Hi, I'd like to help you with your question.
It sounds like your Mom has trouble with expressing her feelings. She also appears to have issues with anger and hurt.
When she says she is not mad, she may be partially correct. Though she does have anger issues, she also seems very hurt, possibly somewhere in her past. Was she abused as a child? I suspect she may have been and never learned to deal with those feelings. She did learn to take out how she feels on others and lay blame, with little logical reason to do so.
The problem for you is that in trying to get her to understand what she is doing is wrong, you are running up against her denial. She is pushing her feelings away, denying they are there and putting blame on other people so she doesn't have to be responsible or handle her feelings about the situation. Apparently, this works for her in some capacity and she will be reluctant to change it unless she has a very good reason. She did change how she was toward you after she married probably because she felt safe to do so and you became an adult, which often changes how abusers act towards their victims.
Simply put, your mom needs to see a therapist. She could work out whatever caused her to react the way she does and relearn how to handle her feelings. In order to have therapy be effective, she needs to want to get better. This is the tough part. Try talking with her again, maybe this time with her husband. Let her know you care and you want her to feel better. Tell her you want your relationship with her to improve. Her husband can add what he feels and see if she is willing to listen. You may not get anywhere at first, but keep trying. Offer to go with her if you feel comfortable doing that.
In the meanwhile, try not to react to what she says. Keep trying to talk with her but if she backs off give her space. She may see that you are not reacting to her and she may come around. Don't keep trying to figure out her motivations. Often, that is what she wants you to do. It becomes a game and feeds her needs. Just talk about general topics, ask how she is (but don't go further with it) and keep the conversation on lighter topics. If she won't talk with you, then shrug it off and talk with her husband. Don't talk about your mother with him but focus on other topics. She will see that her behavior is not rewarded and she will have to change.
If you find that your relationship with her is getting too much, consider therapy for yourself. Talk with your doctor for a referral or if you attend church, your pastor. You can also find a therapist at www.findatherapist.com.
I hope this has helped you,Kate
Thank you so much for your valuable insights. I do believe she needs therapy, however, getting her to see that would be almost impossible. Like you said, she has to want to change but if she doesn't see shes to blame in anything then how is she going to see that she needs help to fix anything? I have received counceling myself to deal with my past. I have been able to forgive and forget, but when incidences like these occur, I can't help but to put my guard back up. Yes, she was abused by her parents and I have sympathized with her on those issues and told her countless times i'm so sorry to hear that and reitterated time and time again that she never deserved that kind of treatment. I know she is the produc of her childhood and never had the ability to express any form of anger. Her way of handeling it is to brush it off, get an apology and forget anything has ever happent, of course it's easier to ignore then accept it and change what you do wrong. Like Dr. Phil says, you can't change what you don't acknowledge and that is so true!! I know she has never had any closure or explanations as to why her parents treated her the way they did and as often as she wants to claim she's over it, I know deep down that eats away at her. I just don't think that she will ever admit that she continues to lash out at everyone else, especially me, over it. She's the type that when she hurts, she hurts back with no justification and that's her defense mechanism.
Now I'm torn about what to do about my two children. She babysat for me twice a week but when all this started going down hill once again, I told her nicely that they're going to go to daycare until this all gets resolved because I didn't want to feel uncomfortable anymore. She would pick up the kids, ignore me, no matter how much I tried talking to her, but was as sweet as can be towards my husband and kids, which I was very thankful for but hurt at the same time considering I had no idea what the problems were. I told her I would never keep the kids from her and explained that she could see them anytime she wanted, just to call. With the continued ignorance she has shown me, I don't even want her to see the kids at this point. That part of me is the side that says, "I'm not going to allow you to treat me like this, have your cake and eat it too" However, I also try to feel from her end and see that she is simply hurting over a various number of issues but doesn't know how to sort through them and why put her through more pain. I don't want to put the kids in the middle of this but I also don't want her to think that its ok to continue to treat me like this. My brother, who has been my crutch through the relationship with my mom since I was born, feels that I should "teach her a lesson" and stand firm with her and tell her until she can treat me like a person then she can't see the kids. I'm so torn on this issue because I don't want to be that vindictive person only out to get revenge because then I would be playing on the same level as her. Which is the right approach? Let her see her grandkids, which I feel allows her to have her cake and eat it to, or keep them from her, which would really be hurting them as well. (My son is 2 1/5 and my daughter is 7 months old) My son adores his mimi and pap-pap and to tell him he can't see them would break my heart but I also don't want to be a door mat anymore! Any suggestions?
I understand what you are saying. I agree with you, she will not get better until she wants to and also has a reason to.
Your feelings are a very common reaction to being the child of an abused parent and also a survivor of an abusive parent. Your mother has learned to play a game that makes her feel better and keeps people acting in her favor. She has used guilt to manipulate and get what she needs. It is a learned behavior from her childhood and it works for her. But it does not work for you.
Because of your children, you are caught between a rock and a hard place. However, your brother has a point with what he told you. You are selling a part of yourself to maintain your mother's contact with your kids and with you. You are trying to keep the peace, maintain a relationship with your mother, hoping for a good relationship with your mother, and trying to make her happy all at the same time. And your mother is using you as an outlet for her negative feelings and to make herself feel better. No wonder you feel distressed!
You will not get peace with this because your mother will never be at peace unless she gains insight into her behavior. So the only thing you can do is control your feelings and actions with this situation. Decide how you want to handle this so you can feel better and maintain your self esteem. If that is withholding contact, then do that. If that is having limited contact, then do that. What ever works for you so you are not being manipulated by her. You may also want to see a therapist on your own to help you sort out your feelings and gain more insight into how your mother affects you.
I think that the attention your mother is getting from everyone, good or bad, is feeding her need to be the center of attention. It also helps her know she can manipulate everyone around her. If everyone wants to help the situation, not responding to her would help. The attention she gets now is not helping matters. She is being rewarded for her behavior and unless the family wants her to continue with how she treats everyone, then leaving her alone is the best option.
Unless she changes her behavior and gains insight, she will continue to act her part in the family and withhold her self from the family.