I can’t say words because she talks over me

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raspberryoxygen

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I can’t say words because she talks over me
« on: July 20, 2021, 12:07:26 AM »
I interact with my undiagnosed BPD mother only because I have two young children who, naturally, love their grandparents. I do not leave them in her care and we live overseas. I limit contact (no phone/text, emails screened by my husband, occasional Skypes with the kids) because it bothers me so much, but I have trouble expressing why. Yes, she was my abuser as a young child and caused cPTSD, but I’m having trouble recognizing how she triggers me now and setting boundaries. It is scary. Mostly, I’m rather dissociative in her presence, I think. We’re on our first visit home since Jan. 2020. I’m realizing that one reason being with her hurts so much is that I can’t say anything without her jumping all over me, interrupting, saying she thought of the same thing but better, giving advice, or judging me. I tried three times to ask my daughter how she was doing, mostly because I suspected she needed the toilet, and each time my mother jumped in with a monologue about how wonderful the project they were doing was. The third time I said “Mom, I’m talking to DD.” and she started the silent treatment, said “I see my project isn’t wanted or appreciated.” and then when I said, “that’s not how I see what I just said” she said tearfully, “Well I know how I was made to FEEL!” Any ideas for setting and holding a boundary to address this behavior? I’m here for about another week. Hugs and thanks in advance.
« Last Edit: July 20, 2021, 12:09:09 AM by raspberryoxygen »

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Writingthepain

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Re: I canít say words because she talks over me
« Reply #1 on: July 21, 2021, 04:59:47 AM »
So basically your mother is so desperate for your attention that she will ignore the needs of her grandchildren. I guess you could say firmly 'I'll listen to you in a moment mom but right now xx needs me '
It probably wont work the way you hope and she will probably use it to just get more attention.
My NPD mom has always talked over people blatantly, as a result she few if any friends and people right her off as being rude.
Not that she has a clue about this of course, she believes shes delightful

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SunnyMeadow

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Re: I canít say words because she talks over me
« Reply #2 on: July 21, 2021, 01:03:35 PM »
My NPD mom has always talked over people blatantly, as a result she few if any friends and people right her off as being rude.
Not that she has a clue about this of course, she believes shes delightful

This seems to be a common trait in NPD people. My mother does the same thing and also thinks she's delightful  :roll:

raspberryoxyen, in your case I'd get out of the house as much as possible. Take the children out with your mother or without her so there are other things to see and do besides her wanting all the attention. If she's giving the silent treatment, leave the area and enjoy not hearing her voice.

I try to talk about very neutral things with my mother or ask her about her, her, her. I can zone out that way and she carries the conversation about her most favorite topic. I give bland or boring replies. "oh really?", "that's interesting, I've never heard that". I listen to my mother's advice and it goes in one ear and out the other. It's pretty meaningless to me now. I give my mother very basic attention and questions which holds her in a normal-ish pattern for a while. When she start veering off into a Poor Me area, I steer it right back into something neutral. I did this recently on the phone. She wanted to rehash an ancient history sad topic of her POOR ME (I've heard it 100 times) and I wasn't having it. I interrupted her, changed the subject and wouldn't let her start on about it.

I'm sorry you're there for another week. I'd definitely think twice about another in person visit anytime soon. It sounds very stressful.

 :bighug:

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Cat of the Canals

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Re: I canít say words because she talks over me
« Reply #3 on: July 21, 2021, 05:48:31 PM »
My PDmil is the interrupter in my life. She has absolutely zero interest in allowing anyone else to talk or for any conversations to happen that she isn't the center of. I can imagine it's incredibly frustrating to set a boundary like that and then have her play the victim.

I would suggest checking out the "Toolbox" section of the site. Especially the Medium Chill guide. There's a whole boatload of lovely ways to keep your emotional distance while maintaining your boundaries. In your mother's case, it sounds like a dose of, "I'm sorry you feel that way." is in order. If the Silent Treatment and snotty remarks continue, I'd move on to, "I can tell you're very upset. I think the kids and I ought to leave until you're feeling better." Then you go back to your hotel/take a walk or drive/do whatever suits your situation best.  The important part is that by LEAVING, you are communicating a clear boundary that you won't subject yourself or your children to this behavior.

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Lisa

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Re: I canít say words because she talks over me
« Reply #4 on: July 21, 2021, 10:42:58 PM »
Ugh!  That's so annoying!!
My Mom does this too.  At family gatherings, I will be having a conversation with someone else and then suddenly she will shout my first and middle name in a scolding tone across the room, disrupting not only my conversation but everyone else! just to say something completely benign like she saw a dog that looked like mine the other day?!?!
She will also come up and pull my arm physically pulling me away from the person I was talking to.
It's mind boggling the lack of social awareness

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JustKathy

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Re: I canít say words because she talks over me
« Reply #5 on: July 22, 2021, 08:09:03 PM »
I relate to all of this. Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings with my family were absolute sh*t shows. My Nmother always invited her sister (my Aunt) and her family. My Aunt only saw me at these holiday gatherings so would try to catch up on how I was doing. If she asked me about something I was succeeding at (like my career) Nmother would loudly interrupt and say, "So, K, how is your cat doing?" She'd prevent me from telling the rest of the family that I had a good job, a new car, a nice house, or anything that showed I had a happy and productive life. She'd change the topic to something mundane, and if the person talking to me continued to speak, she'd raise her voice and shout over them.

I sure don't miss those family gatherings. The talk at the dinner table invariably turned into a screaming match. My mother was always the loudest voice in the room, cutting everyone off and controlling the conversation.

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raspberryoxygen

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Re: I can’t say words because she talks over me
« Reply #6 on: July 24, 2021, 04:25:31 PM »
Thank you so much for helping me feel less alone as I deal with my mother on this trip. I'm barely functioning and it is hard to write on this forum while I'm with her because a part of me is so petrified of betraying her. That part of me is somehow sure that being on this forum was the cause of her freak out two nights ago because I didn't make her feel sufficiently good about the new dessert recipe she tried. It is tricky to navigate my impulses/needs to keep her happy, do amateur therapy hour on her to "fix" her, and respect my (still very weak, but getting stronger) self. Which of these is most important? Surely the least important is trying to "fix" her. And of course my most important job this whole trip is being a mother of two kids who are dealing with a different house, country, language and time zone. At least there are massive amounts of toys here. That is how she covers up for everything else.

Yes, WTP, thank you for reframing it clearly, "she is so desperate for your attention that she is ignoring the needs of her grandkids..." Her narcissism isn't something I caused because I'm doing a bad job. It's just her need for attention, not something I'm causing by acting badly. That helps. I forget that.

Getting out of the house is super super advice. Yes. That was gold. I did this now every day. Because having the grandbabies in public makes her feel amazing. Random people on the street are giving her attention! I don't have to! It is a lot of pressure on me because crying grandbabies in public makes her lose her mind. But I know that and I put doors between us when I need to.

And then hearing from you that, yeah, that's normal NPD/BPD behavior and there's nothing that can be done to stop it. That helps because my impulse is to try to "fix her" through my actions. MY ONLY PURPOSE IN LIFE IS TO CURE MY MOTHER'S INCURABLE MENTAL ILLNESS AND I'M FAILING!! Yeah, okay, no.

What about this situation: we're in the park, walking, and my mother is making my 6-year-old look at and appreciate every little thing my mother finds interesting. My mother keeps pestering until my daughter says enough of the right words to make my mother feel good. When my daughter points out something "look, a bunny!" my mother completely ignores her. The reason this is happening is that me, my father and my husband are all ignoring my mother's constant need for attention. So I decided to start providing the necessary narcissistic supply by fake-appreciating my mother. This works and my mother doesn't seem to notice who is answering. And my daughter is free to go. But I really hate it. Does it make sense to keep doing this? What about if I tell my mom to stop, which she will take as criticism and flip out about? I'm not sure if I'm brave enough for that. Or I could tell my daughter it's okay to ignore her. Or wait for my daughter to get fed up naturally, because I think she has enough of a sense of self despite everything. I donno.

Maybe, when I've made the conscious decision to expose my family to this, I need to suck it up, accept that it hurts terribly and comfort my traumatized parts as best I can. This pain is mostly mine, not my mother's or my childrens' or my husband's pain. I actually don't think my kids are hurting that much from the narcissism because she is not their sole caregiver as she was for me. Well, typing here helps a lot with the pain. Thanks so much for being here. I'm grateful for you.



« Last Edit: July 24, 2021, 04:34:01 PM by raspberryoxygen »

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Cat of the Canals

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Re: I canít say words because she talks over me
« Reply #7 on: July 24, 2021, 05:05:04 PM »
I can practically feel the anxiety and pain in your post, raspberryoxygen. It sounds like this visit is really putting a strain on you.

It is tricky to navigate my impulses/needs to keep her happy, do amateur therapy hour on her to "fix" her, and respect my (still very weak, but getting stronger) self. Which of these is most important? Surely the least important is trying to "fix" her.

BINGO! I highly, highly recommend reading "Stop Caretaking the Borderline or Narcissist" by Margalis Fjelstad, because she does a wonderful job of explaining just how we have been sucked into this cycle of trying to "fix" the PD person in our life and gives a lot of great info for breaking the cycle.


But I really hate it. Does it make sense to keep doing this? What about if I tell my mom to stop, which she will take as criticism and flip out about? I'm not sure if I'm brave enough for that. Or I could tell my daughter it's okay to ignore her.

I don't think it makes sense to continuing ANYTHING that makes you miserable. At the same time, telling her to stop is likely to cause drama and is probably unlikely to actually make her stop in the long run. I do believe there is a time and place for setting direct boundaries like that, but this might be one that isn't worth it, practically speaking. So instead of trying to get her to stop the behavior, you can simply stop responding to the behavior. Again, I'd suggest checking out the "Medium Chill" guide. MC is all about keeping a mostly unspoken boundary between you and the PD and not allowing yourself to get pulled into their drama. If she starts to demand that you "ooh" and "ahh" over every little thing, you can simply give a cool and calm, "That's nice." If she keeps up, you say, "I said it was nice."

I also think teaching your daughter now that she is not responsible for her grandmother's moods/feelings/reactions and does not have to humor her every time she starts demanding something is a very good idea.

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SunnyMeadow

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Re: I canít say words because she talks over me
« Reply #8 on: July 24, 2021, 06:47:30 PM »
We are here with you raspberryoxygen and we absolutely understand.

My whole life as a young mother was filled with making my mother feel good. As my children got older, my mother would pout and send me nasty emails when she got home about how my children didn't run up to her with JOY when she arrived at our house  :no:  Talk about sick. The thing is she was a pretty regular person in their lives. She wasn't a novelty and with children being children, she wasn't that exciting to them.

I agree with Cat of the Canals,
At the same time, telling her to stop is likely to cause drama and is probably unlikely to actually make her stop in the long run. I do believe there is a time and place for setting direct boundaries like that, but this might be one that isn't worth it, practically speaking. So instead of trying to get her to stop the behavior, you can simply stop responding to the behavior.

Agree! This may not be the best time to set firm boundaries. The good news is you'll be leaving in a few days. Then you can set more boundaries when your mother is far away and you aren't under her roof. Ask your husband to engage with her more to get her off your back. My husband used to do this because he didn't get annoyed by her like I did. He'd ask her a bunch of political questions and boy, she'd go to town!  :banana:

Do whatever feels best to get through this trip then don't go there again. Next time, stay in the next town or somewhere else where you can be at a hotel or B&B and meet her for a few visits, not at her house. Don't make the habit of staying with them. It's awful. At least if you do visits somewhere else, you all have your own rooms and can escape at night to your personal space.

Deep breathing raspberry and keep in mind you'll be leaving soon! ♥