40 answers

Disowning Mother and Sister and Need Words of Wisdom

I have been very close to my mother most of my life until about 5 yrs ago when she changed drastically b/c her husband died. She is bitter, jealous, negative, and lies all the time. She spoils my nephew and doesn't spend much time at all with my children...this has caused so much stress between my sister and I that we have not spoken in two years. Recently my mother lied a big lie, one that really hurt me deep. Now, I have cut it off with my mother. I cannot have this stress in my life or around my children. She seems ok with it and has actually told more and more lies just during this process. I think she doesn't even know she is doing it anymore. She really needs professional help but does not realize, or want to realize that she has issues. I am done. My issue is that I feel like such a bad person to cut off my mother. I almost feel no love for her anymore and just can't stand to be around her. I have the memories of our closeness so I feel that I should have some sort of obligation to her...but I truly have a strong dislike for her. Has anyone gone through a similar situation and can anyone give me words of wisdom or advice to make this easier for me? I am depressed, angry, stressed, etc I have a wonderful life with my husband and children but am not happy lately and they are noticing. It is not an option to make ammends, I just need words to be able to move on. Thanks in advance.


What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Oh ladies, I cannot believe how many of you sent me words of wisdom and caring thoughts! The only other time I asked for advice was on potty training and I only got two responses....but with this, you moms have really come through! I realize that I was not able to give all of the info that is going on in my short email but for the most part your advice was right on. I have ordered books that were suggested, I have started counseling with a church member last week and set up weekly meetings, I have not responded to any of her rude emails and b/c of this, she has asked for her key back, her safe deposit box key, and now returned my children's car seats...guess that means she is not planning on seeing her grandchildren again. Apparently my mums the word is angering her. She truly is a miserable woman and truly needs help but will NEVER admit it. She is so insecure and so unhappy that she would never admit to me that she needs help. She has made it clear that I think b/c I have found happiness that I think I am better than everyone else. I will sit back, stay quiet, and make sure that I am the best mom I can be. I am changing my family tree! I know that my mother will need me some day, even if it is in her elderly years. I hope she can make good before that time. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Everyday is getting easier...it all feels like a bad dream....soon I will be ok. W.

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W., I am going to ask some hard questions. What would you feel and how would you cope if you mother and sister died today? Do you have closure? Would you feel at peace with your choices?

I didn't see a single other response who spoke about the death of a disowned parent. My Father made decisions that deeply hurt my family and unfortuntately we were not speaking when he died. I had always hoped we would reconcile, but he was not an a point where he was able to admit his mistakes and apologize when he had a massive heart attack. It was a struggle to cope with the lose ends that were left..I'm not a normally depressed person, but this has been a challenge for me, even now after 5+ years.

I don't think toxic people should define us or hold us emotionally hostage, but I only want you to explore all sides of your situation.

Best of luck to you.

5 moms found this helpful

It is hard for people who don't have these issues to understand a child cutting out a parent. Your mother and mine sound very similar. I tried everything and at some point, you have to protect you and your family and just provide a good example to your children.

I understand and support removing negative influences.

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I'm sorry that I don't have any words of advice because I've never been in your situation. However you are in my prayers. All I can offer to you is you need to forgive your mother. That doesn't mean you speak to her or she even plays any role in the forgiveness (doubtfully she'll even ask for it). You need to firgive her and let go of the pain and heartache she has caused you and move on with your life, happily. Maybe someday she can be a part of your life but right now it just won't work for you. If you are a Christian, there is a great book that helps walk you through the forgiveness process (I did it in a bible study). It's called "Companions in Christ: the Way of Frogiveness" by Marjorie Thompson. I hope this can help you out. My best to you.

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We naturally have expectations of love and responsibility from our family--especially from our parents. But sometimes the people who let us down the most in life are the very ones who, by definition of title (mother, father, sister, brother), should be there for us when the rest of the world is crashing down. Maybe one day you can reconnect with your mother and sister, but for now it sounds like the healthiest thing you can do for yourself and your family is to create distance. You can't control what your mom and sister do, but you can control your own life. It will no doubt still be painful, and I would suggest seeking counseling to help you heal and move on. Perhaps your mother does have some mental issues that need to be dealt with, but I think first you need to take care of yourself. Then maybe you'll be in a place where you can attempt to help your mom. I've said a prayer for you and your family.

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Hi W.

My husband and I have gone through this very recently. It was my Mother in Law, but we still had to make the decision to close her out of our lives for a lot of the same reasons you are stating here. It was harder for me, than for him. I think as females we want to always make things right. If you decide to cut her out of your life you will need to be strong and hold to it. Going back and forth between will only hurt you more. You have to decide to make the best of it and live with it, or cut her out completely. It was a very hard decision for us. We even tried to meet with his mom and work things out. We said that we needed to be honest and truthful during our meeting. She said some very nasty vicious things to my husband. We decided that if she truly felt that way about him/us then we didn't need that kind of negatively in our life. It was causing us tooo much stress. We did not want our kids to hear lies coming from her mouth about us. We did it to protect our kids more than us. She also treated grandchildren very unfairly. I am not telling you what to do, but maybe try meeting her with a "mediator" which is what we did and see what transpires and then make your final decision. I will be thinking about you and your decision.

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Hi W.-I feel your pain. My father and I do not speak. Long story that I'll spare you of but we were very close and this happened about 8 yrs. ago. It takes time. For several years I tried everything to just keep in touch. I sent pictures and cards, letters of just updates of my life. With always no response. Even no response to my marraige or children born. I feel that he feels the guilt and he is the one missing out. He's the one not getting to see his grandchildren grow up.
You have to think of you children and husband first. They will be there when you mother and sister are not. But, I do recommend not cutting off completely. Send B-day card, Christmas cards, pictures of kids, etc. just occasionally and let them decide if they would like to reply.
Best wishes!

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Dear W.,

I have had similar trials with parents.

I was given a prayer...I say it every time I
am upset with them or anyone, including myself...

It is;

I love you

I am sorry or I apologize

Please forgive me

Thank you or I am grateful

I know it sounds like you are to blame, but not true!!!
You are connected with them and this is a forgiveness system I can handle and many others. I say it until I forget to. I use it daily! For everything and everyone...

It has worked miracles as I let go and Let God fix these problems...

Best of luck to you!


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I don't know if this will help or not. My mother has always treated me different from my 3 sisters and 1 brother. She thinks my brother and youngest sister walk on water and can do nothing wrong. She will lie in a heartbeat to get a fight started and my sisters are the same way. After my parents divorce 2 years ago, which was a major relief, my mother became worse. I used to be close to my 3 sisters, but finally realized that they were just using me and causing me untold stress. The last time I spoke with my mother, she was just being nosy wanting to know why my husband, who is retired/disabled was doing at our local gunshop. She didn't ask me how I was doing, or even ask about my son. It took me a long time to realize my mother blames me for things I have no control over, and used me to clean and babysit for her, so she wouldn't have to pay a babysitter. When I left to join the military at 17, her and my youngest sister got angry and still to this day blame me for leaving. Even though I was doing something to better myself.

I do not think you would be wrong to cut off all contact with her. If she is making your life miserable and doesn't see she needs professional help, then the only thing to do for your sanity is to cut off contact. You can't force her to get help. Sometimes you have to do what is best for you and your family, even if it means letting your mother and sister go. Also prayer does help, if you believe. I know it may sound crazy, but I talk to God when I have no one else to talk to. I have a great and fantastic Mother-in-law who is my mama, and my husband supports me in whatever I choose. It doesn't get any easier, but the peace of mind is better.

London, KY

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W., you already know your mother has problems, but you can't change her. The only person you can control is you, and I know... sometimes that's hard. We all have that problem sometimes. You may need to find a counselor to talk to about this. Pastor, friend, professional, whatever it takes to make this better for you. If you don't find some way to deal with it, you could end up with bitterness as well, and you don't want that for your family or yourself. Do what you need to do to have a healthy enviroment for you and your family. You didn't say if your sister is aware of what your mother is doing, but if she knows and doesn't take the things she says seriously, please don't take it out on her. You two can maintain a good relationship with work if she knows not to take your mom seriously. If she doesn't, then that's another issue. If you decide to keep close contact with your sister, I'd make mom an issue not to talk about together. I'll say a prayer for all of you, and God bless!

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Your family comes first and foremost. It sounds like at minimum you need to take time without associating with your mother and sister. Hurt feelings and anger can make dealing with people even worse than it has to be. It sounds like your sister might be more needy so mom responds by tending to her and her children. I am the most independent of my siblings and as a result have to fight the tendancy to react when my mom dotes on nieces and nephews. If I let my mom in too much she takes over which I can't stand so I keep the boundary there, but as a consequence must realize that I am the one who put up the boundary whereas one of my siblings don't seem to mind her taking over. One of my other siblings pretty much allows her to come over only when they invite her. His wife is far more controlling than my mother. There is a book that may help you: Boundaries. I found journaling helpful, I could write down what I was feeling and wanted to say without making things escalate with others.

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It will be extremely difficult, but to really unburden yourself and be happy again, you would need to forgive them. That doesn't mean letting them back in your life to cause more hurt and damage; it means to be able to think back about what happened and not be angry and hurt any more. Difficult, but possible, and you will be a stronger, better person for it. Your mother may have some mental health issues, particularly if it came about suddenly. However, if she won't seek treatment, you are NOT obligated to hang around and be abused. There was a Dear Abby column about this recently, with a follow-up column:
http://www.uexpress.com/dearabby/?uc_full_date=20081015 (second question)


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God only gave you the ability to fix one person. That one is you. The only thing you can do for another person, no matter who, is pray for them.

I assume that, you did not cause your mother's attitude problems. But, there may have been conflicts since she changed. If you know of anything hurtful you may have done toward her, even if you were justified, bite the bullet and apologies. I know, that will be hard. But, you need to totally clear your conscience. Then tell her you love her and you are praying for her. Then get out of the way and let the Lord handle her. Do not get in the way. If you do, you may be blocking what He is doing in her heart. Don't throw it up to him and then take it back. Drop it into His hands and let go.

Your path is to be the person you should be first for your immediate family and then to others. Have you heard the old saying, "Kill them with kindness"? Be the best, most loving person you can towards your mother, sister and her family. And, let anything negative from your mother or sister pass through you to the Lord. Roll it over for Him to carry. You will find peace there.

Put your mind on the positive things in your life, husband, children, etc... every day. And, learn to pray for the conflicts. If you can give up this and other problems to the Lord, you will find what I have. That the best thing you can do about many problems is pray and get out of the way. He will do the rest.

Truly praying that God will turn your problems into blessings. JLN

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We all know what a mother is supposed to be...kind, caring and have unconditional love for their children, but unfortunately we do not live in an idealistic world. There are factors that come into play, like your mother losing her husband. Since she was an ideal mother as a child you know she has it somewhere in her to love you and your children unconditionally. Some people with "issues" do not want to face the fact that they need help. Until SHE is ready to admit that she has a problem there is nothing that you can do but support her. I know this is easier said than done especially when it affects your children. Then again you don't want your children to grow up disliking your mother. When she makes you mad just remind yourself that it's okay to dislike her (and your sister)sometimes, but you still love her and hopefully she will come around to realize that she needs help. Just let her come to that conclusion on her own. With being the better person, hopefully these feelings of anger and depression will subside and it will benefit all of you.

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Hi W.,
I was so sorry to hear about your issue with your mom and sister. There were times in my life that I too had to deal with toxic relationships with my own sister and mother. I looked at this as a way to protect my daughter from the negativity they pushed into our lives. It is a matter of protecting and nurturing your family. A grandparent and aunt are a very big influence in the lives of your children. Mixed messages of what is acceptable behavior within a family are strongly influenced by not only the parents behavior,but also the behavior of grandparents,uncles and aunts. Your relationship with your sister and mother sounds very unhealthy (toxic) and is likely to cause problems for your children if you had allowed them access to you and your family. Children are so intelligent, from such an early age, they just soak in what they see and hear and they emulate the dynamics they see in front of them with close family members. Don't feel like a bad person, please. When I read what you wrote, I thought that you were such a great mom, just trying your best to protect your children, especially at their young ages, from what sounds like, a very unhealthy and destructive relationship that would only cause heart ache. I wondered how you are able to break this cycle, these dynamics that are so unthinkable by your mom and sister? I immediately gave you credit for putting your kids well being before your own mother and sisters comfort zone. It would be easy to get sucked into their toxic drama, in fact, I truly commend you for being so brave and strong and most of all "selfless". Everyone wants their mom and sister in their lives, the dysfunction happens when a mother (like you) sees herself as a child and sister first, instead of being a "mom" first.
You will reap the rewards later and keep the stress out of your family now by keeping your children safe from people in your family that so desperately need professional help. It is so refreshing to read about a young mom that puts so much value in her children that instinctively you choose the right thing over the easiest thing where your children are concerned. I know it isn't easy for you, W., but it will be your nephew that pays for your sisters lack of concern. I am also very happy that your nephew won't be an influence in the lives of your children. The unselfish love and respect you show your husband and children should eventually take away any feeling of being a "bad person". Just give it time, and honestly know that what you are doing is just being a great mother! In spite of the pressure these two women have to have in your life, you've made the wisest and most descent decision for your childrens well being. Stay strong and be proud of yourself. Hope you realize soon what a good person you really are.
After reading other posts, I do "not" believe, at all, that this distance or boundary you've put in respect to your sister, is in anyway "punishment". This doesn't have anything to do with punishment towards a sibling or mother, you are protecting your children from very negative family members. That kind of thinking can only fuel the flames of self doubt or feeling like a "bad" person. Stay the course W., and good luck.

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W. - I TOTALLY understand the way you are feeling. At a younger age (15), I moved from my mother's house and lived with my dad. My mother and I have not gotten along since. I too have a sibling with children that have always been treated "special". And for that reason, the contact with my mother is limited. Also, I have no contact with my Dad because of his actions later in my life.

As a Mom, you have to stop and analyze what is best for you and your children. If you feel that someone is a bad influence on your children and cannot contribute a positive image, then I feel you should definitely avoid contact with that person. Your mother would have done the same if she had been in your situation.

You feel guilty, etc. because she is your mother. However, you have to do what is right for your children now ... that is your responsibility.


R. C.

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The lying makes me wonder if your mother has developed a mental condition such as schizophrenia and perhaps she doesn't even realize she is lying. The reason I say this is because my husband had the same problem with his mom. The 'stories' and hassling from his mom ruined their once great relationship up to the day she died. He had such anger toward her and I don't blame him, it was tough to endure. She was diagnosed but the medication wasn't working or else she wasn't taking it.

For closure, you could write her a letter saying that until she gets professional help, including a mental evaluation, you cannot maintain a relationship with her as it is affecting your health.

Try to remember the good times with her, feel sad for her and forgive (as that only hurts you), but I agree that not having any contact with her is the best for you and your family. Enjoy your wonderful family!

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Hi W.,

I have a sister who 3 years I had to cut off relations with too. Previously, she and I did get along.

I actually felt much better when I laid down the law and said, "that's it, you are outta my life!"

Reading your request has made me pause and ask myself, why am I not stressed, feel guilty, or feel bad about it. Outside of each person being individual and responding and feeling differently than each other... I believe the reasons why I actually feel good about my choice is that I feel good that I stood my ground and put "ME" first. Which to me represents "self-caring."

Hope this helps,

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I can relate to much of what you said and struggled for years trying to "win" my mother's love and approval. Our family history has been rewritten many times always with her in the starring role of "martyr mother who did the best she could" and double-standards for a screw up of a younger brother.

It's hard any time family or friends don't live up to our expectations and it's difficult to accept when they can't/won't be what we need and want. You are fortunate to have your own family/children and as cold as this may sound, you have to let go of a mother who can't give you what you need and focus on the children who need you.

It is ultimately your mother who will miss out but no amount of sympathy or sentiment towards the situation will change things if she is unable to see a problem.

I told my mother once the one thing I hoped to accomplish in my life was to break the cycle of family dysfunction and she actually laughed in my face. Years later it is I who laugh because I take pride in what I've accomplished.

Yes, I wish things were different between us. Yes, I have been and still am angry sometimes but if I let that anger poison who I am now or expect that she will change and wonder why I am dissapointed over and over, that's me hurting me... I made a hard decision to limit my exposure and interaction with my mother (and brother) because wasting time, love, emotions, energy, etc. on a mother who doesn't appreciate it, short changes what I can give my own daughter.

I would be happy to talk more if you want to. Sometimes venting to someone other then family is better. Try and be the kind of mother you wish you had with your kids. Shower them with all the love and affection you can. Tell them how important they are to you. Maybe you'll hurt less from what you don't have and feel more completed by what you do have.

Being related to someone is no guarantee that you will like, love, or even respect them. It's not wrong to protect yourself and your real family from negative influences.

2 moms found this helpful

I could have written your post, especially about 6 mos ago. My mom was a gentle loving mom while I grew up. She was my best friend until I was about 30. She started dating because we moved away for awhile, got her 'own life', and then started in on post menopause and retirement phases. She became very depressed and insecure. For about two years, our relationship was horrible. She was negative and critical, very unhappy. Everything was about her and her unhappiness. I finally decided, not to be done with her, but to take a break. As long as we needed. I did not call her. When she did call me, it was quick and non-confrontational. Emails were quick and to the point. She was not a part of my life and vice versa.

She has started coming around. I think it took those consequences for her to see that there ARE consequences to how you treat people. Most importantly, I stopped focusing on the negative between us and refocused my attention on my own family and kids. It was affecting them and they didn't deserve it.

Take a break. Focus positive energy on your own husband and kids. Don't think of it as giving up on her, just as letting herself get her issues worked out. Your relationship is different now, things change, so you need to adapt to the new circumstances. As for your sister, as the tension dissolves between you and your mom, it will as well with your sister. Your mom needs the space from the relationship to realize what she may be doing wrong. But don't punish her, just act like you're busy or something. Acting punishing will only add to the fire. You will eventually see progress, plus you will be happier for eliminating all this negative energy from your daily life.

good luck...

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I think writing your mom a letter and let loose of everything that bothers you! You don't have to give the letter to her, you can if you want or you can just burn it when you are done. I too live in Murfreesboro! If you ever want to talk let me know!

1 mom found this helpful

W., it is always sad when family members hurt one another and "disown" each other but sometimes that is just the way that it has to be. You mother sounds like she doesn't like herself very much and has to hurt others to make herself feel better. This is sad. Sometimes we have to cut the people out of our lives that cause us pain. Would you rather keep getting hurt over and over or cut your abuser out of your life? I really believe that words hurt worse than bruises. Bruises seem to heal quickly but words may never heal. You need to pray for clarity on this situation. God will never lead you wrong. Best wishes to you and your family.

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Hello, when I read your post, I had to answer right away. I went through something similar w/ my oldest sister. About 10-11 yrs ago this all happened and in top of that I was in a good job that was grant funded and about to end and funds were being misappropriated, etc. I was under tremendous stress. Was the only time in my life I lost weight even though I've always tried. When I went to my MD he spent over an hour w/ me so imagine how behind he was for the day. He had me on both nerve pills and antidepressants before I walked out of there.

The first step I would say is to go to your MD and tell them what is going on and if you need medication for the feelings you are having, please take it and take care of yourself. That is the most important. You have a family and children.

Now for the not talking to family. There is NOTHING wrong with it. I looked at it almost the same way that you did as I just couldn't stand the things she was doing/saying and there were lies about me involved also, but other stuff as well. I took the attitude that I did not need that in my life as it was all so negative and I realized I didn't want to be that way. She always had to run everyone's life and still does. I wouldn't let her run mine and that is what started it all, but it went back years to the way she always did me.

Do NOT feel guilty or that you are in the wrong. It does sound like you have some feelings of anger that I did not have. I could always say that I didn't hate my sister and I wasn't mad at her, but I just couldn't be around the lifestyle she had as it was bad for me. Do not dwell on it as if you do, it will eat you up.

We even discussed this in chruch as I felt a guilt that God doesn't want us to hold grudges or ignore people. At one point, a man in our church said that the worst insult you could give to people was to ignore them. After that I felt really horrible. Then one of my sister's sister-in-laws had had enough and quit going around and talking to her. She was in Sunday School one morning when this was being discussed and she flat out said, "what if you have tried and tried w/ a person and they continue to use you and be horrible to the point that you can't be around them or it takes you down to that level?" At that point the teacher and the guy that said that told us if we had really tried and we felt at peace w/ it, then to stay away from them and not talk to them. Once I heard that, I felt a good bit better.

It is really hard to do especially with children involved. The one thing I will say is do NOT talk bad about your mom/sister in front of your children. This is between you and them and the kid's do not need to be dragged into it. My sister had 3 kids and tried to use them as pawns. They were w/ me as much as her. I sent her word that she didn't want to make them choose as she knew she would lose. She knew that was right and after that kids could come to my house.

In September, a building by my house caught on fire. I was in bed asleep and my sister I do not talk to (She lives 4 houses away from me and always has) is the one that banged on the side of my house until I woke and got us out. I did talk to her that night. Since, I have talked to her, but not much as I know she has not changed and I do not want to be back in the situation. I know we will never be close, but we may talk.

About the lies. I just ignored them. If you react to what others do, it gives them the control. If you ignore it, then it takes the control from them and gives it to you. It is HARD, but something you have to do for your own peace of mind.

Good Luck and hang in there. Wish I could do/say more to help!!


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May Gods blessings be abundant during this time of stress for you. I can not even imagine what you are feeling but you do need to realize all the blessings that you already have. Do you have a minister that you could talk to. I think if you can talk to someone who can be neutral that will help you work through all of your feelings that your going through. Could you be suffering from clinical depression? If you are the doctors can prescribe medications to help. I know a lot of people resist taking pills but clinical depression is a true imbalance and the meds can help. If your dr. told you that you have high blood pressure you probably would not hesitate to take meds for that. Good Luck and God Bless!

1 mom found this helpful

W., You are not bad and there is nothing evil in your feelings. They are completely understandable. This is a painful and ongoing issue that has caused you progressively greater levels of hurt until you feel you cannot tolerate it any longer. Take comfort in knowing you are not alone in this experience. Now, I am about to say something that will undoubtedly make you angrier than you are, but it needs to be said.
WRONG: While you cannot be faulted for wanting to protect yourself from such meanness and hurt, you are just as much to blame for the breakdown in your family as your mother and/or sister. Now, having said that, I will tell you that I fully understand where your anger and feelings are coming from and it is human nature, the instinct for self-preservation, to withdraw from questionable or dangerous situations, which is exactly what this is. You said it is not an option to make amends. Making amends means one accepts responsibility for their part in a negative situation and wishes to help correct any damage done. If you discount any possibility of making amends, you are saying you have made mistakes but refuse to own up to them or take steps to mitigate damages. You went on to say you are just looking for words to help you move on. THAT is not possible, I'm afraid. You will always carry this with you. Even after your mother dies, you will carry an anger toward her and with it will be a secret sense of guilt over that anger. If she dies without some reconciliation, that will be yet another burden you will carry through life. The emotional weight can crush you and asking for soothing forgiveness from strangers will not alleviate that. Ignoring the peanut butter will not get rid of the elephant in the room.
RIGHT: You may be wrong about some things, but you are right, too. You cannot have this stress in your life and around your children. Your mother's depression has affected you negatively and it has already started to affect your husband and children as it passes from your mother to you to your children, your husband. Eventually it will effect your relationship with your husband to the point that it could destroy your marriage. So you absolutely cannot continue in such a diseased relationship. So what can you do? Despite your contention that making amends is not an option, it is always an option and you need to make every effort, not for your mother or sister, but for you and the next generation of your family. The fact that you "… almost feel no love for her anymore…" shows how this is hurting you. What you may not realize is, when you lose the ability to love someone close to you, you also stop loving yourself a little. This can, eventually, reach a point where you stop loving everyone around you until you find yourself where your mother is now.
Before you stop reading and start calling me names, let me analyze a little of your situation.
Lesli D was correct when she said you needed therapy for yourself. The anger and resentment you feel toward your mother and your sister will, eventually, destroy you if you do not learn to understand it and deal with it. That is YOUR burden of responsibility. You cannot control how others act, only how you react. A wise man once told me, "Never get into an argument with a fool. Someone watching from a distance will not be able to tell which is which." The gist of that being, don't lower yourself to the level of conduct you believe you see in your mother and sister. Someone watching - from a distance - will not know who is right or wrong, only that everybody LOOKS wrong. As far as your mother telling falsehoods at your expense, I am moved to recall that old children's ditty, "Sticks and stones will break my bones…" Ignore the lies. If you conduct yourself in an above-board manner that bespeaks character and quality above your mother's tales, people will not believe them and merely chalk it up to her disturbed state of mind. If, on the other hand, you act as though she were telling family secrets, people will always wonder if it is true.
You have several issues going on here, almost all of which are at least partly your own doing, and I know you said you weren't looking for how to re-connect but rather how to let go but that's not entirely possible. So perhaps it's time for a little self-help therapy session to get in touch with your feelings and what is the basis for them..
You said, "…she changed drastically b/c her husband died. She is bitter, jealous, negative…"
Your mother is seriously depressed, wouldn't you be if your lifelong companion was suddenly gone? She is probably in her 50's and never thought of anything beyond her husband and family and now her anchor is gone. You yourself said she needs to see a therapist so you recognize and acknowledge her illness but, because she "… she does not even realize she is doing it anymore … does not realize, or want to realize that she has issues," you have washed your hands of her. How would you react if, maybe ten years ago, your mother was diagnosed with cancer and would not see an oncologist? Would you just let her decay, suffer, and die? That would be unconscionable. Would you merely shut her out of your life because her illness was too difficult for you to deal with? Probably not. Emotional illnesses are just as damaging but, as you have discovered, far more difficult to cope with. Would you shut out your husband if he were to suffer such a debilitating emotional/mental illness? You would certainly hope he would not do so to you.
And what of the break in your relationship with your sister? What is at the root of that?
"She spoils my nephew and doesn't spend much time at all with my children...this has caused so much stress between my sister and I that we have not spoken in two years."
Why would your mother's behavior toward your nephew cause stress between you and your sister? Did your sister cause the favoritism or is it possible you allowed your mother's illness to contaminate your relationship with your sister? Where, honestly, did the stress come from? Were you jealous of your mother's attention to your sister's child? Did that possibly infiltrate your relationship with your sister, blaming her for your mother's behavior? Were there times when you might have taken your anger toward your mother out against your sister? It's possible that, at the time of this breakup, your sister was where you are now. Maybe she could have written a message here asking for help in dealing with her sister's jealousy.
"My mother has been seriously depressed since my father died. For some reason, she is now alienating my sister, telling outlandish stories about her. Mom ignores sis's kids, not even giving them gifts on their birthdays or at Christmas, while lavishing gifts and attention on my son. This has made sis angry. She has even begun treating my son unkindly. It is starting to affect my son and he no longer enjoys visits with her family. I love my sister but I don't think I can continue a relationship with her if it is going to affect him. What can I do?"
See what I mean? Like a diamond, every person, every situation, every relationship has, not just two sides, but many facets and each one reflects the light – or truth – through a unique perspective.
I think you have three different sets of issues and each needs to be handled differently.
1. You need to come to terms with your own true feelings and learn how to deal with them. This will, at this stage, probably require the assistance of a good therapist to help you weed through all of the emotional garbage that has piled up over that past five years.
2. You need to figure out what truly is at the root of your break with your sister. Have you always had an issue of sibling rivalry with her that was roiled up with the recent events? Did your sister use your mother's favoritism to drive a wedge between the two of you or was the problem caused by your own feelings or resentment of your children's dismissal by your mother? Obviously, your sister still cares for you and is undoubtedly also hurting because of the schism between you. When your family was in possible danger, who was it that came to wake you and warn you and didn't stop until she was sure you were awake and okay? One of the most difficult things a person can do is apologize. Say, "I was wrong. Can we talk about it?" Your sister may feel reticent about re-opening lines of communication if she feels she will be spurned or burned. For your own well-being and that of your family, you need to try to restore your relationship with your sister. You may discover she has been hoping and praying for just such an opportunity to restore your relationship. Bear in mind, too, that you are teaching your children a lesson in human interaction with how you relate to your family. If you don't teach them tolerance and compassion now, what will trigger their move to cut you out of their lives when they are older?
3. Your mother is sick. Whether you choose to deal with it or not, her behavior in the past few years is symptomatic of an illness and not some devious plot to destroy you. Move outside your own hurt and try to understand hers. In the opening of your post, you stated you had a good relationship with your mother until, "5 yrs ago when she changed drastically b/c her husband died." "…her husband…" and not "…my father…" This suggests either that you did not have a good relationship with your father or that her spouse was not your father and you may not have felt the same sense of loss your mother does. If the deceased was a stepfather and your parents divorced, it also suggests there may be some animosity about that. In any case, your mother has taken this death quite hard and is having a very difficult time dealing with it. After this long of a time without any improvement in her condition, your mother is undoubtedly clinically depressed. Her body chemistry has changed to support the depression rather than a healthy mental condition. Only a serious intervention and a great deal of support can help her through. When my grandfather died, my grandmother, quite literally, lost her mind. A sharp, clever woman all of her life, she woke one day to find he had passed in the night. Neighbors found her wandering the streets in her nightgown not knowing who she was or where she lived. She lived another thirteen years but never fully recovered. Instead of approaching your mother about her hurtful lies, seek out your sister's support. Talk to her about how painful it has been for you to have your mother spread such lies and how this behavior is not rational or normal for her. Build a game plan between you to move your mother on the road to recovery and back to who she was before.
This break was not an overnight situation and it will not be resolved overnight. Be patient and remember not to take anything your mother says personally. Above all else, do everything you can to maintain a relationship with her. Visit her on a regular basis, once a week, once a month, whatever your spirit can handle at any given time in your own recovery. Take your sister with you for emotional insulation. When your mother's behavior becomes too divisive and hateful, you and your sister should simply advise her, calmly and non-judgmentally, that you cannot stay when she is being mean-spirited. End by saying, "I love you," then simply get up and leave and you and your sister go out for lunch or something to further cement your relationship. Continue this pattern, with your sister solidly in your corner, and continue visiting your mother. This is not something you do for her, but for you. Send her holiday and birthday cards with a note and closing with "I love you." Send her tokens from your children but don't put them into a situation where she is not fully recovered and they may be subjected to her animosity.
If you do not make every effort to heal this wound, when she dies, she will not mourn the loss of your love. She will be beyond that. But, whether you realize it now or not, you will find something to regret in the loss of your relationship with her. You will find something to blame yourself for and to emotionally punish yourself for.
It may be that, in the final analysis, you cannot break down the walls between you. If so, accept that you truly made every effort. But that doesn't mean you should give up. Continue to send cards for birthday, Mother's Day, etc. Make it a chore of necessary evil if you must. But keep sending them. Again, this is something you do for you, your husband, and your children. It is not for your mother.
Someone needs to take the high road. Let it be you. We rarely regret the things we do as much as those we don't.

1 mom found this helpful

Dear Windy,

It is heart breaking to hear that you are having such distress with your precious mother. She must have been very close to her husband. I feel when he died she has died with him in her spirit and is lost with time now. She need so many loveones to give her support but does not see that.
You have a beautiful life with your family that you been given. Live in today and begin to live with them and not die in your spirit with your mom. If she is able to live on her own let her be to herself for a while if possible. Get on with your life that you have in front of you today. Get back that happy spirit that you once had and enjoy who is around you that you brought into your beautiful life. If time lets you Mom might return to you as she was. She sounds like she is not well in her spirit. And she is alone without him near her to guide her in life today.

I wrote this writing along time ago.
I have been a writer for 12 years and I thought this one would give you light for a better life today.

When I Go Away

When I go away will you remember me?
The one who brought forth many colors of life.
There within you the question lies unanswered.
It's like leaving a book of life open.
Looking through it to find the answer.

I am not really away.
But live within the wall of your mind
which has many rooms to stay.
I will be there to give you a smile and
lots of joy of memories I left you.
I will never go away as long as you remember.

I do hope you have a good day

God bless
Vicki W.

1 mom found this helpful

you have been hurt by the closest people in your life and I've been there and as you said she maynot realize she is lieing on you to the stress of your fathers death might have pushed her over the edge think for a moment how you would feel or cope if somthing happened to your husband you would want the support of your family wouldnt you? granted five years should be long enough to cope but my sisters husband died 2 1/2 years ago she has had a nervious breakdown and still gets susisidal its hard to watch but they were extreamly close her children are still struggling with it to.all I can say is forgive them you dont have to deal with them you said it was not an option to make ammends.so accept your choice and move on.I wish you well and ill keep you in prayer.

1 mom found this helpful

I can sympathize as I'm currently having some difficulties with my own mother after the death of my wonderful stepfather. Although I am not dealing with lying, I understand the 'need for professional help'. As difficult as it has been to distance myself from my mother's problems, it has most definitely been in the best interest of my family and myself. All of the things that used to make me bonkers and stress me out and cause me MUCH mental anguish I have learned to "let slide". Trust me, it's been VERY difficult at times not to respond to cutting remarks, snide comments, a nasty tone and even yelling, but I've managed to find a certain peace with just 'letting it all slide'. It is very sad that things have to be this way with own mothers, but I think you have the right idea in order to protect your family and kids. You may almost have to look at it as if you are mourning the death of a parent, because in essence you are, you are mourning the death of the parent as you knew them in better, more peaceful times. The mourning process is different for everyone, but it may help you to actually research some info on losing a parent or loved one. Of course, I hope things change for you and it gets better with your mom, but either way, I wish you peace and acceptance. Good Luck with everything, and be glad you have the strength and foresight to put yourself and family first!

1 mom found this helpful

Hi W., Sorry to hear that someone else is experiencing the same thing I USED to struggle with.
Regarding what you wrote you are RIGHT to accept your mother & sister severing ties with you & your family. It's not YOU cutting the ties, it is them and you have no control over the situation. The best thing you can do is look at it this way because it is the truth. Your mother & sister know what it takes to be a part in your life and they choose not to, it's simple as that. It's not nice, it's rather mean, but despite all the great memories you have, you have seen this behavior before and you chose to ignore or overlook it.
Have you ever considered that your mother DIDN'T change after her husband died? That just maybe his death allowed her to be who she has been all along? Maybe he kept the peace and kept her in line while he was here and now, poof, she can act however she likes.
You are under NO obligation to her or your sister whatsoever. Your obligation is to be your husband's wife and your children's mother. That is the role you chose, so do it with love, and gusto. If you have truly written them off as they requested, then you wouldn't have these feelings and let it interfere with your family. They let go, accept it and move on. You are the mother now, not the little girl needing a mother.
The hardest thing to accept in life are the limitations of others, even if it means them being a decent person. Your mother cannot offer anything more to you in the line of being your mother and your sister is feeding off this. You sister is full-filling something in your mother that you cannot offer her, or she no longer needs. My mother let go of me a long time ago. I couldn't be co-dependant like my 3 brothers readily offer her. It's all sick to me, I TRIED for so long to be good at everythign I did so maybe she would "let me back in", but it didn't work. And when I thought about it, what did I want to get back into? It wasn't worth it for me and my family. I have a 4 year old and the day I learned I was prego I decided that this was it. The bare nice-ities and curtiousies was all I could offer her anymore. Let it go, distance yourself as you can. Send them cards for Holidays and pictures of the kids and leave it at that. They will either keep them or toss them or even send you back a card, but you can't keep expecting them, and you ARE-that is the misplaced guilt you are feeling- to wake up and ask for forgiveness and everything go back to the way your THOUGHT it was. This isn't saying your mother & sister doesn't love you or that you have to stop loving them (even alittle) but it does mean this chapter in your life is changing.
Let's admit this, just because you are related to a person does not mean you have to like them or their behavior. If one of your friends or stranger on the street treated you and your family the way they do, you would tell them to get lost and defend you family. Right now, you are treating your family that way and it has to stop with you.
It always amazed me how much I held on to things people let go of a long time ago. It will get easier and pity will be the basic feelings you have for them. But laugh and have fun with YOUR family. Create new traditions, create new memories.
Good Luck.

1 mom found this helpful

Im sort of in the same boat as you are.I dont talk to my side of the family hardly at all..except the odd email stating all is well..even if its not..at least they know Im alive and thats about it.Like you said you dont need the stress and neither does your family.Leave contact open by email or phone if you want.Let your mother or sister make the first move but if you dont hear from either then dont worry about it.Your health,husband and kids are more important..good luck

S. B

1 mom found this helpful

Hi W.. I am in the same situation as you are. It all started when my mom took her husband's side of when he did something wrong to my child. She believed him over her own grandaughter (first-born, at that). We were very close my whole life too and because of the support of my husband and my co-workers, I was able to get the help that I needed for depression. I too was in denial on depression, thinking I'm not depressed, I'll get over it and she'll forgive me and come back. After realizing that she was the one that made the mistake on turning her back on her oldest daughter and granddaughter, I learned to deal with the situation alot better. I too was distant from my sister and caused us alot of tension between us. I thought for along time there that she was on her side because she was there when my mom's husband got arrested. But after a couple of years or so, after she went through alot with her own problems of not finding a place to live, she came around and my husband and I let her & her family stay with us, we came to ammends too. It's been 4 yrs since then, and now I realize that you only have one sister in this life. We have became the best of friends since. If she has turned her back on you and your family, just remember that it is her that has to deal with the decision later when she realizes that she is not going to be there to watch your children grow up and reach different milestones in their lives. It is not your fault, it's hers. I hope that this advice has helped. I am not good at saying the words sometimes. Feel free to write me back anytime. My name is L. and I have 2 children and 1 stepdaughter. I have been married for about 4 1/2 yrs and all this happened after I got married (about 6 months).

1 mom found this helpful

You have to take toxic people out of your life. My mother is a very spoiled, selfish person. I would love to have a loving relationship with her but that is not possible at times. When I removed my self from her drama I became a happier person. I miss having a loving mother but instead I try to be a better mother to my children. My family tree will have to start with me and not her. Toxic people will bring you down, rise above it and began a loving relationship with your family.
There is a lot of emotional baggage that goes with this... let it go. Know that you are a better person.

1 mom found this helpful

So sorry to hear of your family troubles. If I were you, I would express all of your feelings in a letter to your mom and sister, and make sure you include the positives about your memories of her before. Do not attack with phrases of "YOU did this, YOU are bitter" etc, but make it mostly sentences to tell how this affects you, and why you need to get away from it, such as, "when this happened, I felt ...., when you lie, I feel ...." I have heard that this is the best way to communicate these kind of feelings, because otherwise the person just turns defensive and doesn't understand how you feel.
The hardest thing you need to do to move forward is to forgive your mom and your sister for what they've done. Not for their sakes, but for yours. It is fine for you to remove yourself from all the negativity going on, but it will continue to eat away at you until you let it go. Hopefully someday soon this can all be resolved. Keep them in your prayers! God can work miracles!

1 mom found this helpful

I can't really speak from exact experience. But, I am pretty sure forgiveness is the key here. You don't have to like her or hang out with her or even talk to her. But, definitely have to be strong for role modeling to your children the right way to go. By truly forgiving her, you will let go of the anger. Then take it the next and pray for her everyday and truly ask God to bless her.

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

W.... We do not get to pick our family, and even family members can be a "season" in our life, and something you learned from your Mom is with you for the rest of your life. You have a wonderful family, that she is missing out on.. dont YOU miss out on it while you are worrying about her and her problem. You are not responsible for her or her actions, only your own. Dust her off of your skirt, and move on to your wonderful life that God has blessed you with. You can only pity her for what she is losing out on. Imagine being in that messed up head of hers. Pray for her, but move on. Your children deserve a loving Grandma to fill them with good memories...no memory is better than a bad memory. Be strong.

1 mom found this helpful

W., my very best to you and your family. I don't agree with some of the advice about getting medicated help, I think this is more of a situational stress. Having said that, I can relate...when I was 17 my dad "disowned" me after finding out I was dating a hispanic man. I know, hard to believe that racism is still prevalent, but it is. He even went so far as to a year later, offer to pay for my four years of college if I would never associate with my mother's "hell bound" family! The people that took care of me through so much, he wanted me to disown them! Needless to say, I didn't go to college and after that, he never spoke to me again, excluding a very hateful and painful letter. I didn't speak to my dad for five years, not even to let him know I was getting married and later having a baby. When I was six months along, my mother called at 11pm, asking for my husband, that should have been my first clue something was wrong. My dad had died. I was hysterical. His wife "allowed" my brothers and my uncle and I to attend the funeral, how very nice of her...and it was all I could do to walk away and leave him. I knew he was gone, but guilt was tearing me apart. I suffered with that guilt for several years until I finally came to the conclusion that he was in heaven and seeing what I had become, must be proud and know that I truly loved him. I have to tell you, I understand not wanting to be a part of your mother's lies and life right now, but from experience, keep the lane open. Even if it's just a phone call on Christmas and her birthday. Ignore whatever she says, if she starts in on you, say mom I love you but I don't like what you've become. I have to go now. You have to let them both know that you do love them, just not approve of their actions. I say this to try and keep you from further pain. I know my dad had problems. People from church told my uncle to be careful, his new wife would tear him away from his family. Apparently they were right, we only found out he was gone through a neighbor telling my uncle he was sorry to hear about his death. I just fear that you would regret what you are doing if anything bad should happen. It does not mean what they have done to you is ok. It's not. You just need to make sure they know you love them. Even if it's through a card not a phone call. Some kind of connection. And move on. It's their decision if they don't respond. I have that problem with my brothers. But every birthday I call and say I love you, and every Christmas they get a personal card saying I love you. I can't worry about it every day because my FAMILY doesn't deserve that! I'm sorry this is so much, but I just wish the very best for you. I've cried so many tears of my own and have realized it's just not worth it. Hold your husband and children every day and let them know, this will never be a decision they will have to make. You'll love them forever no matter what. My very best and if you ever need to talk let me know, I'll be more than happy to listen. God Bless.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi W.
I'm so sorry about your situation. It sounds like you are doing the best thing for you and your family. You are right; I can't imagine trying to love someone who is so distrusting. She doesn't sound like the "mother" you used to know. It sounds like you've tried the best you could to help her through this. She is an adult and can make her own decisions about the "new" person she is. Now you are making your choice.
Words of advice...well, I can't say that I have ever been in the situation you have. It sounds like your husband is supportive and maybe friends? Maybe try therapy to talk about the feelings you have. Sometimes just talking about feelings with someone who is not within the situation can help you move forward. Your decision to break off ties with your mom and sister I'm sure was very difficult. It will probably take a while to move forward, but it also sounds like you're ready to. Try a therapist that is not a med pusher, meaning, you're just going there to talk through this, not necessarily need antidepressants. I don't really think you need antidepressants judging from your post. I don't know if any of this helps, but I believe that you will find your way of moving forward and moving on with your life with your immediate family. Best of luck to you. Feel free to contact me at anytime if you need to talk. I have a good ear for listening :)


1 mom found this helpful

this is very hard but you have to do whats best for your family. kids dont need to be around stuff like that they pick it up. it sounds like you are already done with this whole thing. dont feel bad about not feeling close to her she hurt you and its normal to not want to be near people that hurt you. good luck

1 mom found this helpful


Obviously you have been hurt deeply by this situation. Try to find a way to forgive them. Forgiveness is for you - it keeps you from being unhappy, depressed, angry, stressed, etc.

You talked about your mother experiencing a great loss. Perhaps this has truly impacted who she is. If you can focus on the root of the problem rather than your emotions related to it, you may be able to make some progress too.

My mother has changed over the past few years. I do not like the changes and she has caused many problems and anguish for me. She has said things that make me want to disown her. I share this to tell you that I have dealt with a very difficult situation. I decided that I had to forgive for me. And it helps. I cannot dwell on the horrible things she has said or done. It only causes problems for me. We do not speak on the telephone often at all anymore, and visitation is on my terms. I feel this is better than not at all.

Do not allow yourself to be sucked into the vortex of negative thoughts, words, or behavior. Just because horrible words are thrown your way does not mean you need to say horrible things back. Do not allow others to cause you to change the person you are. Be thankful for a loving, supportive family. And try to live your life with no regrets.

I've observed (in my own extended family) situations where people are angry and do not talk for years - I'm talking 20 years, not just a few. From my observations, that is not something you want for your family. And you do not want these problems to negatively affect your children or their children down the road.

So, please try to find a way to forgive. Forgiveness also does not say you condone the behavior nor does it say that you will continue to tolerate it on a continual basis. And if they will not come to you, please try to keep the door open to them should they have a change of heart or circumstance. I think you will have more peace in your life if you do this.

Members of my (extended) family who had been fueding for so long are now trying to make amends since one is on his deathbed. They have lost so many years. It is very sad.

If you read your Bible, also consider Romans 12:18. "If possible, as far as it depends upon you, be peaceable with all men." And if you pray, pray for them. They may need it more than you know.

I hope you are able to find the best resolution to this problem and I hope you'll report back on your progress.

1 mom found this helpful

I feel for you and all the stress you are under. It is always difficult when people change towards us and we can't do anything about it. It is truly okay to set boundaries with the people in our lives, especially if they are toxic. I would recommend finding a therapist to work through your pain and help you find acceptance with your decisions. It sounds as if your mother is caught in the anger stage of grief and taking it out on you. Unfortunately, if she won't get help there is nothing you can do but take care of yourself. I would let a therapist help you decide if medication is necessary. It sounds more situational to me and if you can find a way to accept your keeping your mother out of your life until she can treat you better you will be okay. I would also recommend two books by Harriet Lerner: The Dance of Anger and Mother, Daughter Dance. They are easy reads and may help you through this.

Good luck,
L. D.

1 mom found this helpful

I am not sure if I will be good at giving you advice cause, I just did the same thing. I just want nothing from her anymore. I was tried of trying to have a relationship. But, I realized that a friend would not put you down at ever chance or let her brother attack you with words.
My mother could have won a reward like those actor/actress on TV get. For be the perfect person. I even believe that she has even convinced herself that she is.
She is always putting my husband down, my son, and the major part is of course me. I found her hard to be around. I will bare the Christmas for my family but, that is it. But, as for her and I having a relationship I will remember the childhood were she was my best friend but, she is not that same person and neither am I. I have learn to give it all to God. My advice is be happy with the loving family you have. Forgive her but, in the form a prayer. Then she does not have the power over you and that in the long run helps you to not carry the wait of the world on your shoulders. As for your sister. When your mother is long gone you guys need to be there for one another. You need to find a relationship beyond your mom. Change the subject when your mom is being brought up. Tell her you would like to have a friendship beyond mom. Trying to get past what damage your mother has done with this relationship between you too. I guess what I am saying is eliminate the problem. Take care and I will keep you in my prayers and I know you will be find. Try to find positive things for yourself and remember to love yourself more.

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