It was around two years before my mother pulled the stunt that precipitated my decision to cut her out of my life. The year 2000 thereabouts. The process of my emotional distancing from her had embarked on its final stages in 1998 after an event where I was forced to fully acknowledge to myself that my mother was hopelessly chilish and selfish, controlling and sinisterly manipulative, a big, fat liar and dangerous.
Mother's Day was coming and I was feeling very pressured. I had reached the point where I could see that none of the Mother's Day cards applied to my mother. Combine that fact with how she had been ratcheting up her expectations for gifts on Mother's Day year by year. Now she was habitually providing "clues" as to what she would like to get for Mother's Day. She would issue the gift list in such a way as it was supposed that she was simply expressing, wistfully, the things she wanted. We would be out at the mall, or she'd be looking at catalogs, or simply during the course of a conversation. Or, annoyingly enough, she would openly covet my or my sister's possessions and threaten to take them! We would often buy her what we had just so we could keep what we had. Mom's wish list was an ever-lengthening one. We were told we should appreciate how easy she was making it for us to "get it right".
She had castigated my sister a year earlier for not sending her a Mother's Day card. Sister was told, "I want a card on Mother's Day!" "But, Mom" protested my sister, "I sent you a lovely gift, remember?!" Mom is shameless and undeterred. "Cards are not optional." Mom then assumed her sickly saccharine and slightly girlish tone, "I have a special box I put all my cards in. Then I go back from time to time to re-read them. It makes me happy to look at them. I love cards, and I expect to get them on Mother's Day."
Whew, boy. That got my goat. I realize now that her box of cards was a supply source to my mother. She would go back and read all these cards that describe other people's mothers...certainly not ours...and pat herself on the back for being wonderful. All I knew at that time is that she took the last smidgen of pleasure out of giving her cards and gifts on Mother's Day because it now stipulated that it was OUR DUTY to do so. She was quick to chastise and complain when we didn't perform up to her standards.
In this rather pissy mood I was having to figure out what to do for Mother's Day all the while hating the fact that it was such an onerous task. I was seeing her for the petulant, demanding and bratty bitch she really is and wasn't keen on giving her what she was insisting was hers by right.
I got a bit cheeky.
Okay, before I get to the cheeky part, a little bit of background on my mother's mental paradigm. Many years ago she started being attracted to conspiracy theories after getting her hands on the book, "Fourth Reich of the Rich". This was 1980 or so. I have mentioned her penchant for conspiracy theories in one or two other posts. What I haven't mentioned yet was how her descent into paranoid conspiracy theories went along with a keen interest in finding all the pagan origins of the various holidays that we observe today. (No, she isn't a Jehovah's Witness.) The pagan origins of Christmas was her favorite thing to go on and on about. Santa is one evil little demon in her estimation. Anyone that jolly, cheerful and generous must be evil, right? Heh.
The pagan roots of Christmas did present a dilemma for her because she loves Christmas. She decorates like Martha Steward on steroids. She can't resist putting up that 'pagan' tree each and every year and decorating it in Better Homes and Gardens style. It takes her hours and hours just to find the perfect tree...and then more hours and hours to decorate it. She must have her huge Christmas Eve feast ala Mexican food which requires hours and hours of cooking and preparation. Everything is done from scratch and all authentic-like. How does she justify going all out on this most pagan (in her estimation) of holidays? She Jesus-ifies it. As spiritual head of the family (and anyone else in her circle of 'friends') she is single-handedly sanctifying Christmas. I don't think she succeeds in putting Jesus back into Christmas, but she sure as hell thinks she does. I won't go into how she Jesus-ifies Christmas...at least, not in this post. Suffice it to say she is convinced that, in her house, Christmas has been unpaganified. Yeah, I just made that word up. She can have her cake and eat it too with a wave of her magic wand. Christmas has been used by her for decades to milk huge quantities of supply from her family and her satellite audience. She MUST have Christmas despite her condemnation of its pagan roots.
Back to Mother's Day. So what did I, in my annoyed state, do? I created some vapid little card on my computer. I wasn't in any mood to go to Hallmark that year. Then I did a search on the Internet...it had occurred to me that perhaps Mother's Day had some of its own pagan roots. I hit the motherlode. Heh. I then found the article I thought best summed up the pagan origins of Mother's Day and printed it out on some nice, purty stationery. It was kinda like wrapping up a dog turd with wrapping paper and ribbon. I folded it up and slid it inside her Mother's Day card. "Happy Pagan Mother's Day, ya bitch." That was the covert message.
I knew it would only accomplish one thing. If I rubbed the pagan origins of Mother's Day in my mom's face, I knew it would not have the effect of convincing her we should leave off commemorating the day. I had Christmas to amply prove that pagan origins mean nothing when gifts and attention are on the line. I knew I would only succeed in sending her my covert message of discontent. Can't say my exercise did much good except as an exercise for me. I was flexing my full autonomy muscles. I was practicing rebellion toward her rules of subservience and worship. In that sense, I suppose it paid off in the end.
I was amused by my little act of rebellion. I was further amused by her not mentioning one word about it. I let a little time go by. She eventually brought up her Mother's Day gift that I had given her. It was my opening. "What did you think of that interesting information I sent on the pagan origins of Mother's Day?" I asked in my most light and casual voice accompanied with an interested smile. "Oh", she shrugged, "it was interesting." Only, the way she said it I knew it wasn't interesting. Zero enthusiasm. Not her usual reaction when we get on the happy topic of pagan roots. I cheerfully continued, "I knew you'd think so! I know how interested you are in the pagan origins of things, so I wanted to pass that along to you." She dropped the subject by switching to a completely different topic. I knew that meant she hated what I did. I smiled internally and patted myself on the back. Message received.
The point to this post? I'm not sure there is one. It is just an anecdote that is only possibly interesting given the season of Mother's Day. So, there ya go, I shared it. It is memories like this that make my freedom on this holiday especially sweet. My mother received three more Mother's Day gifts after this one. Three more cards picked off the general section...where you'd find a card for a nice old lady you barely know. I guess she has to go to her box of saved cards in order to get through this day now.
For the record, I believe that honoring a good mother on Mother's Day is a nice thing to do. The day is what you make of it. The day is resurrected to its pagan origins when applied to the narcissist mother who demands the day be a day of obeisance and service to her 'holiness'. So, yeah, in that sense the day can be equated with whatever pagan associations its past contains.
Apparently some modern day 'goddesses' would like to remind us of the pagan origins of the day...a day to worship Gaia. Motha Earth. Click here.
A short overview of the origins of the day can be found here. This one is very similar to the info I sent my mother.
There are lots of people out there who believe in every delicious conspiracy theory that comes along. I would guess that most of them are not narcissists. But I suspect the more paranoid Ns are often attracted to conspiracy theories if they catch wind of them. If you have someone who pummels you with conspiracy theories to the point where you start thinking it might be true, or you simply want to pinch their heads off, you may find Jon Ronson's book, "Them: Adventures with Extremists" to be helpful. I put a link to it in the sidebar. I heard this guy interviewed some weeks back and then read an article by Ronson on his visit to the Bohemian Grove. (If you know anything about conspiracy theories then you've heard about The Grove and their supposed worship of the Owl God.) This book is the result of extensive time spent with various and widely philosophically divergent extremist groups. As different as many of these groups are from each other they have something in common. They all seem to believe in similar conspiracy theories about the Illuminati, the Bilderbergers, Skull and Bones, etc. If you're in need of a look at these theories through fresh eyes, Ronson is your guy. He came out the other side of his investigation still not a believer. Although he got close at one point. Funny story. He is better known for his humorist writing...now he has applied that humor to a rather dark subject. I've been unpleasantly surprised from time to time when a fellow church member starts whispering to me about the Illuminati and Freemasons, etc. Before this book, I would resist rolling my eyes before telling them I've been hearing this stuff for decades. I usually know more than they do on it (thanks, mom). They are baffled when they see I don't believe in "them". I'm grateful for this resource so I can more effectively shove a little reality back at them. If you believe in "them", gosh darn, sorry about this paragraph. Check out the book anyway. It could simply be more proof of how much effort "they" will go to in order to convince us "they" don't exist. Ronson is likely one of THEM.
Sunday, April 27, 2008
Tweaking Mom with Origins of Mother's Day
Posted by Anna Valerious at 11:02 AM
Labels: Mother's Day Sucks
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Have been pondering seriously the question of whether I should cut offcontact these past few weeks; I believed you had overcome your past and were enjoying your freedom. I am conflicted in making this decision - I suppose I'm looking for an example, a model who has succeeded in breaking free.
Am a little curious from your post, though. Hope you don't mind, but I sense that you still are "fighting" thin air sometimes. From your comments, you still seem to need validation from your readers. There is no shame in this, but I think you really would like to have a final confrontation with your mother and explain to her why you have cut it off. I know that wouldn't change a thing. Am not a therapist at all, and am processing this not only for you but for all of us out there.
I don't think any of us will get over the anger until we confront (in a letter), or to their face. The outcome would be the same as far as the N is concerned, but it might solidify our belief that we did everything possible.
I am not convinced that pulling away without explanation to my mother would be a good thing. It would fester the wound in her and myself.
Jacob (OT) before he died, spoke a blessing to his 12 sons; His oldest was the conspirator in getting Joseph captured and sold in slavery. Joseph had every reason to be angry, and no mention in the bible as to what he might have discussed with his father after meeting him in Egypt. I expect he had a lot to say, considering his father brought up a bunch of narcissistic sons.
Now I know my NM would probably throw a curse instead of a blessing on her death bed, but, at the very least, it gives the narcissist a "choice" and they then know they must face the consequence of their "choice". We can leave knowing we made our choice by trying one last time for resolution; does anyone feel this way? Or am I flailing my arms in the wind? It doesn't hurt to ask this question.
Oh, and as for the conspiracy theories, I have a tendancy to fall for some of these doozies myself, but only when it correlates to book of Daniel, and Revelation.
I'm not doing this for validation. Whatever you're sensing is likely projection. I am free. I've only been trying to come up with Mother's Day related content to help whoever out there is looking for freedom as well. (Google searches tell me this is relevant to some readers.) It was just snippet of my past that I shared with ya'll to give another glimpse into the tyranny I've escaped. Nothing like freedom after tyranny to heighten one's sense of gratitude. That is all this post was about. If you see something else it is a fabrication of your own imagination, not an accurate analysis of my psyche.
Oh, and by the way. I have confronted my mother. I'm not sure why you assumed I haven't. I did it in the content of three letters which, combined, totaled almost 30 pages of typewritten explanation. I've fully said my piece to her. I haven't one more word I'd like to say to her. Also, again on the subject of needing validation. Going back to this last late summer...early fall...I have felt that I pretty much said what I have to say on the subject of MN. The only reason I work as hard as I do to come up with content for this blog is because I have a significant readership that I am not ready to disappoint by signing off. I feel like I'd be letting them down. So. Again. Not doing this for me. Doing it for those who, like you, are looking for a psychological boost out of their toxic relationships with Ns. Those who know me personally know I'm not doing this blog for any kind of validation. I hope you'll take their word for it.
Good, thanks for clearing that up. I'll continue to take your word and your readers word for it. I am a work in progress.
Thank you for continuing. This blog has been an invaluable resource for me! God bless you.
Hmm... we are all 'works in progress.' The need for confrontation in not unusual. I am struggling with the need and level I need in this area, myself.
To anonymous @12:45.
I'm not sure how new you are to this blog, but if you navigate through it and keep reading you may find this a valuable resource in your struggle.
I came to this blog right in the throes of deciding whether or not to go no contact. It is an agonizing decision. It can be confusing and downright swirling madness at times. There are so many conflicting emotions that accompany the decision. At times I felt conflicted about some of the things Anna wrote, but as I was able to get further and further out from the madness of my family, I began to see the wisdom of Anna's words and the plain truth of it. Truth that has been like bedrock where there used to be only quicksand. Seriously.
I would encourage you to go back into the archives of this blog and read, read, read!
I NEVER thought I would be able to fully extricate myself both physically and emotionally from my mother. BUT I DID. And this blog was instrumental in providing sanity during a very insane time for me. I hope you will find it the same for you ultimately.
I can honestly say that I am now FREE! I would've never thought I'd be able to utter those words, let alone feel the truth of them down to my very toes.
My hope and my prayer is that you will be able to find that same freedom.
And BTW, if/when you decide to provide an explanation to your mother about your reasons for pulling away, be clear that you will NEVER convince her that your reasons are valid. She may also try to convince you that you are a terrible, hurtful person. Be prepared to give explanation that will not be accepted. The explanation will be for YOUR benefit, not hers. You will be speaking out the truth of your reality and then it's her choice to reject or accept it. But trust me, if she could accept and "hear" what you were saying, there would be no reason to pull away in the first place...right??
O-My-Gawd....'Conspiracy Theories'! This is TOTALLY my Nmom! Thank you for talking about this, Anna.....and all the 'pagan' stuff too. Again, Nmom switches these all around, depending on her audience and/or whatever or whoever will give her the best 'supply'. Ugh. And...BEWARE...if you don't sit and nod in rapt attention to the latest 'insight'! Right?
Hey Anna, About card giving- I too have found it very difficult to pick out a Mothers Day card!! UGGHH!! I laughed about the box of saved cards!! My mother actually saved cards also. However, recently she gave them all back to her adult children, added up how much we paid for each card, and proudly gave us a check for the amount spent!! Twisted or what?? Needless to say, I of course had the least amount spent because many times I made creative hand-made cards. I guess those were priceless!!! HA HA!! I know I treasure the hand-made cards my children have given to me!! They are from the heart!! and no strings attached!! Keep on keeping on girl!!
Hmmmm. For some reason, I don't even feel the need to explain to my Nmom why I have cut her off....I don't feel the need to give her a 'choice'. I gave her 55 yrs...my whole life already! She's the one who engrained into me to be 'fair, decent, conscientious, loving, caring, giving, patient, industrious, responsible...blahblahblah..' without reciprocity from HER. She KNOWS the Truth...and is choosing to NOT be what she expects everyone else around her to be. The has the same CHOICES I have had in my life...and CHOOSES to be who she is. She will NOT get the satisfacton of a 'final confrontation'....no '30 page letter'...no 'ultimatums'...no nothin'.
When I last saw her in Oct....all I said to her was that she could NOT 'spew her venom and lies in my house anymore'. It upset her visibly....she drove off. She knew...for the first time...that I MEANT IT!!! I haven't called her, written to her...nor has she attempted contact. She KNOWS....oh yes...she KNOWS alright. And she doesn't want to visit anyone who won't let her do and say whatever the hell she feels 'entitled' to do or say.
I have been 3 to 4 years no contact from Nmom.
Please, no final confrontation or letter, or email. Your Nmom will only put it in her "shoe box" and pull it out later when she needs a "fix".
Like the gambler says, "Know when to walk away, know when to run".
Thank you Anna...
She will NOT get the satisfacton of a 'final confrontation'....no '30 page letter'...no 'ultimatums'...no nothin'.
Good for you, krl. If I knew then what I know now there would have been no 30 pages of letters. The first two letters were the lengthy ones. The last letter was written after I had learned about NPD. The last letter was three paragraphs long. Less than a page. I got real succinct after I finally knew exactly what beast I was dealing with.
P.S. I'd like to think I can help save other people the blood, sweat and tears of some drawn out scenario where one beats their head against the wall trying to find a way to reach the narcissist. Waste of time. Ya'll have a sample of my writing and can probably guess that my letters to my mother were not lacking in clarity and reason. There is no amount of those qualities that will convince a narcissist to "mend their ways". They are perfect. We are the screwed up ones. Save your breath. Repossess your own life and walk away. Best advice ever given. Save "closure" psychobabble for the babblers.
I never gave my mother an ultimatum either. Wasn't worth it. Mother's Day? I would go to Barnes & Noble and pick up some artsy card that was blank inside and just print HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY and sign it (no "love" or "kisses" or anything else) The card picking for her was always NOT a Hallmark moment. ;)
Your mother's reaction to the Pagan Mother's Day information is classic. I have to share with you a moment I had with my late NMom just a few years before she died.
Until I had my children I was always quite shapely. I have PCOS and have struggled since age 9. Not a lot of fun with an NMother who blamed the illness on me & called me a "freak" and "less than a woman" and a "burden" every chance she got. The symptoms of PCOS were not something an N mother would EVER want to acknowledge.
I never had the weight issues that most PCOers had until after my pregnancy. I'd been thru 12 years of infertility treatments, surgeries and so on. NONE of which I told my mother. I didn't know she was an N at the time; I just knew the b.s. and non-stop phone calls and rending of clothes and shreiking at me would be endless and I was stressed out enough that I was unable to concieve.
After my children were born first my disability (atypical M.S.) got much worse, my marriage (to an N... surprise, surprise) fell apart and within 3 months I put on 50lbs! and I was NOT eating. I had serious Post Partum Depression and had to be MADE to take in some food. After going thru a few more clueless doctors I found a fantastic endocrinologist who had made PCOS his life's work.
The medications helped tremendously though not with the weight as I am now 85lbs overweight. But my blood pressure, skin, etc is much better.
While my then-toddlers and I were visiting my Nmom and my Dad at their home for a couple weeks (I was playing nice) my endo emailed me to say an article he'd been interviewed for on PCOS was going to appear in Woman's Day. I went out to get it and the article was EXCELLENT!!! It explained in simple, easy language that PCOS is NOT the fault of sufferer. The weight gain is NOT their fault, The non-stop periods is NOT their fault, The acne is NOT their fault and so on.
I told Nmom about the article and left it out for her to read. One morning I saw her sit down on a couch while I was tending to one of my kids and watched her read it out of the corner of my eye.
Anna - I SWEAR - I saw her PHYSICALLY DEFLATE. Like a hole in a balloon I saw all her posturing, blame of me and hubris just drain out of her. By the end of the article she was WHITE as a sheet.
She put it down and didn't say a word about it for 3-4 days. Of COURSE - no apology for over 30 years of brutal verbal abuse on that problem of mine alone. All she could say was "do you think you inherited this from your father" (deflecting blame) I did get it from my Dad but that was beside the point.
Anyway - she totally shut down about my symptoms after that. Not a word about me being a "freak" or her "biggest embarrassment." But refused to talk about it either. No acknowledgment. However, watching her deflate like that was a pleasure.
Anna, I can quite honestly say that your blog saved me from beating my head against that n-wall. When I started reading (and I started at post one), it was like reading my own life story - right down to the favorite kid and me (the not-so-favorite kid, except when there was work to be done). I realized that someone who'd already been there, done that was giving me some pretty stellar advice about how to handle the situation. I took that advice and RAN with it.
I have nothing to say to my N-mother, either. There's no point. I realize you're Christian, but I hope you won't mind me using a quote from Buddha - "Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned." That sums it all up so nicely for me.
"Now I know my NM would probably throw a curse instead of a blessing on her death bed, but, at the very least, it gives the narcissist a "choice" and they then know they must face the consequence of their "choice". We can leave knowing we made our choice by trying one last time for resolution; does anyone feel this way? Or am I flailing my arms in the wind? It doesn't hurt to ask this question."
I put my final words in writing. I needed to do this, because of my type of personality (I think better in writing) and I needed to know she would read it and hear what I said (without the constant interruptions to wrest the conversation back to herself). What she did then only confirmed her Nism. She wrote back to me in a sort of explosion of insanity. I was able to read it, deconstruct it, see the lies and the character disorder for what it is.
Knowing Narcissism now as I do, I realise she won't change. At the time, I knew she wouldn't change. She had known me for 44 years,without EVER sitting down to ask me about myself, and she said 'if you will try and understand me, I will try and understand you'. What a crock!
The fact remains, you do what you have to to lay your mother to rest. It's the only farewell she is going to get from me, as I ain't going to her funeral.
You think you are doing them a favour by giving them the right to 'make a choice', but they have been making choices about how they treat you for your whole lifetime, without consulting you. Its time for you to start making choices, and yes, the guilt is all pervading, but its all a big bluff.
The feeling of guilt and shame is a result of finally standing up for yourself and defending your honour. A cardinal sin in your abuser's book. But then...you don't belong to them anymore do you.
You said: "I put my final words in writing. I needed to do this, because of my type of personality (I think better in writing) and I needed to know she would read it and hear what I said (without the constant interruptions to wrest the conversation back to herself). What she did then only confirmed her Nism. She wrote back to me in a sort of explosion of insanity. I was able to read it, deconstruct it, see the lies and the character disorder for what it is.
Jordie, this is EXACTLY the way I did it for the very reasons you stated. I could construct and put down all my thoughts without her constant smoke and mirrors interrupting me and then I could deconstruct her response for the insanity it was without having to look at her and all that accompanies that (the manipulations, etc.).
I just love laughing so hard...it feels good after a lifetime of agony.
Your story is priceless. P-R-I-C-E-L-E-S-S!!!
"What did you think of . . . I asked in my most light and casual voice accompanied with an interested smile."
"She dropped the subject by switching to a completely different topic."
OF COURSE SHE DID!!
You have captured my mother to a tee.
It would almost be fun to go back in now and play with my mother a bit because once you see it, it is so pathetically obvious it's comical. But that wouldn't be nice now would it?!!!!
"The point to this post? I'm not sure there is one. It is just an anecdote that is only possibly interesting given the season of Mother's Day."
First, let me tell you Anna that it is more than 'possibly interesting' and secondly point or no point, it is a gift to someone such as myself. So PLEASE keep posting pointless posts!!!
I do want to say that I would most likely not have been able to cut my Nmom off had I not stumbled on your blog, Anna. IT NEVER CROSSED MY MIND THAT GOING NC WAS EVEN AN OPTION before reading it. Well, duh...(now!)
Thank you for providing the information, the support, a place to vent, to share. Please don't quit writing any and all you can think of. There are so many twists and turns in this horrible thing called Narcissism....so many levels...so many examples. What you write allows me to unravel the knots in my life...helps me make 'sense' of what has happened to me....in short, you give me a touchstone of Reality and Truth. A basis for learning to self-reference as I live out my life. I can't thank you enough for what you are doing.
One more word on having a last word...
Just the other night, I was thinking about an incident which happened 20 years ago. A quilt which I had made, and my mother had finished off for me (then presented to me as a Xmas present) was the subject of a pretty fierce argument just after I got married. I came home wanting to pick up some of my stuff from my mother's place, and she refused to let me take this quilt. No explanations, just, 'its not yours, you can't have it'.
I had to walk away in the end without this quilt which admitedly had been on the guest bed for about 5 years without me making any move to take it. Fact remained, it was a childhood relic, and being pregnant with my first child, I wanted to take it to my new home. And it WAS still mine, she had given it to me. She was trying to force her reality onto me.
Some time after this event, I went to visit my mother at home, and she blithely told me (as I came in the front door) that she had 'cut up that old quilt that you didn't want' and made cushions out of it. I remember standing there, looking at these chair cushions (the sort you sit on, not the sort you lean against) in utter shock, wondering if she had gone mad. She told me this news as though she had actually done me a favour.
Twenty years later, I was so angry that I wanted to actually ring her up and tell her how I felt, then I realised it would only give her a warm glow to realise I still cared.
Going back for another 'last word' wouldn't give me relief, it would only stir up the pain and make me want to lash out at her. Since lashing out is fun for them, and full of regret for us, its hardly worthwhile.
So...just wanted to share my story here, I know most of you will understand how angry I was. That's why blogs of this nature help so many.
Anna, since we are on the topic of "final confrontation" I thought I should add, I counsulted a PHD psychologist and I discussed the situation with my NMother and NFather and he advised me to NOT confront either one of my parents. He said at their age (62 and 64) they are not going to change and that for me to confront them would be like "opening up a can of worms." He also suspected I would not get the response I needed from them or I would get a response I did not like. I think a lot of people think a major confrontation would bring about change. I do not believe so and I have sought professional psychological advice which has clarified this for me. I think the process of writing an angry letter is fine, but probably better to keep it to yourself. These people will twist everything around and this will give them "fuel" to conclude that YOU are the problem. These people are not worth the time, energy or emotion. For those who cannot cut off contact completely, due to guilt, LIMIT contact. Send nice fake letters, etc. Have only a surface, superficial relationship, this is all these people are looking for anyway. There is no depth to them. If you are able to be shallow with them and have no attachment, the situation will work. Do not allow these people to be an integral part of your lives. Keep them at a safe distance and put YOURSELF first. If you choose to be around them, ALWAYS wear your battle gear, i.e. thick skin.
I am outraged. I am incensed. I can't even find a word strong enough for what I am feeling after reading what that b*tch did to you. WTF?
It is the height of cruelty. What is wrong with these people???? Can you imagine doing that to ANYBODY?? Let alone your very daughter?
I am so very sorry for you and pray that God replace that quilt with something far greater and more valuable that you can treasure.
May she rot in hell . . . (sorry, but I'm MAD).
I went no-contact 15 months ago. Your blog has helped me so much in this transition. I have freed myself after over 40 years of tyranny. It feels GREAT. I actually forgot Mother's Day was coming till I saw it on your blog. And for the first time I thought of myself, instead of her. I am a MOM, too! I thought of spending the day with my family and young children. I didn't spend weeks on end sweating over her reaction to my card and gift.
There is one thing that has helped me the most in going No Contact. It's the way I describe it to myself. The way I see it, is that I DIVORCED my Mother. My parents are divorced for many years now, so I keep thinking why is it so acceptable for two people who promised to love each other for life, have a family and children to get divorced and tear their family apart -- and not so acceptable to divorce a parent who is cruel and abusive? I think it should be more acceptable. Thinking of it this way makes it so much easier for me. Your thoughts?
The way I like to celebrate Mother's Day is to have a day WITHOUT my kids. I spend all the time with my kids. To me, having one day a year without any is great.
Cards have never meant that much to me either. I like ones that my kids make me when they are little, but to go out and buy a card seems pretty silly to me. Although I'm probably in the minority. I don't even care about Valentine's Day. When my husband and I were married we might would have a special dinner "around" the time of Valentine's, but I don't feel the need to celebrate something because the world says to do it. I certainly don't want to go to a restuarant to wait 2 hours to get a table because someone says it's a holiday to celebrate. A random gift or dinner is much more thoughtful to me.
I only stopped talking to my mother a couple weeks ago and am trying to decide if I want to send her a card or gift. I know my father is a N and my soon-to-be-ex is a N, but I'm not sure if my mother is, the jury is still out on her. She has been my best friend for the last 15 years, so I think she is too close to me for me to be objective. First of all she is a therapist, so I've listened to her advice for a long time. But you notice I said we have only been best friends for the last 15 years. That is because she was pretty much a non-existant mother as I was growing up. Now that she is a therapist, she thinks she's the expert on people and me.
My mother had me when she was 18 and was basically a child raising a child. And it was the 60's and 70's, so she was pretty much just having fun and happened to have a child too. I raised myself pretty much and then helped raise my sister that wa 10 years younger than me. Mom would go out 2-3 nights a week drinking and dancing, while I stayed home and took care of my sister. (This was when she divorced husband number 2, my sister's father.) I am in the process of divorcing my second husband at the age of 45 and now my mother "thinks" she is an expert and wants to tell me how to live my life. Always telling me to go get therapy. (Insinuating I'm not ok and need help). I've decided I'm tired of listening to this woman who wasn't there for me when I was a kid and now thinks she is an expert in living my life and telling me what I should do. So I have choosen to listen to myself for once in my life and know that I am living MY life, not what someone else says I should do. I never said any of this to my mom, so after writing this, I have decided that is going to be my mother's day card to her. A letter telling her how I feel and that I am taking a break from her for a while. Thanks Anna!
If you ever disagree or confront my mother about anything it's always the same response - "you're crazy". A letter or explanation or attempt to discuss issues would be totally ineffective, it would just be "you're crazy". Period.
Anna, you've been such a help to me these last 2 yrs. I wonder if you could address the issue of having become a caregiver to an N-parent in their last years. Before this shift occurred, I had sucessfully managed to go NC with the N-mother, over the past 20 yrs, while raising my family. It was the version of NC that you've written alot about--only surface communication, & only for the sake of the outward family network. It worked for me, as I no longer held any expectations one would have of a real mother, hence I didn't put myself in the position, nor allow myself, to be hurt. I kept it very superficial, which was, of course, fine for my mother, as it's always been about appearances & her position in society. As long as I knew the relationship had totally changed, that's all that mattered to me. She never even realized the difference, as it's all about her anyway. When I let go of caring, it freed me up to earn my OWN approval, & no longer yearn for hers. My husband has always been supportive, and helped me find the strength to break free.
Now, however, she suffers from the heartbreaking illness of dementia.
The irony is that I used to laughingly tell people I'd probably end up having to care for her in her old age, as all my siblings moved away from our hometown. At the time it seemed that would be the ultimate Hell on earth. Yet now that it's come true,I find it to be a total Blessing in too many ways to list. It's enabled me to become free on an even higher level. It's taught me humility, patience, & kindness on an amazing level. God's given me gifts I no longer NEED. Maybe He waited until I had gotten to the point of not needing them-to gift them to me as an unexpected treat. Her personality having changed to the point of not being the cruel conniving bitch I used to call Mommy, & was trained to adore like a little puppy. Now I am in the position to be able to give all the unkindness back to her. Her disease makes her frightened, insecure,sad, lost,frustrated, mortified, aware that she is a shadow of her previous competent self & unable to access parts of herself, etc.
Could I deliciously savor her demise & cruelly taunt her with it? Could I make her days a living nightmare & drive her insane? Could I club her over the head with her own tricks? Yes. Of course I could. Do I? No. Of course not. I comfort her. I try to keep her life happy & carefree,
as enjoyable as I can before the disease totally takes her mind, & then her life. I let her tell stories the way her mind has let her rearrange the memories. I smile & laugh & let her feel whole again. Do I think inside, "That is ssooo not what happened! Let me tell you how it REALLY was that day, & what a viscious person you were". Of course!! But what do I have to gain from it? Destroying her would be such an empty victory. I no longer need her to face her past sins. She can face those with her Maker. She would be devastated to hear the things she's done, the way her children viewed her, & how she's lived her life. She believes something totally different no. She's calm & warm, sweet & caring. The way I used to long for her to be.But it doesn't matter because I no longer long for that anyway. The funny thing is--I just take it in stride. It's like knowing a different person now. And I usually really like the new person, & have let go of the old one. Yet, at times, she has terrible outbursts & tantrums that can stir up all the old stuff in me. Sometimes I need to just go away & cry my eyes out till I let it all out. But that's OK--cuz it passes. I can separate that it's just the disease talking & not the OLD "Mommy" resurfacing. THAT'S progress!! She won't rememeber lashing out anyway. She'll just return to the self she is now, in the next bit of time. Her outbursts now are a classic symptom of dementia & borne of her frustration & a part of her brain malfunctioning. But I'm still a work in progress & this will all get much worse before the end. I have often felt I can't do this anymore, only to have God send me an extra heaping of strength to get through that moment. One day at a time! Anything you may have to share on the topic would be greatly appreciated. Bless you and you family, Anna! Katrina
As I haven't been in the position of being a caretaker for a N parent; I really don't know how I can speak to that. Honestly, it sounds like you have all the tools you need to survive your situation. By voluntarily relinquishing the opportunity to wreak vengeance on your now helpless mother you have earned heaping loads of self-respect. You have proven to yourself how utterly different you are than the narcissist. Compassion, empathy, kindness, attentiveness, mercy. All these things you are giving to the most undeserving person in your life. I really don't know how you improve on that.
You are right to expect it to get harder in the days ahead as your mother's dementia progresses. There is no getting around how hard it is going to be at times. There is no "fix" for that. You're going to have to just endure the hard moments as you already have. You know you have the emotional resilience to get through it. And having the emotional support of a good spouse is a huge benefit.
I admire what you're doing. I really think your ability to care for your mother, your former abuser, is a testament to the strength and healing you've achieved. If your dependence on God has gotten you this far, I have no doubt He'll see you through to the end. You're going to come out the other side an even better, stronger and lovelier person than you already are...and that is saying something.
Some of us choose to keep the surface level of involvement throughout their elder years as well. While I don't know anyone who uses this time to be vengeful to the N just cuz they can, it is fair to see that the N isn't allowed to consume your life.
Caregiving alone is diffucult enough and some dementia patients aren't so sweet, but become more N, a worse version of what they were.
To be honest, I'm glad that this is working out for Katrina, but somewhere a little voice says, "the N gets a pass, again". I guess at some level I don't think N parents deserve loving caregiving and sacrifice from past victims. But if it makes the adult child feel good to do it, that is what is most important.
As if Mother's Day isn't hard enough, my N-Mom has dropped a bomb. She is not happy with my lack of contact (really a lack of source) and will be suing me on the grounds of "Grandparent's Rights" for visitation with my child. I've contacted an attorney, but am so scared! We all know what master liars and actresses they are! I'm contacting others she has used up and discarded to attest to her character. Any other thoughts, ideas, or suggestions? I really appreciate your blog, it's gotten me through some tough times. -JR
As if Mother's Day isn't hard enough, my N-Mom has dropped a bomb. She is not happy with my lack of contact (really a lack of source) and will be suing me on the grounds of "Grandparent's Rights" for visitation with my child.
I'm so sorry to hear that your Nmother is upping the ante to this degree. I don't blame you for being scared, but I hope you'll try to remember that she isn't all powerful in your life anymore. I suspect a lot of your fear is a part of your programmed reaction to the momster...ingrained on your DNA it would seem. You have done the right thing...getting an attorney. If you have any doubt that the attorney is not energetic in fighting your case, get a new one.
I'm sorry that I don't have much to offer with advice because, thankfully, I didn't go through this myself. It does seem logical that since your mother has taken this to the level of a legal fight that the response on your end has to be a legal fight back at her. Even in states with "Grandparents' Rights", parents have MORE rights. I hope you'll keep us apprised of what goes down with this. I know there are other people out there who will appreciate learning from your experience. Hang tough. Be a mother bear. Protect your young ones. Find a pit bull lawyer. Take the bitch to the mat.
In other words, don't get scared...get pissed. Channel your fear into anger. Be angry that she is scaring you. Be angry she is harassing you with a lawsuit--suing for rights you know she doesn't even care about. Be angry at the expense she forcing on your and your family. Be angry she doesn't give a flying f**k about the happiness and well-being of your family...that all she cares about is getting what she wants. Turn all that anger into action. Into steely determination to wipe the floor with her ass.
I have a hard time choosing cards now. When I was a little kid I tried so hard to believe that my mother was a good mother and it was just me. I worked so hard for her birthdays and mothers days trying to show appreciation. For what I don't really know. What I wished her to be I guess. Now I kind of just leave it to my dad to pick a card. We all sign it give her some flowers and thats that.
For going no contact I can't quite yet but I think when I am an adult I will just go for little contact. An occasional email and a visit when I want to see my dad that isn't narcissistic. My mom isn't too bad so long as you tread carefully and follow her every command. In fact if she stayed in her good phase she would have been a great mother. Oh well.
I remember contemplating what would happen if my mother died, what really scared me was that I realized that I would not have been able to cry when she died. Then the idea of what people would think of me for not crying......
All this suppressed anger and depression. Kind of like a trap lade out. The moment someone touches the trigger I am in tears and when my mom touches it I am yelling at her. My dance teacher noticed my gloom persona, the moment I look a bit happy he says my your cheerful today.
Kind of feel like the walking dead.
The moment I am in a group of people I feel like I don't belong. They look so happy so much of the time it is shocking to me. My brother said that when he sees regular people happy he kinda thinks that they are on drugs or something.
Everything seems so unreal.
Maybe before the court with your mother you can get her angry over some small thing and record what she says with a tape recorder and then show the judge how toxic she really is.
Follow up on N-Mom’s threat to sue for “Grandparents Rights.”
My husband and I had our first appointment with the attorney. He started out by saying that the Supreme Court (circa 2005 or 2006) decided that parents have the right to determine what is best for their children without interference from a third-party. We discussed our son, where he goes to school, what other activities he is involved in, and how often he asks about Grandmom. Then we discussed the events leading up to the threat and past events that may be related. (Note: I had lots of notes with names and dates, stuck to task, and did not bring my issues with N-Mom into the discussion.) His opinion was that Grandmom has some mental health issues which aren’t being helped by her substance abuse issues, but he really hit the nail on the head when he noted that our counseling sessions were, in her opinion, to fix me and when I wasn’t the problem she promptly quit. He stated that a good lawyer won’t take her case, but a bad lawyer will take the case and her money. He advised that we remain contact-less until we get a letter from her attorney. Upon receipt of that letter our attorney will draft a letter outlining why the case won’t win. We’ll go from there.
Excellent news, JR! And I so much appreciate you giving an update. This all sounds very positive. I hope by your proactive measure of seeking a lawyer's council you can feel some peace of mind. It sounds like the lawyer listened well and gave you a lot of good news. Now it is a waiting game. Waiting for her next move so your lawyer can do the smack down.
Of course, I would love to hear what happens next in your saga if you feel like sharing it.
Follow up on N-Mom’s threat to sue for “Grandparents Rights” by JR.
We've had no contact from N-Mom's attorney (if there is one), but she continues to send my son cards (with no return address) for holidays. They go into a folder in my office. Although my son still thinks of her, he knows we are steadfast in having no contact until Grandmom is "better." I'm convinced at this point that I am better to her as a "sob story" than as a daughter. As Christmas draws closer, I am anticipating contact from her "supporters."
I'm wishing us all strength and blessings in our dealings with the "N"s.
Thank you for the update. I had to chuckle at your statement,
I'm convinced at this point that I am better to her as a "sob story" than as a daughter.
I chuckle because I'm sure you're right. As for contact from her 'supporters' come Christmas season...that could get interesting. I'd love for you to tell us how you handle them if they come around.
You sound strong, JR. All the best as you fight the good fight.
This blog post gave me the giggles. My uncle (short version- he's a "treasure chest" best left unopened) is totally convinced of crazy conspiracy theories.
I had a chilling conversation with my younger cousin. We were out in her front yard, and she said "We need to go inside now." Like you would if you thought the boogeyman was going to get you. I asked her why. Totally serious, she said, "The Illuminati is watching my dad. We can't stay outside for more than ten minutes or they'll get us." I thought she was messing with me. What followed was the most surreal conversation I've had. Apparently, people like Bill Gates want to kidnap her dad... because of his Facebook account? I tried to tell her this was crazy, but the delusion is strong in that one. I find that his love for conspiracy theories goes hand in hand with his martyr complex. Everyone is out to get him (self fulfilling prophecy).
The sad thing is, my cousin is scared to go outside in her front yard because her dad needs to feel important.
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