Facebook share
LinkedIn share
Google plus share
Twitter plus share
Give Advice
Ask For Advice
Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 11

Thread: Dealing with a Co-Dependent Mother

  1. #1
    Platinum Member thekid55's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    New York
    Posts
    1,635
    Gender
    Male

    Dealing with a Co-Dependent Mother

    Hello all, happy holidays. I'll try to keep this as short and sweet. I'm having a really, really hard time having a relationship with my Mother, who is terminally ill, can't get over her divorce with my Dad, etc. I'll add more details below, but it's a madden relationship that leaves me very sad and hurt because I've given her so many chances and keep feeling disappointed. I've gone to counselling, tried to give my relationship with her many months of space, etc.

    I cannot handle the highs and lows of the relationship with my mother, who has a terminal illness. My mother was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis 20 years, and over time, it has slowly eaten away at her body and her brain. Physically, she needs a walker to get around and mentally, she's with it 90% of the time, but has her moments where she goes on 'the war path'. To complicate matters more, my Dad divorced my Mom about 4 years ago, ending a 32 year marriage. My Dad had a girlfriend on the side--and chose to end his marriage after years of trying to work on things with my Mom.

    Once my parents were divorced, I tried to help out my Mom as much as possible. I have a very successful career in a big city, which is about 3 hours away from my Mom. Every weekend, I'd travel down to my Mom's house, with my now ex-wife, and help her with tasks and chores. She needed to sell our childhood home, so I made it my mission to help her and clear out the house. The house was very big and it took many, many weekends of work to finish it off. My Mom was very sweet and nice when I helped her out, but as soon as the project was done and she was moved into her new, better home, she turned on me. She would have complete meltdowns whenever I disagreed with her or when she didn't get her way. It got so bad that my ex and I had to leave on many occasions and make the 3-hour trek home after a short visit. I felt used and just upset after these interactions.

    To deal with her sadness and depression, my Mom got hooked to anti-depressants and had many suicidal episodes where she would threaten to kill herself on the phone. It was just fake posturing, but it hurt me being so far away. We've had police check in on her, medics, doctors, etc. I think this was her cry for help, but it hurt and made me worry.

    This past year (2019) was a tough one for me. Ultimately, my 5-year marriage ended, I spent a lot of time in counselling to deal with the pain of divorce and my rocky relationship with my Mom, etc. I've given my Mom a lot of time and space this year, so I can deal with my own issues, but she loves to remind me that I "Abandoned" her, didn't cal her, etc. She doesn't understand the plight of me (or my sister, who dealt with an eating disorder). She turned some of my family members against me, reciting the 'abondonment' that I did to her. These family members and I used to be very close, but don't talk to me anymore even though I've tried to talk to them.

    My latest frustration came on Christmas. After a few months of good phone conversations, I agreed to take a few days off from work so I could spend a few days with my Mom. As soon as I got there on the 22nd, we had a disagreement over something trial, she started hurling insults at me, etc. I told her that I'd stay if she stopped, but if she started again, I'd leave. Sure enough, after a few good days, she started up again on Christmas Day and I left to go home. On my way out the door, she started screaming that "we shouldn't have a relationship anymore because I can't handle it". Just more crapp that was designed to make me feel bad.

    I feel a lot of pain and sadness because I love my Mom, but I think she sees my Dad when she looks at me and just wants to punish me when I don't do things her way/I don't say things she wants me to say. Any tips on dealing with this type of situation? The best course of action thus far is just leaving when I make my feelings clear. I've done it multiple times.

  2. #2
    Platinum Member milly007's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Posts
    2,068
    Gender
    Female
    It sounds like you've been dealing with a lot, thekid55.

    It's nice that you've really made an effort to be there for your mother and help her out.

    I can't imagine how difficult it would be trying assist a parent whom you love, who not only has a terminal illness, but who also (sometimes) treats you in an undesirable way. You're stuck between wanting to help, but also not wanting to subject yourself to cruel comments which can take an emotional and psychological toll.

    I'm interested in knowing how your therapist helped you navigate this difficult relationship with your mom and whether their services are (or were) helpful?

    During those moments when your mom is not on her "war path", as you call it, have you tried to discuss your feelings with her and let her know how her comments and behavior affect you? I know you mention in your OP that you've told her you would leave if she continues to insult you, etc., but have you had an actual heart-to-heart with her?

    And is her "war path" associated with the Multiple Sclerosis or is it within her ability to control?

    I'll admit, thekid55 - this is a tough one.

  3. #3
    Silver Member Skeptic76's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    California
    Age
    43
    Posts
    347
    Gender
    Male
    Whoa, this sounds so tough. Being a primary relationship itís not an easy one to just cut bait with, and for what itís worth I commend your dedication.

    A wise person once told me that ďforgiveness is relinquishing your right to punish people for their bad behavior.Ē Doesnít mean that you must condone or approve of the behavior, you can acknowledge it as bad behavior... Like debt forgiveness doesnít mean the debtor never borrowed the money, just means the creditor says you no longer have to pay it back.

    I donít know what part you may play in any of this (it always takes two.) But when I search my heart in difficult dynamics and see a pattern in my own behavior thatís less than ideal? Iíve found that if I take ownership of my own crap, no matter how egregious the other personís offense(s) and acknowledge my own mistakes to the other party it often creates room for NEW and better ways of relating.

    I wish I knew what to do to make your situation better because Iíd tell you for sure, but the fact that youíre going to therapy and seeking outside perspective speaks volumes about your character and I wish you a fulfilling journey with your mom down the path of her golden years.

  4. #4
    Platinum Member thekid55's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    New York
    Posts
    1,635
    Gender
    Male
    Originally Posted by milly007
    It sounds like you've been dealing with a lot, thekid55.

    It's nice that you've really made an effort to be there for your mother and help her out.

    I can't imagine how difficult it would be trying assist a parent whom you love, who not only has a terminal illness, but who also (sometimes) treats you in an undesirable way. You're stuck between wanting to help, but also not wanting to subject yourself to cruel comments which can take an emotional and psychological toll.

    I'm interested in knowing how your therapist helped you navigate this difficult relationship with your mom and whether their services are (or were) helpful?

    During those moments when your mom is not on her "war path", as you call it, have you tried to discuss your feelings with her and let her know how her comments and behavior affect you? I know you mention in your OP that you've told her you would leave if she continues to insult you, etc., but have you had an actual heart-to-heart with her?

    And is her "war path" associated with the Multiple Sclerosis or is it within her ability to control?

    I'll admit, thekid55 - this is a tough one.
    Thanks for the response, Milly. The counselor advised me to clear state my boundaries and advise what I would do if she broke through those boundaries. A few days ago, I made a sincere attempt to have a heart-to-heart with her. I told that I was hurt because I'm trying to give her a nice Christmas and be there for her while also having my own life and trying to move forward with my life. I told her that we're never going to agree on every topic and every person is just different (e.g., I'm different from my sister, my sister is different from my aunt) and we're each good (and bad) at certain things. She doesn't listen to my words, at all, and just spins things about how it affects her. This Christmas visit was especially tough for me because I've healed so much, mentally and emotionally and started to move forward with my life since 2019 has been a tough year. I went through a divorce earlier this year and I tried telling her that in times like these, I need my family the most. Instead, she just insulted me, telling me that I abandoned her and left her all alone last Christmas. She also told me that I should breakup with my new girlfriend because "she's very nice" and I'm an a-hole. Nice, right? And it's not like I just show up on holidays and then disappear, either. I called her at least 3-4 times a week to check in and see how she's doing.

    Her "War Path" is just the rage she feels when she doesn't get her way or someone has a different point of view. I equate it to a young child throwing a fit. I don't know if it's from MS (or not) because I was very young when she was first diagnosed and don't know how she re-acted, pre-MS.

    I'm trying my best because I was always taught that family is the most important thing in life and I truly believe that. However, when family relationships turns sour, I have to be honest with myself and wonder if it's really the best thing for me.

  5.  

  6. #5
    Platinum Member figureitout23's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Posts
    4,701
    Honestly, sheís going to be who she is and deal with her pain as she chooses.

    As painful as it is, the only way to avoid it while not hurting her is to appease her, change the subject and limit your in persona interactions.

    Adult parent/son/daughter relationships can be super hard to navigate, you add baggage and it just adds to it, unfortunately you canít really fix it, you can suggest it, but itís going to be up to them.

  7. #6
    Platinum Member thekid55's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    New York
    Posts
    1,635
    Gender
    Male
    Originally Posted by Skeptic76
    Whoa, this sounds so tough. Being a primary relationship itís not an easy one to just cut bait with, and for what itís worth I commend your dedication.

    A wise person once told me that ďforgiveness is relinquishing your right to punish people for their bad behavior.Ē Doesnít mean that you must condone or approve of the behavior, you can acknowledge it as bad behavior... Like debt forgiveness doesnít mean the debtor never borrowed the money, just means the creditor says you no longer have to pay it back.

    I donít know what part you may play in any of this (it always takes two.) But when I search my heart in difficult dynamics and see a pattern in my own behavior thatís less than ideal? Iíve found that if I take ownership of my own crap, no matter how egregious the other personís offense(s) and acknowledge my own mistakes to the other party it often creates room for NEW and better ways of relating.

    I wish I knew what to do to make your situation better because Iíd tell you for sure, but the fact that youíre going to therapy and seeking outside perspective speaks volumes about your character and I wish you a fulfilling journey with your mom down the path of her golden years.
    Thanks, Skeptic. I've thought a lot about my own behaviors. If I'm truly being honest, I used to have a hard time being patient, but I've gotten better in time. Since my Mom needs a walker, it takes her awhile to do things. In prior year,s I would angry and frustrated. In recent times, I've been much more patient and understanding. Sometimes, she'll criticize me for not taking initiative to do things for her, but she's stubborn and likes doing some things herself. When she says these things to me, I'll tell her that she needs to directly tell me things so I can help her. She's never happy with that answer.

    By leaving her house to go home, I don't view that as punishment. Rather, I view it as removing myself from a bad situation. I'll be the first to admit that I was/still am codependent so it's hard for me leave people in need. I've addressed this point in counselling and am much more 'hands off' with people in my life. My mother, however, loves to remind me about everything she did for me as a child and hold it over my head like I'm supposed to do the same for her now. I'm more than happy to help her, but I cannot be/will not be her caretaker.

  8. #7
    Silver Member Skeptic76's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    California
    Age
    43
    Posts
    347
    Gender
    Male
    Youíre quite obviously a thoughtful and introspective person - and I didnít mean to imply that you were acting out by leaving. Iím a firm believer that temporarily removing oneself from a stressful or potentially harmful situation is legit, nay....SAGE.

    I guess when I chose the word punish in my other post I meant it in the form of resentment. And this could be me projecting, because this is something I do:

    When someone treats me in a way I donít like/approve of I tend to get resentful at them. But my M.O. is generally to ďMr. Nice GuyĒ them even harder as a result, rather than lash out. When it doesnít work I will go ďfull martyrĒ in order to get them to behave the way I think they should.

    Of course manipulation like that never works so my resentment level just rises and rises. I think I am punishing them in my JUDGEMENT of them, those various and sundry offenders. Itís like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies. Like grabbing a hot coal from the fire and holding it in my own hands until I can burn them with it, haha.

    But if I can see that they are lashing out due to their own pain, and that it isnít personal? Well I can then sometimes forgive. And the forgiveness of the other is practiced for MY benefit as much as theirs...with forgiveness comes a measure of peace, even if conditions remain unchanged.

    Anywho, Iím clearly not an expert but it seems to me that the path you are walking with your mom is an admirable one, and that she is lucky to have you as a son.

  9. #8
    Platinum Member milly007's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Posts
    2,068
    Gender
    Female
    Originally Posted by thekid55
    Thanks for the response, Milly. The counselor advised me to clear state my boundaries and advise what I would do if she broke through those boundaries. A few days ago, I made a sincere attempt to have a heart-to-heart with her. I told that I was hurt because I'm trying to give her a nice Christmas and be there for her while also having my own life and trying to move forward with my life. I told her that we're never going to agree on every topic and every person is just different (e.g., I'm different from my sister, my sister is different from my aunt) and we're each good (and bad) at certain things. She doesn't listen to my words, at all, and just spins things about how it affects her. This Christmas visit was especially tough for me because I've healed so much, mentally and emotionally and started to move forward with my life since 2019 has been a tough year. I went through a divorce earlier this year and I tried telling her that in times like these, I need my family the most. Instead, she just insulted me, telling me that I abandoned her and left her all alone last Christmas. She also told me that I should breakup with my new girlfriend because "she's very nice" and I'm an a-hole. Nice, right? And it's not like I just show up on holidays and then disappear, either. I called her at least 3-4 times a week to check in and see how she's doing.

    Her "War Path" is just the rage she feels when she doesn't get her way or someone has a different point of view. I equate it to a young child throwing a fit. I don't know if it's from MS (or not) because I was very young when she was first diagnosed and don't know how she re-acted, pre-MS.

    I'm trying my best because I was always taught that family is the most important thing in life and I truly believe that. However, when family relationships turns sour, I have to be honest with myself and wonder if it's really the best thing for me.
    Well, it sounds like you're doing all that you can do under the circumstances. You can't force her to act accordingly and she can't force you to be at her beck-and-call.

    It sounds like the only things that would make your mom happy is if you were at her beck-and-call, and if you just accepted her insults/gave into her every command. Neither of these viable options, right?

    If you're communicating with your mom, establishing boundaries and doing everything in your power to help her, I'm not sure what else you can do. And if walking away at times is the only way to salvage your emotional well-being when your mom is headed down that "war path", then so be it.

    And don't be so hard on yourself. You have to acknowledge that you're doing everything that you can to assist. You sound like a good son.

  10. #9
    Platinum Member Cherylyn's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2019
    Posts
    1,786
    thekid55 ~

    My cousin's husband had been diagnosed with MS several decades ago. While he was younger during earlier years of their marriage pre-kids, he and my cousin had a few good years, he was still vital and life was good. Then they eventually had 2 kids and everything gradually went downhill from there with the same exact symptoms you had described. Feelings of paranoia, belligerence, confusion, irrational behavior, insults, extremely difficult relationship, the whole lot. Between advancing stages of MS, chronic fatigue and potent prescription drugs causing loss of control with one's anger and frustration, there is nothing anyone can do. She's entrapped so she is hosed whereas you have choices.

    Don't allow guilt to cloud your better judgment. You need stronger boundaries with your mother no matter what. This means it is your job to create more time and space between you and your mother. Don't explain. Just do it. Don't make your feelings clear because explaining until you're blue in the face will be a repeated effort in futility. You are the one who has to enforce healthy boundaries. Don't talk to her as much and don't see her as much. Limit time together whether on the phone or in person. Don't subject yourself to abuse whether it's your mother or anyone. This is my motto and mantra. If people don't give you respect, you lessen time with them and with some people avoid them altogether. Never allow yourself to be pummeled no matter who it is.

    Limit your interactions with your mother whether on the phone or in person. Do the bare minimum. Don't try to explain. My cousin gave up as should you. The more you explain, the more disappointed you will become.

    Whenever you are with her which will be seldom, learn to walk away as soon as interactions become heated again. Do it to save your sanity.

  11. #10
    Platinum Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2018
    Location
    The emerald city
    Posts
    1,137
    Gender
    Male
    Kid,

    My mother passed away last year, but for about 4 years prior I am sure she was lapsing into dementia. Mood swings - almost bi-polar - living on past memories. She was critical of me, every woman I'd ever been worth,etc. She even turned on her grandsons in the end. It is fairly well known that where the father dies (or in your case, had had enough and moved on) the mother turns to the oldest son to replace the emotional bond, in the absence of finding a boyfriend. All sound familiar?

    As all you can do is persevere. You won't "get it right" so don't try. Keep on visiting her, but reduce the frequency to once per month instead of every week. Perhaps she will value that a bit more.

    It sounds like she is leaning more on the other relatives, having successfully alienated you. I wouldn't be too concerned about what they say - pretty soon they too will no doubt feel the lash of her tongue.

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Give Advice
Ask For Advice

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •