- 1 week ago
My parents are divorced, and it was a nasty one. My dad is emotionally and physically abusive, at least he was then. They mutually decided to separate, he convinced her to leave because she couldn’t afford the house, he helped her move, then she started dating someone about a month afterward and ALL.HELL.BROKE.LOOSE. Suddenly she had been ‘having an affair’ and she ‘abandoned her kids’. He started telling the kids that it was a war between good and evil, he was the Voice of Love and she was Evil. He got extremely angry and yelled at the kids if they wanted to see their mother. He said he would disown anyone who talked to her. He told the kids lies about everything that was going on, and my mom wouldn’t discuss it so he framed it as he was the only one who cared enough and respected them enough to let them know what was REALLY happening. He told lies about their entire marriage, that she tried to have affairs before, that she was lying about him hitting her before, that she was jealous of her kids and never really loved them. Just crazy shit. I was older than everyone else so I remembered quite a bit about the past and I would argue that he wasn’t right. He started targeting me, especially when I took my little sisters to see their mother. He would have a conversation with me and then when he thought I was gone, call people and tell them what I had supposedly said and that no one can trust me, and be careful talking to me because ‘she’s an agent for her mother’. He sent emails to the entire extended family bringing up things I said to him in confidence, trying to destroy me so that no one would listen to me. It was sick.
But this post isn’t really about my dad. That’s for background. About 10 years have gone by, he’s been diagnosed with bipolar, he sees a therapist, he’s medicated. He rants a bit about wildly inappropriate things, but it’s rare. For the most part he’s ok, and most everyone knows he’s a bit nuts and no one takes him too seriously anymore. We love him, but we generally limit time with him and try to keep it light. This post is about my mom.
I spent the morning after my wedding listening to her cry and rant. Obviously my mother has been traumatized about everything. Obviously she is still in pain. Most of the kids are trying to have some semblance of a relationship with dad because he is trying to do better and has made a lot of changes. He doesn’t ever mention her and if she’s brought up he never says anything negative. If he doesn’t feel comfortable being around her he will absent himself rather than demand she doesn’t come, which is probably the healthiest way for him to handle things. My mother, on the other hand, gets extremely angry and upset if she sees people with dad. If we make plans to see him for dinner and plans with her for brunch, then she hates brunch and wonders why we can’t get together for dinner. If we do it the other way, she’s upset that she wasn’t invited for brunch and only had a dinner. She analyzes every interaction with dad, every facebook post, every picture, and gets incredibly angry and cries because she is constantly comparing herself to him. Every holiday, every birthday, every comment on facebook is fraught with anxiety for all of us.
What makes it all crazy is that we spend much more time with her than with dad. For my wedding she was with us the entire time and staying in the mansion with us, and she begrudged some people going out for one dinner and one breakfast with him. She was angry that my sister-in-law sat on the couch and talked with him. She cried and cried the morning after because of these things. Every holiday or event ends with mom upset. I have tried a million times to talk to her about therapy but as soon as I bring it up suddenly ‘she’s fine, she’s ok, she doesn’t need to see anyone’ and she gets angry with me for suggesting such a thing. If I try to talk to her about anything she’s doing wrong she constantly interrupts me and doesn’t listen to a single thing. I don’t want to just tell her that I refuse to talk about this with her because she clearly needs to discuss it somehow, and I think I’m probably the only outlet she has. We are very close and more like best friends.
I just don’t know what to do. It’s exhausting and depressing. This has been going on for YEARS and there doesn’t seem to be any end in sight. Has anyone ever been able to successfully convince someone they need help? After all she has been through, I don’t want to cause her more pain.