Advice on toxic parent

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  • #367047

      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.

      • This topic was modified 3 years, 8 months ago by SNKSColorado.
      • This topic was modified 3 years, 8 months ago by SNKSColorado.
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    • #367063
      Alex Delon

        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!


          Don’t know if you are even still here or not but just thought I would reply.
          On the topic of what disorder does she have.
          BPD with possible tendencies toward covert narcissism sounds like it to me too. (And a lot of people with BPD never do go in for the physical self-harm. Some of them will only *emotionally* harm others around them. Some will *only* harm themselves, emotionally or physically or perhaps both, and apparently that is called being a “quiet borderline”.)
          Next topic. Our parents.
          Okay. She kind of reminds me of my mom, although mine is not that extreme. Do not think they have the same disorders and they do have some different behaviors but the thing of “I have to just harp and carp at everyone” is about the same. (Regretfully a lot of parents are like that and about all that we really can do about it is either ignore them as much as possible and just try to cope with it [not just put up with it] or leave them. Speaking of, you have done an absolutely wonderful, terrific, magnificent, stunning, amazing, incredible, marvelous, super and great job of *not* leaving *her* and I am sorry to hear that she finally left you but at least now you are set free to live your own life. Good. I’m sorry you’re feeling bad about it or guilty about it but I think that eventually most of that will go away.)
          As for myself personally.
          I’m currently dealing with some of my feelings regarding my ex-friend who grew up to be somewhat similar to my mom. (Tried to talk to her about it online some years ago and her response was that I supposedly think all moms are just like *my* mom. No. I was *actually* trying to figure out if my former friend could possibly have postnatal depression, which of course comes from becoming a mom. Since then I have figured out that the *real* source of her problems started much earlier, most likely in her own early childhood.) She has always been nice to her children while they were still children as far as I’m aware, but I sometimes worry for them that now they are grown up she could treat them the way she did me. I know it is not really my business but still I sometimes worry. Like that’s not already bad enough, she’s got a strange ex-husband whom she believes to be a narcissist and in spite of that she still lives next door to him. (Long story.) Basically I just don’t think that the effect of all this is going to be very good for her adult kids, both now young women in their twenties and they seem to be doing okay so far but I only know of them a little bit from a distance (which is another reason why I try to just mind my own business most of the time).
          Today is her birthday.
          I wish I could just simply wish her a happy birthday and have done with it, but life does not seem to work like that for me at this time.
          I did wish her a happy birthday on Facebook this early morning, but since then where my thoughts have been is mostly how so much of her life has been so sad and how she has made me so sad because of it. The combination of worry about her and stress/sadness/pain from her has just been very stressful over the years. She no longer contacts me but I am trying to still remember to occasionally send support. More than that I cannot do because hanging out with her for fun is just not much fun any more.
          Her (former) wedding anniversary is also today. The last time I had a genuinely happy time on her birthday, without her but partly *for* her, was before I found out that she and her ex-husband had split. Three years ago I actually thought that it still was her “birthday anniversary” (luckily I didn’t tell her that on Facebook or anywhere else) and actually she was already no longer even living in his house but they were still legally “married”. They finally got officially divorced around the end of 2020 or beginning of 2021. Heard a lot from her about him during the summer of 2020. I think she was mostly just lonely because of the pandemic and needing someone to talk to because of a lot of things, and likely did not really care much if it was me she talked/wrote to or somebody else. She eventually decided to not write to me any more because she thought that I was “still mad at her” for the way she had treated me in the past (sometimes I still am but I wasn’t right then). She also thought that our personalities were not a good fit, which is certainly true and I have told her that before but I do not know where she gets off thinking that she can just push me away whenever she wants to and then pull me back in whenever she wants to, especially when I was the one who originally tried to get away from her and stay away, and she did not respect *my* boundaries about *that* but now expects me to respect hers about this. (Strange person. You probably can tell.)
          Got strange moms in general on my mind today, for a variety of reasons.
          Also do not like how I believe my ex-friend’s father probably treated her and her brother when they were kids. It seems like he managed to at least somewhat mess her up, although by now that is obviously *not the only* cause of her problems, but I do think it all adds up. I remember her when she was or at least *seemed* young and innocent, but it seems fairly likely now that she had already been emotionally/verbally abused then. The cycle needs to stop. She presumably hurt me because others had hurt her. I don’t want her or anyone to hurt anyone else any more. Period.
          (“The cycle ends right now.” Taylor Swift. “Mean”.)
          (Thank you, Taylor Swift, for those words. Doing what I can to try to end the cycle. That is why I came here to post.)


            If you do come back sometime then I wouldn’t mind knowing did your mom leave you permanently or not.
            (There are some definite pros and cons either way, of course.)


              Black and white thinking is a BPD trait.
              Lack of empathy sometimes and extreme empathy other times is also a BPD trait.
              (Just found that out this year.)
              There really, really needs to be a forum specifically for covert abuse of *any and all* sorts when we don’t KNOW if it’s being caused by covert narcissism or not.
              (I didn’t know the expression “covert abuse” by itself until I came to these boards today, though, so at least that’s something.)
              Also just found out this year that having some narcissistic characteristics/traits/tendencies, WITHOUT being actually a narcissist, is also very typical of BPD.
              And also just found out this year that apparently some borderlines are actually also narcissists.
              (Forty percent of them, according to one source.)
              I think we are in dire need of a community or forum or set/group of forums to talk about just plain abuse regardless of whether it’s narcissistic or not, or at least where the primary focus is not narcissism. This website seems to be doing better in that direction than some, but so few people seem to post here so seldom that it’s not really all that much help in most ways.
              Just discovered this website today. Was actually looking for one similar but where more people post more often. Unfortunately a lot of the ones where more people post more often are typically narcissistic abuse only or battered women only (domestic violence only) or something else only. (One of the first ones that came up in my search today turned out to be Australia only. Had no idea of that at first. Not sure either why it came up so early in my search when I’m in America.)
              Dearth of boards that are actually designed/designated for what I’m really looking for that have more people posting in them.
              Betcha anything someone else stops by here in a year or two with the exact same problem.
              Honestly starting to feel like I’m blogging or something, instead of being in a discussion board at all.
              On this site, so far, the ones that I’m actually interested in the most or that suit my needs and/or situation the most, there’s no one actually discussing.


                About the original post or to the original poster, or both.
                The passion and the drama and the love and the laughter and the joy and the anger and the unkindness and the everything and etc. and so on and so on, all of that is EXTREMELY typical of borderline disorder (some people suspect that it may in some cases be actually or at least partly a brain-based disorder, making it *not* actually a personality disorder if that’s true).
                Narcissism is usually different but there are some similarities and the same person can have both.
                To the original poster. You’re basically describing a person with borderline disorder. (I’ve been researching it for the past several years. Mostly just online though so there could be other information that I don’t know or don’t have.)
                A definite narcissist who might also be borderline would presumably NOT have taken good care of her kids for the first few years. Narcissists really aren’t known for doing that. They don’t like to get involved in any of the day to day basic needs of the kids, although they may like to have fun with them occasionally.
                So she’s (presumably) either not a narcissist or wasn’t then.
                (And again we do very desperately need boards which focus much less on narcissism. It’s not the *only* abusive disorder out there. It’s just by far the most popular.)

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