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Parental alienation likely to happen

Posted by alexa12 (My Page) on
Mon, Aug 5, 13 at 18:13

Hello folks. Just wondering if any parents could offer some advice on how I may deal with my problem. I've read your posts/blogs and see alot of you have had problems with their adult children and I feel you may be able to offer advice from experience as parents. Most of all I need advice from your heart.

My mother and I have a terrible relationship which now is on the brink of alienation. I've considered cutting her off but out of guilt or shame, I don't know, I've kept her in my life. Our relationship is now at breaking point.

I'm 30, female and completing my degree in medicine at university. All through my life I've felt and been treated like the black sheep of my family. My mother was the worst culprit out of all the family (The whole family seemed to dislike me generally). She put me down about my looks and personality and many other things.

Her digs and insults were damaging. I'm still feeling the after effects as an adult. I was apparently a 'difficult' child? What she regarded as difficult was my personality. I've always been outspoken and extroverted. If I'm not happy about something, I'll say it. People always found me intelligent for my age but my mother regarded me as troublesome. Why?

I'm guessing she wanted a nodding dog. Her life as a single parent was stressful and I guess she wanted me to be like my siblings, to nod and agree with everything she said and have no opinions of my own. I was trouble/difficult to her but what she failed to see was that other parents were dealing with far worse. Kids in and out of prison, teenage pregnancies, drugs etc I NEVER did any of those things or gave that sort of trouble.

My fault was my personality. At age 30 I'm still a virgin by choice, with hopes of a good career in medicine and finding a God fearing, loving husband who's a Christian like me. I was molested twice in my life but thankfully nothing sexual progressed, just inappropriate touching. I also suffered physical abuse from another family member regularly.

I told my mother about the abuse some of which she witnessed e.g the violence, but she did nothing. When I told her about the sexual abuse she called me a liar. To my face many times she also called me ugly and told me I would not amount to nothing. Her excuse for her behaviour is ''She had a hard life and was struggling as a single parent''.

Umm...other single parents struggle yes, but they don't treat their children the way she did. Fast forward to now. She plays the supportive, loving and proud parent. Happy to boast about my achievements to other people and tell me she is 'proud' of me. Really! After telling me all my life I was useless and worthless and making me feel like it, she's now so proud? She also tells me she loves me which I don't feel she does.

I've called her out on this many times but she bursts into tears saying that if criminals are forgiven for their crimes why can't I forgive her? She makes it seem like forgiveness is something she's entitled to. I don't know folks. I'm at the end of my tether with her. Last week she splashed out and bought me expensive perfumes and other gifts that I did not even want nor did I ask for them. I felt like they were being forced onto me.

When I told her she got offended and I ended up feeling guilty. Her way of 'making up' for her faults is by being extra nice and going above and beyond. Rather than acknowledge her faults and say sorry for the pain she's caused me, she'd rather make grand gestures even though I've made it clear they're unwelcome many times.

The pain I feel in my heart and life is because of her ways. Nothing she can say or do will ever take that pain away. Even if I was to forgive her, letting her into my life would be risky as she's more than likely destroy it. We had a long talk this evening about how I'm feeling, the past etc We've reached a stale mate. She says she's sorry but cannot undo the past. Where do we go from her? Like I say having her in my life is risky.

But moving away and breaking off contact with her is tempting. I'm so confused and hurt that I'm afraid to make the wrong decision. Any advice?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Parental alienation likely to happen

My experience with my boys is beyond mending. I don't like them, don't want them in my life, they are not my heirs and wouldn't trust them any further than I can throw them. That sounds harsh but it is the reality of it. I am sorry it is the way it is, but I am not going to let it ruin my few remaining years by thinking about it. I don't feel the least bit guilty. They are the ones who caused the break and it was over many years so it wasn't a sudden traumatic event. Your mother is causing the break, so you have to decide if you want to continue your life as it is or get on with a more stress less life. You deserve better.


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RE: Parental alienation likely to happen

Rather than acknowledge her faults and say sorry for the pain she's caused me, she'd rather make grand gestures even though I've made it clear they're unwelcome many times.

You also say She says she's sorry but cannot undo the past., Her way of 'making up' for her faults is by being extra nice and going above and beyond, and Nothing she can say or do will ever take that pain away.

Your mother is apologizing and trying to make amends in the best way she knows how. She is correct, she cannot change the past. Either you accept her apology and continue the relationship or you reject it and cut her off. But please recognize that she is trying, probably in the best way she knows how.

I really resonate with something you said. I was trouble/difficult to her but what she failed to see was that other parents were dealing with far worse. Kids in and out of prison, teenage pregnancies, drugs etc I NEVER did any of those things or gave that sort of trouble. Because I often felt that way as a teenager with my mom.

However, please before you cut off contact with your mom, remember that sword cuts both ways. Yes, there were other parents dealing with far worse, you are exactly right. But there are other teens/kids dealing with far worse parents than what you had, probably. Parents in and out of prison, parents pimping their kids out, parents who are alcoholics or drug addicts, etc. Think about the good things your mom did (if she did, in fact, do some good things).

Did she sacrifice to keep a roof over her kids' heads? Did she read books to you or help you do your homework? If you are a good person, a successful person, then maybe some of that comes from something your mom helped instill in you?

Anyway, if you are going to pull out the "I was bad but other kids were worse", then you need to also pull out the "Mom was bad but other moms were worse", too.

I have a tremendous amount of sympathy for you, and this is from the heart. I've been on somewhat both sides of the issue. My mom went through a lot of stress when I was a teen and it showed in her behavior. However, I should say that she never called me names or put me down. I always knew she loved me and wanted my best. But she hurt me in a lot of ways she didn't understand then and probably still doesn't understand.

And I, also, as a mother went through a time of tremendous stress. My husband was badly hurt when my children were teens, and I know the stress showed in my behavior. I always, always did the very best I could for my children, and I should say that I never, ever called my daughter names or belittled her. But I know living in that stress was hard for my kids. I have apologized to my daughter that she did not get my best as a mother the way her older brother did. Not because I didn't want to give it, but because I was giving everything I had to help my husband recover. So, like your mom, I have hurt my daughter.

I know your situation and my daughter's situation is different. My daughter (age 21) told me that she knows she has always been loved, that she knows I always did my very best, and that she had a very happy childhood. So I am giving advice from a different background/place than you're in.

Try to keep in mind that many people become better people as they get older and wiser. My mom is much wiser now and would never make some of the same decisions now that she made when I was a teen. By the same token, there are things I would handle better now if I could relive my life. But we don't get do-overs. If you think your mom has changed, then you might be throwing away what could be a good relationship in the future. If she hasn't changed, then it might be time to get out of a toxic relationship.

Also, one of the things that has happened in my own life is that I'm better at setting boundaries now than I was as a teenager. You have more emotional tools at your disposal now than you did growing up. There are so many more things you can do now. For example, you can limit your time with your mother. You can point out things she says or does that hurt you that she may not realize. You were not in a position of power when you were a kid, but you are in a position of power now.

My daughter and I used to butt heads a lot when she was in high school. One of the things I did was to declare her favorite fast food restaurant a "safe place". At least once a week I took her to lunch there and the rule was that only positive things could come out of my mouth there. That was not the time for me to ask her how her grades were or tell her that no, I wouldn't buy those super-short shorts. She got to talk about whatever she wanted to talk about and I didn't give her advice, try to fix her problem or tell her anything negative.

What I am saying is that you are an adult now. You are obviously an intelligent, capable woman if you have a medical degree. You may be more capable of fixing this problem than your mom is. If you want to keep/repair this relationship, then think out of the box. There are things you can do and tools you can use. If you want a relationship with your mom, you may have to take the lead and show her how to treat you and organize the steps to healing.

You cannot change other people, only yourself. Instead of thinking about all the things your mom should do differently, think about all the things you can do differently. There are many ways you can set the tone of the relationship, if you choose to. I am NOT saying "smack your hand, you do things wrong, too". I am saying that you have power you didn't have as a child. You can choose when/where you and your mom meet. You can choose how much time you spend with her. You can refuse to talk about topics that hurt you.

But if you think your mom is incapable of changing, if she is still toxic, if you don't want the relationship, then only you can decide if what you want is to let go completely.

Whatever you decide, I hope it goes well for you. Families are wonderful, but they can hurt a lot, too.


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RE: Parental alienation likely to happen....

Sorry to ramble, but I wish I had said another thing....

Her digs and insults were damaging. I'm still feeling the after effects as an adult. I was apparently a 'difficult' child? What she regarded as difficult was my personality. I've always been outspoken and extroverted. If I'm not happy about something, I'll say it. People always found me intelligent for my age but my mother regarded me as troublesome. Why?

Gifted children can be quite a challenge. I have 2 of them. My son (now working on his PhD) was absolutely exhausting sometimes to raise. I adore him, but dealing with his curiosity was hard and dealing with his boredom was even more difficult. Yes, he was troublesome, and entirely worth it.

I'm guessing she wanted a nodding dog. Her life as a single parent was stressful and I guess she wanted me to be like my siblings, to nod and agree with everything she said and have no opinions of my own.

Yes, when you are a mom and absolutely exhausted and worried about everything falling apart and can barely put one foot in front of the other, yes, you do kind of want a nodding dog. You do appreciate an "easy" child sometimes.

I'm sorry to babble on. I hope this helps.


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RE: Parental alienation likely to happen

Even in the best of circumstances, it can be challenging and exhausting to be a parent. For a single parent the difficulties multiply exponentially. And if a single parent is ill-educated, lacking in insight and overwhelmed by responsibility, then some degree of failure is almost inevitable.

Despite your own skepticism, I would not doubt at all that your mother is indeed proud of you. It’s probably galling to hear that after experiencing her demeaning put-downs as a child. All I can tell you is that sometimes out of their own pain and despair at their circumstances, or as a response to external pressures, people can say very mean things. It comes from frustration, it comes from sadness and self-loathing and has little to do with the person it’s directed at. Depression, especially, can evince itself in bitter words.

If I were to guess, I would say that probably as a child your mother found you intimidating. Here was this bright, verbal, extroverted challenging child. And there she was, struggling to keep her head above water, utterly incapable of being what you needed and on some level knowing it.

No one but you can decide whether estrangement is the necessary option. But every choice comes at a cost, including estrangement. You will have to decide if you can care for your mother as she is, not expecting more than it is in her to give. She appears to be trying to make amends, albeit not in ways that resonate with you.

You mention forgiveness. Forgiveness is not a blank slate. It does not excuse or wipe away what your mother did when you were a child. Forgiveness is a “setting aside” of the past. It is compassion for the child you were and the woman she is. It is healing for you because it is a relief from the acid of anger.

Perhaps if you look outward rather than inward, you can find ways to relate to your mother. Who is she really? What are her childhood stories? Understanding makes forgiveness easier.

To maintain a relationship with your mother does not mean a forced intimacy. If you decide to continue on some level, give thought to how you will establish boundaries.

Perhaps you will speak on the phone but meet infrequently. Perhaps you will take her to lunch because public places are easier and there’s a natural limit to the encounter. Perhaps you will give some thought to subjects of conversation that are not emotionally freighted. Getting her to talk about herself, her interests, other siblings is a way to remove yourself; the emotional investment is reduced and more manageable.

You are clearly an ethical woman and your Christian faith is important to you. I think it would be difficult to estrange from your mother without a burden of guilt. Hopefully you can identify strategies that make it unnecessary.


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RE: Parental alienation likely to happen

Thanks all for your great advice. It is VERY hard to forgive when i'm feeling so much emotional pain. My mum has agreed to have therapy to make improvements to her own life and personality. I will not be joining her in therapy as I feel our relationship is lost forever. We will try to be cordial to one another but that's it. Some things are too serious to forgive and my mother has done some awful things.


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RE: Parental alienation likely to happen

I'm so sorry, Alexa. I hope you find healing.

I hope you will consider getting some counseling for yourself, even if you choose not to have a relationship with your mom.

Some things are too serious to forgive and my mother has done some awful things.
I think you may want to get counseling to help you with this. When you forgive others you release a huge burden. It's a gift to yourself, really. But it's so hard to do when someone has hurt you deeply and cruelly. For me it is a process, not an immediate feeling, and hard, at least for me. Forgiveness doesn't mean you have to have a relationship with the person. You don't have to let them continue hurting you.

Some days I have to listen to that Matthew West song "Forgiveness" about 20 times. It helps.

Whatever you choose to do, I hope you find peace and rest in the choice.


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RE: Parental alienation likely to happen

I too think individual therapy would be a beneficial choice. A good counselor can assist you in strategies for self-healing and in the establishment of necessary boundaries.

If cordial is all you can manage with your mother, sometimes that is itself a great victory.

And if anything other than the brief and superficial leaves you feeling victimized or dredges up too much residual pain, then of course you must detach.

There's no use in comparing the dimensions of your upbringing with those who had it worse or better. You feel what you feel and can only focus on managing that.

We are all living the best way we can.


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RE: Parental alienation likely to happen

I am so sorry you had to go through such a hard childhood. Understand that none of this was your fault or because of you. Your mother is a sick woman. Plain and simple.

You missed having a mother figure. This woman will never be that for you. She has caused severe damage.
I don't care how "difficult' you might have been, you were a child and could not have been bad or wrong 24/7.

You are going for a career in medicine. Please take the time to feel proud of yourself and really own it.

Look in the mirror and see the beautiful young adult you have become in spite of your upbringing.

Only you can know if you want your mother in your life. I agree that therapy can help sort out all your feelings.
You will have a good career and once you find a partner, you will truly know what a loving family is all about.

I wish you the best.


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