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My mother has decided she has Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. She's started seeing a shrink who is working on convincing her that she is not in control of anything that is happening to her, and its not her fault. I realize that mental health issues are not her 'fault', but I do believe that it is up to her to take control of them.

She's been told that she needs to have a "strong family support system": family consists of me and my 17 year old sister -- which means that I'm really the only adult in the family. She has voluntarily cut off every other relative (her parents, siblings, cousins, and my brother).

I'm doing my best to cope with my own life, and I don't have the ability or the energy to be the punching bag that she wants me to be. To her "being supportive" means that I tell her how everything is perfect, and listen to her go on for hours about what a rotten place the world is, and I'm supposed to agree with all of this.

She phoned me at 1:00 in the morning last night, to tell me what a rotten, horrible, judgemental person I am. I'm "judgemental" because I pointed out that she is living beyond her means in a home she can't afford, driving a car she can't afford, and out of work. She feels that she "deserves" these things and she's too good for the types of jobs that are willing to hire her. Oh, and she's "better" than anyone who would ever be her boss, because she's been self employed all her life. Only "losers" work in that sort of "bureaucracy" (any job, really). Every single suggestion I've offered her she CAN'T do, for one reason or another (i.e. get a room mate, move somewhere cheaper, drive a different car, take the bus, get a job at Walmart if necessary etc).

Am I wrong to refuse to give her money that I don't really have, because I don't think it would solve her problems?

Am I wrong to stand up to her? I feel that I can no longer let her suck me under. I've been having a hard time keeping my own chin above water these past few months, between taking classes, coping with additional workload at work, and trying to work through some personal issues (re: my life, not family). For my own sanity, I need to put some space between us, but then again that makes me a rotten person because I'm not "supportive".

When she unloads these monumental guilt trips on me, it feels like I'm a little sandcastle in front of a huge wave. She completely runs over me and destroys me emotionally, and makes me feel like everything that's gone wrong is my fault. She claims that I can't be bothered to understand what is wrong with her, but the truth is that I need to live my own life and that means keeping some walls up around me to protect myself.

Any words of advice, encouragement or hugs are appreciated.

Snie
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Oh, my, god. Are you my ex? Seriously?

Honestly, he is dealing with the same issues (mother being a psycho-whatevertermyouwanttousehere). She's demanding he give her money (not like he didn't buy her a house a few years ago which she sold, not like he hasn't given her cash he could have used for something else....she conveniently forgets those times....). She's demanding that he visit her, that he stop talking to me. She destroys him emotionally also.

Do protect yourself NOW, because it will be easier to do so now than in the future. If my ex would have listened to reason a few years ago, he would have said "out of my life NOW, and when you are back on solid ground and have a clue, come back."

And no, YOU ARE NOT WRONG to not give her money. I call that EOC (Economic Outpatient Care), and once someone starts that....they'll never go back. It's like a drug (I can whine to Snie, my son, my daughter, my parents, etcetc. to get what I want). She needs to learn that having a job is the first key to stablity in all areas of her life.

You COULD be a snot and tell her "mom..I've got to pay for my own shrink so I can get over the horrendous guilt that I feel right now for taking care of myself above all else, so I can't give you a dime for the rest of my life.....it'll take that long to fix thi problem."But I don't think that would be a good thing. ;)

*giggle* I'm being silly.

Heather

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{{{{{{Snie}}}}}}

You are not doing the wrong thing by not supporting her overspending habits. Don't let her bully or guilt-trip you into giving her your hard-earned money.

You need boundaries. Maybe you could both go see her counselor together to discuss this?

jrsmith13
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UGH!! If I had to go to a counselor with my mother.....*shudder*

Anyways, boundaries do need to be defined, but I don't necessarily think seeing HER counselor is a good idea. It could be that she's said alot of crap that the counselor could have already formed an opinion of Snie, and will try to influence Snie to the counselors way of thinking (your mother is not at fault for her problems, and here's why......*shudder*).

There are other ways to create boundaries (granted, my family and I are always talking no matter what, and get along decently... so I'm not the best boundary-advice person in the world by any means).

Heather
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Heather,
Thanks for the quick reply.

No, I'm not your ex :)

How do you deal with the guilt over the fact that without me she really IS alone?

If I put some space between us (definitely what is best for #1), then she'll feel that she was right - I'm a rotten unloving daughter, who doesn't care about her anymore.

I have not given her any money. I've made my own way in life since I was 16 (buying my own groceries, even when I still lived at home)

She does not know what my financial situation is like - I've told her it's not open to discussion (I'm financially better off than she thinks I am, and I'm happy to let her think I'm poor too). But, I know she expects me to give her money, otherwise "she'll end up on the street".

We've never been close -- my perspective, not what she thinks. When I was a kid I coped with an extremely mentally ill parent (my father) by building my own walls, shutting out the world around me and coping on my own. It feels like that's exactly what I need to do again. (Except this time, I've got a great boyfriend who gives really nice hugs).

She moved to my city about 1.5 years ago, after living 1000 miles away for 5 years. She lives closer to me now than any time since I moved out in 1996 -- as such, she expects to see me regularly (weekly). I'm happiest when I only see her a couple of times a year.

Snie
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Good question....How do you deal with the guilt over the fact that without me she really IS alone?

She is only as alone as she feels. Maybe you should encourage her to get out, meet new people. Offer to pay for a membership, but don't just give her money willy-nilly. Help her find some hobby, an interest that will get her back on her feet and to reality again. Something that she will enjoy. Once people join groups, I've noticed, they tend to be happier and have a spark to their life that wasn't there previously. You don't have to spend an inordinate amount of time on these things though, just guide her to resources that could help her get out.

I know that my ex hasn't tried any of this with his mother (and she recently moved to within 20 minutes of his job(!) and expects to see him at least twice a week, which ain't happenin'! Next time I talk with him, I may suggest it!)

Who knows, she may find that she's missing out on alot by not getting our of her pity party once she starts finding a hobby.

I also think it's good that she's seeing a counselor, but if he's telling her that her problems aren't caused by her, she needs to FIRE him! Counselors are not supposed to cause people's problems, but to help them sort them out without making decisions for them. He sounds like a real quack.

Heather
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P.S. This is an excerpt of one of the lovely emails that she sent me last time I tried to step back and put up some boundaries.

You were proud of me when my life was flying in high gear. When I bite the dust, you don't want me at all and are very willing to ignore my existence. Leave the old lady on the shelf to rot - she might be an inconvenience. Would I be treated differently if I had cancer or was laying in a hospital full of tubes - or would that be the same?

It is so painful - if I want to phone <<my sister>> the risk that you may answer and you have made it very clear you only want 'rosy' news - not reality. You are NOT in touch at all with what is going on. because you don't want to be.

...
and then later
...
When you said that you want to emotionally support me, and then qualified it by saying you didn't want to hear about my negativity - it basically said you don't want to emotionally support me. My therapist says if I was NOT negative - given my present circumstances, that it would be an indicator of far more serious and long term psychiatic illness. ...That my negativity is a healthy sign of me tying to work through it.
...
later still
....
My therapist says....no matter how painful the bad memories, and the panic attacks are, I have to allow the panic attack to sweep through my body without resistance ----if I am ever going to get better. That until I experience it completely - until the subconscious learns it doesn't need to do that to be 'heard' it will keep fighting my conscious thought. Which results in mental confusion, rage, depression, and intense anxiety.

I can't take this.

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Thanks for the hug and vote of confidence, jrsmith13.

I agree we need some boundaries. I don't think that seeing her psychologist is in my best interests. As noted elsewhere in this thread, he's a bit of a flake. He is giving her a dumping ground other than me, so I guess it's not all bad.

She's told everyone we know mutually (including my real estate agent) what a rotten, unsupportive person I am, and "They all think it's terrible I don't support my mother more".

Snie
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My mother has decided she has Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Your mom has decided on her own? Or was diagnosed by a therapist? I was diagnosed with PTSD at the beginning of 2001, and that was after a year of seeing the same therapist( once a week, every week). How long has she been seeing this therapist? As an aside, I think she needs a new, more objective therapist.

Are you wrong to stand up to her? NO! My mother is most likely bi-polar. We may never know, because she refuses to see a doctor for medical issues, let alone a referral for psychiatric treatment. She has trashed me-my name, and my reputation, as well as my husband's for the last 16 years. She would go so far as to call my in-laws and tell them what a horrible person I am. For hours at a time, day in and day out.

With the help of my therapist, I learned to stand up to her. No money, no purchasing groceries or clothes for her, and no verbal or physical abuse. She is allowed to visit on holidays, as long as she "behaves".

I think you may need to speak to a counsulor who specializes in family dynamics. I don't mean you should go with your mother, but you need the support of an objective professional. Someone who will help you find the courage you need to set some boundaries and rules.

From a "been in your shoes" perspective, I know it is a daunting thought. It's hard to acknowledge you have to cut ties with a parent, but your mental and physical well-being are important, too.

I wish you the best! {{snie}}

~marcia~
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Snie,

For different reasons, I have come to the conclusion that my mother and I cannot live in the same town. We are 2 hours away, which seems pretty good for us. Any closer than that and we don't speak. Since we have to actually make an effort to see each other (no pop in visits, etc) we do so fairly often, sometimes as often as once a month. And it's fine.

Something that comes to my mind as I read your posts is that you need to make a choice. You can give into her all the time, you can cut her completely out of her life, or you can try to find a middle road. It seems like you're looking for a middle road.

It sounds like you've set some boundries, so maybe you just need a few more. Don't give her money if you don't want to, but maybe compromise by inviting her to dinner one night per week. If you set up a regular schedule that she is expected for dinner every Wednesday, for example, that might (or might not) show her that you're not a schmuck, that you do care about her, that you are willing to see her weekly, etc. You're also feeding her once a week, cutting down slightly on her food expenses, but I wouldn't necessarily point that out to her. Then, when she asks for money, decline firmly but politely. And when you say no, stick to it. You don't have to say no every time, although you certainly can, but when you do, mean it! Maybe once a week is too much for you, but even every other week *at your suggestion* might make her feel better. You don't even have to make it formal. You could just invite her for dinner this Wednesday, then call again next week and do it again. Before long YOU have started a tradition, which SHE will hopefully appreciate.

That's just one idea. You know your mom, and maybe there is something she would appreciate doing with you more than dinner at your place every week.

Rebecca
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Rebecca,

I think you're right on the money with this one. I've taken her out for lunch twice in the past couple of weeks (we both live near my office). This has worked well for me, as we're in a public place on neutral ground (lower chance of an ugly fight), and there's a limit on the time together, as I need to return to the office after an hour.

Thanks for the perspective.

Snie
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No, Snie, you are not wrong to stand up for yourself and try to stay psychologically intact. You are absolutely right to refuse to give her money in support of her bad behavior and lack of personal responsibility for her own life and actions. All that does is add fuel to the fire and continue to set yourself up as the "whipping post".

She's started seeing a shrink who is working on convincing her that she is not in control of anything that is happening to her, and its not her fault.

Well, at least that's what she SAYS he's telling her. Unless you've been in the sessions, you don't really know what's been said, by either of them. All you have is her "unbiased" (*LOL*) reports and opinions of the conversations. All he knows is what she's told him (sorry, but I'm assuming the shrink's a he, although I recognize that may be inaccurate). And if what she says to him is as nutty as the stuff she says to you, well, no wonder he's got a skewed perspective on your relationship. Any shrink worth his salt would be asking to see you and other family members to hear different sides of the story, IMHO.

She has voluntarily cut off every other relative (her parents, siblings, cousins, and my brother).

Sounds like they're very lucky, actually!

She phoned me at 1:00 in the morning last night, to tell me what a rotten, horrible, judgemental person I am.

Next time, tell her "This is nonsense, and I'm not going to listen to it," then hang up. (Or start screening your calls via an answering machine?)

When she unloads these monumental guilt trips on me, it feels like I'm a little sandcastle in front of a huge wave. She completely runs over me and destroys me emotionally, and makes me feel like everything that's gone wrong is my fault.

Ummmm, who's the adult here, and who's the child, anyway?

For my own sanity, I need to put some space between us, but then again that makes me a rotten person because I'm not "supportive".

According to her, not being "supportive" in the way she wants makes you a rotten person. Time to stop listening to her - you're obviously a good person, otherwise you would likely have already blown her off. The awful guilt trips she lays on you via email are just more emotional blackmail. When she sends you an email with irrational rants like those you've posted, stop reading as soon as the nastiness starts. Just don't give her the satisfaction of tearing your down. And don't encourage her by responding and trying to defend yourself. She's not going to listen anyway, so why try?

She is being pig-headed, destructive, intolerant, immature, narcissistic, an emotional thug. She's the one being judgmental, not you. You've tried to be supportive, but she doesn't really want support - she wants a "yes [wo]man". In fact, I don't believe she even knows what she wants, and this leaves you with two choices. You can drive yourself crazy trying to figure it out and provide it for her. Or you can save your sanity and just say no to thugs!

Seriously, though, I know you probably DO want to have a relationship with her, so it's just a matter of finding a middle ground that works for both of you. But part of finding that ground and defining its boundaries means drawing "lines in the sand" on verbal abuse. I think if you hang up on her a couple of times, and don't answer (or even read) her abusive emails, you're drawing your line on what behavior you'll tolerate. The idea of getting together for brief, finite periods of time in neutral locations with easy outs for you is a good step in finding that middle ground, too. But intrusion into your life in the middle of the night to berate you for being a "bad" daughter and other mistreatment is not.

{{{{{{{{{{Snie}}}}}}}}}}

It's a tough problem. Good luck, try not to let the sh*t get you down, and remember you can always come here to rant!

Cori
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How do you deal with the guilt over the fact that without me she really IS alone?


Whose fault is that? It's not your fault if she drives people away.



If I put some space between us (definitely what is best for #1), then she'll feel that she was right - I'm a rotten unloving daughter, who doesn't care about her anymore.


Tell you a secret: you are not responsible for how anyone else feels. Her feelings are not your responsibilty. She'll find something to make you feel guilty about, no matter what you do. Build that wall.




She moved to my city about 1.5 years ago, after living 1000 miles away for 5 years. She lives closer to me now than any time since I moved out in 1996 -- as such, she expects to see me regularly (weekly). I'm happiest when I only see her a couple of times a year.


I feel for you; I'm happiest when there's most of a continent between me and my family.

Ishtar
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Well said Cori!

Snie - are you sure you haven't got my mother? It seems she (my mother)learned it all from her mother. I really hope I can break the cycle. I know my sister can't or won't. But then I don't have any kids to dump on anyway.

I just had a scary thought. All our mothers, together in a room. Maybe we can throw Osama Bin Ladin into the room, just to give them something to feed on. (sorry, my warped sense of black humor.)

Lady I, is going through the same type of thing with her mother.

{{{Snie}}}

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Am I wrong to refuse to give her money that I don't really have, because I don't think it would solve her problems?
------------
NO.

reminds me of my sister. She makes little things out of beads & stuff, & says "send me $3 for postage & I'll send you one..:" And I say:
You think I have more money than you? (she gets more on disability than I am PAID right now)Forget it.

joycets
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She is only as alone as she feels. Maybe you should encourage her to get out, meet new people.

Its good to try to convince people to do this, but you cnt make them.

I think of another poster I know personally; I think of my dad.
Now, in the case of my dad, he's nearly 89, at this point he's HARDLY about to change, and if he's alienated all the relatives & other people he's known over his life for the past 70 years who can fix that?

I don't know.
But this is your thread not mine.

joycets
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beccapooka is already one of your Favorite Fools.

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She phoned me at 1:00 in the morning last night, to tell me what a rotten, horrible, judgemental person I am. I'm "judgemental" because I pointed out that she is living beyond her means in a home she can't afford, driving a car she can't afford, and out of work. She feels that she "deserves" these things and she's too good for the types of jobs that are willing to hire her. Oh, and she's "better" than anyone who would ever be her boss, because she's been self employed all her life. Only "losers" work in that sort of "bureaucracy" (any job, really). Every single suggestion I've offered her she CAN'T do, for one reason or another (i.e. get a room mate, move somewhere cheaper, drive a different car, take the bus, get a job at Walmart if necessary etc).

A number of things come to mind:

"God helps those who help themselves."

"You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink."

"If you are traveling with small children, please put your own oxygen mask on first and then assist the small children."

Aesop's fable of the ant and the grasshopper. And the modern American version, where the ant gets taxed to support the grasshopper.

In swimming lessons, we are told that many drownings are "double drownings", where someone who can swim is pulled under while trying to rescue someone who can't swim.

But what mostly came to mind was the Bridge Metaphor:

http://www.bpdrecovery.com/stuff/bridge_metaphor.html

You may not need to go so far as to cut her out of your life, but you should at least turn the ringer off any phones you can hear from the bedroom. Even rotten, judgmental people need to get a good night's sleep. ;)

Patzer
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Patzer -

loved the bridge fable. Think I'll email it to my mom. She has been on both sides of the rope at times. On one hand supporting her (now deceased) alcoholic boyfriend, and on the other hand, expecting her family (me included) to solve her problems for her.

I wonder if she would get the point of the story though.


one can only hope.

Thanks again!

Lady I.
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