H.M. asks from Pontiac, MI on May 12, 2010
I Haven't Talked to My Mother in a Year
Here's the deal...My mother and I have always had a rocky relationship. She has done things to manipulate and hurt me for years. My relationship with her has always been the main stress in my life. About a year ago we got in a big fight. I haven't talked to her since then. I sent her birthday and Mother's Day cards last year and invitations to my two kids birthday parties and she never responded. I was so hurt by this. I was finally able to really let all this go a few months ago. Ever since then my life has been so peaceful. All the problems that I have had with anxiety suddenly dissapered. Anyways a few weeks ago right before my birthday I got a letter in the mail from my mom. It basically said that she misses me and my kids but I need to apologize to her because everything is my fault. She wanted me to write back to her. This is my problem I don't want to! I feel horrible but I don't want anything to do with my mother after overcoming all my issues. My Aunt keeps asking me when I'm going to write her back and I don't know what to tell her, my husband, or anyone that asks about it. Is it so wrong of me not to want a relationship with my mother that has hurt me over and over again? Is it fair to my kids that she is always in and out of their lives? I am so upset about this :(. I don't know what to do.....
4 moms found this helpful
So What Happened?™
Thank you all so much for your advice. I was so good to hear from someone outside my family. I have decided to write my mom a letter when I am ready explaining my feelings and the pain that I have gone through in all of this. I will also tell her I have moved on and forgiven her but at this point in my life I am not ready for a relationship with her. That my change in time but right now I have my family and myself to think about. I still love her and hope and pray that someday I will be able to have a relationship with her. Thanks again. :)
P.M. answers from Portland on May 12, 2010
I had a similar situation with my mom, who lives right next door, so I have really had to deal with it. Surely the hardest emotional work I have ever done, and because neither of us plans to move away, the work goes on.
The most important thing I realized is that the concept of "mother" is blown out of proportion in our minds. If you explore the pain you feel, I think you'll discover that it's mostly because some part of you has been trained to believe your mother is somehow more right or more powerful than you. That was true when you were a helpless baby and a dependent child, but you are an adult now, and have as much (or more) likelihood of being a good parent as she had. There may also be some part of you that is terrified that your own children could end up feeling about you the way you feel about your mother – almost like you will curse yourself if you don't treat her with the appropriate love and respect.
I'm not sure exactly when I made this discovery, maybe in several smaller steps, but I finally "got it" that my mother is a flawed human being, and is no more right or powerful than anyone else, including me.
Wow. I almost laugh/cry everytime I realize that. All those years of struggling for her forgiveness, cooperation, love, respect… . No. She's my mother by accident of birth. Not my fault. Not her fault either, because she had four "accidental" daughters and has let us know she would not have chosen to mother any of us, had better birth control been available way back then. Of course she "loves" us all, but that seems to be as much something she believes she has to do as a simple truth that she experiences. The latent resentment and anger toward how her children changed her life still emerges today, and the resulting dynamic is that she believes we owe her love and respect because of all the sacrifices and hard work she endured on our behalf. And it's true, she did.
I have realized, though, that I do NOT want my daughter to love me for any grudging sacrifices I made for her. If she loves and respects me (and she does), it is because I love and respect her, admire her strengths, feel compassion for her weaknesses (some of which I surely contributed to when she was little), believe utterly in her unique wisdom, freedom and worth, and am grateful that she is in my life.
My mother gets my genuine love and respect to the degree she sees me, and treats me with love and respect, not because she holds the position of "mother" in my life. We are getting there, and if she's around another 10-15 years, we may make it. Until then, she has my compassion and as much patience as I can muster. Sometimes that's a lot, sometimes she "expects" in a passive-aggressive way, and I simply choose not to see her much.
And you know what? That's not only okay, it's pure, loving sanity. I don't give her anything of real value if my "love" is forced, if my "respect" is an act. From what I have learned about guilt and codependency, neither of those adds a bit of true happiness to the world, even though my mom might find them gratifying. Gratification and happiness are not always the same thing.
I think Carrie is right – forgiveness is for yourself. You can do this work independently of talking to your mother, though you might want to tell her some day when you manage it. And here's what I know about forgiveness: it means you have simply given up all hope for a better past, whether that's your childhood or the fight last year or the discomfort you felt one minute ago. It was what it was. Period.
At every moment, you have another chance to let it go and start from here. We can't change any of it, can we, except for our wish that it was somehow different?
So what if your mom wants you to apologize? That's her issue. If you have anything to apologize for, you get to decide what that is and when you're ready. If you have nothing to apologize for, you don't have to. You could write her back and simply say you can't find anything right now to apologize for, and have been feeling calmer since you've been out of touch. Period. No reasons, no excuses, no rationalization – just sweet and simple truth. (By the way, this is one reason I strongly believe we shouldn't make our kids apologize until they can do it sincerely. Look at what those demands do to us years later!)
Will your mother like your honesty? No way. People hate it when their predictable relationships become unpredictable, when they lose the power they thought they had. Are you afraid of hurting her? Sure, but you won't be hurting her, the truth will be hurting her. If you don't live your truth, that will be hurting you, right? Live from your truth. You've already found out how good that feels.
Hmmmm… I didn't realize how much I had to say about this. Blessings.
11 moms found this helpful
S.H. answers from Honolulu on May 12, 2010
Well, she is still trying to "control" you... and her demand that you apologize because it is all your "fault" is her way to STILL control you.... from afar even.
Her ignoring you and the kids previously, was ALSO a "control" manipulation. This is what Toxic people do. They control by engaging or ignoring and of course "blaming" to make the person feel guilty.
Meanwhile, she will make you look like the "bad guy" to EVERYONE. As you see, they are ALL asking you why you don't write her back. So... your Mom is controlling them too... and making them make you feel bad.
You were happier.... with her not in your life. I understand that. I had a TOXIC sibling like that. I had to, expel her from my life. She caused so many mental/emotional problems in me and others. I was MUCH happier after that, and much more peaceful. Genuinely.
talk with your Hubby... let him read your post and your responses.
Your Mom, is TOXIC and so dysfunctional. Kids don't need that either. I would tell my kids that their Aunty is mean and I am standing up for myself and them. My Husband supported me. He understood because she created hell for him too.
For your kids, she is too unstable to be a consistent "good" influence in their lives. It is not your fault.
You do what if most healthy for you... and for your family. Sure she is your Mom... but she is damaging. Beyond familial obligations like if she were sick or was in the hospital... you can just keep a good distance from her. She will never understand, since she does not have normal values of what a "Mom" is... to her daughter. She emotionally messed up your life... and hurt you for years. You can forgive... but that does not mean "letting" a person hurt you more.... or having to change your entire life just for that person.
Just when you felt free of this... she has, again, attempted to manipulate you. I don't believe, she is being "nice" about it... she is instead demanding that you "apologize" to her and is still making you look bad and controlling you.
You are NOT a little girl anymore that she can damage. You are a big grown up WOMAN now.... with a Husband and children of your own. YOU decide, what legacy, you will expose them to.
all the best,
9 moms found this helpful
A.A. answers from Denver on May 12, 2010
I would personally talk to the aunt and just say "I have realized my relationship with my mother is very toxic to my emotional health. I have no intention of contacting her at this time, and certainly don't consider myself exclusively responsible for our problems as she asserted in her letter. I hope she finds peace and recovery. I am working toward those myself."
And then just avoid her. Don't take her calls. If the aunt keeps pestering, ask her politely to please leave the subject alone.
I had to do the same with my mother to get her to stop stalking me and trying to manipulate me. She will try every avenue she thinks might work. Don't give in. Eventually she will probably get to a place where she can usually, when others are present, fake respectful behavior, and you can agree to meet her at a busy public park if you'd like to let the kids spend an afternoon with her now and then. But you do it on your terms, and you don't leave yourself alone with her for any reason. And you wait till it's been a good long while since she tried to find a new avenue into making you give in.
8 moms found this helpful
R.J. answers from San Diego on May 12, 2010
I'm just going to answer one small part of your Q "Is it fair to my kids..."
Is she the kind of person that if she wasn't family you would want in their lives?
and if not...
Why should family have lower standards than strangers? Especially as they have faaaaar more influence than the random person at the park, neighbor, etc.?
7 moms found this helpful
S.D. answers from Grand Rapids on May 13, 2010
I am the CHILD of this situation. I was 7 when my mom decided to cut ties with her mother. I will say, I was old enough to remember what happened and i recall things from being 3 and 4, and a lot of other things that my grandma did. My grandma didn't know how to love more than one child, and she chose my mom's sister, so that made it difficult on my mom. And then she played favorites with me and my siblings, (4 of us total and i was second oldest). My mom had enough and ended the relationship. We did see her from time to time at funeral and it was most difficult on me because of how i was treated and I remembered it. As we have all gotten older though, my mom left it up to US if we wanted a relationship with her mom or her sister. i chose to not have anything to do with them, because no matter how much i can say i forgive the person I can't forget and won't put myself back in that position. My younger sister did devleop a relationship with my mom's sister. My mom's mom died about a year and a half ago, and i did go to the nursing home before she passed to support my mom who was there. My mom and I have had numerous conversations and she has never regretted her decision. We found out as she was doing all this to us growing up she was in early stages of alzheimer's and had dementia. Doesn't excuse the actions, but helps to explain them.
If you are going to cut ties, you need to really think about it, but it seems as if that happened a year ago, and you are ok with that decision. I think you need to send a letter to her, that explains that you are not ok with the relationship you and her have. And tell her why, and what is wrong with it. She may not even realize. Write it, and sit on it a few days. When you feel it's ready to send, send to her and leave it at that. I would tell her to only contact you if she wants to try and work on the relationship, if you are willing to work on it as well. if not, let her know that. But keep an open mind with your kids. As they get older, you an tell them what happened, but they may want to know her, and you can't get in their way of that.
if you want to talk more or have questions, you can message me privately.
5 moms found this helpful
L.H. answers from Savannah on May 12, 2010
Send a small note that says you simply disagree. That you will not apologize for things that are not your fault. And that you will not write back a long letter explaining yourself, because there's no reason to say in 500 words, what can easily be said in about a dozen.
I know exactly how you feel.
Sometimes you've just got to jump ship. Like you said, since you've been able to let it all go, your life was so much more peaceful and you felt so much better... I'd stick with that.
As for your Aunt... I mean - look, no offense or anything but she's not really a part of the equation here. I'd ask her to leave it alone if she keeps opening the can on you every time she sees you.
Hang in there!!
(EDIT) P.S. -- Just because you no longer have a relationship with her doesn't mean you don't forgive her. I agree with others that forgiving is best for your own sanity... but forgiving does not mean reverting back to past harmful relationships.
5 moms found this helpful
L.D. answers from Las Vegas on May 12, 2010
You have a right to feel what you feel and to set certain limits with people that you feel don't have your best interest at heart, even if that person is your mother. I know, for me, there have been a couple of people that I have cut out of my life and it has basically been because they have betrayed me in a way that I can't imagine ever doing to them and they never took full responsibility for the hurt that they had inflicted on me. I'm not mad at them anymore. At this point I'm really just turned off. If these people were to approach me tomorrow and sincerely apologized and there was some indication that they understood what they had done to hurt me, then I'd probably give them another chance. But that hasn't happened yet so I am happy to let them lead their own lives and I, mine.
Hope this helps you get a better perspective of your own feelings and the decisions that you are making.
5 moms found this helpful
C.P. answers from Provo on May 12, 2010
It is important to forgive for our own sanity. I know I do not have a good relationship with my mother at all. However, I do realize that her mother was not loving to her and I don't know what else happened because she will not talk about it. I can not judge her because I have not walked in her shoes. I also realize that I do not need to forget and set myself up for the same things over and over again. I was very very unhappy when I lived with her and she wants to control my every move. I am in another state and this will never happen. You have to decide what makes you happy. If staying away makes you happy then do it! I know my mother was very rude to my kids last time I was with my family for Christmas. You have to remember that you are your children's advocate and if you put up with rotten things in your childhood then you might do what you think is best. I would suggest that you do some careful self examination and think what is best for you and your family. Remember it takes two to make any kind of relationship.
4 moms found this helpful