Advice needed - mother who is a difficult child

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by tryinghard, May 31, 2008.

  1. tryinghard

    tryinghard New Member

    I have quite a few things weighing heavy on my heart recently (difficult child diagnosis'd with type one diabetes two months ago. I lost my job in the mortgage industry after 22 years and had to start over in a new industry commission only, difficult child struggles with homework (4 plus hours a night I have to work with him), easy child graduating and leaving home in June for college) I have posted about feeling very depressed and have made an apt to see a doctor.

    The other big issue in my life is that I have not spoken to my mother in eight years. I am a very sensitive person with a big heart and the fact that I am unable to have a relationship with my mom hurts me every day. I am sad for her and sad for me. So I will try and give you a readers digest version....

    My mom has always been different from other moms and I knew this very early on. She use to tell me she had a headache and sleep all day for weeks on end in a dark room. I only remember my mom laughing and being happy a few times in my life. My mom never had friends and her marriage to my father (who is a very nice man) was horrible. My mom always told stories about how everyone (including my dad) was mean to her, did this or that to her, was mean, was unfair, cheated name it she said it.

    As I got older my mom got meaner toward me. Every time she saw me the within the first ten minutes she would say something negative like, I don't like your makeup, your hair, that top, your hair cut....

    I felt an obligation to be a "nice" daughter because she was my mother. The two times I blew up at her she would call the next day like nothing had happened. No apology, no acknowledgement nothing..

    My mom was always sad that she did not have friends and when I was in high school would tell me that "no one understood her or what she was going through"

    My mom tried to partiscipate in a women's jail ministry and got thrown out in two weeks. They told her she was too arrogant and cold.

    I know my mom is on a TON of medications because a few years ago she had not slept in four days and had my brother take her to the hospital. She told the doctor all the medications she was on and the doctor told my brother he couldn't give her anything else because she was over medicated as it was.

    My mom "makes things up". She will tell me how mean my husband is to her when he has jumped through hoops for her. She tells me I "look at her weird" and I did not. She will not listen to reason or logic.

    So, eight years ago she went CRAZY because my brother married someone she did not like (They are still VERY happlily married and my sister in law is WONDERFUL) So mom would call the house and leave messages 10 times a day for months before the wedding ranting, crying, raving.... I listened and listened. Finally she asked my opinion. I told her I liked my future sister in law and my brother was a 30 year old man and if that is what he wanted I supported him. Well....all HECK broke loose and she told me every mean thing a mother could tell a daughter and more. She verbally attacked my husband and children too. So, I stopped talked to her becaue I refused to be treated that way.

    A year later (when she went to the hospital for not sleeping) she called crying and told me she was sorry she was a bad mother. I told her she was not a bad mother, that I loved her and I know in my heart she did the best she could. I called her every day for a few days and then she reverted back to being mean to me. I sat on the phone for an hour and listened to her put me, my brother, my dad, my kids everyone down.

    I have not spoken to her since.

    So my questions to you are

    Have any of you experienced this?
    How do you handle it?
    Do you think I should try and contact my mom and have some type of a relationship?

    After reading all board for the last few months my mom is obviously a difficult child. I am going to guess she is on the autistic spectrum and has major depression.

    I am sorry this post was so long...I left off a lot of stuff:sheepish:
  2. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    First of all, HUGS, I know this has to be very painful.

    It sounds like your mom battled problems of some kind or other for a long time. It also sounds like she is toxic to you and your family.

    If you haven't, I URGE you to read "Toxic Parents: Overcoming Their Hurtful Legacy and Reclaiming Your Life" by Susan Forward and Craig Buck. the book Boundaries would also be helpful. But I really thing the Toxic Parents book is one you NEED.

    Also see a therapist who works with this stuff. It really will help.

    Sending hugs, prayers and support,


  3. Sara PA

    Sara PA New Member

    Considering the doctor's comment that your mother is already on too much medication and the behaviors you describe, my guess is that at least part of your mother's problems are that she is mismedicated and a lot of her behavior is the result of psychiatric side effects. If that's true, she's going to be as irrational and hard to get along with and paranoid and aggressive as she is now no matter what you do or how you act.

    If that's the case, you have to decide what you can live with.
  4. ScentofCedar

    ScentofCedar New Member

    Definitely see a therapist (preferably a woman, in my opinion) who deals with Family of Origin issues. If you can go into group therapy with others coping with the same kinds of wounds, I think you will be able, through the compassion you feel for them, to learn to view yourself with compassion and even, to begin to understand and admire yourself for the courage it has taken to walk the paths you have had to walk thus far.

    Wishing you well.

  5. tryinghard

    tryinghard New Member

    Thanks or the advice and the suggestion on the book...I am actually going to go get it this evening.

    I stopped contact with my mother as a safety mechanism to me. It is horrible to hear your mother talk to you like that and it was really getting me down. I felt like I was spending so much energy on my relationship with her, I had no energy for myself our my family. With a difficult child you all know how much that alone can drain you.

    It has been weighing very heavy on me the last few months. I think because she is getting older and I worry about if she dies and our relationship is like this. Also, I realize now more than ever that she is ill and it must be painful to have a daughter who has no interaction with you.

    Anyone else with insight or advice is appreciated!
  6. Sara PA

    Sara PA New Member

    I have to respond to that part about "if she dies...." Is it really worse for her to die without having contact with you for a number of years or worse for her to die having made you absolutely miserable for X number of years prior? It isn't like anything is going to be different if you reestablish a relationship.

    If you do reestablish a relationship, set your boundaries for yourself (not for her). Decide how you are going to deal with her behaviors, how much abuse you are going to take from her, how much contact you will have with her. Then follow your plan. Don't expect that you will be able to control her behaviors. We can control only ourselves.
  7. Big Bad Kitty

    Big Bad Kitty lolcat

    Hugs, I can hear the pain in your post.

    I don't know what I would do in your situation. I completely agree with seeking therapy.

    I would also urge you to talk to your brother about this. I bet he could understand it like nobody else.
  8. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I grew up with a mother who was extremely abusive to me in just about every way you can name. The emotional abuse was most definitely the hardest to deal with. We have no doubt that those scars from the earliest abuse are what led me to my borderline diagnosis.

    I tried my entire life to get my mother to love me. I really dont know why she couldnt. I remember when she died, I finally broke down and cried buckets of tears because she could never tell me that she really did love me. I knew intellectually that the time had long passed that she could perform that action because she had alzheimers but her dying took that sliver of hope away. And heck...even if she had been perfectly sane I dont think she would have ever told me. Ok...maybe sane isnt the word because a sane mother wouldnt have treated me that way.

    I often think I would have been far better off to have cut my mom out of my life very early on but I couldnt do it. I couldnt even walk away when she got so ill and needed to be taken care of. She might not have cared about me but I had to be able to look at myself in the mirror so I did what I felt I had to do.

    I did my best and I can sleep at night.
  9. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    My mother was similar. I think I was about 5 when I had figured out she wasn't quite right in the head. And if a 5 yr old can figure that out, it give you a pretty good idea of how bad it must have been.

    My mother is mentally ill. I became certain when I was in Jr High. I found her medications shortly after. (which she didn't take long)

    As an adult I made the decision that I could/would only have a relationship with her if she could treat me with basic repect. Didn't have to be love or affection, I'd long since figured out that wasn't gonna happen.

    Since my mother is paranoid as heck, a religious fanatic in the truest sense of the word, and many other things it has been a rocky road. But I don't and won't take her nonsense. When she gets over critical and I can't get her to stop it is time for her to leave or the phone call to end. When she's paranoid I ignore it as I've done most of my life.

    I was raised by my grandmother to treat my mother with respect no matter what. Afterall without her I wouldn't be here. And I've pretty much managed that. BUT that doesn't mean that I have to take her abuse, and I don't. It's gotten me disowned more times than I can count. But when I don't go running to her, she eventually comes to me.

    It has taken her many many years to get it through her head that I won't put up with her abuse. But these last several years it has stopped. I still get to listen to the other stuff, but she really can't help that. So I let it slide off my back.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is that you need to decide what you want, what you will and will not tolerate and draw that line in the sand and stick to it. in my opinion a relationship that is abusive is not a relationship. So if she can't learn to treat you properly so that you can develop one then you didn't lose anything to begin with. (does that make sense?)

  10. tryinghard

    tryinghard New Member

    Sara, you are absolutely right which is why I haven't had contact yet. I know 100 percent that nothing will change in our relationship because I do not believe my mother has the ability to change. What I wonder is how I will feel if she dies and I have never spoken to her again. I wonder if it will help her at all if we start some type of a relationship again. I guess I feel I will be overcome with guilt if I do not try.

    Big Bad Kitty, thank you for your kind words. My dear and wonderful brother carries the guilt of feeling like he was the cause of the problem between my mom and I and he feels horrible. He is constantly encouraging me to talk to her. He tells me that I need to beable to except her for who she is. He is not mean to me at all, I just think he really wants us to reconcile because he feels so bad. My mother manipulates the heck out of him and says horrible things to him. He just takes it because she is his mother. I have told him many times I wish I had the same strength he does. He definitely understands and always listens to me. I do get a kick out of when he calls me upset because of what my mother has done or said.

    I love my son, thanks for your support...I am sorry it mad you cry....It is very sad not to have your mother when you are older to confide in and be friends with.

    Dammit Janet. You sound like you absolutely did everything you could do...and you can sleep well! I think that is where I am concerened...I feel like I should do more so that I too can sleep at nigt:faint:

    Daiseylover, my mom is a religious fanatic too..interesting. Also, other than that one time that she apologized for being a bad mom...she has never said anything is her fault or that she is sorry.

    Thanks to all of you. You do not know how much your comments and insight mean to me.

    I really am starting to agree I need a good therapist to get me through A LOT of different issues
  11. flutterbee

    flutterbee Guest

    The others gave good advice.

    I think the most important thing is to not make any decision on this until you are feeling stronger. I think you are too vulnerable now to try to enter into this.

    Janet - I totally understand what you experienced when your mother passed. I haven't experienced it myself, but watched my own mom go through it. Even though she knew she would never have any kind of relationship with her mother, I think there is always a small kernel of hope...even if it is deeply buried. Her mother's death signified that what never was, now never will. And that needs to be grieved.
  12. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    You and your brother both need counselling. Your mother is being manipulative and this can be very damaging to the relationship between you and your brother. He is not to blame for the rift between you and your mother and he needs to understand this.

    A very close friend of mine had a problem father. He was manipulative, a bully, abusive and behaved like a spoilt brat. At times he would scream abuse at my friend often with no provocation. She would visit to see her mother, to take them some home-cooked food and her father would get angry. He developed Alzheimer's and this made him even worse, as he tried to blame other people for his own failing memory. My friend's mother was hostage to his moods and his need for constsant stimulation, and began to drink heavily to deal with the emotional and physical pain.

    As he deteriorated into dementia, my friend realised that things would never be resolved. All her life he had criticised her, compared her unfavourably to her sister and generally told her she was a loser, a disappointment, ugly, fat and no man would ever want her. Of course my friend married an abuser who thankfully walked out on her ten years later. Her father, instead of comforting her, said she was a disgrace and embarrassment and she should beg her husband to come back.

    He died about five years ago. My friend didn't know what to feel. She was angry, very angry, her relationship with her sister was a bit shaky at that time but they had come together to get help for their mother, who by this stage was an alcoholic with malnutrition and broken bones from her husband's abuse and her own falls. Over the last five years the sisters have become much closer, each realising the burden the other had to carry. Their mother died a few months ago, the girls had spent the time with her and mended at least some of their relationship; however, some aspects especially dealing with their father's abuse, she would never accept or acknowledge.

    A few days ago my friend was going through some old photos found in her mother's things. One photo showed the two sisters with a store Santa, the older one K was 15 and the younger (my friend M) was 13. Their father had written on the photo to caption it. An arrow pointed at the older girl - "my beautiful, wonderful K" with kisses & hugs. The other girl simply had "M" underneath.

    She said after all this time, it still hurts.

    There is no way that anything could ever have been salvaged from this. With hindsight, there is still nothing she could have done, to make their relationship better. Absolutely nothing. And she did try, very hard. She would walk away when he was being hurtful. She detached.

    Would she have been better off simply forgetting she had a father? Maybe. If she could have totally cut herself off, a part of her may have always wondered if she could have done something different. But she didn't walk away, she did try, and it made no difference.

    All I can advise you to do, is detach. Get help for yourself and find ways to be strong in yourself. Never take on board what she says, do not believe it or accept it. Your brother needs the same - it is her choice to say bad things about people, it is their choice to let it hurt them or not.

    If you can distance yourself from the hurt she tries to cause, then you can have a relation ship of sorts. But if you can't, then keep away. Hang up when she starts getting unpleasant. DO NOT FEEL GUILTY.

    You have your own strength inside you, more than you realise. Tap into this and use it. Do not look to your mother, ever again, for validation. Instead, find it within yourself. And share this with your brother.

  13. tryinghard

    tryinghard New Member

    It is four oclock in the morning and I woke up wondering if anyone had posted and what they had to say so I logged in immediately! I stayed up till one in the morning thinking about this and all the good advice given...

    wyntersgrace you said the one thing I never thought of....I am feeling very very vunerable and lost right now in my life. I think what I am doing (even though I did not realize it until you mentioned it) is I think in some odd way I want my mom. I want my mom to love me and tell me it will be ok, I want her to hug me and make it all better. This is not going to happen but deep inside I need it to. If I try to connect right now it maybe ok for a day or two, but my mom will revert to her past ways.

    marg. yes we both should/need to go see someone. You, and others, have validated why I detached and that it was the right thing to do. My heart hurts for your friend because I understand a little bit, the pain your friend feels. I hope she is able to find peace.

    I think my daughter moving out to college is another reason I am feeling all this right now. We are so very close and I will miss her terribly.

    Thanks again everyone...truly you have helped me look at this from different angles and made me realizing detaching was not a bad thing.
  14. ScentofCedar

    ScentofCedar New Member

    There is a story about a family of frogs living in a poisoned pond. One of the frogs, a female, managed one day to crawl out of the poisoned pond and onto the bank. From the bank, which was also poisoned, but not AS poisoned, she could see her family. From her changed perspective, she could see how the poison was affecting those she loved.

    Even so, she just could not make herself go back into that poisoned water.

    Instead, she crawled away from the family pond.

    Soon enough, she stumbled upon another, different pond. The water was clear, and sunfilled. There was so much food, and the breezes were warm and mild.

    And so, she stayed in her new pond, and grew strong and healthy.

    She took a mate.

    But when she realized she was pregnant, she found herself thinking more and more about those she loved and had left behind in that horrible poisoned place.

    Before the time came to lay her eggs, she made the journey back to the poisoned pond.

    She intended to stay for only a little while ~ just long enough to see her family again, and to tell them there was a better way, a better place, free of the poison that was destroying them all.

    But no one would listen.

    She tried harder.

    As the poison from the pond entered her own body again, she felt herself grow weaker. She began to wonder whether all the things she had been so sure were true ~about the clean, lovely pond and the better way ~ she began to wonder if those hadn't been lies or maybe, just her own imagination.

    She lost faith really, in the things she had been so sure were true.

    The pond seemed somehow less poisonous, now that she had been back for awhile.

    She began to forget who she was, who she had been in that other, clean place.

    And she grew weaker and weaker, as the days passed.

    Soon, she no longer possessed the strength of purpose that had led her to climb that bank, the first time.

    And it was in the poison pond that she laid her eggs, one day.


    This story has helped me understand my own position.

    When we entertain thoughts having to do with the poisoned pond, when we wonder whether it was really as awful, and as harmful to us, as we once believed it was, that is when we are in danger of returning to the pond.

    But like that little frog, we may lose our way, lose our senses of purpose and of self, if we do go back there.

  15. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader


    I agree with the counseling suggestion. I struggle with a difficult relationship concerning my sister, who basically was like a surrogate mother to me from age 10 until about 20. The whole story is too long to go into, but one (final) day she lashed out at me for totally untrue and unfounded reasons and when she lashes out she's like a viper - a forked tongue, you name it. She can be evil. Well, I sort of lost it, screamed back and hung up on her. The next day I found myself a counselor. Other 'family issues' aside, I needed to learn how to detach from my sister without anger and resentment. I wanted to detach from her using the tactic of 'self preservation'. Being around her and talking on the phone with her was like walking on eggshells. If I ran into her at the store, I would have no way of knowing what she would be like with me. Seriously, I felt like I was wearing armor all the time when she was around - still do to a certain extent. The counselor suggested my sister had some type of narcissistic personality disorder and had me read, "Walking on Eggshells" - sorry can't remember the author, but you can look on Amazon. It really helped me a lot.

    Anyway, the counselor helped me put things into a perspective that I could understand. The counselor worked with me to feel stronger around my sister, helped me feel confident in my decision to detach and create healthy (safe) boundaries for myself. I shed a lot of guilt for bowing out of family events (because sister was there), I learned new phrases that helped me to either hang up the phone without crying or screaming back, and I learned to love and respect myself enough to be good to me DESPITE how it affects my birth family. The counselor and I went over how we're raised with this notion that just because this is our birth family or this is our mother, sister, etc., that we are beholden to them. We're not. If your mother were throwing burning sticks at your face, would you feel badly about not having a relationship with her? If everytime you saw her she threw a burning rag at your face, would you have any qualms about excluding her from your life? Probably not. That was one of the analogies that my counselor used to help me understand that my sister's verbal and emotional abuse was similar to setting me on fire and tearing me down.

    There are many steps you will need to take before you know what you will do...creating boundaries for your relationship with your mom and learning self preservation were the first ones I took with my sister.

    You have a close relationship with your daughter why? Because it's something you have always wanted in your life with your mother. You know what you missed out on. You said it below, you want your mom to love you and be close with her. You know that will never happen and although in a logical sense you've accepted that, emotionally it's still something you struggle with. I am very close with both my dds, I worked towards that goal their entire lives as little girls. Even difficult child, who is a major thorn in my side these days. When my easy child went off to college, it felt like I had a missing limb for a very long time. Then I learned to sit back and watch the show...see how wonderful she was at growing into a healthy, happy, independent young woman. It's marvelous. Allow yourself the time to mourn, but in time you and your daughter will reach a new level in your relationship that will be just as rewarding. In the meantime, find a counselor and take care of you. Sending lots of hugs and support.
  16. tryinghard

    tryinghard New Member

    ScentofCedar and Jog....thank you. I just got up, logged on and read your story and advice. I cried reading the frog story and your story about your sister.

    They both make me realize that I made the right decision for me and my family and that I now need to see someone to help me make peace with that decision.

    I am so grateful for my realationship with my daughter and that I did not repeat the things my mother did to me.

    I have told my brother that one of the reasons I have not had a relationship with my mother over the last eight years is that I do not believe being family gives you the right to hurt each other. If a friend treated me like my mother did I would never have thought twice of detaching from the relationship.

    Interestingly enough my mother has gone to quite a few counselors. She is always angry because they do not back her up and tell her that she is perfect and we are the evil ones. Well, she looked enough and she has found one. My brother gets to hear the updates from the sessions on what monsters we are for treating her the way we do, how my dad is horrible, how the world is against her and she is the only one who has it all together. :crazy1:

    I do not know what I would do without this board. It came to me at a time I really needed it and I am so grateful.
  17. skeeter

    skeeter New Member

    I don't think my mother ever said anything "good' about anything I did in my life, there was always the "you should have, you shouldn't have, why didn't you" types of comments. I was always closer to my dad, and I sometime suspect that may be part of the problem. I never realized until my dad died just how much he had been running "interferance" in the relationship.

    Things came to a head when I divorced and later remarried. She (being the good Catholic she is) decided she didn't want to talk to me. Period. Now, I'm an only child, my dad has been dead over 20 years, and she has no close family living, only cousins.

    I did not keep her from seeing my kids (her only grandchildren). One year for Christmas, when she asked my oldest what he wanted, he told her he wanted her to talk to me. This was over 3 years after my remarriage.

    We do talk now, but it's on MY terms. She know that if she "goes there" I will not put up with it. We will never be close, not because of the hurt, but just because I don't feel it's in my best interest.

    You have my heartfelt thoughts and prayers. Hopefully you can come to a peaceful decision for yourself.
  18. ScentofCedar

    ScentofCedar New Member

    Your brother is being damaged too, in his contacts with his mother. Somehow, we think we can function despite the toxic parent, once we have become adults.

    But I think that is not true.

    In our interactions with others, we learn who we are now, today.

    Love your brother.

    Believe for him that the things the mother says are lies and falsehoods designed to keep a bully in power once her children have grown too big to victimize physically.

    Parents who victimize their children ~ whether emotionally or physically ~ are bullies.

    Even as we become adults, the balance of power is non-existent in the parent-child relationship.

    If your mother were to change, I am sure you would be there for her that same instant. It sounds though, like she has not chosen to change.

    A bully will always seek a victim, and will always choose to victimize, if the opportunity is presented.

    That's what I say, anyway.

    Wishing you well, tryinghard.

    Once you can see these issues clearly, your perspective will change between one breath and the next.

    You will no longer be anyone's victim, because you will radiate from your own source.

  19. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    I agree. Your brother is fooling himself if he thinks that everything is just okay by just accepting her the way she is and going about his life when she's not around or when he's not around her, he's wrong. She's doing damage to him in seemingly innocuous ways. She's undermining him and the way he treats himself. I hope for his sake that he too seeks counseling. But for you, right now, be good to yourself and just by letting him know what you're doing to care for yourself may influence him to do the same. Hugs~
  20. 4sumrzn

    4sumrzn New Member

    You have been given some great advice & wonderful words of encouragement from the others. I can't add much.....I'll add my thought, prayers & many {{{HUGS}}}