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To those on 'stately homes' - Help needed

(16 Posts)
youcannotbeserious Mon 11-Aug-08 17:20:02

I've posted a couple of times before - always been directed towards the Stately HOmes thread, but never joined... blush

Anyway, need some help on how to deal with my mother.

She phones me several times a day - not to chat, but to check on me because, although she SAYS she thinks I'm great, she doesn't obviously believe - her actions speak louder than her words.

Last week she called me and started ranting at the fact that I'm here alone with DS (DH works away every week). She wants me to go and stay with her and my dad, but I want to get DS settled here, and I want to make friends here too (only been here for a few months, so have very few friends locally!)

Her words were 'People don't mind you staggering through life with a dog but they do mind you staggering through life with a baby and they will take the baby from you'

I'm furious. DS and I are doing great together and I'm beginning to build up a really great network locally (What she doesn't want)

She won't apologise. I've mentioned it again to her today (she called to see if I've made progress with DS's christening as she wants him christened) and when I spoke to her about it, I simply got a line that she's 'making the best' of her life and isn't actually happy. She refuses to see I might have a problem with what she said.

I'm sick and tired of being told that 'she thinks I'm wonderful' but her every action screams that she doesn't think I can cope.

She calls me several times a day to check I'm OK (Not to chat) and freaks if I don't answer the phone. She doesn't let me cook, even in my own home, she brings her own food with her when she visits (and sleeping bags as she won't sleep in my bed linen...)

She thinks that, if I ever stand up to her that (i) DH has put me up to it or (ii) I've had an alcoholic drink. She seems incapable of believing I can make a rational decision.

I need a good, hard kick up the jacksie.

I am sick of putting up with her behaviour. Every time the conversation turns to somethign she doesn't want to talk about, we have tears.....


youcannotbeserious Mon 11-Aug-08 17:20:49

Oh, FWIW, I'm 36, married, financially solvent and happy with my home life.

ActingNormal Mon 11-Aug-08 18:23:51

Oh my god you should SO be on the Stately Homes thread! Your mother sounds like a nutter! It sounds like she wants you to feel dependent on her because she needs to feel needed. So she is trying to convince you that you can't cope and trying to get away with it by saying "you're wonderful" in the next breath! This is so controlling. It is all about what SHE wants, not what is best for you, and she will damage your mental health (by making you think you can't cope) to get what she wants!

ActingNormal Mon 11-Aug-08 18:25:47

Oh my god you should SO be on the Stately Homes thread! Your mother sounds like a nutter! It sounds like she wants you to feel dependent on her because she needs to feel needed. So she is trying to convince you that you can't cope and trying to get away with it by saying "you're wonderful" in the next breath! This is so controlling. It is all about what SHE wants, not what is best for you, and she will damage your mental health (by making you think you can't cope) to get what she wants!

electra Mon 11-Aug-08 18:41:05

It sounds like a control issue. I have a very complex relationship with my mother where she keeps me on a permanent "mean, sweet cycle". She also constantly tries to make me feel like I can't cope by myself while simultaneously making a big deal of what an awful burden I am. But the way you describe that rings bells for me!

youcannotbeserious Mon 11-Aug-08 19:04:44

my mother TELLS me she thinks I'm wonderful, but simultaneously ACTS like she thinks I'm a bag of shite...

This has been an issue several times before, but I've always let her off with it.

But, this time, it's gone too far. She didn't go so far as to say it, but she indicated that she actually thought DS would be better off without me (solely because I'm on my own and don't have a great support network at the mo)

Strangely, she was totally happy when she thought I was going to stay with them for a few weeks... but if I do that, I'll miss the start of the classes / clubs I want to join here.

Seems her own need for control overrides what's actually best for my DS?! hmm

I will not put up with this, I had such a strange upbringing, with no friends allowed, and was allowed no freedom until I'd left home when I was 18 (wasn't allowed to watch Dirty Dancing Cert 15 at the age of 17 because it had the word Erotic on the back) and my sister (aged 40!!!!!!!!!!!!!) Still has breakfast on the bed with my parents every weekday. F'ing weird!

quinne Mon 11-Aug-08 19:29:33

well the problem is not your behaviour, it is hers and you cannot change another person's behaviour so the only thing you can change is what you do about how she is allowed to interact with you.
For a start, I'd buy an answering machine and call screen with it. Only pick up for your mother once a day - at 8pm say.

TheArmadillo Mon 11-Aug-08 19:42:42

Sounds very much like my mother who is extremely controlling.

The one thing that has helped me is finally understanding that this is my life and I can do with it as I please. Which has taken a long time. She can only invade on it if I let her. I've found cutting down on contact gradually has been easier for me than stopping altogether.

When she phones you tomorrow I'd tell her you are going out for the rest of the day with no phone and you will speak to her the next day. If she freaks, then that is her problem not yours. She has caused it in herself not you. You are not helping her by allowing her to do so. Unplug phone from wall and switch off mobile if necessary.

Try that one step first and see how it goes. See how you feel. At first I felt terrified - I'd been taught that I wasn't a 'coper' and that I needed her. But after a while it felt great, fantastic and helped me take bigger steps.

My mum suggests every time I see her that I should leave dp and me and ds should live with her. She even plans what to do with her house round where I would live in it. She won't understand that I am not putting it off for a bit, but that it is Never Going To Happen.

[[ 1218479989&sr=1-1 If you had controlling parents]] is a great book that I am working thru. It's helping me understand why I react to her the way I do and how to change it.

Imagine your life in a year, 2 years - what would you like to happen? The first step is the most terrifying, but it gets better. And it is so worthwhile

TheArmadillo Mon 11-Aug-08 19:44:02

1218479989&sr=1-1 try this

smithfield Tue 12-Aug-08 15:16:27

Hi- Yes your mother IS controlling. You may know that already rationally but may not have come to terms with it yet 'emotionally'.

I say this because I get the impression that logically you know that what this woman is doing is wrong (and it most definately is), but you are still teetering between breaking free of her and feeling 'but she's my mum' (or am I talking about myself? hmm).

Anyway the book armadillo suggested is very good, and if you google 'controlling parents' then you will find a website that contains a lot of what the book contains.
There is also a good piece on control in 'Toxic Parents'.
Its good to start exploring yourself as well and the impact your upbringing has had on you as this will help you 'conciously' parent your ds and not repeat the cycle of abuse.
You are doing a great job being a mum, you do need a good netork of people who will support you but also 'trust' in your abilities at the same time.
Good luck and if you want more support you know which thread to look for dont you wink

Miggsie Tue 12-Aug-08 15:27:04

My grand mother did this to my mother, then she started on us kids (your mother is crap, I'm cutting my children out of my will, I'll poison your uncle etc etc), it was horrible.
We had to do duty visits to see her while she sat and spat poison like a benzedrine puff adder: gave me the creeps.

My parents finally had a huge bust up after putting up with this sort of thing through their marriage, they never resolved it and had years of misery from her dreadful behaviour.

She is your mum, but she also is not doing nice things. These are difficult to reconcile.

I hope you find the recommended articles useful, and please consider what she is likely to try to do to your children at some point and distance yourself from her.

It is a terrible situation for you.

youcannotbeserious Tue 12-Aug-08 15:44:12

I suppose that's what I find so difficult: my Gran did this to my mum (so much so that the last conversation I had with the woman was 'if you continue saying what you are saying about my mum, I'll walk ouy' - She did and I did. I thought I was standing up for my mum, but since my gran died, my mum's attitude has shifted completely and my sister gets all the credit (my sister always put up with my gran)

I'm just up to my ears with her. She likes to put the boot in all the time and tell me how shit I am, but should I ever say anything about her, we have wailing and tears and 'do I have any idea how hard her life is?'

I do realise that her life is pretty hard (or has been) but I can't make it my problem. I would, but she is impossible to live with.

smithfield Tue 12-Aug-08 15:58:42

You cant fix your mum, its not your job. And you shouldn't feel guilty for absolving yourself of it.

This is why getting support from a therapist or the thread or both is vital because you will keep needing reassurance and support as you continue to queston yourself.

Miggsie Tue 12-Aug-08 16:03:27

My gran had a "stroke" and took to her chair in the front room for FORTY years and was waited on hand and foot and every time anyone questioned her it was "I'm an invalid".

This is an extreme case of control but this sort of emotional blackmail makes me shiver.
She also used to whack people with her cane (silver topped too).

But I am "out the other side" in terms of coming to grips with the toxic parenting in my family. It was dreadful getting away from it, and recognising her for what she was.
and it is so confusing, I used to think my parents and grandparents were infallible and perfect and did no wrong.
But we are all human, with flaws, and some of those flaws are hurtful.

smithfield Tue 12-Aug-08 16:24:04

Miggsie- Your gran sounds awful. Its amazing how people cant see the 'control' and accept behaviours as normal, because the people displaying the behaviours are family members. Especially elders and betters! hmm

Ally90 Tue 12-Aug-08 16:45:25

I think I've told you before to join Stately Homes hmm you just need the special words:

'I shouldn't really be here'

Then your a fully paid up member

Do you think, possibly...she needs to be needed? And infantilizes you to fulfil her own needs? And you are the judge of whether or not she is a wonderful mother. Bit off to be the one judging herself hmm think she might be a bit biased? Extreme nepotism?

Whatever you do, she will kick off no win situation. You start putting up boundries...she'll be there with a chainsaw put up the boundries and be prepared. And join the Stately Homes thread for support. And consider getting a councellor to help support you too.

Not many choices is there really...put up with this...and be damned by her...or put up boundries and be damned by her (emotional blackmail). But at least you will be standing up for yourself and putting yourself first.

And to help with what to expect...:

"Once you get going, most toxic parents will counterattack. After all, if they had the capacity to listen, to hear, to be reasonable, to respect you feelings, and to promote your independence, they wouldn't be toxic parents. They will probably perceive your words as treacherous personal assaults. They will tend to fall back on the same tactics and defenses that they have always used, only more so.

Remember, the important thing is not their reaction but your response. If you can stand fast in the face of your parents' fury, accusations, threats and guilt-peddling, you will experience your finest hour.

Here are some typical parental reactions to confrontation:

"It never happened". Parents who have used denial to avoid their own feelings of inadequacy or anxiety will undoubtedly us it during confrontation to promote their version of reality. They'll insist that your allegations never happened, or that you're exaggerating. They won't remember, or they will accuse you of lying.

YOUR RESPONSE: Just because you don't remember, doesn't mean it didn't happen".

"It was your fault." Toxic parents are almost never willing to accept responsibility for their destructive behavior. Instead, they will blame you. They will say that you were bad, or that you were difficult. They will claim that they did the best that they could but that you always created problems for them. They will say that you drove them crazy. They will offer as proof the fact that everybody in the family knew what a problem you were. They will offer up a laundry list of your alleged offenses against them.

YOUR RESPONSE: "You can keep trying to make this my fault, but I'm not going to accept the responsibility for what you did to me when I was a child".

"I said I was sorry what more do you want?" Some parents may acknowledge a few of the things that you say but be unwilling to do anything about it.

YOUR RESPONSE: "I appreciate your apology, but that is just a beginning. If you're truly sorry, you'll work through this with me to make a better relationship."

"We did the best we could." Some parents will remind you of how tough they had it while you were growing up and how hard they struggled. They will say such things as "You'll never understand what I was going through," or "I did the best I could". This particular style of response will often stir up a lot of sympathy and compassion for your parents. This is understandable, but it makes it difficult for you to remain focused on what you need to say in your confrontation. The temptation is for you once again to put their needs ahead of your own. It is important that you be able to acknowledge their difficulties without invalidating your own.

YOUR RESPONSE: "I understand that you had a hard time, and I'm sure that you didn't hurt me on purpose, but I need you to understand that the way you dealt with your problems really did hurt me"

"Look what we did for you." Many parents will attempt to counter your assertions by recalling the wonderful times you had as a child and the loving moments you and they shared. By focusing on the good things, they can avoid looking at the darker side of their behavior. Parents will typically remind you of gifts they gave you, places they took you, sacrifices they made for you, and thoughtful things they did. They will say things like, "this is the thanks we get," or "nothing was ever enough for you."

YOUR RESPONSE: I appreciate those things very much, but they didn't make up for ....

"How can you do this to me?" Some parents act like martyrs. They'll collapse into tears, wring their hands, and express shock and disbelief at your "cruelty". They will act as if your confrontation has victimized them. They will accuse you of hurting them, or disappointing them. They will complain that they don't need this, they have enough problems. They will tell you that they are not strong enough or healthy enough to take this, that the heartache will kill them. Some of their sadness will, of course, be genuine. It is sad for parents to face their own shortcomings, to realize that they have caused their children significant pain. But their sadness can also be manipulative and controlling. It is their way of using guilt to try to make you back down from the confrontation.

YOUR RESPONSE: I'm sorry you're upset. I'm sorry you're hurt. But I'm not willing to give up on this. I've been hurting for a long time, too."


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