Engulfing mothers

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lotusblume

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Engulfing mothers
« on: August 08, 2019, 10:27:06 PM »
Hi everyone,

I have done a lot of research and reading, but find very little about engulfing mothers (or fathers). I get the whole seeing their children as extensions, enmeshment, etc, but if anyone feels comfortable sharing examples that would be great.

For my part, there's a lot I could say about the relationship with my mother, but I was definitely her "best friend". She needed to know everything, expected me to be a mini version of her, lived through my accomplishments, and was smothering. I was infantalized and parentified. She needed to know everything about everything and everyone in my life, and would even get involved in my love life and friendships. I always thought we were so close and that I was lucky before I came Out of the FOG, but I also felt suffocated and resentful.

She took up so much room in my life, and she hurt me so much in the incident that triggered coming Out of the FOG, I see her completely differently now. I still love her, but I also have a lot of anger towards her and disappointment. We barely talk anymore. I know that she wants to go right back to being enmeshed, and any type of "normal" relationship seems impossible.

I know the whole smother mother thing is intergenerational here, and I think she maybe cares deeply for me but also is so unfulfilled and wounded that she couldn't let go of me. She saw my happiness and independence as a betrayal.

Thanks for listening, and if anyone wants to share, would be great to hear your thoughts and stories. 

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lotusblume

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Re: Engulfing mothers
« Reply #1 on: August 09, 2019, 12:05:11 AM »
Just to update...

I said my maybe mother cares deeply. Maybe that is denial. I don't know if she is a narcissist or just narcissistic. Can an engulfing N truly love? I know I experienced conditional love.

The mother wound is some serious stuff and I feel for all of you here. Thanks for listening.


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bohemian butterfly

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Re: Engulfing mothers
« Reply #2 on: August 09, 2019, 02:29:28 AM »
Lotusblume,

Your story is extremely similar to mine (engulfing mother who had to know everything, considered us “best friends,” had to know my friends, would text my boyfriend, well my now ex boyfriend, etc). 

I was in absolute denial until about 4 years ago.  I had just started dating this man (whom I dated for 4 years, but we recently broke up) who I thought was “the one.”  For some reason I wanted to protect this relationship from her (not entirely sure what triggered this). 

Although my parents lived 10 hours away, they would visit waaaay too much.  And, when they visited, they were exhausting (requiring “quality” time with them for several days at a time).  I think with my new blossoming relationship, I started to realize that I was being emotional zapped by my parents and it didn’t feel like love.  Lightbulb moment. 

I also started “hearing” the sarcasm and the passive aggressive insults.  I started realizing that I had a “role.”   And boy oh boy, when I started enacting medium chill, I got guilt trip overload.   But this forum and that toolbox helped me out soooo much.  I felt so much guilt in the beginning.  I was petrified of her. 

And yes, like you, I felt much anger and resentment.  It’s like I had to use sooo much energy to fight the tentacles, I was just so exhausted and mad.  I also felt like I’d been tricked.  Like she loved me because I was like her arm.  But then she was so upset and pushy when I dared to try to find me.  Not healthy at all.

For the past 4 years, I’ve had a buffer...  my ex boyfriend.  I hid behind him and was able to boost my confidence.  I got counseling, I did DBT for a year to get rid of fleas, I did Grey Rock, I didn’t respond to texts immediately, I held my cards close to my chest.  And with my ex, Because he and I were stronger together than me alone,  I was able to stand up to her more and had excuses: “no, I can’t visit that weekend because we are busy.”  “No, I can no longer have a several hours long conversation with you once a week”. Etc etc

I broke up with my boyfriend 3 weeks ago and I knew, just knew what would happen (and was prepared).  Now, she thinks I will play my part again.  She has already asked me to visit for Thanksgiving.  She has tried to burst back in, tried to step in and be supportive while I’m grieving (which was laughable, she has no clue how to be empathetic and just say, “I’m sorry you’re hurting, I’m here if you need to talk.”  Nope, she took it as a time to say that she was shocked, (was squirming to know details- I didn’t bite) voiced her opinion that he was a wonderful person, and “we” figured out that it had to be because of ......” etc, etc etc. and then immediately wanted to know if I could come visit for Thanksgiving  (trying once again to stake her claim)🤪

But what she didn’t count on was my strength and my utter commitment to myself to never ever participate in that role every again.  I’m a different person now.  I’m never ever going to get engulfed again.  I know too much now.  I can’t deny it anymore.  I can’t just forget what I’ve learned.

Sorry, I did not mean to steer the conversation to me and my story.  I wanted to let you know that you are not alone.  I wanted to let you know that it’s possible to stay unmeshed and not be consumed by her. 

Per love....  I questioned this myself.  I think that she loves me in her own way.  In her “own” way (get it?).  But her “love”  which she believes is love, is not healthy.  She loves me if I’m playing my assigned role because all is as it should be in her world.  She has gotten a little better, but only because I’ve changed and she’s had to change as well or she knew I was done.  She still tries, but she doesn’t get the same results because I think she senses that I’m done with dysfunction.  She either stops or I go no contact. 

One of the things that helped me out was finding a therapist that really gets PDs and trauma bonding.

Also, Kris Godinez videos on YouTube.... man, that woman is amazing!  She has empowered me sooooo much!!!

Dealing with an engulfing mother and the mother wound can be challenging,  but once you start to untangle yourself and rid yourself of that fear, obligation and guilt, man, it’s like a whole other world. 


« Last Edit: August 09, 2019, 03:14:19 AM by bohemian butterfly »

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Malini

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Re: Engulfing mothers
« Reply #3 on: August 09, 2019, 09:12:17 AM »
Lotusblume,

I can relate. My father was an alcoholic so I clung to my mom and was the “good daughter”. I was parentified and we were a team. She knew she could count on me for everything and anything. I thought she was my best friend too and my girlfriends envied our relationship. But you know what, even though I did all she asked of me and was all she wanted me to be,  nothing was ever good enough.

Whenever I called to share some of “my stuff” she was unavailable, whenever I had a setback,  she wasn’t here for me, when I specifically needed her help - if no one could witness her doing it - she wasn’t interested.

Outwardly she praised me to high heaven but behind closed doors, I could do nothing properly. It took me a long time to understand why, and I realised that she wasn’t really that interested in ME, but in all I could do for HER, which included making her look good in public and making her feel good about herself.

When I started coming OOTF, I was so shocked how she turned on me in an instant. I voiced one, frankly minor, boundary and she accused me of having a stone cold heart, said she wanted nothing to do with me until I toed the line. Since then, every encounter with her she has presented a cold, hate-filled, furious persona and when that doesn’t shock me into compliance, she’ll become sad, waify and guilting. I always thought parents wanted only the best for their children, I believed a mother’s love was unconditional and it was a painful process until I came to accept that I don’t really mean anything to her. I’m disposable and easily replaceable.

My mom was engulfing and ignoring at the same time. She engulfed me with her presence and needs but ignored me as a person and my needs were invisible to her. I would have loved to maintain some sort of contact with her but quickly realised that if I opened the door a tiny bit, she’d storm right through  and walk right over me again.

I’m a mom too, and I can’t imagine “hating” my children, being cold to them, and punishing them by withdrawing my love until they do my bidding.

I don’t think either of my parents love me, not even “in their own way”. They may have done the best they could, but it wasn’t good enough and they have done nothing to address that.

I found the book “Why am I not good enough” really helpful in understanding that I wasn’t the reason our relationship died and there was little I could have done to maintain it.

I hope this helps and send you hugs of support.

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all4peace

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Re: Engulfing mothers
« Reply #4 on: August 09, 2019, 09:30:44 AM »
I have to admit this thread is triggering to me as a mother of a teen DD. I believe it is a teen's job to differentiate and separate from their parents, and DD and I are working on navigating this stage of life. She finds me intrusive and so I'm working with her to develop respectful language to state her boundaries and I'm also learning to back off. Instead of asking specific questions like "How was your date?" or "How's xyz friend doing?" I'm trying to ask "Is there anything you'd like to talk about?"

Basically, my hope is that if my DD knows I respect her, and she has a voice with which she can confront me if she doesn't like our interactions, then hopefully we have the tools to work through conflict for a lifetime.


Ok, to the point of OUR mothers. My uNBPDm has always been both neglecting, dismissive and engulfing at the same time. I realize that doesn't sound like it makes sense, but here's an example. I had significant surgery a while back (I was 40s at the time, married) and she insisted on coming to see the surgeon with me before surgery. Then we had other setbacks in our lives, also medical, and she was nowhere to be found, hosting parties while they happened, sending only a text in acknowledgement.

When I was a child she could be spitting on her fingers to wipe something off my face, completely without boundaries with regard to my privacy or sexuality, and not have a single conversation about what I would like to do in life, help guide me into choosing colleges, etc.

Every single vacation my FOC took for way too long was with my parents, and yet my unBPDm wouldn't call to just talk, ever.

So it's always been a strange combination of way too intrusive in some spaces, and way too distant in others. The exact same as DH's M. Literally going through our mail, opening drawers, exploring rooms in our house.....and not a single word about health setbacks, financial struggles, our jobs, our kids.

 :aaauuugh: :stars:



As a mother myself, I'd like to ask a question....for those willing (and hoping this doesn't feel like a thread diversion)....what would we have preferred as children? I'm trying to let my adult and near-adult kids set the tone and to pay attention to and respect the areas of their life where they don't want my attention, and the areas where they do, to unconditionally love and accept them and not show disappointment if it's not what I would have preferred, etc.

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SunnyMeadow

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Re: Engulfing mothers
« Reply #5 on: August 09, 2019, 11:44:48 AM »

I can relate. My father was an alcoholic so I clung to my mom and was the “good daughter”. I was parentified and we were a team. She knew she could count on me for everything and anything. I thought she was my best friend too and my girlfriends envied our relationship. But you know what, even though I did all she asked of me and was all she wanted me to be,  nothing was ever good enough.
Whenever I called to share some of “my stuff” she was unavailable, whenever I had a setback,  she wasn’t here for me, when I specifically needed her help - if no one could witness her doing it - she wasn’t interested.
Outwardly she praised me to high heaven but behind closed doors, I could do nothing properly. It took me a long time to understand why, and I realised that she wasn’t really that interested in ME, but in all I could do for HER, which included making her look good in public and making her feel good about herself.
When I started coming OOTF, I was so shocked how she turned on me in an instant. I voiced one, frankly minor, boundary and she accused me of having a stone cold heart, said she wanted nothing to do with me until I toed the line. Since then, every encounter with her she has presented a cold, hate-filled, furious persona and when that doesn’t shock me into compliance, she’ll become sad, waify and guilting. I always thought parents wanted only the best for their children, I believed a mother’s love was unconditional and it was a painful process until I came to accept that I don’t really mean anything to her. I’m disposable and easily replaceable.

I'm amazed how our stories are so similar! Alcoholic dad, mom and me against the world, if I made the slightest suggestion that maybe the "other person" had a point and my mom wasn't seeing it from their perspective ... all hell would break loose. She'd turn on me with venom. Then the sad, waif and guilt would flow. So sickening and even now in her 80's, she's still the same. Hasn't mellowed a bit.

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athene1399

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Re: Engulfing mothers
« Reply #6 on: August 09, 2019, 11:48:05 AM »
Sis is the enmeshed one with M. I learned early on I had to take care of myself so no longer attached to M (I also have an alcoholic dad).  I became a parent for sis at an early age and she treats me just like M does, parroting how much I suck. either it's gotten better, or i just stopped caring (either way better for me  :)).

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Outwardly she praised me to high heaven but behind closed doors, I could do nothing properly. It took me a long time to understand why, and I realised that she wasn’t really that interested in ME, but in all I could do for HER, which included making her look good in public and making her feel good about herself.
I never made this connection until now, so thank you. It was like if we were with others, I was the GC. In the house I was the SG. M hated when I got depression because it meant maybe she wasn't a good parent. Perhaps what you said is true and she only bragged about my accomplishments in front of others to feel good about herself. She still gets mad when I meet someone new and don't brag about myself. She's like "why didn't you say you did x?" or "She does xyz!" and I'm like "mom, no one cares." But at home it was always "why can't you do this? why are you so lazy? Maybe if you were more active, you wouldn't have trouble breathing" (i had chronic bronchitis from dad smoking, probably asthma too, but I was always told my breathing issues were from being lazy).

Sorry. I got off topic a bit from enmeshment. I wasn't enmeshed, but she wanted me to be. Mom: "I know you like x" "mom, I hate that actually..." stuff like that. I posted elsewhere about dying my hair. mom: "I bought you the real color you wanted to dye your hair." "No, M. I dyed it the color I wanted to dye my hair."

I want to read "Why am i not good enough". I addressed this topic when I was in therapy and want to do more work on it.

This is great advice, all4peace:
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Instead of asking specific questions like "How was your date?" or "How's xyz friend doing?" I'm trying to ask "Is there anything you'd like to talk about?"
my SD is enmeshed with her BM and I try to find ways to help her to become independent.

I also understand this:
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My uNBPDm has always been both neglecting, dismissive and engulfing at the same time.
it doesn't logically make sense, but it happens. I think that's why we have trust issues (at least I do). M told me to come to her if I ever felt really depressed. When I got depressed, she yelled at me for acting depressed. It's so conflicting it causes problems for us emotionally. Then when you break it down (like what you pointed out) it logically makes no sense. M can't care less about my problems or tells me to suck it up, but sometimes (like when I got my wisdom teeth out at 34) had to come over to help me.  :stars: It was nice, but it's like you never cared before when I needed your help so why are you here when I told you i was fine? I think part of it is I don't see her enough (according to her) s she finds excuses to come over and I think a part of her feels guilty for my childhood and is trying to make up for it. Maybe hoovering. IDK.

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SunnyMeadow

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Re: Engulfing mothers
« Reply #7 on: August 09, 2019, 12:05:30 PM »
As a mother myself, I'd like to ask a question....for those willing (and hoping this doesn't feel like a thread diversion)....what would we have preferred as children? I'm trying to let my adult and near-adult kids set the tone and to pay attention to and respect the areas of their life where they don't want my attention, and the areas where they do, to unconditionally love and accept them and not show disappointment if it's not what I would have preferred, etc.

Looking back I wish we weren't so enmeshed. My mother set herself up as my counselor.  She divorced and remarried in record time and suddenly I had an entire huge step family. We used to have TALKS every few evenings about how I felt and how to deal with a step family. (I have NO IDEA how she felt qualified to counsel me). I guess it was helpful but my NPDmom became my "best friend". I didn't really make friends as a kid because we moved around so much and I didn't feel like I could trust anyone in my life. I still struggle with trusting and don't trust many.

With my children I'm doing similar to you All4peace. Since reading so much about PD traits I'm terrified to be anything like my mother and feel myself backing off from my kids so I don't act engulfing. I think it's healthier for them. They don't need to tell me everything. I thought over-sharing was a sign of closeness but I can be close without fully immersing myself in my children's lives.

I inadvertently found out a very personal thing about my youngest child. A life changing situation for this child.  :sad2: I haven't said a word about it even though this is the sort of thing a person might want to share. But this wasn't mentioned to me and I'm respecting their privacy. My mom would have blown up over this. I know this child made the best choice and I feel good about not jumping in to "fix". I also feel good that I can listen to their points of view and their decisions without saying how I'd do things instead. I'm learning to not give advice if they don't ask for it!

« Last Edit: August 09, 2019, 12:10:34 PM by SunnyMeadow »

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Sidney37

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Re: Engulfing mothers
« Reply #8 on: August 09, 2019, 12:39:47 PM »
Mine is engulfing and dismissive at the same time.  If I don't give in to the engulfing and property participate and give her all of the supply, I get shunned, punished, the silent treatment, etc. 

I have written and rewritten this post with examples.  The post was so long, I kept deleting it and starting over.  It's shocking the number of things she demanded from me that were because she "loved me so much", but really was just an engulfing, waify, narcissistic, PD.  Any time I tried to cut the strings (as recommended by countless counselors) I would get punished - threats not to pay my college tuition, threats to not tell me a relative was sick or died, threats to have my car repossessed (she was the co-signer), threats to get me fired from my college part time job (at the company where she worked), etc. when I was young.  As I got older, threats of silent treatment, refusal to come to my wedding, demands to pay her back money that was gifted to me years and years ago.  It improved a bit when I got married and moved away, but it is still pretty bad.  Once I had kids, threats to leave my house or a family vacation to purposely upset my kids to keep me in line. I'm again trying to go VLC and getting punished for it. 

What did she do that was engulfing?  I couldn't do anything without her being nearby and I had no privacy or independence until I got married and moved away.  She used the excuse that she "loved" me "so much" and relatives and family friends reinforced it.  Once I was married, the expectation that I call her multiple times a day which began in college continued.  I was "punished" if I didn't call daily and tell her every last detail about my the lives of my FOC in detail.  All because she cared and loved me of course.   :stars:

As a child, I couldn't go on a field trip without her.  I managed to go to church camp because the pastor inadvertently shamed and guilted her into letting me go.  She read all of my journals (I stopped journaling) and mail from church camp pen pals.  She listened in on phone calls. She wanted to know every detail about every friend that I had.  Nothing should be held back.

She had her name on my bank accounts (loved me so much - it was for my own good and to help me keep my finances straight).  I had to work at her place of business for my college job, so she could be responsible for my schedule and pay check.  She convinced me how it was in my best interest, because she could schedule me around activities with her and she could deposit my check for me (actually she would hold it hostage when I wasn't doing things her way).  When I finally quit, she insisted that me quitting my minimum wage, part time, college job would cause her bosses to get mad and possibly fire her from her upper level job and then she wouldn't be able to pay my tuition and it would be all my fault.   :stars: 

She attended every last activity I participated in, but behind closed doors, I was criticized because I was in performing arts, something she never would have done.  I "mortified" her by singing in the choir and performing in plays.  I was too expressive, not expressive enough,  looked too excited, looked too bored, didn't do a dance move correctly, etc.  But people saw her at everything and insisted it was great how much she "loved" me. 

I couldn't order a meal that I liked at a restaurant.  We had to order two things that she liked (I was an extension of her so I would certainly like them, too) and we would split them so she could try 2 different sandwiches, entrees, etc. 

My hair had to be a style she liked.  The same with clothes. 

She didn't call all of my friends and boyfriends, she convinced me that they were all treating me poorly, out to get me or not nice, so I would leave them and depend only on her.  It was because she "loved" me "so much" of course.   She was constantly just "protecting" me from everything to keep me totally enmeshed.

I had to go to college where I could live at home or she wouldn't pay her small portion of my tuition, but I couldn't afford to go without their help.  She insisted that I study and write papers at home, not the library, because she "loved" me "so much" and was concerned for my safety driving home.  She checked in on me in my room (where I wasn't allowed to have a lock) every 30 minutes to see how many paragraphs I had read or written.  If It wasn't enough, she question and lecture me about why I hadn't done more, how she would have started sooner, etc.  - all because she was concerned, of course.  I was a top student who didn't do drugs, cheat or do anything illegal, but was treated like I couldn't do a thing without her overbearing assistance. I didn't need her to keep me organized or handle my finances. 

I could go on and on and on.  I'm back to limiting contact and getting the silent treatment, unfriended on social media, lied about, gaslighted. etc.  It's not easy. 

And A4P - I, too, worry that I am parenting my teen DD all wrong.  She has many of my uNPDm's characteristics, which makes it worse.  I certainly haven't been the perfect mother.  I have fleas.  I took bad parenting advice from my uNPDm.  I'm not a PD.  I've asked every therapist I've seen, but worry that my DD is going to be angry at things I've said and done or not said or not done.  I worry that I'm engulfing and then that I'm too distant.  I've had trouble setting boundaries with my DD because my role models at boundaries were terrible.   Maybe we need a new thread about parenting teen daughters. 
« Last Edit: August 09, 2019, 12:58:24 PM by Sidney37 »

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athene1399

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Re: Engulfing mothers
« Reply #9 on: August 09, 2019, 01:32:47 PM »
Quote
She has many of my uNPDm's characteristics, which makes it worse.
We discuss this often in the coparenting group. it's hard to tell if the kids are picking up on the PD behaviors or if PDs just act like kids. Most of the time I think we have to assume it may be just normal teen behaviors, but it can be so triggering to see the teen acting like the PD(s) in our life.

I posted more about parenting in the other thread, but wanted to address that one quote here.

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Hazy111

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Re: Engulfing mothers
« Reply #10 on: August 09, 2019, 01:34:01 PM »
Sounds like you were the enmeshed "GC". There are threads on here are about engulfing PD mothers. But most posts tend to be about rejecting hostile mothers. Both types are abandoning their children.

I had a girlfriend looking back, she was the enmeshed one with her mother. The mother would constantly phone her and vice versa to discuss the other members of the family. I didnt think it was healthy , but my girlfriend seemed to get a kick out of it as it seemed she was the special one as opposed to the others and she had all the "info" on the other brothers and sisters. It was like she was being played by the mother.

It took me a long time and of reading research therapy and insight and thus importantly stopping "being in denial" and accept she wasnt what i thought she was. The disassociation of my childhood was a result i believe of the constant criticism shaming (projection)., method of her parenting.

Most GCs defend their mothers as they are still "in denial."

I was an enmeshed "MEM" son and surrogate husband of sorts. She didnt want me to separate , grow up or leave her.  It destroyed my subsequent relationships with women.

 

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Twinkletoes88

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Re: Engulfing mothers
« Reply #11 on: August 09, 2019, 07:08:06 PM »
Hi everyone,

I have done a lot of research and reading, but find very little about engulfing mothers (or fathers). I get the whole seeing their children as extensions, enmeshment, etc, but if anyone feels comfortable sharing examples that would be great.

For my part, there's a lot I could say about the relationship with my mother, but I was definitely her "best friend". She needed to know everything, expected me to be a mini version of her, lived through my accomplishments, and was smothering. I was infantalized and parentified. She needed to know everything about everything and everyone in my life, and would even get involved in my love life and friendships. I always thought we were so close and that I was lucky before I came Out of the FOG, but I also felt suffocated and resentful.

She took up so much room in my life, and she hurt me so much in the incident that triggered coming Out of the FOG, I see her completely differently now. I still love her, but I also have a lot of anger towards her and disappointment. We barely talk anymore. I know that she wants to go right back to being enmeshed, and any type of "normal" relationship seems impossible.

I know the whole smother mother thing is intergenerational here, and I think she maybe cares deeply for me but also is so unfulfilled and wounded that she couldn't let go of me. She saw my happiness and independence as a betrayal.

Thanks for listening, and if anyone wants to share, would be great to hear your thoughts and stories.


Holy cow!!!!!! I could have written this word for word. Genuinely shocked. Absolutely shocked. Jeeeeezzzzzz

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Andeza

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Re: Engulfing mothers
« Reply #12 on: August 09, 2019, 08:22:23 PM »
So to touch on the engulfing portion... Growing up I had no friends, no desire to find any, no need for social interaction. uBPDM tried on more than one occasion to get me involved with various groups, local homeschool association, local 4H club, etc. I wasn't interested. Looking back I realize it was in part because she would badmouth the other kids and mothers to me after every meeting. I probably would have, and did in a couple of group activites, do better with the kind of thing where she would drop me off and pick me up later. But she still found things to complain about.

I remember thinking the other kids were immature, behaved badly, their parents weren't "nice" people, etc... Why? because she said so. When I hit 14 and started trying to become me, she said I had become difficult and constantly asked what happened to her sweet little girl. So I put on a mask that kept her relatively happy and allowed the enmeshment to continue until I reached/escaped to college. Parents really didn't want to pay for out of state college (it was and still is remarkably cheap at that particular school, less than some community colleges) but they let me go anyway with promises to keep in touch.

I didn't realize until a few months ago that I sent her emails almost every day. Ugh. So disappointed with myself at that time in my life. But, I have since shed the enmeshment. Amidst her crying and asking why I was doing this to her, we moved. Distance helped immensely. And now that I'm OOTF I realize she considered me an extension of herself, that I was expected to share the same beliefs, eat the same foods, eat the same oversized portions and probably be overweight and unhealthy like her, have a haircut and clothes that she approved of, date and marry a guy she approved of... And ultimately I was supposed to then live near her or with her and take care of my "poor old mom." "Poor old mom" started being poor and old in her forties. That's not old! :sadno:

I broke the mold. I'm free of her expectations and have grown into my own person. There's been a lot of growing pains, my marriage to DH struggled, we're still recovering in some aspects.

I think she did believe I was her best friend, her only friend... she won't go out and make any. People she meets she just wants to trash them in conversation about how they did this or that wrong, blah blah blah. Completely blind to her own faults.

Now, those of us with these enmeshed, engulfing mothers how would we have liked to been parented? Well, having a parent would have been a good start. I was expected to be her parent in one breath and her sweet baby girl in the next. I would have liked to mostly be left alone though. I was and still am a loner at heart and was happiest playing alone. Might sound sad to someone on the outside (not in my head) but with autistic traits... Alone was comfortable. If I spent the whole day in my room reading a book (no closed doors allowed unless changing clothes by the way) she would complain she was lonely and felt like I didn't want to spend time with her. All she did was sit in front of the TV and run her mouth nonstop. I needed a freaking break. :stars:

It would have been nice to have my autonomy recognized. That I was an individual. It would been nice to be "allowed" to have different opinions instead of being lectured on what was right and what was wrong. Very black and white thinking. She was right and everybody else was wrong essentially.

I was a good kid. I was too terrified to do anything "stupid." Now? I'm an adult, and recognize myself as such. I am also a mom, just this year. I am determined that I will do a better job of it.

And uBPDM is insulted that I don't ask her for advice, by the way. Why would I? She seriously screwed me up, not to mention in the almost 30 years since I was a baby all the advice has changed drastically. I'm not interested in outdated, and primarily wrong, advice that is colored by her PD. She asked if I wanted my old crib, before DS was born. I told her straight up cribs from 30 years ago aren't safe or to standards anymore, no thanks. "Well it didn't kill you!" Ugh. I've gone VLC. Almost off the map at this point :ninja:

So we fight for balance, as in all things. How to be enough parent, but not too much.
Remember, that there are no real deadlines for life, just society's pressures.      - Anonymous
Lasting happiness is not something we find, but rather something we make for ourselves.

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WomanInterrupted

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Re: Engulfing mothers
« Reply #13 on: August 10, 2019, 02:43:21 AM »
I was terrified of unBPD Didi as a child, mainly because of her unpredictable rages, but when I became a teen, those were suddenly replaced with her wanting to be my best friend, and we could hang out and do all the things she liked (that I hated   :roll:), and she could dress like me, share clothes (NO!), and we'd tell each other EVERYTHING!   :aaauuugh:

Well, she'd been telling me everything since I was a toddler - often in TMI graphic detail (does a TODDLER need to know about their sex life!?    :barfy:) -  but what Didi meant was she'd do all the talking and provide opinions FOR  me.  :blink:

Thankfully, my weekends started being taken up by my friends and DH (we were dating in HS), and Didi would want DEETS!  ALL the details of what we did, where we went, who we saw, what we talked about - I didn't share very much with her, but enough to keep her happy and *definitely* not the parts that involved underage drinking, smoking weed, and DH and I getting progressively closer to *that* moment.

Didi's Sex Ed 101:  "Good girls don't.  They wait until they are married.  YOU will wait until you are married."  :wacko:

Didi's Sex Ed 101 Hypocrisy:  But I can have an extramarital affair because I WANT TO - AND your father deserves it!   :banana:

I graduated a year early, with Didi trying to now "hang" with DH, my friends and me, but then started going to summer courses, which meant little hanging out and a LOT of  study, which Didi would whine about, since her bestie was "no fun."   :violin:

Frankly, my friends were SICK of her, and DH...well he had his own mess at home (unNPD MIL and unBPD SFIL), constantly trying to get DH to break up with me because I was so "common" and he could "do better."   :'( :stars:

Something weird happened around my 18th birthday.  The woman who'd constantly said, "I can't WAIT until you're 18 and we can throw you out!" - now realized there was a very real possibility I could LEAVE, and she just *couldn't have that* - so the girl who grew up with no rules or curfews, that had become a young adult with the same, now had TONS of strict rules and a 9PM curfew - even on the weekends, AND  I was to give a STRICT accounting of ALL my time to Didi - where I was, who I was with, what I did, how long I stayed, what was I LEAVING OUT (lying) - and if I wasn't at college or work, I had to be HOME where she could, "Keep an eye on me."   :blink:   :sharkbait:

After my 18th, I decided I was visiting DH at college for the weekend (a city an hour away) and Didi blew a gasket, freaking, RAGING, screaming, FORBIDDING it and telling me I was GROUNDED - I laughed at her, so she went for my face with a wet dishtowel, but missed, which made her rage and scream even MORE loudly!   :aaauuugh:

UnNPD Ray came down because of all the racket, Didi thought he'd back her up as she screamed her side at him, and Ray just said, "She's 18.  She can go if she wants."   :phoot:

I know Ray was thinking, "We can have the house to ourselves and have SEX as often as we want!" (You'd just have to know Ray - trust me.  That was ALL he was thinking about!)   :barfy:

Didi fumed, screamed, raged and brayed hysterical "crying" - but I just left to go pack my bags, so I could GTF out of there, ASAP, after calling DH and telling him what was going on.

Didi was nowhere to be found as I left, and Ray gave me a sober look and said, "You're killing your mother."

Apparently I SUCKED at it, because I'd been allegedly killing her since the day they adopted me!   :bigwink:

DH and I had a nice weekend with his friends, and I dreaded going back home - I was right to.   It only took a few days for Didi to announce I was now going to have to pay $400 a month in rent for my room, starting immediately - and she smirked as she said it.

It was 1983.  You could rent an entire 2-bedroom apartment for $225  - $300!   :blink:

Now, I realize she was trying to financially *cripple* me and keep me beholden to them, unable to move out, because I didn't have the funds.  :thumbdown:

Again, we got into another fight, but Ray stayed out of it, and I just ran to my room, barricaded myself in, and began pulling the trigger on a plan that had been in the works for a few months.  :ninja:

The next day, when they were both at work, I moved out and left a note, telling them I was safe, I had an apartment, and I'd contact them when they'd cooled down.

A couple of those friends who couldn't stand Didi moved in together, and said I could move, in, too, any time I wanted, and since 3 people splitting $240 a month, plus utilities, were better than two, they put me on the lease.  :)

I didn't talk to Didi or Ray for about two months, and when I did, it was like *nothing had happened.*  The rug, she had been swept clean - and oh, they were buying a business and going to be FAMOUS in the miniature world.  Isn't that WONDERFUL?   :dramaqueen:

There was only one dig about "the upstairs bedroom" (my room) being used for storage, but that was it.  It was back to the Didi and Ray Show, now that Didi found something else to obsess over.  :roll:

If I could get in the Tardis with the Doctor and have just *one* trip, I'd stop myself from calling and hand Younger Me the book, "Boundaries."   :ninja:

I'd also advise her to go NC and NOT tell them that DH and I were planning on getting married - Younger Me, you'll thank me later!  8-)

Didi and Ray went back to being ignoring types, Didi got old, demanded ALL the information she could get out of me, plus time and attention being a *servant* to Her Waify Majesty - and those are stories you'll find here, so they don't bear repeating.

She was never my friend - and certainly not my best friend.  She never had my best interests at heart - only her own, and how I could be of USE to her and SERVE her.

She reaped  what she sowed, and died alone in Hospice, with only strangers, and her last breaths were spent yelling at them and demanding to know who they were.  :applause:

I stayed home.  To me, it was just another Thursday  - but I *did* do a Happy Dance around the house, knowing I was finally FREE and my "best friend" could torment me no more!  :yahoo:

 :hug:

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Recreatingmylife

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Re: Engulfing mothers
« Reply #14 on: August 10, 2019, 11:52:06 AM »
Wow! These life stories are so very similar to my own. I truly appreciate everyone sharing. 

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Cat of the Canals

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Re: Engulfing mothers
« Reply #15 on: August 10, 2019, 04:19:50 PM »
I have written and rewritten this post with examples.  The post was so long, I kept deleting it and starting over. 

Ditto.  :blush:

My mother was a failed violinist. She's left-handed, and her music teacher announced one day that it was pointless for her to continue since lefties can't be accomplished violinists. So you can guess what instrument was thrust into my hands at age 5. Thus began 14 years of lessons, recitals, signing me up to play in front of my class in elementary school (I was shy, and this was MORTIFYING. Once I ended up playing for the entire school, and I still have nightmares about it sometimes.), demanding I perform for any visitor to ever step foot in our house, bribing me to play at her friend's church every summer, etc.

I never practiced or performed unless forced, bribed, or guilted. When she'd ask me to play for her guests, I always refused. She'd then go on this spiel about "how much it would mean to them to hear me play." (She turned me into a codependent so early on that I only realized recently that no adult gave a single crap about hearing an 8-year-old poorly play the violin.) I was expected to paste a smile on my face and pretend for her benefit.

I wrote just last week about my earliest memory of knowing something was "off," which was the time she found out I had a crush on a boy at school and started interrogating me about him. I was six. That was when I learned that I couldn't even think a boy was "cute" without my mother getting wayyy too intrusive.

I was my little brother's designated best friend/second mom. I was expected to entertain him at all times, keep him out of trouble, and always include him in anything I did. (Though he wasn't expected to do the same for me.) When my mother had friends visit, the same was expected of me when it came to their kids. My job was to welcome, entertain, and keep the peace for days on end with no break, even though I'm a huge introvert and sometimes just want to be left alone.

When I hit puberty at age 10, I wasn't allowed to shave my legs. She came up with numerous excuses: "You don't really want to do that." "You might cut yourself." "Once you start shaving, you can never stop." Same with a bra: "They're so uncomfortable." "You really don't need one." "What's the point of wearing one now?" I got my first bra from a friend.

I got my period at age 11 and hid it from her for three years. The idea of telling her something so deeply personal was just... mortifying. And I guess the message I'd gotten from her about growing up was that I "didn't need to." She seemed hellbent on not acknowledging the fact that I was maturing, and I was afraid of how she'd react.

She once found out I had a crush on a guy in high school. She sought out his mother to befriend her at parent-teacher conferences. I ultimately didn't date at all in high school because I was so afraid of how she'd try to insert herself into it.

She discouraged most of my interest in artistic/creative careers. I said I wanted to pursue music (VOICE, not violin), but she took that to mean opera (another of HER interests), so I shut that down quick. I considered culinary arts and got, "You don't want to do that. It's a very sexist environment." Art school was, "You don't want to do that. My cousin went to art school, and they RUINED her talents."

After high school, she wanted me to go to her alma mater, where she also worked. "You can live at home, and we can drive in together everyday!" I quietly sabotaged that college application. I got wait-listed at the next best school I applied to. I was fine with that, but she wasn't. She was convinced that if I had a semester off from school, I'd never go back. I now realize that she was actually worried about what to tell people. How would she explain that her perfect daughter WASN'T ATTENDING COLLEGE?!?!? (Her level of bragging about her kids is off-the-charts obnoxious.)

She signed me up for orientation at a different school, where I wasn't wait-listed. Without asking me. She just informed we one day that I was going to THAT school. With no support for the things I was interested in, I let her push me into a nursing major. I was miserable throughout nursing school - I often look back and wonder how I made it through. But mom liked to make little "jokes" about how I'd be able to use everything I was learning to take care of her some day. I really thought they were jokes until I came here and discovered this is a classic PD scheme, the "Old Age Golden Parachute Plan," as WI calls it.

When I met my boyfriend (and now husband), she kept trying to demand we all spend time together, but he resisted. This caused a lot of arguments between me and him early on, until it finally clicked for me: he is an adult and capable of deciding who he wants to spend time with. If my mom has a problem with that, it's HER PROBLEM. Our relationship is separate from her. That was a huge step for me. After moving out, it was probably the second big step of disentangling my life from her claws.

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Cat of the Canals

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Re: Engulfing mothers
« Reply #16 on: August 10, 2019, 04:38:39 PM »
As a mother myself, I'd like to ask a question....for those willing (and hoping this doesn't feel like a thread diversion)....what would we have preferred as children? I'm trying to let my adult and near-adult kids set the tone and to pay attention to and respect the areas of their life where they don't want my attention, and the areas where they do, to unconditionally love and accept them and not show disappointment if it's not what I would have preferred, etc.

You kind of laid it out right there. Listen, pay attention, respect their choices. At a certain age, you have to start letting them make their own decisions (with guidance, of course, when appropriate). More than that, I think you need to give them the confidence to know they can. Because some day they will be full grown adults that *must* be able to make their own life choices. My mother never did that. She undermined every attempt I made to be independent.

I tend to look back at my childhood and assume I must have never told my mom, "I don't want to do that" to all the things I ended up doing *for her.* But I know that isn't true, because I can remember the guilt tactics, the times she bribed me, the pats on the head for being so dutiful. And other people saw it, too. When I ran into a high school friend a few years after graduation and told her my major, she said, "CAT, WHY? Because your mom pushed you into it?" I hadn't told her that. She just knew. (At the time I was sort of offended. Because... FOG!  :upsidedown:)

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Dinah-sore

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Re: Engulfing mothers
« Reply #17 on: August 11, 2019, 09:50:37 PM »
I really connected to everything you put in this post. I came here with the same "best friend" connection to my BPDm. In fact, she hated and worked covertly to undo ANY other best friend relationship in my life, so that she could keep her seat of authority in my life. If I said someone else was my best friend (you know, someone MY AGE) she would CRY. And I would have to console her for a long time reminding her that SHE is my real best friend. She worked tirelessly to control every aspect of my life. She tracked my GPS 24 hours a day, setting alerts on her phone for anytime I left a location. I would get calls demanding I answer for being outside of my house after dark. When I removed the GPS she came unglued for weeks, telling me she would die if I didn't put the GPS back on my phone. I had to see a therapist to deal with that crap.

All4Peace brought up the medical aspect.


Ok, to the point of OUR mothers. My uNBPDm has always been both neglecting, dismissive and engulfing at the same time. I realize that doesn't sound like it makes sense, but here's an example. I had significant surgery a while back (I was 40s at the time, married) and she insisted on coming to see the surgeon with me before surgery. Then we had other setbacks in our lives, also medical, and she was nowhere to be found, hosting parties while they happened, sending only a text in acknowledgement.


When I started having health problems in my twenties (probably due to the effects of the abuse), she would not let me go to the doctor without her. I was a married woman in my twenties, living successfully outside the house and I had to have my mom with me when I would go to the doctor or to see specialists. She even got so mad at one doctor, after he wanted to write me a prescription for a medicine I did not have her permission to take, that she tore into him and chased him out of the exam room, with her yelling at him in the office. I just sat there in shock. Then she told me how thankful I should be for having her to watch out for me. That the medicine would have killed me.

After I took the GPS off my phone, I started seeing my doctor by myself, without her coming without her knowing, so then she started accusing me of taking drugs that are "changing me." She kept accusing me of taking psychiatric drugs or weight loss drugs (that will "kill" me), all kinds of drugs. She thinks doctors want to give me drugs that will kill me or change me. She is constantly asking me if I am taking new drugs. She is constantly telling my dad that I am taking something without her permission.

Of course, when my closest friend passed away, I think she was jealous. She asked me, in a tone of anger, the week my friend died, "Do you wish I had died instead?" It is a mess.

So I totally relate to the complexity of thinking that this person, who abused and controlled you, also spent a lot of time in your life functioning as your "best friend." It messes with your mind so much. I am so glad though that you are here working on it. Sometimes I don't comment, because I am always afraid that my comments will be wrong, or that I am not healthy enough yet to offer advice, and I don't want to make things all about me. I still wrestle with the inner critic that keeps me from sharing, or makes me want to delete what I have shared. But this conversation is so important. Because I don't think they ever stop trying to get us back in the FOG where they can engulf us. Every time I think I can fix it, or have a different relationship with her, I am reminded that she is still trying to manipulate me back into our old pattern. She will never stop. We need each other. I am thankful for what the other posters said here, because I needed it and I still need to hear it.
"I had to accept the fact that, look, this is who I am. I have to be who I am, and all of us have a right to be who we are. And whenever we submit our will, because our will is a gift, our will is given to us, whenever we submit our will to someone else's opinion a part of us dies." --Lauryn Hill

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Sojourner17

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Re: Engulfing mothers
« Reply #18 on: August 12, 2019, 01:53:46 AM »
My mom is also engulfing.  I don’t know if I just noticed it more as I got older or if it started from early on.  I say this because she also did things when I was really little (toddler and younger) to push me away bc I hurt her.  I high school she was constantly trying to solve my problems for me and would interfere with my friends if she thought they weren’t treating me right.  A year ago my friend told me that my mom accosted her and another friend of mine in the grocery store because they were hanging out and “why didn’t you ask sojourner?” She was quite angry at my friend and called her some not so nice names for not calling me to spend time with them too. 
She would try to buddy buddy up to the friends I made during and after high school and asked lots of questions about them/ when I was going to see them again/I should invite them out to their place for the weekend etc. 
Twice I had roommates who would comment “your mom called... again”.  It was becoming an issue for them. I don’t know how often she called but I do know that in the years that I lived with them I  answered the phone  where it was their parents very seldom. 
She expected me to drop everything to talk to her on the phone or to cut activities short with my friends to visit her.  She somehow would get my boyfriends numbers or friend them on social media and have conversations with them about their relationship with me. 
If I wasn’t dating someone it was “why?” Or if there were any prospects? If I was dating it was questions on if they were the one/ if we were getting closer? Etc.  Quite intrusive.  I dated quite a few guys who were not good for me in the beginning.  I’m not sure what I expected from her in regards to navigating these but I really had to learn things the hard way at times and when I told her my mistakes it was “sojourner how could you give it away when I had mine taken from me!”(virginity/she suffered SA at the hands of extended family).  I shouldn’t have told her but I didn’t know at the time.  I was wanting help/support/love/caring (wouldn’t that be what a parent gives if a  young adult child comes and confesses something and wants help dealing with it?).
I feel for those who had a mother who was the opposite of engulfed.  It must be terribly hard.  All I know is on the other side, figuring out boundaries/feeling like I’m enough/assuring myself that I don’t have to give and give and give/ feeling like I can’t ask for support-feeling like I’m my own person and not an extension of my mother is hard work!
"Tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it..." - Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

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p123

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Re: Engulfing mothers
« Reply #19 on: August 13, 2019, 11:26:36 AM »
Wow. I see some of my elderly Dad in this. Not that he was bad when I was younger its only as hes got older (and more bored I guess).

Bit of background, I'm 51, got my own family, worked all over europe, run my own IT company.
There are a lot of things you can't mention to him because he just smothers you.

"Going out and drinking" - he'll want to know where the cars going to be, how Im getting there, how I'm getting home etc. All because hes afraid I might be drink driving.
"Being ill" - Never ever mention it. Otherwise, he expects 2-3 hourly updates and causes chaos if its not done. All because "you might be in hospital".
"Money" - Never tell him about any purchases. Otherwise it'll be a worry about how much this cost and that cost.
"Wife and kids" - Never tell him about anything. Any hint of anything and he'll want daily updates just to check I'm ok.

I take him away for the weekend once a year. Its become a nightmare. It covers the subject above but also includes things like "we can't possibly go to that restuarant because you're driving there" (yes I wont drink!), "why are you spending that much?". And the bathroom thing- I'm sure he counts. If it exceeds his limit he'll loudly ask if you're ok. Hes done in middle of restaurants, crowds at sporting events. and hes not quiet and he wont let it drop. Its suffocating...