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Mother/Daughter relationship conflict

My parents were 10 years apart in age and their marriage could best be described as dictator/doormat or parent/child relationship. My father the oldest of 10 grew up quickly and harshly with enormous responsibility at a young age and many sacrifices as his father was unhealthy and died young...resulting in his entitlement/bitter attitude toward life.  My mother, 74 today, was oldest of six and a prima donna whose only expectation was to "look pretty" and respect men and elders.

After being a sergeant in the Army, my father's expectations of his immature 19 yo pregnant bride were overwhelming.  They had 3 children in the first 3 years, then two more in the next 9 years.  I was the oldest with 1 brother followed by 3 sisters.

As a child my parents unashamedly favored my brother and one sister, gushing about how pretty she was.  The other three sisters all were abused in different ways.  I was the black sheep...my mother was unambitious and made excuses when she didn't meet my father's demands...often throwing me "under the bus" to my father and relatives.  She was a poor housekeeper preferring to nap or go shopping.  I would walk through the door returning from school and get lambasted for the condition of the house...my mother would smile.

My father was respected as a community leader, warm and charismatic in public...at home he was easily angered as he was a "closet alcoholic"...my mother would complain and he would "lay down the law"...often spanking us then throwing us down into the dark celler....of course being the oldest and an easy "target", expected to be the responsible one...I took more beatings than the rest...my mother would smile.  I was good kid...very introverted and sullen...absorbing all the misdirected guilt and shame).

Now it is 2011...my father passed away in 2004...since then my mother has been erratic as ever!  She has acted like a teen looking for love with men who have sweet-talked her into giving them thousands of dollars only to break her heart.  Still she favors men and elders and treats her children and grandchildren as second class citizens (except for the two).  Her behavior has been shocking at times.

My mother's "perfect" image is paramount to her.  She loves to talk on the phone all day about all of the nice things she does for her friends (usually men)....or how she "witnessed" to so and so...then in the next breath she is cruelly gossiping about friends, neighbors and family members.

During the time when she was involved in unhealthy relationships...the 5 of us teamed up to express our concern...feeling vulnerable, since then, she has made it her mission to create separation in our family.  She talks badly about all of us behind our backs and creates dissension...then plays the victim when confronted.  And like my father, I'm sure felt...her retaliation is very shaming and painful. This is her way to manipulate everyone around her.  

My mother has never been nurturing as she is most definitely narcissistic and extremely manipulative.  Relatives on both sides of the family praise her for being so sweet...little do they know how she rips them to threads behind their backs.  She has trained everyone to dance around her feelings regardless of how hurtful she often is...everyone makes excuses for her behavior and protects her....except me!

I am the only person who has the courage to confront her hurtful behavior and I do so very delicately.  She has told some of us in anger that "She wished we had never been born."  She will use the "F" word. She threatens to take us out of her will. The next day she will deny it and mirror...projecting that behavior onto the other person...claiming the other person said her very hurtful and abusive words to HER instead of the other way around !!!  She makes endless excuses but NEVER EVER will she say "I'm sorry".

Her behavior has been increasingly defensive and unpredictable...she swears (as a child I never ever heard her swear)...she threatens to take you out of her will or she will run for the knife drawer...and she will outright lie to your face.  After any altercation, she can't get on the phone quickly enough to talk to family members (immediate and otherwise) about how badly SHE was treated...gathering sympathy...when all along SHE initiated the confrontation and conducted herself in a way she NEVER would in the company of the person she is having the conversation with.

The maddening part is that 85% of the time she if fine and normal...without provocation, her facial expression changes and it is like entirely different (ugly) person emerges and it is always a "non-win" outcome for the other party!

Through this unbecoming behavior...I pray for my mother and forgive her time and time again...but she seems to have a "deep hatred" for me especially...deeply ingrained from years of practice and being unable to face the truth... and I feel like she enjoys making me her opponent when all I want is a healthy mother/daughter relationship.  She has done great damage to inner family relationships...I am just one casualty among many.

Most of the family just plays her sick little game...I really don't know how to handle this.  I am more of a direct person and prefer the truth in all matters to sugar coated words of comfort or flattery...my mother is the opposite. Do I continue to take her abuse and then smile like it is ok? Or do I remain true to myself and try to be "real" with her?  What about the malicious untruths she spreads through the family?  

I know I cannot change her without first changing myself.  Do I just fill her with empty compliments and false admiration and play her game?  Is that the answer?  

Thank you for your time and response.





5 Responses
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1744282 tn?1314065299
Oh my god you just described my mother to the T. She is old now like my mom I recently started telling my mom to tell her doctor some of the uncompassionate things she does because she is a narrsiccst  and tells everyone in the family nothing but terrible things about me and constantly throws me under the bus. I have finally made my mind up to move away from her. I could not be happier. I know I will not see her again or my sisters for that matter but its ok now. I have accepted that I have a dysfunctional family and I have grandchildren and a son that need me now. She has had her life and now I am going to move on with mine. She uses me for rides, doctor apointments, pick up meds, go to the many different stores hair dresser etc. She has to look good to for men. So that being said I would say bye to her. It is not etched in stone anywhere that you have to have a close relationship with her. The family will be lucky to see me on holidays. I did this in the past and was gone seven years. Then I left again for two. Each time I came back she got a bit better but has fallen back into her dementia. good luck let me know how your doing.
Helpful - 0
1415482 tn?1459702714
My mom needs to put me down in order to feel better about herself..she had me at 14 and she blames me for it somehow it's my fault, so if she could nit-pick every bad that I do in my life and point out all my mistakes then her life doesnt seem so sucky. My whole life with her has been some kind of hell. But it all changed because I decided to accept her for who she is and who she could never be in my life, holding onto love that will always fall short because the other party doesnt want it to be full out (only she can change that u cant) will always drive u insane my friend. As much as our parents are supposed to love and care for us and be there the sad reality is that they are not always nurturing and loving, they are people just like me and u and so we ALL have to live our lives the way that makes us happy. So I agree, move out, deal with ur own life and ur issues and leave ur mother to time.

Also I am sorry for the abuse u suffered as a child, it wasnt fair to u and ur other siblings. I hope that time will heal ur heart.

Anna
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Avatar universal
Jojo, I am sorry about the abuse you've had to endure.  I hope what I say offers some help and the advice I give is sound.  I've been in your shoes..... kind of, but a bit different.

I am not going to go through the entire back story as it is simply too long.  I never measured up to my dad's expectations.  When I say never, I mean that I let him down the day I was born because I was born with underdeveloped lungs and spent the first 10 days on this planet in an oxygen tent. (He made reference to this later in life.)  It was mostly psychological/emotional abuse, but there was a bit of physical abuse and certainly the ever present threat of physical abuse.  

This went on through the time I graduated high school.  My dad left town at about this time.  He moved half way across the country.  I was paying my own way, but still living with my mother.  Everything I did at this time was wrong and he had no problem mentioning it, so I told him to leave me alone for a while.  

A couple of years goes by and he asks me to move to where he is because it was a fishing and hunting paradise.  (I love hunting and fishing.)  I was promised a very prosperous future running the family business, but I knew I needed to think about it.  Putting aside our past, I thought that me moving there would get us through this mess and we could put it aside.  For about 14 years, this was mostly the case.  We had a few spats, but I was an adult and could tell him to shove off.  (Besides, I was almost as big as he was, 3 times as strong and agile, and he really didn't want to get physical at this point.)  My father dies.... leaves everything to my step mother who was in and out of his life (because of his own doing) for better than 30 years.  Married, divorced, cheated on his next wife with her, divorced that woman and married the step mother again.  

So now, everything that I based the rest of my life on, my wifes life on and my childrens life on was gone... done...  (I kind of knew that this would be the case, but to finally measure up to my dad, I shelved those feelings and came to work for him.)   (On a side note, not all times were bad with my father, and my mother did shield me from a lot more abuse than I would have gotten.)

So, I told you all of that to tell you this.  You are correct in thinking that you cannot change her.  We can only control ourselves, and when it comes to change... that change has to be wanted.  If your mother doesn't want to change, she won't.  The change has to want to happen from within.  Some people never get there.  

You can fill her full of false compliments and play her game, but why?  Why would you allow her to dictate how your life goes?  I understand the want to have that special mother daughter relationship, but unless SHE changes, you're sure to get more of the same.  And the threat of cutting you out of the will is obviously her way of keeping you around to further treat you bad.  As harsh as this sounds, I'd consider it a done deal.  It is past time for you to start to heal from all of this and further subjecting yourself to this behavior can't be of any benefit, can it?  (Back to me briefly, I met my wife after I moved to my father.  I wouldn't change that for anything in the world.  I do regret not leaving when I had the opportunity to do so, because I basically was filling a void for my dad.  Had I left, he couldn't have lied and he couldn't have denied me, his daughter in law or his grand kids any of the promises he made.)  I don't know.  

Obviously the choice is yours as to how you handle this.  I think you need to take a real look inside and find what's important to you.  With me, I wish I would have let go years before I did.  The healing could have started so much earlier, and perhaps I could have avoided some of the things I ran into after his death......

Good luck to you.
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1744282 tn?1314065299
Thank you for all the support and letters. I hope we can help one and other. Please stay in touch and let me know how you are too.
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Avatar universal
I think you are very in need of your mothers acceptance. Her approval, and her recognition of you all these years later. I had similar feelings at one time and then I grew up and had 6 of my own and that changed alot of things, including my outlook on what happened when I was a child. I cannot begin to advise you as to how to handle your mother other than to simply say, parents are people too and are far from being perfect and the love unconditional phrase you hear so much about works for pets not people. I would quit trying to handle her one way or the other and simply visit and enjoy each others company and when it ceases to be enjoyable, get up and go home and respectfully make it clear that you are not in for the drama and will not partake. And then follow thru, only visiting as long as it is pleasant, at the first sign of gossip or drama, make up an excuse and go home without commenting or taking sides. I know thats not professional advice or anything, but you cannot change her, only your reaction to her.
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