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Cutting off my mother - but what about my DS?

(84 Posts)
borrowedlight Wed 17-Jul-13 07:37:35

I have had a difficult relationship with my mother since my Dad left when I was 11. She is a 'strong character' at best. We argued constantly through my teenagers years and this would get violent - she would often hit me during an argument, and once had her hands round my throat saying she was going to 'fucking kill' me. All this seemed fairly normal to be honest, my parents had always argued. Plates would get smashed (by my mother). She apparently hit my dad on their honeymoon.

I realised it wasn't normal when my first boyfriend noticed bruises all over my arms. By then I was practically at university and was able to largely cut her off. Throughout this period (age 12 to 19) my mum had periods of depression. When I was 12 she told me she was suicidal. It was just me and her living together and I was scared to leave the house incase she was dead when I came back. When I was at university she once rang and said if I didn't come home, she was going to kill herself. So I came home.

I kept my distance from her for years after I left uni. Occasionally we would row and I would receive 10-15 page sides of A4 letters describing in great detail what a terrible person I was. She has fallen out permanently with her brother and her best friend of 20 years. Her mother wrote her out of her will and asked her son to write to me when she died and encourage me to get back in touch with my father. There is noone left brave enough to stand up to my mum.

But then my husband left me when my son was born. My mother swooped in and took over. She did everything she could to help - childcare to ironing. The problem is that I really just wanted to get a cleaner (she thinks it's wrong to get a cleaner) and get a childminder ('why would you ask anyone but me'). So of course I was stuck - if I asked her to back off a bit, she would get very upset and write me another letter. If I let her get on with it, she would critique every aspect of my life on a daily basis, my food, my clothes, finances, my parenting, my cleaning, my sex life (my boyfriend lived an hour a way and she said I 'went a long way for a shag').

This all came to a head when she said she never wanted to see me or DS ever again. She wrote me an 18 page letter telling me that I was so self-absorbed, that I hadn't noticed she was 'hour by hour trying not to tie herself to the rafters'. Then she changed her mind and I agreed for her to pick my DS up after school 2 nights a week. He adores her and her him. I was scared of what she would do if I said no in any case.

So now this brings me to today (thanks if you are still with me!) and I have an opportunity to move away with work. If I tell her she will go nuts, and likely move to be near us. What I really want to do is upsticks and leave, never to have contact with her again. But that would mean her not seeing my DS. I don't know what to do. Part of me wants to save him from the pressure she brings (she has written to me saying that DS helps her 'cope with feelings of despair'). This is the woman who wrote to me and said 'when you enrage me I feel perfectly comfortable giving you my rage' and 'when you see (what I do) as interference and not love, I want to hurt you back'. But she is his grandmother.

What would you do? I am terrified of her.

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 17-Jul-13 07:41:31

Move away. Your DS will cope. I know he adores her right now but in a new home with new friends at a new school he'll have far too much to occupy him than to keep thinking about granny. You'll feel calmer the further away from her you get. There is no obligation on your part except to give your small family (you and DS) the best life possible. What can she actually 'do' except fire off more poisonous letters or blow hot air?

Good luck with your new job and new environment. A fresh start sounds long overdue

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 17-Jul-13 07:44:12

"she will go nuts, and likely move to be near us. "

If she moves to be near you, she's on your turf as it were. This puts you in the position of power. BTW, as she sounds unbalanced, have you ever considered asking her GP to call round and do a mental health assessment?

MonstersDontCry Wed 17-Jul-13 07:47:54

Completely agree with cogito. You need a fresh start and this is the perfect chance. Another might not come again. if she sends you another one of her letters, just rip it up. You dont need to read about what a terrible person you are, because you aren't. Good luck to you and your DS. smile

chicaguapa Wed 17-Jul-13 07:48:53

I think you also have to consider the effect that your dysfunctional relationship with your DM will have on your DS, now and in the future.

FWIW I cut ties with my dad over 2 years ago and DC (now 11 & 8) have only asked about him once. hmm

Are you thinking of leaving without telling her where you're going so she can't move to be nearby?

Retrofairy Wed 17-Jul-13 07:49:39

Oh gosh OP absolutely take the job and dont give her your new address. She is probably far more dependent on your ds than he is on her and ultimately as he gets older the pressure will be bad for him and he will become more aware of her undermining you. From an outside view its a no brainer.

Katisha Wed 17-Jul-13 07:56:01

Suicide threats are a very good way of controlling someone. Next time you get one, you must send the police round.
And if she DOES try and go through with it ( which I doubt because she's been controlling you for years with threats) then IT'S NOT YOUR FAULT.

borrowedlight Wed 17-Jul-13 07:56:13

Thank you.

Yes chica I am. I am worried I will move and she will just come too. It will never end otherwise. My friend once took my DS to rugby as he'd had a sleep over with her DS - my mum found out at school and my friend called me at work very upset because my my mum 'turned on her' and had been 'down her throat' in the playground trying to find out why I'd missed it, who I was with and that she'd never missed anything. If I pour milk in DSs cup, she will go back to the fridge and top it up a millilitre because 'every millimetre counts'. It feels like the film 'hand that rocks the cradle' film sometimes.

Coro Wed 17-Jul-13 07:57:43

My Mum has issues that have made life did difficult for me and Ds. We had a massive row and have not had contact now for 8 months. It's been so much better. I was worried about my Ds having no contact but it turned out he was rather scared by her erratic behaviour too. My ds is 9& we're doing much better without her often counter productive help.

Be brave and make a fresh start. It's daunting but much calmer and more pro active on the other side. smile Be strong.

Snazzyenjoyingsummer Wed 17-Jul-13 08:01:02

You need to protect yourself and your DS and moving is probably the best way to do that. Has she had any mental health support all this time? I would go to your GP and tell them all this and ask for advice on how she can be supported - ie not by you.

LillyofWinchester Wed 17-Jul-13 08:01:17

I think moving and not cutting ties is the best thing to do all round. The only reason to tell her would be for your DS but I think you'd be protecting him from her in the long run. If she could attack you like that physically and emotionally she's likely to do the same to him as he grows up, or at best manipulate him and involve him in these games.

I appreciate cutting her out like this would be a huge step - many people would have cut ties with her long ago for the behaviour you describe, I really think it would be worth you seeing a councillor at the same time to work through some of this stuff and to make you confident in your decision.

LillyofWinchester Wed 17-Jul-13 08:03:43

Sorry, that first sentence is suppose to read: cutting ties. Ignore the 'not'

Meringue33 Wed 17-Jul-13 08:21:58

She hit you? She could hit him.

AttilaTheMeerkat Wed 17-Jul-13 08:35:43

Some parents should never have any access at all to their grandchildren; your mother is a prime example.

You did not cause your mother to be the way she is; her own family birth did that lot of damage to her. What if anything do you know about her own childhood?.

If she is too toxic for you to deal with she is also too toxic for your vulnerable and defenceless child to have any form of contact with.
Many children now adults who were raised by such toxic and damaged people often have FOG - fear, obligation, guilt with regards to the parent.

See this as a new start, move away and do not give her a forwarding address. Take some power back. Counselling for your own self would be a very good idea.

I would also read "Toxic Parents" written by Susan Forward as well as posting on the thread on here entitled "well we took you to Stately Homes".

AttilaTheMeerkat Wed 17-Jul-13 08:36:45

Toxic stuff like this does seep down the generations; you have and remain profoundly affected by your mother's dysfunctional behaviours and she is not above doing the same damage to your child also.

Ipsissima Wed 17-Jul-13 08:42:46

The most critical point is that you know her behaviour does affect your DS, and he has now voiced his own fears.
I think you should make the move, as you obviously are ready to go 'no contact'

It is never an easy step, carrying its own load of angst to deal with, but for me (and many iothers) it is absolutely the best thing we ever did.
I suspect this will also be the case for you.

Go!! and make a new, free, and happier life for yourself smile

Treague Wed 17-Jul-13 08:49:05

She will visit all this on your ds, as soon as she feels you are not taking it from her.

DoubleLifeIsALifeHalved Wed 17-Jul-13 08:53:30

She sounds really disturbed and also, not a nice person at all. The violence and nastiness is not normal, and it must have had a huge effect on you growing up.

And for her to sail back into your life and completely take it over when you needed help is awful... She sounds disgusting and you must be very unhappy living like this.

Your son would benefit from a nice grandma in his life, but he doesn't have one of those, and all those toxic behaviours will effect him even if he's not showing it currently. Even if she keeps up non violent / non nasty behaviour towards him, her reliance on him is not healthy, and the way she treats you is deeply distrubing and will effect him no mayter how you try abd shield him. She will either try and get him to victimise you too, utterly soul destroying for you and teaching him very bad lessons about relationships... Or she ll turn on him too.

I can imagine how easy it is to feel you shouldn't break a bond between him and his grandma... But the bond isn't a functional one, and you have every right to step in and protect your son from future harm. Feel strong about that, it's you being a good mum, don't feel guilty.

Would you be able to completely cut off contact as you moved? She sounds like she won't take no for an answer so it would be better for you to disengage completely. Would that be possible?

LifeofPo Wed 17-Jul-13 08:54:30

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

TalkativeJim Wed 17-Jul-13 08:54:40

Please protect your child.

Move away and just don't give her your address.

As your DS gets older, she will feed off him in the way she has and does with you. It's poisonous and hugely damaging.

Quite seriously, if I were in your position, I would take the job, arrange housing, find a way of keeping her from your home during the time the movers are in, and leave behind a letter saying that you want no further contact, you have kept all her letters and will use them as evidence to get a restraining order should she track you down.

I speak as someone who has cut ties with some very dysfunctional close family members for the sake of my children and the health of our family unit - I could cope with them until my children came along; I don't want my children to have to learn how to, because the act of having to learn that is damage in itself.

borrowedlight Wed 17-Jul-13 09:32:09

Snazzy - she hasn't had mental health support. It's hard to explain but she is bloody scary and intimidating, also very intelligent and articulate. If I asked her GP to assess her would probably hold it together while being assessed, and then do something terrible to take revenge on me. When my dad left she took a permanent marker and wrote a letter to him on his front door. She recently phoned the police because her neighbours treated their side of her fence (she had agreed to it years before). I'm worried she would do something to my house, or phone social services and make a false accusation.

Doublelife - I would really like to go, and write a letter after I have gone. My friend says you can pay removal firms to do it all for you, so you can literally go and leave them to it. Does anyone know if that's true?

Attila - she says she had a cruel mother. My grandma adored me and was lovely to me. But then my son would say the same about her. So I don't know what to believe.

My son on the whole is a very good boy - but a couple of times she has told me when I pick him up that he has been naughty (I do believe her) and so she 'savaged' him and wanted to tell me in case he talked about it. By this she means getting up in your face and shouting. This is what I worry would become more common if I moved away and she had him for longer periods, especially as he gets older and finds his own voice.

dontgowadingin Wed 17-Jul-13 09:48:17

Wow you could be talking about my own mother. I know how you feel.

Me and my DB finally took the desion to walk away from ours.

Once my on my brothers 16th birthday he opened his bed room door after hearing rustling and found my 'dm' trying to Hang her self. It was all for show.

We would usually have an episode at Xmas,important birthdays . She was violent, a bully, piss head , tried it on with 2 of my boyfriends.

Nothing we could have ever done could have changed her and we had to walk away. I couldn't have her mess/ life emotional blackmail spilling in to my dd life.

You need to leave.

C4ro Wed 17-Jul-13 09:49:57

That's quite a pressure on your young son- to both be responsible for keeping grannies despair at bay whilst having to suck up the odd "savaging"...

I don't think this a healthy sort of grandparent I'd want anywhere near my son. I'd certainly move but I'm not sure how much of a flit-in-the-night it needs to be. Would she really move to be near you?

ShimmeringInTheSun Wed 17-Jul-13 10:03:33

It isn't your son's responsibility to help your mother 'cope with her feelings of despair'. He's a child, and needs protecting by you from the abuse your mother is constantly dishing out , otherwise, it will spiral down the generations....believe me, I know this only too well.

Move house, don't give details of your new home/life, and live happy and well.

One more piece of advice. If you do leave it for the removals to pack up your things after you've already left, make absolutely sure that they are fully aware, that on no account must they give out any details of your new /location to anyone, no matter what sob story/reasons they give.

Same goes for your neighbours, friends etc - don't tell them where you're going....and make sure that your new details are not displayed on the public electoral roll.....same goes for the 192 online directory.....make sure your details are not added to that.

Hugs for you, I hope you make it.

borrowedlight Wed 17-Jul-13 10:06:13

don'tgowadingin - yes Christmas and birthdays, even my wedding day. Last year I planned to buy her tickets for Paris for her Christmas present - I bought her a Paris guide book from DS as something to open when I told her about the rest of the present. Then last minute she wrote and said she couldn't subject herself to Christmas morning at mine, so I gave her the wrapped book on its own. I never got to tell her about the tickets (she refused to speak to me on Christmas Day). We came back from a post-Christmas holiday and my DS found the present on the doorstep with a letter explaining that me giving such a gift was bad for my soul. A book may have been disappointing, but that felt a little over the top.

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