Toxic email from toxic mother

  • 26 Replies
  • 4359 Views
*

Dreamscapes

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • 49
Re: Toxic email from toxic mother
« Reply #20 on: February 15, 2018, 10:00:16 AM »

This is not the sort of letter that can ever mend a relationship. It can only break it further. The toxic person that sends such a letter, is only aware of their own feelings and couldn't care less about the others feelings, it therefore reads like a kind of hate filled rant.

^^this^^    I call it a "tit for tat"    She felt hurt/angry/attacked so she retaliated.  Her words were meant to "restore the balance" a sort of childish "she hurt me, I'll hurt her!" (even though that was not your intention at all!!!)

I received a 2 page letter (from my mother) in response to a text message exchange I had with her (in which I requested some space).   She had asked me (via text) what was "up with me".   I said that I wanted to individuate and just "be" 

With the exception of the first line, which went something like, "I'm sorry that you think that I'm being controlling.........." there was no acknowledgement to my feelings/thoughts.  All 2 pages were about her and her feelings.  A "defense" per se.   The ole' I did the best I could, child rearing doesn't come with a manual, I've supported you through good times and bad, your family loves and misses you terribly   It's like she had to have the last word.

I brought the letter to a therapy session and read it aloud to my counselor.  My therapist just shook her head and asked if I wanted her to get rid of it.  I gladly handed it over to her.

You are not alone and I'm sorry, just so sorry.  I get it, I really do.  Sending you hugs.

Hi bohemian butterfly, and thank you for your compassionate post.

"Restoring the balance" is the way things work with my mother. When I was a child, she often told me "it's 50-50 !" (she uses reccuring stereotyped expressions like this one). She told me this kind of things when I wasn't compliant enough or when I was considered "selfish".
Everything has a "price" for her, nothing is "free of charge".
If you hurt her, you can be sure she will hurt you. The same thing is true if you're kind to her. All is calculated.
She also "calculates" in advance how she will behave with people, so she can get what she wants/expects. For a long time, I used to manipulate people instead of being genuine, because I didn't know how to behave around people, I thought it was the right way to interact with people  :-[
 
It took me a very long time to be aware of this pattern, and a long time to disengage from her "payback" behavior.

I'm sorry you received a toxic letter just for reclaiming space and I'm glad you worked on it with your therapist. Thank you again !

*

Dreamscapes

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • 49
Re: Toxic email from toxic mother
« Reply #21 on: February 15, 2018, 10:51:54 AM »
Welcome Dreamscapes!
I’m sorry you are dealing with all of this. I think you’ve done great so far. Actually, I am really impressed with how you’ve handled this, especially considering you are relatively new to this forum and you haven’t mentioned if you’ve had therapy, etc.

My thoughts on her letter:

(1)   She doesn’t like that you had anything negative to say about her. Did she forget that she badgered you into an answer?
(2)   “we can't tell you anything” This is my mom’s line! As an adult, you get to choose if you want to listen to constant criticism and put downs. You don’t have an obligation to listen. You have the option of opting out! As children, we didn’t have this option but now we do. This is just a line they use as an excuse to say whatever hurtful things they want.
(3)   Typically of a PD letter, she doesn’t apologize or address any of her behaviors. She uses DARVO to change the conversation, making herself the victim.
(4)   The classic “you are going to regret this!” threat. Arg! The thing is, she was still getting contact from you previously. It may not have been the level of contact she wanted but it was something. Now she’s gone and burnt bridges and is forcing you into NC as there is no proper response to her letter. This was her choice.
(5)   “You always do what you want, no concessions, that's not being an adult” My parents trained me to believe this too but it isn’t true! As an adult, you DO get to do whatever you want. YOU get to make choices for yourself. You don’t have any obligation to do whatever your parents tell you that you have to do. You have to live with the consequence of your actions, but that’s about it. If the consequence of less time with your mother is more peace in your life than that seems okay to me. BTW, this works both ways! She refuses to consider your feelings before she speaks aka she does whatever she wants. Now SHE must live with the consequences, which is you going LC.

IMO, I would probably go NC either until she apologizes (probably unlikely) or until she drops this conversation and starts being decent again (if and when you felt okay about doing that without an apology). That is for you to decide. There’s no other way to continue this conversation. She wants you to admit fault and come crawling back to her and stop asking her to treat you like a decent human being. You don’t have to stand for that anymore.

Good luck with everything. If you choose NC and it seems too scary, remember that NC doesn’t have to be permanent. You can view it as a time out if that helps. Take care!
 :bighug:

Thank you for you kind reply daughterofbpd !

No, I don't see a therapist (I did twice during my twenties though - I'm 33 now), due to my remote location and the schedule with my son. But it is definitely an option I consider when it will be possible again schedule-wise.
For now, I read self-help books. I read "Toxic parents" and "Understanding the borderline mother" a few years ago, when I began to realize something was very wrong. But at that time I was still too much codependant and felt too much guilt taking action or letting go.
I started to read about NPD last fall while wandering on the internet. I found OOTF and began to read the toolbox and the forums. I read "You're not crazy, it's your mother", and various blogs on this topic. I read Manuel Smith book on assertiveness and was very surprised to learn I had "basic rights", like making mistakes and change my mind (very forbidden things for my mother).
Currently, I'm reading Pete Walker's book about complex PTSD and it's a really helping book for me.  The author is really empathetic and it's a really moving reading so I'm reading it slowly  :)
I also started intuitve eating after years of restriction/binge hell, due partly to my mother and grandmother scrutinizing my weight and appearence since I'm a child, my father telling me I'm "fat" at 8yo, and very poor self-esteem/body image. I used to bury my emotions with food too. I could speak about it at great lenght because it's a huge part of my life since I'm a child, but it's another topic.
Nonetheless, making peace with food and my body (still a work in progress but I won't give up) is a huge relief, beyond what I thought possible, I don't know if I could handle all of this well if I was still struggling with hunger or binge eating (and would probably have overeaten a lot to cope).

To answer about the letter, indeed, my mother never apologizes, expects full submissiveness, and never address her behavior. I don't like the never/always logic, but in this case it's just the truth,
It is indeed very unlikely for her to apologize, she's probably waiting an apology from me and that was probably the motive behind her first email. She was probably waiting for me to say "I'm sorry I don't call more often/don't invite you spend one month at home right now/thank you way much more for sending unwanted gifts and passive-aggressive cards to my 1yo son".

I'm so used to her denying my feelings and emotions that I don't know what to say about it. It's just the story of my life with her, but I understand now that it was and still is not normal. For 3 decades, my feelings and emotions were never considered important, except if she could relate to her own feelings.

Right after my reply, I continued an email exchange with her, with medium chill news. She didn't reply and just sent her hateful email.

I really don't feel like speaking to her again, and for now I'm sure to go NC. I have had such an epiphany reading her email. I feel a freedom feeling I never felt in my life. It is like being out of a prison.
I left my craft years ago (I make embroided jewelry), my inspiration was gone, I was very sad not being able to work on things I love. Last night I couldn't sleep as new craft ideas were flowing in my mind.

My only concern is the eventuality of a smear campaign or drama.

I'm embarrassed/ashamed to confess that I feel really good that things took this turn and that I was given the oppotunity to break free.

Thank you again for your insight and kind word ! 

*

Dreamscapes

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • 49
Re: Toxic email from toxic mother
« Reply #22 on: February 15, 2018, 11:04:46 AM »
Welcome, Dreamscapes.

Thanks for clarifying that the letter was translated/paraphrased, since we can't post verbatim emails/texts/letters on the forum for privacy reasons.

The line that stood out to me was - You want to be considered an adult. Uh, well, yeah. That's a given for everyone on the planet except your mother, apparently. It's like she believes you need her permission to act like an adult.

She has thrown every PD tactic in the book at you. I would ask myself this - if this was a friend, associate, neighbor or in-law, would you allow yourself to be treated like this or would you drop her immediately?

Thank you for your insight, Vividimagination.

Oh yes, she thinks she's my ultimate judge, and that if she thinks I'm not an adult, then it becomes an absolute truth. And yes, she gives me permissions or punishments like this very often.
She mocks my adulthood and independance wishes/will since my late teenage/early twenties.

I must admit that her message was so cliché that I thought that maybe people here would think it was a hoax when I posted it  :-[

When I read her email myself, I was in total disbelief at first, all that I read about PD came to my mind, it was surreal.

If you asked me your last question a few years ago, I would have answered that I would probably do nothing to confront even a sales clerk in a random shop  :-\
Now that I begin to discover what self-respect and even self-love are, things are very different and I don't want anyone to cross my boundaries.

Thank you !

*

Dreamscapes

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • 49
Re: Toxic email from toxic mother
« Reply #23 on: February 15, 2018, 11:22:57 AM »
Not once did she ask for specifics, or "I know you don't want to talk about this but I truly want to understand so we can work on things..." Throwing what to me are more put downs and "you're such a child" comments to brush your concerns aside - when she wasn't making counter accusations and casting blame elsewhere. Sounds a lot like my mother, unfortunately. Far be it for mother to accept her part in anything unless she can come out looking the victim and the other person a big ole bully.

I'm sorry she responded to you at all, if that's how it had to be. Better to have just respected your wishes, but no. Now you have her scattered reasoning emblazoned on your mind. Tuck that away somewhere so you don't have to keep seeing it, but when you doubt yourself and your decision to step away, reread it. Sometimes it helps me to have a reference point, a little reassurance that I've not completely lost my mind.

Thank you for your reply moglow !

I'm sure she's currently complaining about me to her friends and to my grandmother, explaining to them I'm such a bully and an ungrateful daughter.
In the past, I already heard her badmouthing me to friends behind my back, playing the martyr mother card.

Yes, I will keep her email in a special folder (even seeing her name is triggering at the moment), and I have also started journaling similar events/memories to keep track of those things, in case I feel some doubt one day.

She did not ask for specifics or try to understand because she never did and can only focus on the fact that I crossed a line and challenged her authority.
It was such a hell to live with her and dealing with this everyday. I can't describe how lonely I felt during childhood/teenage years (and while grieving my father on top of this). I have amnesia and very few memories from these times but some started to unfold recently.

Thank you again !   

*

Dreamscapes

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • 49
Re: Toxic email from toxic mother
« Reply #24 on: February 15, 2018, 12:13:25 PM »
Your email summarizes the same push-back I'd get from NBM, who could be incredibly unpleasant, blatantly disfavoring, and outright cruel, and yet expected, demanded, a gigantic "get out of jail free" impunity to do so.  I tried, for decades, to "take it" without internalizing it, but that's of course an impossible task.  All that negativity, all that harsh treatment, it all settles in, and my self-worth took a significant hit.  Not only was I victimized by my NBM, as her primary SG and blatantly disfavored daughter, but that same absence of self-protection hampered me at work and in personal relationships elsewhere.  I seemed to be the "useful" hard-working, self-effacing, ever-reliable gal-pal, who could shoulder a tremendous amount of responsibility, absorb petty injustices, and needed just an occasional pat on the head.  Thank you, Mom.

So my advice: this is the Hard Truth, this is how/who your mother is, so act accordingly, but address your OWN needs, and your own FOC Family's needs, before considering any of your mother's expectations and demands.  She's an unpleasant critical person.  She's not going to change, will never be attuned to your needs or how she actually interacts with you, and likely will always function on basis of "I can say and do whatever I want; you owe me because I'm your mother".  I'd print-out the email, keep it on-hand, and operate from a self-protective manner hereon.  If you had an abusive spouse, most people would counsel you to leave the relationship, seek a divorce, build a new separate life from that spouse.  Here's the thing: parents don't have more "rights" to be abusive.  Emotional abuse is as toxic as physical abuse; there's ZERO OBLIGATION for you to continue to "just take it".  In fact, there's much reason to simply disengage, and maintain a "weddings and holidays" approach to your mother, greeting cards, yes, but face-to-face encounters limited to major milestone life-events. 

This email is like an unintended "gift" - it can liberate you from further devotion to a an empty relationship with a cruel self-absorbed mother.

Hi daughter, and thank you for sharing your experience and insight with me/us.

I can relate to the experience you describe in your first paragraph.
I am also really sorry you had/have to endure this.
Being an only child, some days I was the GC, some other days I was the SG and so forth. It was very disturbing. Put on a pedestal one day, hated and belittled the other.
For a long time, I was such a mess. My relationships were a mess and very unbalanced. It led to even more codependancy as I have been unable to have an education after high school and also a career.
I was close to homelessness at 26 and had to live with her again for a few months. It was just awful, I just wanted to die, I saw no escape. Fortunately I met my husband and was able to get out of this darkness.
I'm very impaired when it comes to social skills/relationships, I wasn't able no just say "no" for a very long time and to just choose people I wanted to spend time with (I just let people choosing me instead).

To answer your second paragraph, even "marriages and holidays" seem too much for me to handle right now. I need a very long break to sort things out.
We don't live close and we don't have an extended family. My uncle is estranged (because he is the GC gone SG), my father entire family is estraged (conflicts with my mother), there are just my mother and grandmother and that's it.
My grandmother has always been kind to me but still was an enabler and a flying monkey when needed, and I can't handle it anymore too.
I was aware I would have to get estranged from her too if sh*t hit the fan with my mother. They are in a toxic relationship too, and my grandmother is probably PD at some point too (but not really abusive to me, or just "passively abusive" as an enabler, I don't know).

Yes, I think her email is a "gift" too, it is like breaking free thanks to the jail-keeper inattention.

Thank you again for your validation and insight.

*

Dreamscapes

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • 49
Re: Toxic email from toxic mother
« Reply #25 on: February 15, 2018, 12:23:26 PM »
She knows my address, my in-laws address and phone numbers, my husband's email address and his phone number too, and the thing I fear the most is a smear campaign. She can be very embarrassing and loves drama.

In that case, warn your FOC about it, and get your husband's help. It's not a big consolation, but get some comfort from the fact that for many of this histrionic people, others know they are being dramatic for no purpose. When they do a  'show' people know they are not 'right in the head'. The more they go this way, the more people realize who is not right. And at the end, if they believe your mom when she invents all horrible stories about you, knowing you, perhaps they are not the right people for you.

:bighug:

Thank you so much LightOrb !

In fact, what is worrying me is especially the embarrassment !
My in-laws are more "civilized" than my mother and it's really embarrassing to expose them to her drama and shenanigans if she tries to initiate a smear campaign.
She could also twist confessions I made to her to tell lies to my husband, he is well aware of her behavior but it would still be very unpleasant.

My other fear is a possible lawsuit to get visitation rights with my son (I don't know how it works in other countries, but here it is definitely an option for toxic grandparents). It would be the worst thing she could do.

We'll see how things develop !

 

*

MindyMoon

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • 44
Re: Toxic email from toxic mother
« Reply #26 on: February 15, 2018, 04:24:08 PM »
Before I read all the comments on here.  I agree this letter was a huge trigger.  My mother would have had a very similar response except with more about her being sick and my regrets when she dies.

But the first thing that popped into my head, being a mother myself of an adult child, is that I could never ever write something like that to my son.   This is something I always go back to with my own mother.  Would I do this to my son? Could I use guilt to hurt him? Could I fake an illness to make him worry?

The answers are always NO - and this is how I am SURE my mother has a problem.