Uncharted territory

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Overandout

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Uncharted territory
« on: September 27, 2017, 07:18:39 AM »
Hi all.  I'm new here, slightly shaky but very glad to have found some kindred spirits!  I'd really appreciate any thoughts on my current situation...

I'm in my early 40's, married with 7 and 9 year old children.  In my opinion, my mother has an undiagnosed PD (NPD or BPD).  Without making you read the back story, we go through regular periods of silent treatment over trivial things, the current one being that I asked (nicely!) that she call us after 8am unless it's really urgent or an emergency, as I often have to work until the early hours (in which case my husband looks after the children and I see them off to school).  She expects to see us every day and lives a few minutes away.  Other examples of major ructions:  she thought my husband criticised a cake I made (ignored him for 6 weeks)/she made a racist generalisation and I said 'that's stupid!' (ignored me for 2 weeks, despite apologies and numerous phonecalls and letters begging for forgiveness/she asked my brother and I if we wanted to come on holiday with her and Dad as older teenagers and said she'd understand if we wanted to stay at home this time...we politely said we'd stay home and were ignored for a month (even on the holiday, which of course we went on) - you probably get the picture.

Essentially, she sees me as an extension of her - I'm not allowed my own opinions or boundaries.  If I express either and she disagrees, she sees me as disrespectful and arrogant.  I've spent the past 42 years trying to be 'good' and something seems to have changed in me this time.

After the phone was slammed down last week (result of my temerity to ask her to call later please), the silent treatment started.  She's always begged to be closely involved with the kids and until last week, was collecting them from school most days - I work from home generally.  I've felt really concerned about her doing the same to the kids as she did to me, but as they seem to love her so much (my daughter in particular), I'm ashamed to say I've let it continue.  After a few days of silence from her (she continued picking the kids up from school and bringing them home but refused to come in or speak to me).  More silence over the weekend (when we'd usually be expected to call her early on both Saturday and Sunday to let her know our plans for the day and when I'd be taking her out), so I called her on Sunday morning.  She picked up and in a very hostile tone, said 'What do you want?' - she went on to tell me she didn't want to speak to me until I'd apologised for my rude, arrogant behaviour on the phone last week.  I explained that I didn't feel it was either - and it all declined from there.  She told me I have a problem, she always has to walk on eggshells with me (project project project) she doesn't feel part of our family (we see her every day and mould our weekends around her) etc. and that she'd be collecting the kids every day and dropping them at the door.  I calmly told her that it couldn't happen - that we had to discuss the situation in a normal, adult way and resolve it, as I wasn't prepared to have the kids in an unpleasant situation every day, and feel uncomfortable in my own home.  She again told me I was disrespectful and eventually hung up on me.

Silence ever since, and I've been happily collecting the kids.  Then my brother called to tell me that she'd been in contact and asked him to visit her solicitor with her next week regarding her will.  He was told by her to keep it a secret from me, but he told her he'd have nothing to do with it unless she told me what she was doing at the very least.  I truly don't care about the will.  It is ironic though that the car she drives, I gave her, and the house she lives in, she only has because I sorted out her finances after Dad died and left her with a mortgage she couldn't pay.  She also gets a bank transfer from both me and my brother every month.  So the secrecy thing makes it seem really vindictive.  Equally ironic is the fact that she loathes her older sister (hasn't spoken to her for decades) - thinks she's a disgusting, vile person for cutting her daughter out of her will and favouring her son -  ;D

Usually she just stews for a while, the 'offender' begs forgiveness and in her own time, she just suddenly goes back to 'normal'  :upsidedown:  So this is all rather new.
In some ways I feel free and so very happy.  I've been responsible for her happiness for at least 35 years, and it's a losing battle.  She appreciates nothing and expects everything, and despite treating me as an adult/best friend when I was a child, now can only cope with a relationship with me if she's able to treat me like a child e.g. telling me how to drive (she doesn't drive), reminding me to feed the kids (I'm a normal mum - I've never forgotten!!), bragging to her friends in front of me if anything good happens to us at work, even dressing like me (she's 30 odd years older).  There's a part of me which is shaky and scared, but through therapy over years, I accepted a while back that she's never going to be the kind of mother I want her to be (and I aspire to be) - her 'love' is utterly conditional - so I guess the shaky/scared part is more subconscious than conscious.

The part I'm struggling with is the children.  My son (9) has a few reservations about her, but my daughter (7) is very close to her.  I don't trust her to be with them - I WON'T let her do to them what she did to me.  It took me years to figure out why I felt so empty and depressed, and years more to accept her for what she is.  But I don't know what to say to them.  I don't want to dump emotional baggage on them - that's exactly what my mother did to me:  from 8 yrs old, she leaned heavily on me to get her through her affair with a close family friend (lasted 25 years) and my father's incurable illness.  But the kids have asked to call/visit her, and I keep saying 'not for the moment'.

Any thoughts very gratefully received, and thanks for reading.

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Seven

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Re: Uncharted territory
« Reply #1 on: September 27, 2017, 08:00:45 AM »
Hi Unchartered,

You are not alone.  You are what my DH is to his mother.  Like literally everything you said (except the kids part...no kids involved.  Oh, and he is an only child).

I too had the "what do YOU want?" Phone episode.  I only called her because DH asked me too because he couldn't make heads or tails of what she was yelling at him for.  The phone also got hung up on me.  I havent spoken to her since.  DH had spoken to her two or three times after that, butit was all logistical stuff (of course having to do with money).  He took her out for M-Day (i didnt go) and they havent spoken since.

The stew-offender-normal cycle is on par in this household too (at least before the silent treatment).  Appreciates noting/expects everything...same.  Taking our accomplishments as her own....same.  Parentified as a child....same.

Other people may chime in regarding the kids, but it seems like the consensus is keep them away from her.  Tell them gma is in a time-out because of her behavior.   But i'll let the more experience do the talking on that one.

When DH and I would discuss her behavior there were times i would say "i divorced someone just like that".  Except MIL is a she, and my ex#2 is a he, and they definitely didnt have the same upbringing, so what was the common denominator?   It was a few days after M-Day that i decided to Google certain keywords to find the common denominator, and it brought me here.  Then i tried different keywords.  And guess what....they brought me here again.  Ive been the one doing all the research.  DH just wants to chalk it up to Alzheimer's.  Ive never really had a good sit-down with him regarding everything because honestly, I just dont want to talk about it.  When friends bring up the situation i will mention certain things from here that he confirms, but otherwise it's not talked about in the household, which is certainly fine by me.  It just gets me riled up anyway.

We're in the right place.  There is even a "disinheritance" thread on this board probably only a few threads down you may want to read as well (if its not on this one it may be under "elderly parents" or "NC with parents" boards.  Thats where i normally hang out.). In there the question was asked, "if they despise it being done to them, then why would they want to do it to their own kids" regarding the $$.

Anyway...welcome.  You're not alone.  Feel free to search some of my old posts.  You can also search certain keywords by using the "search" function up top.

Edited to add the disinherited thread: http://www.outofthefog.net/forum/index.php?topic=65294.0
« Last Edit: September 27, 2017, 08:03:21 AM by Lastof7 »

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daughter

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Re: Uncharted territory
« Reply #2 on: September 27, 2017, 11:06:01 AM »
I believe my npd-enmeshed parents, malevolent NBM and enabler-enforcer NF, are the proverbial "bottomless pit of expectations".  Worse, I was the SG "dutiful daughter/good girl".  They both operated on "we can say and do whatever we want because we're your parents" basis, and harshly enforced that dictum.  I dealt with their 24/7 "your house is our house" open-house expectation; my parents operated on a "grandma need to see grandkids everyday, or she'll get sick with worry" basis, except if they had better plans, or if they were on vacation, or didn't want to.  Whatever my parents expected, whatever they asked, whatever they demanded: I was obligated to deliver - pronto!  This intense state of servitude, the overwhelming invasion of our privacy and home, the constant rebukes and "disappointed in you" rages, this situation lasted for two decades of our marriage - until ever-patient DH final said ENOUGH!  We're now NC for 5+ years, a decision postponed for far too long, in response to a dynamic that persisted for too long, with significant emotional damage to all of us, me, DH, and our children.

It's important to remember: we're not obligated to "make our parents happy".  Our parents are responsible for seeking their happiness and fulfillment.  We adult-children can only temporarily plug their pd-disordered emotional-void, by our total devotion and abject compliance to expectation, but our success is only fleeting before more demands and more unpleasantness ensues.  And yes, as they get older, our pd-disordered parents often use "inheritance" as a weapon of enforcement.  My parents are wealthy; even while I was still in otherwise abject compliance, SG me became aware that NBM nonetheless intended to disinherit me, and that helped propel me into NC.   
 
Your mother is likewise overwhelming you with her self-centeredness, loud demands, bad moods, angry retorts, frequent rages, and all-round unpleasantness, all the while expecting you to be attentive, useful, and kind in a self-effacing and self-sacrificing manner.  But you're not obligated to passively comply, nor to continue to accommodate her bad behavior.  You can't "fix mother".  You can calibrate your relationship with her, establish both new boundaries and consequences, limit contact, and address your own needs and feelings.  You can refuse contact with your children, or regulate that contact, realizing, yes, she's a bad influence on your children - the plain truth, and it's your responsibility to guide and protect your children, more so that complying with status-quo.   

« Last Edit: September 27, 2017, 11:18:12 AM by daughter »

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Overandout

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Re: Uncharted territory
« Reply #3 on: September 27, 2017, 12:02:42 PM »
Thank you for the replies - I really appreciate your thoughts.  I really feel for you - the position we're in or have been in is truly horrible, not least because it's so hard to see from the outside.

I had a mini-lightbulb moment earlier...I can't make her happy - perhaps for fleeting moments as you say, but not really happy. 

Obvious really, but it's meaningful to me.  I suppose I'm giving myself licence to stop trying to make her happy, and just be me.  The constant trying/failing cycle is one of the most damaging aspects for me, so stopping it here and now feels amazing.

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bopper

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Re: Uncharted territory
« Reply #4 on: September 28, 2017, 05:02:54 PM »
If you read OOTF, you will see your mother is a classic Narcissist.

Lack of boundaries? Check

Not understanding you are a separate person? check

When you start to set boundaries, goes with silent treatment to "punish" you? Check

Grooms grandchildren away from parents? Check


Uses money as a tool to try to retain power? Check

Do what you are doing...set boundaries.
Decide how often you want to see/talk to her. Could be never. Could be once a week, Could be at holidays.
Once you do that, take initiative and set up a visit (if you are going to remain in contact).  "We are planning for Thanksgiving, would you like to join us?"  If she says anything other than yes, then you say "Okay, see you another time then/See you in the new year."  Then if she wants to set up another visit, you say, "That doesn't work but we will see you at Thanksgiving."

Stop the daily calls and stop the updates on what you are doing. If she calls, wait a day or two, and call back. If she asks what you are doing, then say "this and that, catching up on things" or something vague. If she wants to take the kids for an outing, just say that won't work.

Your daughter is close to her because PDMother has groomed her that way...she may be the golden grandchild.
(read https://narcissisticmil.wordpress.com/2015/07/11/grandparent-grooming-1-what-it-looks-like/ to see whyyou should not let this happen).

Start having daughter get involved in other activities...maybe sign up for Brownies or soccer?


For the kids, you could say "We aren't going to call Grandma for a while,  She is in time out because she was asking mean toward mommy and not respecting our house rules."
Just because they are incapable of loving you, doesn't mean that you are unlovable.
Anything makes the false self appear real is supply.

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Spring Butterfly

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Re: Uncharted territory
« Reply #5 on: September 29, 2017, 11:07:32 AM »
Just wanted to say Well done. Her treating you like a child, unacceptable. Berating you or your husband, unacceptable, especially if ever done so in front of your own children. Silent treatment? No problem, often a welcome break from the drama, chaos, abuse.

Calling her to apologize? Setting a boundary, a simple request such as when phone calls are welcome, nothing at all to apologize for, you are quite allowed to have personal feelings and preferences. It's up to others to choose whether to honor your simple request or not and then it's on you to decide the consequences should they choose not to honor your simple request. That's what boundaries are all about.

And congrats on your lightbulb moment, no you will never make her happy, and quite honestly it's not one humans job to make another human happy. It's the responsibility of each human on the planet to make their own way and find their own happiness from within themselves. If a person cannot do this then it is truly not in anyone else's capacity to grant them happiness, it's just impossible.

Doesn't feel part of your family? Quite honestly she is only a part of your life as you see fit and choose. Adults leave the nest and at some point form their own individual family unit apart from their parents even if that family unit is as a single person with their family of choice, friends. From that point forward any involvement with family of origin is by choice, not out of obligation or guilt and certainly not out of fear.

I know in your opening post you're happy and comfortable where things are and I just want to reinforce the rightness and goodness of your feelings. As for your questions on how to talk to your little ones, there is a toolbox topic on talking to children and how to talk about abuse and disorder in a way children can understand and without involving them and remaining disengaged.
Every interaction w/ PD persons results in damage-plan accordingly, make time to heal
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It's foolish to expect of others what they have no capacity to give
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Liketheducks

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Re: Uncharted territory
« Reply #6 on: September 29, 2017, 01:06:10 PM »
Well done, you!   Hang in there.  I'm frequently amazed just how very similar all our stories tend to be.  I'm going on 10 months of silent treatment from my mom, over my "adulting".   This time it was setting boundaries and priorities that weighed me and my FOC over my FOO and her over trivial stuff.   I've had similar experiences with enmeshment.  If I disagree, even to the point of exercising my right to like different colors or foods.....I'm not "right".   Gaslighting, chaosmaking, pot stirring, pitting my brothers and their families and their children - check them off my list too.     I think it's interesting how so many of us reach here in our 40's-ish. 
My son has been completely cut off by her in this silent treatment, in order to punish ME.     When I drift back into...it wasn't so bad, I should call and make the apologies just to get some resolution....I remind myself of what she's doing to HIM to get to me.   :sadno:
This is all classic stuff.   I've been working through a fair amount of grief over the relationship I thought I had vs. reality. 
Hang in there.  It sounds like you've really got this handled.