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Mark Manley
Mark Manley, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 402
Experience:  Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. Over 15 years exp. Married 30 years and happy.
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I made the mistake of reconciling with my mother

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I made the mistake of reconciling with my mother. As I had mentioned she has NPD(a textbook case) and I thought she might have mellowed but of course I was wrong. She is already suffocating me. How do I end this for a second time? I just can't cope with her anymore,especially after being free of it for the past 8 years. I feel guilty because she gave me some money(I didn't ask-she just offered) and my son some money for university. This is not breaking her in any way.She has plenty of it and she's almost 80 years old. I feel sick at the thought of staying in touch with her.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Mark Manley replied 2 years ago.
Hi,
I don't know if you were looking for Anna (you didn't request her), so I thought I would give you an answer.

You are going to hate my answer, at least at first.

First I want you to know that I read your previous posts with Anna (great work, my complements to both of you). Based on what I read I am convinced that your mother is all of the absolutely intolerable narcissist you say she is.

I don't want you to be miserable, and I don't want you to be in contact with her in a miserable way. Also I don't want you to miss out on any growth and healing available to you, SOOOOOOOOOOO,

Your task is to be so healthy in the way you relate to your sick mother that she cuts off from you instead of you cutting off from her. Even though you are having great difficulty with her, you did not make a mistake in opening communication with her this is an opportunity for your continued growth.

I can tell you for sure you are not confronting her misbehavior enough. You are trying to protect yourself form her wrath by swallowing things that you should be sending back to her.

If you will give me one of your recent miserable interactions with her I will demonstrate for you how to handle the situation in a more healthy (self respectful) way.

As you become more proficient at protecting your self from her toxicity you will feel so much better and she will steer clear of you for the most part. Your goal is to be proactive and watch her become reactive.

Want to give it a try?

Sincerely,
Mark Manley
Mark Manley, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 402
Experience: Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. Over 15 years exp. Married 30 years and happy.
Mark Manley and 2 other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hi Mark,

I only read the first paragraph because I actually did request Anna. I clicked the link on her previous response to me to 'ask a new question'. If you are not able to post this to Anna, please let me know and I will re-post. I am certain you would be helpful, however I am used to working with Anna.

 

Thanks so much & Happy New Year!

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hi again - I have given it a lot of thought, and I definitely want to give you the opportunity to help me. I desperately need a way out of this. Her behaviour is endless: rhapsodizing about her material possessions, backhanded compliments about my looks, heaping me with guilt about the years I had no contact with her, how she wishes newscasters, tv commentators who irritate her 'would shutup already' (especially if it is a program she wants to watch & shouldn't have to change channels), everyone is an idiot, moron, etc. It is all about her,her,her and the irritating chatter that goes along with that. Our first visit after almost 8 years she was on her best behaviour but by the second one, she was back to her old self. I am not good at confrontation so I don't know how I will pull this off but I am anxious for you to tell me.

Expert:  Mark Manley replied 2 years ago.
Good for you! Remember the movie 'What about Bob?' Baby steps this is the key. You will be surprised this will be empowering and fun, difficult and scary at times but empowering and fun. When is your next contact with her? How often are you in contact with her and how (phone, face to face etc.)?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
she has set a schedule that we talk every weekend. I begged off this weekend but am on the hook for next Saturday. I live 2 hours away from her and my mother doesn't drive on the highway so we would only see each other if I went to visit.
Expert:  Mark Manley replied 2 years ago.
Surprise, surprise, she set the schedule. Do you like being on a schedule with her or would you rather call her when you desire?

First recommendation: get off the schedule, you call her when it suits you, she calls you when it suits her, and if either one doesn't pick up, that means 'not available or it's not a good time to talk.'
You OK with this?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

I am, absolutely ok with this Hard to bring it up - my mother scares the heck out of me. What about the putdowns disguised as backhanded compliments, the endless, endless chatter about herself? How do I remove myself from her clutches? I am going mad. I spent two days wih her over the holidays and came home feeling awful. It took me another two days to recover

P.S. My dialogues with Anna were about my husband's ex-wife, not my mother. And just so you know, my mother is her equal, if not worse.

Expert:  Mark Manley replied 2 years ago.
What scares you about your mother? Who are you when she misbehaves? Who are you when she puts you down? Why?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
She flies into rages (which I inherited by the way but have managed to resolve) and spews venom. I feel so detached from her, like she is not even my mother, but at the same time, when she puts me down and acts up, I am a little girl again being controlled by her again and looking for something from her, except now I am angry because I don't want to put up with it anymore
Expert:  Mark Manley replied 2 years ago.
Awesome! You are at the point where you can realize you need a loving mother for that little girl inside you. The little girl inside you didn't get the loving mother that she needed so now the adult you can do the job (with some help from others). Have you had any 'good mom's' in your life do you have any now? Who are/were they? Write to me about them. As you learn to take responsibility for the hurt little girl and take care of her, your biological mother will become less terrifying and more just 'irritating'.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

I don't know any 'good moms' real well. There are people I know but see rarely who fill that need. So...if I don't have anyone to fill that void how do I respond to her? Pefect example just occurred a minute ago. My mother left a message this morning wishing me a happy new year. Then she just left another message wanting to know why I didn't call her back to wish her the same and wondering if we are reverting back to the way we were the past 8 years, and if so, I quote 'so be it'. Now I am mad, so how do I call her back? She doesn't call to find out why I didn't call her back-maybe I'm not feeling well. Nothing about me, it's all about her. This is what I need you to help me deal with.

Expert:  Mark Manley replied 2 years ago.
She is a piece of work! I can tell you what to do, but I need to help you have the strength to do it as well.

When you are ready (not before), what you do with that call is: "Mom (or whatever you call her) it bothers me when you demand a return call and throw a fit if you don't get one."
Notice this is short. She won't let you say much more than that before she goes off in a tirade or goes to victim mode. When she invites you to feel like a horrible person you have to learn how to internally decline the invitation. She is sick and you are well so you get to define your identity and value not her.

When you make the above statement to her and she follows with misbehavior you wait until she is done and then you say "that may be mom but it bothers me when you demand a return call from me and then throw a fit if you don't get one."

You will probably mess up and respond to the nasty things she says about you while she throws her fit. If you mess up it's OK just start over with the statement.

You repeat this multiple times until she acknowledges her behavior or she hangs up on you.

Time to click on 'Accept'

I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,
Mark
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

When I first replied to you it was considered an 'Accept' I received an email confirming you have been paid. You have been very helpful and I appreciate all the time you have spent. I have added a $10.00 bonus. I hope you receive this as am no longer trusting of the way this website works and I have emailed them about this.

As for my mother, she left further messages yesterday critisizing my husband. The details are not important, since this is so wrong. I got tired of it and tried to call her back, but her line was busy. And no one calls her. She purposely put it on busy so she wouldn't hear what I had to say. She has done that before with letters critisizing my behaviour and writing at the end 'don't respond to this letter'. As you said, she is sick, but I don't have to take it. Thanks again.

Expert:  Mark Manley replied 2 years ago.
Hi how you doing? Just to clarify how the site works. If a customer wants an ongoing dialog I ask them to click on accept every so often so I get compensated for my ongoing time. I appreciate the bonus you gave me too, thank you.

I can see your mother is very toxic and I don't blame you for wanting to cut off contact with her. If you can use me or another counselor (face to face or whatever) to coach you through the process of becoming empowered in the relationship, you will learn to be in control of your self and your self-esteem in spite of her poison.


I would love to see this outcome for you. Let me know if I can help.
Sincerely,
Mark manley
Mark Manley, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 402
Experience: Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. Over 15 years exp. Married 30 years and happy.
Mark Manley and 2 other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thanks for explaining this website. It is confusing at times.

My mother practically begged me not to cut ties with her when I called her back. She said she would not survive. I don't want her to make me feel responsible for her demise. That would give her the final word, wouldn't it? I told her the things she had said that were mean-spirited and she apologized. but the only self-critique she could come up with is that she's overly sensitive! I know why she wants me in her life. I have read just about everything on narcissism. I serve a purpose. She can never take the focus off herself, never. That is why I would rather not talk to her. It is so frustrating. I mention an experience, how I feel about something, etc. and she takes over with her similar ones and then runs with it. We never get back to how something relates to me. On the phone she is tolerable but in person, impossible. Which makes sense. In person, I think that competitive side comes out in her. After a phone call, she hangs up and focuses on herself. Am I on the right track? I have no idea what to do know.

Expert:  Mark Manley replied 2 years ago.
Great to hear from you.

Even though she makes every thing 'all about her' this is only her reality not yours. When you have contact with your mother I want you to learn to have it be all about you. Your growth, your development, your freedom. Let me give you an example:

You bring up a topic or experience, she takes it and makes it all about her. You listen for a moment and then you interrupt her and say something like: "mom I don't like it when I bring something up that I want to talk about and then you take over the topic and don't let me finish and don't acknowledge my experience." She will be baffled and confused and she will pretend like she didn't hear you and she will keep on going with talking about herself. Then you interrupt her again and say the same thing. Repeat this process until she blows up or hangs up either way you win. What did you win? You took care of you in the presence of your mother's pathology. Does mom get it? NO! Does it matter? No! This isn't about changing mom this about changing you in relation to mom. The goal is to get her to hang up on you. If she blows up and calls you names and invites you to feel like a piece of poop, you realize that she can invite you to feel bad but you have control (or you can learn to) over whether you accept the invitation or not. When she puts you down you ignore it and restate your first message. You say, "well may be mom but, I don't like it when I bring something up that I want to talk about and then you take over the topic and don't let me finish and don't acknowledge my experience."

I don't expect you to be able to do this very well at first. I expect you to mess up by getting all caught up in self doubt and fear and anger. But with practice you can learn to be empowered in relation to your mother.

If you would like, write back to me and tell me anything about the above you think won't work for you, or anything that doesn't make sense, so we can talk it over if need be.

Remember the point of all of this empowerment work is not to change her, and it is not to please her, it is to let you learn how not to give your person hood away to her illness. To empower you to be the real you in spite of all that she has taken from you, and all that she did not provide you with that you deserved all along the path of your life.

I encourage you to read this several times and contemplate on it.

Sincerely,
Mark
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

I understand and agree. You will not get one single challenge from me.

******My last dialogue mentioned how different my mother's behaviour was in person and on the phone. I would appreciate understanding why this is.*******

 

I know this is what I need to do. And I will. I can no longer carry around what she keeps dumping on me. Thank you so much. I will let you know how this works out.

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

I am waiting for your response. Please read my final reply re:

 

*****My last dialogue mentioned how different my mother's behaviour was in person and on the phone. I would appreciate understanding why this is.*******

 

Thank you.

Expert:  Mark Manley replied 2 years ago.
In person she can read your body language and other non verbal cues, she can see when she is intimidating and defeating you and is thus emboldened. She also knows it is so much easier for you to hang up on her than to leave her presence so she feels more threatened on the phone.
You can win this battle. Remember the battle is only within you. Your battle is to claim, and care for your self even under the harshest circumstances (being in contact with your mother). It is not you vs. mother. It is the false you (I am bad, unlovable, etc.) vs. the REAL YOU.
The REAL YOU your mother could never see or love and may never be able to. Even though your mother could never validate her the REAL YOU does exist!
Battle On!
Sincerely,
Mark Manley
Mark Manley, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 402
Experience: Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. Over 15 years exp. Married 30 years and happy.
Mark Manley and 2 other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

I am glad you explained that because I could never figure out why I was dealing with two different personalities.

I have given this a lot of thought, and dealing with her is something I don't want in my life. Never a word about how ease my painful past,even if she doesn't admit any responsibility. I know she doesn't love me...she's not capable, and I don't think I really care for or about her anymore. We have nothing to talk about because I don't want to talk about her and she is not interested in talking about me. I am in knots every time I think about talking to her. I hope she ends it with me because I can't take much more.

You have given so much great information and insight to work with. And I thank you.

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