The Straight Dope

Go Back   Straight Dope Message Board > Main > Mundane Pointless Stuff I Must Share (MPSIMS)

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 01-07-2010, 02:02 PM
lostgirl01 lostgirl01 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
emotionally needy mom

I am looking for advice. I am getting ready to have big changes in my life, like a new career and marriage. However, one thing that hasnt changed is my mom and I need to know how to deal with her. Background: She had a bad chilhood, she raised me by herself and she has not had any life (real friends, dates, activities) since I was 5. Presently she calls me on a daily basis, sometimes a few times in a row, and when I dont answer there is hell to pay. We have went for long periods without talking, only to "reconcile" when a major event happens in my life. However, it always ends because she doesnt get constant attention from me. I always feel bad after seeing her, as she is always critical, down to how many christmas lights are on my tree. Now my fiance has witnessed it and doesnt want me to have any contact with her. I dont think she aims to be mean to me, but she is very degrading and hurtful. I try to make compromises with her but she gets even more mad.
So, I dont know what to do. Even worse, my wedding will be here and I have heard that I should not invite her. Which breaks my heart. But I cant take this treatment anymore. Help!
Reply With Quote
Advertisements  
  #2  
Old 01-07-2010, 02:43 PM
Cat Whisperer Cat Whisperer is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Lethbridge, AB.
Posts: 48,088
If you want to salvage some relationship with your mom, I think you're going to need more guidance than an internet message board can give you. The first thing a counsellor would probably want to address with you is "boundaries" (i.e. setting some for your mom and sticking to them).
__________________
"Your guilty consciences may make you vote Democratic, but secretly you all yearn for a Republican president to lower taxes, brutalize criminals, and rule you like a king!"
- S. Bob
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 01-07-2010, 02:58 PM
lostgirl01 lostgirl01 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Thanks cat whisperer. I guess I needed to hear that from someone on the outside. Just not sure what there is to salvage.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 01-07-2010, 03:03 PM
melodyharmonius melodyharmonius is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
I agree with Cat. You need to talk to someone like a counsellor about this. You don't want to be put in a place where you are choosing between what your mom wants and what your fiance wants, either.

No matter what - she will always be your mom. That is always worth salvaging once you establish good boundaries.

My mom is overwhelming too. But I politely try to stick to my boundaries with her and it's slowly gotten better. And I've gotten thicker-skinned about her guilt trips.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 01-07-2010, 03:05 PM
gwendee gwendee is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Charm City
Posts: 3,444
It sounds as if your mom and mine share more than a few qualities. I found some helpful insights in this book: Trapped In the Mirror

Now, it was recommended to me by a therapist, and if you have the means and access you might benefit as I did from even a few sessions of therapy.

Your fiance might say he wants no contact with her as a means of protecting you, but that will problay leave you with a new kind of conflict. It's easy for us to say here that you need to set boundaries with your mother and stick to them firmly, but a therapist can help you with actual language so that you can communicate them to her and not feel as if you're injuring her.

Last edited by gwendee; 01-07-2010 at 03:06 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 01-07-2010, 03:13 PM
lostgirl01 lostgirl01 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
wow, you hit the nail on the head. I don't know which words to use with her to set the boundaries without being mean. I will check that book out.
by the way, does anyone know if there is an online support group for these issues? I am laughing as I type those words b/c I think everyone in the world has some issue with their mom. : P
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 01-07-2010, 03:23 PM
Ferret Herder Ferret Herder is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Quote:
Originally Posted by lostgirl01 View Post
wow, you hit the nail on the head. I don't know which words to use with her to set the boundaries without being mean. I will check that book out.
by the way, does anyone know if there is an online support group for these issues? I am laughing as I type those words b/c I think everyone in the world has some issue with their mom. : P
You mean like the wisecrack, "There's a support group for people who don't like their jobs. It's called 'the bar.' Everyone's a member"? But really, you do have some serious issues that need to be addressed. You deserve to have some level of privacy in your own life and to not be harassed by her.

I'm on the other side of this situation, and one thing I've told my husband (after various comments of "but he's my dad" or repetitions of that from others to him) is, "Just because he's your dad, it doesn't mean he gets a free pass to be a jerk to you."

Another thing, having studied psychology long ago - once you figure out your boundaries and things that are acceptable to you like frequency of calling, what she can or can't say around you, etc., stick to your guns whenever possible. Occasionally-rewarded behaviors are the hardest ones to get rid of, so if she learns that she will occasionally, say, get you to pick up the phone if she leaves 5 guilt-trip messages, then she will keep on leaving 5 guilt-trip messages for a long time, because it did work once! She might even leave more.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 01-07-2010, 03:43 PM
kaylasdad99 kaylasdad99 is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Sep 1999
Location: Anaheim, CA
Posts: 20,868
Quote:
Originally Posted by lostgirl01 View Post
wow, you hit the nail on the head. I don't know which words to use with her to set the boundaries without being mean. I will check that book out.
by the way, does anyone know if there is an online support group for these issues? I am laughing as I type those words b/c I think everyone in the world has some issue with their mom. : P
You might benefit from some form of counseling that works toward asserting your own value as a person. This should make you less easily manipulated, and less likely to equate "setting boundaries" with "being mean."

Welcome to the SDMB, by the way. I hope you find your time here enjoyable and rewarding.

ETA: Lower case "p" for that smiley.

Last edited by kaylasdad99; 01-07-2010 at 03:44 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 01-07-2010, 03:46 PM
Shirley Ujest Shirley Ujest is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 1999
You've made headway in identifying the problem in her being needy.

What you do about it and how you handle it is the next step.

She won't change.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 01-07-2010, 03:50 PM
tdn tdn is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2000
This is all good stuff.

I recently heard (but won't be able to find) a great suggestion on how to start the conversation with her. A guy was in a similar situation, except his mother was opening his mail and going through all of his private stuff.

The advice was to take her out to lunch, and then say something like "Mom, I love you, and I have to talk to you about something. I'm not judging you, I don't want you to say anything, I don't want you to try to fix anything. But I just want you to hear me out, just listen. When you _________, it makes me feel _____________."

Worth a try?
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 01-07-2010, 03:56 PM
lostgirl01 lostgirl01 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Shirely- you are right. The hard part is that part of my perception of who my mom is, has to die. I have to accept a different view of her and its not pretty. I expect better out of her, b/c I know she can when she wants to, but I think that I have to be realistic now to stop being hurt for no reason. Its also hard that I have to realize that I cant count on her, sucks that I have to say that about my own mom.
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 01-07-2010, 03:58 PM
Whack-a-Mole Whack-a-Mole is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Quote:
Originally Posted by lostgirl01 View Post
I think everyone in the world has some issue with their mom. : P
Well, if it's not one thing it's your mother.
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 01-07-2010, 03:58 PM
lostgirl01 lostgirl01 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
TDN- thanks for the advice. I have tried a similar approach with her, but she gets so defensive that she starts attacking me. Maybe if I wrote her a letter?
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 01-07-2010, 04:32 PM
Brynda Brynda is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
I am reading this book about narcissistic mothers. It might be helpful to you.

http://www.amazon.com/Will-Ever-Good...2903483&sr=8-1
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 01-07-2010, 05:56 PM
lostgirl01 lostgirl01 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
thanks to all for taking time to reply to my post, I appreciate all the advice! best wishes to all
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old 01-07-2010, 06:08 PM
Cat Whisperer Cat Whisperer is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Lethbridge, AB.
Posts: 48,088
Quote:
Originally Posted by lostgirl01 View Post
Shirely- you are right. The hard part is that part of my perception of who my mom is, has to die. I have to accept a different view of her and its not pretty. I expect better out of her, b/c I know she can when she wants to, but I think that I have to be realistic now to stop being hurt for no reason. Its also hard that I have to realize that I cant count on her, sucks that I have to say that about my own mom.
I can tell you as a complete stranger reading your description of her, she might be a great person, but damn, she needs to give you some room! You're not responsible for her not having any outside social outlets since you were five - that was all her decision. You're not responsible for her bad childhood, or her single motherhood, or probably anything else she guilts you about.

I think you need to prepare for the possibility that she will never listen to you telling her what your boundaries are; if you need to be estranged from her to live a healthy life, well, it sucks, but sometimes that's the way it has to be. But definitely get some guidance on that; figure out if there is some way to get your message across to her that will help everyone involved.
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old 01-07-2010, 06:34 PM
Shirley Ujest Shirley Ujest is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 1999
Quote:
Originally Posted by lostgirl01 View Post
TDN- thanks for the advice. I have tried a similar approach with her, but she gets so defensive that she starts attacking me. Maybe if I wrote her a letter?
You're best defense is a good offense.

Screen your calls.

Don't return any messages, no matter HOW DESPERATE and DEPRESSING and GUILT RIDDEN she sounds, for a minimum of X days. 2 day min. in my book.

Call her when you are emotionally strong and fresh. Or call when it is an inconvenience to her...10pm at night. 6am.

Always give yourself an 'out' in the conversation. ( just arriving at work. Someone's at the door. Another phone call coming in, even in you have to dial your home or work phone to call your cell phone for the interuption.)

She will never change her neediness, but she may get the hint that she is no longer numero 1 in your book.

Learn from her neediness, guilt trips and selfishness and strive to never do that to anyone in your life.
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old 01-07-2010, 06:50 PM
freckafree freckafree is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Quote:
Originally Posted by lostgirl01 View Post
TDN- thanks for the advice. I have tried a similar approach with her, but she gets so defensive that she starts attacking me. Maybe if I wrote her a letter?
Writing that letter could be very therapeutic for you. I know that when I write things down, it helps me clarify what the issues are, and it also gives me a safe way to rant and rave.

That being said, I don't think you should send her that letter. If she's defensive when you talk to her, you've now given her something tangible that she can pore over, pick apart, analyze, twist, and use against you the next time you talk.

So write the letter and get it all out, then save it to share with your counselor.
Reply With Quote
  #19  
Old 01-07-2010, 09:41 PM
lostgirl01 lostgirl01 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
you know what, I am going to print these replies so I can look at them and know Im not crazy. its strange that I would never let anyone else in my life treat me like this, but my mom has been getting away with it for a long time. Its time for me to stick to my guns, do my part, and face the consequences of standing up for myself. I think going to a counselor for assertiveness training will be the next step before anymore contact with her.
Thank you all again!
Reply With Quote
  #20  
Old 01-08-2010, 07:51 AM
Serenata67 Serenata67 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2009
Quote:
Originally Posted by freckafree View Post
Writing that letter could be very therapeutic for you. I know that when I write things down, it helps me clarify what the issues are, and it also gives me a safe way to rant and rave.

That being said, I don't think you should send her that letter. If she's defensive when you talk to her, you've now given her something tangible that she can pore over, pick apart, analyze, twist, and use against you the next time you talk.

So write the letter and get it all out, then save it to share with your counselor.
Seconded. It always helps me to writing things down. Even when I'm going to verbally confront someone, I write down what I'm going to say to them, so I have an idea. I don't read the letter, but getting it down in writing helps.
Reply With Quote
  #21  
Old 01-08-2010, 09:12 AM
elbows elbows is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: London, Ontario
Posts: 8,842
If you have difficulty talking with her about this, then do write her a letter.

Be overly kind and complimentary. Rely heavily on your appreciation of the sacrifices she made in raising you. Then reveal you're not sure that, in it's current form, your relationship is healthy for either of you. It will breed conflict with your husband and you, and it's time for her to open her life to other things than you. Tell her you want these things for her. Make it clear you are sending her this letter because attempts to discuss this with her seem to go off the tracks and end in bad feelings and that is not your goal. Tell her, this is a new time in your life, things are going to change, for you, and for her, by necessity. Then spell out your boundaries, clearly. You no longer need to speak daily, or feel the need for her approval of your every action, and that this is normal for grown adult children. Tell her outright her neediness is not going to shape your relationship, attempts to guilt you into things, personal attacks etc will have no room in your life. Tell her it's time for you and her to move on to the next level, a more mature and healthy relationship. Finish up by telling her you love her and always will, but, as an adult, you have to take responsibility for the personal relationships in your life, even the one with your mother. Tell her how deeply you would regret having to step away from your relationship if she's unable to accept your boundaries as outlined. Tell how confident you are that she can do this, if she tries, and how wonderful a future together you share if she can make the effort.

Then be prepared to hold the hard line. Remove yourself, get off the phone, withdraw, whenever she reverts to guilting, attacking, overt neediness as manipulation. Do not engage. A simple, "We talked about this, Mom.", should do the trick, as you withdraw. But she'll be like a spoiled child, I predict, she'll try everything. But, if you hold firm to your position, (don't get angry, don't hold a grudge), she'll settle in to the position you want her to have in your life. And a healthier life for all of you it sounds.

Good luck and keep us posted!
Reply With Quote
  #22  
Old 01-08-2010, 09:20 AM
tdn tdn is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2000
elbows, that was beautiful. Just perfect.
Reply With Quote
  #23  
Old 01-08-2010, 10:08 AM
perfectparanoia perfectparanoia is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Ontario, Canada
Posts: 2,138
One thing I want to add (and others might disagree). Invite her to your wedding. Hopefully, she won't ruin your day but if you are trying to salvage the relationship, not inviting her will probably ruin it.

Last edited by perfectparanoia; 01-08-2010 at 10:08 AM.. Reason: where is my brain today
Reply With Quote
  #24  
Old 01-08-2010, 10:51 AM
Hello Again Hello Again is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Quote:
Originally Posted by perfectparanoia View Post
One thing I want to add (and others might disagree). Invite her to your wedding. Hopefully, she won't ruin your day but if you are trying to salvage the relationship, not inviting her will probably ruin it.
However you might want to assign a trusted family member or friend to be her personal "handler" and keep her from badgering you, sabotaging the day, and constantly demanding your attention.

My father pitched a tantrum at my college graduation because I was hugging some professors goodbye and thus "not paying enough attention to him." Ya, rly. So, I say, hope for the best, prepare for the worst.
Reply With Quote
  #25  
Old 01-08-2010, 11:23 AM
Nava Nava is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Learn to say no, learn to say no, learn to say no. Learn that you have a duty to preserve your life, your sanity and your marriage, and this duty is greater than any amount of guilt your mother inflicts upon you. Do not inflict guilt upon yourself because of her bad behaviour.

Your mom sounds like mine. Do you reach compromises with her and then find that she never, ever, in a million years hold up her part? I found that reaching compromises doesn't work with my mother (for either of us three), but saying "this is what I will do" and sticking to it does. I've established when will I call her, she can call me to let me know she's available within the timeframe I established - but I never, ever call her out of that timeframe. If someone dies, she better have one of my brothers call, because I won't answer her.

You are NOT responsible for your mother's happiness. You do NOT owe her your every living moment. She has NO right to throttle you under the guise of needing you.
__________________
Life ain't peaches and cream, but sometimes it's laughing your ass off when you have no ass. - WhyNot

Last edited by Nava; 01-08-2010 at 11:28 AM.. Reason: emphasis
Reply With Quote
  #26  
Old 01-08-2010, 11:58 AM
Anaamika Anaamika is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
It is OK not to reach a compromise with her, too, btw. It is OK to cut her off if you need to. You cannot be responsible for her health and your health - only your health. And not all mothers are worthy of salvaging.

I find the books "Toxic Parents" quite valuable and have a copy on my shelf.

One thing I do the rare times I talk to my mother is set a timer. 20 minutes, or whatever and bing! "Mom, I have to go." And be firm on it.


Screen calls, definitely. And invite her to your wedding. Presumably it's a once-in-a-lifetime event. But make sure someone is there to be between her and you. You don't have time for her.

Letters are great but my mother wouldn't read a letter. I would go this route - write everything down in a letter. Then read it to her. "Say, Mom, I really need you to listen to the end. No comments, no judgements." Then every time she interrupts, say "Mom, you promised." If she cannot listen to the whole letter, get up and say, "We'll do this another time," and calmly leave.

You must be the adult and never lose your temper in front of her. I know this is hard but your mother is not the adult here - you have to become one. I know she pushes all your buttons. she installed them, of course she knows where they are. Do not respond. Do not ever let the button get pushed.
Vent at home as much as you want. Write long, mean letters if it helps. But talk to her calmly.

And lastly, life is too short to be dealing with shit like this. The more emotional she gets the farther you push her away. If you have her at a very arm's-length cool sort of relationship, so be it. It's good for your mental health.
Reply With Quote
  #27  
Old 01-08-2010, 11:59 AM
The Devil's Grandmother The Devil's Grandmother is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2000
I agree with perfectparanoia and Hello Again. Invite her, but ensure a trustworthy handler is there for her. Or three revolving handlers, if you have that many trustworthy cousins/friends/aunts, so they get to have a good time too.

There used to be line in the marriage ceremony about "Forsaking all others" (maybe it's still there, I don't know). Most people think this is just referring to sex, but it's also about not putting any other relationship before your marriage. When your mom tries to pull the "family" card on you, remind her that Mr lostgirl01 is your family now.

Your mom sounds a lot like my crazy grandmother. On the other hand, I have a great mom, so hold to your boundaries and know you are doing the right thing both for yourself and for any children you might have.
Reply With Quote
  #28  
Old 01-08-2010, 12:18 PM
tdn tdn is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2000
Quote:
Originally Posted by Anaamika View Post
Letters are great but my mother wouldn't read a letter. I would go this route - write everything down in a letter. Then read it to her. "Say, Mom, I really need you to listen to the end. No comments, no judgements." Then every time she interrupts, say "Mom, you promised." If she cannot listen to the whole letter, get up and say, "We'll do this another time," and calmly leave.
That's pretty much what I said in post #10, but you said it much better. And what you said about keeping calm, times ten. Very important to keep your composure.

I also like the idea of having dominant reality. Basically that means steering the direction of the conversation and setting the rules. I've had to do this with my own father a few times recently. Not that I have a dysfunctional relationship with him (quite the opposite), but he'll let conversations just ramble off into meaningless directions and let them go on forever. Taking control has helped keep our phone conversations under 3 hours long.
Reply With Quote
  #29  
Old 01-08-2010, 01:08 PM
Rafe Hollister Rafe Hollister is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Boundaries By Dr. Henry Cloud

http://www.amazon.com/Boundaries-Whe...2977582&sr=1-1
Reply With Quote
  #30  
Old 01-12-2010, 08:24 AM
Shirley Ujest Shirley Ujest is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 1999
Quote:
Originally Posted by tdn View Post
That's pretty much what I said in post #10, but you said it much better. And what you said about keeping calm, times ten. Very important to keep your composure.
If you lose your temper, you lose what you were standing up for.
Reply With Quote
Reply



Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 03:51 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@chicagoreader.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright 2013 Sun-Times Media, LLC.