To Mommy Dearest. (Rant)


Dear mommy,

I do not need you on a regular basis in my life. This is one of the reasons why I’m 11 hours away from you and your kin, and this is one of the reasons I don’t call more than twice a month.

To make it plain, you drive me absolutely crazy, and get on my nerves like no tomorrow. Just because you’ve spewed me out of your womb when you were a teenager, and just because you literally drove my biological father out at my tender age of 5 (you told me that he was going off for a vacation. Why the hell did you lie?) does not give you the right to dictate what I do for a living, and how often I must visit home.

I’m not going to lie about it, the fact that you used to beat the living hell out of me until I began to hit back -does- make me less likely to have a positive relationship with you. The fact that one of my other relations had to get 5 stitches when she shielded me from a plank-wielding you -does- make me rather bitter.

Oh, and there was your long string of boyfriends, one of which did things he shouldn’t have, -and- hid food from the family. Turned out that he was only with you because he needed -residency-.

And there was the time after we moved to this country (you told me we were going to be here for 6 months. Again, why the lies?) , and after you tossed me into a boarding school because you didn’t know how to control me without beating me, and I was a little bit too large for that. Oh, and after that stitch-bearing relation died in my first year there? You’ve refused to take me to the ER after a couple of friends finally convinced me that having a large aspirin in your system overnight wasn’t good for you.

You know, I’m still happy that you eventually found an intelligent, nonviolent man who could put up with your bullshit. I’m happy that this man was kind enough to support our family. I’m more than happy that he paid for my college education. The “Go into arts, because you’re not good enough for anything else” comment, I could go without.

You, throwing a fit when I went on antidepressants, because “they were not natural and would ruin me for life”, I did not appreciate. You know what, I went on them anyway. Probably one of the better decisions of my life, no more panic attacks. You know something else? I’m still on them now, and it sure as hell beats having crying spells and crazy mood swings every day. You know the type, you’ve got them too.

Yes, I realize that you’re family, and we’ve got to stick by family no matter what. But the emotional and physical abuse, I could go without.

You, missing my college graduation because you were ‘trying to get pregnant’ abroad, I could go without.

You barely mentioned anything about my second college graduation, but that was only to be expected.

And I still respect you, because of your academic achievements and because you actually grew up in the last 6 years or so. I’m certain that you wouldn’t beat the living shit out of my baby sibling, because you realize how badly you’ve screwed up with me. From what I hear, you only rarely go off on innocent store clerks because you can’t get your own, too. This is good.

I’m also engaged to a wonderful, sweet, hard-working man whom I guarantee you would’ve hated from the beginning, if you knew how badly off his parents were. You know something else? He worked from the age of 14, he went to college, and he pulled himself solidly into middle-class by his boot-straps. Or whatever the hell the expression is. He was also one of the many factors that convinced me that you weren’t -healthy- for me.

Bottom line? Visiting you is one of the worse times of my year. Talking to you on the phone makes me depressed for the rest of the day. I’ll keep up this relationship, just because you’re family, and just because that’s how world works, from where I’m from. But don’t expect to spend any time with your grand-kids.



… Yeahh. Count this the one and only rant, which was long overdue. I’m not exactly angry at her anymore, just sorta bitter.

If you guys have bits of wisdom to share about loosening ties with abusive family members, do drop a line.

My bit of wisdom is: stop picking up the phone. Seriously, I don’t care where you’re from, there’s no rule that says you have to talk to toxic family members.

I don’t think these statements are true. Why do you think they are?

Dr. Drake: A number of reasons, most of them- financial. Ideally, family is the only group of people that you could really count on, hell or high water. For me, it’s been a system in which one can not become homeless, where ones’ education is assured, and where one does not have to worry about not having the money for medical emergencies. It’s a support net. No net’s perfect.

I’m rather fond of the rest of my family, which, while nutty in some ways, aren’t nearly as bad as MD. Losing contact with her would mean losing contact with baby sibling, who is (AFAIK) the cutest thing in this hemisphere, and in whose life I’d not mind playing some role.

Besides, other than that grudge, I’ve turned out all right.

Agreed. The idea that you must “stick by” people because “they’re family” is just the sort of thing that toxic family members promote to keep you on their tether.

By my calculations, you’ve been calling this person about twice a month too often.

On preview: If I were in your situation, I’d gladly sacrifice the dubious financial security to give up the abuse.

Is she financially supporting you in any way?

Congratulations on getting through your childhood and creating yourself what seems to be a pretty good adult life, from what I can tell from your original post. That is a huge achievement in itself, and don’t forget to give yourself credit for that.

I agree with the others that you can sever ties from toxic family members, but only you can decide whether that would be a net cost or benefit to you.

This. You have your own self, your own life. As an adult, you get to decide and set the terms.

Well, reading that was a little eerie, because your Mom sounds a lot like mine. The violent temper tantrums, mood swings, and string of alcoholic/abusive husbands/boyfriends… yeah, been there.

I was so emotionally dependent on her love, for too long. I let her control my life, for too long. I let her degrade me, for too long. It was like living in a fucking prison. I was just this little prisoner she could torture at her whim.

I think you overestimate the value of financial support and underestimate the value of being free from this hell. I never saw a dime from my parents or anyone else after I legally emancipated. I was poor for a while, but I was also free from abuse. I was free from people micromanaging my life and using me to exorcise their own demons and telling me it didn’t matter how I felt because I was a child and children don’t have rights.

I ''distanced myself from ‘abusive relatives’ twice. The first was, as noted above, when I walked out at 17. But I got sucked back in during my college years, was able at 22 years old to feel like I was 11 and helpless again. And I totally let my mother guilt me into a relationship with her fourth husband again, even though just being in the same room with him made my skin crawl. And when I finally did draw the line, and stop seeing him, she wouldn’t stop pressuring me.

So when I was 22, I finally wrote a six page letter to her that detailed the various things she had done to me over the years, and I said, ‘‘I will never as long as you are married to that guy** be able to have a relationship with you.’’ I made myself a mix CD of songs about learning to live without people who abuse you and I held on. It was so hard. It hurt so bad. But I didn’t budge. I couldn’t. Because I thought if I had to be subjected to her for one more second I was going to lose my damn mind.

What I discovered is that I didn’t need her, and I sure as fuck did not need a relationship with fourth husband. I discovered we don’t really NEED anyone, we just tell ourselves we do. I withdrew from school, focused on getting psychologically better, and worked on planning my wedding. I learned how to be happy.

And one day, about a year later, I got a postcard from my mother in the mail telling me she had gotten a divorce. We met at a local restaurant and I knew the minute I walked in the door that something had changed – she* respected* me. And she told me she did, she told me I am the only person in our family who has ever had the balls to stand up and call bullshit on things when they aren’t right, and that when I took a stand she realized that she had always assumed the way to raise kids is the way she was raised, but now she knows better.

And now when we talk we do so with a mutual understanding that I will not tolerate any shit any more. And she will never fully grasp the extent of the damage she did to me, but frankly I wouldn’t want her to, because I love her, and if she really knew how much I’ve suffered because of her, it would probably kill her. I now live conveniently in another state and I talk to her on the phone occasionally and I visit once a year and that’s it. I love her with my whole heart but if she ever says anything remotely abusive to me again I will walk out the door without a second thought–and she knows that.

So this idea that you’re stuck with your family, and you have to accept it, I get where that comes from, but it’s a lie. You can live without them. Anybody can live without anybody. I’m not saying you have to cut things off with her, I’m just saying one of the pleasures of being an adult is that you get to make choices about who you are going to spend your time with. You have the ability to manage all of your relationships, decide which ones hurt more than they help, and make decisions according to what’s best for you. If you really think money is that important, you have the right to make that choice. For me, it didn’t matter. I would rather live homeless on the street than have lived one more day in that house. Legally emancipating sucked, having to work full time as a senior sucked, losing all my friends because I was ‘‘too serious’’ sucked, but goddamn if there is one decision I regret, it’s NOT LEAVING SOONER.

**And by the way, ‘‘that guy’’ was my adopted father and the only one I ever considered to be truly my Dad. Learning to live without him was another endeavor in itself, and I still grieve that loss. But I learned. I finally accepted that the Dad I loved so much never existed in the first place–just my idealized idea of what I wanted him to be. That bridge has been burned. So you see, some people you can work it out, some people you can’t, you have to learn to distinguish between the two.

Only you can decide what you’re getting from continuing contact with your mother, but if you aren’t getting enough good to make up for the bad, there is no law that says you have to retain toxic parents in your life. Don’t let anyone guilt you into continuing a relationship that is nothing but toxic for you, either, under the guise of, “But they’re family!” Some people truly don’t understand that their lovely, loving, warm, supportive family is not everyone’s experience of family.

I’m certainly not saying you should cut people off if you don’t want to. I just don’t think that their being family, or their having supported you in the past, obligates you. If I were you, I’d work on developing a better support net for the finances and taking toxic family members out of that network. Then it’s a bit easier to negotiate distance (for sanity) and contact (for the baby sibling etc.). Easier said than done, I know.

Whatever about your mother, you owe the new guy for paying for your college.

If you really want to cut them out, pay him back first.


Waxwinged, ignore this. You don’t owe anyone anything. Change your number, move, change your *name *if you want. And never look back.

That’s complete and utter bullshit.

I can’t wait to finance my young sons through college, and as soon as they are financially secure, WHAM, present them each with a hefty bill for my investment services.

It’s what keeps me going.

Your mom didn’t go to your college graduation because she was trying to get pregnant? Doesn’t she know a college campus is one of the best places in the world to get pregnant? :stuck_out_tongue:

Read the OP again.
She isn’t his child.

This man had no duty to her, she was the remains of a previous relationship that the mother had.
He may have been her step father, but it sounds like he paid her college fees from his own pocket, which, as I understand it, is a large sum of money in America. He really didn’t have to do this, especially if he only met her when she was older.

Whatever about the mother, she owes him.

Owes him appreciation and something of a relationship - as long as he doesn’t drag her into something with her mom - sure, I can see that. Owes him the money back? No. That gets set up ahead of time as a loan, not a gift. My husband has more or less cut off a relationship with his dad, that doesn’t mean he’s got to pay back the cost of raising him/what little his dad “gave” him for college and hung over his head with increasing requirements to continue receiving it.

I read the OP again. The guy voluntarily undertook to support his new wife’s family and to pay the college expenses of his stepdaughter Waxwinged.

If he hadn’t chosen to do those things at the time, I wouldn’t necessarily fault him for it (maybe he wants to save the college fund for his own biological child, or thinks that the mother and the stepkid’s bio-dad should be the ones to support her, or whatever).

But once he voluntarily undertook that responsibility, he sure as fuck isn’t owed any financial reparations from his stepdaughter.

His generously assuming a father’s role is a reason for Waxwinged to love and maintain ties to him (and therefore, perhaps, a reason not to cut off her mother entirely). But it’s not a reason for her to regard him as a creditor who can insist upon payback, either in money or in filial devotion.

You’re wrong.

She has no legal, moral, or *logical *obligation to him.