Drawing a line

6 Aug 2022
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This week, I spent a little time with my mother. We were attending an outdoor event at the same time, so we ended up standing with each other. For a number of hours.  

It still shocks and disappoints me that she can be nasty and cruel on such a frequent basis (to everybody apart from her grandchildren). But I have started to expect it and accept it. I could have stayed longer, but decided I would protect myself and leave early. I also put my hands in my pockets when she was being nasty and I stuck my fingers up at her from in there. I felt like such a kid! But I needed a physical reminder that her words had nothing to do with me despite me giving them attention.

I suppose I’ve learned a boundary! Do you have one? Do you need one? Is a lack of boundary leaving you wide open?

Sunday food for thought…

Love from

The room above the garage

A Moodscope member.

A Moodscope member.

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Comments

Sally

Aug. 7, 2022, 5:13 a.m.

Oh yes. Your blog reminded me so much of spending time with my father (your mother must’ve been a clone!!) as I too had to establish boundaries and do not pockets thing, but mental exercises very similar to that in order to keep my head from exploding, metaphorically speaking of course). He was someone who had to be right. Your opinion didn’t matter. He did that dismissive thing with his right hand where you cast away. Infuriating. Whilst I am sympathetic to the reasons he was like this, spoilt but very pushed last child of a second marriage, I cannot underestimate the toxic effects his treatment had on all his children. So, dear Room above the garage, you have my sincere sympathy …and I do like the image of you sticking your fingers up at her, your defence against nastiness ! Well done for protecting yourself. What was she like when you were growing up?

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the room above the garage

Aug. 7, 2022, 5:35 a.m.

Hello Sally, it helps to know somebody understands how it feels and what the repercussions are, thank you for sharing that with me. Growing up she was the young, slim, pretty mum that my friends thought was great…so I thought she was too. But she was passive aggressive (there would be no arguing which I now see as very unhealthy), manipulative and never cuddled. I’m really glad I understand now and the distance I hold her at has been extremely good for me. Sadly. Did you siblings see your dad as you saw him?

Sally

Aug. 7, 2022, 5:34 p.m.

Yes, my brother withdrew into his shell, my sister fought him, but always came away worse off..she has a real hang up today about his treatment and gives him far more conversation space than he deserves , ten years on from his death. Unfinished business. So you look after yourself, Room, because you can do without corrosion from a parent!

Tutti Frutti

Aug. 7, 2022, 5:19 a.m.

Hi RATG Sticking your fingers up inside your pockets sounds very restrained. It is looking pretty adult to me. Well done for not accepting the nasty things that were said to you and for putting your mental health first by leaving early. I can't imagine what it is like to be got at by your mother and how difficult it is to have got to where you are and be able to realise that this is her problem not yours. I guess I have some issues with being a people pleaser and being able to say no. It can mean that I take on too much and end up exhausted. I woke up ridiculously early today and couldn't get back to sleep - partly because I was out last night. I have never been a big drinker and I seem to have got to the age where even two glasses of wine with dinner means that I don't sleep well. However, I am also worried about a friend. Love TF x

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the room above the garage

Aug. 7, 2022, 5:39 a.m.

Hello TF, people pleaser here too, and it needs un-learned doesn’t it! Difficult though. Up early here too, volunteering again today, a bus and 30-odd teenagers, loud but they are good kids. I’m savouring coffee and quiet in advance! I hope your friend is ok, is health bad?

Jul

Aug. 7, 2022, 7:04 a.m.

Hi TF We had French neighbours round last night and I couldn't sleep either. My mind was going over all the things I said and every negative detail (from my perspective of course) of the evening Jul xx

Teg

Aug. 7, 2022, 7:15 a.m.

Oh dear Jul It is difficult to believe it was all negativity. Can I suggest you make a written list of the positive and negative aspects of the evening. You are not a negative person on this blog so unless you had a complete personality change I can't understand why there was not some positivity around. Hope the sunshine brings happier thoughts. Txx

Jul

Aug. 7, 2022, 8:18 a.m.

Thank you Teg and you made me laugh! I'm afraid I often look back at social events and cringe not wanting to remember how I felt. My husband however always sees positive things and thought our soiree last night went swimmingly! It's all about mood and perception. I will make a list as you suggest. It's good to be back at Moodscope after a week's break. I miss you all even for such a short time Jul ***

The Gardener

Aug. 7, 2022, 9:01 a.m.

Jul, I am really sad that you are so self critical. I get terrific 'frissons' before major (even minor now) entertaining, but once I've put my all into it I just let them get on with it. As we used to be collapsed in the kitchen, while racket in English and French continued in the house, we'd say 'when WILL they go' presumed they were happy. Even left their kids once or twice to find their own way home. xx

Teg

Aug. 7, 2022, 9:46 a.m.

Hi Jul Your absence was noticed. Can you please submit your application for leave a bit earlier please! Txx

Jul

Aug. 7, 2022, 9:50 a.m.

I kept saying servez vous last night but none of them did. In Limouisn they all grabbed the bottles and stuck in! You must visit us Gardener when we're here next. Our neighbours (all Normands) keep telling me we must visit Mont St Michael. But you come here. Jul xx

Jul

Aug. 7, 2022, 11:07 a.m.

ha Ha. Ah I'm glad someone missed me! And Teg you are not just "someone" I'll try to give notice in future;promise! Jul xx

The Gardener

Aug. 7, 2022, 11:08 a.m.

Thanks Jul, love to. No rules about serving - I have sat at a table while we all look at the soup tureen - they presumed they knew guests served themselves first. Do a buffet then no probs !!! I, of course, have had enough of the Mont - huge controversy on changes made, more difficult, and more expensive to get to now. xx

Valerie

Aug. 7, 2022, 11:46 a.m.

Jul,that's me as well.It's just horrible isn't it? ***

Valerie

Aug. 7, 2022, 11:46 a.m.

Jul,that's me as well.It's just horrible isn't it? ***

Tutti Frutti

Aug. 7, 2022, 11:49 a.m.

Thanks RATG. Not really my problem to share and not exactly a mental health issue but suffice to say that my friend is currently being her own worst enemy. I am not sure what, if anything I can do to help. Love TF x

Bearofliddlebrain

Aug. 7, 2022, 3:50 p.m.

You are there for her TF - and that is very important - I am sure she knows she can come to you….Bear hugs ***

Jul

Aug. 7, 2022, 3:57 p.m.

xx Val.xx Jul x

Daisy

Aug. 7, 2022, 6:40 a.m.

Dear Ratg That sounds horrible and emotional. I struggle with my mother- I was wondering yesterday if she realises what I think of her. Take care and well done

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Valerie

Aug. 7, 2022, 6:52 a.m.

My own temperament made it impossible for me to cope with either my father or mother.The sheer narcissism and lack of self-awareness either led to furious arguments or me biting my tongue and feeling sick with anger . I wear my heart on my sleeve,and I have to make a huge effort to pull back from too much familiarity with some people.When I was in effect a boss as a charity trustee I was way too lenient and open,and boy did I pay the price.***

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The Gardener

Aug. 7, 2022, 9:06 a.m.

Valerie, I was forced into being a boss when my husband suffered 'burn out'. I was an awful boss, diffident, dithery, I wanted my staff to be happy. Much of the work was repititive, bunching onions all day, standing loading the washer conveyor belt. I would have been bored to screaming point, but later I realised that they could not do other work, the hours suited them and they were earning a lot of money! xx

Sarah yellow rose

Aug. 7, 2022, 7:05 a.m.

Hi Ratg, thank you for your honest blog. I do understand as my Mum was critical. She also never hugged. I’m a people pleaser too and acutely aware of people’s moods. Is there a pattern? I nursed my Mum for years before she died. I’m glad I did and feel as though I have spent years working through her issues. I miss her. A friend recently pointed out to me some of the good things she gave me which was guidance and advice, something my friend never had. I thanked my friend for the different perspective. I recently watched a documentary from 50’s where a toddler was left at a nursery for a week while his Mother had a baby. It was eye opening and upsetting but explained why I have a fear of abandonment as I was left with Grandparents who I didn’t know at a young age. Wow, I feel brave opening up and trusting on here. Thank you for your friendship xx

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The Gardener

Aug. 7, 2022, 9:10 a.m.

My Mum was never a hugger, but demanded the 'dutiful' kiss, as did my awful aunts, and which I hated. I spent as much time as possible with my Mum when I was in UK, and insisted on moving into her room in the care home for the last 5 nights of her life. ~When she died, care home staff said 'Don't know how you stuck it, the way she treats you'. She was late 90's, always been like that. She was paranoically jealous of anything I did for anybody else.

Bearofliddlebrain

Aug. 7, 2022, 3:58 p.m.

Oh Sarah, it is ve ve brave of you to open up and share. I’m assuming you were left at your grandparents because your mum had another baby or was she ill? Your friend is wise if she sees the ‘good’ things you received from your mum - and she must have known your mum to recognise the gifts passed on? It is sad that some parents just don’t know how to be with their children, and probably don’t understand the hurt they cause. Know that you have done your best looking after your own mum, right to the end. Love and Bear hugs x x x

Sarah yellow rose

Aug. 7, 2022, 4:14 p.m.

Thank you Bear, yes my Mum went to have my brother. Re my friend she said she had love and hugs but absolutely no advice or guidance which made her feel she was alone in coping. I often give her support when she has a problem. It’s so interesting how we perceive our experience. x x x

Sarah yellow rose

Aug. 7, 2022, 4:15 p.m.

Thank you for your reply TG , I always enjoy reading your thoughts

Teg

Aug. 7, 2022, 7:07 a.m.

Good Morning RATG Boundaries; very important. Everybody needs them. When I was a child I thought the only boundaries belonged to the cricket ground! Now I know different. If you don't make your own boundaries you lose self control. Other people are making decisions for you. Wisely you have made a boundary with your mother. Because of who she is you have to show some respect. However you choose not to become embroiled in her nasty personal comments and you limit the amount of time you spend in her presence. At her age she is unlikely to change so you have accepted that and set boundaries. Well done! Enjoy the Sunday sunshine. Txx

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Mary

Aug. 7, 2022, 7:19 a.m.

I recently, in my mid 60s, found out I am a co-dependent, and also have PTSD. After a lifetime struggling with depression etc., I'm learning how to heal. I'm learning about boundaries for the first time. One thing I've learned about boundaries is that you can't force change in someone else. You can only set them for your own behaviour. I would think that a boundary with your mother would be to actually communicate gently and respectfully that her comments really upset you and that if you hear any more negative, diminishing or disrespectful words you will have to leave. Hopefully that will lessen the comments in time. She's probably not learned that for herself in her life. I never learned these things as my mother was a narcissist and taught me nothing except what a useless waste of space I was.

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Frankie

Aug. 7, 2022, 7:24 a.m.

Hello dear RATG. Boundaries - ah yes.. We worked so hard to maintain distance and boundaries with Nicky, my alcoholic sister, very necessary even though she lived in another country. The emotional energy required was huge! It must be so much harder to do so with a parent. My heart goes out to you. I found writing a letter to Nicky helped enormously, even though I never sent it. That and my mantra "I am an adult, I behave like an adult." Darling hubby's insistence that we refuse to descend to her levels of manipulation was essential too. But oh how tempting it used to be to resort to point scoring... It can be exhausting being an adult can't it?! Hello lovely Moodscopers! Frankie

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Sarah yellow rose

Aug. 7, 2022, 7:43 a.m.

Hello Frankie, I often think of you. Great to see you on here. My ex husband was like your sister. I stood it for 24 years (18 years married) and I’m still working through my issues around it 19 years later.

Frankie

Aug. 7, 2022, 8:44 a.m.

Thanks Sarah YR, how kind. Gosh I am not surprised that you are still working through issues... Another tactic I used to use, suggested by Jul (hello Jul!) was to visualise Nicky wrapped in a scarf which muffled her words. As she was incredibly elegant this was easy to do. I would then focus on the scarf instead of the words - really helpful in creating the necessary distance.

The Gardener

Aug. 7, 2022, 9:15 a.m.

Frankie, lovely to see your name here. My m-in-law bullied me for 25 years, never told Mr G he would have banned her the house. Eventualy I was driven to see a psychotherapist, also a priest. Did not take him long to suss the situation. When he asked me why I did not answer back I said it was because she was an old lady. So he started playing a violin. She was very tough indeed, tried not to let her poor, sick, delightful husband watch Westerns, they were not 'improving'!

The Gardener

Aug. 7, 2022, 9:19 a.m.

My computer seems to have stopped 'rationing' me. Psychotherapist asked me what I'd like to do. Looked vague. He put a pouffe in the middle of the room, and I bunged all the cushions at it with all the force I could muster. I think ~Room's making rude gestures with hands in pockets is pretty good. Mr G and I used to take hated gifts and throw them at the wall. We could have a good list of gestures.

Jul

Aug. 7, 2022, 9:51 a.m.

Hello Frankie. xxxJul xx

Valerie

Aug. 7, 2022, 11:44 a.m.

Hello Frankie,good to see your name.Hope life is being kind to you.***

Dragonfly

Aug. 7, 2022, 1:58 p.m.

Lovely to see you here again Frankie :)

Bearofliddlebrain

Aug. 7, 2022, 4:03 p.m.

Love that you have replied today Frankie. Lovely to see your name. In your letter to Nicky did you write out all the things that upset you about her behaviour? Did you write things that you wished you could have said to her? I’m glad it helped. I really like the scarf over the mouth suggestion too - might use that for my sister….lol! Hope you are doing really well x x x

Jul

Aug. 7, 2022, 8:13 a.m.

Dear Ratg I'm sorry to hear how your mother continues to be nasty towards you. Do your children recognise what you say about her or do they love her since she is so nice to them? It must be almost impossible to set boundaries with your mother when you are in her presence but you did what you could to protect yourself . Well done. Pity you had to curtail your day at the outdoor event because of her. I am not good at setting boundaries. It goes against my nature. I am thinking that I sho0uld instead avoid people. My resolve to set boundaries when I meet these trouble makers, always disappears and I hear myself being nice to them. Have a good week and I hope you have got over seeing your mother. Jul xx

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Sue

Aug. 7, 2022, 8:41 a.m.

My mum was like this too. Always ready with a comment to reduce me to feeling like a child again. The most hurtful thing was that she was an equally bad grandparent - my heart broke the day I can home to find my 7 year old son sitting under a desk saying ‘grandma doesn’t love me ‘ as she had been so mean to him. I could forgive her for my childhood but not for hurting my children. Thankfully we moved 400 miles away from her some time ago but used to feel guilty for not regularly contacting her. She visited a few times but it was always strained. She died last year and although I shed a tear, I feel more peaceful and less guilty

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Sue

Aug. 7, 2022, 8:41 a.m.

My mum was like this too. Always ready with a comment to reduce me to feeling like a child again. The most hurtful thing was that she was an equally bad grandparent - my heart broke the day I can home to find my 7 year old son sitting under a desk saying ‘grandma doesn’t love me ‘ as she had been so mean to him. I could forgive her for my childhood but not for hurting my children. Thankfully we moved 400 miles away from her some time ago but used to feel guilty for not regularly contacting her. She visited a few times but it was always strained. She died last year and although I shed a tear, I feel more peaceful and less guilty

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Bearofliddlebrain

Aug. 7, 2022, 4:08 p.m.

Am so sad to read this Sue as well as the others who have had mothers who just don’t care. - I really hope you have learned not to feel guilt. You have done the best for yourself and your children - it is very hard to forgive others who are horrid to our own children. I’m glad you feel more at peace. Love and Bear hugs x xx

Orangeblossom

Aug. 7, 2022, 7:53 p.m.

Your response fully resonates with me Sue. When did your Mother die last year?

Orangeblossom

Aug. 7, 2022, 9:11 a.m.

Hi RATG thanks for the blog. Mum passed away 8 months ago. She & I never brought the best out in each other, in spite of us both trying hard to relate with one another. I hadn’t seen her for nearly four years when she died. She was as difficult as your Mum RATG & I have subsequently learnt that my brother has also received therapy because of her. He did his best for her & took care of her to the end. My OH’s Father was made in the same mould as my Mum & we frequently joked that they should marry each other. In July 2006 I was very angry with Mum because of a certain incident with my children. I told her she was a bully & created a climate of darkness & fear. She didn’t understand what I was on about & didn’t accept my statement but she did try to adjust her behaviour. She also asked me to forgive her. Which I think that I did. It is a series of letting go of negative memories since December. All the poisons that have been lurking in the mud are still hatching out.

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Bearofliddlebrain

Aug. 7, 2022, 4:13 p.m.

Oh OB - such a sad, sad tale again, more mothers behaving badly - I wonder if they were bullied as children and this is all they know? I’m glad your brother has had therapy to help him move forward - and partly relieved it wasn’t just you she picked on. He is a star for having cared for her to the end. At least by you confronting her, your mother slightly changed her behaviour and the biggest thing of all is she asked for your forgiveness. That means she knew how she had behaved was wrong; I hope she asked your brother for his forgiveness too. May all her poisonous and mean behaviour keep leaching out so you find your own peace. Love and Bear hugs ***

The Gardener

Aug. 7, 2022, 9:26 a.m.

Such a resonating blog RATG. Why are mothers that way? Jealous of their daughters? Want to still control them as when they were babies? My feelings are an intense sadness that I could not have a good relationship with my Ma. We had nothing in common at all - she never praised me in her life, in fact it was non-stop criticism. Same with my Dad, not criticism, just not going along with any of his suggestions. Despite his temperament he was as kind as he could be during 15 tempestuous years. although Mummy raised objections to any of his suggestions for enjoying ourselves. She was fine with my kids - she was Granny, stuffed them with unsuitable food, and they laughed at her foibles. And they had not had to live with her.

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Liz

Aug. 7, 2022, 8:59 p.m.

HI Gardener. I think you may be right re your suggestion of jealousy and the control aspect. I too feel sad that I seemed to be at war with my mum but she was alcoholic and I think the drink was speaking a lot of the time. I was criticised all the time especially with my appearance. As a result of this, I am extremely defensive, I also assume things that sometimes that aren't there (probably always preparing myself for a situation that often doesn't occur) due to an unsettling home life and I also have body dysmorphia, the latter isn't all to do with my mum as I was triggered by a photo of myself (as strange as it sounds). When I do services for people and meet families and the daughter says that her mum was her best friend, it makes me sad as it's such an alien concept. But we survived it and I have forgiven her and I've also forgiven myself. I'm proud of who I am, despite the issues that still beset me and the negative voices are quiet theses days x

RC

Aug. 7, 2022, 4:22 p.m.

I’m having to set boundaries too with my mum.Financially, my husband and I support her and feel that we have to carry on doing even though we’ve done it for several years. There will come the day when we have to withdraw our support ( when she passes away). Then there’s my brother to look after. I feel it will never stop but it must. We will seize the moment and tell him we can no longer help him out. It won’t go down well….. Well done RATG for standing up to your mother even though it meant you had to leave early Take care RC xx

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Bearofliddlebrain

Aug. 7, 2022, 4:32 p.m.

Oh dearest Ratg, what a sad tale which has lead to heartbreaking tales from other lovely Moodscopers who have shared their own sad relationships, but also victories over the parents who turn out to be nothing more than bullies. I’m so glad you stuck two fingers up at your mum - albeit in your pocket!! You don’t seem to be the sort of person who would have a go at her at home, let alone out at a function, so you did the right thing! Wiser to do as you did and move on from her acid tongue. I am glad she doesn’t have a go at the gks - that would be unforgivable and she would probably never see them. I have a dear friend whose MiL is a nasty piece of work and my friend has done her utmost to keep calm and do everything required of her, especially since MiL’s son, my friend’s husband, died. He wouldn’t put up with nonsense and horrid remarks from his own mother so why should my friend put up with it? The woman has been so vile and was to FiL (who passed away before his time! Makes me think they’d do anything to get away from this horrid woman!) My lovely friend just visits the MiL once a month now as this woman has dementia too and that has exacerbated the awful behaviour. But only one of the gks visits - the other won’t go near grandma and her acid tongue and who can blame her? I do feel for you - and have been thinking how lucky I am, that I had a reasonably ‘normal’ upbringing with two loving parents (and one nasty sibling of the stirring-variety!) Boundaries? I struggle with keeping boundaries - I drop tools to help or offer all the time; I am a people pleaser and I know it’s a learned behaviour: my mum was the same and then overdid things and got worn out! But, if something happened to my sister tomorrow, I’d probably be on my way to help her immediately…but in my heart I think I know she’d push me away…so best to keep schtum. Easier for my head to not speak with her unless I have to and as we live a few hundred miles apart, I don’t think I will bump into her! You have written a great blog - which has drawn out so many ghosts Moodscopers. This may help others see how they too can move away and not be drawn into the games bullying parents play. Thank you Ratg and hope the bus load of kids have not worn you out! Love and Bear hugs x x x

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Teg

Aug. 7, 2022, 5:24 p.m.

Mrs Bear Another WWW; wonderful wise words. Have you ever thought of becoming an agony aunt? Second thoughts-don't apply as Moodscope may lose you. Txx

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Bearofliddlebrain

Aug. 7, 2022, 7:33 p.m.

Aw Teg - that’s kind of you to say xx

Welsh girl

Aug. 7, 2022, 6:44 p.m.

Hi RATG, Thank you for your blog which, as with so many others on here, resonated with me. My mother was passive aggressive too , never hugged me and seemed to take a perverse delight in belittling me at every turn. She treated my brother and sister differently. My brother could do no wrong despite a police caution in his youth and she confided a lot in my sister ( who knew mum had gone through the menopause early for example) but told me nothing. Other extended family members, along with people in her community, thought she was a slightly dotty, but lovely, old lady (an act she was very good at putting on in my opinion!) After one visit, my daughter aged 7, asked me why grandma preferred the other grandchildren to her and her sister. So I decided there and then that my boundaries were to keep my family’s visits to her and dad to twice a year, as I did not want them exposed to her poison. Three years ago this coming week, she was knocked over by a car driver and died as a result of her injuries. To be honest, after the initial shock, my overriding feeling was of relief. I do miss her occasionally (I’d love to ring her up and tell her her seventh great grandchild, a girl, is due in November) but my life is easier without her. And I agree with Orangeblossom, the poisons do still keep hatching out!

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Bearofliddlebrain

Aug. 7, 2022, 7:30 p.m.

Oh Welsh girl - that is another sad tale of woe - even sadder that your young daughter noticed grandma seemed to prefer the other gks to her and her sister. Good for you keeping them at arm’s length from the poison of your mother. Shame for your father if he wasn’t like her. A sorry end to her life being killed and even though it must have been shocking, I can understand the relief you felt. So exciting for you and your family having number seven due in November. I’m sure you will treat all your children and gks with the love you know they need. Love and Bear hugs x x x

Ana

Aug. 8, 2022, 2:44 a.m.

I fear with worry my aging mother is getting dementia as an early symptom can be anger and just in old age it gets me down, upsetting that she has become a nasty person. She's unaware.

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Teg

Aug. 8, 2022, 6:55 a.m.

Hi Ana So sorry to hear about how your mother's illness is affecting you. You need help. Family, friends, local dementia groups. You must get some respite breaks to lift your spirits. Keep in touch as there will be many Moodscope members in your situation. Take care Txx

Ach UK

Aug. 8, 2022, 4:25 a.m.

Thank you Ratg for your blog and for your and Moodscopers open discussion about the immense difficulties of walking the tightrope through toxic relations and encounters. I can only say I had/have them too and what immense strain and pain they cause. Hugs to all here, thanks, XX Ach.

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Lexi

Aug. 9, 2022, 12:06 p.m.

Hi RATG, coming to this late but I just had the same experience with my mother. Mine didn't end so well. After way too many days together we had a massive fight that had me down for days. I am trying now to figure out how to avoid that mess again in the future xo.

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