Go Back   Friends and Family Forum > The Family Forum > Parents

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old October 25th, 2012, 05:56 PM
Mike Mike is offline
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Posts: 9
Mike is on a distinguished road
Estranged from my Mother--Advice Welcome!

Hi,

I am new to the site, but have been looking at the threads and it seems I've hit on the right place for my particular issue. I'm hoping fellow members can offer advice, especially those who have estranged themselves from their mother.

I estranged myself from my mother six months ago. The history is long; the reasons are numerous; so I will try to be as brief as possible.

My parents divorced when I was ten (I'm 40 now). After the divorce I lived with my mother in our hometown, a few hours away from where my father lived. I had a great childhood. The only issue I had (looking at it as an adult with the gift of retrospect) is that my mother really vilified my father, so much so that I quit going for visitation and didn't speak to him for over ten years. Yes, they had problems during the marriage, and he wasn't innocent; but my mother always managed to vilify him while painting herself out to be 100% in the right. He sent every child support check due from the time I was 10 until I turned 19 and paid alimony for the first two years. He and my mother set up a large trust for me that I was to receive upon either entrance into college or when I turned 25 that I didn't know about at the time (this will become relevant later). My mother also had help from my grandparents who lived next-door. Other than vilifying my father, she was a "cool" but responsible mother.

Fast-forward to early adulthood. I moved a few hours away, with my mother's blessings. I stayed away for a couple years then moved back to my hometown. Around this time I began writing back and forth with a good friend of mine; eventually the friendship blossomed and we began a long-distance relationship. I'd go visit her and her daughter on weekends (my friend was divorced); she lived about three hours away. My mother knew her and liked her. After she graduated college we moved to a city together where she had landed a good job. A year later we married and we are still happily married nearly thirteen years later--my step-daughter started college this year!

Soon after we moved in together my wife (then girlfriend) located my father on the internet. I contacted him and it went extremely well. I was glad to have my dad again.

I never knew the details of the trust for me; my mother had just always said that there was "some money somewhere" in a bank in my dad's home state, but that she didn't know how to go about finding it. This always struck me as odd, until my dad--inadvertently--cleared up the mystery when my wife, step-daughter, and I took a trip to visit him and my step-mom. He asked me if I used the (fairly large sum of) money he and my mom had set aside for college. I told him that I had never gone to college and that I was completely unaware of a trust. He was silent for a moment, then walked out of the room. He came back with the original documentation, signed by both parents, entrusting the money to my mother until I entered college or turned 25. Later, after confronting my mother, it turns out she cashed the trust in years before. She said she needed it to raise me, despite the fact that she got a healthy child support check, had a full-time job, and had her parents to rely on for any help she needed. She also had an in-ground swimming pool installed when I was 14 or so, which--oddly--cost the exact same amount as the trust had been initially set up for. She always dissuaded me from entering college, saying it wasn't important, when the truth was she had spent the money which had been set aside to pay for it.

When I told her I had found my dad she was furious, despite the fact that by this point they had been divorced nearly twice as long as they had been married. Her venomous attitude about him became so stressful and confrontational that I began lying to her about my contact with him. She was always far too curious about how he was, what he said, my step-mom, you name it. We took a week-long trip there once and didn't even tell my mom we were going because I knew how'd she react (my mom and grandmother live three hours away from us, my dad fourteen or so). She tried to find an excuse to bring him up--always with venomous suspicion--every time we visited her and my grandmother (my mom lives with my grandmother in her house). When I told her to stop it she'd simply wait until I was out of earshot and then try to pick information out of my wife.

Her behavior has deteriorated in other ways over the years, not just regarding my dad. She has a tendency to cause scenes at events, especially holidays. If she suspects that my dad and step-mom are coming she makes snide remarks, usually interjecting how great she was as a parent and how horrible he was. We have many relatives to juggle on holidays, and if we don't always put my mother first she gets mad or hurt. The last time she and my grandmother were in our home was about six years ago. It was over the Christmas holidays. My wife had planned a meal for Christmas Eve and a feast for Christmas day. On Christmas Eve morning (a Sunday) my wife wanted to go to church. She asked my mom and grandmother if they wanted to go and they said no. So she and my step-daughter went to church and I stayed home with them. They were watching TV. I said I was going to go to the back yard and rake some leaves for a bit. They said OK. A few minutes later my mother appeared on the back deck, furious, telling me they were leaving, going home, because it was "obvious" we didn't want them here. I was completely stunned and confused. We had planned to visit and spend the day shopping and looking at Christmas decorations; instead it was spent with me trying to convince my mother (and then my grandmother) that we did want them here. My mom agreed to stay, but was sullen and quiet until the next morning. Then she glared at us as we opened gifts. After that she announced that they had to leave and did not stay for the Christmas meal my wife had spent hours and hours prepping and cooking.

A quick note about my grandmother. When I was a child she tried to control my mother. It was so bad that once she threatened to commit suicide because my mom and I were going out of town for the weekend. She'd do--or threaten--anything to control my mother. My mother always said that if she acted like that toward me when I was grown to call her on it... which I have been doing, without success, for over a decade now. Now, when my mom exhibits this behavior, my grandmother automatically takes her side and they both attack me and blame me for her actions.

After the Christmas incident I estranged myself from her and did not speak to her for four months, until an F4 (massive) tornado literally blew through my hometown. I called to see if she and my grandmother (GM) were OK. From there I tried to move forward with her, but it never works because she never takes responsibility for her words and actions.

For the past few years she's gotten worse. She had a mild heart attack several years ago, and I had hoped that would turn her around. Instead she painted it out to be an extremely big deal and uses it as an excuse to not be held accountable for her behavior. Often when called on her behavior she proclaims her heart can't take the stress of being attacked, although it is her doing the attacking... (continued in next post)
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old October 25th, 2012, 05:59 PM
Mike Mike is offline
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Posts: 9
Mike is on a distinguished road
Re: Estranged from my Mother--Advice Welcome!

My step-daughter was involved in the band and several other activities throughout school. We always informed my mother of upcoming events; and, although she rarely drove up to attend any of them, she would become furious or either hurt if we forgot to tell her about things that came up last minute or that we felt didn't warrant telling her (or anyone else) about. In the last few years she's chronically accused us of "not telling her anything." I've heard this statement like a broken record. It became worse when my mother got a Facebook account. If any of us posted anything that my mother felt she should have been told about personally and before anyone else she'd make snarky comments about it. Her favorite comment was, "I wish I didn't have to find out about everything on Facebook." We're talking very minute things here--doctor's visits, out of school or work for a day or two with a cold, stuff like that. I tried a million times to explain to her that we weren't trying to exclude her and we let her know about anything we though was important, but the plea always fell on deaf ears.

My wife's mother, who was never in the best of health, collapsed suddenly in July of last year and was rushed to the emergency room. My SIL, who lived near my MIL and FIL, is an RN. She called my wife and said to come, that it didn't look good. So obviously my wife tore out of town and headed there. I was at work awaiting news. On the drive my wife at some point put up a quick prayer request on Facebook, saying that her mother had collapsed but we knew nothing yet. Soon afterwards my mother called me at work. The very first words out of her mouth weren't, "I'm so sorry; I am praying for her," but... you guessed it. "I wish I didn't have to find out about everything on Facebook." I was so furious I yelled at her, at my job, and in front of colleagues. I couldn't believe she was putting herself first in such a situation. I hung up on her; I couldn't take it.

My MIL had had a massive aneurysm and died the next day. My mother and grandmother came to the funeral and were nice. Afterward though, my mother attributed my reaction to her words as stress on my part, taking no responsibility for her actions.

My wife had a tough go of it for awhile but is tough and soldiered on. When we went to visit I told my mother not to mention the death to her because she'd get upset--my wife says she deals best with these things with time and keeping her mind on happier things. On one visit my mother waited until I was in the shower then began to prod my wife about her mother, knowing I had asked her repeatedly to not mention the subject in front of her. I could tell my wife had been crying when I got out of the shower, but I figured she had just "had a moment," something fairly common in those first few months. She didn't say a word to me about my mother's prodding--my wife always tried every thing she could think of to keep the peace.

My step-daughter finished her senior year at a private school in the same town my IL's lived in--they offered substantially more scholarship dollars than the schools here. So we let her attend. We visited on weekends, and she did great. She stayed with my FIL and SIL (who moved in to help my FIL after my MIL's death). As graduation approached my wife sent off e-mails to relatives letting them know the time, place, etc. She also recommended a local hotel. My mother called and wanted us to hold her and my grandmother (GM) on our credit card and she'd pay me when they arrived. I said OK.

My wife had bought a newer (one year old) car some months before. I couldn't recall if I had told my mother about it. I have long learned to not tell her when we get anything because she makes snide remarks. When we bought our house (or a 30-year mortgage from the bank, rather) her first words were, "Well, it must be nice." When we went to Europe on vacation she said the same thing... despite the fact that she (and I) got to travel overseas often when she and my dad were married. When I bought a new 2008 Corolla she said it was a mistake, despite the fact that she had sung the praises of Toyota during my upbringing. So it's quite possible I hadn't told her about my wife's new(er) Camry simply to not hear her comments and insinuations that we are wealthy (we aren't!). My mother also thinks we should help her with her bills. When she had a $400 car repair some months ago she called and eventually got around to asking for the money. I told her we didn't have it to spare (we didn't). She was huffy.

Also around this time my wife had been struck with an intestinal illness that had been going on for weeks. She was in the bathroom 15-20 times a day. She had an appointment with a gastrointestinal doctor, but it wasn't scheduled until a week after graduation. She was very sick and I was very worried. She collapsed from dehydration and had to go to the emergency room for IV fluids. Her skin was slack and pale. Her eyes were bruised, purple, and sunken. She was barely able to make the trip to graduation. I hadn't told my mother about her illness because she makes things like that worse by doubting our judgement in seeking treatment, making me worry more with ominous suggestions of fatal illness, or getting mad because we didn't tell her sooner.

On the ride to graduation I told my wife I hoped my mom didn't start her crap because we'd been through a lot as of late, anyway, and didn't need unnecessary stress added. But it was a catastrophe from the moment they arrived at my FIL's house. Within one minute she had managed to make reference to my dad for no apparent reason. Then she said in a I-got-you tone of voice, "Who's black car is that outside?" I responded that it was my wife's. She said, "You didn't tell me she got a new car." I tried to play it off. "Oh," I said. "I thought I had." I had also written a Facebook post that morning on my step-daughter's wall, telling her how proud I was and giving her some advice for the future. Everyone loved it, except for my mother, who took my generalized praise of "all the awards you have won throughout your school career" as some recently acquired awards that we intentionally did not tell her about. She tried to make an issue out of it, and I told her it was just a fancy way to say kudos to my SD. It was clear my mother didn't believe me. She never does. After her heart attack a gossip aunt overheard me telling my wife that I needed to call my workplace and inquire as to how to ask for indefinite leave since I didn't know how long I'd be out. The aunt twisted this and told my mother I cared more about losing my paid vacation than I did her being in the hospital. A complete lie, but my mother spent over a year believing it and bringing it up over and over despite my efforts to clarify as well as a phone call to the gossip aunt to confront her in which she admitted she had been "mistaken."

They followed us to the hotel where we had reserved a room apiece (my wife and I wanted one for privacy and sanity because my FIL's house was a riot of activity and my wife wanted to be near an unoccupied bathroom when the urge struck). We parked in front and my wife went in to pay for our room. I told my mother she could go inside and pay for her room. She said, "I was just going to write you a check." I said, with confusion, "They take checks here. Why not just write them one?"

She exploded. "Because you can't cash it until next week! I don't have the money to cover it!"

"Oh," I said. "I didn't know you needed us to cover the room."

"You said on the phone that you would!"

No, I hadn't. I had said I'd hold it on our card until check-in, whereupon my mother had said we'd "divvy up." Now here we are and my mother expects us to cover her room. Never mind that this is our daughter's graduation and we had had a plethora of extra expenses as of late. But that is another trait of my mother--if she had a billion dollars she'd be broke by daybreak and complaining that no one would help her. (My grandmother is the same way regarding my mother, always expecting her to cover her bills, which my mother complains about but fails to see the irony in when she tries to project the same thing onto me).

So I head into the lobby to stop my wife from using her debit card in case she didn't have enough cash in her account right then to cover both rooms.

"You have to get her permission?" my mother asked, incredulously.

I ignored the comment and went inside. I told my wife the situation. She wasn't surprised--she had experienced my mother's wrath directly too many times. She had even removed her from her "friends" on Facebook because my mother insisted on putting rude and hurt comments under my wife's posts. So we paid for the room and we went to our rooms. A few minutes later I walked over to my mother and GM's room. They were already mad. I guess I should have read her mind, seen that we were supposed to pay for her room, and done it with gratitude. I tried to explain that it was a misunderstanding, once again trying to keep the peace, but I knew it was no good.

When we left to go to the school for the ceremony my mother kept making hurt and hateful comments about us not telling her my wife had bought a new car and how we never told her anything. Here we go again, I thought... (cont)
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old October 25th, 2012, 06:00 PM
Mike Mike is offline
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Posts: 9
Mike is on a distinguished road
Re: Estranged from my Mother--Advice Welcome!

When we got to the auditorium it really mushroomed. The auditorium was packed. We sat on the second row with my FIL and my SD's paternal GF and his wife. My mother began drilling me as soon as we sat down. "You never tell me anything. I didn't know about any awards. Your wife took me off her Facebook and now I never get told anything." I was so mad and upset I got up and walked to the top of the bleachers in the back of the auditorium and sat with my SIL and her two young boys (she had sat there to take pictures from an elevated level) until I could calm down. When I returned to my seat a few minutes before the event started my mother began again. "You're bucking for a fight," I whispered. "Stop it."

"Oh, I'll stop it," she said, in that familiar, threatening tone.

Afterwards we took pictures then went to the hotel to change clothes and go out to eat. As we were about to leave my mother, red with fury, announced that she and my GM were leaving in the morning. I had heard this before.

"So are we," I said casually, trying to keep the peace.

"No," she said, her eyes burning with accusatory rage. "We're leaving very early in the morning."

"OK." There was nothing else to say. And, frankly, I'd had enough. My wife was very sick. I have no children of my own, so my SD's graduation was my one time to experience this... and my mother had completely ruined it.

We all met up to eat. Everyone was tense because they had witnessed some of my mother's behavior. She and my GM ate then left and went to the room. The next morning I awoke at 4 a.m. and looked out the window. They were already gone.

That was six months ago. A few days after I wrote my mother a long e-mail, explaining that she was wrong, how uncomfortable it had been, and how I saw no choice but to cut ties with her until she can realize her behavioral problems and change them. For the last six months we have e-mailed a few times but I cannot deal with the stress of speaking to her directly. A week after the incident my GM--who hasn't written me a letter in probably 30 years--sent me a hate-filled and accusatory letter, blaming me for everything, telling me my GF's ghost would haunt me for what I've done, and how if my mother dies it will be my fault. I did not respond. If I didn't know the toxic relationship they have it would have hurt me. But I was not surprised.

I know my mother is probably a narcissistic type. And I sincerely thank anyone who has read all of this--I just wanted to put everything it context, as it has happened, throughout the years. In her last e-mail she gave another martyr-style, narcissistic apology, then said essentially it was our fault because of how me and my wife treated them. Unbelievable denial.

So... thoughts? Did I miss anything? Is there any other way I could have handled this? I was relieved to not have to deal with the drama and guilt-trips for the first few months, but the guilt and doubt are always there beneath the surface. I feel like the ball is in her court now. I told her repeatedly that we could try to move forward, but only if she realizes the behavior patterns she is in and do something about them, a suggestion which is always met with denials and projections.

Thanks for reading. Sorry for the length

Last edited by Mike; October 25th, 2012 at 06:12 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old October 25th, 2012, 06:18 PM
KayKay's Avatar
KayKay KayKay is offline
Moderator
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Texas
Posts: 13,533
KayKay has a brilliant futureKayKay has a brilliant futureKayKay has a brilliant future
Re: Estranged from my Mother--Advice Welcome!

Mike, I think you are a saint for putting up with what you have from your mother. I'm sorry she is the way she is, but kudos to you for recognizing what she is.

I think estranged is the right way to go. She sounds like she's very self-centered and immature.

I don't really have any advice, because you're handing it beautifully IMO. I do have moral support. I know it can't be easy to have that black cloud hanging over you. How does your wife feel about the estrangement?
__________________
Expecto Patronum!
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old October 25th, 2012, 06:27 PM
Mike Mike is offline
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Posts: 9
Mike is on a distinguished road
Re: Estranged from my Mother--Advice Welcome!

Quote:
Originally Posted by KayKay View Post
Mike, I think you are a saint for putting up with what you have from your mother. I'm sorry she is the way she is, but kudos to you for recognizing what she is.
Thanks for such a speedy reply!

Quote:
I think estranged is the right way to go. She sounds like she's very self-centered and immature.
I thought it was my only option, too. It just seems counter to our instincts as children to intentionally cut ourselves out of a parent's life. But she hasn't--so far--offered another choice so long as she continues the blame and denial behavior.

Quote:
I don't really have any advice, because you're handing it beautifully IMO. I do have moral support. I know it can't be easy to have that black cloud hanging over you. How does your wife feel about the estrangement?
LOL, thank you so much. My wife has been so much help. She is amazing. She is a very sweet person and my mother has put her in tears with her words. My wife supports my decision and agrees there just wasn't any other choice. I gave Mom countless opportunities--I ignored her behavior, tried to be caring, receptive, patient, etc. She wasn't a horrible mother, but once I got grown this side of her came out. Maybe it is because I left home and stayed gone, living with my wife--as long as I was there with her there was no threat; she could keep her mental thumb on me as a child. I've read a lot about narcissistic mothers and she seems to fit the diagnosis very well.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old October 25th, 2012, 06:36 PM
KayKay's Avatar
KayKay KayKay is offline
Moderator
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Texas
Posts: 13,533
KayKay has a brilliant futureKayKay has a brilliant futureKayKay has a brilliant future
Re: Estranged from my Mother--Advice Welcome!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike View Post
She wasn't a horrible mother, but once I got grown this side of her came out.
I'm going to disagree with you here. She used your college trust fund for a swimming pool, discouraged you from attending college, and vilified your father to you. That, to me, signals a person who uses a child to satisfy her own ego and needs. That is taking, rather than giving, and I don't think that's what good mothers do.

Perhaps she didn't abuse or neglect you, but from my vantage point it seems that her efforts towards parenting were more about her and less about you. As a child, you weren't able to recognize that.

My opinion, anyway.
__________________
Expecto Patronum!
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old October 25th, 2012, 06:54 PM
Mike Mike is offline
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Posts: 9
Mike is on a distinguished road
Re: Estranged from my Mother--Advice Welcome!

Quote:
Originally Posted by KayKay View Post
I'm going to disagree with you here. She used your college trust fund for a swimming pool, discouraged you from attending college, and vilified your father to you. That, to me, signals a person who uses a child to satisfy her own ego and needs. That is taking, rather than giving, and I don't think that's what good mothers do.
Ah. You are correct. I suppose my mind sees the good things she did on the surface and doesn't see quite as easily the dishonest things she did beneath the surface.

Quote:
Perhaps she didn't abuse or neglect you, but from my vantage point it seems that her efforts towards parenting were more about her and less about you. As a child, you weren't able to recognize that.

My opinion, anyway.
I agree.

It is nice to get others' opinions. I don't socialize much and we have no family here, so getting a neutral opinion isn't very easy. I knew I wasn't being an evil son, but it is nice to see that verified.

She is very glory-seeking. She likes for others to depend on her or be in her debt in some way or other. I think her behavior was learned--put into her--from her mother. Now they have lived together for the last several years; I'm afraid that venom is just swelling collectively. It took me a bit to realize there's not a thing I can do about it.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old October 25th, 2012, 09:49 PM
KayKay's Avatar
KayKay KayKay is offline
Moderator
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Texas
Posts: 13,533
KayKay has a brilliant futureKayKay has a brilliant futureKayKay has a brilliant future
Re: Estranged from my Mother--Advice Welcome!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike View Post
I suppose my mind sees the good things she did on the surface and doesn't see quite as easily the dishonest things she did beneath the surface.
I think this might be very common for children of narcissists.

Maybe the thing to do is reflect upon how your wife (who sounds like a fabulous person) treats your step-daughter. I bet you couldn't imagine her doing the things your mom did.
__________________
Expecto Patronum!
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old October 26th, 2012, 04:35 AM
LucyVanPelt's Avatar
LucyVanPelt LucyVanPelt is offline
Moderator
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 7,209
LucyVanPelt has a reputation beyond reputeLucyVanPelt has a reputation beyond reputeLucyVanPelt has a reputation beyond reputeLucyVanPelt has a reputation beyond repute
Re: Estranged from my Mother--Advice Welcome!

Wow, I read your post, Mike, and I am so impressed by your loyalty to your mother and your wife. I agree with KayKay, your mother wasn't that great of a mother. You are wise to be estranged from your mom. You will probably feel sad about that forever, but there is no other choice. She isn't capable of having a healthy relationship, and it sounds like your GM isn't, either.

Follow your wife's example in grieving the loss of your mother-- focus on the happy things in your life. It takes a long time, but eventually her absence will be normal.

And kiss your wife! What a saint! You are a lucky man.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old October 26th, 2012, 05:00 AM
snafu's Avatar
snafu snafu is offline
future crazy cat lady
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Mid-west
Posts: 7,891
snafu has much to be proud ofsnafu has much to be proud ofsnafu has much to be proud of
Re: Estranged from my Mother--Advice Welcome!

Mike - ITA with kaykay & Lucy - your not so "D" DM damaged your realtionship with your dad ... it was all about her

I don't go out of my way to talk bad about my ex to my DS -

there have been a few times that I did need to tell DS something - I was in tears when I had to discuss his dad's $$ habits (I've got lots of "ex" threads - check 'em out if you want)
Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump


All times are GMT -7. The time now is 02:46 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.7.3
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Copyright 2007, The BlueSparks Network