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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5837
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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I would love to know how do you mend a relationship with

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lt;p>I would love to know how do you mend a relationship with someone who has alienated themselves from their family, created insane versions of several stories and is a pro at playing the victim role? </p><p>My mom has always been a difficult person to deal with. From the time I was born until I was about 18 we never had a great relationship. Our relationship consisted of me being her punching bag and the reasons for all the hardships in her life. She has told me she never wanted a daughter and as hard as that was to hear, it's even harder to see this as the truth through all the incidences that have occured through my life and currently. When she was remarried, her new husband helped her to see several things, including how to treat her kids as adults instead of children. For the last 7-8 years our relationship has become one that I never thought possible. We finally had an open relationship in which we could talk about anything. However, I always felt I had to walk on eggshells and watch what I say so I didn't upset her. For some reason i have always been afraid of my mom and to stand up to her, even to this day. Now over the past 4 months everything has gone from great to worse again and I have no idea why. Im back to asking myself, "What did I do now?". </p><p>What started the drama again:  Her mom and dad had to be put in a nursing home, which the decision had to be put in the hands of my uncle, her brother (about 9 months ago). Every since then she has had a lot of resentment towards him, even though she knew it was the best choice. Through various events, baby showers and holidays, she has sat in the background and picked out issues that weren't even there and turned the stories into the victim role. </p><p>Ex:My brother's baby shower - my mom was of course invited, but she was fighting with her sister and sister in law prior to this and they also were invited. She blamed me for not giving her a heads up that they were going to be there and made it sound like it was a set up . Now she has pushed all of her siblings away, her children and has completely alienated herself from everyone and feels she is right in all of this. </p><p>Recently, my pap, her dad, passed away. Even at the funeral and viewing she couldn't get past her selfishness and pride to talk to anyone. I tried being the better person and once again, approached her and asked how she was doing and I tried comforting her but once again, she gave me a short answer and brushed me off. </p><p>So my question is, how do you fix a relationship with someone is only concerned about being a right fighter, who plays the victim in every given situation and only cares about(and freely expresses) her opinion, but never acknowledges any wrongdoing? I hate to see my mom so alone and I always try to view things from all sides. I can admit and apologize when I have done something wrong, but I cannot see what I have done that has created such a mess. If anything simple communication could have fixed all of this, but she cannot communicate at all about feelings or why she feels the way she feels. She only knows how to say, "I'm not mad" and just ignores everything. The family, nor myself, wants this. We have always been a very loving, affectionate, and close nit family, which she feels is all for show now. Is there a way to get through to her? Is there something we can do or is it time to say good-bye?</p>
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 6 years ago.

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

I hope this has helped you,

Customer: replied 6 years ago.

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?

Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 6 years ago.

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.


Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Very true! Thank you! Would you say there is any hope in helping her to become a part of her family again? Everyone is extremely hurt and confused by her actions. My uncle just wrote a letter to her, so that he could express himself without being cut off or ignored, and I just read it last night. I feel the letter is harsh but so full of truth and honesty. I don't know that the letter will do anything more then make matters worse but at this point I think he just needs to get things off his chest. Being a woman and thinking with my heart, I want to tell him don't send it because it will only hurt her more, whereas from a man's standpoint, he wants to say what he wants to say, no sugar coating. I also think, this is your sister you handle it how you want with her. I just know that somehow this will become my fault and here we go again with the unnecessary drama. What are your thoughts?
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 6 years ago.

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.


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