October 13, 2010,
S.H. asks from Los Angeles, CA on October 12, 2010
I Need to Remove My Mother from My Life - Thoughts?
So here's the situation. I'm 26. My mother is 48. I have a biological sister who is 30 that I'm very close to, and two step siblings, ages 27 and 31 that I also have relationships with. They all live in the same state in the midwest. I live in California, and have for 3 years. Prior to that I lived outside of the US for a year and a half..
My entire life, my mother has made up lies in her head about me, my siblings, and our friends/significant others as well as cousins, aunts and uncles. I have listened to the negative things she thinks about people my entire life. She has alienated herself from two of her sisters and some of my cousins. She has caused great emotional stress, turmoil and anxiety in my family and my own life. It actually got to the point where I started to do it too. I mean, if you're a little kid and your mom is always telling you negative things about people that aren't true, it gets to the point where you just automatically think negative things about people as well, since you've been conditioned to do it.
For the last three years, I have been seriously dating and living with my boyfriend out here in California. She has met him 4 times and spent a total of 18 days with him. I have a very close and wonderful relationship with my boyfriend, we share everything emotionally and physically and financially. I am also very close with his family who live in California as well, and we all have a very good relationship. Being with him and his family has taught me what it's like to have a family that is honest and has good communication. In the last three years I have worked very hard to undo the negative things in my mind that my mother and my family have taught me in the past. I've improved significantly, but it is still something I have to work on regularly.
Recently it has been revealed that my mother has created a very big and offensive lie in her head about me, my boyfriend, and our life in California. She truly believes things about us that aren't even close to the truth, and we are in shock. When I confronted her about it, she admitted all of it, and admitted that she has known all of [her lie] to be true from the first day she met him. Everyone in our life out here, who know us and spend copious amounts of time with us, are in shock that she could think the things she does. She also thinks that he controls me to the point that she believes he takes my cell phone from me to text message her (he of course doesn't).
I have confronted her about all of this and had a very long conversation about it with her, and given her the truth about us and our life. She still chooses to believe this crazy lie she has built in her head. My sister has talked to me and obviously knows that my mother is wrong in thinking the things she thinks, but my sister thinks we just need to accept it. (I of course, disagree.) My father and step mother, who I am very close with, are both in disbelief at what my mother has done, and the things she thinks. My father has admitted that my mother did this with him over 20 years ago when they were married, and that she had also alienated herself from a lot of their friends at the time, by making up lies and saying nasty things about them.
My mother can put on a nice facade - while she was here visiting recently, she spent a lot of time with my boyfriend, and his parents, and the four of us all thought that the trip went really well and that she only thought positive things about all of us. The truth was revealed that she didn't enjoy a lot of her time with us and she even went as far as to say that she had to try really hard the whole time to find good in my boyfriend, and just couldn't.
I am sad and feel sorry for my mom, and I seriously think she needs professional help. I believe she is mentally unstable and needs to fix herself. I have decided that I cannot have her in my life anymore, unless she seeks help, and has been receiving help for many years (as I know it takes a long time to fix what she does, since I have had to fix it in myself.) Unfortunately, I know that the people in her life, all just want to accept it, not talk about it, and pretend it isn't happening. They all say "that's the way she is" and "she's only doing it because she cares about you" and some have even gone as far as to say "You don't understand where she's coming from, because you're not a mother."
So I am asking you mothers: what do you think? My boyfriend and I have been planning for almost a year now to get engaged and married (and my mother knows this)... and we will probably be married some time in the next two years, when we feel the timing is best for us. At this point I really feel I have no option but to keep my mother out of my life, because she only causes me pain, anxiety, and heartache. I really am happier when I haven't spoken to her for a while. But there is part of me that is sad that she is going to miss out on some really important and special things in her daughters life.
S.P. answers from Los Angeles on October 12, 2010
My dear --
I stopped reading partway through to share this thought:
Having conversations with this woman, whether mutually agreeable or not, will not change anything. Listening to or paying any attention to any of her faulty opinions or attitudes will not serve you. It sounds like you're already well aware that her ideas and beliefs are not in any way connected to your own reality. So don't attempt to persuade her otherwise. It's a waste of your time and energy.
Now I'll resume reading.
OK. I finished reading your statement.
Have not yet read any of the answers.
I'm guessing you will have received, and will receive, some excellent suggestions and recommendations.
Meanwhile, I'll just focus for the moment on your LAST paragraph.
You are HAPPIER when you haven't spoken to her for a while.
And you're SAD that she is going to miss out on important special things.
My recommendation: For the time being, especially as you plan your wedding, focus on the HAPPY choice. Don't open yourself to frustration and anger and reacting to her crazy-making.
Do not decide for now and forever more that she will miss out on important and special things. It MAY happen, in the future, that she will, one way or another, adjust at least some to (what we think of as) reality, that she may benefit from some therapy. It's not necessary for you to regret now what may or may not happen in the future.
Try taking it one day at a time.
Stay with non-crazy-making people . . .
your fiance, his family, your siblings, et al.
Do NOT spend any time or energy hoping/wishing that your mother will adjust her beliefs and behavior to make it easier for you to have a relationship with her.
7 moms found this helpful
M.L. answers from Houston on October 12, 2010
It sound like she could possibly have borderline personality disorder. A relative of mine has this as well and it has been very difficult... she has even convinced another relative who was once very very close awful lies about the family ... and now she won't have anything to do with us!
In bordelines, they create these lies and smear campaigns as tests to see how much people actually love them, because they have so much fear of people leaving them, they purposely push buttons to see how much a person is willing to take. Some can be very dangerous. You can read some more about it here.
Here is a website that tells a brief rundown of some of the symptoms in a nutshell:
specialists of the disorder and have a website that explains the disorder and is geared towards family members as a support group like format so that they can remain informed.
In dealing with borderlines, you have to set boundries... that means walking away! It doesn't necessarily mean cutting them out of your life, but it does mean setting major distance between you.
I have a close friend who had to walk away from his entire family because they were abusive, lairs, molesters and violent.
So, sometimes, that is just what you have to do. Even if she doesn't have borderline, she does sound mentally unstable and really needs professional help. You can create strict boundaries, but still involve her in portions of your life, such as holidays and special events. So don't automatically cut her off 100% at this time.
A good book to read if you want to keep in her your life while maintaining distance, is "How to Hug a Porcupine: Dealing With Toxic & Difficult to Love Personalities"
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M.F. answers from Phoenix on October 12, 2010
If you were dealing with this kind of behavior from anyone else in your life, would you maintain a relationship with them or would you walk away and never look back? Your mother sounds like a very toxic person to be around and to have in your life. Do you believe she will be any less toxic during your wedding or around your future kids, if you're planning on having any? Or do you think she might continue her bad behavior and possibly ruin the special times in your life? Will you miss having her share your wedding day more than you will worry about what she's doing or saying to others that day? This is a very tough decision, but it's one only you can make. It sounds to me, however, like you've already decided what will be best for you. I wish you lots of luck!
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C. answers from Hartford on October 12, 2010
My mother insists that my husband has a girlfriend. - he doesn't even have any boyfriends and because we work together we are rarely ever more than 10 ft apart. Despite these facts, this is what she believes. There is definately some mental illness and a host of medical issues that she does not monitor. I had cut her from my life for a while, but after having my son, it was really important to me to have her in his life. It is a personal decision. I have set boundaries, but she does what she wants. I suppose some people would call me an enabler, but I know she won't be around much longer so I let a lot of her "mental illness" comments slide.
Now, my sister is a dignosed bipolar, borderline, ADHD everything. I have had to cut her out of my life because for some reason I am unable to let the things she says not injure me. I find her behavior more mal-intentioned. She wants trouble whereas my mother just can't help herself from complaining, lying, giving advice, etc.
I actually went to see a therapist about it and I would recommend it. It not only helped me see the world from their perspective, but it helped me understand how I have been conditioned to deal with these personality types. In any case, I think many people have to make this type of decision in their lives, but it is a personal choice that varies with each individual. I hope you find strength and happiness in whatever you choose.
4 moms found this helpful
P.M. answers from Portland on October 12, 2010
If my mom misses any of the "really important and special things in her daughter's life," that's not my fault. No matter how much or little distance I put between us, she misses them anyway, because she sees them through her particular set of filters – her own beliefs and desires. She doesn't appear to have an experience of my reality that comes even close to my own. There will never, ever, be anything I can do to change my mother.
I ached for years for a different relationship with my mom, who was hyper-controlling in every aspect of my life from birth through adulthood. I so desperately wanted her to acknowledge me for who I was, and not for who or what she thought I should be. I let those wishes consume an awful lot of my emotional energy for a couple of decades.
It gradually came to me (well into my 40's, so maybe I had the advantage of age and experience) that I'm a grownup now, and my needs and opinions are just as valid as hers. In fact, in terms of my own life, my needs and opinions are considerably MORE valid than hers. She's my mom, yes, but that doesn't make her the god in control of my life, thinking, or feelings. (This was a major breakthrough – I recommend it highly!) So, I started living that, a little awkwardly at first, since I had no practice.
And our relationship began to change. This is huge, because she lives next door. She's still the same person she always was, and she still sees me through her own lens. But this has very little effect on me now. I can just let her be herself. She complains about me to my sisters, I'm sure, because she complains about my sisters to me. I'm no longer concerned about what any of them think – I know what's true for me.
I wish the same for you, S.. Don't worry so much about what your mother thinks or does. She truly does sound unbalanced, and no matter what she might "need" in terms of professional help, you're not likely to be able to make her see that. She's much too busy with her own stories. People who know her understand that her stories are largely invented.
Be true to yourself, keep working on yourself, and be happy. I've found humor and wisdom in realizing that forgiveness means giving up all hope of a better past. That really frees up my present and future, too.
4 moms found this helpful
A.R. answers from Houston on October 12, 2010
I have cut my own mother off for a number of years for similar reasons. The things she said about me behind my back would curl toenails and were complete lies. I just said enough one day and didn't look back for several years. After a time I did contact her tenatively to see if she was interested in working through the issues. It took some deep conversations but she came around to wanting a genuine relationship with me. Had she not changed, I would have continued not speaking to her. It's not the end of the world in my opinion. You do have other meaningful relationships which do not replace her but are fulfilling in their own ways and with far less drama. I even excluded her from my wedding which resulted in plenty of other family not coming. I stuck it out since I knew what was best for me. It was a tough lesson all around but I figure you only have so much energy to devout to people so why waste it on people who only give drama in return? Life's too short if you ask me. Good luck and do what works for you.
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B.C. answers from Norfolk on October 12, 2010
Do what you have to do. You can not fix what ever is wrong with your mother. Keeping her in your life means you will have to accept the outrageous lies she spews and that can't be good for your marriage or your future children. She won't miss anything because she'll make up in her own mind what you are doing anyway. Just walk away from it. You'll be glad you did.
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L.W. answers from Cincinnati on October 12, 2010
From reading this it sounds alot like my life back in the day (but before cell phones and facebook.) Some of this new technology makes the drama even worse. My mom and I have a similar (non) relationship where she thinks he controls me and I have "CHANGED" to fit HIS life. ...however the truth is I have learned what a real family is and what real love is and ...um...I liked it (what a shocker huh?)
The GOOD news is your mom(like my mom) lives far away from you so it will be easy to disengage from her. However you need to be honest. Yes its true 'she is who she is' but that doesnt mean you have to accept that or change who you are because of who she is. Just because she gave birth to you does not entitle her to some thrown or pedistal that you have to sit next to. ...you are (as I like to say) A grown @ss woman and as an adult you can choose who to be around...its honestly a choice. I would just tell your mom (with facts) and tell her that you are upset, it hurts your feeling and you think she needs professional help. She will probably lash back at you and try to point out all your faults but ignore that...its just talk. this talk is about her and how she has hurt YOU...not about you and your boyfriend. In the end you need to make it very clear that you are not going to talk to her. When talking to your dad, sisters and step siblings, just tell them what you did and you are not going to talk to mom anymore because of A, B and C.
Its best to defuse the situation by just walking away from it. ...but you need to let her know you will not take part in listening to her lies anymore. She will continue to lie about you and your boyfriend to others ("OMG can you believe what SHE said to me...must have been her Boyfriend who put her up to it. blahblahblah") , but you need to just tell those people to not tell you anything she says...its all lies anyway...so why would you want to even hear it?
I wish you luck in your new (and bright) Future. My hubby and I live by a very simple principle..."life is too short to surround yourself with people you dont care about and people that dont care about you...use your small time on earth to enjoy those you love and those that love you...and heck with the rest"
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