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Mum is quite critical of me

(33 Posts)
BluebellFairy Sat 18-Jul-20 14:19:59

I live at home with my DM, DF, brother and sister (I am 22 and not financially able to move out just yet).

I love my DM and get on really well with her which is why I think it has taken 22 years for me to notice how critical she can be. I know she doesn't realise she's doing it and I know she does not have bad intentions when she is doing it. However I have noticed myself go to do things and not want to in fear of what she will say. I have quite low self-esteem and confidence and I think this may have contributed.

She never compliments me or my sister. Even on prom or graduation days when we are all dressed up my DM never comments. However when she sees my friends she will compliment them endlessly and gush over how beautiful they look. Even behind their backs she will compliment them to me. In contrast the only comments on my appearance I get are along the lines of "oh I don't like what you're wearing", "your hair is a mess", "oh that top looks awful" etc. When I was a teenager I kind of defected to her opinion as I trusted her but now I am older I realise she says it about things that are perfectly normal/fine. I have noticed her doing it with my younger siblings, like one of them ordered some new clothes and were really excited about them and my DM immediately started saying how they were awful when they really weren't. I know it is such a small thing but it really eats away at me. I have noticed that I dress very similar to my DM even though I am 30 years younger than her. She constantly compares me to my friends and her nieces. She is really over the top with her compliments of them to me privately that it feels like a dig in itself rather than her just being complimentary. It's like it is done to highlight all the ways I fall short compared to them.

She is overweight and I have constantly been exposed to her dieting, falling off the wagon, "giving up", commenting on her body in front of me. When I was 17 my friend developed anorexia and nearly died from it. Every time she saw my friend for the year leading up to my friend being hospitalised my DM would constantly talk about how thin, petite, doll-like my friend was and how I was now the "fat friend" and I should do whatever my friend was doing. I started dieting and there begun me following the path of my DM and going on diets followed by overeating and steadily gaining weight. I find her dieting difficult to live with as she is on and off. One day we will be having an unhealthy takeaway for dinner and the next day she will be restricting her food and back on her diet and then if I go to get some ice-cream or something she will judge me for doing so forgetting that the previous day she would have eaten the ice-cream too. It is like this nasty competitiveness.

When I didn't know which A-level options to pick my DM told me I should just get pregnant instead. She is desperate to be a grandmother and hates the fact I chose to go to university and have no intention of having children until I'm 30+. She is constantly telling me that at my age she was married, my aunties were married, etc. We were watching a film together recently and there was a wedding scene and she told me she thinks that I will never get married, she will never have grandchildren from me, etc. It was so hurtful.

She also never knocks on my bedroom door and just walks straight in. I know it is her house but I need some degree of privacy. I feel on edge whenever I hear her upstairs as I know she will just come straight in and if I am on social media she will want to know who I am talking to, what I am talking about, etc. If I am watching a film or something she will want to know what film and then will judge me for watching it. I know it sounds like just making polite conversation but it doesn't feel that way, I have to feel like I have to brace myself to feel hurt by what she says. She says hurtful things all the time. I watch what I say so closely to try and avoid an opportunity for her to say something hurtful. The other day I met my friend and her boyfriend for a socially distanced walk and I came back and told her about it and she said "I don't suppose you'll ever get a boyfriend". I was just telling her about a nice day I had had and she had to drop that in.

For how involved she wants to be in things like how I style my hair or what I wear she does not care about the "big things". Around a year ago I was going through a really difficult time with depression and anxiety. There was I think two weeks were I barely got dressed, didn't leave the house, barely ate. In retrospect I should have been more proactive and asked for support but when you are in that kind of situation it is hard to pull yourself out of it. She didn't notice. I know I'm an adult but when she notices things like when my hair is looking a little frizzy I would expect her to notice when I'm going through a difficult time. When I tried to open up about it she told me I was pathetic and needed to pull myself together.

I know that these are all small things and individually most people (including myself probably) could just shrug them off. But it is the collective impact of it all. I feel so constricted by it. I feel like I have a lot of 'rules' in my head of what I can and can't do at home. Even today I am nervous as I have a parcel due to be delivered and I know she will want to know what it is, then she will say something negative about it, etc. I thought for a long time that I was just a private person but I am not with other people, only my DM.

Does anyone have any advice?

Thank you.

OP’s posts: |
Dullardmullard Sat 18-Jul-20 14:30:11

Yes it’s her house but it’s your you’ll be paying board surely. What would she say if you did.

She does sound like hard work to be honest.

Is there any way at all you can move out to a shared house/flat

The thing that sticks out is she didn’t notice your depression as most parents would. Now that’s worrying.

Perfectstorm12 Sat 18-Jul-20 14:54:52

I don't know if you are ready to question this, but how do you know this is true? 'I know she doesn't realise she's doing it and I know she does not have bad intentions when she is doing it.'

Shizzlestix Sat 18-Jul-20 14:55:51

Have you ever responded to her negative comments with ‘That’s horrible ‘ or anything similar? I think I’d be responding every time and not allowing her to be so awful to you. She sounds very unhappy, as do you.

Is there no way you can move out? Are you working?

mbosnz Sat 18-Jul-20 15:00:05

I think regardless of her intent, she sounds bloody toxic, and you sound so sad!

Poor wee lass. I know, you're a grown up, 22 with a university degree (incredibly well done, given your lack of mothering), but you sound like a few of my nieces, struggling to come to terms with their Mums in their lives.

I hope you can get the financials together to leave soon. That's what you need. Your Mum is fucking you up. To be blunt.

mbosnz Sat 18-Jul-20 15:00:59

Getting a degree, that is. . .

RednaxelasLunch Sat 18-Jul-20 15:02:52

Daughters of narcissistic mothers. Google it.

Your life will improve hugely once you are safely settled living away from her.

DDIJ Sat 18-Jul-20 15:09:27

She does know she's doing it and it is deliberate. It sounds awful for you and must be having an awful effect on how you feel about yourself.

Most mothers would be really proud of you for going to university but your mother has even tried to turn that into something negative. You must get away from her before she poisons your whole life.

You will get a lot of support and advice here. Look on the Stately Homes threads. So many people have experienced what you are going through. flowers

Are you in a position to move out into a houseshare at all? If not can you manage to save up for now and give yourself a date to aim for. It is so hard for young people now to house themselves but it will give you a sense of self back.

My mother is very similar and the relationship has never improved. I am now 50 and so many things in your post are familiar to me still. Please don't sacrifice your youth to her. There are lots of books you can read. Toxic parents is one. If you type that into amazon a lot of other recommendations will come up. You can get them quite cheaply on kindle. Look also on YouTube for videos about narcissistic mothers. The content might be very familiar to you.

AttilaTheMeerkat Sat 18-Jul-20 15:22:41

I would read and consider posting on the current May 2020 "we took you to Stately Homes" thread because I think you'd fit right in there too.

An overtly critical mother can really do a lot of emotional damage and that has really remained with you to this day. Its not as simple as ignoring someone like this because those comments stick and hurt. She has done you a lot of emotional harm. She is self absorbed, has a complete lack of boundaries (barges into your bedroom without knocking) and quite warped values to boot. She has also left you with an overall lack of emotional security. Most of the attention an overly critical mother gives her child is negative and all you are getting now from her is negative attention. It is not your fault your mother is like this and you did not make her that way. (I would also think her mother treated her the self same so such toxic crap can go down the generations. I would think that when you do become a parent yourself you will never treat your child in the ways you have been treated). You have a brother; has she favoured boys more?.

Where is your dad in all this?. What's he doing whilst all this is going on?. What he is doing here amongst other things is failing you as a parent too by failing to protect you (and your siblings, do they cop similar from mother as well?) from his wife's excesses of behaviour.

Ultimately you will need to get rid of the critical voice in the background of your life and I would look into moving out asap. Some mums, it’s sad to say, are plain nasty. It’s a terrible legacy to live with, and the sooner you minimise her impact on you the better. You may want to read "Will I ever be good enough?" by Dr Karyl McBride.

BluebellFairy Sat 18-Jul-20 15:25:39

@Dullardmullard Yes, I do pay board. I wasn't sure if her not noticing my depression was a problem as I don't really know what is normal for a relationship between a parent and an adult child. I know now I am an adult I have to be more independent but I guess even if you broke the relationship down to just being like adults living together in a houseshare I would still notice and feel a duty of care towards other adults I lived with? I think she is very passive and checked out as a parent. I can't currently move to a houseshare until I am more settled with work as I'm not sure where I will be working yet. Once I do I will definitely look into moving out.

@Perfectstorm12 I think to some extent there are intentions behind her comments. I think she hopes her negative comments will make me change. However sometimes I just don't get it. I don't get what her nieces/my cousins or my friends have that I don't. My DF has lots of narcissistic traits and is very difficult so I think in my head she is the "good"/"nice" parent. We also do get on well and have lots of days out of shopping and lunch etc. However I guess going shopping together does not override all the comments she makes.

@Shizzlestix I have started to respond to some of the comments but to be honest I find them so hurtful that I kind of shut down and feel really small and like a disappointment. I can't move out just yet until I am more settled with where I will be working (sorry if this is vague, I don't want to be too outing on here).

@mbosnz Ah I don't know why but your comment made me tear up. I will definitely prioritise moving out as soon as possible.

@RednaxelasLunch I will do some research, thank you. This forum (under a different username) helped me realise around 6 months ago that my DF likely has NPD or at the very least a lot of narcissistic traits. I am not sure whether my DM is the same as she does not have the entitlement or manipulative behaviour that he has. I will do some reading though.

OP’s posts: |
DDIJ Sat 18-Jul-20 15:32:25

Being financially generous to you is another way of masking what she is doing. It has the effect of making you think she is being nice and makes you doubt yourself about all the toxic things she does.

AttilaTheMeerkat Sat 18-Jul-20 15:35:02

And when you leave do not go back to visit them very often if at all. If you go onto have children protect your children from your parents.

These people were not good parents to you when you were growing up and have left their own scars on you. I would also consider finding a BACP registered therapist to work with (interview such carefully and at length before deciding to use any particular one) and one at that who has no familial bias about keeping families together despite the presence of mistreatment/

BluebellFairy Sat 18-Jul-20 15:40:42

@DDIJ Thank you for your reply. I have posted in the Stately Homes thread before about my DF but I didn't think my DM was 'bad enough' to write about on those threads but I guess I was wrong. I will definitely look up some books to read on my Kindle (that is another example, I can't order the paperback books as she will want to know what is in the parcel!) I will definitely prioritise moving out.

@AttilaTheMeerkat Her Mother is exactly the same. My DM always tells me how lucky I am to have a DM like her and not like her DM as her DM never gave any affection and was always critical. But my DM is the exact same. I also dislike seeing my grandmother and get really nervous before seeing her as she is also very critical with me and visits with her feel like an interrogation of every aspect of my life for her to pass judgement on. To some extent my DM favours my brother a little but I think that it is because he is more extroverted rather than because he is male. However she is still critical of him but less so, he is very confident and just brushes it all off. My DF most likely has NPD. He knows my DM is critical and will very occasionally stick up for us but it usually has the motive of wanting to make us take 'his side' or make him come across as the good parent. I will look that book up, thank you.

OP’s posts: |
Perfectstorm12 Sat 18-Jul-20 15:46:28

But if that is her approach, that tough love shit which my Mum was a fan of too, you are the living reason why it is flawed...because you are miserable and depressed. You're not changing you are just taking it all in. You need to some how get some distance from her.

KatherineParr4 Sat 18-Jul-20 15:48:21

It’s easy to write off the mother here as narcissistic and nasty. I suspect she is struggling herself and doing her best. She hasn’t had good parenting herself and so probably doesn’t know what it looks like.
I’m sure she loves you OP. She just doesn’t know how to show it in a way that makes you feel validated and cared for. Have you tried to talk to her about this? It is hard to give what you have never received yourself and perhaps your mum doesn’t realise the impact of her words.

It sounds like you both need your own space. Once you move out things will be easier and you can relate to each other as equals. Do you think she is struggling with issues in her own life ?

AttilaTheMeerkat Sat 18-Jul-20 15:57:54

Not surprised to read at all that your grandmother behaved the same way towards your mother; look at how she turned out. Toxic dysfunction can and does go down the generations.

Your mother is insanely jealous of you and has put you down at every possible opportunity. She is jealous of the freedoms you've had compared to her own life. She is bitterly resentful of your youth and opportunity, having spent the best years of her life raising you, trapped in a miserable relationship while her own youth slips away slowly forever. The nicer your boyfriends are, the more resentful and jealous she'll feel - and unfortunately she doesn't seem to have any self control, or feel the need to bite her tongue - she just lets the simmering resentment and jealousy boil over, burning you in the process. She may also fear you leaving her - and the best way to keep someone dependent is to destroy their self confidence and tell them they're useless - that no-one would ever want them.

You do not need their approval, not that they would ever give it to you in any event.

DDIJ Sat 18-Jul-20 16:02:24

She may also fear you leaving her - and the best way to keep someone dependent is to destroy their self confidence and tell them they're useless - that no-one would ever want them

This is key. It's no accident that she treats you like this.

Calibrachoa Sat 18-Jul-20 16:05:04

She sounds like my mum and I'm afraid you won't be able to change her. Your only hope is that in future you'll be able to move away and make your own family and friends that aren't like this. I'm nearly 30 years further on than you and i have done that. My only mistake was i only moved 20 mins drive away and once kids are in school etc it's harder to move further

AttilaTheMeerkat Sat 18-Jul-20 16:06:00


OPs grandmother treated OPs mother like this with the result being OP has a toxic parent herself. Instead of seeking the necessary help her mother did the same to OP as was done to her. Talking to OPs mother will be a waste of energy and effort as such people never apologise nor accept any responsibility for their actions.

For her own part OP can only change how she reacts to her mother. She cannot change her mother's behaviours. OP you do not owe your mother or father anything now, not even a relationship.

Spied Sat 18-Jul-20 16:18:09

Agree with pp. She's insanely jealous of you.
Inside she feels inferior so she wants you to too.
I grew up my dm telling me how pretty my friends were and she has said many vile things to me over the years including telling me it was only a matter of time before my partner left me for someone better looking.
She is incredibly concerned about what other people think about her and she sees me as a reflection on her rather than as a person with feelings.
Is this like your Mum?
She was actually very pleased I went to University as this looked good to the outside world despite telling me I was to thick to get in when I told her I'd applied.

BluebellFairy Sat 18-Jul-20 17:04:18

I think she does see me/her children as a reflection of her. When we would visit my grandmother I remember before visits she would be really stressed and would instruct us on how to behave. Even now I still put an act on when I see my grandmother, I always leave visits feeling exhausted as I have spent the whole time acting like a pretend version of myself.

When I told my DM I got a first at university she went "oh, that's good" and then asked me how to word the status for Facebook for her to brag. It was just something to brag about rather than an achievement in itself. When she would tell people in real life they would go "wow, you must be so proud" and she'd get embarrassed and change the subject.

I really struggle to believe she is jealous of me. There are definitely times when she is competitive with me for example when I order new clothes she will tell me if there is anything I don't like then let her see them before I return them in case she wants them, even though they wouldn't fit her.

She always wanted to be a mother growing up, it was the only thing she wanted out of life. I think she is disappointed with how it all ended up, particularly her marriage. I think that is why she wants grandchildren so much to get a do-over.

@KatherineParr4 I definitely empathise a lot with my DM and I feel guilty even posting this thread because I know it is a result of the way she was raised. However I feel like I can't bring this up to her as I think she would feel very hurt as she resents her own DM and is very distant with her for the same reason so she would hate to know she has continued the cycle. In my opinion, she is not very self-aware so I don't think she really reflects on her own behaviour. I think she has kind of just emotionally checked out. She always wanted to be a mother and it is all she wanted in life and I think it hasn't lived up to her expectations.

OP’s posts: |
Pancakeorcrepe Sat 18-Jul-20 17:24:04

Reading this was so strange, as she sounds exactly like my own mother. Even the last bit you say - my mother always wanted to be a mum too, it was all she wanted, but it then didn’t live up to her expectations. Motherhood and us the actual children are a disappointment to her.
You sound lovely. You will never be able to change her. Your job will be to seek your independence in the best way you can, build up your own life based on the talents I’m sure you have and surround yourself with good, supportive friends. I think you will absolutely blossom when you move out. Sometimes physical distance is needed when these relationships aren’t working out, so you can sort of remove yourself from her circle of influence.

DDIJ Sat 18-Jul-20 17:25:22

Well done on getting a first! That is a brilliant achievement and I'm sorry your achievement wasn't properly acknowledged.

Rhine Sat 18-Jul-20 17:27:03

Lots of us have mothers like this OP. I’ve known my DM is jealous of me for years. She doesn’t really like other women and sees them all as competition. She can be so bitchy and unkind about them (behind their backs, nice as pie to their faces!) and I always felt she saw me as yet more competition even though I’m her daughter. A cuckoo in her nest, she wanted me to be a mirror image of her and I’m not and that frustrates her.

Rhine Sat 18-Jul-20 17:30:22

Sorry I hit post too soon. The barging into the bedroom is very familiar. Mine did that because she didn’t understand boundaries. As far as she is concerned her children are an extension of her and she has the right to have access to us 24/7. My DB actually put a proper lock with a key on his door to stop her barging in and I remember he frantically shaking and banging on the door to be let in. She couldn’t get her head around his need for privacy from her because she didn’t seem had a being in his own right separate from her.

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