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Thanks for writing.
What you should do is entirely dependent on what you want.
I realize it's a an extremely difficult question, but what do you really want from them?
It certainly is very possible to learn how to accept their idiosyncracies, and just be a part of your family in a way that protects you (emotionally), and not expect them to be any different.
Many people who have families who aren't everything they want - limit their interactions with them - if, for nothing else, than just to protect themselves, but some people sit down with their families and completely open up and tell them how they feel. Many times, the family thinks that the person who feels alienated is the one alienating the family.
Which would feel more comfortable for you?
Nothing you describe really speaks to her having a mental illness such as depression, or bipolar disorder, but that doesn't mean she couldn't have a personality disorder, but without an evaluation, we can't be sure.
I think there is something to what your father said, though. Family members all take on roles, for numerous reasons - for some reason (which you may never really figure out - because it may not have an exact reason) you have been cast into the role of the rejected child - or the outsider. This family dynamic usually appears when the parent (your Mom) was put in an unwanted role as well. Hers could have been the same role, or a different one.
Many times, families have a child-hero, a non-existant child, a reject, a little-Mom or little-Dad - there are others, but you get the idea.
The botXXXXX XXXXXne is that you weren't and are not responsible for how they treat you. And, you have to do what's best for you... if that's limiting contact, then so be it. But do know, that this is not really about you - it's more about the way Mom has to view her children. I suspect she was either a Daddy's girl and acts out competition with you -- or was not loved enough by her Dad and has to recreate that with her son.
Yes, this is definitely a learned behavior on her part and it will naturally effect your relationships with others. It will effect your self-worth, self-esteem, the way in which you experience other people, get along with other people and relate to other people. You may go through times of deep depression or self-doubt.
No, I don't think this is in your head. I think she treats you differently and tries to make it seem like's it you. I think she's rejecting. And, the fact that you ever doubt any of it, makes that clear.
What I do want to suggest is that you find someone who is completely on your side to support you and help you through this. It's wonderful that you have your husband, but that's not enough - you need someone who knows how to help you get over the effects of this - a counselor. You deserve a chance to explore how she has hurt you, the effects now, and how to move past it.
Counseling can be a wonderful experience - find someone who you really like and trust. Don't look for weekly progress- but progress over time. Learn not to doubt what you think and feel - trust your own judgement. Don't buy into wondering if it's all in your head. That rarely exists (when it does it called delusional disorder and those people think people follow them, not your mother is mean).
Find a PhD or PsyD Psychologist who works with family issues or a LMFT (licensed marriage and family therapist). Generally, we post our areas of expertise in our phone book ads. LMFT's have specific training in this type of family dynamic - and will understand just where you're coming from.
Any book on narcissism is right on target!!! Browse any large bookstore or amazon - you are definitely on the right track!
And keep in touch.... email anytime!
You are so welcome! I do conduct online therapy - but not through JustAnswer :-(
I am so sorry, JustAnswer does not allow me to do that - and your email address is blocked so I can't see it.
I am so sorry!