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Calling introvert grans

(89 Posts)
ExtravertvIntrovert Thu 19-Oct-17 13:42:40

Do you find it difficult to have a relationship with your grandchildren? Does your introverted nature make this harder? What about with your children? Do you find it difficult to tell or show them that you love them?

I have had a major falling out with my mother (71). She is an introvert and I (44) am an extrovert. I have spent my entire life feeling emotionally neglected by my mother as she has never managed to demonstrate her love to me. In fact, she tends to criticise readily but never expresses pride in anything I achieve, joy for me or just happiness of any kind. She is also completely disinterested in my children. She sees the negative in everything.

After she sent me a particularly horrid email (telling me how I was damaging my children and how my actions may lead them to suicide - my actions being that I want to go away for three weeks on an adventure challenge leaving my 12 and 13 year olds with their father), I'd had enough. So I wrote her an email telling her how hurt I had been for years about her emotional unavailability and lack of interest in my life (except for criticism).

She responded by saying 'I know I'm not what you want as a mother. We are just so diametrically opposed in nature. You are an extrovert and I am a total introvert. I do not have the nature to make an effusive fuss of the things you achieve.' She then proceeded on three paragraphs of guilt tripping why everything that has happened in our relationship is my fault for failing to understand her introverted nature.

For the record, I never asked for a fuss to be made, just a basic polite acknowledgement would be nice.

But do I just not understand introverts enough. Is this typical behaviour or does it sound like she has other issues going on?

Teetime Thu 19-Oct-17 13:59:05

Well my mother was just like that and only after her death did I realised I had just wasted over 50 years trying to please her when she didn't want to be pleased. I wish I had cut her off years ago. perhaps you should consider how much more time you want to waste on this. I do feel your pain though? flowers

ExtravertvIntrovert Thu 19-Oct-17 14:25:39

Thanks Teetime. I feel as though I have spent my entire life being the grown up in our relationship, tip toeing around my mother's sensitivities. She came to visit over the summer and I sacrificed having our family holiday so that I could spend two weeks with her, taking her on a trip to Scotland. I arranged everything but almost immediately on the trip, she started being her normal self, refusing to give an opinion about what she wanted to do, but anything I suggested, got a very lukewarm reception. According to her (when I raised it in my email) was that she felt that I knew the area better so didn't feel she should impose her opinion. But it made me feel shitty because I couldn't figure out if she was actually having a nice time, as it certainly didn't look like it. When I tried to raise it with her during the holiday ie. mom please tell me what you want to do so that you get the holiday you're after, she said that comments like that brought her to tears so she couldn't speak (?!?). Again, she blames this on being an introvert.

That doesn't sound normal to me but I would really love for some introverts to come and tell me if that is indeed how they feel. That they would rather say nothing, not venture an opinion and keep the peace (even though by not venturing an opinion makes it worse!)

Elegran Thu 19-Oct-17 14:52:04

Introvert/extrovert is not about praising or criticising your children, or about being cheerful or a miserable sod. Introverts are just as loving to their children and grandchildren, just as pleased when they hear that they have done well, just as upset when they are hurt, and they can express these feelings to those they love. They just prefer not to be up there on a stage throwing emotions about and (as they would put it) over-acting to please the gallery. You don't find introverts throwing their knickers at pop stars and screaming, but they buy just as much of their music, and play it too. Extroverts on the other hand are perfectly happy to be onstage over-acting, in fact they hate it when there is no audience.

So no, she is not just an introvert, whatever she thinks she is. She is either just selfish, hypercritical and cold-hearted, or she is emotionally damaged. You ask if she has other issues going on - yes, she probably does. What was her childhood like? Does she talk about it? Was she criticised so much that she can't praise anyone else?

Coolgran65 Thu 19-Oct-17 14:53:33

OP - sorry, I am not an introvert. However, I am the daughter of an introvert mother and fully understand your frustration. I also dealt with the lack of enthusiasm for anything other than criticism.

She died 12 years ago. For the last approx 3 years of her life she became such a lovely gentle person, sadly this was when she was suffering from Alzeimers.

I think perhapss an introvert is afraid, that they suffer from a low esteem and indeed can only worthwhile by putting another down.
I have this saying on my kitchen wall.

"Blowing out someone elses candle doesn't make yours shine any brighter".

Coolgran65 Thu 19-Oct-17 14:59:37

Elegran when I use the term introvert with regard to my mother I do believe there was an element of this. But I think you have a point in that there probably was a lot more going on. Never a visit to my school when I appeared in the school concert, signed the form refusing permission for me to do the 11+ because it was only 'posh' folk who went to the Grammar School. In truth I reckon she felt overwhelmed by the thought that I might go to grammar whereas it would have made no difference to her when she kept herself removed from it all anyways.

A caustic tongue came easily to her until near the end when as previously mentioned, Alzeimers took hold.

MissAdventure Thu 19-Oct-17 14:59:51

I would say I'm an introvert. I dont like a fuss, can't stand drama or attention. I enjoy my own company and need my own space. I dont think that makes me especially critical or ungrateful though; at least I hope not! I'm not one for hugs and cuddles, etc, I have to say, but my daughter assures me she feels loved, and that she had an idyllic childhood. smile

Booklady54 Thu 19-Oct-17 15:14:56

I suffered the same treatment from my mother for more than 50years.. Last year I was so tired of the effect that a lifetime of this behaviour had had on me that I went to see a Counsellor. She told me that this is a classic symptom of narcissistic personality disorder. I found lots online and a great book that helped me make sense of it all. It did help to make me feel it wasn't my fault!!

ExtravertvIntrovert Thu 19-Oct-17 15:44:47

Thanks all. I have wondered about her being a narcissist but can't quite pin in down. According to her, she came from a very repressed family and so doesn't know how to express love. Doesn't stop her from expressing meanness though.

Coolgran - I had similar experiences of my mother never coming to watch me. In fact on one occasion as a teen, my sisters and a friend and I performed a little dance recital at our local yacht club (because there was seriously nothing else to do). I was looking at the old photos of the dance and laughed at my 80s perms. My mother said: 'Oh god, I was so embarrassed about you doing that I couldn't stay and watch.' So I said, 'how did we have the pictures then?' And she said. 'Oh friend's mother took them. She was really upset with me for not staying and watching but I wasn't going to be embarrassed like that.'

And that sums my mother up entirely.

Alima Thu 19-Oct-17 15:54:33

Heavens, you make introverts sound like really Bad People. I just thought we are more reserved than extroverts, quieter till we really know people but then fine. One of my DDs is extrovert the other introvert. We all get by fine, we have different natures but that's it, the love and demonstrative nature of our relationship is evident. (Sometimes I can find extroverts exhausting, throwing their opinions around like confetti, wish they had an off switch sometimes). I am sure your DM has other issues, sincerely hope Booklady is right.

Elegran Thu 19-Oct-17 16:18:02

I think extrovert/introvert is being confused here with positive/negative.

You can have extroverts whose outlook is negative, who throw loud tantrums if they are crossed and give Oscar-winning performances running down people they don't like, as well as jolly ones who have a smile for everyone and can chat for hours.

You can have introverts whose outlook is positive, always looking quietly for the bright side of things and seeing problems as something to be overcome, as well as sour loners and nay-sayers.

ExtravertvIntrovert Thu 19-Oct-17 16:39:19

I agree Elegran. I think my mother doesn't realise the difference

M0nica Fri 20-Oct-17 07:29:05

Extraversion/Introversion has nothing to do with it. I have never found any connection between introversion/extraversion and an ability to express love and affection or to be supportive and appreciative. The method of doing it may be different, one possibly noisier and showier.

Whatever the OP's mother's problem is, being an introvert has nothing to do with it, My parents were not emotionally expressive, but we children never doubted their love for us and always knew whatever we did we could always go home and be protected and supported. We knew that actions spoke louder than words.

Anya Fri 20-Oct-17 08:10:36

I hope you can read this and it’s not too small.

MinniesMum Fri 20-Oct-17 10:14:43

My mother was just like that too. When I passed the 11+ she just said OK now go bck to school. Same when I graduated with a 1st - "I suppose that will have to do".
She is dead now but my sister is just like her so I just stopped all contact with her about 15 years ago with no regrets whatsoever. I still see my lovely cousins regularly but they can't stand my sister either. One cousin said that she sucks all the positivity out of the air wherever she goes. My son occasionally rings and popped in once and sat there for about 3 hours while they recited everything they had done for the last year and the illnesses they had had. Not once did they ask about him or his children. So he has given up too.

annab275 Fri 20-Oct-17 10:19:02

I don't think it is helpful using a label to excuse bad behaviour. I honestly feel you have to quit trying to please anybody, especially your mother. Mine was wonderful but had her faults, as we all have. Stop looking for approval from someone who isn't going to give it - it is totally exhausting and detrimental to your peace of mind.

MadFerretLady Fri 20-Oct-17 10:20:32

I am an introvert, but have a great relationship with my sons and grandson. I think introverts are just renewed by solitude and that extroverts are renewed by company. I am fine as long as I take the time to 'renew'. Dog walking will do this as much as going away! We just need space occasionally. It doesn't stop us having good family relationships, or being in people orientated roles - we just need to understand our own needs and not blame others for being different.

M0nica Fri 20-Oct-17 10:24:00

MadFerretLady You sum it up precisely.

peaches50 Fri 20-Oct-17 10:29:46

go and enjoy your week away and refuse to be in the least bit guilty. You will be a better parent for that and will learn from your mother how NOT to bring up your children. Does she single you out (you don't mention siblings) for this cruel behaviour as this is just what it is. It is sad the one person who should love you unconditionally warts and all, doesn't appear to. I was blessed with parents who both adored me and my sisters - that invisible cloak has protected me from life's slings and arrows - my beloved husband had indifference and cruelty mentally and physically from his parents especially his mother. While I cry even now decades after my parents have gone as I miss then so. he didn't even go to her funeral (she was too busy to see him the final two years even when she knew he had a terminal illness) and never thinks of her. He is loving ad sweet, but has been damaged as doesn't trust anyone who truly tries to show him love apart from me. Throwing all these at yousunshine cupcake flowers wine smile

Murfdurf Fri 20-Oct-17 10:32:01

It's narcissism alright. And a good dollop of passive aggressiveness. My father left me an emotional wreck for most of my adult life due to his. It wasn't until after his death and divorce from my narcissistic ex that I discovered what it was. You're lucky you're a natural extrovert as you're better placed to deal with it but I'm a much more sendup person and it really impacted on my progress as an adult. I'm better now but still have feelings of low self worth even though I've managed to achieve a lot. They screw up our lives if we don't handle them properly.

ethelwulf Fri 20-Oct-17 10:34:16

This is not "normal" behaviour on your Mother's part, but your experience is far from rare. I too had a Mother who constantly saw the negative in most things, and clearly saw it as her lifelong mission to try to make me feel guilty and inadequate. Like you, I eventually let her know in detail how I felt when her behaviour started to impact negatively upon my children. As in your case, she was incapable of acknowledging her culpability in all this, and even tried to imply that I was somehow largely responsible. From that point on I had as little to do with her as possible, and my family life was immediately brighter without her baleful influence. She went to her grave still bitter and twisted and unreconciled, but that was her choice..not mine. As for your Mother's behaviour being due to "introversion"... absolutely not. Introverts can still be affectionate and loving to those who are close to them. Your Mother's behaviour is sociopathic, and such traits are very deep-rooted and unlikely to change. I do sympathise, but would strongly recommend that like me, you get on with your life, and get out from under that dark cloud which is constantly with her.

Murfdurf Fri 20-Oct-17 10:37:37

Agree. It's sociopathic. I can spit it in people really easily now. Just avoid at all costs. They won't change.

loopyloo Fri 20-Oct-17 10:40:30

Mad ferret lady, how true.
As DH said we are all prisoners of our personality. But some of us are in solitary confinement and others are in open prisons.
I think it's not a question of simply introvert extrovert, as ever with human beings it's more complicated than that.
I think you should find someone to talk to about this. Also, if your family was happy with your trip, then take no notice of her opinion. We have to grow away from our parents to develop our own personalities.
All best wishes.

tracyjane1966 Fri 20-Oct-17 10:47:16

In a way feeling so much better after reading some of these. I feel that I have spent 50 years trying to please my parents never doing anything that they would disapprove off etc but have never felt loved it praised in return. They did used to babysit but only after making excuses first whereas my mil would jump at the chance. To cut a long story short they do not speak to me now because of one mistake I made which I have apologised several times for. They have thrown everything back in my face from paying for my wedding, over 30 years ago when it was how things were done and told me I need help. Anyway, long and short of it is I do not speak to them now and feel so much happier and freer for it and in a way wish I had done it years ago. I do feel guilty that it has come to this but reassured to know others feel the same

Jane10 Fri 20-Oct-17 10:47:39

I wouldn't rush to pathologise your mother's behaviour. She sounds to me a fairly typical product of her own upbringing. I've known several people like that. They have always had such low esteem themselves that they can't cope with attention and praise. I tend to look at what people actually do rather than what they say. Was she a good mother in how she looked after you as a child? Did she go without anything so you could have something you wanted? That sort of thing always impresses me more than overt shows of affection.
Her education level may be such that its hard to explain herself to you. Maybe you intimidate her by your own articulacy and life experience?
Just trying to look at things from a different perspective.