My mom and I have had a very up and down relationship. In really simple terms here it has been. Parents divorced when I was 6 or so, I lived with her the whole time. You know she was my mom when I was young so I loved everything about her. Teenage years, shockingly couldn't stand her, young adulthood, we're good again...Now as a mother myself we are good but....I am drifting from her. I actually don't even enjoy talking to her on the phone or really visiting her anymore (overnight visits as she is over 3 hours away). The minute I get to her house I want to leave and I spend the whole time edgy and unhappy.
As an adult I am always looking back at my life (an issue I am working on) the things I feel people "did" to me are things I haven't let go of at all. My mom thinks she has been a great mother, she acts today as if she never did a bad thing. She still treats me as though I am 12. A recent thing that popped out of her mouth when we were having a disagreement about our 2 dogs who got in a spat was, "DON'T YOU CHALLENGE ME!"...What am I supposed to do with that attitude?
This woman in her lifetime as a mother has made some really terrible decisions in regard to parenting. It started early.
During the divorce she packed up our stuff in the middle of the night (maybe to avoid my dad's temper, totally understandable) and moved my brother and I in the middle of the night to this apartment where this woman lived...She explained who this complete stranger was to us. It was a woman she had been having an affair with while still married to my father.
Then again we do another midnight move a couple of years later. I don't know why I just remember getting packed into the car in PJs and into a new condo, her GF came with us. At this point I am getting older and realize my mom is "different" in that she has a relationship with a woman but my mother NEVER explained anything to my brother and I. I am 25 and in my ENTIRE life she has never EVER sat me down and said "I am a lesbian, this is what it is. I am not expecting that now, but when I was in elementary and middle school, other kids knew, they teased the @%#$ out of me and I was so confused, ashamed etc. because my mother never explained it as being ok, she never explained it at all. In fact she appeared to encourage it as a secret because she often lied when out in public and said her GF was a friend...This was a huge issue for me, I was so confused about how I was supposed to feel about it, or handle the meanness of other kids. Never got any guidance from the one person who was supposed to help me. My dad didn't help because he would call her a "dyke, queer etc" to his children's faces when we were with him.
In 8th grade my mom MADE me go to dinner at this woman's house, I didn't know this lady at all, never met her...After dinner it was getting late and I wanted to go home, my mom pulled me aside and said to me, "do you like it here?" I said yeah (not getting what was going on) and then she says "This is where we are going to be staying from now on." WTF...I was never ever allowed back to our old house. We had 4 dogs, only 2 came to live with us. I wasn't allowed to know what was going on and I was being "miserable" because I sobbed for 3 days straight in utter confusion. She had been having another affair with this woman and had once again done a sudden move.
Her old GF had been abusive to her (and to a lesser degree me and my brother) and I didn't know this at the time but things are clearer now. We were never allowed to have friends over with the old GF. Never allowed to do anything really. My mom was always getting yelled at etc... I get why she left but what she did was so horrible it has burned itself into my brain. She took me from my home and that was it. No closure, no warnings nothing...
Her current GF (more like her partner, would be her wife if they were allowed to get married) is nice and we sort of get along. I dealt with them both being intensely controlling and discouraging throughout high school. My mom tried to force me into rehab because I smoked weed recreationally. She called the police on me once. She told me if I ran away I would be sent away and never allowed back to her.
After I was in college I left and came back home to live for a semester, it ended with her choking me in the kitchen because we had been fighting and my now DH (then BF) running in, helping me pack my stuff and us leaving that night. I tried to talk to her about that little incident and she denies she ever did it! I had the hand marks on my neck! She says it was my fault we were fighting etc...
At this point in my life I can't really have a conversation with her anymore. This woman is never wrong, I am a child and she was freaking mother of the year every year. I look at her and wonder where that amount of denial comes from. I feel like we have nothing in common and all I can dwell on is the past...Currently, I am selling my car, which is a total heap and she is super disapproving and wants half the money from the sale because she paid to have it fixed up for me years ago. She thinks I am stupid for selling it but if I am, she deserves half the money because of all the money she willingly (which I so appreciate) put into it. I am a grown woman and my mom treats me like a child still. Ugh. I can't stand it. Thinking about having to go visit her is making my stomach turn but DD loves her and they don't get to see DD that often.
So where is this novel going? I don't know, I am trying to "grow" hence personal growth and part of me feels like I can't ever let go of all the horrible things she has done unless I actually talk to her about it. If I can't let of this stuff how am I supposed to move on? I am thinking of writing her a pretty lengthy letter but my main concern is that it will just turn into a diatribe about how horrible she was and how could she think of herself so much more than her children. This woman always took the easy way out and never really did the right thing when it was harder....I want to stop dwelling on these things she has done and how angry it makes me. DH is totally behind the letter idea but he thinks it too might just turn into an angry rant, which she would dismiss and tell me I am wrong anyway and that is not how anything really happened and she always cared about her kids the most blah blah blah...
If I did write a letter (I think I have to) what would I say? She hurt me? I am resentful for all that she did or didn't do?? I don't know, sorry this got so long. The car selling thing has set it all off again and has me mulling over every bad parenting decision she ever made...Of which there are plenty.
You ARE growing. This is just another step in the process.
You're not done yet.
Now that you're an adult, you are realizing some adult things about your childhood. I too went through a period of feeling betrayed (I might still be in that period, but on the tail end of it) when I realized my mother WASN'T the mother of the year like she always seemed to suggest. In fact I have found her to be quite flawed. This realization isn't going to take just a day; it's going to take some time.
What's next? I'm not sure, but I hope that as we get older, we may find some sympathy for our mothers. I think we'll realize that they dealt with some tough things, often without the support of anyone. I think we'll realize in some core level that they are human. Like us. This assumes a certain level of caring from your mother. Some people (and maybe you'll have to be one of them) will have to come to terms with the fact that their mothers are completely flawed and that it wasn't their (the child's) fault.
I think our legacy is to always improve on our own mothers. In my mother's case, she achieved that, by far. (Her mother was.. unspeakable). But I definitely want to do better than either of them.
Your mother sounds like she made some (many..) very selfish decisions, that she didn't consider your feelings or your intelligence or your humanity in many ways. It's ok to realize that. You're not a bad person for realizing what your mother did.
My mother never choked me (!! that sounds like a BAD scene) but she has totally denied doing/saying things. Sometimes within seconds of doing/saying them. I thought I was crazy for a while until my husband witnessed this a few times. I think I've even posted on MDC trying to figure out if this was a mental disorder on her part, or if she sincerely had a total lapse in memory. I currently suspect she knows damn well but can't cope with dealing with what she did so she just denies it. She tells me often that her brother and sister are total liars and I always have to bite my tongue against saying "yeah, just like you." The three siblings lie in totally different ways though. (On a lesser note, as an adult I finally figured out that she never went to Woodstock, never sat in a movie theater next to this or that celebrity, never saw a certain epic Doors concert, etc.).
Have you read Toxic Parents? The author helps people work through dealing with toxic parents, and her ultimate tool for self-empowerment is confronting the parent(s). Face to face or in a letter. However, it's not enough to just write a letter and send it. You need to prepare for this. Because the goal of the confrontation for the unprepared is to change the parent, to get them to acknowledge what they did, etc. - and that is frequently unrealistic. The goal for the prepared is to be able to stand tall, look the parent square in the eye and say "this is what you did to me, this is how it felt at the time, this is how it's affected me, and this is what I want from you now" and feel like they have stood up for themselves regardless of the parent's response.
On another note, I think it's probably very normal for mothers to find it difficult to adjust when their daughters grow up. She has been your "boss" for X number of years, and only recently has that changed. I think this process requires changes from you as well as her. You will react to her differently. If she says "DON'T YOU CHALLENGE ME" you will be able to look her in the eye and say "Excuse me?" You will tell her in your body language, your tone of voice and your words that you are a mature adult right now, and she is to speak to you like one.
Well, I'm only experienced with my own mother, but I've been shocked to find that pushing back on her hard has... worked. I'll expect her to blow up (and I have always been terrified of my angry mother, even though she's never laid a hand on me) and the child in me will quake. But she'll keep pushing and pushing, and I'LL blow up on HER, and she'll actually back off. And behave better. I'm shocked every time it happens. I'm confrontation-adverse but as confronting her has increasingly worked, I feel more confident about it, and I can even be more adult about it ("you will not speak to me that way" or "I expect you to respect my parenting decisions" or "this is the third time you've said that. Your point?") rather than just blowing up in a mess of snot and tears like I did at first. My heart still pounds when I do it though.
I don't think your task is to let this stuff go at all. I think it's a process, like grief. Maybe it IS grief in a way. No, I'm not advocating holding on to it either, but I don't think there's any merit in trying to tell yourself to forget about the things you are realizing.
Your relationship with your mother will never be the same again. You will never be a small child trusting her and wholly wanting to win her affection. I do hope that we both can look forward to another stage in our lives, though, where we can heal to some degree and forge new relationships with our mothers.
It's so fundamental, isn't it? Utterly fundamental.
If you want to confront her, get Toxic Parents and read through it first. If you've already read it, read it again and follow her process for what to say. It should not be an angry rant, but a specific flow of what needs to be said. And you should not send it until you feel that your success in writing it ends at having just plain DONE it - and not depending on your mother's reaction.
Homeschooling mama to 6 year old DD.
ohhh thank you laohaire for your reply...So thoughful...so encouraging.
Poor DH, he always gets grumpy/stressed wifey whenever my mother comes up. For some reason she comes up all the time (I wonder why) and it always leaves me dwelling/mulling and thinking about the negatives.
In some ways I do feel really bad for her. She probably felt trapped in a marriage with 2 young kids, trying to find her own identity...not easy.
She was in an abusive relationship for YEARS with the one girlfriend, I didn't realize this until much later, being young at the time...That just sucks and makes me feel so bad for her...but then she did what she did with moving me without warning or anything and that makes me angry...
I will pick up Toxic Parents, DH should read it too as he has his own mother "issues". I like the idea of writing a letter but being sure of what you expect out of it, changing her will never work. Why would it with her and not with anyone else you know...I have to think a lot about what I want to accomplish with this letter..
Oh, the whole "don't you challenge me!" thing...Well DH was right there and I yelled back at her, "I will when you are wrong!"...She glared at me and stormed off and then of course pretended it never happened (very typical of her). I just don't tell her anything anymore and I used to. I keep it so shallow, everything on the surface, phone calls are a, "hi hows it going..weather, pets, baby, done." I don't want to talk to her about anything in depth because frankly, she annoys me...Sigh.
You sound like you have your own issues with your mama. Plus the siblings too. My brother has lots of issues but that stems more from my dad (he lived with him most of middle and high school). I hardly see him anyway, another thread for another day...
Thank you again Laohaire
Yes, I do have issues with my mother, and more than one thread like yours trying to search for the thing that will heal it. I haven't healed it, but I guess I've come to believe that this is probably a life-long process.
I actually find it easy to sympathize with most people, and I am intellectually able to sympathize with my mother. I can explain pretty much all her flaws based on her traumatic childhood. I can realize that she broke the cycle. And I am so very lucky because I have the golden ring - I know, without a doubt, that my mother loves me (and I love her). Yet I still struggle - why? I think our mothers have such a fundamental position in our lives, they are such a core aspect of ourselves, that we MUST hold them to a higher standard than anyone else.
I too am finding that my sympathy for my mother and my appreciation for her efforts does not go far. No matter how hard she tried, no matter how much better she did than her own mother, no matter her reasoning for things she did, her flaws still affected me in a fundamental way. As children we are utterly vulnerable to our mothers. "Perspective" does not help my child-self, and I can't go back in time and sit my child-self down and say "listen, your mother is doing the best she can, so cut her a little slack." Children can't cut their mothers slack.
Yes, I have withdrawn quite a bit from my mother. I wonder if she knows it. Yes, we just talk about surface things. I don't really call her anymore (I can get away with that). She'll chat with me on instant messaging sometimes so there's the illusion of keeping in touch. I never initiate the chats, but I do respond when she does. My stock phrase for anything improper she might say is "I don't know what to say." She too is a master of pretending things never happened - that was her M.O. when I was a child, too. I learned that if my mother was angry, I'd just go to my room and wait until she cooled down and re-initiated contact with me by pretending nothing happened. And I just had to swallow it and play along - what was I gonna do at age 7, tell her we needed to talk about it and settle it? No, I grasped for whatever straws I got.
We're in the strange position of being a lot more powerful (because we're adults now) and yet still rendered powerless by our mothers. For me, I live for my mother's approval. That's just how I'm built. I haven't really matured beyond it as much as just let that branch of me sort of wither and rot, and draw on the strength of my other, new branches (my husband and my daughter).
I want to ask my mother how she dealt with this with her own (adoptive) mother but I don't know if she's ready yet. See what I mean? It's life-long. I see my own mother wants to be told she's a good girl. Still. It's just so fundamental.
Homeschooling mama to 6 year old DD.
I was going to reply to your other thread about chaotic childhoods being abusive. After reading this post, it is clear to me that your childhood was a bit more than chaotic.I do think your childhood could be considered abusive. Jerking kids out of there homes in the middle of the night and never letting them go back, thrusting new partners on you constantly without any introduction period, CHOKING you as a young adult? That is abusive behavior. "Dont you challange me!" at what, Im assuming you are in your mid 20's? That is absurd.
I have a very similar mother in some ways. The whole "Your a child and Im mother of the year" attitude is one of our biggest problems. I have been on a journey for the past 6 months to learn how to be a good mother, and not follow in her childish, self absorbed ways. I read toxic parents and toxic in laws. They are both really good books. I havent spoken to my mother since September of 2010, after she told me that I was going to "raise my daughter to be a nig*er loving lesbian." I dont know if or when I will talk to her. Ive thought about writing her a letter, Ive thought about sending her my copy of Toxic Parents with all the parts I felt like pertained to her highlited. I dont know what to do. I only know that right now the best thing for me to do is take a step back and try to figure out what I want my parenting to look like without her influence.
I know this site is a little big on the sale of their CD, but it has a lot of helpful information: http://www.daughtersofnarcissisticmothers.com/
Remember, if you do confront her or write her a letter, you may not get the response you want or need. You should do this for YOU not to explain how you feel to her. It may take some time, because its hard to process everything that has happened and think of all the ways her parenting affected you and what she did that make you hurt, angry, sad, insecure, ect. I think the process of writing the letter, or figuring out what you would say if you confront her is more important than wheather or not you ever actually do it.
Holly and David
Adaline (3/20/10), and Charlie (1/26/12- 4/10/12) and our identical twins Callie and Wendy (01/04/13)
Adaline's mama, thank you for your response...At first my response to what your mother said to was "holy jesus!" I can't believe those words came out of a grown woman's mouth. Awful..
Thank you for the suggestions... I couldn't help you with how to deal with your own mama. She sounds like a major piece of work to say the least...
Hmm part of my concern for even sending my mom any kind of a letter is the absolute devastation it would cause for her...To blow over her happy little house of cards and fantasy about her parenting would lead to tears...lots and lots of tears, the woman takes the smallest thing personally so if I gave her something that was seriously meant to be personal, I can only imagine I would be hearing about it from her partner who likes to come to the rescue and tell me "how badly I have hurt my mother..."
Sigh, I might just start writing period..
ETA that the whole "don't challenge me" incident was this past thanksgiving...I had brought our dog up and our dog got in a small spat with her dog. It was fine, nothing crazy and she freaked out, dove on the floor to grab her dog and was making the whole situation crazy. I kept trying to tell her to calm down and let the dog go everything was fine but she went ballistic and hence one of the most memorable statements DH and I ever heard her utter when we were both there. He was standing right behind me. I was mostly just shocked and my poor (dumb at the time) mother was having a freak out. She doesn't like to be wrong ever and boy did I pick a bad moment to tell her she should stop what she was doing...Ahh holidays with the family!
It would probably trigger a lot of feelings if your mother were to read such a letter from you. But it may help HER grow. The feelings are there; not talking about them doesn't make them disappear. According to Susan Forward (Toxic Parents author) some parents actually do respond in some positive way to the confrontation. Of course you can't get your hopes up, but the possibility exists. At the very least, some of them view their child in a different light and give them more respect, even if they don't openly acknowledge anything.
Homeschooling mama to 6 year old DD.