A growing distance

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    Hey everyone,
    I am fairly new to the forum; I have been reading forum posts for about a year now but this is my first post. Unfortunately I was brought to posting because I am in need of some advice. I am 19 and a couple years ago my parents got divorced. My brother and I have both moved on however my mom really struggled and is still in the process of recovering. I am now back at home to attend college in my hometown for a year and the relationship between my mother and me has rapidly deteriorated in the time I have been home. At the time of my parent’s divorce I knew my mother was in a lot of pain and I did not hold it against her, however, since then she has become a toxic person in my life. I know my pain comes from my own dissatisfaction with the relationship between us however I no longer can stand to be around my mother. I do not wish to remove her from my life because we used to have a good relationship. To go into some detail, within the last year she has become increasingly selfish and thoughtless. I was away at University for most of the time that the change occurred so I was not really conscious of it but now that I am home, and have been home, it has been more and more obvious. When she is not at work she actively avoids spending time around my brother or I and when she is around us she is almost also engrossed in either her facebook, pinterest, or the TV. Any conversation that does take place is almost always about her complaining about money, work, or something else wrong in her life. She doesn’t ask how we are doing and if she does it is only in passing before she returns to talking about her own problems. She has also shirked a lot of her responsibilities outside of work. I know I am responsible for helping out around the house and I am fine with that, however, she has started taking advantage of me helping out and has given up all responsibility over her own house. I am now the only one responsible for cleaning the house, doing the dishes, cooking, and mowing the lawn. I work and am in school so it really adds extra stress to the point that I feel like a maid. I didn’t want to let it bother me but just lately she has started complaining to her friends that the house needs cleaning, despite my efforts, even though she doesn’t help to do the cleaning. I do think that she feels bad about it at some level because she says I don’t have to do the extra housework but if I don’t do it, it does not get done. I have tried to talk to her about all of this twice over the past couple months but it’s not exactly an easy thing to tell someone that they’ve become toxic – especially when they are family – and each time she closes off and acts like I am the problem. Both of the times I have tried talking to her have only caused more damage and the second time ended in a shouting match and her telling me to get out of her life. Since then I have more or less stayed at an emotional distance but it is only causing me to feel grief and guilt. My brother, who has his own apartment, says that it really doesn’t matter and that he is fine not being involved but because he lives away and, I am now at home for a year, it is almost inevitable that her negativity has an effect on me. If anyone has some advice on how to handle the situation, it would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.


    Hi Chris,

    I feel your suffering and it’s a lot to go through for you at this young age. All your efforts to approach your mom and talk to her are appreciable and commendable. It takes a lot of strength and understanding to do that.

    I think both of you are suffering and going through a tough phase in life. It would be great to continue to understand her and forgive her wring doings for she is also going through a turmoil. What can help you both in this period is ‘love’. Give her as much love as you can Chris. She’s a woman and her heart will melt with small favours, help and gifts (can be even flowers, it will make her day!). And let me tell you, that all the problems she shares with you (you’re giving ears to her), once she’s out of this rough patch, she will understand and appreciate your efforts a lot. It will only strengthen your ties with her. So keep doing it.

    Keep giving love and you’ll see the results!:-)

    God bless you Chris! Sending you lots of love and positivity!



    I’m sorry for your suffering, friend, and can understand the difficulty in becoming aware that our parents are human, not just “my momma”. Mothers are supposed to be this big huggy teady bear of a boob that we can suckle from, find nourishment and comfort. But beyond that role, there is a woman. She is not toxic, and it would be better for you to set down your gavel. Rather, consider noticing how she is drained, feeling overwhelmed, perhaps lonely. Its easy as a young kid, without the weight of loss and life experience silencing your inner child, to stand superior to her, more able to carry the weight of the daily responsibilities.

    This isn’t because she is bad, rather, she needs more tender care than she is receiving. So perhaps she searches here and there, looking for comfort, connection, peace. That search can become very restless, no wonder she doesn’t have the energy to clean the house! Now, that’s not to say that its your job to clean, it isn’t. But, perhaps you can help the woman, set aside the need for mom, and ask her to come and play with you. Help her see the beauty in her life, how her loving child cares about her and her well being. Not “clean her mess for her”, but “clean both of your messes together”, or take her out for a night on the town, or take a yoga class together. Hand in hand is always better than a finger pointing.

    Either way, to reach out to her with kindness or not, keep that gavel far away from your fingertips. Its easy to judge our parents, but that only closes our own hearts. The truth is you don’t know what hardship she has endured, why she limps like she does, and so if you can’t say something nice, something encouraging, perhaps zip it and just get back to your own needs. The last thing she needs is one more stone in her backpack, feeling like she failed or is failing you.

    With warmth,

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