or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Mom › Talk Amongst Ourselves › Personal Growth › Do you consider this emotional abuse?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Do you consider this emotional abuse?

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

I'm not sure if this is the right place to put this, moderators feel free to move it if needed.

 

I'm in a situation with my mother and need some words of wisdom.  I hope this doesn't get too long.

 

I have a (functioning) alcoholic mother who I suspect has some kind of untreated mental illness.

 

My mother is giving me the silent treatment for the 3rd time in 3 years right now.  It all started because I expressed some concerns I had with her attitude towards babysitting DS.  I wrote her a message over facebook explaining how her attitude hurts me (speaking to her face to face is never the way to approach it). It was never an attack on her character, or her at all. Just a daughter telling her mother about something that's been bothering her.  I usually bite my tongue and keep stuff in around my mom because my mother doesn't have strong conflict resolution skills, so most disagreements turn into huge, drawn out, dramatic ordeals.

 

Two years ago she ended a 30 year long friendship over a silly conflict. She turned the anger into hatred towards her ex friend and expected me to join her in the hatred. I tried to stay neutral (her ex friend is my godmother), my mother didn't like that, and emailed her ex friend to tell her to stop contacting me. I should probably stop here and point out that I'm a thirty year old mother and wife, not a child.  When I called my mother to talk to her about it, she blew up (she was drinking) and didn't speak to me for 2 weeks and deleted me as a friend on facebook. When she finally responded to one of my emails, she wrote that she didn't see how our relationship could EVER be repaired because of the situation.  It was heartbreaking. The next day she requested my friendship on facebook again and started sending me happy messages like nothing had ever happened.  We never talked about it again, although she has given me the silent treatment once more (another 2 weeks) when she saw that her ex friend had sent DS a birthday present. She said I'm not "loyal" to her because I don't remove this person from my life. Keep in mind: The disagreement between them was about how flaky her friend was, nothing more.  My godmother still wants a relationship with my mother, but my mother refuses.

 

Now here I am, getting the silent treatment again for expressing how I feel about something.  My husband has told me not to pursue her this time (like I usually do) and just let her not speak to me.  The first day or two I had severe anxiety about it and cried. Since then I've just been angry and think it's incredibly unfair to be treated this way, especially over such silly things.  Adult relationships sometimes have conflict and disagreements, and adults work through them.  My relationship with my mother isn't like that.  In my thirty years, my mother has never once apologized to me for something she did or said.  Everything is ALWAYS my fault. I either got upset for no reason, I'm too sensitive, or I'm mistreating her by taking out my stress on her.  I'm starting to feel that this relationship isn't healthy for me.

 

When she fights with my sister, she's usually drunk, says something horrible and mean, then spends the next few days trying to make up with her.  Yet, she never ever tries to fix it with me. I either have to grovel at her feet or apologize, and then she'll make me wait for forgiveness.  Regardless of whether I'm right or wrong in a disagreement, I think giving me the silent treatment is an extreme and hurtful reaction.

 

I feel like this is her way of trying to control me. Which would mean it's a form of emotional abuse right?  I just need some insight from someone outside of the family.

 

Thanks in advance.

 

 

 

post #2 of 14

Hi there,  I'm sure you will get far better advice from others here.  I just wanted to chime in my two cents. 

 

You're original question is, is your mother's behavior emotional abuse?  I think that is rhetorical in this situation.  What does it matter if it is 'emotional abuse' or not.  Do you mean is it intentional?  Does your mother 'know' what she is doing?  Are you looking to blame her so you are off the hook in some way?  It is a disfunctional relationship for sure.  It needs mending and attention.

 

It sounds like your mother is both diagnosable from a mental illness standpoint (this sounds so harsh but really the older I get the more I realize that everyone is diagnosable to one degree or another at some point in thier lives...) , and an alcoholic.  This just sounds like such a bad combination.  I mean to deal with iether one or the other alone would be stressful, but both.  WOW!

 

The years of living with alcohols leads me to say, that the more you try and figure things out and 'do' the right thing so your mom will or will not do this or that... that is the other part of alcoholism, enabling.  That's what we do, those of us who love the alcoholic.  My advice... set firm limits and boundaries, ask your family for support in maintaining them and possibly seek help from a support group.  It is hard to say what to do in each instance of 'the silent treatment'.  As far as the friend goes that your mom broke contact with... set really firm boundaries with your mom and don't let her control this aspect of your life.  (I had an aunt who did this and she drifted farther and farther away from everyone, she estranged everyone in her life from her.)  I think medication could help... who knows what is manifesting with alcohol mixed in.

 

You have a right to your own happiness.  I am sorry your mother can't be part of that right now.

post #3 of 14

the trouble with alcoholism, IME, is the attitude of entitlement. the alcoholic gets to say/do whatever they please when empowered by the alcohol. damn the consequences. it's HARD for the co-dependent, who absorbs all the grief. later, the alcoholic doesn't even fully realize what was said or done, but the sober co-dependent cannot forget.

 

you need to break free from the relationship. you can still have a mother, but you need to accept her for who she truly is -- not keep hoping and trying to change her. she will never be the person you wish she would be. BUT you can become the person you are meant to be.

 

have you been to Al-Anon? it's help for those who love an alcoholic. you will get to see how others in similar situations handle their lives. the good, the bad, the ugly. but you can take what works for you and what helps you and leave what you don't want.

 

good luck!

post #4 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by ElliesMomma View Post

have you been to Al-Anon? it's help for those who love an alcoholic. you will get to see how others in similar situations handle their lives. the good, the bad, the ugly. but you can take what works for you and what helps you and leave what you don't want.


agreed. There's a good book called "Toxic Parents" that you might find helpfu, tool. My therapist lent me a copy!

 

I tend to think of "emotional abuse" being a situation where one person is trapped with the other -- a minor child who is still living at home, a spouse, etc. I think of adult /adult relationships a little differently. I don't know if that's right, it's just how I think of it.

 

But your mom's behavior is totally unacceptable and is something that since you ARE an adult, you can now move past. You don't have to let her get under your skin any more.

 

(growing up with her must have been hell)

 

post #5 of 14

It is very controlling and mean. I'm leary of the label "emotional abuse," but it is sort of abusive. She is hurting you in order to control your behavior. It is also the type of behavior you see in people with personality disorders. People with problems with narcissism can't stand to be criticized. People who are borderline can't see themselves or others as anything other than all good or all bad.

 

 

Here are some of the books that might be useful(besides "Toxic Parents" which is great):

 

Adult Children of Alcoholics Syndrome

http://www.amazon.com/Adult-Children-Alcoholics-Syndrome-Discovery/dp/0553272799/ref=sr_1_19?ie=UTF8&qid=1312384819&sr=8-19

 

Stop Walking on Eggshells

http://www.amazon.com/Stop-Walking-Eggshells-Borderline-Personality/dp/1572246901/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1312385081&sr=8-1

 

Will I Ever Be Good Enough?

http://www.amazon.com/Will-Ever-Good-Enough-Narcissistic/dp/1439129436/ref=sr_1_11?ie=UTF8&qid=1312385118&sr=8-11

 

When You and Your Mother Can't be Friends

http://www.amazon.com/Will-Ever-Good-Enough-Narcissistic/dp/1439129436/ref=sr_1_11?ie=UTF8&qid=1312385118&sr=8-11

 

Mean Mothers

http://www.amazon.com/Mean-Mothers-Overcoming-Legacy-Hurt/dp/B0043GXYHS/ref=pd_sim_b_8

post #6 of 14
Thread Starter 

Thank you for the great replies and book suggestions.

Ravenlunatic- you asked, "You're original question is, is your mother's behavior emotional abuse?  I think that is rhetorical in this situation.  What does it matter if it is 'emotional abuse' or not.  Do you mean is it intentional?  Does your mother 'know' what she is doing?  Are you looking to blame her so you are off the hook in some way?"

 

It's a good question and I was actually hesitant to even write that question in my post.  It dawned on me yesterday that the way my mother acts/treats me in these situations is damaging to both me and our relationship.  I realized that by giving me the silent treatment she's essentially telling me, "Our relationship is not intimate or strong enough to have disagreements. It's superficial and goes well as long as you don't rock the boat. If you express any emotion besides happiness towards me, I will not speak to you anymore. You aren't important enough to work through things with. You either apologize or you don't have me in your life."  I decided that if she were to verbally say those words to me, that it would be harsh and cruel, so then I asked myself if not actually saying them to me was just as harsh and cruel?  That's where "emotionally abusive" came in. I needed a way to word it.

 

You also mentioned that you had an aunt who became estranged from the family, and my mother seems to be trying to do the same thing. She stopped talking to her father, sister, brother, best friend, doesn't invite co-workers over anymore because one of them told the office about a drunken incident with my mom, etc.  She and my dad seem to literally be slipping into hermit mode where they can unhappily drink to themselves. To my mother, anyone who disagrees with her or doesn't like her is "toxic." Which is why this situation is hard for me because I'm starting to feel that my mother is toxic to me, but then I worry that I'm just turning into her by labeling people as toxic and wanting to separate myself from them.

 

 

I actually never considered going to an Al-Anon meeting.  I guess I just assumed those meetings were for people who have been severely emotionally harmed by an alcoholic.  My mother can be wonderful and loving, but if something flips that switch...watch out.  Both my parents are alcoholics, and not happy ones. They weren't always like this, so when I was a child it wasn't so bad although my mother started to be unbearable when I was in high school. Looking back, I've always blamed myself for our problems when I was a teenager, but now I'm starting to wonder/accept that she may need to carry some of the blame as well.  

 

My sister has resentment about how her life was when I went away to college and she was left with them drinking night after night for years. She's expressed her concerns over their drinking many times. My mother once offered to stop drinking for my sister's 18th birthday but it only lasted about a week.  I think I will look into the meetings, it will probably offer me lots of insight, and I'll probably realize that many of my mother's actions and behaviors are because of her alcoholism.

 

Thanks again for your support and replies. It's appreciated. love.gif

 

 

 

 

post #7 of 14


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mamakah View Post

 It dawned on me yesterday that the way my mother acts/treats me in these situations is damaging to both me and our relationship.

 

 

....  I guess I just assumed those meetings were for people who have been severely emotionally harmed by an alcoholic.  My mother can be wonderful and loving, but if something flips that switch...watch out.  Both my parents are alcoholics, and not happy ones. They weren't always like this, so when I was a child it wasn't so bad although my mother started to be unbearable when I was in high school. Looking back, I've always blamed myself for our problems when I was a teenager, but now I'm starting to wonder/accept that she may need to carry some of the blame as well.  

 

My sister has resentment about how her life was when I went away to college and she was left with them drinking night after night for years.


Do you have a solid support system in the way of spouse/friends/etc?

 

When I read your post, it hit me that you may be in the process of opening a can of worms -- that things about your childhood, life, sister, etc are all on their way to the surface. In so many ways, this is a wonderful thing because it means that you can release it all and let it go. But seeing it all really clearly for the first time could be difficult.

 

grouphug.gif

 

 

 

post #8 of 14

Mamakah, it sounds like you are at the start of a new journey.  One that you can weather over time and space.  I sounds also like you really contemplate things and that maybe some clarity follows.  Good luck to you.

 

 

 

post #9 of 14

Can you record her during one of her alcoholic rants and play it back for her sober and tell her how much it hurts you and the people she loves and that you don't want to lose her etc etc and maybe make her think?

 

Can you simply hang up and say don't call me when you're drinking. I don't like it. click.

 

You could stop begging and let her come to you. Even if it takes several weeks maybe it will click that you won't put up with it anymore like your sister.

 

I have always thought at some point the child becomes the parent (to the parent) and sometimes they need to be treated like children. No, mom we do not act like that around people. You can complain and whine to me but take  time and really think about it before you start a fight with someone. Or mom, I love you but alcoholism is bad and let me list the reasons why and how you look/behave which is nothing at all like your normal loving caring personailty that we all love.  etc etc.

 

My mom would fight with her sister and it takes time (my mom was probably older than yours) but eventually it came to me saying things like ok we're going to visit family for dinner and you are not going to say anything mean to jodi right? If she makes you mad dear just bite your tongue and think or something happier to talk about. And she was grit her teeth at me and go fine! Just like a little kid and then I'd tell her how proud I was of her. Might sound stupid but it worked lol. But my mom had a mean sense of humor. The next day her sister would call me and say wow your mom was so nice to me! I can't believe it! And I'd just be all yup! *all smiles* and like a good mom not tell her the behind the scenes part of it. *shrug* worked for me anyway. But my mom didn't drink! That's a big problem.

post #10 of 14

I think it mostly has something to do with being alcoholic. Addicts and alcoholics tend to kind of parade around with their emotions and expect people to know how they feel and think. If that doesn't happen, then people can piss off.........until they realize to some extent they were wrong. They actually feel alot of guilt inside when they do these things, but have too much pride to ADMIT that they were wrong. It's most likely the alcoholic in your mother talking, and not how she REALLY is, but I WOULD disconnect from her unless she agreed to treatment. Now, I don't know if she has been alcoholic your whole life, or if something sparked the alcoholism in your adolescence or adulthood, but this is kind of important to know about your situation. If you know what she was like before being alcoholic and it was a different person than you see today, then it's the alcohol, if she's always been this way to some extent even without alcohol......stay........away! She is not healthy for your family. Your godmother might be better for you than your mom if your mom is genuinely emotionally abusive.

post #11 of 14

Mamakah, I could have written your posts exactly, verbatim about my mom - everything including that she has never once apologized to me in her whole life for anything, she is always right, she does seem to ignore what she says/how she treats me when she's been drinking, she has also estranged her sisters, aunts, uncles, etc.  And she also has a much stronger relationship with my sister.  I have learned that in order to have any kind of relationship with my mother, (and when she's not drinking, she is sometimes very helpful) I have to "play her game", which basically means don't rock the boat, don't say the things that I know will set her off, (drinking or not), act like a happy well adjusted successful daughter that she can brag about, and agree with her on everything, always. And I've learned just to never call there after about 6pm, and avoid her when she's been drinking.  But if I do this, then she is helpful picking my kids up from school, we go out for lunch or for pedicures together, we can chat about work and day to day things as long as I don't disagree with her too much, (and sometimes she does have good advice).  And I've just learned to never tell her anything too personal or that I'm worried about as she is guaranteed to throw it back in my face when she's drinking or use it against me/blame me for things in a hurtful way (she has this knack of taking things I'm sensitive about and using them to hurt me).  It's not great, but given the choice I kind of came to terms with her conditions and decided I would rather have her in my life on those terms than not at all.

 

I've struggled with it a lot over the years and came to decide that for me personally, I needed "a mother" like that rather than no mother.  And we've gone through months of her not speaking to me b/c I disagreed with her on something or told her something she was doing was hurtful etc.  She has been like this as long as I can remember, and I'm over 40 and I truly believe she will never change so IMO I have a choice of this kind of relationship or nothing, and I'd rather have a relationship with her even if it's somewhat superficial.  I question daily whether she really loves me given the way she treats me (compared to how she treats my sister), I'm sure deep down on some "mother" level she does, but she really doesn't show it in her interactions with me, and I don't feel valued or important to her most of the time, which is very very hurtful.  But again, trying to talk to her about something like this would result in one of her rages, and would not get us anywhere.

 

So I just wanted to reach out and say I can relate, I know how you feel, and maybe you just need to accept that she will not change and decide if you want a relationship with her on "her" terms, or not at all.  In my case, my brother decided "not at all" and moved to another continent.  I've decided what works for me.

 

Good luck and hugs.

 

post #12 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by monkeybum View Post

Mamakah, I could have written your posts exactly, verbatim about my mom - everything including that she has never once apologized to me in her whole life for anything, she is always right, she does seem to ignore what she says/how she treats me when she's been drinking, she has also estranged her sisters, aunts, uncles, etc.  And she also has a much stronger relationship with my sister.  I have learned that in order to have any kind of relationship with my mother, (and when she's not drinking, she is sometimes very helpful) I have to "play her game", which basically means don't rock the boat, don't say the things that I know will set her off, (drinking or not), act like a happy well adjusted successful daughter that she can brag about, and agree with her on everything, always. And I've learned just to never call there after about 6pm, and avoid her when she's been drinking.  But if I do this, then she is helpful picking my kids up from school, we go out for lunch or for pedicures together, we can chat about work and day to day things as long as I don't disagree with her too much, (and sometimes she does have good advice).  And I've just learned to never tell her anything too personal or that I'm worried about as she is guaranteed to throw it back in my face when she's drinking or use it against me/blame me for things in a hurtful way (she has this knack of taking things I'm sensitive about and using them to hurt me).  It's not great, but given the choice I kind of came to terms with her conditions and decided I would rather have her in my life on those terms than not at all.

 


 


Wow. Our mother's really are the same.  My mother does what my sister and I call "The zing" where she takes something we confided in her once in a moment where we felt we could trust her, and later "zings" us with it in one sentence. It's guaranteed that she will use anything we say in the past against us at some point.

 

I also feel like I want a relationship with my mom, and just like with your mom, as long as I play along and act like everything is fine, then things go smoothly and we talk on the phone, go to farmer's market together, etc. After talking to my husband about it a lot last night he basically said that I need to do what you said. Just play her game.  He pointed out that I need to master the art of letting her words/actions roll off my back.  He pointed out (like most posters here) that I'm an adult and she just can't treat me like that anymore. 

 

To those who asked if she's always been an alcoholic: yes.  I didn't know that her behavior was related to alcohol as a child though, but looking back I can think of many instances where alcohol was probably why something hurtful was said or done.  She is mean when drunk, so most of our mother-daughter fights were pretty brutal.  She also cried while drunk one night and told me that my behavior (I was a teenager) makes her want to kill herself. She repeated it over and over, that I make her want to kill herself.  I doubt she remembers ever saying that to me.

 

Her drinking has just been getting worse over the years. The more "issues" that come up around her and my father's drinking, the deeper into hermit mode they go.

 

Ravenlunatic and Linda on the move- You both mentioned that this looks like the beginning of a lot of discovery. I've realized this too and although I'm worried about it, I also welcome it in a way.

 

Thanks everyone, I knew I would get some wise and thoughtful responses here.  luxlove.gif

 

 

post #13 of 14
The fact that your mother does not respect you as an adult is emotional abuse. The fact that she is "punishing" you with the silent treatment (not taking time away for herself to heal or process) is emotional abuse. I think you and your sister would benefit from Alanon, but you mother needs help too. hug.gif
post #14 of 14

Maybe you could "Zing" her and land her on the show Intervention. Just a thought. thumb.gif It's a simple application online. I almost applied for my sister at one point. She was on meth for 6 or more years and I saw the scale say once 87 pounds. She's 5'3".

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Personal Growth
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Mom › Talk Amongst Ourselves › Personal Growth › Do you consider this emotional abuse?