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Elderly Mom's Negativity Pushing Us Away


LC8328

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I posted a quesiton before the holidays on how to deal with my mother and her consistently hurtful words towards all of her grown kids (we're in our late 30's all the way through late 40's).

 

To her credit, she did try to be nice at times on Christmas, but other times she was back to her old self: Insulting us and our kids, etc.

 

Last week, something happened which resulted in me getting up and leaving her house without saying goodbye (something I probably haven't done in over 20 years).

 

Long boring story, but suffice it to say she asked me a simple technical question (about TVs). She stopped listening to me halfway through my explanation and kept repeating her question and I kept answering it. Then, she just stopped listening to me.

 

Then I asked her a question about a dish she cooks, and she said she didn't know. I asked her, "You don't know?" because it caught me off-guard as she never responds in this manner. And she started making this screaming sound in her throat, and started screaming. I know it sounds like I'm leaving parts of the story out but that's actually how it happened.

 

In the past, when she started yelling I'd sit there and take it or change the subject (in my younger days I'd argue with her). But that day was different for some reason. I just wouldn't allow myself to go through it again. My immediate response was to gather up the food I'd put on the table and put it back in its fast-food bag, tell my kids to do the same, and got ready to leave the house. At this point I was shaking with probably anger and who knows what else. We left and I haven't talked to her since (it's almost been a week).

 

Some background: I'm the youngest. I'll admit I was a bit spoiled growing up and I clashed with my mother a lot. But I was also close to her at times as well, if that makes any sense. She also used to hit me a lot (smack me with her hand, hit me with her slipper, pinch me, etc) when I was a tween and would scream at me for things like spilling milk on the table. I know she was stressed during these years because it was when my parents were separated and there was a lot going on. And I think in all fairness to her, she probably felt guilty about the way she treated me. I don't intend to make it look like she's a horrible person because she isn't. I mean really, she's my mother, I only have one, and she is there for me for some things. She's always been blunt as long as I've known her and as she's aging it's sort of spiraled down to...what it is now.

 

I certainly have my faults, but I do try. I know that realistically she probably doesn't have a lot of time left on this Earth. At the same time, I cannot willingly walk into a situation where I'm going to be yelled at or have her insult my children.

 

Normally, if I were the one giving advice to someone in my situation I'd say to gently talk to her about all this. The thing is, though, when a person doesn't seem very rational, and you know from experience that attempting to do so will only result in the other party screaming and making life miserable for everybody involved, that may not be the wisest option. My husband tells me that I need to remember that my mother isn't exactly operating on full capacity and I need to keep that in mind. I know this and most of the time this is my perspective as well. But I can only take so much. As you might imagine, I do not appreciate being yelled at and now as I'm getting older, I simply don't allow that to happen to me. I'll simply remove myself from the situation.

 

She called me tonight but I didn't pick up. I haven't talked to her because I wanted to completely calm down first so I wouldn't say anything I'd regret later. I'm leaning towards acting like nothing happened. For all I know she'd forgotten about it. I don't believe in putting band-aids on situations, but I'm thinking that this is probably what I'm going to have to do.

 

Anyway, I guess this is more of a venting post. Sorry to make it long but I just tried covering all the bases. I'm also curious if anyone else has a similar experience.

 

Also, thanks for your past advice on the subject. It's really helped and you guys are so helpful.

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I have a very similar experience with my mother. I'm in my early 30s and when me and my sister were growing up she was abusive to us emotionally at times. Whenever she'd get angry she would tell us we were abnormal and that her friends kids were so much more behaved than us. Alot of times instead of encouraging us whenever we have problems she would always belittle and insult us. She would also always show that she preferred my sister over me even if she didn't have to. For example she would bring food home or cook and then tell me that she did it for my sister, over time i grew resentful and caused me to look at my sister with hostility, things like this. Like your mother she would also yell at me and go on these tirades and about how bad of a kid i was and like you, i used to take it but as i've grown up i've become completely intolerable of these and would not put up with it for a second.

 

I dont have a good relationship with my mother to this day and try to communicate with her as little as i can. Its not how i would prefer it but we just can't spend too much time in the same room or else we would start to argue. My personality and hers just do not mix well and i realize that it's the cause of most of our differences and arguments.

 

Recently i had to bring her to the airport and we got into an argument prior to it (about something completely redundant but as usual she made a big deal about it and my patience towards my mother is 0 so we started to argue) and i was extremely angry as i was driving and so when i dropped her off i said as little as possible and didn't even tell her goodbye, i just got in the car and drove off. I felt really bad about that but that's just how it's been between me and her over years. I love my mother but we just cannot get along. Her relationship with my sister is not as strained as with me but it's still bad.

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Long boring story, but suffice it to say she asked me a simple technical question (about TVs). She stopped listening to me halfway through my explanation and kept repeating her question and I kept answering it. Then, she just stopped listening to me.

 

Then I asked her a question about a dish she cooks, and she said she didn't know. I asked her, "You don't know?" because it caught me off-guard as she never responds in this manner. And she started making this screaming sound in her throat, and started screaming. I know it sounds like I'm leaving parts of the story out but that's actually how it happened.

 

 

That sounds very bizarre. Could it be that she has some developing form of dementia?

 

In all, sounds like you have had a very difficult childhood. I am very sorry you went through all this. Have you ever thought about talking to some sort of therapist about it? Your mom did have a very difficult life but it also sounds like she might have had some sort of untreated depression or personality disorder or condition. Many such conditions e.g. mild Asperger's were not even known back then let alone addressed. In my opinion, not communicating in some way what is hurting you is not a good approach and not an example you want to set out for your children. That's why a professional might help you come up with more productive ways to deal with it. Good luck!

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Wow. Thank you so much for sharing. It does help to know there are others not in my family who have similar experiences.

 

I am really sorry you had to deal with that growing up. Obviously, I totally understand. I really hope you're happier now (especially when she isn't visiting) and that you have no issues on your self-worth. I don't know why mothers are so cruel sometimes.

 

Your story helped me realize that my mother is who she is. I know she's a good person at heart but she has this need to say these negative things! I guess it's about making a choice in how to handle it.

 

Thanks for your input.

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That sounds very bizarre. Could it be that she has some developing form of dementia?

 

In all, sounds like you have had a very difficult childhood. I am very sorry you went through all this. Have you ever thought about talking to some sort of therapist about it? Your mom did have a very difficult life but it also sounds like she might have had some sort of untreated depression or personality disorder or condition. Many such conditions e.g. mild Asperger's were not even known back then let alone addressed. In my opinion, not communicating in some way what is hurting you is not a good approach and not an example you want to set out for your children. That's why a professional might help you come up with more productive ways to deal with it. Good luck!

 

Hi,

 

Yes, my siblings & I have discussed the possibility of our mother having some type of mental issue. I believe she actually agreed to go to a doctor once, but I think it was forgotten and none of us followed up on the matter. So, thanks for the reminder. I do think this is part of the issue.

 

Yeah, I have definitely considered therapy and am starting by keeping a journal and addressing my emotional issues the moment any arise. Maybe I will see one in the future; it's definitely something to consider. You may also have a point in that perhaps my mother had her own condition to begin with, and obviously being untreated adding to her age probably made matters worse.

 

You are right about setting a good example for my children. I honestly hadn't thought about that. I do want them to be able to handle such things. I have to think about this, think about how to communicate my hurt feelings to my mother.

 

Thank you for your thoughts and insight.

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Wow. Thank you so much for sharing. It does help to know there are others not in my family who have similar experiences.

 

I am really sorry you had to deal with that growing up. Obviously, I totally understand. I really hope you're happier now (especially when she isn't visiting) and that you have no issues on your self-worth. I don't know why mothers are so cruel sometimes.

 

Your story helped me realize that my mother is who she is. I know she's a good person at heart but she has this need to say these negative things! I guess it's about making a choice in how to handle it.

 

Thanks for your input.

 

I'm glad it's helped you out a bit. you and me seem to have had a similar relationship with our mothers growing up. My mother is just the type of person that seem to stress out over every single thing and loves to imagine potential dangers and stress out about them, whereas i'm alot more laidback, i seriously think she loves stress because she seemingly applies it to every little thing in life. I dont have any kids at the moment but if i did, i would never leave them alone with my mother. I would never want my kids to be talked to like i was by her and i would never tolerate it either.

 

And no, i surprisingly have no issues about self esteem, in fact i think i'm mentally stronger and value myself higher than i should be considering how i grew up.

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That sounds very bizarre. Could it be that she has some developing form of dementia?

 

I was thinking the same thing. The beginnings of Alzheimers, even.

 

My mom is dealing with a bit of dementia. Her older sister--the only one of seven who lived past the age of 85--had alzheimers. My mom will be 80 in the summer and she currently lives with my sister and my sister calls me venting just about every week about mom's latest antics. My sister and her husband and daughter are all vegan and they never go eat restaurant food. My mom ordered chinese take out the other day to the tune of $60--knowing full well that no one but her eats it. She just had triple bypass heart surgery last March and she's gone back to eating the exact same way that put her in those straights. She will spend money on the craziest schemes and at the same time, complain that she needs a new bed. She could have bought 10 beds by now on what she will spend her money on. QVC is her best friend.

 

My mom wasn't abusive towards the 3 of us (I have an older brother), but she wasn't a warm, loving, emotionally supportive mother. She was (is) always right even when you put the evidence to the contrary in her face. She is very, very religious and on that subject and the subject of sex, she is the most narrow minded person you will ever meet. However, on any other subject, she is the most open minded person you will ever meet. I've never gotten her and quit a long time ago trying to get her.

 

OP--I applaud you for gathering up the food and your kids and leaving. I think that was a very healthy example to show your children. No one should tolerate abuse, no matter who it is that's dishing it out.

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Thanks for your help, everyone. And thanks for your support. You have no idea how much it helps to know I'm not the only one going through something like this.

 

I found out that she told my sibling a different version of the story: That my mother had asked me a question, and I didn't really answer, so she asked a second time, and that's when I got up and left. LOL What?

 

I wonder if she really thinks this, or if she was just trying to get a response from my sibling?

 

Anyway, as you can imagine, hearing that made me mad all over again. I know it's prideful, but it irritates me when someone thinks I did something that I didn't do. I am not the type of person to walk out because I was asked a question. Perhaps it's just because of her short-term memory? Who knows. I still haven't talked to her.

 

I guess the next step is to find a way to get her to a doctor.

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