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A personal journey: look inside to see if this is your mother


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My brother and I have been on a journey of discovery and healing with regards to our mother. I know that a lot of you on this board talk about how bad your relationship is with your mother and I felt you might like to hear about this.

 

My mother was confusing. I never knew what she expected from me because her expectations constantly changed.

 

Her memories were not the same as mine. I could remember something (I have a VERY good memory) and she would say it happened differently, or that the incident never happened at all. Either way it was always to her benefit.

 

I always felt like her "wife", I was always taking care of her--packing extra clothes when we went somewhere so she could borrow them. I cooked for her (to try and please her), my brother and I did all the housecleaning at an early age (7). She told us intimate details (inappropriate) of her life.

 

We never knew who was coming home at night (over the top happy or over the top angry mommy)

 

I have spent my entire life waiting for the other shoe to drop, because it usually does and when it does it is bad.

 

I've NEVER--not ONCE felt unconditional love from her.

 

My opinions were downplayed or ignored.

 

Punishments were over the top--we were once drug from bed in the middle of the night to pick up the entire contents of the game closet that wasn't put back correctly (I was 8-my brother was 13).

 

As I got older and grew more independent minded and started having accomplishments, she became highly critical and sometimes cruel with her remarks.

 

I would tell people about her and they would think I was the crazy one because everybody loves the her she shows the world. Even DH was warned by myself and my brother, but he never imagined how bad it could get.

 

She separated myself and my brother emotionally through manipulation and by pitting us against each other for her good graces.

 

 

 

 

This is how I have reacted to this childhood.

 

I have no girlfriends

 

I have a hard time trusting other's emotions (waiting for their "true" colors to show) and will often end relationships because I can't handle the stress of waiting for the "change".

 

I am overly critical of others (mostly myself though).

 

I feel my opinions do not matter and I am always trying to prove myself to others.

 

I will work to deserve affection from others. (volunteer too much, work longer, harder, faster than those around me)

 

I second guess every decison almost to the point of being immobile.

 

My brother and I are not close.

 

I won't do a project around her so that I can't be belittled.

 

I let others get the glory and usually fade into the background.

 

I sometimes wish she would die so I can have my own life.

 

I hate hate hate to accept help or gifts from others -My experience is the "cost "is too high. My neighbor (whom I love) once looked hurtfully at me and asked "WHy don't you just let me love you back?" (she was cooking dinner for us one night when I spent two hours mowing the lawn and was clearly tired.)

 

If you have ever seen the movie "Mommy Dearest" and thought, "huh that sounds like my life"

 

I remember watching Sally Field on ER a few years ago and thinking she was my mother's twin. I still cannot watch anything else she (SF) does (nor can my brother).

 

If this sounds like you, here is a VERY helpful book my brother bought me: Surviving a Borderline Parent.

 

We always said she was manic or narsisitic (sp?) but what she has is a borderline personality. There is name for it, I wasn't crazy.

 

IF you want to talk-I will listen. Just remember you don't have to live the way you have, you can change and change how you treat your parent (and not pass this on to your own children)

 

 

Lara

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:grouphug:

 

This sounds very much like mine. I always said she was manic; I was once told she was probably bipolar (by someone who hadn't met her, just by my description of her)

 

I still fade.... I won't stand up for my words or thoughts or convictions because I'm sure someone is goiing to prove me wrong.

 

My mother died 5 years ago.

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:grouphug: That is a lot to heal from. My mother was/is not as bad as that, but I can relate to some of the things you said, especially letting someone else love you, or wonder what ulterior motive someone has because you just don't believe they like you for "no reason."

 

I went through a tumultuous period in my twenties reconciling that I did not get what I needed in a family. Thankfully, most of that has been repaired and I know I can choose better. GL on your journey.

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You should get the book, I find it is helping me with my outside relationships more than the one with my mother. She won't change, but I can see why I am the way I am and start to have a better future. My brother said she took more than his childhood, she took his adulthood too.

 

 

 

 

:grouphug:

 

This sounds very much like mine. I always said she was manic; I was once told she was probably bipolar (by someone who hadn't met her, just by my description of her)

 

I still fade.... I won't stand up for my words or thoughts or convictions because I'm sure someone is goiing to prove me wrong.

 

My mother died 5 years ago.

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My MIL has BPD. All I can say is that I can't imagine having to live with that every single day of your childhood. My MIL and I get along just fine now, but I've never had to live with her. The implications of that notion are just ugly.

 

:grouphug:

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My brother and I have been on a journey of discovery and healing with regards to our mother. I know that a lot of you on this board talk about how bad your relationship is with your mother and I felt you might like to hear about this.

 

My mother was confusing. I never knew what she expected from me because her expectations constantly changed.

I had/have to deal with this type behavior.

 

Her memories were not the same as mine. I could remember something (I have a VERY good memory) and she would say it happened differently, or that the incident never happened at all. Either way it was always to her benefit.

I had/have to deal with this type behavior.

 

I always felt like her "wife", I was always taking care of her--packing extra clothes when we went somewhere so she could borrow them. I cooked for her (to try and please her), my brother and I did all the housecleaning at an early age (7). She told us intimate details (inappropriate) of her life.

Not this.

 

We never knew who was coming home at night (over the top happy or over the top angry mommy)

Not this.

 

I have spent my entire life waiting for the other shoe to drop, because it usually does and when it does it is bad.

Somewhat.

 

I've NEVER--not ONCE felt unconditional love from her.

I had/have to deal with this type behavior.

 

My opinions were downplayed or ignored.

I had/have to deal with this type behavior.

 

Punishments were over the top--we were once drug from bed in the middle of the night to pick up the entire contents of the game closet that wasn't put back correctly (I was 8-my brother was 13).

I had/have to deal with this type behavior.

 

As I got older and grew more independent minded and started having accomplishments, she became highly critical and sometimes cruel with her remarks.

I had/have to deal with this type behavior.

 

I would tell people about her and they would think I was the crazy one because everybody loves the her she shows the world. Even DH was warned by myself and my brother, but he never imagined how bad it could get.

I had/have to deal with this type behavior.

 

She separated myself and my brother emotionally through manipulation and by pitting us against each other for her good graces.

Not this, but my db and I are not close.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lara

I don't have the issues you listed as a result. I have other issues.

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:grouphug::grouphug::grouphug: We could be sisters. My dad got me Understanding the Borderline Mother a few years ago. It helped tremendously. I'm going to be checking out the book you recommended, too.

 

Be grateful you and your brother can at least talk, even if you're not close. I can't talk to mine. At all. Ever. I talk to his wife, that's the only way I know anything about my nieces. I crave a better relationship with him. I've given up on having one with my parents. He's got a lot of issues he needs to deal with, too, though. So do I.

 

Having a parent with BPD is hard. :grouphug: again. I'm here if you (or anyone) needs a shoulder.

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I don't have the issues you listed as a result. I have other issues.

 

 

My brother and I lived in the same house, and we have different experiences and results. We were treated differently in a lot of ways and we even have different views of the same situations.

His adult "issues" are different than mine too.

But what I am trying to say, is that I am in my fourties--she took enough, I want the rest of my life for me.

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:grouphug::grouphug::grouphug: We could be sisters. My dad got me Understanding the Borderline Mother a few years ago. It helped tremendously. I'm going to be checking out the book you recommended, too.

 

Be grateful you and your brother can at least talk, even if you're not close. I can't talk to mine. At all. Ever. I talk to his wife, that's the only way I know anything about my nieces. I crave a better relationship with him. I've given up on having one with my parents. He's got a lot of issues he needs to deal with, too, though. So do I.

 

Having a parent with BPD is hard. :grouphug: again. I'm here if you (or anyone) needs a shoulder.

 

 

We always had a relationship based on parent bashing--not the best way to go, but perhaps a starting point. I can go 2 yrs without speaking to him not feel like we are estranged. I am however fairly close to his wife (which by the way started my questioning of DM, since she badmouthed SIL and once I got to know her, I found DM's opinion to be over the top wrong)

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My mother has been diagnosed with a variety of mental illnesses and such (Bipolar, BPD, Character disorder, Manic-Depression, Munchausen, etc.). Seems the drs keep changing their minds. Or maybe they haven't yet found a flavor they like?

 

I've felt a lot of what you posted. I've experienced a lot of what you posted. And other things.

 

It's HARD to be the kid of a parent with mental illness. I don't know one yet who hasn't been traumatized in some way.

 

If your parent has been diagnosed and you feel like you had a rough childhood, you are NORMAL and fine. You are not horrible if you are angry about being treated in a dysfunctional way. It is not due to something lacking on your part that you are angry, no matter what other people try to tell you.

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Hello, sister!

 

I broke contact with my mother 14 years ago. Now my husband, my children and myself are free, gloriously free.

 

I do have friends, and I feel good about myself, but it took such a long, long time to get her evil voice out of my head.

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I hope you do get your life back, Lara. You certainly deserve it. I didn't grow up with it, but I've dealt with my mom's mental illness as an adult and I know how hard it is for me. And I'm a grown up! I can't imagine the hurt you experienced as a child. My heart goes out to you. Keep fighting the good fight to get back your life!

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Your mom and mine seemed to have a lot in common (over the top punishments and not being pleaseable.) The game closet episodes touched a nerve. I remember having an icky feeling when I was at a friend's house, so I excused myself and went home to find that my mom had emptied my entire closet because I didn't clean it up to her satisfaction (which was a moving target and I was never taught HOW.) I had to put everything away. I didn't dare complain or my backside would have been raw for a week. We often joked that Mom had menopause for like 20 years.

 

We had a good relationship as adults, but that was due to the fact that I finally put my foot down and established appropriate boundaries (and that she finally got out of that "never ending menopause" stage;).

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If your parent has been diagnosed and you feel like you had a rough childhood, you are NORMAL and fine. You are not horrible if you are angry about being treated in a dysfunctional way. It is not due to something lacking on your part that you are angry, no matter what other people try to tell you.

 

:iagree::iagree:

 

I just wanted to second (and third... and fourth...) this. My family has this great way of making me feel like I'm the one with the issues. I'm not, but when you're the only sane one in the asylum, you seem insane to them, you know? It's taken me years (and I'm still learning) to figure out what "normal" really looks like. Now, our family is starting (slowly) to approach that, but we're not totally there yet.

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My DH and I also thought Sally Fields on ER was my mother - I would cry after I watched the show.

 

Thankfully- I have worked through my issues for the most part.

 

It is hard, and I don't want to downplay what you are going through - because I have been there - but it is worth it to get over the past and move forward - do not let your past dictate an unhappy future. Do whatever you need to do - therapy, meds - because we only get one time around, and nothing can change the mothers we were born with.

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My brother and I have been on a journey of discovery and healing with regards to our mother. I know that a lot of you on this board talk about how bad your relationship is with your mother and I felt you might like to hear about this.

 

My mother was confusing. I never knew what she expected from me because her expectations constantly changed.

Yes

 

Her memories were not the same as mine. I could remember something (I have a VERY good memory) and she would say it happened differently, or that the incident never happened at all. Either way it was always to her benefit.

OMGosh, yes.

 

I always felt like her "wife", I was always taking care of her--packing extra clothes when we went somewhere so she could borrow them. I cooked for her (to try and please her), my brother and I did all the housecleaning at an early age (7). She told us intimate details (inappropriate) of her life.

Oh yeah. Only I felt like her mother, always trying to take care of her. She dressed very young for her age and many times I felt she was the child and I was the parent.

 

We never knew who was coming home at night (over the top happy or over the top angry mommy)

Yeah. This was especially bad at holidays. She would do her best to ruin them all.

 

I have spent my entire life waiting for the other shoe to drop, because it usually does and when it does it is bad.

I still do this.

 

I've NEVER--not ONCE felt unconditional love from her.

*nodding head* She'd talk the "unconditional love" talk but the walk was quite different.

 

My opinions were downplayed or ignored.

or ridiculed, especially in front of others.

 

Punishments were over the top--we were once drug from bed in the middle of the night to pick up the entire contents of the game closet that wasn't put back correctly (I was 8-my brother was 13).

one black eye and a broken nose over not washing the dishes "right".

 

As I got older and grew more independent minded and started having accomplishments, she became highly critical and sometimes cruel with her remarks.

Yes. Nothing I did was ever good enough.

 

I would tell people about her and they would think I was the crazy one because everybody loves the her she shows the world. Even DH was warned by myself and my brother, but he never imagined how bad it could get.

Yep.

 

She separated myself and my brother emotionally through manipulation and by pitting us against each other for her good graces.

Yes. My mother glibly told others she waited for me to be older before she had my brother so I could babysit for her on weekends.

 

 

 

 

This is how I have reacted to this childhood.

 

I have no girlfriends

I have female friends, but honestly, I don't trust them much.

 

I have a hard time trusting other's emotions (waiting for their "true" colors to show) and will often end relationships because I can't handle the stress of waiting for the "change".

I have a hard time trusting others' kindnesses. My default is that they want something or they're trying to make a fool of me.

 

I am overly critical of others (mostly myself though).

I get overly critical to the point of being stymied.

 

I feel my opinions do not matter and I am always trying to prove myself to others.

Yes. I'm never good enough.

 

I will work to deserve affection from others. (volunteer too much, work longer, harder, faster than those around me)

I've gotten to where I don't want others' affections because of the price that comes with it.

 

I second guess every decison almost to the point of being immobile.

Yes.

 

My brother and I are not close.

Same. He is my mother's puppet and just doesn't remember how she treated me. He keeps saying, "You just need to talk it out" but he doesn't get what she's really like. He can't see it at all. She made it abundantly clear that he's her wanted and favored child. I, OTOH, am the cause of all her problems.

 

I won't do a project around her so that I can't be belittled.

 

I let others get the glory and usually fade into the background.

 

I sometimes wish she would die so I can have my own life.

Me, too; me, too.

 

I hate hate hate to accept help or gifts from others -My experience is the "cost "is too high. My neighbor (whom I love) once looked hurtfully at me and asked "WHy don't you just let me love you back?" (she was cooking dinner for us one night when I spent two hours mowing the lawn and was clearly tired.)

Me, too.

 

If you have ever seen the movie "Mommy Dearest" and thought, "huh that sounds like my life"

Sort of, but what really hit me in the face was a scene from some Patty Duke movie about her life where she's having a fit and throwing things all over the house. It was Christmas and I couldn't breathe through that scene. It was like watching Christmas at my house.

 

I remember watching Sally Field on ER a few years ago and thinking she was my mother's twin. I still cannot watch anything else she (SF) does (nor can my brother).

 

If this sounds like you, here is a VERY helpful book my brother bought me: Surviving a Borderline Parent.

 

We always said she was manic or narsisitic (sp?) but what she has is a borderline personality. There is name for it, I wasn't crazy.

 

IF you want to talk-I will listen. Just remember you don't have to live the way you have, you can change and change how you treat your parent (and not pass this on to your own children)

 

 

Lara

 

Thank you for posting this. I will look into this book.

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My brother and I have been on a journey of discovery and healing with regards to our mother. I know that a lot of you on this board talk about how bad your relationship is with your mother and I felt you might like to hear about this.

 

My mother was confusing. I never knew what she expected from me because her expectations constantly changed.

Yup.

Her memories were not the same as mine. I could remember something (I have a VERY good memory) and she would say it happened differently, or that the incident never happened at all. Either way it was always to her benefit. I constantly hear that I'm remembering wrong, I was a kid and therefore can't have it right, or a flat out, "I don't remember that" in an accusatory, you must be lying tone.

 

I always felt like her "wife", I was always taking care of her--packing extra clothes when we went somewhere so she could borrow them. I cooked for her (to try and please her), my brother and I did all the housecleaning at an early age (7). She told us intimate details (inappropriate) of her life.

Housework, yup. Cooking for me and my brothers, yup.

We never knew who was coming home at night (over the top happy or over the top angry mommy)

Not coming home, but in general.

I have spent my entire life waiting for the other shoe to drop, because it usually does and when it does it is bad.

YES

I've NEVER--not ONCE felt unconditional love from her.

Yes

My opinions were downplayed or ignored.

I've been told I'm flat out wrong if I'm disagreeing with her. Just b/c I disagree. She only acknowleges my opinion when it matches hers.

Punishments were over the top--we were once drug from bed in the middle of the night to pick up the entire contents of the game closet that wasn't put back correctly (I was 8-my brother was 13).

Yes.

As I got older and grew more independent minded and started having accomplishments, she became highly critical and sometimes cruel with her remarks.

Oh my gosh yes.

I would tell people about her and they would think I was the crazy one because everybody loves the her she shows the world. Even DH was warned by myself and my brother, but he never imagined how bad it could get.

Yes.

She separated myself and my brother emotionally through manipulation and by pitting us against each other for her good graces.

I have 3 brothers. No contact with any.

 

 

 

 

This is how I have reacted to this childhood.

 

I have no girlfriends

I have 2. One I see almost daily, the other across country. All my other friends are online/phone.

I have a hard time trusting other's emotions (waiting for their "true" colors to show) and will often end relationships because I can't handle the stress of waiting for the "change".

I generally just avoid relationships period.

I am overly critical of others (mostly myself though).

Myself.

I feel my opinions do not matter and I am always trying to prove myself to others.

Yes.

I will work to deserve affection from others. (volunteer too much, work longer, harder, faster than those around me)

Yes.

I second guess every decison almost to the point of being immobile.

 

My brother and I are not close.

No contact at all.

I won't do a project around her so that I can't be belittled.

Yes

I let others get the glory and usually fade into the background.

Yes

I sometimes wish she would die so I can have my own life.

Moving across country was about as good.

I hate hate hate to accept help or gifts from others -My experience is the "cost "is too high. My neighbor (whom I love) once looked hurtfully at me and asked "WHy don't you just let me love you back?" (she was cooking dinner for us one night when I spent two hours mowing the lawn and was clearly tired.)

Yes

If you have ever seen the movie "Mommy Dearest" and thought, "huh that sounds like my life"

No coat hangers.

If this sounds like you, here is a VERY helpful book my brother bought me: Surviving a Borderline Parent.

 

We always said she was manic or narsisitic (sp?) but what she has is a borderline personality. There is name for it, I wasn't crazy.

 

IF you want to talk-I will listen. Just remember you don't have to live the way you have, you can change and change how you treat your parent (and not pass this on to your own children)

 

 

Lara

I firmly believe my mother, like my MIL is NPD.

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Thankfully we do not need to HAVE good mothers to BE good mothers.

 

I used to get discouraged that it took so much effort on my part to be a good parent in contrast to friends and such just "knew" what to do because they had been parented well. But in time, I decided that it wasn't so bad that I had to work at it. In many ways I was creating something entirely new, so the effort was entirely expected and justified. Having children has been an aspect of healing for me that way. I am not recreating my childhood, I am building something far better on the ruins of my own childhood.

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Just remember you don't have to live the way you have, you can change and change how you treat your parent (and not pass this on to your own children)

 

Very true, but it is HARD work, especially because this toxic person will notice your efforts and treat you even worse to break your will. But then you reach a point, beyond the sharp rocks to a pleasant green field with mostly soft grass. You will find occasional rocks or prickly things, but they seem much easier to deal with after having spent years crossing the sharp rocks and thinking there would never be an end. You may even feel sadness for those you might have left behind in your effort to escape the rocks, and you'll turn and reach out a hand. And they will take it, or not take it. For me personally, I refuse to go back on the rocks to rescue the people who adamantly refuse to see the possibility of the green field.

 

Thank you for the book recommendation. I'm heading to Amazon right now. I hope it's on Kindle. :)

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I used to get discouraged that it took so much effort on my part to be a good parent in contrast to friends and such just "knew" what to do because they had been parented well. But in time, I decided that it wasn't so bad that I had to work at it. In many ways I was creating something entirely new, so the effort was entirely expected and justified. Having children has been an aspect of healing for me that way. I am not recreating my childhood, I am building something far better on the ruins of my own childhood.

 

 

That's exactly how I feel, but I've never been able to sum it up that clearly, Thanks!

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I used to get discouraged that it took so much effort on my part to be a good parent in contrast to friends and such just "knew" what to do because they had been parented well. But in time, I decided that it wasn't so bad that I had to work at it. In many ways I was creating something entirely new, so the effort was entirely expected and justified. Having children has been an aspect of healing for me that way. I am not recreating my childhood, I am building something far better on the ruins of my own childhood.

 

It really is weird, isn't it, not having instincts that are trustworthy because 'normal' is unacceptable. OTOH, lot of reading and practice and finding likeminded other parents can be really effective in replacing them.

 

For the first few years, though, one of my major mottos was, "Don't just do something; stand there! (and think about this)"

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Hello, sister!

 

I broke contact with my mother 14 years ago. Now my husband, my children and myself are free, gloriously free.

 

I do have friends, and I feel good about myself, but it took such a long, long time to get her evil voice out of my head.

 

This. It has been 8 years since I spoke with my mother. Even though I would love to just call her up and go for coffee(because who doesn't want to have a mom), I know that she would dredge up her very altered view of the past and we would be right back to square one.

 

And yes, my brother had a very different experience growing up. We used to joke that he was the favorite, but it was so much more than that.

 

Cutting all ties was the best thing I did for my life and for my family.

 

As a therapist once told me, I was trying to make sense out of a person that made no sense.

 

OP, thank you for starting this thread. It is comforting to know that I am not alone in my experiences, and I will definitely check into the book recommendations on this thread.

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I used to get discouraged that it took so much effort on my part to be a good parent in contrast to friends and such just "knew" what to do because they had been parented well. But in time, I decided that it wasn't so bad that I had to work at it. In many ways I was creating something entirely new, so the effort was entirely expected and justified. Having children has been an aspect of healing for me that way. I am not recreating my childhood, I am building something far better on the ruins of my own childhood.

 

That is so beautiful.

 

I think my frustration hasn't been that I have to work so hard, but that I have felt judged by others who don't understand why I'm working so hard. I don't trust other women and I'm so careful with my personal information that it's hard to be close to anyone. It's easier now my mother is dead, because I don't have to explain her absence from my life. I can just tell people that she is deceased and everyone understands that.

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:grouphug::grouphug::grouphug: We could be sisters. My dad got me Understanding the Borderline Mother a few years ago. It helped tremendously. I'm going to be checking out the book you recommended, too.

 

.

 

 

kchara,

Did your dad stay in the marriage? One of my biggest angers stems from my father abandoning me, moving away and not contacting me--he and my brother took the easy road (leaving) and left me with her all alone at the age of 13. Oh and my stepfather who I really believed loved me, left without so much as a goodbye.

Edited by Lara in Colo
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That is so beautiful.

 

I think my frustration hasn't been that I have to work so hard, but that I have felt judged by others who don't understand why I'm working so hard. I don't trust other women and I'm so careful with my personal information that it's hard to be close to anyone. It's easier now my mother is dead, because I don't have to explain her absence from my life. I can just tell people that she is deceased and everyone understands that.

 

Mine is lost to the latter stages of dementia. So it is easy enough now to explain that without getting into the years of dealing with her temper, calling the authorities when it spilled over into hurting others, blocking phone calls, refusing visits, etc. etc. When she is gone there will be the flowery comments, but I'm already apart from that.

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I think my frustration hasn't been that I have to work so hard, but that I have felt judged by others who don't understand why I'm working so hard. I don't trust other women and I'm so careful with my personal information that it's hard to be close to anyone. .

 

 

I find that I have such a self depreciating humor that people just find me pitiful, but now I see that would be the only type allowed in our house.

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My brother and I have been on a journey of discovery and healing with regards to our mother. I know that a lot of you on this board talk about how bad your relationship is with your mother and I felt you might like to hear about this.

 

My mother was confusing. I never knew what she expected from me because her expectations constantly changed.

 

Her memories were not the same as mine. I could remember something (I have a VERY good memory) and she would say it happened differently, or that the incident never happened at all. Either way it was always to her benefit.

 

I always felt like her "wife", I was always taking care of her--packing extra clothes when we went somewhere so she could borrow them. I cooked for her (to try and please her), my brother and I did all the housecleaning at an early age (7). She told us intimate details (inappropriate) of her life.

 

We never knew who was coming home at night (over the top happy or over the top angry mommy)

 

I have spent my entire life waiting for the other shoe to drop, because it usually does and when it does it is bad.

 

I've NEVER--not ONCE felt unconditional love from her.

 

My opinions were downplayed or ignored.

 

Punishments were over the top--we were once drug from bed in the middle of the night to pick up the entire contents of the game closet that wasn't put back correctly (I was 8-my brother was 13).

 

As I got older and grew more independent minded and started having accomplishments, she became highly critical and sometimes cruel with her remarks.

 

I would tell people about her and they would think I was the crazy one because everybody loves the her she shows the world. Even DH was warned by myself and my brother, but he never imagined how bad it could get.

 

She separated myself and my brother emotionally through manipulation and by pitting us against each other for her good graces.

 

 

 

The bolded statements above sound exactly like my father. He was loud and abusive, especially emotionally. He was highly intelligent, but always had a poor self image. He had few friends because he believed either 1) other people were stupid, OR 2) they thought they were better than he was.

 

He belittled my sister and me, and he called us names. It seemed that he never missed an opportunity to berate us and tell us how incompetent we were. We were terrified of him because we never knew what might set him off. Punishments were meted out depending more on his mood than on whether our behavior was inappropriate. For example, he once flew into a rage and threw my sister (maybe 10 years old at the time) against the wall when she dropped the wastebasket in his office into place instead of simply setting it down. He interpreted her dropping the wastebasket as defiance because she didn't want to take out the trash. If my sister and I argued while we were washing dishes ("You didn't rinse that one very well."..."Yes, I did; you're just trying to find fault."), he would come into the kitchen behind us and lash us with his belt.

 

I never thought about there being a name for his personality type; we always just attributed it to the fact that his father was the same way, and we thought it was a learned behavior. His parents divorced when he was 5 (very unusual for the 1940s), and he and his older sister went to foster care. Later, he lived with his dad sometimes, then with his mom sometimes, but he was such a troubled kid that each parent would shuffle him off to live with the other one when he wore out his welcome. He wound up lying about his age and joining the military at 17.

 

He met my mom while he was stationed near the area where she lived, and they married when she was only 15. She says she never knew his true personality until after they were married, and being young and naive, she stayed with him because she didn't know what else to do. She had 3 babies by the time she was 20 years old. (I am the oldest, born just 4 days before her 17th birthday.)

 

It wasn't until I'd been married for several years that I got up the courage to tell him how I felt. Believe it or not, after that, he seemed to be different. He was still hard to get along with, but he respected me more, and by the time he died (when I was 41), he could carry on a meaningful conversation without belittling me.

 

He mellowed a lot over the years, but there were still times when he would lose control and fly into a rage. He was plagued with emotional issues all his life, and when he was in his 50s, he suffered a "nervous breakdown", and was on anti-depressant/anti-anxiety medications for the rest of his life. My mom stayed with him for 42 years, until his death of a heart attack at age 61.

 

This is how I have reacted to this childhood.

 

I have no girlfriends.

 

I have a hard time trusting other's emotions (waiting for their "true" colors to show) and will often end relationships because I can't handle the stress of waiting for the "change".

 

I am overly critical of others (mostly myself though).

 

I feel my opinions do not matter and I am always trying to prove myself to others.

 

I will work to deserve affection from others. (volunteer too much, work longer, harder, faster than those around me)

 

I second guess every decison almost to the point of being immobile.

 

My brother and I are not close.

 

I won't do a project around her so that I can't be belittled.

 

I let others get the glory and usually fade into the background.

 

I sometimes wish she would die so I can have my own life.

 

 

The bolded statements above definitely describe me. (About the last one: my father died nearly 10 years ago, but I definitely remember feeling as a child that we would all be happier if he were gone. And even as an adult, when I saw all the heartache my mother endured, I actually encouraged her to leave him. However, she believed that divorce was wrong, so she stayed.

 

Since my issues were with my father instead of my mother, I have had normal relationships with other women, but I can see where my father's emotional problems have influenced my self image and also my relationship with my husband. I am a perfectionist. I often feel inadequate, and I push myself to excel in whatever I undertake. It took me a long, long time to come to trust my husband completely, and to not automatically expect him to be angry with me or ridicule me over minor things. I always feel that I am not pretty enough, not a good enough housekeeper, etc.

 

My sister has also had problems in this area; she has been married 3 times, twice to men who were abusive and domineering, and now to a man who has a hair-trigger temper (but treats her well, fortunately--I know this because she talks openly to me about what's going on in her marriage).

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Lara, this sounds like an awful way of growing up. You are already reading a book you described as helpful, here is another one: "The Mom Factor" by Cloud/Townsend.

I hope you are receiving / have received counseling to re-program your brain for a healthier outlook!

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Lara, this sounds like an awful way of growing up. You are already reading a book you described as helpful, here is another one: "The Mom Factor" by Cloud/Townsend.

I hope you are receiving / have received counseling to re-program your brain for a healthier outlook!

 

 

Interestingly enough, I went through the worst of this a couple of years ago and, at the time, I cut off all communications with her. I recently started them up again when she broke he hip and moved in with us for a few weeks. It is my brother who is going through this now (the setting boundaries and such) But through his journey (and the book) I am seeing the WHY behind my present-and the fact that my self image and relationship issues have a cause and can be fixed. Mostly what we are discovering is by being able to walk away, we have gained enormous power in the relationship, very helpful.

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The bolded statements above sound exactly like my father. He was loud and abusive, especially emotionally.

 

 

We can and do move on and get better. I am glad you had the inner strength to figure this out.

 

I guess the purpose of this thread is to let others see their parent in mine and hopefully get some help and at the very least know they aren't alone and that others have parents like their's too.

My childhood affected my adulthood and I want to change the things I don't like about myself, but first I had to see that I wasn't crazy in thinking/feeling these things. Feeling like I cannot trust the people at church to like me for me isn't normal, it isn't them, it's me I can now work on learning to just be more open and trusting (just not with DM)

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:grouphug: I won't get into details right now, but my mother has paranoid schizophrenia, among other disorders. As a result, I had a very difficult childhood, but, at this point in my life, knowing what she has gone through for well over half her life makes me have nothing but compassion for her.

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Interestingly enough, I went through the worst of this a couple of years ago and, at the time, I cut off all communications with her. I recently started them up again when she broke he hip and moved in with us for a few weeks. It is my brother who is going through this now (the setting boundaries and such) But through his journey (and the book) I am seeing the WHY behind my present-and the fact that my self image and relationship issues have a cause and can be fixed. Mostly what we are discovering is by being able to walk away, we have gained enormous power in the relationship, very helpful.

You're better than I. I could never live with my mother ever again. Even just for a few wks.

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Oh my gosh, I can't believe how much your mom sounds like my mom. We never knew when she was going to blow. My sisters and I used to spend a lot of time talking about the weird and mean things she said and did, but eventually we got past that and built relationships based on mutual interests other than bashing our mom. Lately, I've been feeling hurt all over again. In April, a tornado went right through our neighborhood and the NC tornadoes were in the national news, yet she never called to ask if we were okay. Then last week, I was diagnosed with leukemia, and she has not once called to ask how I'm feeling or anything. I call her to give her the latest updates so she doesn't worry about me; but I'm getting aggravated that she won't pick up the phone to check on me.

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It's HARD to be the kid of a parent with mental illness. I don't know one yet who hasn't been traumatized in some way.

 

I just have to say...ouch.

 

I don't mean to threadjack here. But, just be aware that those of us here may suffer from mental illness or personality disorders (or both!) and are darn good parents. I guarantee you that I experienced more trauma from my non mentally ill parents than my DD has ever dreamed of dealing with.

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My mother has/ had the constant criticism and rewriting history. But the sheer selfishness, she never had. She has a lot of blame and self pity but not in the self indulgent sense. She is actually very giving and generous in many ways (mostly materially/ her time) but emotionally she could be quite cruel and confusing.

 

I have let it go, but I still am uncomfortable around her, which effects our present-day interaction.

 

I don't think I'd "diagnose" my mum with borderline PD but she does have traits of Asperger's (as does my dad) and OCD. But then again, so do I!

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I just have to say...ouch.

 

I don't mean to threadjack here. But, just be aware that those of us here may suffer from mental illness or personality disorders (or both!) and are darn good parents. I guarantee you that I experienced more trauma from my non mentally ill parents than my DD has ever dreamed of dealing with.

 

 

I agree, and this isn't about bashing a parent, this is about informing people who may have a parent like this, that I have seen a light and I am willing to share. I thought for years that I was the one who was wrong in this relationship (and I am no angel either) but now I can see through a clearer lens and I can fix the issues with said parent and myself. No bashing--analizing, discovery and support.

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I thought I was through being angry, but since my dad died in November, I feel like I have no family of origin left.

 

If she wasn't so damaging, my siblings might be more whole people. I'm grieving for who they might have been, and what I might have had in them if they had not had to learn so many protective strategies at such young ages.

 

On the other hand, I have the most perfect husband in the world. I'm approaching the age where I've lived with him longer than I lived with my mother.

 

I have wonderful friends and FOUR daughters. I get to enjoy healthy mothering relationship from the other side, at least, and I have every hope that my son will marry a girl that I'll be crazy about, and with five children, I'm sure to have at least SOME grandchildren...

 

How much destruction, in the balance of it all, can one crazy person create? Only as much as I allow.

 

It really is true that the best revenge is living well, and that is what I am determined to continue doing.

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I agree, and this isn't about bashing a parent, this is about informing people who may have a parent like this, that I have seen a light and I am willing to share. I thought for years that I was the one who was wrong in this relationship (and I am no angel either) but now I can see through a clearer lens and I can fix the issues with said parent and myself. No bashing--analizing, discovery and support.

 

I absolutely understand that. I am so happy that you have been able to see through that lens. I have a mom with a few of the issues mentioned and it has been rough. I have been able to see it clearly myself as an adult. It has also made me a better parent! :grouphug:

 

I just wanted to give a gentle reminder that there are some of us here with mental illness, etc and that stating that our children will almost be traumatized is really really difficult to read and a bit like a visual punch in the gut! It is a common perception though. Not the point of this thread either way. I just figured that there are probably some other moms here in the forums that may feel the same way reading that.

 

Good luck with healing, everyone!

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I am in my fourties--she took enough, I want the rest of my life for me.

 

 

That's what is awesome about one's forties. Getting where you can say that! I'm very happy for you that you found some clarity on what has happened, and I hope that you will find joy in it.

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I would love to just call her up and go for coffee(because who doesn't want to have a mom).

 

I spent a LOT of time *wishing* things were different when I was younger. I finally decided that not having a "mom" was just the cards I was dealt. Other people have to deal with far worse. I will consider all the wonderful people in my life and appreciate them instead of wishing for *her.*

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Ouch. My mother was not anywhere near this extreme. Mostly just a woman struggling with four kids, 2 with definite LDs, in a province where she had no family and always felt like an outsider. She's was and is a good mom and caring mom.

 

But darn it if I don't have a lot of the issues you mentioned and much of it was from not knowing what reaction I would get out of her at times.

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I just have to say...ouch.

 

I don't mean to threadjack here. But, just be aware that those of us here may suffer from mental illness or personality disorders (or both!) and are darn good parents. I guarantee you that I experienced more trauma from my non mentally ill parents than my DD has ever dreamed of dealing with.

 

That was my first impression of this thread too. I have bipolar II along with OCD and ADD. But then I realized that I am still nothing like my mom, and my children are definitely not going through what I went through growing up. My mom has been in denial about her problems all the years I can remember. I, on the other hand, have always known something was wrong with me. It just took many, many years to finally figure it out. Even so, I've always made a very conscious effort to not mimic my mom's parenting style in ANY way, shape or form. I also talk to my children about my disorders. They are well aware of what they mean and why I do some of the things I do. They are even confident enough to let me know if they feel something is going on with me that I may not be aware of. I wonder what I would be like today if my mom had accepted her disorders and sought treatment.

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When I first started reading this book, I had to stop because I saw me doing so much of these things to my own children (to a much lesser degree). I felt terrible and guilty. I stopped and talked to my children, sort of quizzing them to see how much damage I had done. I talked to my brother and he said that I was tons better than dm since I was questioning my actions--just the act of self reflection was a step forward. So if you are aware of your faults (not just illnesses) you are doing alright in my eyes. Once again not bashing, just letting people know there is help and sympathy.

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That was my first impression of this thread too. I have bipolar II along with OCD and ADD. But then I realized that I am still nothing like my mom, and my children are definitely not going through what I went through growing up. My mom has been in denial about her problems all the years I can remember. I, on the other hand, have always known something was wrong with me. It just took many, many years to finally figure it out. Even so, I've always made a very conscious effort to not mimic my mom's parenting style in ANY way, shape or form. I also talk to my children about my disorders. They are well aware of what they mean and why I do some of the things I do. They are even confident enough to let me know if they feel something is going on with me that I may not be aware of. I wonder what I would be like today if my mom had accepted her disorders and sought treatment.

 

Okay, good. I wasn't sure if I was just being oversensitive.

 

I am also Bipolar II, with severe ADD and traits of borderline personality disorder. I'm not diagnosed with it as my therapist says that I don't meet a lot of the guidelines. I don't have the ones touched on throughout this thread. Most of my issues stem from latent PTSD and all seem to surround relationships, etc. I spend a lot of time trying to fight against the stigmas out there. Bipolar is bad enough but borderline personality disorder is as stigmatized as they come. While many people with it are low functioning and do wreak havoc, there is also a whole slew of people that do not outwardly show much and work on issues quietly.

 

I was only diagnosed a few years ago but I'm fully medicated, am in DBT therapy (has changed my life), medicated, see the psychiatrist and therapist religiously, never miss appointments. It's what I owe to my DD and my SO. It sounds like a lot of mothers, and family members, mentioned in this thread did not have the proper diagnosis, etc and those around them suffered. That makes me incredibly sad.

 

My DD does know about all of this. She is more aware of the Bipolar stuff than anything else. I have the best SO in the world and he is an incredible support system. I have raised an incredible kid, mostly on my own, so I've done something right!

 

My mom has her share of stuff too, as did her mom. I wonder the same thing. All we can do is look forward and correct what we can, right?

Edited by YLVD
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When I first started reading this book, I had to stop because I saw me doing so much of these things to my own children (to a much lesser degree). I felt terrible and guilty. I stopped and talked to my children, sort of quizzing them to see how much damage I had done. I talked to my brother and he said that I was tons better than dm since I was questioning my actions--just the act of self reflection was a step forward. So if you are aware of your faults (not just illnesses) you are doing alright in my eyes. Once again not bashing, just letting people know there is help and sympathy.

 

That is amazing Lara, really.

 

Now, I don't exhibit a lot of the issues mentioned in this particular thread. If we had a thread going about major relationship issues, abandonment issues with spouses, etc...I have a lot of that going on. I have mood issues that step from BPD and bipolar, and I am a work in progress on that.

 

I have had to step back and see what I've done to previous SOs and even my current one.

 

As you said, being aware is the biggest thing. :grouphug:

 

I feel badly that I threadjacked here. I will bow out. I just can't help myself sometimes on this topic. I know that not everything is a personal attack and I need to not take it that way! This topic gets me every time!

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