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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.

OnwardandUpward Tue 16-Nov-21 08:25:33

Violetsky lol its hard isnt it! flowers I definitely think gray rock is good. They get bored easily haha!

VioletSky Mon 15-Nov-21 21:36:46

Hope it helps OnwardandUpward

I know a lot of good coping techniques but I'm rubbish at using them myself lol

OnwardandUpward Mon 15-Nov-21 20:32:13

VioletSky thanks for that, so helpful. I will try that instead. My only problem with it is the use of the word sorry. I'd probably omit that because I'd genuinely not be sorry LOL

Leaving them speechless would be nice grin and I dont usually show my feelings. I've had a lifetime of practice [sigh]

VioletSky Mon 15-Nov-21 17:47:14

Repeating what abusive people say back to them quite often gives them the chance to deny it or blame you. "I didn't say that!“ or" Why would you think I said that“ or the ultimate "You would think I meant that, you always have to twist whatever I say. (just examples).

What works better is to ask them to repeat themselves by saying" sorry I didn't catch that". Then if they repeat the same thing you can say "sorry, can you explain what you mean?".

This can quite often have two positive outcomes using grey rock. 1, it can often leave them speechless and 2, they don't get to see they have hurt your feelings.

OnwardandUpward Mon 15-Nov-21 15:54:19

I'm not sure if challenging it is wise or whether it's just a waste of time, but being calm and questioning what's been said is where I am right now. I'm not even sure they know why they do what they do. Perhaps it's a toxic habit that they think is fine.

Thanks so much for all you do on these forums Smileless flowers

That's so hard Maddyone, distance makes everything sooo difficult. It's hard for your FiL that's grieving and hard for all of you. Its good your FiL has a push button thing to summon help, at least. Could he have meals on wheels, at least?

maddyone Mon 15-Nov-21 15:45:42

It’s a terribly sad situation Smileless and Onward. MiL and FiL are/were such lovely, kind, gentle people. They both should have been in care some time ago, but both refused. The two sons who live nearby have done a magnificent job for them, but they’re not getting any younger themselves. We live 250 miles away, and with the pandemic over the last two years, we have been unable to visit like we used to before. They live in a Covid hotspot, and even when we were allowed to travel, there was advice not to travel into that area, or their tier was higher and we weren’t supposed to mix tiers. And other personal circumstances have just made it difficult, not least me being ill with Covid and taking time to recover. I feel for the two brothers who are doing so much. They recognise that FiL should be in a home for his own safety, but aren’t prepared to push it at the moment. Poor old man. He does have a push button thing to summon help, and so I think that for the moment, they’ll carry on as before. But they are doing a lot. I don’t think FiL really recognises how much they do. It’s all very sad.

Smileless2012 Mon 15-Nov-21 15:33:05

If challenging what's said makes you feel better and more in control it's never a waste of time Onward even if the response isn't exactly what you were hoping for, or if there's no response at all.

IMO their weak response shows that your comment hit a nerve so keep up the good work.

Oh dear maddy well it's good news that he's back home but not so good that he's refusing to go into a home. It's so hard isn't it. I sometimes wonder if my own stubborn nature would make me the same in his situation.

Has he refused one of those alarm systems where he could press a button and a care service would be alerted? My m.i.l. had one to wear around her neck but wouldn't. Complained about the cost which was negligible TBH but at least she made the right decision to go into a home; eventually.

Perhaps family could be more forceful and impress on him that as things stand they can't manage unless he pays for carers to come in.

Such a difficult situation at the best of times and of course the poor man has just lost his wife.

OnwardandUpward Mon 15-Nov-21 14:19:37

Thanks Smileless, I will try that if its said again. I am getting tougher. Last week I atttempted to address the scapegoating by saying it's not right to blame someone for something that's not their fault. I'm probably totally wasting my time, but anyway my parent said weakly "Oh well, we have to blame someone" . I was so disgusted that I didn't even have an answer. I think I will start to challenge things as they come up, perhaps repeating back to them what they have said. I do a lot for them, in fact its usually after a nice meal that a very nasty thing is said. I hope they read this and feel ashamed. Thanks for the flowers flowers

Thanks Maddyone, I will try to be more busy (not hard at all as I am very busy all the time)

That's very hard for you all with FiL refusing to go into a home. It really is his kids enabling him for that decision to work, though. If they decided not to enable him to stay at home, he would have to be in a home. I also think asking social services to do an assessment would be a good move- but be aware if they know the extent of the support he's getting they might not intervene unless there's a crisis, like a fall. It's unfair of FiL to refuse paid help and to expect family to do everything. If he is under a certain income, the local authority would help fund his care in any case.

maddyone Mon 15-Nov-21 12:21:11

Onward thank you for flowers. It’s a tricky one if your husband doesn’t hear these horrible things being said about you. Smileless makes a good suggestion, perhaps you could try that. Otherwise I would cut down the amount of times you see your mother. You deserve some peace, and you won’t get it when you see your mother a lot.

Update on my husband’s family, my FiL has left hospital and is at home now on oral antibiotics. The problem now is that he flatly refuses to go into a care home, but he is totally unable to care for himself. Obviously now my husband’s at home he can’t do anything. It’s left to the other three brothers, one of whom still works, so mostly it’s down to two of them. They’re there at eighth o clock every morning, every afternoon to make FiL’s dinner. They do the washing, cleaning, gardening, shopping, cooking, absolutely everything. MiL and FiL always refused to have anything more than one care visit a day, so their sons have had to do everything. Now FiL is alone, there’s not anyone there to raise the alarm if he falls. He’s fallen a few times. I don’t know what they’ll do long term, but the current situation is untenable in my opinion.

Smileless2012 Mon 15-Nov-21 09:21:40

Could you ask her to repeat it Onward? Could you immediately say to your H 'did you here what she just said' and if he says 'no' repeat it? Is it possible that because it's such a shockingly cruel thing to say that your H 'doesn't' hear it because he doesn't know how to respond?

You "keep in touch out of duty" you deserve a medal at the very leastflowers.

OnwardandUpward Mon 15-Nov-21 08:45:05

Maddyone so sorry about your Mother in Law flowers

The comment about me dying early is often said after said parent has enjoyed a nice sunday lunch I've cooked, while sitting at the table. Somehow my husband misses it every time as he has poor hearing, annoyingly. I would love someone else to hear this being said.

Allsorts Sun 14-Nov-21 14:27:28

How sad for your fil Maddyone, perhaps when he sees you he might consider a care home where he will have company and be cared for.
Onward, your mother sounds a very unhappy woman taking her frustrations out on you. Get your own back and have a happy life.

maddyone Sat 13-Nov-21 15:24:43

Thank you so much Smileless. My husband has now returned home (this morning) but will be up in touch with the hospital. Apparently FiL is improving now he’s on IV antibiotics. Poor old man, he’s so frail and totally unable to take care of himself. He needs to be in a care home really, now that MiL has gone, but he doesn’t want to go. We’ll be up soon anyway for the funeral and see how he’s getting on then. His other three sons and the carer take care of him. My husband phones almost every day. It’s a sad day for the whole family.

Smileless2012 Sat 13-Nov-21 12:08:16

Oh dear, your poor f.i.l. and of course your DH who must be worried sick, as you must be too maddy. You've always spoken so fondly of them.

You're in my thoughtsflowers.

maddyone Sat 13-Nov-21 12:05:17

Thank you so much Smileless. It was a sad day yesterday, but she’s been in and out of hospital for the last few weeks and was 94 years old. Her poor husband, also 94, was admitted to hospital yesterday afternoon with a bad chest infection. That poor old man, there’s Covid in the hospital and visiting is limited to those receiving palliative care, like MiL was, but they’ve made an exception under the circumstances and given him a private room and he’s allowed one visitor. It’s all so very sad, at the end of long lives.

OnwardandUpward you’ll need to try to limit your visits to your mother and talk about the weather or what she’s had for lunch. If she gets nasty, leave. I had that advice on here from Gransnetters and it does help. If she says anything about you dying, get up and leave.

Smileless2012 Sat 13-Nov-21 09:33:51

My sincere condolences for the loss of your m.i.l. maddyone to you and your DHflowers.

OnwardandUpward Sat 13-Nov-21 09:25:06

Of course, I know they have no idea when I'll die but I think they'd love me to die. I have always been a problem to them, for some reason, scapegoated etc. It's just part of their bullying that includes the mantras that Im fat, ugly, stupid, worthless AND Im going to die young. There isn't any love at all!

I am at a stage where I don't seek anything. I don't trust them, but keep in touch out of duty, not wanting to regret not being there...

My Mother makes my siblings insecure and takes pleasure out of pitting them against each other. and me It's very sad that she finds enjoyment in these things and a certain satisfaction that reassures her that it's all about her. Like you Maddyone I know its sick because my Mother in law has no malice in her and I've seen how she is with her kids. She has no bad to say about any of them and theres no rivalry or bullying.

maddyone Sat 13-Nov-21 00:28:21

Oh my goodness, how awful for you OnwardandUpward. Your mother has no idea when anyone will die, but statistically speaking, her death is much more likely to be sooner rather later, and sooner than your’s or your sister’s. Difficult mothers are just so difficult aren’t they? It’s difficult to know how to react to the things they say very often. I’m finding it easier if I don’t give my mum too much information now, which is sad for her, but better for me. I just find her negativity difficult to deal with, and her decades of ‘ill health.’ Even more difficult today as my mother in law died today. She had a long and happy life and was very proud of all her grandchildren and great grandchildren. It’s sad but she’s at peace now. I can’t help but compare her to my own mother. What a difference. Mother in law was always positive.

OnwardandUpward Fri 12-Nov-21 23:30:06

I'm so sorry Maddyone that's so painful.

My Mother favors my younger sibling to care for her because I'm apparently going to die sooner! According to her. She seems to actually think I will die before her, so apparently she will have to get my sister to do everything for her instead. I think she actually wants me to die before her. But I doubt that will be the case.

maddyone Wed 13-Oct-21 22:39:15

Thank you Smileless. That’s very kind of you.

Smileless2012 Wed 13-Oct-21 20:27:52

Such a difficult time for you maddyone. There are some awful care homes aren't there, it's quite depressing trying to find something suitable.

You're doing your best to make sure that where ever she goes she'll be well cared for. Not even being thanked must be so hurtfulflowers.

maddyone Wed 13-Oct-21 18:50:20

Thank you welbeck, VioletSky, and freedomfromthepast for your very good advice. I will endeavour to tell my mother much less in future. I think I’ve been too free with information with my mother. I’m quite straight you see, what you see is what you get.

We have spent the day sorting out for her today. Sorting out what was wrong with her phone and then visiting care homes for her. My God, they were awful, it’s unbelievable what some of our old people have to put up with in their later years. Anyway when speaking to mum on the phone about the homes and saying the one we visited yesterday was lovely she became argumentative and then aggressive because I said it’s too difficult to take her to see it and when/if she moves there, she’ll have to go in a taxi , the type that can take a wheelchair. No thank you for anything to me, just lots of thanks to my husband.

I’m wondering has happened to Grampsy who started this thread. She did come back but now we’ve not heard from her for a while. I hope she’s okay and been able to make some changes with her mother.

I’m pleased to hear you’ve finally sorted out your grandmother freedom as you will feel I huge lifting of pressure now. Finding a good home is so difficult though, some of the ones we’ve seen were horrible.

freedomfromthepast Tue 12-Oct-21 17:27:56

welbeck is correct. Stop giving her any information about your life. It is sometimes called grey rocking. Be pleasant and discuss neutral things, but never anything personal.

It may also be helpful if you realize what she is doing really is not about you. In my experience, this type of behavior is not because she is trying to ruin your day. It is because she wants all the attention on herself. You having a nice time with friends means you are not attending to her and that is what she is really after. Attention. I suspect that she has learned through the years that you have all been conditioned to jump when she says jump and she thrives on how high.

A great first step would be for you to not text her first when enjoying yourself. She does not need to know what you are doing. You are an adult and do not need her permission.

If you are worried she will text you, change her over to a silent ringtone while you are out. Do not check your texts until you are done enjoying yourself. Then if she asks where/why, tell her you had something to take care of and change the subject.

Ask yourself, what will REALLY happen if you do not respond to a text for a bit?

I do understand your frustration with getting her into a care home. I have been fighting the last 2 years trying to get my Grandmother into one. We finally got her placed last Friday. I think it may be a good many elderly people who resist it and want to stay home. And I do understand that, I would too.

I hope the care center you visit today is a perfect match for her!

VioletSky Tue 12-Oct-21 17:20:25

Agree with Welbeck maddyone boring grey rock

welbeck Tue 12-Oct-21 16:54:50

i would suggest that you try not to tell her about your personal social life.
imagine you were a social worker, and her the client.
you would try to help her arrange things, liaise with agencies, even listen to her stories somewhat; but you would not share what you are doing in your private life, whom seeing etc.
so keep a distance. a kind of professional, or task-related, boundary. don't give her any information about you.