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Advice on how to deal with formerly estranged mother after father's passing


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Thank you, everyone. 

I spoke to her today and she said I am "obliged" to visit upon my dad's death. She said she doesn't want anything from me except for me to keep in touch with my siblings and visit from time to time. I don't know if she's trying to gaslight me, but the "obliged" bit isn't great. 

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28 minutes ago, RuedeRivoli said:

Thank you, everyone. 

I spoke to her today and she said I am "obliged" to visit upon my dad's death. She said she doesn't want anything from me except for me to keep in touch with my siblings and visit from time to time. I don't know if she's trying to gaslight me, but the "obliged" bit isn't great. 

So what.

I mean it. Seriously, so what?

What can she do to you if you don't go except say mean things to you and about you? She already does that, right? So nothing would change except you'd have to endure a gut wrenching week in the presence of someone who makes your life miserable.

I still vote for stopping the phone calls and not going.

Please know you do have a choice here.

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2 hours ago, boltnrun said:

So what.

I mean it. Seriously, so what?

What can she do to you if you don't go except say mean things to you and about you? She already does that, right? So nothing would change except you'd have to endure a gut wrenching week in the presence of someone who makes your life miserable.

I still vote for stopping the phone calls and not going.

Please know you do have a choice here.

You aren't obliged to so anything.  She's lucky you even call her never mind hop a plane to go see her and be given a hard time for it.  You really do have a choice.  Also remember that "NO" is a complete sentence.

Are you afraid of her in some way?  I dont understand why you are willing to blow a week at her place, or in a hotel near her place, for any reason.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I am going to lose my mind. I'm enraged and crying as I'm tying this. 

She pulled the same narcissistic BS she always pulls. Whenever something good happens, she brings me down by saying something negative or shifting the conversation back to herself. 

I called her today to tell her I will be visiting this week (against my better judgment). I will be there for three days and staying at a hotel. I rang her today to tell her my itinerary, she didn't ask me how I'm doing or anything, as soon as I rang, she used her "I'm tired of life voice". She didn't even show any enthusiasm at the idea of me coming tomorrow or anything. I said I would be flying in the morning and will more than likely drop at the hotel before going to her place. Her immediate response was: "You dad died, what can we do. You know, I've been feeling bad all day because of your father, I'm so sad". 

She annoyed me to the core. Her daughter (whose life she made an utter misery for years) is finally speaking to her and visiting her after 6 years of NC and she turned the conversation back around to her and her pain. No enthusiasm, nothing. I cut the call short and said, I'm sorry I have to get ready, I don't have time to speak. It lasted two minutes. 

I made the mistake of already paying for the hotel. If I hadn't, I would have cancelled the trip altogether. 

Edited by RuedeRivoli
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I am sorry you are disappointed.  I think your expectations were unrealistic.  You expected her to react as a person who appreciates your thoughtful actions in taking the time to fly there and stay outside of your home and assist her after this tragedy.  But you know from vast experience that her reactions are unpredictable - you never know how she will react.  Why would this have been different?  Go because you believe it is the right thing to do.  Do not expect your mother to react as you would react to someone doing this for you.  You are bringing you down with your unrealistic expectations. You are far too attached to her reactions.  Check in with yourself when you feel this way and ask yourself whether your expectations are unrealistic and why you are doing what you are doing.  If you are doing it mainly to get approval from your mother, then no it is not worth doing.

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I totally understand your pain and disappointment, as my own family dynamic has quite a few similarities.

I think Batya has hit the nail on the head here. You have to remind yourself of who you are dealing with and adjust your expectations accordingly. I know it is hard, especially under charged circumstances like this. I fall into the same trap myself. Have a good cry (or scream of rage) as needed and then keep moving forward.

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Thank you @Jibralta and @Batya33

You are right, my expectations are highly unrealistic. I really thought me not speaking to her for 6 years would have made her appreciate me more (or at least, made her change her reactions), but she has not changed one bit. It's the same story each time I give her the news of something positive about me and of course, this triggers me each time. 

The worst part is that I was almost feeling "positive" about going because I'll see my younger siblings, but I obviously now got reminded there is a price to pay which is having to deal with her in person. I need to come to the life-long conclusion that she will never act like the mother I truly want and I'm not sure I want to bring this dynamic back into my life. When we were no contact, I never experienced any feeling of rage - I was a peaceful and calm person. Now, this feeling of internal rage which I thought I had banished from my life when I cut her off is coming back in full force and it is not a good thing, especially as I keep thinking about her reactions over and over again. This dynamic is going to eat my life away if I allow it to. 

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6 minutes ago, Seraphim said:

I am sorry but she is never going to change. I am not sure why you are going truth be told  

I'm mainly going to see my siblings because one of them specifically is doing really badly emotionally (he experienced a lot of trauma last year on top of my dad's death) and I want to see him along with my two sisters. That's the main reason that is making me go at this point. 

The paperwork thing turned out to be an excuse. It appears the mortgage is almost paid off (only a few months left) and of course, she only revealed that to me this week when I've been asking her for a month about information on the outstanding mortgage and she said I need to come sort it out and work the mortgage protection out. By the time she revealed this to me, the flights and hotel were already booked. 

She withholds information purposefully and only reveals it when it's convenient for her.

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5 minutes ago, RuedeRivoli said:

t's the same story each time I give her the news of something positive about me and of course, this triggers me each time. 

Why would you share positive news about yourself with this person? 

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13 minutes ago, Batya33 said:

Why would you share positive news about yourself with this person? 

I'm never going to disclose information on my personal life to her ever again. I never ever got a positive reaction on anything with her. You're right, at this point, I don't even know what I'm trying to achieve sharing personal positive news. I don't know if I'm subconsciously trying to get validation from her, but she's a lost cause, it's crystal clear. There's a clear pattern.

She grew up an orphan and you would think that the day an orphan has a family of their own, they would cherish it to the best of their abilities, but no in her case, unfortunately. 

Edited by RuedeRivoli
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16 minutes ago, RuedeRivoli said:

I'm mainly going to see my siblings because one of them specifically is doing really badly emotionally (he experienced a lot of trauma last year on top of my dad's death) and I want to see him along with my two sisters. That's the main reason that is making me go at this point. 

The paperwork thing turned out to be an excuse. It appears the mortgage is almost paid off (only a few months left) and of course, she only revealed that to me this week when I've been asking her for a month about information on the outstanding mortgage and she said I need to come sort it out and work the mortgage protection out. By the time she revealed this to me, the flights and hotel were already booked. 

She withholds information purposefully and only reveals it when it's convenient for her.

Your siblings are HER responsibility. I know you care but I think this will end badly for you if you go. 

Edited by Seraphim
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28 minutes ago, RuedeRivoli said:

She grew up an orphan and you would think that the day an orphan has a family of their own, they would cherish it to the best of their abilities, but no in her case, unfortunately. 

This is where you have to check yourself.  You're making all sorts of assumptions about people who experience hard times then experience good fortune or pull themselves out of hard times -it's far far more complex in most cases so I'd lose the "one would think" attitude. It's like the time I told my delightful son at the school bus stop a day before his 11th birthday that we were whisking him away to Disney for his birthday as a surprise.  His reaction -he cried, he said he didn't want to go.  I was floored.  My feelings were hurt.  When I calmed down I realized I needed to figure out what was really going on rather than assuming he was acting like an ungrateful brat.  "One would think" didn't work then.  It often doesn't.  

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1 minute ago, RuedeRivoli said:

How?

She is going to say and do more things to hurt you. She will lay more and more guilt on you until you feel like you can't take it.

You're already thinking about self harming and you haven't even gone yet.

At this point this is a choice you're making based on hoping someone who never has shown you any caring or compassion will suddenly start behaving like a loving mother. This just isn't going to happen.

How much is the hotel room? You should only have to pay for one night if you cancel now. Isn't that amount worth your peace of mind?

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1 minute ago, boltnrun said:

She is going to say and do more things to hurt you. She will lay more and more guilt on you until you feel like you can't take it.

You're already thinking about self harming and you haven't even gone yet.

At this point this is a choice you're making based on hoping someone who never has shown you any caring or compassion will suddenly start behaving like a loving mother. This just isn't going to happen.

How much is the hotel room? You should only have to pay for one night if you cancel now. Isn't that amount worth your peace of mind?

It's true. She is like a cannonball. To be honest, all day today, I kept stressing out about having to face her in person (that was before the disastrous call I mentioned above and I hadn't spoken to her in a week). Then, I start thinking about how I'm feeling trapped with her and might be for the next 30 years and my anxiety starts shooting to the roof. 

I'm staying at an Airbnb (I used hotel room term as generic), but the cancellation fees are pretty hefty (50% of the full stay fee, plus cleaning fee, plus first night). I'll wind up writing off a great portion of the full amount (£300). My flights are OK as I used a flexible option. 

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20 minutes ago, Batya33 said:

This is where you have to check yourself.  You're making all sorts of assumptions about people who experience hard times then experience good fortune or pull themselves out of hard times -it's far far more complex in most cases so I'd lose the "one would think" attitude. It's like the time I told my delightful son at the school bus stop a day before his 11th birthday that we were whisking him away to Disney for his birthday as a surprise.  His reaction -he cried, he said he didn't want to go.  I was floored.  My feelings were hurt.  When I calmed down I realized I needed to figure out what was really going on rather than assuming he was acting like an ungrateful brat.  "One would think" didn't work then.  It often doesn't.  

I agree. As long as I keep projecting my expectations onto her based on "one would think", I'll keep getting disappointed. 

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10 minutes ago, RuedeRivoli said:

It's true. She is like a cannonball. To be honest, all day today, I kept stressing out about having to face her in person (that was before the disastrous call I mentioned above and I hadn't spoken to her in a week). Then, I start thinking about how I'm feeling trapped with her and might be for the next 30 years and my anxiety starts shooting to the roof. 

I'm staying at an Airbnb (I used hotel room term as generic), but the cancellation fees are pretty hefty (50% of the full stay fee, plus cleaning fee, plus first night). I'll wind up writing off a great portion of the full amount (£300). My flights are OK as I used a flexible option. 

I mean, it's spent money whether you do or don't go. So you're not really losing money.

Think of it as a fee you're paying to keep yourself from being exposed to toxicity.

Or, you can go ahead and go anyway, knowing full well your flight back home will be spent feeling miserable and wishing you just had gone ahead and cancelled.

I'm not usually this pessimistic but your mother has clearly shown you who she is. If you choose to go anyway it shouldn't be surprising when she makes you feel even more miserable.

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10 minutes ago, boltnrun said:

I mean, it's spent money whether you do or don't go. So you're not really losing money.

Think of it as a fee you're paying to keep yourself from being exposed to toxicity.

Or, you can go ahead and go anyway, knowing full well your flight back home will be spent feeling miserable and wishing you just had gone ahead and cancelled.

I'm not usually this pessimistic but your mother has clearly shown you who she is. If you choose to go anyway it shouldn't be surprising when she makes you feel even more miserable.

I'm pretty sure she will bring my mood down instantly, there's no doubt on that. I was in a happy / stable mood today (aside from the bursts of anxiety when thinking of her) until I rang her and I suddenly was filled with anger and tears. I was active and after my call with her, I just sat there for three hours zoning out and thinking about how angry I am. I lost track of all I needed to do.

We're all grieving, but for some reason, she thinks her pain and feelings trump everything else. 

You're right to be pessimistic. We were talking on the phone the other day and she told me about some issue my brother experienced and she said: "Not to make you feel guilty or anything, but if you'd been here, you would have been able to help him". 

She tries to make me feel guilty and bad about myself at every turn. I'm really wishing I had died instead of my dad, that would have freed me from this nightmare with her.

I'm actually contemplating moving somewhere where there is a significant time difference (we're talking 6+), in order to avoid all dealings with her. I'm literally on the verge of dropping everything and starting elsewhere far far away because even though we don't live in the same country, we're still on the same continent and a 1h time difference isn't enough distance. I had this one dream of moving to Australia or Canada for years, but was too much of a chicken. If I could now, I would in a heartbeat. 

I've no hope otherwise because my mental health has significantly declined since she was forced back into my life and if I remain in this dynamic with her, it won't end well at all (referring to the negative thoughts I mentioned earlier). 

Edited by RuedeRivoli
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Instead of wishing for your own death or doing something drastic like moving to another continent...how about you just resolve to keep her out of your life?

You have agreed with everything everyone has said on this forum, yet you keep choosing to engage with her.  You're even still going on this trip despite saying you agree it would be best not to go.

I really don't understand this at all.  It's very concerning, TBH.

My "father" didn't pay child support to my mother.  She died long before she should have and yes, I blame him.  I cut him completely out of my life the day I turned 18.  I don't have stress, anxiety or guilt over him because he is not in my life.

In the end, of course it's your choice.  But you can't be surprised when she continues to cause you to feel bad because you know she will.  If you choose to communicate with her and go on this trip then just understand you are making a conscious decision to do something that you know will upset you (to say the least).

I hope you have some resources lined up for when you return, because you're likely to come back feeling even worse than you do now (if you can even comprehend feeling worse).  Can you have a friend meet you at your home when you get back so you won't be alone?

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I've been thinking about you, wondering what. happened with your visit, now I see you haven't gone yet but plan to. I think it's a terrible idea to put yourself in the line of fire with this woman who drags you down so badly.  You have given no logical reason to actually go to her house.

If you are hoping deep down that she will act like a normal person, you are going to be so disappointed.  

Your idea to move far away is a good one.  We moved 3 hours from the city where my mother lived as it was too far to go to her house for one day, especially with small kids.  Best idea i ever had!  It put an end to so much BS that she used to dish out with her "command performances" as I called them when she would expect us to show up.  I did make the trek one time when an uncle died and she was as cold as ice to me that day.  Yeah I wished I's stayed home.  I never made that journey again, it wasn't worth it.  I think you will find the same thing happens to you, it's not worth it.  Distance can solve a lot of problems.  Let your siblings come see you.

i hope you feel a huge relief when this trip is over and that you are not devastated but if that doesn't happen I hope you have a good therapist you can go see for some help.

It seems like you have a masochistic streak in you that you'd be wise to work on getting rid of.  I think the loss you'd incur on the hotel bill would be worth it for your own peace of mind as what you are planning is going to be so damaging to you.

 

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Thank you, everyone. 

So, it appears the odds were working against me anyway because I ended up missing my flight this morning despite my best efforts to get to the airport on time. I live 10 minutes away from the airport and left 2.5 hours before the 10am flight because I had no check-in luggage. I was met with a stroke of bad luck: the pre-booked shuttle arrived at the stop early, so I missed it, then I booked a taxi which made me wait for 40 minutes and subsequently cancelled on me and I tried to book another one, but it was 30 minutes away and stuck in traffic, which would have been too tight to go through security etc... as I would have arrived to the airport 15 minutes before the gate closure. 

I've been traveling alone since I was 18 and never had a single issue of the sort. Never missed a single flight or got stood up by a taxi driver. I therefore lost £100 on this flight + £50 for tonight's Airbnb, which annoys me to the core. I got rebooked on a flight tomorrow, so ultimately, I will only be there for 2 days. I should have known this trip was already starting on the wrong foot from how she got me worked up yesterday.

I don't have many friends (I actually have no friends), so no one to confide in really. I will certainly look into starting therapy once I've recovered from the above financial write off. 

The reason why I'm going is also due to the fact that once I promise something to someone, I never go back on my promise even if it means sacrificing my own well-being. I know my siblings are looking forward to seeing me and I would feel really bad letting them down. Of course, they're not my responsibility, but they're still my siblings. 

These past 3 days which were supposed to be days off, have been a mental drain, from re-planning the trip on Saturday, to her getting me worked up yesterday and me missing my flight today, I'm about to have a meltdown because my life was so stable before this whole situation unfolded and now I've lost all peace of mind (in addition to unnecessary financial write-offs). 

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I think part of you wanted to miss the flight.  I travel a lot and where we are- with the pandemic -you have to give lots of extra time yes even more than 2.5 hours at times. We almost always take public transit to the airport )we can walk there and it gets us right there- but in November we drove to the airport because we didn't trust public transit given covid plus staff shortages.  And we also left plenty of time.  No judging here at all.  I believe your heart wasn't in it so you didn't take the extra care to account for pandemic shortages/issues.  I get it!

I'm glad you could get rebooked and I'm a little surprised you're still going!  Good luck!

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27 minutes ago, Batya33 said:

I think part of you wanted to miss the flight.  I travel a lot and where we are- with the pandemic -you have to give lots of extra time yes even more than 2.5 hours at times. We almost always take public transit to the airport )we can walk there and it gets us right there- but in November we drove to the airport because we didn't trust public transit given covid plus staff shortages.  And we also left plenty of time.  No judging here at all.  I believe your heart wasn't in it so you didn't take the extra care to account for pandemic shortages/issues.  I get it!

I'm glad you could get rebooked and I'm a little surprised you're still going!  Good luck!

We no longer have COVID restrictions over here, so from what I heard, everything is back to "normal" and I based my time frame on that.

I don't have a car myself, so I had to rely on public transportation. Waiting 45 minutes for a cab when I live in the city center is unheard of. I often use cabs to get places including the airport at all hours of the day or night and the longest wait time ever experienced was 20 minutes. I should have left 3-4 hours before the flight, but I think I relied on my past experiences. 

I spent a lot of money on the flights and hotel, so while I was reluctant to go on this trip, losing money is not something I'm willing to do voluntarily (i.e.: by missing a flight). I'm quite conservative with my finances in general, so this write-off is quite a pain. 

I'm not going to lie, I feel a bit relieved I didn't fly today, but the financial write-off is not great (even if I didn't voluntarily miss the flight). 

Edited by RuedeRivoli
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