know after a couple of drinks she will turn every conversation around to how she was abandoned by our father when we were small and start waffling on about how hard it was for her, Christ, she's like the Only Gay In The Village but for divorced mums. It drives me fucking insane.
She's so in denial about so many things, she rewrites history and has the world's most selective memory and what drives me most nuts now is that she is so fucking judgmental of other young women with absolutely zero awareness of how she herself has behaved in the past.
Something has happened with her and I have gone into a period of binge eating to try to self soothe (something I have done intermittently my whole life when stressed or anxious as a coping mechanism) I KNOW why I am doing it, it's my childhood repeating itself and I can't seem to stop.
She's is/was not toxic, not intentionally cruel or abusive exactly, just so fucking emotionally unintelligent, so emotionally stunted and repressed (except when she's with a man, when she's the complete opposite of stunted and repressed) blinkered, so stupid and neglectful.
I did initially type 'mildly neglectful' but then I deleted the 'mildly' because it's has just dawned on me after 50 years like a lightbulb going on that NO! It wasn't 'mild neglect' it was neglect, plain and simple and I can give myself permission now to call it what is was. Just because she always insisted on good quality school shoes, we were clean and we were ticked off if we dropped our aitches, doesn't make us less neglected, just differently neglected.
I have been conditioned my whole life to see her as this struggling victim who had no choice in how my sister and I were parented and the stuff we had to put up with. But I see now that that is just not true. She frequently made MASSIVE errors of judgement (and is still making them) just because she wanted what she wanted, and felt entitled to 'have a life' (a sex life in other words) above all else.
She had no idea of sensible boundaries when we were children, used me as a sounding board for all her problems and burdened me with some pretty heavy stuff. I was trained to think and behave like an adult from a young age but I was a CHILD for crying out loud, I needed reassurance and routine and some sense of stability. I needed someone to look after ME.
She still has and has never had the faintest idea of how her self absorbed behaviour and weird priorities and her obsession with needing to be with a man impacted on us as children and the lasting damage it's done to my sister and I. My sister in particular was damaged in a more obvious way that manifested itself in bad behaviour at school etc, being a bit of a wild child. My mother dragged her off to a child psychiatrist, bewildered by her inability to just be a good low maintenance little doll that you could stand in the corner and ignore while you got on with your life. It never once occurred to her (and still wouldn't) that everything my sister did was a blatant cry for help for some decent parenting, some consistency and stability at home and for someone to listen to her.
My mother thinks she's a victim. Nothing is ever her fault. She takes no responsibility for anything, everyone else has let her down and even now something has happened and I know she thinks I am being an overgrown spoilt child and throwing my toys out of the pram, trying to manipulate her because I don't want her to be happy.
I had a little meltdown at her a few weeks ago for the first time in my life and blurted out some things that would have been a metaphorical slap around the face for her. I didn't intend to do it but she poked a hornet's nest and once I started I couldn't stop and she did look exactly as if she'd been slapped. There was a brief one sentence apology alone the lines of 'I'm sorry if anything I did made you feel like that.' and now she's gone straight back into self absorbed denial mode and is trying to pretend nothing has happened. Because that's what she does. That's what we do. Just bury stuff for the sake of remaining dignified and civil. She is incapable of taking part in any sort of grown up conversation where she might be found at fault.
Meanwhile, weeks later, I am slowly spiralling out of control and trying to eat my way out of this feeling of shame, fear and anxiety and a sense of having no control, just like when I was a child.
And yes I knew my father, he was equally useless and self absorbed and equally culpable in screwing his children up, but after many years of analysing it all, I've come to realise that I was conditioned as a child to see him as the pantomime baddy who was single handedly responsible for everything that was crap in our lives, but the plain reality is that she is as much if not more to blame for how I am feeling now.
Thank you so much for listening.
I don't really have anything helpful to say but I really feel for you. It sounds as if you had a totally shit time as a child.
Is it possible for you to just cut down contact with her? How often do you see her? I would be keeping her very much at arms length, although I know that's easier said than done.
Keep talking on here - you need to let it out.
Ahhh I get it. Shit.
I bet you feel better for saying all that tho....!!! Good for you.
But you know what, it's still all about her. Write a post about you. There was more about your sister that there was about you.
You're not re drowning in it, by the way. This is a blip and you've come out of them before and will come out of this too. Some distance would be good, but are you allowed distance? Are you going to have to reduce contact and then explain why? Etc and what goes with that?
I do feel for you but perhaps it's time to set some stronger boundaries and it really doesn't matter whether she gets it or agrees, or what she does xxxx
I would honestly think this post was about my mother if it weren't for the fact she died a few years ago. So many similarities. It all came to a head when her last abusibe husband did something horrendous just before they were meant to go on a massive holiday and cruise and because of what he did he couldn't go. She came to stay with me, begged me to go with her, I dropped everything in my life to go and support her as I really wanted her to leave for her own good. Five days into the holiday I overheard her on the phone with him arranging for him to fly out and for me to go home. I absolutely lost my shit, all of the hurt came out and I felt like a 13 year old again.
After that I cut contact with her but a few months later she was diagnosed with cancer. She changed significantly, and began to see all the things she'd done wrong. I was having issues myself in my personal life and I started to see the difficulties of the situations she had been in and I couldn't say for sure I would have handled a lot of it any better than she did. We ended up getting really close in her last 18 months which I'm glad about, but it took her apologising and understanding the pain she had caused me as a child in order to be able to do that. It's incredibly frustrating when someone will not acknowledge their behaviour.
Personally I would walk away from her until she can grasp the impact of her actions on you and your sister.
Well done for writing that all out!!
I have no experience of that kind of abuse but I was a binge eater for over a decade (linked to delayed grief from a bereavement) and i found that individual humanist counselling really really helpful in getting out the hurt , which therefore meant I stopped binge eating and I haven’t now for around 8 years. I truly thought I would binge for the rest of my life.
Hope this helps- please do consider seeking help as the shame and secrecy that surrounds binge eating is just awful.
Good luck OP
Feel for you, Astrid and I think something2say makes a good point.
Could you write a post about you?
I could have written this post, I'm amazed by how much I am sitting here nodding and thinking 'oh my god, someone else'
I'm so sorry, I have no real advice, just wanted you to know that you're not alone. I've been no contact with mine for nearly 3.5 years and whilst on one hand it's the most freeing thing, I feel overwhelmed with guilt. I'm due to start counselling soon to work some of it out.
because it really is shit. Pm me if you want to talk more
If your childhood and your mothers behaviour affect you so much even now then I think some sort of counselling would be therapeutic for you. I agree that it does sound as if her self absorption after your dad left her feeling bitter and unable to parent you and your sister and she obviously did not seek help for that. Don't let this continue to define you and address it so you can eventually move on. Having a full and frank conversation with her when you are calm would be a good step forward or write her a letter. I am presuming you do not want to go NC with her? She sounds selfish and maybe emotionally abusive but only you can decide how bad it was. You need to let go of it though and realise it was her shortcomings as a parent that have left you feeling like this but none of us are perfect parents and she is still your mum.
I hope you manage to get some help dealing with your anger so you can move forward as it sounds like it is eating you up still decades later.
I read your post and nodded often. Yep. That’s my Mum
I hope it helps to realise that you are not alone and that there is a script these mothers use to keep you in line which has nothing to do with you or who you are as a person. It has to do with them, their inadequacy and you could be any one. I know it helped me when I realised that.
Go to counselling, read the stately homes thread and continue the path to separating from her and the anger with pass.
Are you me op? Been nc for 17 years. Bliss.
What an awful woman.
Lots of parents split up and move on. That has nothing to do with kids. My ex cheated and this one has so many problems but the one thing I'm grateful for, is my children. I wouldn't change a thing because if I did, I wouldn't have my kids.
My job isn't to tell them how awful their dads are, or what I've sacrificed for them. And to be honest, the 'sacrifices' are just about me because I wanted my kids and I wanted to raise them. So they're not really sacrifices.
I'm not sure I agree with you about it not being deliberate or malicious. It actually is. She sounds like she could be a narcissist. Does everything have to be about her? How is she about your or others problems?
So sorry to read your post OP, my mum was/is exactly like your mum except for the 'needing a man' bit. Other than that, identical.
Particularly the bit about offloading heavy shit onto you, using you as a sounding board as if you were an adult.
My mum remembers none of this however acutely I do. If I ever refer to any of it she shuts me down INSTANTLY.
FOG... I have it in spades.
I have asked myself if she might be a narcissist but I am not sure. If it's a spectrum then she certainly has a few traits but not full blown. On the face of it she's a nice woman, mild mannered, non-confrontational, she is not a diva, not a shouter, not highly demanding, not hyper critical, not controlling, just a woolly and self absorbed and sticks her head in the sand about so many things, struggles to see anything from anyone's POV but her own. The thing is, she doesn't seem to realise that she has done anything that might have been ill advised or damaging for us. My whole life she's sat there with a straight face and said:
'It was always very important to me that you had the chance to maintain contact with your Dad in as much as that was possible given how he was, and however badly he'd treated me I tried very hard to make sure I never projected that onto you and that your right to have a relationship with him paramount and a totally separate issue to how he'd treated me.'
Except that wasn't actually how it was. She thinks it was, but it wasn't. She gave him every opportunity to see us and he frequently chose not to for long periods of time. He was flaky and irresponsible and didn't give us any money, which wasn't her fault but she handled it badly and banged on and on about it to the point where our self esteem was in tatters and we felt unloveable. We were constantly reminded that he was living comfortably with the OW, his new stepdaughter and their new baby together so it wasn't that he couldn't do family life at all - he just wouldn't or couldn't do it for us.
She would tell me about conversations she had had with him or my step mother when we were penniless or shoeless or whatever, that just reinforced to me that I was really low down in his priorities. I should not have had to hear that stuff because it made me feel like shit. But that never seemed to occur to her. I was around 7, 8, 9 when this was happening.
Anyway, he has to take a large part of the responsibility for that, and that isn't even the main issue really. It's other stuff.
No you absolutely did not need to hear all of that and it is wrong on so many levels.....
This seems very much like my mum too. I spend a lot of time thinking it’s me, or I’m mad. Other people point out that’s it’s her but the abuse seems so subtle.
Everything is e everyone else’s fault etc, offloading adult problems on me as a young teen, so much rings true.
I will say that we still have a relatively good relationship now. I’ve learnt to avoid difficult conversations and expect nothing from her. Lowering the expectations has been the winner. Also I do remember love and other things from my childhood which were not bad. And she had a difficult time too, widowed twice etc.
You’re not alone though. Counselling would probably help. It could take years to unknit though! X
Seems like there are quite a few of us who are feeling like this. Going through something similar this week I have decided that my approach is going to be to be to stay in touch, be polite, kind without being taken for a mug but under no circumstances will I trust her with my heart again. Not sure if that works for you or will help... xx
She's a really shit mother. I think that even if your father hadn't left she would have found something else to be a martyr about. However hard it may have been whilst you were young, it only lasted what, 10ish years and ended 3 decades ago? She's deliberately made whatever your dad did or didn't do seem worse and carried on banging on about it to make her sacrifices seem bigger. Bringing kids up on your own can be a bit difficult but it's not unsurmountable and plenty of women do it. And it's only temporary. Why she's going on about it even now is ridiculous. My Mil does the same and actually she palmed off childcare to her parents and didn't even live where her children were for most of their lives. She tells everyone how she worked and raised her 4 children by herself. In fact she was ensnaring her second and third husband who were married at the time. She's a narcissist and everything is about her. She is so damaging to her children and all but one don't see it. Major sense of obligation and feeling guilty.
You've got kids yourself op? If so, you must see it. My dh doesn't see anything but a woman who's spent we while life suffering for others. Everyone else sees a woman who has never done anything for anyone that isn't about her and damaging or trying to damage anything that would be nice for her children but isn't about her.
Most of my issues are around the fact that I felt like my sister and I were bit part players on the sidelines in her life story which was all about her trying to find Mr Right. The fact that she never seemed to find him was, we were left in no doubt, because her first priority was us. Except again, it wasn't, not really. If it had been, she'd have been a bit more discreet or just binned men off altogether for a while.
She had a revolving door of men in and out of our home and her bed our whole lives. Sometimes she was seeing more than one person at a time and they were both sleeping with her in our house. There was no effort to keep any of this hidden, no sensible period of waiting before we were introduced to the man of the moment, she was so indiscreet, so in a rush to just do what she wanted to do.
I can't remember a time when she was single for more than a few weeks although the various relationships and their durations are all blurred and overlapping in my memory. She says her main long term boyfriend was for seven years except that can't make sense because that would take from when I was six to 13, but there were several others in that time.
She also seemed to specialise in 'exciting' but unavailable men who were either married, or just not prepared to commit to someone with children. When she did meet someone who would commit she'd announce she was marrying them after five minutes, but five minutes later she'd have ditched them because they weren't really her type after all.
We were introduced to all of them immediately and if we didn't like any of them then tough, she deserved a life because she'd made so many sacrifices for us and it had been so hard for her.
She had a 22 yo boyfriend when I was eleven. That was fun.
When I was about fifteen she started a long running affair with a married man who was apparently the love of her life. She got PG by him and had an abortion which she told me all about. She would have loved to have his baby because she loved him and it was all so tragic, but he couldn't leave his wife because of the children and this was evidence that he was a decent man at heart apparently. So she had to abort this baby that she dearly wanted.
Shortly after this she started sleeping with another MM while still seeing the first, and she managed to get pregnant again (yes really....) and had to have another abortion a few months after the first one. Again, I was the designated agony aunt for all this, aged 15. One time the first MM turned up unannounced for the evening and the second MM was there. The first MM didn't know about the second MM and the second MM he had to be bundled out of the back door. I was witness to all this. Exciting stuff hey?
One time when I was about eight I walked myself and my sister home from school to find her sitting up in bed naked, having a post coital fag with some bloke I'd never seen before in my life. He was introduced as Gordon, the man who lived in the flat downstairs. I don't recall seeing him again after that.
The hardest bit of that for me is that she always worked full time and never picked us up from school, we either had childminders or mostly we were latchkey kids from a very young age. So for whatever reason at this particular time she wasn't at work, but prioritised a casual shag over being there to pick us up from school for once in her life.
Yes, so she's rewritten history. She's a narcissist and everything is about her. She didn't do the most minimal of what a mother should do. She didn't care about how any of this would affect you, because it was and still is all about her. She's not some tragic figure who sacrificed everything to look after her children after she had been abandoned. Christ, I look after my pets and have sacrificed more for them than your mother has ever done for you.
Oh man, I'm so sorry you've experienced this. I wish I had more words. It sounds remarkably similar to DPs mum without the divorce and boyfriends but with the same martyr complex. Everyone else is to blame. She's very shouty, rude and brash and i have to keep my distance from her and my kids because she totally screwed my DP up, 30 years later he still struggles.
Ugh, I'm just so sorry
The thing is, my sister and I always wanted her to be happy. We were pleased if she met someone who seemed nice but it never seemed to work out. She once got engaged to someone she'd known for two months. We liked him, we were planning what bridesmaids dresses we would wear and practicing writing our names with his last name. And then as quick as he arrived he was gone.
When I was about fourteen she did it again, told us she was getting married to someone she's known for a few weeks. We hated him. We were going to have to move to his house and change schools apparently, which at 13/14 was the worst news ever. Then it was all over. She will probably say she never went through with it because it wasn't right for us, but if she'd waited to get to know him properly before introducing him as a would-be permanent fixture in our lives she'd have realised it was not right and my sister and I would have been spared all the trauma and the fear of upheaval.
Sorry this happened to you there’s a great book about this called children of the self absorbed or something like that worth a read
Maybe some counselling would help
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