support thread for mamas with toxic and/or estranged parents - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 402 Old 11-11-2008, 04:02 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I need to continue a discussion that began on another thread. Many of us have come to AP to break the cycle of verbal and psychological abuse in our families of origin. The denial and shame can be INTENSE and the need to break free is urgent, as I have learned the hard way myself just how seriously toxic grandparents can undermine our attempts to parent our own children and how our desire to have our families be healthy and the problem be a deficiency in ourselves can make it impossible to see what's right there in front of our eyes.

i neede this support group. i'm at a crisis and a crossroads. my own parents have confessed to some pretty unspeakable actions that they deliberately did to destroy my "second" family (me, dd2, and ds1), there is some evidence that they might have done worse with my "first" family (me and dd1, who i lost custody of at the age of 4 months), and although i have not told them about ds2 and they live 3000 miles away, i am still in phone and email contact and have not completely broken away from them financially at any point in my adult life.

i need support, not shame, if i am to be able to make a fresh start with ds2 and try to rebuild my relationships with my older children, including dd1 who is very shy and closed off but has expressed a desire to get to know me.
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#2 of 402 Old 11-11-2008, 04:11 PM
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Thanks for starting this thread. Sorry I went all delete on the other one. I am not upset at anyone! I just felt....I dunno... like having a thread titled "mamas who don't talk to their mothers" was feeling too ... concrete.

Anyway I am blaming my freak out on being raised in an abusive home so everyone has to forgive me jk

Thank you for beginning the thread though. This feels better... more intentional and less like the rant that began my last one.
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#3 of 402 Old 11-11-2008, 04:19 PM
 
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CC, you made me laugh with that crack. Haha! Personally I think humour helps a lot...

Anyway, here and pissing on my spot.
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#4 of 402 Old 11-11-2008, 05:05 PM
 
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"pissing on my spot"

: Well, here I am, doing the same.

Orthodox Mama
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#5 of 402 Old 11-11-2008, 05:26 PM
 
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Here I am too, joining the club that nobody wants to be a part of. Has anyone who is estranged from their parents noticed a sudden feeling of "I can do this"? I've gone through beating myself down as well as being beat down by my family for years, and everything I did I felt I had to "prove them wrong". I always failed. Now I really don't care, and I realize I never had to prove anything to anyone. Now I am feeling a sudden urgency and interest in fulfilling my dreams, for myself, which is a really powerful feeling!
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#6 of 402 Old 11-11-2008, 05:38 PM
 
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Arrgghhhhh, I accidently erased my post and I don't feel like rewriting it now. Anyway, I'm here.

MPJJJ, that sounds like a great place to be.

OUR DAUGHTERS ARE PROTECTED SHOULDN'T OUR SONS BE TOO! :
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#7 of 402 Old 11-11-2008, 05:40 PM
 
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It's not so great, actually scary as hell, kwim? It's hard to just pick up the pieces and believe in yourself. My husband is my driving force, he has always told me I can do anything if I just try. It's about time I start listening to the person who really loves me, LOL.
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#8 of 402 Old 11-11-2008, 05:52 PM
 
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I am not estranged from my parents. In fact I live 2 blocks from them and speak to them often. But honestly, my dad is freaking TOXIC to me. The entire time I've known them since I was 8 years old (they were my foster parents, then got legal permanent guardianship of me) my dad has verbally and emotionally beaten me down at every opportunity. I have never done anything right in his eyes. When I was 17 and pregnant, he called me a whore, a slut, my son was going to grow up to be a good for nothing son of a whore, etc. and he sabotaged my efforts to finish college by refusing to look after my son when he was too ill to go to daycare when I had mid-terms and again at finals. And then it was MY fault I failed a 5 credit class and lost my financial aid. And now that I'm married and have 4 kids and one on the way, if I ever have trouble caring for my family or meeting all of our needs with my husband being unemployed since June, well that's my fault too and we should just go sleep in a cardboard box because that is the life I've chosen for my family.

My mom, on the other hand, loves her grandchildren, has always been there for me and has done everything she can to give me help and support whenever I've asked, regardless of how or when or why I'm asking. She fixes my sewing machine for me and watches my kids when she has time and comes with me for big events like meeting with an advisor about going back to college and will sneak money out of her own savings account (she earns all the money but my dad won't even allow her to have her checkbook or debit card) if we don't have grocery money.

I put up with my dad just to be able to maintain contact with my mom but I often wish he would just disappear. He is so toxic to us.

Sorry to dump on you. I just had a really nasty phone conversation with him when I called to talk to my mom.
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#9 of 402 Old 11-11-2008, 06:48 PM
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DID That must be so hard feeling like you *have* be in contact because it would be just a whole huge thing to try to maintain contact with your mom. I kind of get it (though not to that degree) because of my siblings. They all live at least 1000 miles away from my mom so of course, when your visits are twice a year and your phone calls are once a week pleasantries -- yeah, mom doesn't seem so effed up It isn't as though they would be *mad* at me for breaking contact, so much as just -- I would have to hear about it because *they* would be hearing about it from her and my sister is a peacemaker and such a see-the-best-in-everyone-at-all-times kind of person, she gets upset when my mom and I don't speak.

Argh, I honestly think my mom and I would have a great relationship if I lived 1000 miles away She is just a delight in small, controlled doses, but in a you-know-my-daily-goings-on situation, it is toxic much of the time.

That having been said, she came over yesterday at my allowance, stayed about 30 minutes, was totally fine on her best "behavior". She called today just to let me know she had picked up some artisan bread for us and well, I ain't too proud to turn down free food. She didn't want to come over or anything, she just dropped it off and I ran downstairs to pick it up.

I feel fine with that kind of relationship -- just praying it stays that way until dh, dd and I move out of state (which we have been talking about for a couple years now independent of this situation).
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#10 of 402 Old 11-11-2008, 10:01 PM
 
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I'm not quite ready to spill all of my junk just yet, but I've got a confrontation coming up and will be checking in here to feel solid and offer words of love to you all.
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#11 of 402 Old 11-12-2008, 12:28 AM
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I'm not quite ready to spill all of my junk just yet, but I've got a confrontation coming up and will be checking in here to feel solid and offer words of love to you all.


I'm here.

I want to say again that the book Mothering Without a Map has been really helpful for me. Here's a quote from it that I like:

"We under-mothered children especially need to know our children in ways our mothers did not know us. If we can see our children, truly listen to them, assess what they need from us right now, in this situation, and give to them what we're capable of giving, we'll surely do better than was done for us."

"Our task is not to see the future, but to enable it."
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#12 of 402 Old 11-12-2008, 03:34 AM
 
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That is so true A & A. All the time I try so hard to let my son feel what he feels. SO often I was told what I felt about something. That eventually leads a person to not trust his or her own instincts and constantly look to other people to tell them how they feel. NEver a good idea.

Before you were conceived, I wanted you. Before you were born I loved you. Before you were a minute old, I would have died for you. That is the miracle of life. ~Maureen Hawkins~
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#13 of 402 Old 11-12-2008, 04:43 AM
 
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I am not sure what to say. I have been estranged from my mother for years. Sometimes I would give anything to have seen her in that time and sometimes I am terrified I will see her again. I love my dad and he was the stable part of my early life. They are divorced and his wife is wonderful but it doesn't give me any insight into how to be a mother. MIL is more involved but imo, no better than my mom. I don't know if it's exacerbated by the fact that coming from an abusive mother home, I don't see Motherhood all bathed in light from above with harp music but more as a part of the female experience that can be good or bad or in between. I do not like the way my mil behaves and see no reason to pretend otherwise because I don't want my kids to emulate her shallow, hypocritical, consumerligious lifestyle.
I don't know how to talk with them about this stuff though and I feel increasingly like I am inventing the world from scratch as they get older and I realize how different their childhoods need to be from mine and how little I know about how normal childhoods work. I may not post a lot, but somehow knowing this thread is here is a comfort, even though it would be better if it didn't need to be here, you know?
thanks
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“ it was her habit to build laughter out of inadequate materials....She seemed to know that if she swayed the family shook, and if she ever deeply wavered or despaired the family would fall.”
 -Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath (I frequently ask myself, 'what would Ma Joad do?')

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#14 of 402 Old 11-12-2008, 01:38 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I
I don't know how to talk with them about this stuff though and I feel increasingly like I am inventing the world from scratch as they get older and I realize how different their childhoods need to be from mine and how little I know about how normal childhoods work. I may not post a lot, but somehow knowing this thread is here is a comfort, even though it would be better if it didn't need to be here, you know?
thanks
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Yea, I hear you; I'm the one who threw a conniption fit and started this thread, but this is only my second post on it.

:

So great to see you here, Captain Crunchy.

I think it's kind of mutual between me and my Mom. She hasn't returned my last email and I really wish I hadn't sent it. Every time I have gotten excited about something or mentioned that I liked anything in the past 8 years, I have been ridiculed, shamed, demeaned and whatever I was interested in is automatically "stupid" or "bad".

It's going to be a long 4-8 years for my mother.

I do love her or i wouldn't be thinking these things.

I cracked open a notebook of letters from my late sister that I haven't read this millenium looking for answers about dd1 (although Sis wasn't there and could only have reacted to what I or my parents had told her) and instead I found Sis tellihng me to please stop all the glowing talk about how great new motherhood was because she was very firm in her resolve never to have children after growing up with our mother. I had completely forgotten that she had wanted me to have four children instead of just two, since she wouldn't be having any of her own.

She died when ds1 was two months old, shortly before her 30th birthday.

I have no other family than my parents and my kids. It's kind of scary.
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#15 of 402 Old 11-12-2008, 02:17 PM
 
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Yea, I hear you; I'm the one who threw a conniption fit and started this thread, but this is only my second post on it.

:

I cracked open a notebook of letters from my late sister that I haven't read this millenium looking for answers about dd1 (although Sis wasn't there and could only have reacted to what I or my parents had told her) and instead I found Sis tellihng me to please stop all the glowing talk about how great new motherhood was because she was very firm in her resolve never to have children after growing up with our mother. I had completely forgotten that she had wanted me to have four children instead of just two, since she wouldn't be having any of her own.

I have no other family than my parents and my kids. It's kind of scary.
My sister has had similar issues with not wanting kids, giving them up, being afraid that if she had them they would hate her. Another sibling is an intensely perfectionistic wonderful but very tightly wound parent who seems unable to really enjoy the process for fear of leaving something out or doing something wrong.
I try so hard to get it right and still find joy in it and to stay connected even when it hurts, but it is really really hard.
I just hope so much that the kids don't know when it is hurting and when it is hard for me because I don't want them even to be aware of the existence of childhoods like mine at their ages.
I am so sorry for the loss of your sister. It sounds like she really believed in you to want you to have kids on her behalf. It must be really hard to lose that kind of support.
:
layne

“ it was her habit to build laughter out of inadequate materials....She seemed to know that if she swayed the family shook, and if she ever deeply wavered or despaired the family would fall.”
 -Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath (I frequently ask myself, 'what would Ma Joad do?')

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#16 of 402 Old 11-12-2008, 03:39 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you. I was never given the luxury of grieving for her. She was an amazing person, albeit a very, very damaged soul.

When my mother called to tell me she had passed, exy started screaming, "Get off that (expletive deleted) telephone! Doesn't she know what time it is? I have to go to work in the morning!"

Having already experienced the loss of a child (although dd1 is alive, I did not have visitation with her when she was a minor) I was always more concerned with helping my parents than I was with dealing with my own loss.

By the time I was sure that they were okay, it was "old news" and "a pretty stupid excuse to feel sorry for yourself that nobody is going to buy".

I don't think I have ever shed a single tear.

I'm furious that my parents never mention her any more. It's like they want to wipe out any evidence that she ever existed. My father seems to be actively trying to warp my memory of my late grandmother, who I was also close to; he describes her as a very foolish person, which SHE WAS NOT.

I'm just glad that Sis and Gran were both writers and can speak for themselves from beyond the grave as long as I don't lose those precious yellowed papers before Terran is old enough to read and understand.,
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#17 of 402 Old 11-12-2008, 04:44 PM
 
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I have no other family than my parents and my kids. It's kind of scary.
That's so tough. I've got two co-parents who are dear friends/partners. They're family. And some great friends. But otherwise, it's just my 2 kids. No siblings. Any cousins are way far away/too little in common. Any older generation people are living ostrich-style, and I can't do that.

In other words, I've got a little more family than you do, not a lot, number-wise. I frequently get freaked out at that. It compels me to want to have a whole duck-row of children, which is not viable. Unless my kids have a bunch of kids, I'm on my own for making family. That said, I think chosen/created family can be the best bunch of folks around. I have gotten through many a rough patch with the support of like-minded mamas, and am grateful.

Do you have some created family, NOS?
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#18 of 402 Old 11-12-2008, 04:58 PM
 
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Hi!. Oh, I have a minivent for here.

I responded to Captain Crunchy and her struggle with her mother. I have emotionally broken my ties with mine, finally, after many ups and downs. However, she can still hurt me since I allow phone contact about once a month and visits with the kids.

We are moving accross country to be with dh's family and I am so excited. I didn't tell my mom for fear of a freak out, negativity, cutting comments she is famous for. I finally told her since I thought she should see the kids one last time (she probably won't be able to afford visits).

Suprise. She said she was too busy this week (working a P/T job for 4 hours M/W/F). Um, ok? Instead of being hurt it just validates how toxic it all was. Her ideas of loving her grandkids is a joke and I am so happy they will grow up with family that actually is excited to get to know them.

Mom of two boys (7/05 and 2/09)
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#19 of 402 Old 11-13-2008, 01:08 AM
 
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I really wish I didn't relate to you all so much. Dammit. but I'm glad you're all here.

Purplemoon, no ordinary spider, hell, everyone...hugs.

I too have a sibling that died. he died a long time ago, but he is never mentioned and his grave is neglected. He was only 11 when he died. It really hurts. My family lives in NZ, and I'm the only one who ever visits his grave when I'm there, which isn't often, cos I live in Canada now. My last visit my mother tried to prevent me going, because SHE didn't want to go. I guess I was making her feel bad *rolleyes*

That was also the visit where I realised she is into the concept of DD, not the reality. She has no time for my DD at all. That point was driven home during their recent visit here. She would rather go shopping and have DD in daycare than spend time with her. DD is her only grandchild.

Anyway....lalalalalala
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#20 of 402 Old 11-13-2008, 01:19 AM
 
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Just remembered something. Before they came, they sent us a list of "priorities" that they wanted to achieve during their visit. There were 6 priorities. Spending time with DD was number 6 on the list.

It may sound strange, but I think part of their lack of interest is caused by DD looking so much like my husband's side of the family. Well, judging by the emails we've recieved where they've asked us to please have another child that looks like them. Okay then, crazy parents! I'll get onto spitting out a clone for you!
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#21 of 402 Old 11-13-2008, 02:13 AM
 
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It may sound strange, but I think part of their lack of interest is caused by DD looking so much like my husband's side of the family. Well, judging by the emails we've recieved where they've asked us to please have another child that looks like them. Okay then, crazy parents! I'll get onto spitting out a clone for you!
OMGoodness! That sounds like my ILs in reverse! My kids are enough like me that people always ask me where my clones are when I get a rare break but my ILs talk like dh reproduced himself completely. They are very proud of this fact and seemed actually relieved my clones did not look like me in their opinions. It made me think of the A.S. Byatt novella, Morpho Eugenia.

NOS, you need to grieve for your sister. No one can change who she was and no one can grieve for you. It was selfless of you to help your parents with it but you deserve support too. The loss was as much yours as theirs. I'm so glad you have your letters.
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“ it was her habit to build laughter out of inadequate materials....She seemed to know that if she swayed the family shook, and if she ever deeply wavered or despaired the family would fall.”
 -Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath (I frequently ask myself, 'what would Ma Joad do?')

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#22 of 402 Old 11-13-2008, 08:54 AM
 
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Oh I know what it is like having parents who dont make my kids a priority. We moved 1000 miles to be near them, and moved into a house 2 miles down the road. From then on they've had nothing to do with the kids. They have missed about 20 birthday parties, never went to a school play, grandparents day, field trip, or wrestling match. They used to stop by and see the kids for less than 10 minutes on their way into town, and would spend much more time browsing sears than visiting. They never even sat down! It's very frustrating, and my kids are noticing, so I knew it was time to cut all ties.
Yesterday there was a birthday card taped to my front door for my son, which is a first, because they usually get phone calls. (They live 40 minutes away!!) So at least they are respecting the fact that I don't want to see them right now, though knowing them, they are sulking, thinking I'm being a bitch and they havent done anything to deserve this.
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#23 of 402 Old 11-15-2008, 07:36 PM
 
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What happened to this thread? Where is everyone?

I got the ball rolling... thought it over for a month and then took the road of confrontation. I sent my parents a letter detailing the reasons why I am no longer speaking to them, and told them that I know they knew that their brothers molested me. I told them that I also don't understand why they are such distant grandparents, and one day they will realize what they have lost.

My mom called my cell and left voicemails saying that they are very upset and could be getting a divorce. (Emotional manipulation and blackmail is just like her.) Then sent me another one saying they love us and want to work this out. I don't know what to do, other than to give us all a few days and then perhaps talk to them. Now is just too soon.

It's upsetting, and I feel like I have a vicegrip on my heart. Nobody ever says anything, this is a "sweep it under the rug, don't rock the boat" family. This is unchartered territory. I stressed over and over that I will not allow my children to be hurt the way that they allowed the family to hurt me. My kids deserve better.

I keep reminding myself that I have nothing to lose. That I deserved to get this off my chest, that the cycle of silence needs to be broken once and for all. But it still hurts, and I am so anxious.
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#24 of 402 Old 11-15-2008, 08:06 PM
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mama

I come from a "sweep everything under the rug" family too -- but confusingly and annoyingly, also a "let's dredge things up at the most inappropriate times" family too. It is truly baffling.

You deserve to feel safe though so just make sure everything is on your terms.
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#25 of 402 Old 11-15-2008, 11:38 PM
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It's upsetting, and I feel like I have a vicegrip on my heart. Nobody ever says anything, this is a "sweep it under the rug, don't rock the boat" family. This is unchartered territory. I stressed over and over that I will not allow my children to be hurt the way that they allowed the family to hurt me. My kids deserve better.

I keep reminding myself that I have nothing to lose. That I deserved to get this off my chest, that the cycle of silence needs to be broken once and for all. But it still hurts, and I am so anxious.



My family is totally that way, too (sweep it under the rug, don't rock the boat, as you put it.)

The facade of "we are a happy family" matters more than how people in the family actually feel.

But, my mom did call me today and we had a nice little chat and she didn't push me about talking to my dad, so that was good!

"Our task is not to see the future, but to enable it."
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#26 of 402 Old 11-16-2008, 01:26 AM
 
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mama

I come from a "sweep everything under the rug" family too -- but confusingly and annoyingly, also a "let's dredge things up at the most inappropriate times" family too. It is truly baffling.

You deserve to feel safe though so just make sure everything is on your terms.
Thank you. I was feeling very guilty about the messages until my DH told me to just listen to them, I might feel better. My mom had her most insincere tone, saying "Your dad is pissed off at me now, we are probably going to get a divorce. We do want to see the boys, but lately you havent been letting us." Umm, since when? It's only been a month since I stopped speaking to her, the last time she stopped by and saw the boys was March! She lives 40 minutes away!!!

Not a word was said about the molestation by her brother. Not an "I'm sorry". Just attitude and emotional manipulation. Our relationship will never recover, now. She did know. And she didn't care. She still doesn't. It's all about her.

<sigh>
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#27 of 402 Old 11-16-2008, 09:55 AM
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Pleeeeassse remember that *you* are not responsible for anyone else's emotions or actions!!!! What your mom said was very emotionally manipulative imo. She was trying to make *you* responsible for the potential dissolving of her marriage! That is just.... ridiculousness!

Hang in there mama.
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#28 of 402 Old 11-16-2008, 11:56 AM
 
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I come from a family that likes to re-write history. My childhood apparently was just a delusion. They also sweep things under the rug but also like to dredge up things I've said or done in the past. But they were always just doing the best the could (said my grandmother so many times), nope that's just not good enough and also not even true.
My mom is the queen of using things you've said against you, it can be small unimportant things or big things. She also has used her messed up mothering to make me feel guilty. She has talked to me about it in such inappropriate and emotionally damaging ways. Because of course it's really all about her.
She's also the queen of manipulation she has a real nack for it. It's almost an art with her.

My grandmother is the queen of denial and just denies denies denies. I haven't spoken to her in many months either and really I just don't see the point in doing so. She is the closest thing I ever had to a mother though. And she's getting older and not in great health. But she has made it clear over the years and recently that she does not like me and does not care about having a relationship with me. Of course all 'said' with out actually saying it, nope being upfront and honest isn't her strong suite. She's very passive aggressive.

OUR DAUGHTERS ARE PROTECTED SHOULDN'T OUR SONS BE TOO! :
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#29 of 402 Old 11-16-2008, 11:45 PM
 
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MPJJJ; hugs.

When I broke off contact with my mother for a year, I got a ripper email from my father saying they'd CUT ME OUT OF THE WILL! And then went on to eviscerate my character. They tried various lures to draw me back in: family emergency, etc. etc but I ignored all of them. A year later, when I was ready and feeling sufficiently detached enough to deal, I called them again.

I'm sorry this is so hard for you. It is hard, but in my experience, also liberating to take control.
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#30 of 402 Old 11-17-2008, 07:26 AM
 
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Here is an example of my mother being crazy:

She said in passing, totally casually, that she had always wondered if I'd been molested by a family friend. I haven't been, but he's a bad guy in other ways. She knows this. She still let me spend a ton of time around when I was little. And apparently this is something she can just drop into conversation, like "do you remember that coat you used to have" or something.

But how do you even explain to people why you don't have contact with your mother when this kind of thing is the reason? If he HAD molested me, on her watch, it would be normal to cut off contact. But this is much harder to convey. It's that it's apparently not important to her if I had been.

And what do I tell my children? How do you explain this kind of thing? "Nothing specifically bad happened to me, but that is pure luck and I felt unprotected and terrified my entire childhood and it took until well into my adulthood to understand that I was reacting to a real lack of love from my mother, as well as a lack of basic common sense?"
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