Looking For Advice

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LostLorna

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Looking For Advice
« on: April 07, 2021, 08:33:38 AM »
Long time reader, first-time poster.

I'm looking for some advice on dealing with a suspected narcissistic sociopath mother, having contact with your child whilst they are punishing you with the silent treatment.

I grew up in an incredibly toxic (in all ways) abusive home with a single parent who is I suspect, is a narcissistic sociopath. To make this brief, as I know many of you know exactly how that story goes, I won't get into it. I left at 16 and never looked back.

Three years ago, I had a medical emergency; I was in a new area and had no family or friends to rely on. I had to contact her to establish some sort of support network, even if it was make-believe, for my ten-year-old daughter. She made me beg and grovel, but I felt I had no choice, so I went along with it.

My daughter does not know anything that my mother has done to me. I have not told her because I want her to focus on being a child; I do not want her to feel sorry for me or view me differently. I spent my entire childhood being burdened with adult problems and alienated from all family members because my mother thought she had been slighted in some way.

Over the last three years, I have supported her emotionally and financially, all the while not being able to stand her voice for the sake of my daughter having some semblance of a grandparent. I say grandparent, but she video calls her maybe once a month for 3 minutes using the iPad we gifted her. She has not seen her in person since November 2019, and even then, she had to be chauffeured because she does not drive and refuses to use public transport. But again, I went along with it because I felt like my child was getting something out of it; she gets to think that she has a grandmother that loves and cares about her.

During these three years, I have lost count of the number of times she has tried to punish me by slamming the phone down and giving me the silent treatment. However, this time it's different, and I'm done.

I had already reduced my calls to her down to once a fortnight, but when I did speak to her, she dumped so much on top of me that I had anxiety attacks when I got off the phone; her voice even triggered flashbacks. I tried grey rock and medium chill, but this time I couldn't take it anymore. She was incessantly talking about her problems, and I asked her if we could talk about something else. She blew up and exploded at me about everything she'd been through that week, to which I said, "But it's not all about you" she then shouted at me that she had to go and lie down because of the terrible thing I'd said and slammed the phone down, that was about a month ago, and she hasn't contacted me since.

So after this, I knew I was finally done, I'd been having nightmares, and I just needed any contact with her to be over. I didn't tell my daughter about it because I don't want to burden her with it; she's a teenager and has enough going on in her life without my mother's personality disorders adding to it.

However, every first of the month, my daughter sends a text to her friends and family, it's a cute little rhyme and tradition, and I'm also on the group text. My mother waited most of the day to respond to her but did respond. I thought, okay, I can deal with this, they can have a relationship by phone, she treats her granddaughter well, nothing like me and I'll just observe from the sidelines and stay no contact.

As you've probably already guessed, not that easy!

Next, rolls around easter, nothing from her on the day, but I overhear that she's FaceTiming my daughter the day after. I stay out of it and let them have their conversation. My daughter mentions to my husband that her grandmother called her, and he asks her how she was. My daughter says, "Did an Easter card arrive for me from grandmother?" My husband says no because no card has arrived. My daughter then says, "Oh, okay, grandmother says she sent one for me. She also showed me my birthday present but said that she couldn't send it because it's breakable and it will be at her house for when I next go to visit".

Now, this is her all over. I specifically spoke to her about gift-giving for our daughter weeks before. I asked politely if she could just send a gift card or something in future because it's difficult logistically to get gifts to our daughter without us taking hours out of our day to come and fetch them. If we don't, she incessantly whines about the gifts being at her house, ready to pick up. After all, she doesn't drive, refuses to work and says she can't afford to ship them. It was another thing that I was absolutely sick of her making our problem.

She got very aggressive during that conversation because SHE likes to choose the gifts. She will not be told what to buy, never has, never will (she'd never asked me what my child or I would like for birthday or Christmas). She says it's because she can't 'compete' with other family members and the size of their gifts, and that's why she can't just send a $5 gift card instead. Compete? Seriously? By the way, my child isn't materialistic in the slightest; in fact, they've literally asked for nothing for their birthday this year.

So here's the dilemma, I can't deal with her burdening my child with her problems. I believe that this phone call about the birthday gift and that she couldn't get it to her was her making it my daughters issue, and I don't like that. I didn't want to block the number on her phone because it felt like a spiteful thing to do, and I'm so against alienation of family, but I can't just sit in the background while she does this. I know this won't be the end. She's not getting her supply, so the attention-seeking will increase, and if she doesn't have access to me, what if she amps it up with my daughter?

Is it messed up that she's contacting my daughter while giving me the silent treatment? What would you do? I'm so confused. All I know is that I can't bear to hear her voice again. I'm done. But can I make that decision for my child? If I block her number, what do I do if my daughter wants to know why?

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SunnyMeadow

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Re: Looking For Advice
« Reply #1 on: April 07, 2021, 11:30:39 AM »
Hi LostLorna,

I'm glad you're with us but sorry you have to be here.  :grouphug:

Your mother feeling slighted, giving you the silent treatment and more sounds very much like my mother and I consider her a covert narcissist. Your body and your reactions to her are showing you that she isn't a safe person to have in your life. I would wonder then how safe she is for your daughter. I can see her acting out to your daughter as well.

Now your mother is starting problems with gifts and cards. I feel it's designed to make you look bad to your daughter. As if grandma is throwing in some doubt about you giving a card meant for your daughter or being able to get the breakable gift at her house.

I say you can make the decision for all of you including your daughter to back away from Grandma. You are the gate keeper and protector. I feel it's perfectly acceptable to tell your daughter that all of you are taking a break from her as she's been causing problems behind the scenes that your daughter isn't aware of. I'd tell her something like as her mother, you have come to decide grandma isn't a safe person to interact with right now. As my children grew up they saw that my mother was all about herself and naturally backed away on their own. Your daughter might be seeing and feeling more than you think.

I'm sorry this is going on, it sounds very stressful. Please keep reading and posting here!

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Amadahy

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Re: Looking For Advice
« Reply #2 on: April 07, 2021, 01:38:01 PM »
Hi Lorna!
For all of their childhood, I protected my three sons from knowing the extreme trauma my Nmom inflicted upon me.  Once they were nearly grown she tried to turn them against me and DH.  It turned out that they had known, on some level, that she was not to be trusted and didn't feel a devastating loss when I went NC w her for a time. One son even very eloquently said, "mom, you don't have to protect us from her anymore." Wow!  I cried tears of joy. They saw the truth without being shattered because we gave them a loving, non-pd foundation. I bet you're the same.  Not that you want to blatantly tell your daughter everything, but do trust that she has an inkling and the tools needed to cope just fine.   Good job, mama!  :bighug:
Ring the bells that still can ring;
Forget your perfect offering.
There's a crack in everything ~~
That's how the Light gets in!

~~ Leonard Cohen

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LostLorna

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Re: Looking For Advice
« Reply #3 on: April 07, 2021, 02:35:58 PM »
Thank you both so much for your thoughtful replies; they've helped me very much.

This is the first time in my life that she's slammed the phone down on me, and I haven't even attempted to call her back or contact her in any way. I knew instantly that this time I was done.

I suspect that her contacting my daughter was a tactic to provoke me into calling; it's worked for her before.

Sometimes I'm terrified of having no family support network without being in contact with her, but now I think I'm best to take my chances without any once again. My husband's convinced that at this point, she'd be useless anyway. When someone makes everything about themselves, they're just incapable of 'support'.

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alphaomega

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Re: Looking For Advice
« Reply #4 on: April 07, 2021, 02:48:32 PM »
Hi Lorna :grouphug:

Heres my experience.

It is my responsibility to PROTECT my daughter from predators who will use, abuse, triangulate, manipulate, gossip, and especially emotionally hurt anyone they can get their hands on.
I'm sure your daughter has seen her work her angles with you over the years.   And, if she is a sociopathic narc, there is no end to the extent of pain she will inflict on you.  OR her.

I would have been far better off had I stopped trying to have a relationship with her for the sake of "giving my daughter a grandmother".

She was NEVER anything even remotely close to what our idea of a nurturing grandma is.  SHe just used that title to get whatever she could to hurt whoever she could.

These people DO NOT CHANGE.  And it is a lesson in futility for us to keep subjecting ourselves and our families to this ABUSE under the guise of "FAMILY".

My heart goes out to you, because I know how difficult it is.   

But, it is what it is, and the sooner you recognize that, the sooner you can truly become OOTF....  :grouphug:
Dream in Peace W.I. - you are free now...

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moglow

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Re: Looking For Advice
« Reply #5 on: April 07, 2021, 03:01:35 PM »
Lorna, mine met and mastered the slamming phone years ago and I'm sad to say I chased after her for years. I finally dished that back at her in retaliation a few times then realized No. This is wrong and not who I want to be. I'm not going to give her that ammunition anymore. Neither am I demeaning myself by calling her repeatedly begging to be heard, not anymore. She got some kind of charge out of it and would outright laugh when I called her back. It was a game I bought into until I just couldn't any more, so good on you for seeing it and finding your own No.

I agree with having a quiet talk with your daughter. She may have seen and heard more than you think, and probably needs to see that we all need to practice good boundaries. By allowing it to continue, she may think she has no choice either no matter how uncomfortable she may be. When she's an adult/18 she can make her own choices regarding a relationship with her grandmother; for now you have to do what you feel best for your family. And let's be honest here - you don't know what kind of alienation tactics grandmother may have been trying for a while, with your daughter caught in the middle not knowing if or should she say anything.

Grandmother or no, she doesn't get to pick and choose how she treats members of your family.

« Last Edit: April 07, 2021, 04:28:31 PM by moglow »
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Sneezy

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Re: Looking For Advice
« Reply #6 on: April 07, 2021, 04:41:55 PM »
Regarding the Easter gift for your daughter - it's not a gift if you have to go pick it up.  Rather, it's a pain in the neck, manipulative obligation.  Gifts are freely given and do not involve major amounts of work by others.

As far as your daughter, she has probably figured out that there is something not quite right with her grandmother.  When my kids were in their teens, they figured it out on their own, probably long before I did.  You don't have to share any details with your daughter that you don't want to share, but she will probably understand enough if you tell her that your family is taking a break from Grandma for a while, as she has been difficult and not respecting boundaries.

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daughter

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Re: Looking For Advice
« Reply #7 on: April 07, 2021, 05:54:37 PM »
I've posted often about my estranged BF and BNM "divide and conquer" tactics. In my situation, my parents now shun me, their former SG "dutiful daughter", while bad-mouthing me to my oldest DS (worse, who has Aspergers and particularly vulnerable to manipulation).  (I consider myself quietly NC for 8+ yrs.).  Before NC, they'd told me numerous times how they disliked me, didn't care if they ever saw me again, but expected full obedience, so I still called NM every 2nd day, invited them to dinner every weekend, spent every holiday and birthday they expected, and vacationed with them each year, all while sucking-in their overt disdain towards me and their roughshod treatment of my FOO.

Post-NC, DS is a young adult.  I wish I'd sheltered my children, rather than obeyed my parents.  I wish I'd stopped sooner with my compliance and conformance to their expectations and demands, and had curtailed our contact much sooner. I was in my mid 50s, still being reprimanded, still being punished, for ridiculous stuff. So let the Easter gift be uncollected. Start being disobedient, non/compliant, and truly independent --- don't continue to reward bad behavior and inappropriate expectations. It's hard to do, but vital, for you, and as example of self-determination for your daughter.
« Last Edit: April 07, 2021, 05:59:58 PM by daughter »

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Thru the Rain

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Re: Looking For Advice
« Reply #8 on: April 08, 2021, 02:36:39 AM »
I have a somewhat unique perspective - my husband's grandmother had some of these same behaviors. When I was first dating my now husband, he was in his late teens. I met his grandmother in the autumn and she had a Christmas present for him.

I was surprised since I thought it was early for Christmas. Oh no, I was told, this is for LAST Christmas since (DH) couldn't be BOTHERED to come see us. It was truly awful - DH was a kid, still living at home with his Dad, and still depending on the adults in his life to act like adults. And when none of them did act like adults, DH was blamed. His grandmother made no effort to see her grandson, to include him in any Christmas celebration, to make him feel wanted or needed or loved. And not just on this occasion, but ever.

His grandmother had no redeeming qualities that I ever saw. And DH had no warm memories of her at all. She was the meanest, most verbally vicious person I've ever met.

Fast forward a few years after we were married, DH was in the military and we lived about 12 hours away from our hometown. We came back to our hometown for the unexpected funeral for my own grandmother, arriving at DH's Dad's house completely exhausted. His grandmother called and wanted us to come over to see her THAT NIGHT. Tomorrow wouldn't be good enough - come tonight or I'll NEVER SPEAK TO YOU AGAIN.

His grandmother lived another hour away - so two hour round trip. And of course it wouldn't be enough to just turn up, say hi and leave after 20 or 30 minutes. No, it had to be a full "visit".

I was really feeling terrible about my own grandmother and staggering tired from the drive. DH declined to go to his grandmother's that night - and she acted on her ridiculous threat. She never spoke to him again until she died a few years later, bitter and vindictive til the end.

My point is, your child may be better off with no grandparent than the viper you describe. There are age appropriate ways to communicate a change in the situation to your child and save them some ugly experiences in the future.

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LostLorna

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Re: Looking For Advice
« Reply #9 on: April 08, 2021, 11:43:36 AM »
Thank you to all of you who have taken the time to reply; now I wish I'd posted much sooner!

I discovered today that she'd also sent pictures to my daughter's phone of the birthday gift she'd bought and said that "I'll keep it for when I see you, hopefully not long now." All whilst giving me the silent treatment.

So, it's clear now that this can't continue. Therefore the number has been blocked. I've also told my daughter the 'tip of the iceberg' of information she needs to know for now.

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Fiasco

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Re: Looking For Advice
« Reply #10 on: April 08, 2021, 04:10:38 PM »
So, it's clear now that this can't continue. Therefore the number has been blocked. I've also told my daughter the 'tip of the iceberg' of information she needs to know for now.

Good for you! I treat my kids, as appropriate for their ages, as partners in this life. I have their backs 100 percent and they get as much information and freedom of choice as is proper for their ages. My BPDm has zero knowledge that my kids have phones and I would not hesitate to block her number if she somehow got theirs. I've told them that private, direct access to them through their phones is a privilege (for others) and not a right. They don't have to offer that level of access to anyone, and they should feel free to block the access of anyone who abuses it.

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Dandelion

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Re: Looking For Advice
« Reply #11 on: April 10, 2021, 12:52:10 PM »
Is it messed up that she's contacting my daughter while giving me the silent treatment?

I would say, yes it is.   But only you can decide.

Speaking from my experience, I hope it may help you.  Its a (slight) cautionary tale.  Apologies if its a bit long!  But it may give you some insight into possible future scenarios.

I went NC with my mother when my son was 11.  She had been so abusive to me on this occasion that there was never any doubt in my mind that NC with me meant NC with my son.  I think that was absolutely the right thing to do and I never gave it a second thought.  Abusive to me, no chance to see my son!!  Its about basic respect and protection of yourself and your family.

However, like you, I needed some support. I also had no other family.  So when she got in touch just over a year later, we resumed contact.  The next 7 years we got on fairly OK - I think partly because I had stood up to her and she was a bit careful with me, though there were still flashpoints and I had to deal with her annoying and rude behaviour at times.  But luckily as we had moved 3 hours away we only got to see her 5 -6 times a year, which also helped a lot!

Then, another of her violently abusive outbursts 6 months ago.  She gives the Silent Treatment and I go No Contact. This time round however my son is 18 years old!  Now it is much more difficult situation.  I am NC with my mother - but my son IS in contact with his grandmother.  She has done some occasional smearing of my character.  She told him I got inexplicably angry last time I visited her (reversal of the truth!).  She told him under her breath that she is changing her Will (to exclude me was the inference!) .  She has tried successfully to get some money out of him.  She has made recently digs about him being gay (he's not).  However, my son I think can handle it  better than me, and says he can handle her and for me not to worry.  I have warned him about her behaviour, he has even witnessed some of it (but not all of it going back decades).  He knows what she is like in some ways, though he hasn't really had to experience the full force of her disorder.  He is also slightly more protected because (a) they live so far away from each other and contact is limited (b) she is an old lady now at 83 and he is a teenager living his own life and  (c) my son is a grandson rather than a daughter. 

But I think you are right to say, that without contact with you, she will try to "up" the contact with your daughter, for supply purposes.   This inevitably functions as some kind of splitting and triangulating, and so is likely to effect the simple and grounded foundation of your relationship with your daughter.  It may be complicating and confusing for her to be "in the middle".  So that is a real concern considering your daughter is still so young. 

In my case in many ways it would have been better if we had stayed as NC when he was 11, as neither of us would have had to deal with any of this now. Now my son is 18 and has to make his own mind up and "manage" this relationship as he feels fit.  However, I feel uncomfortable when he visits her for example, though I know he "has" my back and is too old to be influenced unduly by her.  But I read some grandchildren ARE more easily influenced by a narcissist grandmother.  I also unfortunately hear a few things back, inevitably, though he is not a "flying monkey".

However, I needed some support when my son was younger, even at a price, so I don't beat myself up too much about it.  There is also those times when we seemed "like a happy family" and who doesn't want to try and experience that?  However I was not supporting my mother financially in any way, in fact she was helping me a bit which was one reason we resumed contact (I was a broke, homeless and chronically ill single parent when she did her hoover 15 months after our row).

Finally, even 7 - 8 years ago, technology was less intrusive in a way.  There was no face timing and my son didn't even have a smartphone.  So it was harder for my mother to make "direct contact" and vice versa.  Though she did chuck a bunch of cheap, badly wrapped "toys" outside our door one xmas for some reason.

However, if you do want NC for your daughter, it is possible.  (1) you change her telephone number (2) you would have to explain to her - on a simple level that a 10 year old would understand - that your mother has been horrible to you and so you are not in contact with her right now.  I don't believe that is "burdening" her with adult problems, in the way you were.  It is just offering a simple, short, basic honesty which I think children appreciate and can relate to, especially if it is delivered in a mature, matter of fact way (obviously not emotional if possible).

I think a 10 year old who hasn't seen their grandmother that much honestly wouldn't miss them that much - at least thats been my experience.  Children want their parents to be happy first and foremost.  It is your decision, but if you do decide to go NC all round, I don't think you will be depriving your child of anything.  Instead there is more chances for happiness and peace of mind for you, and your child will want that most of all (even if its something she can't know or express).  I think you could definitely save that money you are not donating to your mother for you, your husband and your daughter to have some wonderful holidays together!   Or for help for her starting out in life. 

You are in a strong position in many ways I think, you have support and you don't "need" her help, and you also seem close to clarity.  I hope my experience helps you in your decision.  Its not easy I know.

Oh, just saw your update!  See you have blocked your mother and given some explanation to your daughter. 
« Last Edit: April 10, 2021, 01:47:00 PM by Dandelion »