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!

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).

Thanks cat whisperer. I guess I needed to hear that from someone on the outside. Just not sure what there is to salvage.

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.

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.

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”? :smiley: 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.

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. :stuck_out_tongue:

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.

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?

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.

Well, if it’s not one thing it’s your mother. :wink:

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?

I am reading this book about narcissistic mothers. It might be helpful to you.


thanks to all for taking time to reply to my post, I appreciate all the advice! best wishes to all

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.