HI, I can help. What is going on with your mother?
Hi! Thank you sooo much.
Would you mind if I cut and paste the correspondence I've had with my mom?
It'll be easier than trying to explain everything.
Not at all. Go right ahead.
Okay-- to sort of explain a bit first, my mom left my dad last year after 38 years of marriage, and it was very horrible and ugly.
She moved across country to Virginia with a man she met on the internet.
Very "Jerry Springer" like situation.
She hasn't spoken to me more than once every other month ever since and it's created a big rift in our relationship.
Ok, I understand
So here's her email to me after a sort of angry instant message session
sent what I thought was a gentle email to Ming letting him know I missed his choosing to not visit and hoping he'd discuss it some. So far he hasn't responded but I sent it rather late yesterday, he might not have even read it yet. I'm not trying to pressure him, just want some dialogue to open between us.
Let me know when you're done reading that and I 'll send my response.
(Bruce is her boyfriend, Nicky's my sister, Helen's my aunt)
Joan's her best friend
Ok, I'm done. What about the letter is bothering you?
Ok, let me send my response to her
Hi Mom...Sorry it's taken me a while to write back- I am thinking about what to say. I went and looked through a few of my old emails from you that yousent when I complained to you before about your non-communication, and your response to me back then was almost identical to the one you just sent me this morning. So, I'm thinking that whatever it was I said or however I responded to you before wasn't effective in putting my point across? Or maybethere isn't going to be any way for me to respond that will make any sense to you and not sound like I'm just going on and on, not being an "adult", etc.Here is an article about Adult Children of Divorce:http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2009/mar/14/divorce-adult-offspring-acodsI don't think that we are the only ones who are devastated and stressed out at this happening. Everyone's situation is different, but I feel likewhat happened in our family was a VERY bad situation because of the way Dad is, and just being totally abandoned with him when all of this went down. There's an overwhelming feeling that you "should've" stayed to fix your own messes, no matter how uncomfortable youwere with the situation. By fixing your own messes, I mean packing up your own stuff (Ming and I didn't enjoy doing that. One of the worst days ever, ever, ever. Not only that, but you left things off of your list that we were hurt that you didn't remember to ask for, likegifts we had given you. The whole thing left a very bad taste in our mouths because it just seemed like you were asking for what you wantedand we had to bust our asses getting it for you even though the pain of it all was overwhelming and upsetting and just makes my stomach turnto remember it.), it would've been great if we had all gotten together for a last "meeting" where you stated in front of all of us and Dad whyyou were leaving and just put it out there. Because Ming and I had to deal with daily phone calls and emails from dad asking, "WHYYYYYYYY DID SHE LEAVE? I WAS THE PERFECT HUSBAND!!" We all know that's bullshit, but we sure as hell aren't goingto be the ones to open his eyes to that truth. So basically, I feel like you took a huge dump on the Huey family in San Francisco and left Mingand me to clean up your shit. (I'm not going to dwell on your ditching Merlin with me because I don't think you would've been able to takevery good care of him, being so focused on yourself as you are right now.)From what I've heard, the phone calls and emails to Dad you did do were mostly calls to him asking about your stuff and your money, etc. He'd tell me that you told him something that I told YOU in confidence. This made me REALLY lose trust for you- it made me feel like you would do anythingin the world to get your precious money and furniture and burn every bridge to get your $$$$$$ dollars and material goods. Seemed so greedyand selfish. I am NOT saying that you don't deserve your fair share, but I would say that you had a legal ruling saying that you wouldget such and such items and such and such an amount of money. What's the point in calling dad and getting him all upset so that he'd call me, all upset and asking "WHYYYYYY did your mother say this or that??!?!?!" And I don't care who gets what money and who gets whatitem of furniture- I have no power over that crap at all but I couldn't just tell dad to stfu and leave me alone. He was truly sad and you know what?I feel like Dad has made a point in calling me and talking to me through all of this, even though he has a girlfriend. Dad may have his faultsbut I understand that mostly what he wants in life is love and respect, even though he goes about it ALL wrong. Dad's not perfect, but it's likeI understand his motives in doing things for the most part. Maybe you and Dad were toxic for each other- I'm thinking that is probably the case.Dad has changed a little bit since you've left, so even though it hurt a lot for you to leave, it was good for him in a lot of ways. Anyway, I digress.What it boils down to, is that you seem to have started a new life which is okay, you fill your days doing leisurely things, which is also okay, but youhave failed to take a few minutes in your day to let us talk to you about the MESS we've had to deal with. It just seems like you owed us a sympatheticear during all of this crap, but you didn't want "guilt trips" and you didn't want to hear it, even though it was our reality EVERYDAY. You got out ofthings scott-free, with a big hunk of money, some real estate, a new boyfriend and a new life and never ever had to deal with it. We had to deal withit every single day. The least you could've done is be there to LISTEN while we cried and mourned over the mess going on over here. Instead, Ming and I had to walk through our days, our jobs, our personal lives, dying inside with no one but each other to talk about the pain with.Having said all of this, which you have heard before, I guess it's now my responsibility to try to communicate to you what it is I want in our relationship in order to feel less "angry" , as you say, or maybe what it really is, is that I've lost trust and a lot of respect for you. I'm not sure that what I want is somethingthat you can deliver. What I want is for you to treat me like I'm your daughter instead of some kind of stranger or pen-pal. I really did a LOT for you, gettingyou whatever information you needed, listening to you crying about Bruce not calling, getting you a room at the Hotel Rex when you came back to San Francisco, helping Ming pack up all your stuff to send you, etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. Please don't only talk to me when you are itching for gossip or info about Dad's new life. Maybe I've never felt that close to you in the first place, and it's all coming up now that I never see you or talk to you anymore. Maybe it's not possible to ever have a very normal relationship with you, ever. But I would at least like to be able to talk to you without feeling rage or emotional pain. I would like that a lot, and I'm sure that would be more comfortable for you, too.Your email that you just sent was not so good. Sounds like you are talking to a business contact or something. Why do you always hold me at arm's length?You know what I think about sometimes that makes me feel sad? I feel like when you have cried or shown emotion to me, it is over something that has happened to YOU. You have never cried or shown emotion because you feel badly about what I've been through. Aren't mothers supposed to care about their kids in that way? Oh right- the one other time I've seen you cry or show emotion was when you were so worried about Nicky's money problems. Well, hello- I've had money problems. And I have a kid and other problems too, and have had to pay a huge debt back to you even though I'm still suffering a lot for that in two ways- Giuseppe's anger at me for not keeping better track of the debts, Giuseppe's anger at me for having a mom that lends money and demands it all back within two weeks. That was also a real cheesy thing to have done to me. I had paid you on time and faithfully as we agreed, but all of a sudden you wanted that cash back, even if it meant you had to call Giuseppe at work every day and harass him. Yes, I know about that. I've heard about it a million times. So, back to what it is that I want for us for the future. Stop acting like nothing happened and everything should be cool between us. You haven't paid your "dues" yet, as far as I'm concerned. Everything is NOT okay. It's going to take some actual work and communication (if you are willing to go through the bother) to mend the fences that have been damaged. We're just going to have to take it one day at a time. Ignoring the problem will not make it go away. By communication, I mean maybe emailing me to ask how things are going, to maybe try to stop hiding things from me-- I don't know why you don't trust me, I've never done anything to deserve that.What I truly hope is that you don't continue running away from reality, and you try to face the issues and get past them. I know it's difficult but I think that it will be worth it in the long run. If you want my take on things, I think there are a lot of things that have happened to you in your life that you have never really dealt with. You tend to stuff things down into your subconscious or just try to ignore it or pretend it isn't there. But you know what? The more you ignore it, the longer it stays with you, whether you like it or not. I'm kind of baring my soul, here. It's uncomfortable for me to do this because I know that I will probably be disappointed in return. So I will think of this as a journal entry and try not to expect much. I'm sorry that I feel this way right now, but I hope I am wrong.
(sorry, I know it's long)
My question has to do with the response she gave me to this letter
Ok, go ahead and post the next letter.
I thought about all that you said to me in my email, and wrote some "in my defense" answers, or at least trying to clarify why somethings happened and why I had no control, or felt a lack of control, or felt that trying to control the situation was costly in some way beyond what I wanted to sacrifice for my own good.
so what do you feel stands out most and bothers you about your relationship with your mother?
Well, I'm not sure how to respond to her email because I'm completely disgusted with her inability to think of anyone but herself.
I don't know if I should just write her off completely, or keep trying.
What do you think of the letters? Are you picking up the same thing I am?
It sounds like she is trying to make a connection. Although I do understand your feeling that she abandoned you and left a mess for you when she left. She does seem somewhat distant in her letters but there also is a touch of her trying to understand. It may be that she does not know how to be in touch with her own feelings so she either mimics what she feels would work or she is unable to understand at all.
I feel pretty frustrated because she didn't address anything I said in my letter- she just talked about herself, you know?
Yes, I see what you are saying. I also think you may be feeling abandoned and frustrated because she left without your input or including you in the process. It would be very painful to feel you are not important enough to be part of the situation when she left.
And she is not putting you first in the situation now either.
Well... she included me in the process to the extent that she used me to get what she wanted.
I told her that I felt really, really used by her.
She didn't respond.
I feel like she didn't even read my letter!!
Yes. That is very common when you deal with someone who is thinking of themselves. She may be narcissistic. Has she always treated you this way?
She always has.
Then you are probably hitting the nail right on the head. It sounds like she does have a personality disorder.
How do I deal with a narcissistic person?
In that case, you are probably going to have to keep a distance.
Most people who are narcisstic do not see their own behavior for what it is.
She wants to come to California to visit my daughter. She made a date in August, and now she wants to change it to July. She told me that she wants to change it because Bruce's daughter had originally made a date to visit Bruce in August and changed it to July. So, she was coming out here to get away from Bruce's daughter, not to visit Francie.
I just found that out this morning.
I wonder if I should tell her to not bother to visit? She already bought the tickets. I feel like she just doesn't understand why she's unacceptable.
It actually might be a great chance for the two of you to work on this issue. What do you feel about seeing a therapist together?
I would be okay, but my mother hates seeing therapists.
Plus I don't think I could solve it in a week, you know?
I'm trying not to be pessimistic, but I don't know.
Just feeling confused.
Let her know that you feel it is essential to fixing your relationship. Also, it may be useful even for one session. Or you could try to set aside time to talk it all out, no holds barred.
What do you feel it would take to work this out? What are you comfortable with?
I don't know. I am so tired of being pushed away and being disappointed.
I understand. I think your mother is trying but you do have a lot of hurt from this relationship.
I know there are no guarantees in life, but I feel like it will really take a lot out of me emotionally, and I just started getting over all of this
to open all the wounds again... it would hurt.
There are some resources that might help you. Are you ok with me recommending some?
Total Forgiveness Experience: A Study Guide to Repairing Relationships by R. T. Kendall
Mending the Broken Bond: The 90-Day Answer to Repairing Your Relationship with Your Child by G. Frank Lawlis- for your mom.
It says that it's for up to 16 year old children?
My mom already says I act like a child... I don't think that I've been acting like a child, do you?
It may be a good idea if the two of you do some outside work first and come together to talk about what you learn. Start slow. Acknowledge your pain. Respect each other but be free to express your feelings.
On the one book, it is the principles that apply, not necessarily the age.
No you are not acting like a child. This is a very real and very adult situation.
Yes, I think that's a good idea, recommending some reading for her. But she's a know-it-all
she acts all the time like no-one can teach her anything
but I will certainly give it a try.
Well, you want to be able to say you did try. Giving up now, you may always wonder if you could have done something else to make it work. But by giving it your all, you can say you really did try.
That's true. I feel like she doesn't deserve all my effort- she was a lousy mother.
Neglected me and abused me, and cheated on my father the whole marriage.
You may also want to consider therapy just for yourself to help you cope with how you feel. Mother and daughter relationships are very important and affect people very strongly.
Stood there watching while he beat me without intervening, etc.
Oh I've been in therapy and still am-- I'm trying to repair my marriage right now
so the therapist I'm talking to now is helping with my marriage
But i just got out of 2 years of very expensive therapy before I started marriage counseling
Since she abused you, that is even more important. That is very traumatic and it is even more understandable why you feel so strongly about her behavior. A lot of abusers are self centered.
I don't feel sadness about it anymore, just wondering the next steps to take
thank goodness I've dealt with all of my past
I think you are on a good path. You sound very level headed about this and very in touch with your feelings. Accepting that your mother is flawed and that you may be only able to have a limited relationship with her is probably the best thing for you. You seem very able to work with this and the limitations it brings.
Thank you very much for your help. Sometimes I wonder if I'm being overly-sensitive (I was always told I was while growing up), or just being sensible.
I have to think of what's best for MY daughter, too.
No you are not over sensitive, just very hurt. But for what you have gone through, you have done very well.
Thank you! I do feel better. I will think about my next steps, knowing that I am not over-reacting or being silly.
I'd like to recommend one more book for you. It is called Adult children of Abusive parents by Steven Farmer. It is an excellent book that I believe will speak to you about your situation.
You are very welcome! I am glad I could help.
Okay, I will order it!