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It's beginning to feel like abuse....

(23 Posts)
SomethingBordering Wed 30-Dec-20 16:04:18

I am in my early 70s and have two beautiful, small grandkids. My daughter was later getting married and is now in her 40s. Despite the fact that she had a very difficult childhood due to my divorcing twice, we were always very close and once our lives settled down when she was in her teens, I felt able to make amends to some extent for the past. She want to university and my (now) husband and I gave her a lump sum to help her buy her first flat. Also her childhood did have some happy times. I know that a difficult childhood can never be replaced and I wish more than anything in the World I could turn the clock back and change things but I can't. Just before my daughter got married, she started having therapy and she became distant with me. When she got married she didn't ask me to go with her to choose her wedding dress, though I promised to pay for it and did. At her wedding her Gran sat next to her at the table and not me, though I was pleased for her Gran and when she became pregnant she didn't wan't me to touch her and kept her distance. Before the baby was born she said she wanted to talk to me and asked me many questions about the past which I answered honestly. I foolishly thought this would sort things out but it hasn't. She remains distant with me much of the time and isn't remotely interested in anything I do or say unless it suits her. I have helped her out considerably since she had her children, particularly when her husband has been away on business. I spend lots of time and money on the as a family and always go the extra mile to be a good Gran because I love them all so much. My daughter has been going through a period of high anxiety over the last few months and I have supported her as much as possible with this given that she is well over an hour's drive away. The problem is that she is so scathing with me every time I say or do something that she feels isn't right or not in her interests. It is hurtful to the point where now I really am beginning to feel abused by her. She laid into me again recently about something I said and I really had no idea that I'd done wrong. It's almost like she can never forgive me for the past and constantly wants to beat me over the head with it. Heaven knows I've said sorry to her for the past a million times over but it doesn't seem to change things. I am truly heartbroken and hurting. I don't want to have a row with her for reasons which are probably obvious to many of you and I would take a bit of a step back from her but don't want to lose the love of my grandchildren. Sometimes though, I feel like leaving her to just get on with it. She knows she needs me but she also knows she has the upper hand because of the children. I am a sensible, active woman who isn't given to feeling like a victim but I am really sad right now.

AGAA4 Wed 30-Dec-20 16:25:21

Such a difficult situation for you Somethingbordering. It sounds as though you have done a lot to help your daughter over the years. Could you have a conversation with your daughter and ask her why she is treating you like this in a calm way? I don't think you should keep apologising for the past as there is nothing you can do to change it.
So sorry you are hurting flowers

Toadinthehole Wed 30-Dec-20 16:26:06

Firstly, can I say how sorry I am you find yourself in this situation. Of course you can’t change it....and the fact you’ve apologised so many times is commendable. Neither my mother nor MIL ever apologised once.
However, one line in your post kind of worries me. Where you say ‘ She knows she needs me’. On the surface, it’s an innocent thing to say, and you’re probably right. However, this may somehow be at the route of it all. A married woman with a family, in my opinion, shouldn’t need her mother, however close, as this could cause a rift between her and her husband.
This doesn’t mean you should never help, but perhaps you do need to stay in the background for a bit. I know you don’t want to risk not seeing your grandchildren, but that could happen anyway, if this carries on as it is.
Hopefully, this way, you perhaps, because it’s not definite, could shorten any time you don’t see them, or have contact. Seeing and spending time with grandchildren should be relaxed and enjoyable, with everyone on the same page. If you’re being held to ransom, that’s not enjoyable for you or them. All the best with it💐

Oopsadaisy1 Wed 30-Dec-20 16:28:48

I’m so sorry. I think that you have to either act tough and walk away for a while in the hope that she comes around.

Or you have to steel yourself and put up with it. It is sad though.

You’ve tried making amends and you go out of your way to help, I really don’t think that there is any more you can do. We can’t change the past and it sounds as though you have tried your hardest.
Sending 💐 and a virtual hug.

Redhead56 Wed 30-Dec-20 16:55:18

We can all make mistakes but it’s sounds as if you have apologised enough now. You sound generous with you support time and money probably too much.
Back off a bit and pamper yourself give her a bit of space by not being too available. It could be a simple act like this that might make her realise you are a good person worth being around.

Grammaretto Wed 30-Dec-20 17:38:38

I feel sorry for you but it sounds as if you are too dependent on her, too much in her life for her comfort.
You say you are a sensible active woman and that is how you must appear.
It's time to show your vulnerability.
She possibly doesn't realise how much you are hurting inside.
This may mean taking a step back and concentrating on your other interests for a while.

welbeck Wed 30-Dec-20 17:46:54

how about suggesting to her that you two go to family therapy together.
there are obviously unresolved issues from her childhood which her therapy sessions threw up, but then she was busy getting married, having children etc, so not the time and space to work through those issues.

Smileless2012 Thu 31-Dec-20 14:19:50

It looks as if your D is continuing to punish you for her less than perfect childhood SomethingBordering which I agree is bordering on abusive behaviour.

She readily accepts the emotional, practical and emotional support you give while simultaneously holding the past against you, which IMO is unacceptable.

Try taking a step back, leave her to initiate contact and be hesitant when it comes to agreeing to any kind of support she asks for. I'm not suggesting that you should withdraw this support, but it may do her and your relationship with her good if she realises that when ever she says 'jump', you're not going to immediately respond with 'how high'.

You cannot change the past, none of us can, and you shouldn't be expected to 'pay' for it for the rest of your life or allow yourself to be used in this way.

David0205 Thu 31-Dec-20 17:52:25

For what it’s worth I agree with Smileless, take a step back, get on with your life, let her get on with hers. Remember birthdays and other important dates, you can’t turn the clock back, if she’s feeling sorry for herself it’s her problem.

As you say that she has been having “high anxiety”, what is her relationship with her husband like, if things do go wrong you are going to get the blame for sure.

Alexa Thu 31-Dec-20 19:35:13

SomethingBordering based on our story I gather you are doing as much as you can.

If this is the case,and it is not working as you would like it to, then it seems obvious that your next strategy would be to look after yourself without reference to your daughter.

Looking after yourself includes maintaining good relationships with your daughter's children. You will have to be with their mother in order to do so. You need to stop feeling guilty about your daughter's troubles.

The way to stop feeling guilty is tell yourself every time the guilty thought arises, that you did the best your could at the time. And then deliberately think about something else to divert you attention from useless guilty thoughts.

Not everyone can benefit from cognitive behavioural therapy which is inexpensive and readily available, and I think you could benefit from it. You already understand a lot about your relationships and you can take it from there.

cornishpatsy Thu 31-Dec-20 20:27:15

It sounds as though she has not forgiven you for her difficult childhood and until she does things cannot really improve.

It will be hard to hear but maybe ask her to write a letter or email detailing everything she has a grievance about. Then you can address each one and hopefully move forward.

I hope it works out well for you and can have a happier future with her.

nanna8 Sat 16-Jan-21 06:20:46

I hope things get better for you,too. It sounds as though she is punishing you for past events and it made me wonder what her therapist has said to her. They have a lot of responsibility these people and some are excellent but others not so. Just keep on being nice and pleasant without being a doormat and one day, hopefully, she will realise what she is doing. I was also wondering if she is unhappy in her relationship and taking it out on you ?

BlueBelle Sat 16-Jan-21 08:13:00

With out going into any great detail it may be useful to know what you see as a ‘difficult’ childhood was she abused, was she neglected, was she hungry. Left alone, without any necessary things, was she party to seeing fighting constant rowing, drugs drink what I m saying is what is your interpretation of a bad childhood and was it really as bad as you imply
Could it be that or is does she have an unforgiving and controlling nature and hold big old grudges and the more you apologise the more she likes it as it puts her in total control of you
Yes cut the apologies out you ve done that over and over and it’s got you no where
Keep your relationship on a lighter level whilst still maintaining contact with her and your grandkids

You sound a lovely caring lady but maybe a bit too lovely
I would have been less magnanimous about the obvious snub at the wedding
Give a little bit less of yourself

Sara1954 Sat 16-Jan-21 08:30:02

I recognise something of myself in your daughter, although I asked for, and expected nothing from my mother.
But after years of feeling responsible for everything, I suddenly realised not everything could be my fault, especially when I was only a child.
I guess my mother did her best, but looking back, I suspect she had hushed up mental health issues, and we have now been estranged for many years.
You sound like a much nicer person, and have poured love and kindness on your daughter, but I agree with others, give her some space to work it all out in her head.
Don’t worry too much about your grandchildren, I never stopped her from seeing them, my husband regularly took them to visit, and they still do. So hopefully she won’t use them as a weapon against you
Good luck

Baggs Sat 16-Jan-21 08:43:13

Would going for some counselling yourself perhaps be helpful, something? Sometimes an outsider to a situation can add a useful perspective without apportioning any blame. Good luck.

M0nica Sat 16-Jan-21 09:30:27

I wonder whether your DD treats you like she is because she is fed up with having a mother who keeps apologising to her for her difficult childhood and is constantly trying to make up for it.

I must admit, I find people who constantly apologise and feel a need to placate me, intensely irritating. I try to be kind to them but do get betrayed into snapping now and then.

Do you think if you stood up to her more, put yourself first, she might respect you more? I am not talking about having rows or anything like that, but, when she puts you done say to her firmly, that she is not to speak to you like that and your views are as much to be respected as hers. The occasional quiet walking out of a room when she is disregarding you, might help.

This behaviour is only happening because you permit it. You say you are a sensible, active woman who isn't given to feeling like a victim right, so stop acting like one and quietly and kindly make clear to your daughter that she is overstepping the mark and that you will no longer tolerate her behaviour towards you. You say you have helped her a lot. She will have a choice, aleliorate her behaviour or do without the help.

Kandinsky Sat 16-Jan-21 09:45:08

Unfortunately, saying sorry doesn’t always cut it in the forgiveness stakes......if only.

Your daughter is a mother herself now so maybe feels the distress of her ‘very difficult childhood’ all the more. She could be thinking ‘how could my mother put me through that’ when I was so young and vulnerable. The memories are resurfacing.

I don’t know the answer but if it were me I’d back off. You’ve said sorry, there’s nothing more you can do. Trying to over compensate now is never going to work. ( in my opinion. )

Sara1954 Sat 16-Jan-21 10:37:40

I think you are right about the daughter becoming a mother herself, and realising that some of her childhood experiences were far from good.
I can only speak from my own point of view, but I think my mother makes me behave as the worst possible version of myself, and maybe something like that is happening here.

TenaciousB Tue 19-Jan-21 22:19:39

So sorry for what you are going through. Maybe next time she disrespects you say very quietly and calmly that her attitude is upsetting to you and walk away telling her you’ll call later or another day. That might make her think about how she is treating you. More effective than a shouting match. Good luck and I hope things improve for you. 💐

GrannyRose15 Tue 19-Jan-21 22:33:19

Try to give each other space for a while. And build up other interests. Your daughter may be feeling trapped, or you might unintentionally make her feel inadequate. I know it's difficult as you want to be involved with your grandchildren but you might have a better time with them if you saw them less frequently. Are you sure the situation is caused by resentment about the past? Has she said so? If not it's much more likely to be the stress of living through this terrible time that is causing her behaviour. In any case, you can't change the past, you've apologised for your mistakes, it's time to move on.

SpringyChicken Wed 20-Jan-21 09:52:17

They say you can't change other people, only yourself. It's time to alter your own behaviour to illicit a different response from your daughter. If you listen to her scathing words and then apologise, the message she receives is that she can treat you any old way she likes and you'll take it. It's difficult knowing what to say but she needs to get the message that you won't accept it. A horrible thought that she might use the children as a pawn to keep you in check but even if you don't change your behaviour, that could still happen.

Esspee Wed 20-Jan-21 10:37:31

Counselling together is the best idea. Let a professional get a detached view of the situation.

TrendyNannie6 Thu 21-Jan-21 17:26:04

I would give her and yourself a bit of space away from each other, you have apologised enough! You can’t turn back the clock so it’s pointless keep raking things up all the time, time to move on, start from now, I’d step back for few weeks, let her come to you, you sound such a lovely person, and obviously trying your best! What more can you do! Helping out financially etc etc I’ve read the post a couple of times and it seems to me she is punishing you over and over again for her hurt, I might be wrong but she seems to want to control the situation with you, one thing for sure she’s not a happy person