My mom and I have a difficult relationship. Several years ago I cut her off for about 10 years, and during that I became a mom and matured into a middle aged woman. Realizing that life is not infinite I decided to try once again to rebuild a relationship. We went to counseling for many months and worked on the relationship. I let my kids get to know her and she has been a great grandma in so many ways. Mom and I became friends, too, and we had certain boundaries that were respected.
Then my dad died. He and my mom were in an abusive relationship. Mostly it was my Dad's abuse but mom was not an angel either. I was affected by my dad's abuse as well. But the last 12 years my dad and I rebuilt our relationship, apologies were made, forgiveness was given, and we had a very good adult relationship. He remarried and learned to treat my step-mom well. He died too young,was just 59, but I'm so glad we made peace and enjoyed a good relationship.
So when he died I grieved pretty hard. Still am grieving because it's only been a few months. I have no siblings to grieve with. My mom hates my father and is angry at him for the abuse she endured and I don't blame her. However she thrives on the anger and brings it up a lot in my presence. It's one of those things we agreed in counseling she was not to bring up but she had started to do that again. The kids even overheard her once talking about their grandpa and I asked her to drop it and she got angry with me. When he died she initially asked how I was coping and I told her honestly that I missed him and was glad we had reconciled before he died. She wrote a letter to me saying she was glad he died, the world was a safer place for her now. That was pretty much the last straw and I told her I needed some time and distance to grieve and recover.
So then today we had counseling to try to heal from that and get back on track. We got nowhere really. She thinks I'm idolizing my dad, which is a normal thing to do after someone dies, you need good memories. I agreed not to ever bring him up again because it upsets her that he apologized to me for his abuse and we moved on, and he never did that to her. She is so irked by this but of course their relationship ended with their divorce when I was school-aged. I asked her in turn to agree not to talk about my dad in front of me because I cannot stand hearing hateful things about him especially now that he's gone. It causes me a lot of pain. She said she is survivor, it's part of her story and she feels it's her right to talk about it whenever she wants.
That's where the session ended and I feel like it's probably not going to go anywhere. We have another session in a few weeks. Hopefully she will agree to respect that boundary. The counselor said my request was reasonable. But if it's not honored is that enough to cut her off again for awhile? We have made so much progress until this big obstacle has come.
What is your input on this?
I have a similar expereince with my mom too. There are times that I would like to become estranged from her again if only to avoid it all but I know in my heart that I wouldn't want my kids to do that to me, even if I am a completely different person from my mother, I wouldn't want to set that example, you know? The thing that I can suggest is that you sit down and tell her exactly how you feel. That you are considering cutting her off again and you don't want to have to go there but you can't stand that she isn't respecting "the boundary". Tell her that n matter what he is your dad, she can't change that and she can't change how you feel about him regardless of what she may have went through. Let her know you do feel for her and understand but you don't want - or need - to hear it, especially now. If she needs to express herself maybe she could write it down. Maybe she can offer you to look at it but no words about him are to be exchanged. I hope that is helpful to you!
6/2006 11/2008 7/2010 10/2012 8/2015
It sucks when parents can't get along with their kids. I too experience this, but with my Dad. I have cut him off for years at a time in the past, and we are going on a couple months of not speaking right now. Sometimes, boundaries need to be created to keep people in your life - so I like that you have strong boundaries with your mom to save your relationship - kudos for that.
All I can say is that for me, it's usually easier for me to just keep him out of my life than it is to try to keep him in it. It's like constantly walking on eggshells for a relationship I don't want or need. So right now, I am perfectly happy not talking to him.
In your case, you are going to need to figure out if you WANT a relationship with your mom or are you doing it out of some "supposed to" reason (I'm supposed to get along with her because she's my mom).
I guess I would differ. I am a big believer in allowing for multiple perspectives, and that someone else's feelings have nothing whatsoever to do with your own. Why can't both of these realities co-exist and the two of you still have a relationship? From her perspective, she is a victim and a survivor. She is horrified that you aligned with the 'oppressor.' That is very real for her, and her experience and her reality has no bearing on your experience and your reality. Two different people having a completely different experience of the same person. For some reason your father was able to heal things with you and wasn't with her. That is a fact. O.k. She is still in pain. You aren't, with regard to the past. Why do you need her to honor your experience, and why can't you honor hers? You seem to both be using him as a battleground for other unspoken hurts.
In most situations in which people have knowingly cut off an important family member, only hurt and further suffering has been the result. There are case books, as well as genealogy books, filled with descriptions of how cut off has created pain and suffering, especially for the next generation. The real question is, why can't you both allow each other's feelings to exist?
Yeah, I don't know how much help this is, but my exH tried to kill me, and then my friends subsequently started a business with him. High Treason. That was worth a three day panic attack when I found out. I just don't get it. I don't understand people.
They were all like, "Why can't you get over it? That was in the past."
F them. F the world.
yeah, I'm kind of on your mom's side in this one. You're asking her to deny a big part of her past and current emotional reality in order to maintain a relationship with you. I don't think that's fair or realistic. I don't think she should be spending a bunch of time trashing your dad to you, and particularly not to your kids, but if it comes up occasionally I think it would be a good time to take a deep breath and remember that she is her own person, she has her own feelings and hurts about the past, and she's entitled to them.
I think you're right that you shouldn't discuss your dad with your mom. Don't make it about how you feel bad when she says negative things about him, though. Make it about your relationship with her. You want to get along with her, and that's why you don't want to discuss your dad. It's true, she is an abuse survivor, but this is also about how he's your father. In the same way that when people divorce, they can't really discuss the other parent's shortcomings with the kid. It's very hard--you want the child to understand at some point why you didn't stay married.
She told you that she feels safer in the world with him dead. Well, that was pretty terrible to hear. In order to not hear that again, let her know that you heard it and you understand. Then maybe she can let it go? I know she shouldn't be putting you in the middle, in a way that they might have done when you were a child, but I do see why she did it. Ugh, how complicated and awful this is for you.
I'm sorry you lost your dad. It's really good you were able to resolve some issues with him. It's great that you're able to be in touch with your mom.
Divorced mom of one awesome boy born 2-3-2003.
although i don't agree with your mom trashing your dad in front of you... you can't deny her past with him is not yours. she has a lot of emotional issues surrounding this. he was abusive to her and never said he was sorry like he did with you, AND he remarried and treated that woman better than he ever treated her ( i am guessing from what you said). how painful that must be for her, that he hated on her... and why? and she may feel that she can trust you since you went thru the same stuff with him? or she may feel betrayed because you forgave him? the past is a hard beast to deal with. i think a few more sessions with a counselor may be what is needed.
mama to 7 amazing children married to my main man for 24 years and finally home FULL time