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Estrangement

Toxic Mother

(346 Posts)
Gampsy Tue 24-Aug-21 22:11:51

Hi All,
This is my first time posting and I would really appreciate your thoughts and comments on my relationship with my Mum. To cut a long story short, my brother and I have spent our lives walking on eggshells with her and she has always tried to play us off against each other. Our children have watched her emotionally abuse us but we have remained loyal and steadfast out of a sense of duty and begrudging love. She is now in her 80’s and since our Dad died she has unleashed her full toxicity on her friends, shop staff and us. She thinks that she can sulk, belittle and abuse us and when we push back she denies everything and says she doesn’t care about anyone and that she wishes she was dead - something she’s been saying for over 30 years when she feels called out on her bs. My brother had Covid and she didn’t even call to see how he was and when I said, imagine something happened to him, she said “well I could die anytime”. I phone her and get her shopping twice a week but apparently her neighbour’s son goes round three times a week!!! She is now not talking to my brother or his wife because she upset them and THEY haven’t apologised to her. I tried today to rationalise with her but she’s adamant she doesn’t care about anyone and I know when i phone her I will get the silent treatment to make me feel guilty. I’m wondering if I should cut ties with her even though I know I will feel guilty but my mental, physical and emotional health have taken a battering for many years and I can’t take much more. If she was an abusive partner I would have walked years ago so why are we allowing her to treat us like this? Please help.

maddyone Wed 25-Aug-21 10:46:33

Just had a quick look, the other was entitled Why do I feel so resentful towards by mother? Or something very similar. It was started by another lady with an over demanding mother.

Gampsy Wed 25-Aug-21 11:02:03

Thank you to everyone who has responded and supported me at this difficult time. VioletSky, I especially like the Grey Rock advice and am willing to give it a try. I know in hindsight I should have escaped many years ago while my Mum was younger because her age is the only thing holding me back from walking. I’m a very emotional person who suffers with guilt even over small issues so I know that even if it is 100% the right thing to do, I’m still not there yet. Honestly, my head is totally scrambled and my heart is in despair. I need to think about what’s best for my family and whatever I do I want it to be freeing and fair.

VioletSky Wed 25-Aug-21 13:22:23

I completely understand Gampsy because the thought of her being elderly and alone worries me too but that's because in normal circumstances with a good relationship I would want to be there for her.

Logically my mother has performed very badly in her role and doesn't deserve my concern as we do not have a relationship. I also wish I had done it sooner.

It is always a parents choice to have children and their choice how they raise us and treat us as adults. We don't owe them anything. We especially don't owe them our time at the expense of our own mental and physical health.

I think if I am contacted by family when my mother becomes very elderly I will consider contributing towards a carer. That way I can do something without putting myself at risk.

I think it can be hard for others to understand that even an elderly person can cause huge amounts of hurt and stress but when you have had a lifetime of it, they know exactly how to push your buttons, they installed those buttons very well.

You deserve to be happy.

GillT57 Wed 25-Aug-21 14:16:07

Grey rock sounds like a good policy, also surely once a week is enough for shopping? Don't ask her, tell her. I know it is easy for me to say at a distance, but sometimes cold analysis of a situation which you are emotionally embroiled in is what you need. There are many on here who have endured the same as you, to varying degrees and they will have great advice. Remember, if this was a partner or husband treating you like this, the advice would be unanimous to leave him.

Gampsy Wed 25-Aug-21 15:28:52

Thank you for your wise words. I’m going to take a couple of days to think about all of this and hopefully have a rational conversation with my Mum although I’m not expecting a positive outcome as I had suggested the last time we spoke that she needs to apologise to my brother and his wife and obviously this was unacceptable to her. In fact, she has never apologised once in her life and is quite proud of that fact. I am expecting the sulky, hard done by Mum to come on the phone and I then have to win her over before she will capitulate and speak normally to me. Luckily I’m on holiday for a couple of weeks soon so maybe I can use that time to formulate a plan of action going forward. Ultimately I’d just love a normal Mum but sadly that will never happen.

JillyJosie2 Wed 25-Aug-21 15:45:57

No one else has said this so I will, she sounds ill to me. Possibly she has a personality or other mental illness that has never been treated. She could even have some kind of dementia on top of a lifelong disorder. Try reading about borderline personality disorder and see if the symptoms ring any bells, sudden mood changes, hostility and suicidal threats are all part of it.

That said, getting professional help, especially in the middle of a pandemic may be hard and I don't know the ethics of being able to discuss your mother with a health care professional.

I was discussing dominating mothers with two friends recently and we all agreed that probably being children of the Victorian parental era and living through one or two World Wars had produced dysfunctional families and traumatised individuals who simply shouldn't have had children. Good luck OP, Grey Rock sounds a good initiative if you can do it and you could try estrangement, the stress can't be doing you much good.

NotSpaghetti Wed 25-Aug-21 17:20:38

I think it’s great that you’re going away.
Come home with a new attitude.
Take a deep breath and start afresh with a different “regime” if you can.
💐

Sara1954 Wed 25-Aug-21 17:24:32

Jillyjosie
My husband always says my mother should never have had children.
Not sure what to make of that really!

JillyJosie2 Wed 25-Aug-21 17:43:00

Sara1954 I hope your husband is being supportive, it sounds as though he doesn't like her much! I guess the point is, that unless they can change, some people produce very unhappy children - 'man (or woman) hands on misery to man' as the poet said.

Sara1954 Wed 25-Aug-21 17:48:08

Jillyjosie
Oh he is.
Neither of us like her much, he at least is in contact with her, I'm not!

DiscoDancer1975 Wed 25-Aug-21 19:19:26

JillyJosie2

No one else has said this so I will, she sounds ill to me. Possibly she has a personality or other mental illness that has never been treated. She could even have some kind of dementia on top of a lifelong disorder. Try reading about borderline personality disorder and see if the symptoms ring any bells, sudden mood changes, hostility and suicidal threats are all part of it.

That said, getting professional help, especially in the middle of a pandemic may be hard and I don't know the ethics of being able to discuss your mother with a health care professional.

I was discussing dominating mothers with two friends recently and we all agreed that probably being children of the Victorian parental era and living through one or two World Wars had produced dysfunctional families and traumatised individuals who simply shouldn't have had children. Good luck OP, Grey Rock sounds a good initiative if you can do it and you could try estrangement, the stress can't be doing you much good.

I said it on the first page.

eazybee Wed 25-Aug-21 19:36:23

I would say continue with the things you are doing for her such as collecting her shopping, and phone to check she is all right. This will stop you feeling guilt because you are taking care of her. Other than that, do not indulge in conversation beyond the mundane, and if she starts the silent treatment bid goodbye politely and put the phone down.
She knows what she is doing and it won't change now; you have to change your response to her. Always remember 'I do what I can'. People like this are past masters at inculcating guilt in others because they don't care for anyone but themselves.

Millie22 Wed 25-Aug-21 20:03:56

So some of the things I've had to do have a name 'grey rock'. I didn't know that. It is helpful to know that other people have similar challenges to mine so thank you everyone.

JillyJosie2 Wed 25-Aug-21 22:12:22

Discodancer, I did see your post but depression is not the same as a personality disorder, especially borderline personality disorder.

Gampsy Wed 25-Aug-21 23:32:44

Sadly my Mum’s condition isn’t illness, depression or any other kind of disorder. It’s always a well timed, targeted take down undertaken in a cold and emotionless manner which ironically almost gives her pleasure. Having fallen out with me, she has phoned my sister in law up to tell her that it’s all her fault. Honestly, I give up.

Hithere Thu 26-Aug-21 02:38:24

Gampsy

Sounds like you have been conditioned to cater to your mother

Tie it to the social obligation to your parents, no matter how they behave

Do not give yourself another excuse, her age means nothing
It is how she treats you
Put yourself first.

mumofmadboys Thu 26-Aug-21 07:33:32

How does she respond if you say ' That sounds rather rude/ hurtful. Did you intend it to be?' while smiling sweetly.

Fleur20 Thu 26-Aug-21 07:53:01

Let her phone your sister in law..
Now you step back..
Look after yourself...she wont/cant change.. but you can!

Jillyjosie Thu 26-Aug-21 07:55:09

I think I was trying to say Gampsey that your mother's behaviour is not exactly normal so there may be an underlying reason rather than just assuming she's malicious. She certainly can't be very happy if she behaves as you describe despite apparently manipulating your whole family. Sad. All the best to you.

Grandmabatty Thu 26-Aug-21 08:15:51

Jillyjosie it may not be normal, but unfortunately it is quite common. Gampsy I sympathise. I have a difficult mother and a disfunctional brother who lives with her. I have learned to emotionally detach most of the time so the nasty comments don't bother me. I visit once a week and have polite (mostly) conversation. I stay up to an hour but will cut it short at any time. Fortunately I don't do her shopping as my brother is there. Mum is deeply unhappy but has become very nasty as she's got older. She ruined my retirement dinner and my 60th birthday dinner because it wasn't about her so that made it easier for me to detach. Definitely enjoy your time away and begin a new routine on your return. Good luck.

DiscoDancer1975 Thu 26-Aug-21 10:51:57

JillyJosie2

Discodancer, I did see your post but depression is not the same as a personality disorder, especially borderline personality disorder.

Fair enough. I suppose I was focusing on having said she sounds ill. Then you said ‘ no one else has said this, she sounds ill to me’.

It seems Gampsy doesn’t think that though. She knows her best.

PinkCosmos Thu 26-Aug-21 11:45:12

I am expecting the sulky, hard done by Mum to come on the phone and I then have to win her over before she will capitulate and speak normally to me - Gampsy

You are playing right into her hands. As several have said, she knows how to push your buttons.

I echo what Easybee said ^'do not indulge in conversation beyond the mundane, and if she starts the silent treatment bid goodbye politely and put the phone down.
She knows what she is doing and it won't change now; you have to change your response to her.^

missourisusan Thu 26-Aug-21 18:44:19

When it starts on the phone, interrupt her saying away from the receiver, Coming! Then say gently got to go and hang up immediatly. Don't give her a chance to say anything.

Harris27 Thu 26-Aug-21 18:59:20

She sounds like my mil. She was exactly the same spoke to me and my husband like we were dirt then expected us to run around after her as it was ,’ our duty’ she died three years ago after 40 years of hurtful comments and behaviour and it has left a dent in our lives after we analysed the hurt and wonders why we put up with it.

Fatbirdslim Sat 28-Aug-21 10:45:46

Hi. I can’t really give you much advice except to say I had an abusive mother that I just ignored during the last few years of her life. She was in a care home and siblings would visit so I did know she wasn’t abandoned. I thought I’d feel guilty but nope, it was freeing and gave me a more relaxed life. I also felt no guilt or unhappiness when she died, maybe as a result of the therapy I have had over the past few years.
One thing I want to say though, I was surprised to see so many people commenting on here that their mothers were the same. I always thought everyone else’s mother was ‘normal’ and it was only me that had a cold, controlling and sometimes cruel one. It’s almost a relief to know I wasn’t alone in that! I would not wish it on anyone so just to say I sympathise, empathise and wish you all well x