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How to Confront My Mother

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2:52 pm
July 20, 2004


New Member

posts -1

I'm a 29 year old female. My mother is 50 and it was only about 2 years ago that I started to realize that she has severe problems. My tendency was, as a teenager/young adult, to flee and live with my father who lived accross the country when things got rough and then she was very far away so I could romantacize her and tell myself that she is the beacon of wisdom. However, I am also the oldest of several siblings. What made me leave to go live with my father? When I was thirteen I witnessed her and her husband physically abuse my 5 year old step sister who was a product of a dysfuntional marriage and a custody battle. This was never explained or discussed in our house except when my mother was on pain killers once and she stayed up all night talking to me. She said it was the worst thing she ever did. However, there was always a constant differential treatment of my step sister. When my other siblings observed this we were always shot down with things like, you don't know what she does… You're not the parents…You have no idea what a difficult child she is… As far as I can see, my step sister who is nearly 21 now, is doing pretty well. No one is perfect, but she's a happy, healthy, intelligent, successful college junior. Now I also have a 16 year old brother who just ran away from home for 6 weeks. Prior to that he was a very sweet kid. He was "close" to his parents and overall very sweet. Now that he has run away and been brought home by the cops he'd apparently treating my mother like crap and her husband too. I don't know exactly what's going on as I'm accross the country and my 16 yr old brother hasn't responded to my emails. This whole thing brought up a lot of feelings that I have about my mother. And like I said, until about two years ago, we were what you would call "very close" her husband even once told me I'm her best friend. I feel very angry at my mother. She grew up in an abusive household where her needs weren't met and I feel like though she was minimally abusive to us – aside from the incident I told you about – she takes out all of her unmet needs onto her children. When my brother was missing, I suggested that she might want to talk to a professional about her feelings around the situation. I honestly think, as do my sibling that she is getting much worse in her maladaptive behaviors, but telling her this is impossible as the only time I confronted her (the two years ago) she freaked out to the point where she was running around the house literally screaming, "No one loves me". (These displays of temper were common when I was a kid then less common for a few years, but became common again from what the siblings say a few years ago again) I know these feelings are real for her, so I want her to get help. When I have suggested it, she turns on me and says very cruel things, like "what do you know, you're not a grown up, you don't have children". I don't take that personally b/c I believe in waiting until you are ready to have children and not going through 2 divorces and three kids by three different fathers as she did. I think she did the best she could, but I just don't plan on doing it that way and don't think that makes me immature. Basically I am trying to figure out how to help her without getting abused. I love her, I love my family, I don't want it to fall apart. I'm sorry for the wordiness. I've been to therapy, but at the time I was more focused on my father and interestingly, my therapist said that what I really will need to focus on is my mother, but at the time, I didn't believe her. I think I was still in denial.

3:03 pm
July 20, 2004


New Member

posts -1

First of all you don't have any control over your mother. She doesn't sound like she wants help from you so stop trying to help her. I believe the best thing you can do is to take care of yourself. Keep the focus on you and how she treats you. Set boundaries on her if she is not being respectful of you but give up trying to change her. I know you love your mother but my advice is to detach from her with love.

3:24 pm
July 20, 2004


New Member

posts -1

Denial can be so powerful. I am truly sorry for your experiences but I applaud your going to be with your fathe. It sounds like this was the right place for you.

Is your mother a drinker? Have you ever had her tested for bi-polar? There are so many reasons let alone her own abusive memories, that could keep your mother in the destructive spiral she is in. Unfortunately, this spiral is pulling other innocent people in as well.

Have you called any agencies to see what rights you have to protect your siblings and your mother? I know there are many well versed people on this web site who will read your story and have a few suggestions. Hang in there and don't stop looking for your answers. I could cry for you because you seem as if you are taking some big steps. God bless

9:23 am
July 21, 2004


New Member

posts -1

wilcina -can you specifiy your problem a little more ?

Is it that you as you said "feel very angry at your mother"?. Why is that ?
Because – according to your information here – she's likely to have been emotionally abusive to you (and you've been – unconsciously or not – maybe enabling her in a way to do so? is this lying at the root of your anger ? the fact that you weren't there for yourself? that you may be feeling over-responsible while at the same time letting yourself down in a way? do you feel guilty? if so, about what?)

Your brother running away from home – brought up a lot of feelings that you have about your mother. What kind of feelings ? You feel that the same story is now repeating itself with him?

("basically I am trying to figure out how to help her without getting abused").
Why do you feel the need to confront your mother about her behavior ? Why do you think you can help her ? You think you can help yourself without being or getting abusive to you? What is it that – you – need right now ?

I can see you do have a message but it seems wrapped up somehow – cuz I feel in telling about you (for example – your anger) you immediately jump to some other person – your mom or brother – to illustrate things basically having to do with you. And that's okay – but I am curious to hear more about you.

I agree with both and – it might be worth your while to work on getting emotionally detached from her, in doing so you'll be able to learn (more) how and when to watch over yourself (focus on you)and explore some more what can be the right place for you – I mean something like "do you feel a need to redefine your position here" – within this family-network. It's not your task or responsibility to hold the family together nor do you have the power to do so. I can relate to the fact that it may be a painful experience for you should your family ever fall apart.

I do hope you feel heard and unerstood by me. Let things take their course. I understand this may be a hard thing for you to do but in the end what you may be gaining is your independence (or ability to stand on your own two) when and if you need to.

Go for it ! be well,


9:25 am
July 21, 2004


New Member

posts -1

I agree with both *kathygy* and *workonit* – ssssst

1:49 pm
July 21, 2004


New Member

posts -1

Thanks for your support and for asking me those questions, I will try to think about them here, out loud. It's very kind of you all to put so much energy into this.

1) I feel angry at my mother because everything has to be about her all the time. She is a woman who works in the helping profession and she's AMAZING at her job, but when she comes home, I have always felt that we have do deal with all the emotional fallout. She also gets very sick every time she is upset, and we all also have to take care of her, and even when we do, she complains about not getting enough care.

2) Yes I feel that we have all enabled her. (She doesn't have a drinking problem but is the product of an alcoholic home). But mostly her husband has enabled her (her current husband).

I had this poignant dream where she was trying to save these weird huge birdlike creatures and putting her self in danger to do so as they were all sick and covered in blood but at the same time they were really aggressive so after a while one of them attacked her and she was all covered with blood so we had to take her in the bath and clean her off and take care of her. I felt like the dream meant that she is always trying going beyond her limits to save the world and we are always dealing with the fallout.

3) I do feel responsible for her and also guilty. I feel responsible because she has had a tough tough life and she has done so much for me. Though she is very seld centered, she is not at all selfish and you have very good parenting skills, it's her interpersonal skills that are maladaptive. I also feel responsible for her because she counts on me a lot. She really does. The day I turned 18 she rewrote the will and gave me full custody for all the kids in the event of their deaths. She has always given me a lot of responsibility which I have always taken on eagerly, but I feel guilty because I feel like I have said no a lot lately because as an adult with my own life I can't take on as many of the "family" responsibilities. Example, I am moving across the country in two weeks by myself and she wants to come out the first weekend that I get there and drive to my grandparents house together. When I told her that I couldn't do this because I have no where to leave the dog she said she'd just go out there by herself and said "I hope you'll visit your grandparents someday" I just visited them in April. And of course I visited them. I don't really feel guilty about it, I feel angry at her for asking me to do SO much. Like on her birthday I sent flowers to the room she was staying in in Italy and she said I'm the only one who gave her a birthday present. Ok? That makes me the responsible one, right, and then I also feel guilty for the fact that she feels so unloved but then I talked to my sister and she did give her a really nice present. So I feel angry at her for not recognizing the things people do for her.

4) My brother running away from home brought up a lot of feelings for me because I feel like he feels totally alienated from the family and I think it's in part because she is pretty crazy and make other peoples lives in the family pretty difficult and we (the siblings) all talk about how hard it is to live with her and my step dad he just kisses her ass and does whatever she says and just avoids confrontation but NO ONE ever says – No mom I don't want to sit here for 45 minutes and hear about the grueling day you had at work or the co-worker that did something wrong to you – or the boss you pissed off. I want to talk about myself once in a while. Nobody says, mom, when I go to hang out with my friends it's not because I don't love you, it's because I want to see my friends. The reason we don't say these things is because my mother flips out very easily. I've seen her put holes in the wall. Twice. When I was six she threw every dish in the cabinet accross the room and out the window. And my brother was the youngest and he got left at home after we all moved out and had to deal with this alone. Confronting my mother is about as fun as poking your own eyes out. On the other hand she is not abusive and she genuinely loves her children with all of her heart so it was heartbreaking for me to see the pain my brother's running away caused her and how terrified she was. And so I felt sorry for her and I wanted to help so I called her about it and I did some research and I tried to talk her down and tried to talk to her about getting someone professional to talk to about how she was feeling. Because I knew my brother would come home, but I don't want him to do it again. I am concerned for his safety. The cops found him living in the streets. That is the major problem. My mother looks really good on paper. She always took care of us, NEVER missed a school play, always made sure we had every thing we needed, but then is so messed up about meeting her own needs that we end up trying and failing to meet her needs and then feeling ultimately frustrated and fed up and want to get away from her.

5) I guess that what I need is for my mom to be more of a grown up. To get her needs met so that she can step up to the plate at home and stop expecting us to fill her up.

6) Yes I don't really know how to emotionally detach from a person especially my mother. I guess I know that my role in the family is just a sibling, but I think as the oldest, with the most stability, I have taken on this matriarch position amongst the kids, and I have found that my sibling relationships are the most rewarding relationships I have in my life and no matter what I want to nourish those. At the same time, my mom says, "You guys always leave me out of the fun" so I feel guilty about that, but I guess I have to learn to detach from that and nourish the relationships that are really helpful to me and detach from my mother so that I can stop enabling her.

Listen, thank you so much for helping me to think through these questions. Wilcina

3:50 pm
July 22, 2004


New Member

posts -1

It sounds like you have nothing to feel guilty about. Rather, your mother has a way of manipulating you into unearned guilt. You are not responsible for her. She is a grown woman. Good luck.

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