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  1. #1
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    Dec. 18, 2013
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    Default Seeking advice from BTDT children of estranged parents

    Long time lurker and beneficiary of years of great horse and human (Off Topic) advice.

    Seeking advice from BTDT children of difficult parents, especially mothers. For adult children who have made it through the rough, raw first days of your break with your emotionally lethal parents - how did you survive the waves of grief and relief?

    I am trying to come to terms with not being able to be around my mother in her waning years. In my circle of friends and family, this is JUST NOT DONE. I understand other people have toxic parents they do not see, but no one I know has this situation.

    How did you come to terms and to find peace? How did you ‘break’ with your parent? Do your family and friends understand? Did you say anything to your parent? I have stopped trying to talk with her, I do not think she is capable of understanding.

    My story is that I have not had a normal relationship with my mom for decades, although I have tried to be a dutiful daughter at arms length. My mother is estranged from other family members and dad died long ago. Everyone else lives many states away. Lately, the only time I see her is in the ER. The ‘break’ has come because I did not go running to the ER to sit with my mother on my birthday (the ER visits typically happen over holidays or significant dates - and are not life threatening). I so dread holidays because these calls may come and it is a sort of blackmail. I could not face it any longer. My husband went to see her and followed up over the next few days. I did tell her that is was difficult to see her and that I could not be her full-time caretaker when she becomes ill (work full-time plus having a family). In the past, she did have some serious illnesses that required home care. My husband and I turned our lives upside down to care for her. Including home detox from alcohol poisoning twice - its a grueling week process, not for the faint of heart!

    This week she sent a terse email that I was no longer her emergency contact and if I was contacted before the changes were made to her records that I was not to respond. She gave her emergency contact as her massage therapist (a young woman with a family).

    My first reaction was relief. This has been a long time in coming. And then guilt. The guilt and pain usually outweighs the relief. But this needed to happen. No matter how much I want to be able to help my mother, I simply cannot.

    This all came to a head over the last year. About a year ago, I asked her to consider making amends with one of her grandchildren that she had abused in her care years earlier (condensed version: mom/grandma was a well hidden alcoholic and child was removed as soon as problem was discovered, child is doing great (counseling) and mom/grandma is no longer drinking). After so many years, asking to make amends seemed possible. Boy was I wrong. In response, my mother blamed her granddaughter and will not acknowledge any problem, harm or responsibility. Of course, this now teenager does not see grandmother as the amends she asked for years earlier were refused.

    Apparently this unleashed something in me (maybe my own repressed memories of what my mother did to me as a child). Out of the blue I did a tail spin that landed me in a suicide crisis center. It happened so fast and I could not stop spinning. Following this, my therapist said I was not to see my mother. But there is a huge part of me that says good daughters take care of their elderly mothers. Especially with my dad gone.

    But months later when this last ER call came -- I could not go. I completely froze. I do not blame my mother for what happened to me, my work with my therapist has helped me get past that. I am also grateful that my mother may have people around her that can help her where I cannot.

    But I don’t know how I will be able to make peace with myself. I have let some very close family know and have asked their understanding. But it does not sit well with me and I worry how callous I am being. I never discuss my difficulties I have had with others in our circle (very few people) other than to say that I struggle to be close to my mom.



  2. #2
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    Jan. 28, 2003
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    living it right now..have to go the barn but will respond in detail later
    "You can't really debate with someone who has a prescient invisible friend"
    carolprudm



  3. #3
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    Jun. 24, 2005
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    Do not go back to your mother. Block her phone number, block her on your cell, block her emails. For your own sanity, and safety ignore her, do not contact her, and act as if she doesn't exist. You do not owe something to her because she gave birth to you. She will try to manipulate and bully you, but if she succeeds it will ruin your life.

    The emergency contact routine is just another way to manipulate you into begging her forgiveness, and dumping your family and friends for her. She is totally self centered, and manipulative, and a bully. Her drinking is not your fault, and the only person that can stop this is your mother. My guess is that she will never stop drinking, being a bully, or thinking the world should revolve around her.

    I have been long estranged from my immediate family, after I realized that nothing I did would make them care about me. I have been so happy since I dropped contact with my birth family. I no longer get off the phone after talking to either parent, and cry about the fact that they only talk about their sons, and don’t have one second for me. The only thing they did was pay for my undergraduate school, and I found the cheapest school I could find, and worked at every opportunity between sessions, and I paid for a couple of Master’s degrees by myself. Nothing was ever mentioned when I graduated school, not a mention, or a nice remark or about the job advancement I worked hard for.

    I know that because I’m not a butt kisser, that I will never receive the huge sums of money both brothers, and their wives have received, and I bought my own houses, my siblings were given three houses between the two of them, and my parents have impoverished themselves financially supporting my brothers. My parents and brothers will have to live with the consequences of their enabling, and when the time comes, will need to sponge off of someone else. The only time my older brother called he wanted me to invest in his wife’s business, and I bet you can guess what the answer was to that.

    I have made my own family of people that love me for myself, and have made all types of legal documents, and provisions so my birth family has no say in my medical care, and will inherit nothing. The second I stopped calling them, they never called back, and it made it clear to me that my realization that they weren’t interested in me was exactly the truth. I never intend to contact any of them, and I have found that a life without guilt trips, and demands. I surround myself with people who care about me, and I have resolved never to be one of the sad people who waste their entire life trying to get someone to love them that is incapable of love.
    You can't fix stupid-Ron White


    10 members found this post helpful.

  4. #4
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    Dec. 18, 2013
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    Quote Originally Posted by JanM View Post
    She will try to manipulate and bully you, but if she succeeds it will ruin your life.

    I have made my own family of people that love me for myself.

    I surround myself with people who care about me, and I have resolved never to be one of the sad people who waste their entire life trying to get someone to love them that is incapable of love.
    Jan M - thank you for responding. I did not realize how long the original post was! When you are lost in the middle of the ocean, it's hard to gain perspective.

    You said many things that make sense and I need to remember
    - trying to 'get' a mother to love you, when she is incapable. I understand that, but coming to peace that your mother does not, cannot, love you has been so hard to accept.

    - until I met my DH, no one ever reflected to me how difficult my mother was (probably because I didn't want anyone that close to the situation!)

    - I stopped talking about anything in my life with her because any info will be used against you. I stuck to the blandness of subjects - the weather and HER life.

    Thank goodness for my barn and new friends I have been making. I am learning that making my own family and becoming close to my dad's large family. My mother hated them all. Now I think of my dad's sisters (aunts) as my collective 'mother.' They have loved me from the first time I met them (in my 20s!) which took so long to trust and see.

    Finally, I am sharing with my online 'barn' to get through this rough spot. Reading how others have made their way is so very helpful and comforting.

    But I refuse to spend too much time wallowing in this. I will not let my mother's mental illness invade my life with a loving family and friends. And riding! Nothing like a few frisky OTTBs and a massive young WB make you focus here and now.

    Day by Day. Thank you.


    2 members found this post helpful.

  5. #5
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    Jan. 15, 2013
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    Your mother sounds manipulative and narcissistic. My own is the same.

    It took me a long time (and therapy!) to realize there is nothing I can do to change my mother. She's always going to be immature, manipulative and irresponsible. She's also an alcoholic. I found peace in that knowledge, and that I have the power to stop her from treating me like a emotional punchbag.

    My therapist (bless her) taught me to set strict boundaries, which has helped immensely. We aren't close (we barely talk), but she now knows that if she wants any contact with me she cannot yell, insult, manipulate, or whine, as I will hang up the phone/leave. No buts. I told her the rules straight.

    I definitely recommend a therapist or counsellor if you are struggling. Having an unbiased third party help I found really beneficial. Mine have me the tools I needed to stuck up for myself and move on.


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  6. #6
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    Dec. 18, 2013
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    Thank you - yes I am seeing my therapist. Learning HOW to take the first steps in a new (FREE!) world are so scary and new. I really, really need to reclaim my life. The last decade has been spent in a serious depressive episode (couldn't get out of bed for a while). Once you get used to living under that cloud, I have found it really hard to live my life. I think its always living under silent guilt and fear (and that critical voice in your head). My family has suffered and I lost many friendships. Now I see the link between the depression and my mothers influence.

    Did you suffer depression? Did you struggle with learning to live your life fully and with joy? I am going to the barn a lot over the holidays. And am decorating the house this weekend for the first time in years and years. A lot of this I am MAKING myself do. Otherwise I live in a disassociated stupor! lol. too much Netflix and COTH!



  7. #7
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    Nov. 7, 2013
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    I know exactly what you are going through, as my father is the same as your mother. My father was also narcissistic, manipulative, abusive, and completely incapable of loving anyone. I know it's hard to come to terms with the fact that some people are completely unable to love or be functional. This is not your fault, please know this. It's nothing you have done; some people are just the way they are and it can't be fixed.
    I think the best thing to do is completely remove someone like this from your life. People who don't have family members like this cannot fathom how horrible it actually is, so don't worry about those that can't understand your decision. Seeing a therapist is an amazing idea and a great way to heal and work through what you're going through.


    1 members found this post helpful.

  8. #8
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    Sep. 24, 2003
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    Dear OP,

    We've been through this. My husband's mother is mentally ill and addicted, as well as being impossible and manipulative. She's been out of our lives for 5 years now, and it's a blessing.

    Even as her daughter, you are not responsible for her. The grief comes from knowing that you will never have the mother you deserved and wanted and would have loved, but you can't fix it, so grieve, let go, and move on. It will take time. Be gentle with yourself.


    1 members found this post helpful.

  9. #9
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    Jun. 24, 2005
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    After I realized that my parents had zero interest in me, and accepted that I stopped calling or writing them. They never noticed. They never called me, when they traveled within a couple of hundred miles to visit family (they plan visits like this long in advance) I only found out from others that they had been there. I decided I didn't need to hear the criticism, and disappointment from them, and decided to see what my life was like without them.

    I soon realized that without trying and failing to talk to them, or have them even take my calls, that I was happier. No more crying after I did get them to talk to me, and no feelings of not being good enough. I was happier without them, and I have made a life for myself. I knew how strange things were when I would talk to friends, and mention something, and my friend would ask me if that was how my relatives always acted. You don't realize how toxic things are when you are raised with it, until you get out on your own, and see everyone else's family isn't constantly critical, or how much they my parents favored my siblings over me. I think you will be happier without your mother, and I doubt she will ever realize how she treated you. Some people are incapable of loving anyone but themselves.
    You can't fix stupid-Ron White


    1 members found this post helpful.

  10. #10
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    Jan. 6, 2003
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    Yes, did that. Cut contact about 4 yrs before her passing. I was enlisted to persuade her to get some much-needed surgery about a year before she died, and her behaviour improved *sightly* for a while thereafter.

    She was a mean spirited individual right until the end. Nursing home had to put her in a private room because she was caught trying to smother not one, but TWO subsequent roommates.

    I had no guilt in not caring for her because she wasn't happy unless she was making you unhappy. Literally. She would say hurtful things then spin around with a gleeful face to catch your reaction of shock/ hurt/ anger/ sorrow.

    When she died -- I will warn you -- there is a vacuum. You feel.. nothing. Not relief, not grief. Really nothing. I mourned the relationship I had always hoped for and knew with her death would never come.

    Don't expect your friends or acquaintances to understand either. Between the religious zealots/ (martyrs) who "Honor thy parents" regardless, and those who are blessed with more normal upbringing, you won't have a very large audience who gets what you've been through and what forced your hand.

    That which doesnt' kill us, and all that.


    1 members found this post helpful.

  11. #11
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    Dec. 18, 2013
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    Thank you everyone for sharing your wisdom and kindness and the PMs. A lot of compassion and comfort.

    Sansena - thank you - this is especially interesting and important to hear:
    Quote Originally Posted by Sansena View Post
    When she died -- I will warn you -- there is a vacuum. You feel.. nothing. Not relief, not grief. Really nothing. I mourned the relationship I had always hoped for and knew with her death would never come.

    Don't expect your friends or acquaintances to understand either. Between the religious zealots/ (martyrs) who "Honor thy parents" regardless, and those who are blessed with more normal upbringing, you won't have a very large audience who gets what you've been through and what forced your hand.

    That which doesnt' kill us, and all that.
    I just have never complained or criticized my mom to family and friends - its always been sort of stunned silence. I didn't even know where to begin and it seems better to live the life you have than discuss the unknowable: how indifferent some people can be to others. My therapist has heard some and now she is recommending that I tell my story of my mother and me in our work together. I think it is time! I am ready to acknowledge and move on.

    Also, hearing that she finally looking to other people than me comes as such a relief. I haven't been in her life other than ER visits for almost a decade. Esp. after finding out what happened to this sweet grandchild and then to have my mom 'attack' and blame a child instead of admit her own actions!

    I can share my RELIEF that she is 'gone' here. Don't dare say it anywhere else. Between the waves of grief I feel like dancing a jig of glee. The weight lifted is enormous.

    I really do wish my mother as much comfort and love she can surround herself with. But it can't be me. I just freeze around her. At least I don't have the panic attacks that last for 3 days anymore.



  12. #12
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    Oh - thank you everyone for saying you also never felt good enough. I swear there was a time in my life I twisted myself into a pretzel to try and make my mom notice and love me!



  13. #13
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    Different story, same feelings, slightly ahead of you. My mother is basically senile now, but seems like a normal person, mimicing behavior, but has been so brainwashed and traumatized by now dead step-father and half siblings, she's become a shell of a person and truly horrible.

    I cut it off in June and have had no contact. I have seen a counselor a couple of times and been trying to deal with the emotions of it. I've done all I can, she doesn't care, I have to accept it. So, I'm in the ignoring it and building a big wall trying not to think about her living a horrible life rambling around in a filthy house, drinking, and pretending it's all OK while half-siblings take every drop of blood from her. I tried for 15 years to save her, and what it got me was her in her demented mind blaming me. It REALLY sucks that someone you love and thought loved you is incapable of it. And it's worse because my father died when I was 8, so I never had that.

    It is really sucking as the holidays come up. Like everyone said, it's the right thing. Live your life with the people who care and want to be in your life instead of fighting for people you have done so much for and refuse to acknowledge. It sucks, sucks, sucks, sucks.


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  14. #14
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    Alter-I had a co-worker who was in her fifties when her witch of a mother died. (And I am calling her a witch for a good reason) Betsy (not her real name) spent every day until her mother died catering to her, and trying to please her, in spite of the horrific things her mother said and did to her. Nothing this woman or her siblings did was good enough for the mother, and Betsy spent all of her efforts doing things for a woman who cared nothing for her. It's sad to waste your life trying to get someone to love you when that person is incapable of love. You deserve to be loved and treasured for the unique and wonderful person you are. Find the people who love you, and build your life with them. You deserve to be happy.
    You can't fix stupid-Ron White



  15. #15
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    I'm so sorry you're dealing with this. I'm so sorry so many people have these toxic people in their lives. My sister is one of these. I thought for awhile there she was really being livable and then within the past year, she went back to her old ways. Almost ruined my son's birthday with her antics and took her kids away from the party without so much as pizza because I took one to time out for being rude. She wasn't there and " no one displines her children". That did it. I stopped talking to her. Now she sends me shitty emails telling me I'm horrible person, blah blah blah. I cut her out of my life once before and would easily do it again. But her kids ... I'm trying to keep in touch through her ex who is a super nice milk toast kind of guy. But I know he's scared of her wrath if she finds out.
    And oh, she moved to my city. Grrreeaaaatttt.
    Best to be happy and find that perfect horse mom that you can adopt ;o) I did!
    Even duct tape can't fix stupid



  16. #16
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    Read this great book called The Borderline Mother by Christine Lawson. Recommended it to all my patients in that situation.
    ********
    There is no snooze button on a cat that wants breakfast.



  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bank of Dad View Post
    Read this great book called The Borderline Mother by Christine Lawson. Recommended it to all my patients in that situation.
    It's at the library! It looks very helpful. TY!

    Again, thanks to everyone's kind words and advice. It's so good to not be alone and have others reach out with compassion.
    Last edited by Alter Thoughts; Dec. 20, 2013 at 06:05 PM.



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