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  • #369844
    Carrie
    Participant

    I am a 37 year old single mother. I was raised by a single mother. I always knew something was off with my mother. She would do things like guilt me for not buying her the gifts she wanted, make fun of me for being too skinny or having buck teeth, compare me to my sister and try to steal any spotlight that was on me at all among many other things.
    When I was 23 I ran off and married a man in another state just to escape. When it didn’t work out I found myself back in her home at 34. It was awful. We did not get along. She would guilt me if I didn’t take care of all of her needs including cooking and cleaning. I tried to do as much as I could, but it would always wear on me as I never had anything left for myself.
    Today, I am now living on my own and raising a 3 year old little girl. It has been a hard time in my life. I have had struggles with her father and getting along. I have tried to lean on my mother and have a better relationship with her. I felt like she was trying to be there for me, but she would always turn the attention back on herself, or her being there was not giving very good advice and creating more problems. I also noticed when she would stay with me and spend time with my daughter she did not help even though she would say that she would. In fact, she would expect me to still wait on her hand and foot and attend to my daughter. She was coming to my home 2 hours away almost every weekend and I would pay for everything and do everything. She would even ask my 3 year old to go and get her things. I felt this was inappropriate, but I have never once in my life been able to address anything negative with my mother. If I said something she would make me feel horrible probably just with a look and silence. I left my daughter with her on two separate occasions, both of which I came back with concerns that she had not been taken care of.
    Recently, I got upset with her over text for not being supportive (emotional support) and helping me when I asked for it with my daughter’s father. When I got upset, she stopped responding and has not contacted me since. Not only was I devastated and hurt already, but this crushed me. After this happened I refused to beg for her attention or reach out. I stopped responding and allowed her to play the victim while I shut down my social media and walked away so that I was not playing her games.
    My grandmother was calling me nonstop, but my mother never reached out. I was always close with my grandmother, but she will guilt me into calling my mother. Her and my mother also have an extremely toxic relationship where they will call me and talk poorly about the other. They have done this my entire life. Anytime I have asked them not to, they continue to do it. They argue and put each other down constantly. My grandmother will cry and guilt me into things and it is mentally draining. As much as I love her, I decided I had to walk away from them both. Noone else in my family speaks to either of them. My mother also isolated me as a young child from everyone else in my family so I have no relationships outside of them both.
    I recently sought therapy, but I feel stuck and alone. It is very hard raising a three year old and to have no help from your family and to not be with the father. I have worked on and improved my relationship with my daughter’s father, but he has moved on with someone else. I don’t know how to start over and love myself, mother myself, be a good mother, build other relationships and stay positive.

    #369883
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Carrie:

    I will retell your story, staying true to what you shared best I can, but present it in a different order:

    Your grandmother called you many times, your entire life-  and talked poorly about her own daughter. You asked your grandmother to stop, but she didn’t. When in the presence of her daughter, your grandmother constantly argues with her daughter and puts her down.

    Sometimes your grandmother guilted you into things, such as calling your mother when you didn’t want to. She  mentally drained you. No one in your family speaks to your grandmother.

    Your mother called you many times as well,  your entire life- and talked poorly about her mother. You asked her to stop, but she didn’t. When in the presence of her mother, she argues with her mother and puts her down.

    When you were a young child, your mother, a single mother,  isolated you from everyone else in the family. She made fun of you for “being too skinny or having buck teeth”. She compared you unfavorably to your sister. She tried to steal any spotlight that was on you. Later on, she guilted you into buying her gifts, cooking, cleaning and taking care of all her other needs.

    When you were 23, you ran off and married a man in another state, so to escape your mother. The marriage didn’t work out and you were back in your mother’s home when you were 34. She guilted you into cooking and cleaning etc., and exhausted you so much, that you had nothing left for yourself.

    Currently, at 37- you are living on your own, raising a three year old little girl. You tried your best to have a better relationship with your mother. At times it felt to you that she was trying to be there for you, but she always turned the attention back on herself. Sometimes your mother told you that she wanted to help you with your daughter, but when she visited you- visits in which you “pay for everything and do everything”- not only did she not help you with your daughter, she expected you to “still wait on her hand and foot”.  She even told your daughter “to go and get her things”.

    Whenever you tried to address these behaviors with your mother, she made you “feel horrible probably just with a look and silence”. When you were recently upset with her, “she stopped responding and has not contacted (you) since”- that crushed you and you “refused to beg for her attention or reach out.. stopped responding”. You shut down your social media and walked away, “not playing her games”.

    You feel stuck and alone, raising your daughter with no help from family, as a single mother.

    My input today: currently, your mother and grandmother deserve each other. Neither one of them deserves you. Your grandmother has been part of your Problem; your mother has been part of your Problem, and neither has been or can be part of your Solution.

    You shared that your mother and grandmother speak to each other, but no on in your family speaks to either one- I am glad that you joined the rest of your family in this regard, and hope you will have no further contact with either one.

    Your grandmother mistreated and turned against her own daughter, and in turn, her daughter mistreated and turned against her own daughter.

    “I don’t know how to start over and love myself, mother myself, be a good mother, build other relationships and stay positive”-

    – how to be a good mother: end the tradition of mother-turning-against-daughter. Do not turn against your own daughter, not now, and not later, not ever. Do not betray this little girl’s trust in you.

    – to start over make sure that you end what needs to end- your contact with these two women. It is very difficult to end a relationship with one’s mother, so you may need quality psychotherapy to help you with it.

    – in regard to building other relationships- you mean with a new man in your life, perhaps.. friends, others?

    anita

     

     

     

    #369888
    Carrie
    Participant

    Anita,

    Thank you so much for responding. Your response to someone else’s post led me to this forum to begin with. It took me awhile to post anything, but I am glad I did.

    I agree, I have to stay no contact. I have only ever considered possibly letting them back in if I became mentally strong enough to be immune to the toxic behavior. I don’t think that will ever happen and even if it did, I cannot risk my daughter being brought into it. That doesn’t take away the pain though, but it will take time. I am in therapy now. My therapist gently told me today that I had a long way to go. I am very very angry at what has been done to me that I cannot get back. I am already struggling as a mother because I was never shown what it means to be a good mother. My daughter’s father is very stable and he has a very good family. I mourn not being able to give her those relationships with my family, but I know she will have strong healthy bonds with him and his family.

    In regards to new relationships, to give you some background, I moved to this area so that my daughter could be closer to her father. We did not work out and now I do not have friends in the area. I have struggled deeply with her father moving on, but I want to be at peace with it. I find myself being bitter, but I do not want to seek out a new relationship for that reason. I want to be okay being alone. The kind of relationships I would like could be with my neighbors, or just meeting a new friend at the library. I tend to isolate and not talk to people due to anxiety and fear of rejection. I think I know I just have to make a leap at some point and reach out to people.

    Thanks so much for taking the time to read and respond to my post.-Carrie

    #369889
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Carrie:

    You are very welcome.

    “I have only ever considered possibly letting them back in if I became mentally strong enough to be immune to the toxic behavior”- from a very personal experience, there is no immunity of a daughter to her mother’s toxic behavior, not when that toxic/ abusive behavior occurred repeatedly, or on an ongoing basis, for years, during the time the daughter was a child, growing up.

    My mother was toxic/ abusive, and her toxicity resided in my brain long after I ended all contact with her, over seven years ago. Before I ended contact- the sight of her face, the sound of her voice, the touch of her hand  distressed me so much, much of the time. After I ended contact with her, the memories of her face, of her voice were enough to distress me so/ to re-ignite that toxicity, so to speak. It takes a long healing process to remove that toxicity from one’s brain.

    The healing process started for me in my first quality psychotherapy experience in 2011.

    I want to reply further to your recent post but I need to be more focused to do so. I will therefore be back to you later, in a few hours. You are welcome to post more, anytime before I return. You and I can communicate here over time, be it weeks or months, if you want to- so there is no rush.

    anita

    #369895
    Carrie
    Participant

    I feel a very sick and twisted bond with my mother that makes me ill. What you say makes sense. Though the thought of her and thoughts of my childhood trigger me, I still find myself looking at her pictures or digging through old texts or emails. I am mostly just very confused and looking for answers and I am mourning a relationship that never existed. I also still question myself. It sounds like you have probably felt all of these things. I am very sorry she hurt you. No child deserves to be abused. A mother is supposed to love you unconditionally and be the one person who will support you and be there for you no matter what.

    I don’t understand why mother’s, women, people, why or how anyone could harm their child, but especially a mother. I know you are right. I know you are right about “there is no immunity of a daughter to her mother’s toxic behavior” and that “it takes a long healing process to remove that toxicity from one’s brain.” It hasn’t even been a year for me. Take your time responding, but if you want to share anything more about your story, please do. I have a very long journey ahead and I appreciate the support. I will probably step away for the evening after this, but I very much look forward to reading your next post. Thank you-Carrie

    #369909
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Carrie:

    You are welcome, and thank you for expressing empathy for me.

    “I am very very angry at what has been done to me that I cannot get back”- I understand your anger, it is a valid anger.

    “I was never shown what it means to be a good mother”- you were shown how to be a bad mother: don’t repeat your mother’s ways, and you will be a way better mother for that.

    “I mourn not being able to give her those relationships with family”- your daughter’s relationship with you is the most important relationship in her life, way more important than her relationships with family members who do not live with her.  Make your relationship with your daughter a healthy, loving one, and she will be more fortunate than most.

    It was a good move on your part, to make it so that your daughter is closer to her father, because her father is stable and a good father (?).

    Is there an outdoor meetup place in your area, such as a coffee place where people socially distance and socialize?

    “I feel a very sick and twisted bond with my mother that makes me ill… I am mostly just very confused and looking for answers and I am mourning a relationship that never existed“-

    -will you elaborate on the four items I italicized above? If you do, I will read and respond when I am back to the computer.

    “if you want to share anything more about your story, please do”- I want your thread to be about you and your story, not about my story. But if you have specific questions for me, questions that may help you understand your own situation better, feel free to ask me.

    I will be away from the computer and back in about 13 hours from now.

    anita

    #370087
    Carrie
    Participant

    Thank you, Anita.

    I feel as though I am programmed in a sense with mothering. It is very difficult and I am trying my best, but I am hard on myself. I do not know how to play with my daughter or be a kid. I also see triggers in myself where I get upset about something small and I feel myself start to shut down. I do my best to not let my daugther see this, but it is discouraging. I love my daughter enough to spend the rest of my life trying to be the healthiest and happiest person I possibly can to ensure she never suffers the same way. My daughter’s father is emotionally stable and comes from a stable home, he has a successful career and he is a loving father. He and I do not always get along and I do not feel he does what is best for me at times, but he is good with her and I have no doubts that she is happy and well cared for when she is with him.

    I feel my mother has destroyed me in a lot of ways. I feel I suffer from some learned helplessness. I am frustrated at the things I want to change, but can’t be changed easily. The things that happened as a child that affected me and I didn’t even realize it until too late in life. My need to be loved and to be validated. I have chased unhealthy relationships for most of my life. My anxiety, depression and self sabotage are mentally and physically draining. When I was not in a co-dependent relationship, I was searching for someone who would love me. This is the only way I felt whole or felt any sense of identity. Now that I am completely alone, it is necessary, but it is very confusing. I do not know who I am unless I am taking care of someone else. That is what has always given me purpose.

    I went through a period of extreme guilt and shame when I first went no contact and now I just feel confused. There is so much of my childhood that I knew she was wrong and what she was doing was wrong and yet she continued. I hate that she will never acknowledge it ever, or that she will never allow me to have those conversations with her. It leaves a whole that I can’t fill. No matter how angry and furious I am, I will always wonder, I will always have questions because she is my mother. The bond is probably somewhat comparable to stockhom syndrome as I have read.

    I work full time and I go to school full time. I almost have my bachelors and intend to continue to masters after. It has been a difficult task at this stage in my life, but I am really hoping that education is freedom and that I can and will be able to remain away from my mother as long as I am able to stay stable in my career. My mother never once encouraged me to go to school and anytime I told her it was hard she encouraged me to quit. I do not have a ton of extra time, but I am sure that there are places I could meet. I signed up for meetup. I just have to go. That’s the hardest part.

    I do yoga, meditation, I excersise, journal and I do affirmations and I am in therapy. However, I still feel hopeless and I still feel like I do not have more good days than bad. I struggle with depression and handling my emotions. I don’t want to keep wasting my life feeling the way I have been feeling, but I know there is no quick fix. I know there is no magical answer. Right now, this helps. Typing out my story and just knowing someone is listening. It helps to know that I am not alone.

    Thank you again, I really do appreciate it. I hope this answers your questions. I apologize for being away. I go through the same cycle when I do not have my daugther on the weekends. I spend a great deal of time missing her, then I finally get around to doing things and then the weekend is halfway over.

    I hope you are enjoying the weekend wherever you are. -Carrie

    #370091
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Carrie:

    You are welcome. I will be able to read your recent post and reply tomorrow morning, in about 14 hours from now.

    anita

    #370120
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Carrie:

    Good to read from you, no need to apologize for being away from your thread. Any time that you choose to be back here is fine with me. I mention the following because of your codependency, which you shared about, wanting you to feel more comfortable sharing here: this thread is yours, and it is about you. It is not about what I need and want, it is about what you need and want. I don’t need to share with you about my life. I don’t need you to make me happy. What I get from our communication is that you are helping me learn about people, by telling me your story. And thank you, I am having a relatively calm long, holiday weekend.

    You shared that your daughter’s father is emotionally stable, has a successful career, is a loving father and you “have no doubts that she is happy and well cared for when she is with him.

    You shared: “When I was not in a co-dependent relationship, I was searching for someone who would love me… I do not know who I am unless I am taking care of someone else. That is what has always given me purpose”- when you were a child, the only times you got any approval or affection from your mother, the only times the spotlight was on you, was when you did things for her, wasn’t it?

    So you keep chasing that approval, that bit of affection, that bit of spotlight by doing things for other people.

    “I do not know how to play with my daughter, or be a kid”- your mother did not approve of you playing and being a carefree kid. She approved of you doing things for her, putting her in the spotlight that she craved. So, you don’t know how to do and be what she did not approve of.

    “I feel I suffer from some learned helplessness”- as a young child you freely communicated what you needed, as babies and young children do, from your need to be fed to your need to be held, to be positively attended to, to be seen and heard, but your needs went unmet for too long, so at one point on, you learned that there is no point in communicating what you need. From one point on, you stopped noticing what you needed.. (what would be the point).

    “I get upset about something small and I feel myself start to shut down”- children shut down a whole lot so to survive, shutting down a lot of their own awareness of what they need and want, of what is happening, shutting down the intensity of hurt.. but anger is most difficult to shut down.

    “I went through a period of extreme guilt and shame when I first went  no contact and now I just feel confused”- I went through extreme guilt and shame myself, and confusion when I stopped contact with my mother in 2013. At this point, I feel no more guilt, no more shame, and no more confusion (what a relief!). I am telling you this not for the purpose of turning the spotlight from you to me, but so to let you know that it  is possible to no longer experience guilt, shame and confusion, and to offer you- over time, if you are willing- all that I know about how to make it happen.

    “There is so much of my childhood that I knew she was wrong, and what she was doing was wrong and yet she continued”- and you have let her know, in your own ways, that what she was doing was wrong-to-you, but she didn’t care to pay attention to what you communicated to her, continuing doing what she was doing as if you communicated nothing to her. That’s how learned helplessness comes to be.

    “I hate that she will never acknowledge it ever, or that she will never allow me to have those conversations with her. It leaves a hole that I can’t fill”- for now. In the future, if you proceed with your healing process, you will no longer care about her acknowledging anything, it will no longer matter to you.

    “I will always have questions because she is my mother”- one day she will be just a person in your memory.

    I am pleased to read that you have almost earned your bachelors and that you intend to continue to a Masters degree.

    “I do yoga, meditation, I exercise, journal and I do affirmations and I am in therapy. However, I still feel hopeless.. I struggle with depression”- it takes persisting in what I referred to as the healing process, and it takes improving that process as you proceed, evaluating what works, what doesn’t work and adjusting. It also takes paying close attention to the learned helplessness issue: the more you take small, tiny actions during the day to make your life better- the more confidence you build in your ability to help yourself and your life situation, you learn that you make a difference in what is happening in your life.

    anita

     

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