(Closed) How did you respond to an emotionally manipulative mother?

posted 7 years ago in Family
Post # 3
4824 posts
Honey bee

People can be toxic and that doesnt exclude family. If you have honestly tried for a relationship and not only does it not work, but it makes you feel miserable and affects your life, you need to cut that toxic person out.

You don’t owe anyone anything that doesnt treat you with respect.

You can try to have a relationship with your brother and father via email and phone.

But when dealing with toxic people remember Jade

Do not Justify, Argue, Defend or Explain.

It is only fodder for them to continue their behavior. If you do find yourself in the future with your mother the moment she treats you badly you say “Mom, I don’t appreciate being spoken to like that. You need to respect me.” And then you leave. Don’t let her argue with you, just leave.

Post # 5
540 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: May 2012

I realized my mother was difficult when I got to high school.  She went as far as not letting me get a high school job, so that I’d have to come to her for money, which was her way of controlling my every move.  And everytime I did anything she construed as oppositional, she’d mope around for days saying I didn’t love her and no one loves her.

My sophmore year of college, I broke the news that I no longer wanted to be pre-med and was considering pre-law, she guilt-tripped me so bad that I cried all night.  I looked like death the next day… so much so that people were hesitant to ask what had happened.

I’ve learned that sometimes you just have to distance yourself from those kinds of people no matter how guilty they make you feel.  It’s unhealthy to be around such negativity and you have to put your happiness first.  I also take my experience and make it into a learning experience… now I know how NOT to be when I become a parent.

Anyhow, I’m so glad that you and your Fiance are doing what’s best for the two of you.  Best wishes!

Post # 6
370 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: September 2014

Oh wow. My mother is pretty difficult, but yours sounds much more so. In terms of the financial side of your wedding don’t take her money if she’s going to use it as a way to start pushing you around and making demands. Have the wedding that YOU want, don’t involve her in the planning, and send her a super friendly invite. Like I said, my mother is difficult, so I stay friendly warm and cordial with her, and don’t get too personal. When she tries to start something I just deflect the situation by telling her it’s been wonderful but I have to be on my way. If that doesn’t work I just disapear for a few weeks/months till things blow over or she realizes that she’s pushing her kids away (my sisters kind of have the same aproach.) You mother sounds even more difficult, but you can only do what you can do, and at the end of the day shouldn’t allow that kind of negative energy in your life from anyone.

Post # 7
2018 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: December 2010

Oh, I feel you completely.  My mother is a classic narcissist with Borderline Personality Disorder.  In other words, it’s her, not me.  And your mother’s behavior sounds really similar.

After being tricked into several reconciliations  over the last few years, I decided to cut her out of my life three years ago.  And I’ve had no contact since.  I know from other family members she spreads horrible lies about me, things that even if they were true I would never discuss with other people.

But she can’t help it. And I’m sure yours can’t either.  It’s really hard to know how to feel about it.  On one hand, I wish we could be cordial and she could meet my new husband but on the other, I know it will not be a healthy thing to do. Honestly, I’m happier without her in my life.  Although I have some ideas, I will never know for sure why her hatred is so strong. And make no mistake she does hate me. 

Just one recent example and I’m sorry if this is a bit of a long response (honestly I could fill a book, which lots of people have encouraged me to write:)

Five years ago I had a total financial and emotional breakdown.  This is how I ended up with in Maine from California. I lived in an uneasy truce with her for a few months and then all hell broke loose one night over the fact that I had ordered a calendar refill for my Coach address book.  I swear, she saw the Coach label and freaked. Even though I was completely broke at that point, I did find a full-time job within days of landing at her place. I was working and it was October and it was time to order the $12.00 refill for my daytimer.  She ordered me to send it back and I said no and that even though my life was completely in the toilet at that point, it was a comfort to me to have that small thing. A reminder that my life will eventually be somewhat normal again.

Well, she flipped, screaming in my face and all up in my grill, for lack of a better description.  I asked to her to leave me alone, that I really couldn’t take it. She wouldn’t leave the room.  I was so on the edge. I was getting borderline suicidal at that point from the badgering (anyone who has ever lost everything, money, kids, home, etc. can maybe relate) plus I suffer from Bi-Polar II so the situation was pretty fucking bad, to say the least.  While she was still in the room screaming I called my psychiatrist in LA and she had me check into the hospital.  I was there a week.

But when I left, I literally had NO money and no place to live. Thank God my dad came through and gave me enough money to rent an apartment and buy some dishes. 

I also had somehow managed to get a job during all this chaos. Because on top of everything else, I had to share a house with a schizophrenic while I was waiting for my apartment. That’s another story on its own. Anyway, I truly don’t know how I got dressed up and went to an interview, sat there making small talk and smiling. But I got the job, thank God. Bad news was that it was through Ameri-Corps at a non-profit and the pay was so low that when I asked how I was supposed to eat, they said, “Go on food stamps-all our Corps members do that.” Seriously? But I had no choice. I needed a job and didn’t have the luxury of time.

Meantime, an old family friend had heard of my plight and sent my mom $500.00 to give to me. I never saw that money.  And she was fully aware of my living situation. So, let’s recap: Daughter in total life crisis, suffering from Bipolar-II and just out of the hospital with nowhere to live and thousand of miles from all family and friends.

I didn’t even find this out until a few years later and it literally took my breath away. That money was everything to me at that point.  Life changing for someone who had nothing. It is still one of the most shocking revelations of my entire life.  Really. Because let’s just say for the sake of argument that I did owe her the money (which I didn’t) it was beyond cruel to take that from me at a time when I needed every penny.  Talk about kicking someone when they’re down.  

So, my dear (and anyone with a toxic parent), just know it’s not you. She has no right to treat you badly. You owe her nothing, despite the fact she gave birth to you or has maybe done some nice things in the past.  Take care of yourself. She doesn’t deserve a daughter like you.  And yes, I am projecting a bit here:)



Post # 8
2299 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: June 2010

@lefeymw:your response it spot on. I actually sent it to my Darling Husband who is going to counseling after being abused physically and emotionally/ verbally his entire life by his family.

Post # 9
3004 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: March 2010

Wow, do we have the same mother? I still struggle with my mother being over controlling even though I moved out almost three years ago. 

If you need ANYTHING PM me, please. I would love to talk about it!

Post # 10
9483 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: October 2012

I realized it after I moved to a different state at the age of 16.  She didn’t have say as to whether or not I could go.  She was angry, but she didn’t fight it.  I was pretty much on my own by then anyways.  I came back when I was 18 and things still hadn’t changed so I moved to another state for about 2 months.  Ever since then our relationship has been completely bi-polar in itself.  

My mother suffers borderline personality disorder.  Her past is absolutely horrible, but I don’t find it as an excuse to act the way she does.  It’s been very tough on me as a child/teenager growing up.  I was suicidal at one point in my life.  She wasn’t there for me whatsoever.  She was more consumed by her “problems” and getting drunk/high to “solve” them.  

She constantly had men in and our of our life.  I’m surprised my view on men and the way she was didn’t have a negative effect on me.  It help me realize I would never want to be like her in so many ways.  She’s chosen men over me and kicked me out of her house.  Thankfully I’ve always had my grandparents.

My mother thinks she’s entitled because of her past.  She is so damn manipulative towards everyone – especially my grandmother.  I get so angry at my grandmother for giving in to her and her selfish ways, but I also understand how difficult it can be for her.  My grandmother pays for my mother’s bills, gives her gas money, and feeds her.  My mother does nothing in return.  She COMPLAINS when my grandmother asks her to vaccuum, cook, do laundry etc.  Not to mention – my grandmother is a very sick woman.  She may not be able to function soon.

It hurts me to think and know that I can’t stand my mother and that we will never have a great relationship.  She’s caused so much damage between the two of us, but she still doesn’t see what she’s done.  I have a lot of resentment, but along with comes the determination to prove her wrong with what she’s drilled into my head.  She’s ruined my self esteem, image, and entire being at one point.  I was abused by her physically, mentally, and emotionally.  I suffered for a very long time – alone.  My brothers were treated completely different than I was.  I’m not sure if that’s because I was a reminder of her rape or not, but her anger was definitely towards me more.

Anyways, I don’t mean to thread jack, but there’s some of my story with bits and pieces missing.  Please feel free to PM me at any time if you do need to vent.  I understand how painful it can be.

Post # 11
247 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: June 2013

@lefeymw: That is a really good tip. I need to remember that.

OP: I realized my family was deeply messed up around the time I started going to other kids’ houses for sleepovers. Nobody was screaming or crying or shouting, and it was just… weird. Between my father’s rages and my mother’s cheaply manipulative behavior, we were pretty much textbook psych cases. (My sister has various issues, I’m depressed/anxious. We both have OCD, but I’m thinking that’s genetic.)

The way I’ve dealt with it so far… I told her I wouldn’t take one red cent for the wedding. We don’t have much money, but I’d rather get married in a pig barn than take hers. I know it would come with a million strings.

Other than that, I’ve dealt with it badly. I keep calling her with ideas, trying to get her to be excited about it. She keeps telling me it’s too much money (funny, her wedding cost almost exactly as much as my budget), it’s too formal, it’s not formal enough… So I get passive-aggressive about it. I don’t even know how to behave.

My sister has a lot of characteristics of borderline personality disorder, so she’s a real treat. So far she’s been in and out of the wedding three times. I’ve been engaged for six months. She hates all my ideas. She wants the phone numbers of all of my other BMs so that she can call them privately. (HELL NO. That’s why she’s out again at the moment.) She’s holding the family wedding dress hostage. I’m always afraid when I talk to her–afraid that she’s going to start yelling, afraid that she’s going to hit me if we’re in the same place, afraid that it’s going to be another six hours of listening to her calling me profane names and blaming me for things I never did or had no reason to do or that she’s remembering wholly differently than reality.

I finally just ordered a book (I think on a tip from a bee) on how to deal with family members with BPD. Even if she’s not a full-blown case, there are enough similarities that I think it will be helpful. If you want, I’ll let you know if it’s any good–it’s called Stop Walking on Eggshells.

Post # 12
1723 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2012

I could have written this post! Your mother sounds exactly like mine.  Or I should say what mine used to be.  She still has her moments but life has improved.  Your not feeling anything is a protective measure so you don’t get hurt anymore.  What I did may sound strange but it worked wonders.  I took a class in college on behavioral analysis therapy.  Put simply, it was like dog training for people.  Here is what I learned: 

1) Stand you ground.  Be firm, but not mean in any way.  Simply say what is happening, no explanation of feelings involved.

eg:  Mom, we are going to have X for our wedding reception, I would love for you to help me pick it out.  

If she starts having a moment, just say, okay, we will take a break from this now and work on it some more later.

You have to nip it in the bud before she gets “going.”

2) Reinforce the good, ignore the bad.  

If she’s being nice, continue the conversation or whatever you’re doing.  Give a compliment.  Associate something positive with her “good behavior.”

If she’s being rude simply tell her in a calm matter-of-fact voice, I do not appreciate that comment and I believe it’s rude, can we change the subject?  Or, just completely ignore it.  A lot of times, she will just be looking for a reaction.

For example, the other day my mom says, “You will owe me for the rest of your life because I paid for your law school.”  I simply said, “Mom, that’s a bad attitude to have.”  And that was the end of the conversation.  

3) You have to be the more mature person.  It sucks, I know.  Why should we have to be the bigger person when they’re acting ridiculous?  But, hopefully her behavior will at least attempt to come up to your level.  It is like walking on eggshells but someone has to stand up to her.  People don’t deserve to be treated that way.  

I hope this helps at least a little.

Post # 13
3081 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: August 2012

It seems like you have already gotten some fantastic advice / insight from previous posters, so I’ll just leave you with some simple thoughts / reiterations:

Always remember that it’s not you that’s the problem. If you believe in your heart that you have done what you could to have / mend a relationship, then move on as best you can.

Secondly, move forward! Think about your new family, the one you get to choose: your husband, certainly not saying to disown you dad and brother, but your future husband is a priority now. Sounds like you’re getting this part right.

Lastly, if you can set aside some of your anger and hurt and even hatred, realize that your mother is likely suffering from mental illness or disorder and she probably can’t help the way she acts. This doesn’t mean you should forgive and forget, or keep trying to forge and mend a relationship, rather, the opposite: realize that she won’t be getting better or changing into someone that you can trust and love like you “should” be able to love your mother, but this can also help alleviate some of the negative and personal thoughts you have towards her (in a perfect world).  

These are the things I struggle with in my relationship with my mom, but that I know in my heart are right.

Hugs to you.

Post # 15
247 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: June 2013

Just to follow up, the book I ordered, Stop Walking on Eggshells, is pretty much fantastic. It has some great explanations for why these people in our lives behave the way we do, and suggestions for how to deal with it constructively. So far what’s kind of blowing my mind is the idea that fear of abandonment plays such a strong role in the behaviors. I always knew it was a hot button for my sister, but the authors really explain why that is and how to work with it.

Not related to the authors or benefiting from book sales in any way. Just a fan now.

Post # 16
501 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: September 2011

my mother is the same altho she has nothing ‘wrong’ with her medically … she is just a jealous, rude, annoying, manipulative person who is so unhappy with her own life that she resents me ….

sure i wish i had a relationship with my mother but then that means id need a new one

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