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AIBU?

Always feel depressed after being around my mother.

35 replies

Pd1 · 03/10/2022 08:18

I really need help with how to deal with this. I’m currently very happy and have a lovely life but every single time I spend even just one hour with my mum I feel so sad. She always calls me names and makes me feel awful about myself. I have really low self esteem but I’m finally getting to the stage where I’m starting to like myself only for her to knock me down again. I’ll give you some examples.
As I was growing up she used to say things to me like I love you but I don’t like you, you’re selfish, you’re a bitch etc. she told me that she wanted to get me adopted when I was a baby and hated me. I always had a huge fear of being abandoned when I was a child and was very clingy and thought she would just leave me places. I’ve since realised that this is because I wasn’t securely attached. When I was about 15 I went through a stage where I would starve myself and I lost a lot of weight and my mum knew about this and took me to the doctors etc. When I was about 22 she said to me one day you’re fat, I said no I’m not and she kept on saying yes you are, yes you are and laughing. I was a size ten at the time so nowhere near overweight. She then got a photo out of me from when I starved myself and said you look great here.
When I was about 14 she went into a local restaurant and asked the owner if he needed a waitress on a Saturday and volunteered me to work there without even giving me a say in the matter. I was a painfully shy teenager and I really hated it. I used to come home and say I didn’t want to do it anymore and she wouldn’t let me stop. I was only 14 so it’s not like I can look back on it and think well you should have had a job at that age. Years later I asked her why and she said she just wanted me out the house.
I recently got married this year and she completely ruined my day. She sat there all day with a face on giving people really dirty looks. I felt mortified and it’s all people were talking about the next day. She also didn’t once tell me I looked nice but one of the only things she said to me on the day was can I wear your dress on my wedding day. I’m not even joking, those were some of the only words she said to me. Yesterday we went out for a meal and she told me I was such a cow when I was a teenager. I have no doubt that I wasn’t an easy teenager. I had really bad mental health problems and hormones going crazy. I also remember feeling that we were very different people and she would frustrate me like no one else in the world can. She’s so different to me and definitely brings out my worst side. My husband always says I’m lovely and one of the nicest people he knows and I feel like I’m my real self with him because he treats me with respect. But the way she said I was a cow yesterday has really hurt me yet again and I feel like all I want to do is cry. I always come away from spending any time with her feeling absolutely awful and sad.
How do I deal with this? I really don’t want to confront her because she’s impossible to talk to about things like this.

OP posts:
RedHelenB · 03/10/2022 09:09

You stop contact. And you know she's saying untrue things to bully you so don't believe them. Some might suggest counselling too.

AnwenDolly · 03/10/2022 09:58

She sounds like a toxic narcissist. Everything she says about you is how she feels about herself. She is projecting her negative feelings/traits/motivations on you.

My mother is very similar.

You are right to think there is no point in talking to her about it. She will never change, because she doesn't want or need to. She only cares about herself.

If you possibly can, cut all contact with her. If not, limit contact to the absolute minimum.

And please, please keep your children away from her. Narcissistic mothers are bad enough, but narcissistic grandmothers are a whole new world of pain and toxicity.

I desperately wanted a mother that loved me and hoped mine would change if I strived to be a "better", more "grateful" daughter. I failed of course, because it is impossible to please this kind of mother.

She remains every bit as bitter and vile as she ever was. Unfortunately, I ended up letting her damage not only me, but my children as well.

Good luck and remember, she is the problem, not you.

LuaDipa · 03/10/2022 10:02

You should stop seeing her.

She has bullied you your entire life. When you were younger you had no choice but you do now. You don’t have to tolerate her nasty behaviour. She hasn’t been a mother to you, you owe her nothing. Walk away and don’t look back for your own sake and that of your future dc. You deserve so much more than this.Flowers

ChaToilLeam · 03/10/2022 10:05

Stop seeing her. Just that.

Babdoc · 03/10/2022 10:05

I second the PPs who advise you to go no contact with her. Also check out the “stately homes” thread on Mumsnet- it is for the adult children of toxic and narcissistic parents, and you will find lots of support and the reassurance that you are not alone.
You might like to read the book “Toxic Parents” by Susan Forward, too.
This ghastly mother contributes nothing but misery to your life. Narcissists are incapable of change- they cannot even see or accept the problem, everything is always someone else’s fault - so there is no point in having relationship counselling with them.
The only solution is to cut her out or continue to suffer.
I broke contact with mine when I was 33, and never saw her again. Not a single regret and didn’t even attend her funeral.

TwinMama88 · 03/10/2022 10:09

There is nothing wrong with cutting toxic people from your life even if those people are classed as family.
We are adults and don't need to be bullied especially by our own family members.
Don't go for any more meals out with her or visit or anything else, and don't feel guilty about it.
You're gaining nothing positive from this relationship and we don't have to put up with this sort of behaviour just because it's our mother or 'you only get one mother'.
You will be happier not having her in your life.

Quitelikeit · 03/10/2022 10:10

Goodness!!! Why oh why do you continue to see this pathetic excuse of a woman?

she is emotionally abusive, toxic and dysfunctional

run run run

Gettingbythanks · 03/10/2022 10:13

She’s toxic, keep your distance.

arghtriffid · 03/10/2022 10:14

Mumsnet at it's best. Cutting contact and labelling people Narcissists is hugely damaging.

I would suggest, family counselling and trying to work through some of the issues you/ your DM has. If this doesn't help, reduce contact.

Lollypop701 · 03/10/2022 10:18

just because she’s your mum doesn’t make her a nice person or someone who should be in your life. If anyone else was treating you like this, or made you feel so bad you’d cut them off. Look at stately homes thread. It’s not you it’s her

Sleepymum5O · 03/10/2022 10:36

I had a mother who was very jealous that I had a nice life. Eg Husband, child, own home and financial security.

She wasn’t insulting like your mother, but would make little snipes at me. I stopped physical visits, but kept the phone calls. Eventually I left it so she would call me (before that I dutifully rang regularly). She only ever wanted to talk about herself and all the wrongs done to her.

I did once have a very frank talk with her. But it didn’t change anything.

Remember, sometimes a person will try to put you down, so that they can feel better about themselves.

She is bitter, jealous and possibly lonely. You have a lovely life and a loving husband. It will sound crazy to you, but you have the power in this relationship. You really do.

It would be very reasonable to cut contact with her, but I understand why it can be difficult. Perhaps see this as a one/two year project. Reduce the number of times you see her. Learn to grey rock her. Learn how set boundaries with her.
”If you call me names, I will leave. Read up on toxic mothers. Try baby steps to disentangle from your mother.

You come across as a really sweet person in your post, so believe in your husband, believe in your self. Treat your mother as a joke. “You won’t believe what’s she’s said now”. You need to move her from in your head as the powerful, all knowing mother she once was in your childhood, to the irrelevant person she is now.

Best of luck

TheDangerOfIgnorance · 03/10/2022 10:41

Gotta agree with the "Mumsnet at its best comment" that advice is very damaging. Start limiting contact to weekly or every 10 days, eventually making it every two or three weeks. Control what you discuss with her. I tell my mother nothing about my life, so she has no ammo. We have managed to rub along playing 'family' for decades like this.

LindyLou2020 · 03/10/2022 10:41

@Pd1 I just couldn't not reply to your post.
You have been severely emotionally abused throughout your childhood, and the abuse is continuing to this day.
There is no other way of putting it, and I'm amazed you have survived so well, to be honest.
You did nothing wrong and did not deserve to be treated that way, please believe that.
Someone has suggested family counselling.
That's one possible course of action, but I doubt that your mother would agree, or else she would refuse to take any responsibility for her behaviour.
Her issues are hers, not yours. You owe her nothing.
I personally would have no contact, and get some well-deserved counselling/therapy for yourself if you feel it may help you.
Going no contact is drastic, I know, and you may feel you can't. But the contact you are having now is doing you no good at all, and you would have nothing to feel guilty about.

arghtriffid · 03/10/2022 11:25

Her issues are hers, not yours. You owe her nothing.

Now that is bleak.

A good therapist may help this relationship. OP doesn't owe her DM anything, but surely repairing one of the most important relationships, in our lives is worth some thought.

I am sorry you have had a difficult time OP. Please reach out to get some help with this, it is really difficult to try to work this out by yourself.

HRTQueen · 03/10/2022 11:40

It’s horrible op the person who we should be able to trust we can’t

I limit my contact with my mum and I tell her very very little and nothing about my relationships no matter what the relationship is. She will always underhandedly try to knock my confidence and then started with ds that’s when I knew someone had to change

i would like to cut contact with her but I can’t deal with the guilt I know I shall feel I don’t want all that negative emotion this is the best I can do and it’s worked

First thing is accepting your mum isn’t on your side, it’s very painful but for me I felt until I could truly do that I would make excuses for her and I was stuck in a cycle

you may be able to completely cut contact and that’s great if not think of how you can manage the situation (you can create boundaries around yourself) and it comes easier with time

AnwenDolly · 03/10/2022 12:00

I'm sorry, but no amount of therapy or counselling (even in the extremely unlikely event of them agreeing to participate) can do any good when you have a toxic and/or narcissistic mother.

I suspect the contributors suggesting this as a potential solution are fortunate enough to have normal, loving mothers. Society doesn't like to admit that some mothers are bad.

Few people would suggest counselling or therapy to "mend" an abusive relationship with a spouse or partner. Abusive mothers are just as bad and the psychological damage inflicted by the one person in life you should be able to trust above all others can be worse than that inflicted by an abusive spouse or partner.

TheDrsWife46 · 03/10/2022 12:05

Hi @Pd1

You’re thread was just sent to me by a fellow mnetter as frankly it could have been written by me. I haven’t been on MN for 2.5yrs but I couldn’t not respond to you. Everything you have written, I experienced too “i love you but I don’t like you” is my mothers stock phrase.

What struck me most is how I looked at the responses you have received here for validation for myself. After lockdown had created distance/low contact between my mum and I, I tried to assert boundaries that if she spoke ill of me anymore; I wouldnt engage. And I havent.

The result was that my mum cut me off completely and started a smear campaign with anyone who would listen. Going no contact with your own mother is exceptionally painful, especially where your own “issues” originate in the fear that you would have been left or abandoned. It’s as though all of your worst nightmares have come to fruition.

I’m not going to tell you to go no contact because even though I’m there, I wasn’t ready for it. Therapy has helped massively. Please please if you can, arrange counselling because a good therapist will enable you to process all of those feelings and support you in using techniques like grey rock, low contact or being stonewalled etc and eventually no contact if you want it.

I would also recommend the podcast Insight run by Helen Villers and Katie Mckenna (both are on tiktok and insta) but their content specialises in exactly this topic and it is hugely validating to hear others experiencing the same and know that you are not at fault here. You deserve to be loved and nurtured by a parent even into adulthood.

Just to say that what I HAVE learned from that podcast and therapy is that it doesnt matter about the label of “narcissist” or “toxic” - that the behaviour is enough. You don't have to tolerate it.

I just wanted you to know that I saw this, felt huge compassion for what you are experiencing and that the conflicting emotions are far greater than simply “going no contact” because it is terrifying in reality. Therapy will change your life I promise you. Good luck❤️

CrustyFlake · 03/10/2022 12:09

You need therapy to try and undo all the damage that your mother has done. She is bullying you, and has been doing so for your whole life.

Also you should dramatically reduce the amount of time that you spend with her.

Babdoc · 03/10/2022 12:35

To the naive posters suggesting relationship counselling with your mother - this is NEVER recommended with an abuser, and will only make matters worse as the toxic narcissist attempts to manipulate the therapist and is incapable of even accepting responsibility, let alone changing their behaviour.
Separate, individual counselling for you may be useful in helping you to undo the damage and gain strength to split with your mother.

Pd1 · 03/10/2022 12:55

Hi everyone,

I just wanted to post to say thank you so much for all of your kindness and words! I’m feeling really overwhelmed reading them all and I finally feel heard and like I’m not just completely imagining it or being too sensitive. Every single time she does things like this (which is pretty much all the time) I come away thinking I must deserve it, or she’s right, or this behaviour is normal and I’m just being too sensitive. Every single one of you has made me see that it’s not me, it’s her. How I deal with her is another story. A lot of you have suggested completely cutting contact but I really don’t think I can do that. Someone said that they haven’t been able to do that with their own mum as the guilt would be awful for them, and that’s exactly how I feel. And I also feel like she would definitely start a smear campaign about me and tell everyone how awful I am. I did try to distance myself a bit from her after the wedding because I was so upset but she sent me a message saying don’t you need me now because you’re married. So that didn’t work. :(
I think I’m definitely going to seek some individual counselling as I need to find a way of undoing all the damage. I am slowly getting there. I spent years engaging in really self destructive behaviour and was in a lot of horrible relationships because I felt that was all I deserved. Now I’m with such an amazing, wonderful person who makes me feel so special and is my cheerleader every day! I also have a lot of great friends and people who seem to really like me. I remember a few years ago crying because I felt so overwhelmed with the kindness one of my friends was showing me at the time. I told my husband that I’m still trying to get used to having people be nice to me. That’s still a strange concept to me and I still feel confused when people are nice to me and genuinely seem to like me.
Thank you again everyone! I feel like I’m already healing this morning even before starting counselling!

OP posts:
Always4Brenner · 03/10/2022 12:56

Go NC that’s the only way to deal with toxic families.

SallyWD · 03/10/2022 12:57

She sounds awful OP. For someone to treat her own daughter like that I feel she must be a deeply unhappy person. I wonder how her own upbringing was. I can really imagine what a devastating impact her words have had on you throughout your life. I think it's quite hard to cut all contact but I would definitely try to dramatically reduce contact. I'd also make it very clear to her that her remarks are pathetic, cruel and unnecessary. Pretend they dont affect you. Don't argue with her. If she says you are/were a cow or a bitch just breezily turn it back to her and say "Oh yes, that's a typical remark from you, isn't it mum?". Always turn the remark away from you and back to her. She won't change but she needs to believe that her words have lost all power to affect you.

arghtriffid · 03/10/2022 15:12

this is NEVER recommended with an abuser, and will only make matters worse as the toxic narcissist attempts to manipulate the therapist and is

Armchair diagnoses again.

It is clear OP's DM, is indeed abusive but is she aware that her use of language is causing you distress? Is she a poor communicator?

Did she mean when she said "Can I wear your dress on my wedding day?" A compliment as to how lovely your choice of dress is or an attempt to make the day about her?

She may well be awful, but labelling her as a demon/ narcissist with no redeeming qualities is not healthy either( not you OP but other posters).

WowIlikereallyhateyou · 03/10/2022 15:21

AnwenDolly · 03/10/2022 12:00

I'm sorry, but no amount of therapy or counselling (even in the extremely unlikely event of them agreeing to participate) can do any good when you have a toxic and/or narcissistic mother.

I suspect the contributors suggesting this as a potential solution are fortunate enough to have normal, loving mothers. Society doesn't like to admit that some mothers are bad.

Few people would suggest counselling or therapy to "mend" an abusive relationship with a spouse or partner. Abusive mothers are just as bad and the psychological damage inflicted by the one person in life you should be able to trust above all others can be worse than that inflicted by an abusive spouse or partner.

I couldn’t agree more with you. No amount of counselling would help OP’s mother to stop being toxic. Non contact or minimal contact is your only option. Those suggesting counselling dont have narc parents!

Lottapianos · 03/10/2022 15:26

'I think I’m definitely going to seek some individual counselling as I need to find a way of undoing all the damage'

Very good plan. I have narc parents and they are still in my life, although very much on my terms and not theirs. I am in touch with them a lot less than I used to be, and I don't share anything personal or emotional with them, because I can't trust them to be decent about it. So no contact is not the only way forward, even though I know it is absolutely the right answer for some

I was in therapy for several years and it was by far the best thing I have ever done for myself. You can find a properly licenced therapist through BACP - highly recommend psychodynamic psychotherapy, which focuses on helping you to understand what you experienced in childhood as a way of making sense of your feelings today, and developing healthier coping strategies. Good luck

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