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Thread: Should I cut ties with my mother?

  1. #1

    Should I cut ties with my mother?

    This is not something I take lightly and I have considered it alot over the years but I donít know what to do anymore. I am 33 yrs old and my relationship with my mother is unhealthy. It always has been but Iím tired of apologizing just to fix things. Some background- every few months my mother starts an argument out of the blue, this last argument stemmed over my brother and I talking about a tv show, and starts to belittle me and attack my personality and hobbies. She brings up things from when I was a teenager which Iíve apologized for but forgets every negative thing she did to me. IE, always put me down, complained i wasnít girly enough, called me a selfish B when i was 12, blamed me for her and my fathers arguments etc. Iíve gone to counceling and moved past everything until she brings it up. I donít know what to do anymore. She makes me feel like crap. I have a good stable job and my own house but itís never good enough. She refuses to go to counseling and refuses to ever apologize or admit when she is wrong. No one can ever have a different opinion than her. When weíre not arguing we have a good time together but I constantly watch what I say. Iím at the end of my rope this time and need some advice.

  2. #2
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    Do you talk to your mother only every 6 months, so therefore she has a bunch of stuff wound up inside her?
    does she always talk like this or only occasionally?
    I would 1) stop asking her for apologies about the past. She may not see the past in the same way.
    2) Set physical boundaries. Meet her in places where she typically behaves for a period of time (a lot of people who have friction with a family member find that its bad blood between them, but the relative is on good behavior with others - ie, in public at a restaurant, etc) or with "buffers' - with the cousin that everyone likes. I had an in-law family where i found things to be quite pleasant meeting them halfway at a restaurant or sightseeing with a cousin and aunt who they liked and were not against me joining along. If your mom tends to be fine for an hour or two, make the event an hour or two long only so you can end on a good note.
    3) Set an emotionally boundary. Change the subject. don't let a dead horse be beaten =- do not bring up past nitpicks yourself. "You can complain about my teenagehood if you wish.But as long as you do, i am hanging up." try to change the subject unemotionally and neutrally and if it doesn't work end the interaction "sorry mom, but i am late for my meeting. I'll see you soon".

    You can keep someone at arm's length without them realizing you are.

    I would do those things -- forget having a deep relationship with mom -- do not expect her to be the mom you want her to be - and keep her in your life but at arm's length and see how it goes.

  3. #3
    We actually live a few minutes from eachother. I tend to see her once every two weeks and she calls multiple times a week. We donít have any other family in the state aside from my father and brother. I deff need to stop asking for apologies I know Iíll never get. I think the hardest thing for me will be like you said, accepting weíll never have the deep relationship I want.

  4. #4
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    I agree with abitbroken. Keep your mother at arms length. She treats you poorly instead of dealing with her own issues. Maybe she's afraid to face herself? I honestly don't know. What I do know is that you don't have to put up with her behaviour.

    An auntie of mine would suddenly go berserk on me (and others) for no reason. So keeping her at arms length whilst remaining amicable was the best thing I could've done. (Caveat: I do this with good hearted family members that are difficult. Any mean spirited family members are cut out of my life permanently.)

    Keeping your mother at arm's length is best to keep the peace. She's family after all.


    Edited to add: You might have a deeper relationship further down the line. Honestly, one never knows. But for the time being, minimize contact. Be always amicable to her. Assess things as time progresses.

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  6. #5
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    Originally Posted by Something87
    We actually live a few minutes from eachother. I tend to see her once every two weeks and she calls multiple times a week. We donít have any other family in the state aside from my father and brother. I deff need to stop asking for apologies I know Iíll never get. I think the hardest thing for me will be like you said, accepting weíll never have the deep relationship I want.
    I find when two people are in a dance - always the same results -- one yells, the other cries, one complains, the other tells them they are a baby - whatever it is, it takes one person to behave differently. I know from your perspective you want her to have a come to Jesus moment and go to counseling -- but you are just as embroiled in this as she is -- even if she seems more wrong or is. I stepped off the merry go round with someone once and they could not function over the fact that i was not having it anymore -- they seemed to short circuit for a time. She feeds off how you react to her and you ramp up when she starts to go off.

    I think living a few minutes away - if she calls a few times a week - sometimes "oh hi mom. i am just about rready to go into the store. can i call you later?" or "my boss is ringing in.." or maybe sometime HAVE something to talk about to head her off "mom, do you have that recipe for Grandma's potatoes?" Get it so you actually chat once a week when YOU want to. But she will NOT realize you are controlling it. Plan to go have dinner with her once a week instead of dodging and avoiding her and making her chase you for time. If you stay in control -- a quick meal every week vs seeing her twice a month at times YOU set, etc, you may find things change -- there could be things you learn to tune out and mom just may surprise you. If she lives within 10 minutes of your house, i could see how maybe she would get all "worked up" saving all the animosity to pile on at once. Try it. it may shock her.

  7. #6
    All of this is great advice that I will deff have to try. Please keep it coming, this has been going on for over twenty years and Iím willing to try just about anything. One thing Iím thankful for is I am really close with my brother, he and my dad both think the way she treats me is ridiculous but they stay out of it. I donít want the issues with me and my mom to cause issues between her and my father and brother as well.

  8. #7
    Platinum Member melancholy123's Avatar
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    You need good boundaries with mother. I never got along with my mother, she was very critical of me and my life, for all of my life. I moved several hours away from where she lived so I could not be summoned to visit her for a day. I really disliked her. She never figured out it was how she treated me that drove me away.

    I put big distance between us and basically cut her off as much as I could. It worked for me. It is not wrong to do that with anyone who is toxic to you.

  9. #8
    Platinum Member Cherylyn's Avatar
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    Well, unfortunately, I'm in the same boat. I love my younger brother to bits and then there is my mother to deal with.

    Since you and your mother get along so much better when you're together, ditch the phone chats. I too have noticed that my mother behaves properly whenever we're together especially when witnesses abound. My sister and mother-in-law (MIL) are the same way. People in general tend to behave better whenever witnesses surround them. They suddenly become very self-conscious which is beneficial to you. There is no funny business then. Avoid 1:1 private get togethers at all costs! Never make yourself vulnerable to attack.

    Therefore, take it from me, you have to work smarter.

    I agree with abitbroken should you be on the phone with your mother, keep it EXTREMELY brief and superficial at best. Most of all, keep it very short! Don't invite dragged out dialogue. Politely and quickly exit the conversation immediately!

    Even though you have a good time with your mother in person, don't drag out those interactions either otherwise you'll become unnecessarily stressed due to having to guard your every word unnaturally. I limit my interactions with others if I know the scenario will be dicey, risky and make me feel uncomfortable.

    Don't burn bridges with your mother otherwise you will unwillingly limit contact with your brother and father because your mother is a package deal.

    I'm NOT close to certain people in my life for a reason. The best thing you and I or anyone can do is to keep the peace with difficult people.

    Estrangement is very doable with some people such as friends, neighbors and extended relatives. However, with close family members such as siblings or parents, try your best to maintain peace especially if you still want to maintain access to your brother and father and continue a family relationship with them.

    Keeping the peace does not refer to closeness nor chumminess. You can still maintain a cool, frosty, safe distance while enforcing healthy boundaries and creating peace for her and everyone. Practice good diplomacy and become a very shrewd person.

  10. #9
    Originally Posted by Cherylyn
    Well, unfortunately, I'm in the same boat. I love my younger brother to bits and then there is my mother to deal with.

    Since you and your mother get along so much better when you're together, ditch the phone chats. I too have noticed that my mother behaves properly whenever we're together especially when witnesses abound. My sister and mother-in-law (MIL) are the same way. People in general tend to behave better whenever witnesses surround them. They suddenly become very self-conscious which is beneficial to you. There is no funny business then. Avoid 1:1 private get togethers at all costs! Never make yourself vulnerable to attack.

    Therefore, take it from me, you have to work smarter.

    I agree with abitbroken should you be on the phone with your mother, keep it EXTREMELY brief and superficial at best. Most of all, keep it very short! Don't invite dragged out dialogue. Politely and quickly exit the conversation immediately!

    Even though you have a good time with your mother in person, don't drag out those interactions either otherwise you'll become unnecessarily stressed due to having to guard your every word unnaturally. I limit my interactions with others if I know the scenario will be dicey, risky and make me feel uncomfortable.

    Don't burn bridges with your mother otherwise you will unwillingly limit contact with your brother and father because your mother is a package deal.

    I'm NOT close to certain people in my life for a reason. The best thing you and I or anyone can do is to keep the peace with difficult people.

    Estrangement is very doable with some people such as friends, neighbors and extended relatives. However, with close family members such as siblings or parents, try your best to maintain peace especially if you still want to maintain access to your brother and father and continue a family relationship with them.

    Keeping the peace does not refer to closeness nor chumminess. You can still maintain a cool, frosty, safe distance while enforcing healthy boundaries and creating peace for her and everyone. Practice good diplomacy and become a very shrewd person.
    I think I worded it weird. The fights usually happen when weíre together. If she doesnít start one we are fine and have a good time. Sadly the arguments start no matter who is around. This last time my brother and father were both there and she started in on my father as well. Still good advice thank you

  11. #10
    Platinum Member Cherylyn's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Something87
    I think I worded it weird. The fights usually happen when weíre together. If she doesnít start one we are fine and have a good time. Sadly the arguments start no matter who is around. This last time my brother and father were both there and she started in on my father as well. Still good advice thank you
    Then if this is the case, enforce healthy boundaries. See your brother and father without being grouped with your mother, if possible such as not during family gatherings. If this is not possible, then whenever your mother starts arguments, learn to simply walk away, walk out of the room, go outside or walk out even if you have to leave to go home since you only live a few minutes away. Never stoop down to her level, never defend yourself because it's useless (based upon history), never engage in idiocy. Never fall into her gaslighting trap. Google the word: "gaslighting." Walk away. Repeat countless times if necessary. She can't argue with a wall. Sooner or later, you'll teach your mother that her behavior is intolerable and unacceptable to you. You don't have to fight, argue back, sass back, defend yourself, talk back, justify nor clarify anything. Just walk away. Let her cool her jets. As you walk out, let her feel humiliated and embarrassed; NOT you.

    The trick to winning over your opponent is to leave them perplexed and confused. They can't attack you if you disappear. You are keeping the peace while exhibiting passive aggressive behavior which is perfectly permissible at this point. If you have to do this a hundred or a thousand times, do it. Eventually, she'll learn just like a dog that if she treats you with respect and behaves in a civil manner, you will stay. If not, you will leave time and time again.

    Don't apologize anymore. You're done apologizing. Don't ever expect her to apologize either. The deal is: You only want peace. This is how I am with people whom I don't like in my life. I don't grovel nor apologize anymore nor do I expect them to apologize because it's never forthcoming in a million years. If they apologize, then great and if not, I don't expect apologies anyway. The less you expect, the less disappointed and hurt you will feel.

    Walking away is a demonstration that whenever you are treated with disrespect, you will exit the room or house or restaurant or wherever you are. Just leave. Then next time, if it happens again, repeat.

    Also, don't make your visits too frequent. Space them out.

    Take a different tack and approach. Be shrewd.

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