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  • Tell me about your mother...

    I know most people probably have tough relationships with their mothers, but has anyone here come through the other side, where you repaired the relationship, and now get on well? If so, how did you do it?

    Long story short: My mum was violent (verbally and physically), angry, and extremely controlling when I was a kid. She criticised me all the time and made me feel guilty for being such a disappointment to her. Blah-blah-blah. As I grew up, I was defensive, and perceived everything she said as criticism, so we were always at loggerheads.

    Then in my mid twenties I started to do a lot of honest soul searching, and all my relationships improved, including with my mum, though it was still difficult.

    Over this time she developed a drink problem, which made her even more impossible (seriously, no one gets on with her) as she becomes completely irrational and verbally abusive when she's drunk (most nights).

    Finally, 2.5 years ago, I had a *click* moment, where I realised I just had to laugh at her behaviour, and love her for who she was. It totally changed our relationship, and we started to get on really well. However, she became extremely dependent on me, and was always calling me to talk about her problems, which was exhausting, but I carried on supporting her as she legitimately has a lot of problems, and no one to talk to about them.

    Anyway, things were going fine til I went on holidays with my family this year. Big mistake. I hate to say it, but she was a complete bitch. And while I was there, I realised that the reason we've been getting on well is because I've been babying her. While I was living under her roof (til I was 18) she blamed me for everything (she even told me that my granddad got cancer because of me) and expected me to put her feelings first. Finally in the last two years I started to live out that role of caretaker. I live in a different country, but I'm constantly flying home to spend time with her. She's an extremely unhappy person, and I feel guilty.

    Really weird thing is that I'm playing out the exact same role she's playing out with her mother!

    We had a proper falling out last week on the phone (she was drunk) and I really don't want to speak to her right now. But I'm hurting, because I tried so hard to make things work out, and there's not much more I can do to change myself when she's not prepared to change at all. I suppose some people would ask why I tried so hard in the first place? Guilt. I have this weird feeling of guilt. I feel unworthy of her love, and any time she does something nice for me, I feel guilty.

    Anyway, sorry for the big sob story. I know it's hard to advise on something like this, but I'd really appreciate any insight.
    Last edited by YogaBare; 08-26-2013, 10:26 AM.
    "I think the basic anti-aging diet is also the best diet for prevention and treatment of diabetes, scleroderma, and the various "connective tissue diseases." This would emphasize high protein, low unsaturated fats, low iron, and high antioxidant consumption, with a moderate or low starch consumption.

    In practice, this means that a major part of the diet should be milk, cheese, eggs, shellfish, fruits and coconut oil, with vitamin E and salt as the safest supplements."

    - Ray Peat

  • #2
    Well, my relationship with my mom is probably pretty normal. I get irritated by her for various reasons pretty regularly. What helped me when I felt hurt by her or our relationship is realizing that there is only so much I can expect from her. That stopped me from feeling disappointed by her. I laugh off the things that irritate me and I get what I want (that she can't provide, emotionally) from other people. Her shortcomings are no reflection on me.

    I am sure you are well aware of this, but that guilt likely has no basis in reality. I mean to say that I understand why you've tried so hard, but if it's hurting you so much and you feel guilty when SHE is being cruel, you have to let go to some extent or you'll go crazy.
    Depression Lies

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    • #3
      If guilt trips actually took you anywhere, she'd be a travel agent. She was emotionally abusive and manipulative, not to mention vengefully neglectful. I spent most of my young life mothering my younger siblings. The cardinal rule was to not uoset mom.
      Things were very rocky for a while after I left home. Eventually, I realized that she did the best she could with the tools she had. Now, I see her as another broken human, same as everyone else. We get along, mostly because I'm across the state from her. 6 hours apart goes along way to holding peace.
      Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, steak in one hand, chocolate in the other, yelling "Holy F***, What a Ride!"
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      • #4
        Originally posted by namelesswonder View Post
        What helped me when I felt hurt by her or our relationship is realizing that there is only so much I can expect from her. That stopped me from feeling disappointed by her. I laugh off the things that irritate me and I get what I want (that she can't provide, emotionally) from other people. Her shortcomings are no reflection on me.

        I am sure you are well aware of this, but that guilt likely has no basis in reality. I mean to say that I understand why you've tried so hard, but if it's hurting you so much and you feel guilty when SHE is being cruel, you have to let go to some extent or you'll go crazy.
        You're totally right, and that's probably the magic bullet with any relationship... Thing is, I don't really expect much from her. Well, I expect her not to be a bitch, and she can't do that. The only kind of support my mother can give me is financial - she's always trying to give me money, and I never take it. Maybe I should, but then I'd just feel more guilty, because nothing she gives is for free: she remembers it, and expects certain behaviours in exchange.

        Originally posted by naiadknight View Post
        If guilt trips actually took you anywhere, she'd be a travel agent. She was emotionally abusive and manipulative, not to mention vengefully neglectful. I spent most of my young life mothering my younger siblings. The cardinal rule was to not uoset mom.
        Things were very rocky for a while after I left home. Eventually, I realized that she did the best she could with the tools she had. Now, I see her as another broken human, same as everyone else. We get along, mostly because I'm across the state from her. 6 hours apart goes along way to holding peace.
        Thanks for sharing that Naia. Seeing my mum that way helped a lot initially, but now I'm just so exasperated that it's killed my compassion
        "I think the basic anti-aging diet is also the best diet for prevention and treatment of diabetes, scleroderma, and the various "connective tissue diseases." This would emphasize high protein, low unsaturated fats, low iron, and high antioxidant consumption, with a moderate or low starch consumption.

        In practice, this means that a major part of the diet should be milk, cheese, eggs, shellfish, fruits and coconut oil, with vitamin E and salt as the safest supplements."

        - Ray Peat

        Comment


        • #5
          YogaBare,

          I am sorry for your pain. I have had a problematic relationship with both my parents, and have gained some insight from it, though perhaps not the insights you want. My father was not a good person, and I feel nothing but relief that he, as an individual, is dead and therefore unable to hurt anyone any more. The emotional pain that I felt when he died had nothing to do with the loss of him as an individual, it was about the loss of the possibility of ever having a caring father, someone who is the kind of parent our society tells us parents should be.

          My mother is still alive, but there is some of that same sense of loss. She has made it clear that if I insist that our relationship be based on honesty and emotional openness instead of co-dependent antics and "babying," as you put it, she is not interested in having a relationship. I have come to terms with that and can keep her at arms' length now without feeling guilty most of the time. My stepfather is actually more problematic, because he's a really nice guy, and so when he lays on a guilt trip about why I don't spend more time with my mother it carries more weight with me than when she tries it.

          Anyway, I don't really have any solutions, but I feel for you and hope you can find a sense of peace, whether or not you are able to repair things with your mother.

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          • #6
            I'm definitely no expert on dealing with family. I have a very distant (close to non-existent) relationship with my blood relatives. So my advice is going to be biased, and it may not work for everyone. This is how I deal with it--I create distance. I communicate with my parents almost exclusively via email only. I talk to my mom on Skype very occasionally--once very couple of months--and usually not for very long.

            I guess I gave up on the possibility of having a close relationship with my parents long ago. And it doesn't bother me that much anymore. I understand the need to have a closer or more functional relationship, however, which is why I said that my method may not work for everyone.

            It used to bother me. I remember bursting into tears one night when I was in college, right after my mom visited, because I realized that we no longer had any ability to relate to one another or even have a real conversation. But that was 10 years ago.

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            • #7
              Sorry that your relationship with your mother is like that. But it's not your fault nor should you feel all this guilt, and at some point you need to realize there is nothing that you can do that will change if she isn't willing to change and accept certain facts about life. After a certain point, mothers should step back and allow their adult children to live their lives, and they should be supportive. I think you should be straight up with her about this, and that it is her decision if she wants to keep a relationship with you.
              I luckily do not have this problem and am grateful. But I have plenty of friends that do not have supportive mothers (including my DH and his mom)....most of these mothers can be labelled as narcissistic. Which I think occurs due to some sort of low self esteem...they usually demand irrational things from their children and are intolerant if the children (who are now adults) do not obey. My DH does not speak with his mom, but i am hopeful that things will resolve in the future, but it is up to the mother to realize the errors of her ways. Nothing will change until that moment.

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              • #8
                I also had a very abusive and manipulative mother. I have 5 sisters and she basically served us all up to my father who was a mean, perverted and abusive man. It was a rotten, horrible growing up situation. She was extremely over weight and would pick at all of us girls about our bodies. When I was 12 she would make me stand in front of her in my bra and panties and pick my body apart, hence the body issues I have today.

                I tried for years to let it all go and be close to her.

                She continued to be a horrible person and when it spilled over to my kids, that was it.

                I have no contact with my parents, and I, and my family are better off for it. Blood does not warrant a close relationship.
                44 F 5'5
                SW 205.4
                CW 180.4
                GW 150

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                • #9
                  Do you really think most women have tough relationships with their mothers?? I find that kinda sad (as a mother myself). I guess I figured that some people have bad blood with their parents, but not a majority!

                  I hope when my kids are grown up they don't think I was terrible!

                  As for my own mother I never had a problem with her! I thought it was weird when my friends would say they had a fight with their mum, because it seemed foreign to me. Yes we would occasionally upset each other, as I was hardly perfect... But we'd get over it fast too.

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                  • #10
                    You are lucky to have had a great mother. I wish I did. Of 7 children in my family only one has a relationship with my mother and it is strained and distant.

                    I have 4 kids myself, 3 girls and 1 boy who are all grown. Youngest still lives with us while she is in college. I am fortunate to have a great relationship with each of them. We spend lots of time together and hang out at each others homes. I spent the day shopping and lunch with my oldest and she always comments she is a mini me.

                    I raised my kids with kindness and patients and love. I am so very lucky to have a wonderful hubby who grew up with wonderful parents. I am fortunate to have married into such a great family.

                    Not every family has parent issues. Just too many do.
                    44 F 5'5
                    SW 205.4
                    CW 180.4
                    GW 150

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                    • #11
                      My mom was also a depressed, unhappy alcoholic, like her father. I moved 1,000 miles away before starting a family. Two weeks before she died of cancer, sober but medicated for pain, she for the last time started a conversation (more like a monolog) of fond reminiscing which ultimately contorted into her telling me that I ruined her life. I feel like CaliforniaPoppy in that her death "was about the loss of the possibility of ever having" a better relationship.
                      I have been very envious of my friends' good relationships with their mothers, and I use those as my examples of what to look forward to. I have three kids and I am mindful of how I treat them.
                      As God is my witness, I'll never be hungry again.

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                      • #12
                        My mother wasn't abusive, exactly, but hyper-critical and completely self-absorbed. It took me almost 50 years to get over being a disappointment to her. I think it was being a mother myself that helped the most. Now that my kids are mostly grown, I can see how easy it is to not do as good a job as you hoped to. I'm not sure my mother has any regrets, but I can see how she may have done the best she could.

                        I'm hopeful that I haven't screwed up as bad as she did, because I'm very close to both my kids and I was never close to my mother. When I was 15, I hated my mother. My 15yo daughter can be as irritable as any teenager, but she will also give me a hug out of the blue and tell me I'm the best mom ever. I always tell her I know she will be a better mom than me because she had my mistakes to learn from.

                        I'm sorry you're still having a hard time with your mom, YB. It hurts to realize your only hope is to be your own mother.
                        50yo, 5'3"
                        SW-195
                        CW-125, part calorie counting, part transition to primal
                        GW- Goals are no longer weight-related

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                        • #13
                          Dear YogaBare, I'm so very sorry you're dealing with this situation. My mother died 40 years ago at the age of 59 of alcoholism. Her death certificate says she died of the flu, which was immediately the cause, but the real cause was that her lungs were too weak to pump out the collected fluids. Death certificates rarely mention alcoholism.

                          For the last 2 weeks I've been feeling guilty about her again. Then I got out the letters I had written to myself during the times she was alive and we had fights, arguments, hurts, pains, etc. These letters enable me to remember well what I was doing at each time, how I felt, why I acted as I did, etc. Then the guilty feeling are gone. There was nothing else she could have done to improve the situation or relationship. There was nothing else I could have done improve the situation or relationship.

                          You are very wise to be thinking and talking about it now while it's happening. Your own love, courage, and generosity of spirit, in bad situations, cause hurts and pains that never leave. I always wished it had been different. I loved her so much, she loved me so much, she was so wonderful, she was so awful. She told me my beloved grandmother died on the train coming to visit me. Not True. She became an alcoholic when I was 10. She harmed everyone around her. My sister committed suicide at the age of 39.

                          Alcoholism is a horrible, horrible disease. All alcoholics are dependents and can only establish the relationship of co-dependency. These two things: supporting an alcoholic in their alcoholism is called enabling; you are not dealing with your mother but with a disease, and in this full-blown disease there really is no human left inside. I'm making no recommendations here.

                          You must be yourself and true to yourself. Maybe writing it down now will help later.
                          Last edited by Cryptocode; 08-28-2013, 12:54 PM.
                          "When the search for truth is confused with political advocacy, the pursuit of knowledge is reduced to the quest for power." - Alston Chase

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                          • #14
                            My mom is mentally ill (my husband thinks she might be mildly autistic as she doesn't understand music or social cues) and definitely OCD when I was a kid- but I didn't know that's what it was called. She's worse with age and she stopped talking to me a few years ago when she thought I was cheating on my husband with her husband (my stepdad). I send her mother's day presents with my phone number and tell her to call me when she wants to go out for a lunch but she doesn't. Fortunately I'm adopted and don't fear going into the same mental downward spiral as I age.

                            Also, she's a terrible, terrible eater. She says she doesn't enjoy food but she definitely eats fast food, cafeteria type crap. She had some bulemia going on when I was younger but she's really puffy and very overweight last I saw her and I absolutely could not convince her to change her diet. I'm pretty sure her very bad eating habits have a lot to do with her mental issues. And vice versa.
                            Last edited by seashells; 08-27-2013, 09:46 AM.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by YogaBare View Post
                              I know most people probably have tough relationships with their mothers, but has anyone here come through the other side, where you repaired the relationship, and now get on well? If so, how did you do it?

                              Long story short: My mum was violent (verbally and physically), angry, and extremely controlling when I was a kid. She criticised me all the time and made me feel guilty for being such a disappointment to her. Blah-blah-blah. As I grew up, I was defensive, and perceived everything she said as criticism, so we were always at loggerheads.
                              Same story mostly, but nope: I switched families at like 15. Yes, legally. Much better off.

                              Sorry to hear you're having troubles though. It really is not your fault whatsoever, you were just unlucky to have grown up in a dysfunctional situation.

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