Gransnet forums


Mother-daughter relationship breakdown

(17 Posts)
Peacelily321 Mon 08-Mar-21 16:15:15

I'm reaching out for other peoples' perspectives on the relationship (or lack of one) that I have with my mum. It's making me really sad and the last year has made it worse.

In the late 70s, I was a forceps delivery and it indented the left side of my head and took a while for my face to normalise post birth. As a result, I never had skin to skin contact with my mother as I was put into a perspex box until the consultant could assess the damage. My mum recently confessed that she worries we don't have a natural bond and I have to say I think that's true.

I had a traumatic childhood growing up with a physically abusive father who also had Aspergers. At the age of two, he physically assaulted me, then again at the age of four which caused half of my hair to fall out just before starting school. My mum says I rejected cuddles and appeared to be self-contained. I now know this was actually signs of a traumatised child. I had to endure violence and unpredictability from my father until mum finally asked for divorce when I was eleven. I was constantly on alert and walking on eggshells around him. When I've asked my mum why she allowed dad to continue the abuse for eleven years, when she knew it was enough to send him to prison, her response has been, "I wouldn't have been able to send you to a good school without his salary."

Mum remarried two years later to a man with two older sons who bullied me as I went through adolescence. Although my stepfather has been a more positive force in my life, he has also been extremely jealous of my presence and I have felt increasingly pushed out of having any relationship with my mum. It's got to the point where I'm scared to do the eighty mile trip to see them in case it's a wasted journey.

I've never felt all that cherished by my mum. There have never been photographs of me on the mantle piece and she's never said I'm beautiful or praised me for my hard work. All I've heard her say is that I look like my father or behave like my father and she doesn't feel comfortable. I'm heartbroken. It's not like I can do much about this. I feel guilty for being me. As a result, I'm guarded about how I behave and how I might come across on a daily basis.

When I was eighteen, I ceased contact with my father and changed my surname to try and give myself a new identity. My mum pushed for this to happen for me and I agreed. My father subsequently threatened to write me out of his will. On his death ten years ago, he proved the threat and I had been written out of the will. My younger sister took the entire inheritance and has not had much contact with me since. My mum did absolutely nothing to fight against this or try to right the perceived wrong. I felt really unvalued and guilty for being the cause of upset and division. I am estranged from my sister now as having any contact with her causes me to have panic attacks and trauma emotions. My mum's attitude regarding the will episode was that we were adults and we had to sort it out amongst ourselves. I got no advice about contesting a will or defending my name from her or anyone.

Additionally, after one term at university, I came home to find my bedroom of eighteen years had been converted into a study and mum asked me to sleep in the guest bedroom. She hadn't warned me that this would happen.

Whenever I'm ill (I recently had surgery on a kidney), my mum will suddenly become more ill or erratic so that I can't even discuss what's worrying me with her. She doesn't give me the space to openly talk about what worries me.

I've seen how other mums are with their daughters; really close, openly discussing their emotions, live close to each other or make plans to do nice things together and my mum has never bothered to plan anything. It's always been me who has suggested doing something. Because she has so many allergies/illnesses, it's impossible to buy her a present or take her anywhere to eat because there's never anything she can have so I've given up.

I think I'm at the point of giving up entirely with her. She's been unhelpful, unsupportive, emotionally unavailable and ambivalent at best. Despite all of this, I'm an extremely loving person who has finally found a really wonderful man to spend my life with. Mum has even judged this and said he's not good enough but we've ignored this as it's a standard response from her about most things.

I feel as if I would be better off taking a long break from her now so that I can work through all of this and start to feel more positive about myself without being under her ambivalent shadow. Trying to win her love has almost destroyed me. She claims to love me etc but then she doesn't follow through with any actions or gestures.

Her most recent comment about her relationship with me and my sister was that she thought it was nice that she finally had the sisters she'd always wanted. I had to remind her that she's our mother and we are her daughters and she still has responsibilities and a role to maintain.

Smileless2012 Mon 08-Mar-21 16:50:50

Hi Peacelily and if this is your first post, welcome to GN.

I agree that you'd be better off at the very least taking a long break from your mum so you can work on your own self esteem.

There a couple of things in your posts that I wanted to comment on. The first are the events surrounding your birth. Our eldest son was forceps delivered, and as a result was indented on both sides of his head. This together with the fact he was a blue baby meant there was some delay before I had skin to skin contact with him, as he was taken to the baby care unit.

I don't know if this will help you or not but not having that immediate 'skin to skin' bonding has never made any difference to our relationship.

The other point is regarding your father's will. You quite rightly IMO stopped contact with your abusive father and took steps to keep him out of your life.

I don't understand though, why you appear to be upset/angry that he disinherited you making your sister sole beneficiary. I would have thought that having taken the decision to have nothing more to do with him, that would have included him leaving you anything in his will.

I'm not sure what you think your mum could have done about this or should have done.

Concentrate on the "really wonderful man" you have to spend your life with and consider some counselling to help you come to terms with the trauma you've experienced, which may enable you in the future to re establish contact with your mum.

Good luckflowers.

B9exchange Mon 08-Mar-21 16:51:09

You have had a terrible upbringing, your mother plainly doesn't have any real concern for you, but it is wonderful that you have a new relationship. I think your best bet is to try and find some acceptance that things will not change, and that you no longer have to seek your mother's approval for anything. I really would suggest some counselling or CBT so that you can move on with your new life, and try and put away all the hurts of the past.

silverlining48 Mon 08-Mar-21 17:01:42

If its of any help the skin to skin thing (in my experience of childbirth mid late 70s ) was not somethimg which happened then. The baby was born, wrapped up in a shawl, and given to mum for a cuddle, and possibly a feed, but nakedness wasn't part any of it. I had never even heard of this until much later when i saw it on a tv hospital programme.

You had a troubled childhood, i do understand how painful and distressing that can be because i had similar with an abusive father and a sibling whom i no longer see. I have allowed what happened to me affect my life, i am in my 70 s now and i am angry with myself becase it is still part of my story. I let him win.

Dont let this continue to poison your life, You are not a child any more, you are in your 40 s with a good partner that you are happy with and maybe this could be the time to try to focus on your happiness. While not forgetting, because you wont, don't let this unhappy start spoil the rest of your life. Try to look forward, its the right direction. That way you dont let them win.

Nonogran Mon 08-Mar-21 17:25:31

I don't have any advice except that which has already been given. Put some distance between yourself & your Ma for a bit. Keep her at arms length.
You sound like a lovely & very articulate daughter, a daughter to be proud of, so chin up and hopefully after Covid you can have a lovely summer full of absorbing activity to try and put all these issues behind you. Look forward and try not to hanker for what will never be. Acceptance is key maybe for what you are never going to be able to change? Focus on yourself and your partner. Don't worry, be happy.
Sending a big hug.

Eviebeanz Mon 08-Mar-21 17:43:17

Hi peacelily
I am sorry that you have had such a bad time of it all. Experience tells me that you can spend an awful lot of time "what iffing" and at the end of the day it doesn't achieve anything and doesn't change anything. Also from experience my advice would be to do as much in terms of contact as works for you. It sounds as if your mum will only rubbish your new relationship - so don't give her the opportunity. Sometimes the best family is the one you make for yourself. Wishing you the best of luck ?

Shandy57 Mon 08-Mar-21 18:03:50

Big hugs Peacelily 321, so sorry to read your story and how you suffered. I'm estranged from my 88 year old father, and know he'll leave me out of his will too, but he is a dysfunctional adult and incapable of loving people, his first love is money.

I'm glad you have a great relationship with your partner. Work on this relationship and remember to love him every day.

Hithere Mon 08-Mar-21 18:29:31

Your mother blaming how you were born to justify the lack of bond is the sorriest excuse how she abused you when you were growing up

No child should be through what you went through

Grandmafrench Mon 08-Mar-21 18:45:42

Peacelily that's a very articulate post and you sound like a very warm and caring person. But.....I feel you are wasting your time, your emotion and your life on someone who clearly by her ongoing behaviour is doing nothing to deserve having you in her life.

She sounds like a very flawed character who has made many mistakes with regard to your upbringing and possibly needs space now to reflect on this and make up her mind what she would seriously hope to have in any future relationship with you. But I'd keep away. For a good while at least. You don't seem valued, you don't seem appreciated or to have any place in the life of the erratic, distant and shallow person that your Mother appears to represent.

You must stop trying - stop trying to be someone you feel might win your Mum's attention if you do a) or b) or change to suit her changing moods and demands.

I would guess that deep down she has lots of guilt regarding her failure to ensure that your childhood was as good as it needed to be. But she doesn't want to face up to that now, or answer questions or discuss a past which only makes her feel uncomfortable or guilty. She'd rather blame you.

This is not your place in life and never think you have encouraged such treatment. You deserve so much better and it seems that you have now found someone who can make you truly happy. How wonderful! Hold onto that. Work to make sure of your future happiness in your relationship and forget all about the past, your Mother's part in it and the disappointment and sadness which drags you down whenever you have contact.

You don't need them. You don't need money from someone who abused you, you don't (any longer) need excuses or confusing explanations as to why you have no bond with your Mother. You have explained it clearly in your post and it has nothing whatsoever to do with skin-to-skin contact as a new born. Your Mum is, and possibly always was, obsessed with her own feelings in a very volatile relationship with your Father.

But you are free of all of that, you have everything to look forward to. Be proud of who you are and the fact that you can make someone else and yourself very happy. Be proud of what you've achieved, how you're loved, and look forward - not back. That's not the way you're going!

I wish you every happiness and the strength to forget all of the the stuff you can't change. Being in a loving relationship with your new man will soon help to replace the struggles you have had. Any contact with your Mother must be strictly on your terms and if you feel that it's all too late for that - that's her loss, you've had enough. Your decision from now on. Good luck for the future. This is sent with a hug !

V3ra Mon 08-Mar-21 19:09:31

That is such a sad story, I'm so sorry for you Peacelily321 I could cry.
You did nothing to deserve that saga of abuse by so many people. Dreadful.

Take a break from them all now, don't phone, don't visit. You owe them nothing.
Focus on your relationship with your wonderful man. Neither of you needs that negativity spoiling things for you and weighing you down.

It's time for you to live in the sunshine of life and be happy ☀️

Okdokey08 Tue 09-Mar-21 22:37:23

Dear Peacelily, you have lived your life it seems, seeking approval, love or acceptance from two people who for different reasons have been unable to provide it. Your father, who seems from your description to have been a sorry excuse of a human being, and in my opinion could possibly have made you feel like he regretted his behaviour if he had included you in the will, but chose to the end to remain unworthy of forgiveness from you. I do believe you should have been included in his will, but I don’t see that as your mums doing that you weren’t included, and at least you are not indebted to him in any way. Your mum I feel, probably carries a lot of guilt that she didn’t do more to protect you, and perhaps you remind her of her own weakness for that, and whereas she might not see it as a weakness but more of a sacrifice to have stayed to have the finances to support your education. I believe the scars of your past will take a long time to heal, these scars will always be with you, so I know it’s not that easy to just carry on and ignore all the things that’s scarred your life, but just like we would use make up to make our imperfections less noticeable, you too must use your experiences and knowledge of how these people make you feel, to avoid them making you feel imperfect. It will be hard, but you’ve been through harder, re-invent yourself, stay away from all the negative people and practice being kind to yourself, every day, put yourself first. You just want to be needed and loved, you deserve to be loved, so start with yourself, I think you are an amazing woman, so enjoy the positive things with your guy. I’m
Not sure if there’s a grandparent or an aunt that your close to, if so, let them be your surrogate mum. There’s a lot of mums out there who are not the biological mum of their children, but are just as good, and sometimes better. Don’t let your past spoil your present or your future. Heard a saying the other day, “to get what you want, you have to lose what you have”

OnwardandUpward Tue 09-Mar-21 23:00:04

Im so sorry. I have a similar experiences.

My mother was sectioned after giving birth to me and becoming dangerous towards me. I dont know the details and have never wanted to ask. I thought about accessing my medical records, but Im not sure if I can deal with it. Like your Mother, mine has always been emotionally neglectful and abusive but blames me for the abuse. I notice yours blames you for not wanting cuddles.

I am truly sorry. I've had some therapy and am still having therapy, it's a good idea to have some if you can.

Remember, this is not about you. It was never about you. It's about her faults and failings as a mother that she is unable to bear because she is weak so she projects them onto you. You were a wonderful baby and wonderful child, Im sure you are a wonderful adult now- but just because she can't love you does not mean you're unloveable. She has major issues, you can't change her but you can change the way you deal with her.

flowers Keep talking.

justwokeup Wed 10-Mar-21 02:51:42

I've not been in your situation so this is not advice, but I worry for you, if you do cut her off, would you be completely without family? It seems to have been really important to you so far to have some bond with your mother, even though many would have given up years ago. Would it be better to keep some sort of superficial relationship with her on your terms, now you have a lovely partner for support? Very best wishes whatever you decide.

Gran16 Wed 10-Mar-21 05:56:29

Hi Peacelily
I totally understand how you feel as although different circumstances I had a terrible upbringing by a mother who thought of herself before anyone else. I was only in favour when I was of use to her or she had something to brag about to others that involved me.
I'm in my late 50's now and in the last year have had barely any contact with her. She treated my father terribly and in his last few months of life lived as if she were already a widow. Following my fathers death 18 months ago I'm of no further use to her so she stopped contacting me, not even a text after a short spell in hospital last June which could have been life threatening for me.
I'm not upset, I feel free for the first time ever as she cant judge me to my face anymore. I dare say there is lots said behind my back as her sister has cut me off too but I'm over it finally.
It's her birthday today and mothers day on Sunday, I bought cards for these occasions, blank ones and just written to her from me so she can't tell everyone I didnt bother.
I would suggest backing away from your mum and letting her get on with it, nothing that has happened in your life is your fault and you need to put it behind you and concentrate on your life now onwards, I recommend counselling as it really helped me come to terms with it all.
Good luck for the future, time to be happy for being you thanks

OnwardandUpward Wed 10-Mar-21 09:54:41

Yes counselling and good boundaries, putting yourself first while still having "low contact" with her out of duty.

You don't need to kill yourself for her anymore, you need healing and to see that you're a worthy and nice person who can thrive despite her, not because of her

Peacelily321 Wed 28-Apr-21 10:42:06

Thank you everyone for your very supportive, heartfelt advice. It really helped. I've begun counselling to work through Complex PTSD. I'm relieved to have a diagnosis and that the constant anxiety which began when I was very young, can be worked through.

Bibbity Wed 28-Apr-21 11:04:36

I would honestly consider cutting her out. You don’t have to speak to her ever again from this moment on. You are free.
She will never be the mum you deserve. She will never give you the answers you want so why keep torturing yourself?!

It’s amazing that you’re seeking therapy and have your diagnosis. You can tell your therapist you want to cut her out and then they can hold your hand through this all. Reach out to hobby groups, different Facebook interest groups and really get involved. I hope your healing goes well.