I posted on here a long time ago about my mom, whom I love more than anyone else in the world. That being said, she's the one person in this world that tortures me more than anyone else, and I need to know if I'm doing something wrong and what I can do about it.
I live 3.5 hours from my parents. I had a great relationship with them growing up, but my mother has always been VERY controlling and I really felt like moving was a chance to start my own life and not live for her anymore. I am now married, have a fantastic job and a beautiful house. My husband and I are planning to have kids soon and are getting a dog this summer. I joined community theater and got the lead in our last play. Basically, life couldn't be much better.
However, every time I talk to my mother (I know she's hurting and try to call as much as I can...a few times a week) I know she's mad that I moved away. It's a constant guilt trip about not being around for family events. She also constantly references how she's going to be left alone when my father dies (She's 56, he's 52) and how we (my sister and I) won't be around to take care of her and help her when she needs us. I can't talk about my plays, because she's hurt that I'm having fun so far away. I can't talk about the dog because she thinks it will mean I come home less often (which is about once a month). Basically, I get a knot in my stomach every time I talk to her because I know I'm going to hurt her with something I say. I also hate bringing my husband home because I'm trying to protect him from her, if that makes any sense. Despite the fact that I try to hide all of this from him, he resents her for making me cry so much and for being so moody every time we see her.
So the thing I realized today is that I'm acting out of guilt. That's the main reason I went home for Easter...I knew she'd be devestated if I didn't come and I'd feel guilty. I call her because I feel guilty. I avoid topics so I don't feel guilty. Why am I not calling her because I want to? Why do I feel so guilty about everything and how can I let that go to live a normal life? Short of moving within 20 minutes of her, I don't know that she'll ever be happy again. AND, even if I did, I still think she'd be trying to control me. I've told her all of this (in different words), but she thinks the problem is all from me moving and abandoning her.
Any help would be appreciated. This is really ruining me.
Your mother isn't hurting, she is manipulating! No one can MAKE you unhappy, it sounds like its an emotion she enjoys. The reason you call her out of guilt instead of "want to" is because of the way she makes you feel. I know its hard, but you need to tell her straight out that you will no longer listen to any of her negative talk. If she begins to talk about being left alone, cut in and tell her you have to hang up. Any time that she brings up something that makes you uncomfortable, tell her this and then hang up the phone. IF she wants to keep hearing from you, she will stop doing this. She is acting this way because YOU are allowing her too. For your own health and peace of mind, stop enabling her to make you feel bad, tell her so, and then follow through with it.
I know that it's hard to have a child move far away, no matter how old or how happy and contented they are to be gone. My son moved 1500 miles from me several months ago....it almost killed me...but the truth is...now I am overjoyed that he is happy and making a life that he wants and needs. My son and I are actually both better off because of his independence and I would never try and make him feel guilty for wanting to lead his own life.
Please take control of this situation with your mom before it gets more and more out of hand. REFUSE to acknowledge her tales of woe and distress. She is using this to try and make you come home. Trust me, she will come around once she sees that her little tricks are no longer working their "magic" on you!
I'm not a doctor or counselor, but it sounds like your mom is clinically depressed. My mother was, and she did almost the exact things your mom is doing. I got married and had a baby, and while she loved my son more than anything, she was jealous of him because he took attention away from her. She resented anything and anyone who took me away from her. She ended up spending a week in a mental health facility, which was grossly inadequate to the amount and time of care she needed. My best friend's mom is also clinically depressed and is going through much of what you are (my friend moved to Kansas and her mom is in California).
I know the guilt is overwhelming, but the first thing you need to do is realize that it is NOT your fault. You did not make your mom depressed. You love her and are trying to help, but you can't heal her. She needs to first of all realize SHE needs help, and then she needs to find it. If she doesn't realize she needs help and get it, things will not change. I guarantee she's not happy and it wouldn't matter if you were 3 hours or 3 minutes away. The problem lies within her.
Can you talk to your dad about going with you to take her to a doctor? Have a physical exam set up for her and try to take the doctor aside to express your concerns. I did, and my mom's doctor recommended some actions to take, and told her to her face that she needed to live in her own place and let her children live their lives. Maybe hearing it from a professional will get her to seek help.
I wish you good luck, and please don't beat yourself up...you are a good daughter!
You should suggest that your mom see a therapist. This is not healthy. She's depressed and focusing her life around her adult children. She needs to have a life of her own. You may have to tell your mom that she needs professional help and that you will have to limit your calls and visits until she does so. It is not fair to you or your husband to have such a cloud over your lives. Your mom does not mean to hurt you but she has to be depressed and not really understanding how much pain she's causing you and herself. Have you talked to your dad about this? Maybe he can step in and help her find therapy. It would also be good if he could find things they can enjoy together.
You need to let go of mom! Stop calling her so often and stop visiting so often. You owe all your energy to your husband and yourself. Your mom could live another 40 years for pete sake...are you going to spend another 40 years feeling guilty? Also stop trying to protect your husband from the wrath of your mom...allow him to interact with her and maybe he can put her in her place. My daughter in law couldn't deal with her mother so she let my son deal with her mom. He set the rules and stopped 'mom' from sucking the life out of his wife. It works for them and whatever protects their life from 'mom' so be it. On the flip side my husband doesn't like his mother much at all but that wouldn't stop her from interfering in our lives if he let her so he doesn't let her and if she is visiting in our home and she just has to bring up a topic that is off limits she is told to leave. She just never gives up the poor me act..it is just part of her personality....so now she is in her 80's and he refuses to visit her anymore. So you too may need to just back off of mom. You can't change her, and you can't help her...you are the daughter you aren't suppose to have to deal with her bad behavior. We all know you love your mom...everyone loves their mom but you can do that from afar. Your husband is your support system so lean on him to help you with mom...you know the old saying: united we stand, divided we fall? Stand strong with your husband. Oh and congrats on getting the lead in that play...that IS a big deal. And enjoy YOUR life and don't feel guilty for living it...your mom had her chance now it is your turn.
Just wanted to add my two cents. Reading this post has been good for me, too. I have an 18 yr old who is always talking about getting his own place. We have a good relationship and I tease him that his younger sister and I are going to follow him wherever he goes - kind of like the "I'll Love You Forever" book for kids by Robert Munsch. But even though we kid I know it will be very, very hard for me to let go. I certainly DON'T want to be controlling, though, so I appreciate this view from the other side. Thanks.
You need to let go of mom! Stop calling her so often and stop visiting so often.
I do not think the solution is to call less often and visit less often. She is only visiting once a month as it is (yes, I am sure some people here don't see parents for months or years at a time and I am not being judgemental here. If the mother complains about seeing her daughter once a month, then seeing her less will make the situation worse. This is not the solution).
It sounds as though the mother is depressed and to have a daughter call less and less would only make the problem worse.
I am not being judgemental here in the slightest, and everyone leads different lives, but I would never ever consider calling less etc.
I am not saying visit her more. I am not saying have an argument on the phone with her telling her this is unacceptable (yes it is manipulation but is she doing it on purpose or is the result of being alone, being depressed and desperate?). Women in their 40-50s are prime targets for falling victim to depression.
I would make sure my mother was ok. Has the original poster tried asking her mother about her health? Who visits her other than you? Perhaps get the mother's friends to visit her/ take her out? Encourage her to do things to fill her time. This make take some time and encouragement for someone who is depressed. When you visit your mother, what do you do? Visit her at her house? Go out for a coffee? Shopping? If not, may be make the visits more exciting and helpful.
Have you tried telling her you feel guilty for being so far?
How about moving or have your mum move closer to you? When you have a baby, you'll probably find the more help you get the better.
Just a few questions I think need to be reflected on.
Last edited by cadburyschick; 05-30-2008 at 03:15 AM.
Yes!!! YOU need to let go of HER! Do not neglect her, that is not what I mean. You are letting her control you and your state of mind far too much. Let her vent to you, but do not take it on your shoulders. You can do nothing to cheer her up or make her feel better. Know this, and let go of the pressure to change her. You are cooperating with her in this campaign to keep you under the thumb. Active listen to her, and acknowledge her feelings; "You are feeling lonely? I thought we would have a nice chat". That is all you can do. She is half of the problem, you are the other half. Change your own reactions and responses, and half of the problem is gone. Nobody can give you feelings - they are your own feelings (guilt, whatever) and you CAN choose not to feel them. Read some books on dealing with people and their games, this is very useful. Sera