Advice on toxic parent

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  • #367047
    SNKSColorado
    Participant

    Hi everyone,

    My mother was very loving when we were small children. So my brother and I grew up feeling special and loved, for which we are grateful. There was a lot of passion, love, and drama in our house though. Lots of fighting between my parents, divorce was screamed often, by my mom, at least 3-4 times per month. The fights were sometimes vicious, my mother being the vicious one. She threw things at my dad. My stomach would burn. It was always my dad’s fault, or our faults, never hers. She has never once ever acknowledged doing anything wrong. Sometimes there was joy too. It was confusing, I couldn’t understand why my dad put up with her. I ended up marrying the most happy go lucky guy I could find, I love the peace, while my poor brother married someone just like our mom. She abuses him to this day.

    My mom stopped talking to everyone in the family, one by one. First, her mom in the 70s, then her sister, then her other two siblings in the 80s. She was nasty to my dad’s sisters in law (family of 5 boys) and one by one, we lost touch, or stopped speaking. My father died at 52 of stomach cancer and I often wonder if it was all the constant stress. Similarly, my brother’s wife also stopped talking to all her family, one by one, then my mom, then even me. So no one talks to anyone. What a sick group!

    After my dad died, I tried to keep us all together, and I’ve tried to be there for my mom. It isn’t easy. I’ve taken her on dozens of trips and tried to give her a good life after losing my dad. We have gone to shows, cruises, places she always wanted to go, like Vegas multiple times, Newport, and Lake Tahoe. Most of these I paid for, and gladly. I feel loyal because she was such a good mom when we were small and I thought losing my dad was just so terrible. I have been the only family member that talks to her for about 20 years now. She does have friends, but the average span is usually 2-3 years then something happens. She even accused one of her friends of stealing jewelry, called the police… then later found where she had misplaced the jewelry. She sobbed over that jewelry like I had never heard her sob about anything, not even my dad. I was so mortified, but still, I stayed loyal.

    She was diagnosed with a brain tumor at 76, and I moved her 2000 miles to the best facility for her brain cancer at our expense. I drove her to radiation treatments for weeks and my career suffered. We renovated a room and bought a new bed and TV so she would be comfortable while healing. She was cured and we were happy to have helped.

    All these years, I am always on eggshells. She is very critical of everyone, never herself. I lost 30 pounds and she said, you’re starting to look normal from the back. Meanwhile, she’s 60 pounds overweight. She comes to our home and says, this place needs a cleaning, and why don’t you shave those dogs? How come your husband doesn’t talk more? The potatoes aren’t cooked right. You’re balding, you better get a wig. You need braces (and guess what, I fucking got them this year at 57)… And on and on.

    Now, for the punchline. Four years ago, mom gave us her 20-year-old loveseat and chair. We just replaced it last month, and I offered the furniture to family members nearby. She went berserk over this. She does not want my dad’s family to have it. I told her, I thought it was mine to give… I offered it back to her (maybe one of her current friends want it?) No, she doesn’t want it back, but demands that it go to donation. She kept at me and at me about it and then I did tell her that I thought her behavior was despicable; and I reminded her of how she gets along with no one, and to stop it already. She refuses to speak to me now, completing the pattern. My mom turns 80 in 3 weeks. Pointing out that she is wrong is an unforgivable offense, so I guess this is it.

    I didn’t share that the family members nearby were such good friends to all of us, mom included, especially when my dad was sick. They travelled 1000+ miles every month to see him and help. Why wouldn’t we share it with them?

    My mom is financially taken care of, thanks to my dad’s hard work and pension, so it hurts no one to show kindness to our family. Friends of mine think she’s jealous of the friendship we have with this part of our family (and others too, I try to keep in touch with everyone, though my brother isn’t allowed to talk to me either. Ugh! Is life not too short!?)

    Why am I sharing this? I guess it just feels like bizarro world to me – all I’ve done means nothing her. I’d love to hear your thought on this. Obviously this is my perspective, there are always two sides, but I’m just shaking my head and I guess I have to just move forward without her.

    I have done a lot of reading and I have always thought she might have Borderline Personality Disorder but she would never hurt herself, trust me. Maybe she’s BPD with covert narcissism? Or maybe I’m missing something.

    Saddest thing? Since we haven’t spoken 4 weeks ago, I’ve been so much happier, my blood pressure is down, less anxiety, I’m losing weight, and yet, I feel terrible that’s the case.

    Welcome your thoughts and suggestions.

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  • #367063
    Renee Swanson
    Participant

    I am so sorry for what you have been through. This sounds like classic covert narcissism to me, perhaps mixed with BPD as you say. There are definite traits of narcissism in what you describe though: the complete lack of empathy toward your feelings or anyone else’s, a strong inability to accept blame, and the black and white thinking that someone is either completely good or completely bad.
    With that black and white thinking, narcissists don’t see people as being a mixture of good and bad. When they decide that you are bad, everything about you is bad. Everything you have ever done is bad. If you point out something that they used to think was good, they will tell you that you misunderstood them. That they never thought that was good. You are either their best friend ever or their worst enemy. There isn’t any middle ground.
    I am glad to hear that you are happier, though I am sorry for the reason why. Do not blame yourself for this! These choices are not your choices or your fault or your responsibility to fix. She is responsible for her own choices, and there is nothing you can do about that. You have already gone far beyond what many people would.
    Also it is okay to feel healthier without all the stress. We are emotional beings, and emotional stress absolutely effects us. Allow yourself to enjoy the reprieve. You have earned it!

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