Manipulative mother

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Manipulative mother

Postby Ziggy » August 3rd, 2015, 9:37 am

I feel like I've been posting in the forum a lot these days but there's been a lot of life changes and stuff going on.

I've also posted about my mother before but the situation is escalating.

Basically we've had a rocky relationship my whole life. She has no concept of boundaries, I've never had a space that was free from her and her judgement. When I still lived at home she would go through my stuff and guilt-trip me for "keeping secrets". She avoids direct conflict like the plague, so I never even have a chance to stand up for myself. She always told me she was doing it out of love and I didn't even think to question her behaviour until I was 16 or 17.

I've lived across the country from her for almost a year now and it's been such a relief. I still have mixed feelings because I have a lot of good memories with her and I'm grateful for the opportunities she's given me, and it's hard to reconcile the two extremes.

She's been traveling for the past month or so, and yesterday we spoke for the first time in a while. I can't even remember exactly what happened, only that I came away feeling awful. She feels lonely and she's been fighting with her friends, she wants me to come visit but I'm going back to school soon (and frankly the thought of staying with her terrifies me). I'm financially dependant on her and she uses that to make me feel guilty and keep me on my toes. She'll offer money for something that I need, like tuition, and then suddenly retract it when I do something that inexplicably offends her. When I try and fight back or call her out she pretends I don't exist until I come grovelling back and apologize (I'm 18, no matter how shitty she is I still crave my mother's approval).

She's also in the midst of divorcing my father, which puts her in a spin of self-pity and desire for control.

I'm trying to fight the urge to apologize again because she seems so lonely and pathetic, I'm trying not to give in. But I keep thinking "Maybe if I just talk to her, this time it will work and we can have a relationship again." It never works. It never ends well.

I know the longer I wait, she worse it'll be when I actually have to see her. It's a relief to know that I do have the capacity to take care of myself if I have to, I have friends at home that I can stay with if I end up having to leave the house. I have a bit of money saved up and I'm working on getting a reliable job.

I have a support system here which I'm really grateful for, but it's easy for people to write my feelings off as teenaged angst. What 18 year old doesn't hate their parents? But this is so much more than that.

I know logically I'm in a pretty good position. I have the ability to negotiate, I have leverage because I can threaten to drop out of school or cut off contact completely. I can stand up for myself and have a backup plan. But there are so many messy emotions involved that the whole situation makes me pretty dysfunctional. Since I last talked to her I can't stop crying.

I dunno. I dunno I dunno.
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Re: Manipulative mother

Postby manuel_moe_g » August 3rd, 2015, 3:27 pm

Please take care, Ziggy. I am sorry that your mother is manipulating you like this.
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Re: Manipulative mother

Postby Fargin » August 3rd, 2015, 3:40 pm

It seems like you have a pretty good view at 18 of the mind games your mother throws at you and the negative effect it has on you. Honestly I don't think, I really had the same awareness as you have, until my thirties. I knew things were messed up, but I wasn't really aware of the extend of the manipulation.

If my mother wasn't my mother, I'd cut her completely out of my life a long time ago. I'm financial independent, I have my own life across the country and I'm becoming better at protecting myself, when visits are unavoidable. Whenever I visit, I always attempt to have my own program for the visit, so I'm not stuck with her all day, because the longer I talk with her, the more I risk ending up in some sort of therapist role for my mom, where she can unload all her shit on me. Whenever I fall back in that "role," my visits take a tremendous toll on me and leaves me feeling disgusted with myself, for my total lack of standing up for myself. I've discovered taking charge of my visits, having a program and preparing myself for visiting my mother, I'm more capable of protecting myself and not allowing her to put all her burdens and worries on me.

Usually it would take me a week to recover from a visit, where when I returned to my own home, I'd be incapacitated, depressed and upset. But my visit strategies have already made a great difference, when I now return from a visit, I might have one off-day, but it's more to do with the travel and less to do with the visit, especially because I've become better at avoiding being my mothers yes-man or doormat. This has taken some practice, but I think the first step was becoming aware of what visiting my mother did to me and accepting that a visit would hurt me and would have an effect on my well being in the days after the visit.

I'd say, if you visit her, experiment with setting your own private terms. Try to limit your visit to as few days as you can get away with and try to think up some activities, so you can get out of the house a couple of hours everyday. Also accept that by visiting her, you're putting yourself in harms way and accept that it might cost you emotionally and psychologically. Accept the trade off, you might have to endure some abuse, but it might be worth it, while you're working on your psychological and financial independence. Knowing you have a way out, friends and savings, might allow you put a mental barrier up to shield off some of your mother's toxicity. Maybe even experiment with protecting your integrity and boundaries, so you decrease negative feelings about your own part in the relationship.

I still long for my mother's approval, when I'm around her, but I'm also always reminded, that I have to look elsewhere or within for approval. It hurts and I mourn not having a mother capable of caring for much more than her own insecurities and needs, but at least now I know, I have to look elsewhere and not driving myself crazy hoping my mother will suddenly and magically turn into a caregiver.

Best of luck and if you visit her, make sure you protect yourself, so you're not too messed up, when you leave. :)
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