I just ended my relationship with my mentally ill mother.

Ever since I made this thread, I’ve been moving toward this decision. I’ve been trying to do everything possible on my end to minimize the pain my mother’s behavior causes me. First, with the Dope’s help, I learned that I can’t fix her and it’s not my responsibility to do so. Second, I learned that I can’t get in the middle of the family drama. But that hasn’t made the pain go away. Her behavior has gotten worse. She’s starting to lose her temper again – to injure herself and destroy property. She hasn’t been working in over a year – she’s on medical leave, but she’s had so much time to find alternative work and hasn’t bothered. We’ve tried to get her help – given her books and plenty of information about her illness and its effective treatment. She complains about the cost of therapy, but Sr. Olives and I are even willing to take out additional loans (on top of our existing student loan debt) to pay for her therapy and medications.

I have tried to be supportive but she refuses to hear any negative feedback about her delusions or her destructive behavior. She’s just stuck in this psychological loop of looking desperately for other people to blame for her misery. She torments herself and the people who love her, and in doing so she has already utterly destroyed her relationship with my Aunt, who has no interest in speaking to her again. When she calls her up in a few months to bitch about some other family member and wants to act like nothing happened, she’s going to be in for a hell of a rude awakening. I know my Mom doesn’t do it on purpose, because she really is sick, but at this point it’s irrelevant why she’s doing it or with what intent. What matters is that I don’t even feel safe around her and I don’t even feel like I’m getting anything out of our relationship. It’s not good that every time I get a phone call from her, a part of me panics.

Anyway, this past weekend was the final straw. She broke her cell phone in a fit of rage and expected her parents to buy her a new one. Then she laughed nervously and explained that she wasn’t the one who broke the phone; her hands had done it without her permission, tee-hee. Are you fucking kidding me? I was utterly traumatized by her rage as a child and have told her as much, and she claims to regret abusing me – but apparently it’s totally cool doing it to other people like her boyfriend and my Grandma and Aunt. The level of comfort she has gotten with this behavior is pretty alarming. Then there’s the fact that her reputation precedes her, and it’s getting to the point where I’m embarrassed to be her kid. After she totally dissed my Grandma’s new boyfriend, I had to meet him, and I’m not like her, you know?

I keep trying to think of the future and where Mom fits into it, but I just can’t see it. We’re going to adopt children within the next 2-3 years. She acts like she’s going to be super involved but that just can’t happen. My job is to protect those kids from people like her – no way in hell can I put my kids through what I’ve gone through. Every major milestone would be a nightmare, because she can’t get along with anyone else in the family and always has to play these head games whenever people are having a good time. Then there’s the fact that I wouldn’t tolerate this behavior out of anyone else – no friend or other relative. I’ve made all these healthy choices for myself but she’s always been this part of my life I have to contain and minimize. It’s like constant damage control. It doesn’t fit with the kind of life I really want to live, the way I want to surround myself with positive energy and be in mutually supportive relationships that help me thrive as a person. Everything about my life is healthy except for her.

So that’s it, basically. It’s going to come as something of a shock to her, because we just had a pretty nice visit together, but I can’t take another second of keeping my mouth shut while she wreaks havoc in every direction. I wrote her a hand-written letter and mailed it Thursday. I kept it brief and to the point. I said her behavior is a concern to me, I don’t feel safe around her and I cannot have a relationship with her until she has sought treatment for her Borderline Personality Disorder. I told her any relationship we have in the future will have to be 100% honest meaning I must be able to tell her when she is hurting herself or other people, and she must be willing to face it and correct it. I told her we and a bunch of other family members were willing to pay for her treatment and she should feel free to contact me once she has her life in order. ‘‘I can forgive the past, but I can never forget it or condone similar behavior in the present.’’

I don’t expect her to change, so I might be saying goodbye for the rest of my life. Since the letter hasn’t arrived yet and will likely do so any minute now, I’m incredibly anxious right now because she is so unpredictable. She may do anything from attempt suicide to blame another relative to try to sue me. She might do all three at some point, I don’t know. The only solace I’m getting from this fear of her reaction is that it’s the last time I’ll ever have to fear her again. I also feel very sad, sad that I didn’t really get to have a Mom – I got to have a person I felt responsible for 24/7. When I think about how hurt she will be when she receives this letter, it’s agony. Because I truly do love her so much, and I doubt she’ll really understand why I’m doing this even though I’ve tried to make it as plain as day. I was as kind as possible in the letter. But I’m not going to change my mind. Even though she has been “nice” to me these past few years, I’m learning that it’s possible to emotionally manipulate someone and call it being nice. By telling me how great and sweet and understanding I am and making it impossible for me to speak out against her behavior, she has instilled me with a sense of guilt and fear of being a hypocrite by invalidating her feelings. I never thought of it that way before, but that’s basically it. This sense of guilt I feel is entirely something she constructed, in order to prevent me from telling her what she doesn’t want to hear. But from a basic rational perspective there is no question in my mind I’m doing the right thing. I didn’t get that until my Aunt’s husband told me that he considers me and my Aunt basically saints for how much we’re willing to put up with.

It’s funny, I think I almost liked being able to hold onto that identity as that long-suffering good girl whose capacity for forgiveness and compassion was limitless. I’ve always gotten something out of playing that role with my family. But I don’t feel the need to be a saint anymore. I just want to live in peace.

As always, thanks for listening. You guys rock.

Oh, sweetie, I’m so sorry.

It was a courageous thing to do.

Wishing you peace and strength going forward.

I am 100% in awe of your strength. I hope the fallout isn’t worst-case scenario bad! I’m sure you are a great role model for all the people out there in toxic relationships who say, “Oh, I just couldn’t abandon him/I owe her so much/etc. etc.” Yes, people who are really strong and determined and caring CAN do what is best for everyone even though it will hurt a lot.


You are right, and don’t let anyone try and make you forget that.

I think I’ve said this to you before, but toxic people breed toxicity. It may not have to be a permanent break. If she gets the help she needs, perhaps you can develop a new relationship but as long as she continues to live in denial, she will ultimately alienate everyone around her. I’m glad you had the courage to do what you have done. Many people live for their parents approval and it takes a lot of guts to realize that she has been a negative force in your life and doing something about it. <pats olive on the back> Good job!

olives for what it’s worth I think you did the right thing. You have to look out for you. I agree with your aunt’s husband. Y’all are saints for putting up with that for all those years.

Just remember you have a bunch of imaginary internet friends right here for support.


Sounds like a very tough, but proper, decision. Best of luck!


Good job olives. I know it’s hard on your heart but I think you’ve made the right choice. You don’t have to like it, you just have to do it, and you did.

Well done! Hang tough.

She’ll have a new enabler before you know it. She’ll probably talk you down as a horrible daughter to gain sympathy - but trust me, the folks around her will eventually learn that you have a point.

And if she should choose to do something destructive in response, then that will be very sad, but it will have been her choice. You are not responsible for her choices.

You are not responsible for her choices.

You are not responsible for her choices.

You are not responsible for her choices.

Repeat as necessary.


Olives, it’s not your fault, and you can’t fix her. Remember that.

I’m so sorry for your situation, but you have done and are doing the best you can for yourself. Don’t feel guilty. Just do your best to stay strong and have a good life.

Sending out supporting thoughts!

I’ve been following your posts about your family situation and your mom for a long time and I really admire your strength and courage in doing this. Hang tight, keep us updated.

Ultimately, I’m not sure you had another choice. I know you’ll mourn the loss of the relationship you should have had, but for moving foward it seems like you did all you could.

I’ve thought for a while that you need to do this, and although it’s a tough decision (and likely to get tougher, depending on her reaction after receiving the letter), you know it’s the right one.

We aren’t dealt fair cards - you got the “crappy parent” card and that sucks for you. Unfortunately, we have to play the cards we’re dealt, even if it means divorcing our family.

And it’s not just your job to protect your future children - it’s also your job to protect yourself, and your current family. If you’d want to shield your children from you mom, you know that you should also shield yourself.

I’m sorry you had to make this decision.

I think you did the right thing. You have to protect yourself and your future children.
No matter what she does in response to this, even if she does attempt suicide, it is not your fault. She is an adult and she is the one who is responsible for what she does. You are not the one who broke her and it’s not your job to try to fix her. Maybe this will be the wake up call she needs to get help, but if she chooses to continue acting in a toxic manner, that’s her choice.

Best wishes on your sensible choice.

That has to have been incredibly hard to do, olives, and I’m impressed at your strength. You’re completely right, you have no duty to put up with toxic and hurtful behavior, even if it is from your mother.

I hope the drama dies down quickly and you can get on with your happy, healthy life.

Speaking as someone who did the same thing, you know I think you did the right thing.

Write me if you like, and we can talk about it. My e-mail is in my profile.

Olives, as much as it hurts, you did do the right thing for your own future. Until she seeks real help she can be nothing but an anchor for the people around her. Bless you and may your future hold wonderful things.

Even if her reaction is as bad as you fear it may be, you will still cope and it’s still the right decision.