I Need to Remove My Mother from My Life - Thoughts?

Updated on October 13, 2010
S.H. asks from Los Angeles, CA
22 answers

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.

What can I do next?

  • Add your own comment
  • Ask your own question
  • Join the Mamapedia community
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

More Answers


answers from Los Angeles on

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


answers from Houston on

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"

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

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!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

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


answers from Hartford on

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


answers from Houston on

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.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

Cut her off is the only way to get the point across that you won't accept being hurt and lied to and about. She seriously needs some help because she is building a fantasy world about the people she knows and obviously is not not stable enough to truly be trusted.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I think you are right to disconnect. I have a situation with my mother. I allow her to come visit over night occasionally, but not more than that. She loves my daughter, but is jealous of not getting my attention. She has turned into a very strange person and I don't like being around her. I would rather have positivity surrounding my life than to feed into her need to be the center of all. I have had talks with her and she knows I am completely willing to remove her from my life if anything about her affects my family.

Your BF has become your family. You are planning a life with him and it is a great thing for you... protect it. You cannot change her and it can cause harm to you. You will understand better when you are a mother... not how her actions are ok but how the are NOT ok, how it is best to make a good/positive life and live without negativity! We should want the best for our children and our children have the right to expect that from us as parents.

My prayers are with you! Live happy! :)

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Cincinnati on

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"

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Cleveland on

Sounds like a personality disorder, which I believe a member of our family, of whom we have found we cannot have a relationship with, may have. From what I've read about it, it's very resistant to therapy and those that have it rarely go to therapy as they refuse to acknowledge that anything is wrong with them. They create their own version of reality. If you keep your relationship, keep it short and sweet. Fortunately you have distance between you, which will make things much easier for you. I understand you want things to be differently, but that is very unlikely to happen. For that you'll have to grieve, unfortunately. Sounds like you've found a wonderful family. Best of luck to you.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Lincoln on

If I didn't know any better I'd say we were sisters. ;-)

My mother is the same way. She says terrible things about people, all three of her husbands, her mother, her brothers and sisters, and all of her children. We are all the bad guys and she is the victim.
She will come over and we will think it went well, until we get the aftermath from her. After the visit she either emails or calls or talks to other people about how terrible we are. She will tell me husband how great he is one moment then say horrible things behind his back. Enough is enough.

I have a husband and a family now, they come first. I still love my mother but our contact is limited. I talk with her on the phone every couple of months. I haven't told her she's not welcome in our house, I just don't invite her. If she asks I tell her she's welcome for a visit, just let me know when. It never happens though because its another couple of months before I talk to her again. My children call her and they get along great, so they still get that communication.
I know my mother has mental problems, but there is nothing I can do about it. My job is my family, so is yours.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Well, you know your mother better than anyone. If you feel she is a danger to herself or others you can force an intervention...otherwise, I guess you have 3 options:
1. Continue on as you are, with you knowing she's over the edge and tolerating it for sake of peace. There's really no reason to have others agree with what you know to be true. They are free to "deal" in their own way, which may be different than your way.
2. Tell her if she doesn't get some professional help, you will remove her from your life. Force her hand to get some mental health help. May not work though.
3. Decrease your interaction with her. Since she lives halfway across the country, it's not like you're dealing with her on a daily basis, right?
You can limit your interaction to what you are comfortable with--weekly, monthy, bi-monthly.

Have you ever considered that she may be narcissistic? If so, this site might help:

Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

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.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boca Raton on

I understand what your going through.. In my case it's my MIL we're dealing with... Long story short she is a mess and needs professional help as well.. We have supported her financially for 8 years and she has been nothing short of a nightmare.. After a huge blow out in June we stopped talking to her.. Best thing I could of ever done!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Just because mom's gave birth to you (or your spouse in my case) doesn't mean to need to be poisoned by all there nonsense.. I have dealt with A LOT of issues with her and finally put my foot down... I will no longer let her affect me or my family any longer.. If your mother is poison in your life, get the poison out! Life is too short.. Take it from me, I'm so much happier without her in my life (and she lives 4 miles from us).. Good luck

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

Stephanie, as someone who is a mother, and who has dealt with family members with some mental health issues, I would say that you are right: your mother is mentally unstable. Maybe she cannot separate truth from her own fiction, or maybe she is making things up to get attention (does she do this more to you than your other siblings? maybe you living so far away makes it worse for her?). Whatever the reason, she is clearly not thinking rationally and "normally" (and apparently hasn't for a long time, since you say she's done it for years, it probably ruined her marriage, etc.) and it impacts you greatly. I know how very difficult this can be, and often people with these issues are the ones in the most denial, but I would seriously suggest to your siblings and other family members, that they encourage her to seek help. I don't know how they should approach her about it (that's an individual thing), but someone needs to take the bull by the horns and tell her that the things she says, the lies she spreads, are not true, and that they think she should see a doctor. There is help out there, and perhaps if she could find a good dr. and the right medication, she could function in a much more normal way. I can tell by what you write that you are just trying to find balance in your own life - not eradicate your mother from your life. Perhaps writing her a letter, refuting her lies calmly in black and white - and in a way that she can go back and read it - might help. I would try to be kind and caring but emphatic - let her know that her negativity and suspicion impacts you greatly, and that you need to keep your distance - for your own mental health - until she can get some help herself. This is not just because "this is the way she is" - it may be, but it's not normal, and she can't be happy herself, either living with her constant need for negativity or being outright delusional. Tell her you love her and you care about her and you want her to be part of your life - and not miss out on those special moments - but that you need her to meet you halfway. Good luck. I know it's not easy.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

It is sad when a mother just isn't there for her daughter the way she should be. Your mom's problems are about the oppisite of mine but i do understand. She needs help. She sounds like a skitophrenic(i know i butured the word). You need to do what's best for you and what's best for your relationship. I don't know what she said it seems like it too personal to write but i can just imagine. You don't need that kind of harrasment in your life.
Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Lansing on

So, you also have the tendency of the negative thoughts and lies, yet your boyfriend and his family accept you as you are, and you are still working to improve yourself. I'm not sure what type of lies your mom is telling but saying to someone that has just cooked you a meal that you liked the meal but than reveal to someone else that you didn't really care for the meal is actually telling a little white lie, to the person that cooked the meal, to be kind and considerate to that person; everyone does this to spare hurt feelings, it shouldn't be that big of an issue. Some people are just negative people and cannot see the positive in any situation. You should help them try to see the positive in every situation. Yes, there is positive in every situation. Show her the positive, you may have to constantly repeat the positive but eventually she will get the hint and it will be easier to see the positive in every situation. Your mon may need professional help but nagging her too get the help will only make things worse; she will only get the help if and when she thinks she needs it. You may have the rest of your life to correct her negativity and lies, but try not to cut her out of your life. She is your mother and you should be able to see something positive about her.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Well I know how hard it is to have a mother that is not connected to you in the way that you really want. I am now 42 and last year was the final time I could let her affect my feelings. I had to realize that we are just genetically connected, not spiritually or mentally connected. I have sought therapy myself, as did my sister. I have just found that the less I have to do with her the better off I am and so is my family. I can't be around the negativity, and I have worked very hard to overcome that in myself. I am a good mother and it's not about being a mother also. You don't have to have children to realize when someone is trying to control your life, situation or disrupt other peoples lives with lies.
My mother doesn't like my religion, my choices that I have made in my life and doesn't spend time with my children. I used to get really resentful, because I was very close to her mother and had a wonderful relationship with my grandmother. I always hoped she would be that kind of grandma and she just isn't. We cannot see anything on the same level and when we are together we speak very superficially. She doesn't know my greatest dreams, my love of my children, my wonderful husband, she only sees her negative side of things. She lives 5 minutes from me and maybe we speak about 1 time a month. It's just how life has worked out.
I decided that I couldn't tolerate it anymore and we rarely spend time with them at all. I can't stand being around the drinking, smoking and swearing. It's not conducive to my children's upbringing (although she did none of this when I was growing up either). She will take in anyone, but have never felt the hand extended to me. It's all really sad. She has missed out on two terrific grandchildren and a daughter who has always been here. It's better to remove the "toxic" things in your life, than to keep exposing yourself to the pain that it causes.


answers from Fargo on

This is terribly said and I would say never shut her out of your life completely. But she is sick and needs help. Whether she just needs therapy or chemical help, a lifelong habit will be extremely hard to break and she will need help. She may need an intervention, people like that rarely see that they have a problem that needs addressing. All that being said, you do not have to subject yourself to her drama. You need to protect yourself and keep in mind the future and possible children. This scenario really hits home for me. My stepmother is like this. I just learned that she created a lie that is just abhorrent about me and told one of my sisters, and somehow my sister never thought to check if it was true. And that lie is the reason for a lot of troubles in her life, and the reason she moved away and has barely spoken to any of us for years. She never confronted me about it, I found out from her boyfriend. It was incredibly destructive to her and her relationship with her family. Her mother may have convinced herself the lie is true, or just won't admit she lied because that admits guilt, but either way she stands firm. I give thanks she's my stepmother and I don't actually have to continue dealing with her past being polite at weddings. You can't expose your possible children to damage like that, you need to be proactive. How that happens is up to you.



answers from Harrisburg on

You can't change who your mother is and the history she has had. It appears by her age and yours that she had you early, and may have old baggage from bad decisions she has made herself that is reflecting in YOUR choices. I would try to empathize with her and continue to reassure her you are doing what is best for you and your family. Ignore the negative comments if you know they are not true, but don't necessarily exclude her advice either, because based on her past experience she could be well on target on sniffing out these bad guys. Go with your guts, but don't let your mom get to you.


answers from Oklahoma City on

my mom has done the same thing to me and my husband and of course speaking where it's not her place.

i wouldn't say cut her off totatlly, because family always comes together, i'm actually wanting to cut off a lot of my inlaws at the moment but i know deep down it'll never be forever.

i would just distance yourself, keep in contact but distant yourself. also remember in a parents view NO ONE is good enough for your child NO ONE. tell her how you feel as you have done, and just keep your distance. if you normally see her for holiday's dont' go visit, eventually she should see where you're coming from. another issue she could be having it "empty nest" issues if you're recently out of the house (5 years) she could still be struggling that her babies are all grown up or are growing up....my brother and i are pushing 30 and my mom STILL has those issues.

just distant yourself and give her time, she'll stop when she knows her baby is ok...that could be HER way of showing she's worried and concerned about you....being so far away from "home"

good luck hun!



answers from Fort Wayne on

You can't change your mother. I very highly doubt that she's going to get help, especially if she doesn't see that she has a problem. I would be furious if this were happening to me, but as an outsider, I say "What's the big deal?" If everyone knows that she's lying and they aren't believing her, then who cares? You don't live close to one another, so she's not going to be spreading rumors about you in you own backyard, so to speak. I'm sure that doesn't make it any easier on you though. I would simply limit the contact, which it sounds like you already do. If the subject comes up with other family members, I would just say "You know how Mom is!" I don't think I'd be bending over backwards to invite her out or to go see her, but I don't think you should cut her out completely.
Maybe if you explain to her that her lies hurt you and that since most people know the truth, she's making herself look rather foolish by continuing the lies, she'll realize what she's doing. If I had to hazard a guess, I'd say that she most likely lies to get attention. Perhaps if someone were to actually tell her that she's getting negative attention, she'll realize what she's doing is wrong. Of course, she could just blow you off.
You're stuck between a rock and a hard place, for sure. Good luck!

Next question: Sister Driving Me Crazy