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Help..haven't spoken to my Mother in 3 months...long

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RSEB posted 8/13/2013 17:30 PM

Something I have been wanting to share and get help with, but I haven’t had the time to post in clarity because there is so much history. I still don’t know if it all will make sense and portray an accurate picture.
This is about my relationship with my mother. I am the middle child of three, my older sister who is 44, never been married, rarely has dated, I would say has dated two men in her lifetime and my younger brother who is 37 who has been with his girlfriend for 8 years now and they have been living together for about four years.

We were raised by our parents. My Dad was a functioning alcoholic, who got up and went to work every day, not much interaction with him and us. My Mom did EVERYTHING for us. She worked full time and went above and beyond for all of us in everything she did. I remember her staying up all night when I was in the second grade to finish sewing my Halloween costume for school. I never believed my parents would stay together, I often said that once my brother left the house for college they would separate, which they did, not until after we all found out my Mom was having an affair (probably for about 3 years) with a MOM. My Dad still wanted to stay, but my mother asked him to leave. My Mom will still say that their marriage was over way before her A began, but as I have learned as a FWW, that is by no means a proper reality and she should have ended her M before stepping outside of it.
So I have been with my BH since I was 19. We dated for 9 years on and off before we got M’d when I was 28. My mother did not like him for some valid reasons when we were younger, however she made my life very rough when we started dating to which I wound up becoming very defensive. To this day my Mother is VERY judgemental of EVERYONE. I hate having her at my home when we have get togethers because she always has something to say about someone. She is that way with my BH with my brother’s girlfriend and with his previous girlfriends. My older sister is the good one, for the most part my brother and I have figured this to be because my sister does not have a significant other, therefore there is nothing for my mother to have an issue with. However my sister is in deed a WONDERFUL person, she wouldn’t hurt a fly, both my brother and I know that as well. But she is like a mouse and will never voice her opinion in most ANYTHING, that includes when it comes to my mother.
So the point of this post. I haven’t spoken to my Mom since the week before Mother’s Day. Why? It was set that I was going to go with my kids to her house on the Friday (2 days before) Mother’s Day with my two kids. My BH is not allowed to go. He is also not allowed to go to her home and celebrate her birthday. He never has. My brother’s girl friend is not invited on those day’s either. If my Mother has cake for my brother’s birthday at her home as well, his girl friend is not invited. Anyway I was headed there because I had to work on Mother’s Day. She seemed fine with it. I spoke with her and made these plans the exactly one week prior on that Friday. Then two days later on the Sunday (exactly one week before Mother’s day) my Mom calls me and tells me that I don’t have to go because it would be too much driving for me on the kids on that Friday afternoon. I told her twice that no, I wanted to come, that it was Mother’s Day. She said no again. So I said fine. I hung up and called my Brother, because he had called me the day before asking me if I had plans for her on Mother’s day, I explained to him that I was working on that day and he would be there by himself. My sister lives 3 hours away and she wasn’t coming. She hasn’t come on Mother’s Day since I have had kids because I usually wind up having their bday party usually a week or two after Mother’s Day since both their bdays are in May. So it is “too much” for her to come home both weekends. However when I was NINE MONTHS pregnant eight years ago with my second child and we had my daughter’s bday party THE DAY BEFORE Mother’s day so my sister could come home for both occasions and I was exhausted. We had 20 kids at our home with their parents. I was BEYOND exhausted. So that night when it was just my immediate family still at our home, I gave my Mom her Mohter’s Day gift because I was too exhausted from the day and the house was still a disaster and I told her I was too tired to get to her house the next day. She actually called me the week after and laid into me for not seeing her on Mother’s Day.

So back to now. When my Mom cancelled our Mother’s day plans I called my brother and asked him if something had happened. He said yes they had a fight and he hung up on her. Now you have to understand, my brother and I try to avoid any confrontation with her. We don’t share any true details of our lives because we don’t want to hear it. So he hung up on her because they were having a political conversation and at one point my Mother said “what are you brainwashed by your Russian girlfriend?”…according to my brother he tried to ignore it, but she said it again. That is when he hung up on her. This is by far NOT the first did or horrible things she had said about his girlfriend either.
So my Mom calls me two days later, the Tuesday before Mother’s Day. The kids had just gotten home from school. I had 25 minutes to get homework done, some kind of dinner together and to get my son back out to the baseball field for a game. I told my Mom this the minute I answered the phone that I didn’t have time to talk. However she asked my why I thought her disinviting me for Mother’s Day had anything to do with my brother and her (I had called my sister the day before asking if Mom had told her about the argument with her and my brother,of course she did, but my Mother never told me when we spoke…so I guess my sister told my Mother about our conversation). I kept telling my Mom on the phone that’s fine Mom I have to go. I must have told her that three times and she kept telling me that her arugement with my brother was over politics. I kept yessing her because I REALLY HAD TO GO. Then she made a comment about how me and my brother don’t talk “really talk anyway”. That is when I got annoyed and raised my voice and told her that “the argument you had with (my brother) was not about politics it was because you said he is brainwashed by his Russian girlfriend.” My Mother denied it outright. I just told her I had to go again for the fourth time. And we finally got off the phone.
Well the next morning we, my brother sister and I woke up to an email from my Mother sent to my brother and copied to my sister and me. It was about a four page email dissecting their phone conversation and EVERYTHING they had said and how she NEVER said anything about his girlfriend. It was ridiculous. So my brother replied and stuck to the point of what she HAD actually said. This went back and forth. By the third day, my Mother had still not admitted it. She couldn’t just say she was wrong and apologize. She had to dissect everything and explain away what she “might’ have said and what she meant. My brother was clear and consise. He did not get off the topic and attack other areas, or past arguments. I truly give him credit for that. Because by the third day she ahd started attacking him personally and his character. My brother is a wonderful son (and brother and uncle). Of course no one is perfect, but he makes time to call my Mom every Sunday, which is more then I can say for myself. On a mother’s day a few years ago. He went to her house on that Saturday before and took her out to dinner and then went back to her house and they had coffee for a while. Then he came back to her house on Mother’s Day morning when I was there with my kids, at around 10am. I was going to leave at around 1pm or so (forgive me I don’t know the exact time) which is when my brother told her he was planning on leaving around 5pm. Well, my Mohter looked at him as if he had just stabbed someone. She looked SO upset that he was “leaving SO early”. She actually said that she had expected him to stay for dinner (which means dinner served at around 7pm) and she said “I would never expect something like this from you”. I couldn’t believe she said that to him. I defended him that day to her, I opened my mouth and she just ignored my words and quieted my away.
So by the third day of emails she attacked my brother. She said he isn’t a respectful son, that he isn’t a good brother etc etc etc. He responded by asking me and my sister if we felt that way. By now my sister or I had not gotten involved, but my sister did then send an email asking for the emails to stop because they are depressing. My brother asked her why? She responded by saying that it is SO close to mother’s day and after ALL that my Mom had done for us when we were growing up, basically raising us as a single mother this was depressing.
So by now I wrote my one page email I have copied it here:

I am responding with this ONE email as (my brother’s name) had asked for mine and (my sister’s) opinion. I will NOT get into a back and forth. I do know my thoughts will be dissected, but that still does not make them any less MY thoughts and what I know from ALL the years of being in our family.
No (my brother’s name) I DO NOT think you are treating me, my husband or my children badly. I have never seen you act inappropriately. I did not take offense that you weren’t huddled around my kitchen table on my birthday. I was very happy that both you and (my brother’s girlfriend’s name) came. I had a good conversation with you both when we were sitting outside for those couple of hours talking about vacations and other stuff. You did not do anything to offend anyone.
You see what is not being realized is that this is an EXTREME reaction from (my brother’s name) who after almost eight years of dating (his girlfriend’s name) is defensive. He is defensive due to many many many comments, some very directly in full out hour(s) long arguments, but even more so there are many other snide comments and those are even more hurtful at times and frustrating. I know the reaction will be to also now to come at me and my life, as has already started by pointing out my MIND BLOWING flaws in your last two emails, but trust me, I will not respond because I have learned after 20 years that it will NEVER be good enough and that is no longer MY problem.
What’s funny is that we are three grown people who are all pretty wonderful people, but different. We all have our own minds and thoughts and we are strong, We were ALL good kids, teen agers and young adults. We never did crazy outrageous things. I know I was the black sheep, and that too is sad compared to all the things everyone in our classes were doing back then. Taking out Daddy’s car that night, that was the WORST thing I ever did at that point. Of course me not finishing college is my biggest regret and that too had to be mentioned at my kitchen table with accusations attached TWENTY YEARS LATER.
None of us did drugs, we didn’t get in trouble, we were well liked in school. We had good friends. I have learned that every action can be and usually DOES get scrutinized. Again, annoying, hard to be around and guilt invoking, but not my problem. It is horrible to feel that pressure and just hoping to get through the time together without something minuet happening that will be brought up later, but it is what it is.

Now the entire “brainwashing” comment. I do believe it was said and I do believe it was meant as a dig. I do think we all know the negative connotation that is associated with the term brainwashing as opposed to “influencing”. The horrible thing is that there have been countless emails back and forth DEFENDING the word as opposed to simply saying I’m sorry I said it and I am sorry I hurt your feelings. Like I said the defensiveness and the hang up is after many years of upset and hurt. I know I am speaking for (my brother’s name) and I know because I have been there. (My sister’s name) you have not, which is good for you, but I do believe when you came up here one time years ago, (a guy she had been dating’s name) was going to come up to NYC and there was an issue. Trust me, I DO NOT remember any details, so please do not ask.

I know you are not coming up for Mother’s Day, you usually don’t because of the kids birthdays a week or two after. Which it completely true and accepted by Mom. What if you had a husband or boyfriend in (state where she lives)? I am quite sure that there would be “an issue” with you not coming up for Mother’s Day, it would be as if the world ended. How about the one Mother’s Day a few years ago when (my brother’s name) took Mom out for dinner that Saturday night and went back and stayed at the apartment for a few hours too. He came back the next morning when I was there with (my DS and DD names), he told Mom he was going to catch the 6 o’clock ferry and Mom got angry. She said “I wouldn’t expect THIS from you of all people”. That still makes me shake my head.

I know we all have moments when we rub each other the wrong way, but it is very hard when every day actions are kept on a list and brought up again and again. I have stood with grown people and Mom has made excuses for me and a joke I made, pointing at you saying you are the good daughter. Amazing.

Now I know (my brother’s name) and I are two different people and I am sure Mom will now continue on and talk about how horrible I was as an adolescent and that (my brother’s name) is nothing like me. But truth is we are VERY alike and share a lot of feelings. All the arguing and emails won’t change that.

It was said that (my brother’s name) hanging up was childish. However I believe one of the key rules of a debate or a political conversation is that shouldn’t become personal. Saying that (my brother’s name) was being brainwashed is personal. That is saying (my brother’s) opinion, NO MATTER WHAT IT WAS is HIS opinion and that WAS a PERSONAL attack against (my brother’s girlfriend)…and all these emails have been nothing but a justification that Mom didn’t say anything wrong.
NOTE: I just read (my sister’s name) email from this morning and I do agree that it is amazing what Mom did for us when we were growing up, I have said that to EVERYONE and ANYONE many many times. There are ways to help love raise and guild your children when they are “children” and I think Mom did them all. Mom did not stop being our Mother when we turned 18. That was over 20 years ago for all of us. We have had a hard time struggling to learn how and why WE did wrong, how WE continue to upset and “let down” our Mother. How such a loving Mommy is SO critical and not happy with our grown up choices over and over again. It is hurtful to us too, not just now TWO days before Mother’s Day but always. That is what is not realized. (my brother’s name) has started opening up, not yelling, but actually writing that HE IS HURT, but yes that is the way to respond, to ambush and point out what a bad son/brother he is. We are ALL grownups, that INCLUDES Mom.


So to this, my mother responds with a SIXTEEN page email attacking my life history from when I was in highschool. I started reading it, and was about 4 pages in when I sent her back the following email:

I AM DONE WITH YOU, I AM DONE PRETENDING, I AM DONE WITH THE UNKIND WORDS AND ACCUSATIONS you like to throw around. Until you MAYBE possibly even look at yourself ONCE, just ONCE and realize that you are doing MANY things wrong.

Happy Mother's Day, you won't be hearing from me. Because NOW I will be as psychotic as you try to make me sound.

You are FAR from perfect. Maybe you should stop acting like it.

So I have not spoken to her since, neither has my brother. She did reach out to me a day or so later seeing how my kids birthday’s were coming up and I had uninvited her from coming to my home. I did this upon my brother calling me and telling me that her slew of emails to my brother all started because she was mad at me for “yelling at her” the day when she called and I told her I didn’t have time to talk. That hurt me so deeply. Again, she made ME the scape goat in her disagreement with my brother and she blamed it all on me. So I spoke with my sister at that point and agreed that my sister could bring my Mom (she doesn’t drive) to my home and pick up the kids and take them out for a few hours. My sister decided that if my Mom wasn’t invited to the get together at my home then my sister wouldn’t come either.
Needless to say, my sister has not tried to call or reach out to myself or my brother. This is very funny to my brother and I considering in an email she sent to my brother and I about a month after Mother’s Day where she stated that she hopes we don’t keep my sister out of our lives because of this because she “didn’t do anything wrong”….it seems my sister believes my brother and I are in the wrong. In that same email my mother sent me she actually apologized in two sentences, and I was completely shocked and stunned…however it was immediately followed with an explaination of her actions as saying that she was only responding to my “aggressive/offensive email”. She continued on to say that she expects me to apologize to her as well, since she now apologized. I never responded to that email. My Brother did not respond to her email to him either.
I have spoken to my brother frequently since then and neither one of us are ready to open ourselves up again to her judgements and harsh critical words. We both have been happier and more at ease in the past almost three months then we have in our adult lives where our mother is concerned. We feel extreme guilt because she “is our mother’, but other then that, we are happier.
So now…our Mother’s birthday is coming up at the end of August…and the guilt is coming in harder and faster. Basically both my brother and I have sent her an email saying a casual hello to which she responding back in a very casual uneventful email.
This is the email I sent her:

I just wanted to send a quick email to say hi and see how you are doing. I am at work at the moment, having another fun day.
I hope you are enjoying the summer, after that crazy week of 100 DEGREES anyway. I am sure you are spending time in Manhattan as you like to do.
(our three day vacation destination) trip was A LOT of fun, but VERY VERY hot.
We are all good, the summer is flying by very quickly. I already took one trip to Walmart a few weeks ago to get some school supplies to avoid the crowds and to make sure that all the things the kids need were in stock.
That's about it. Hope you are doing well.
End of email….
This was her response:


thank you for your e-mail.

Yes, every season just passes too fast. It is nice to enjoy the nice summer weather, even though of course on some days the humidity is much too high. Well, I always think, this too shall pass and it does.

I am glad you are doing well and (DS and DD) too.

End of email…

She sent pretty much the same words to my brother when he emailed her….he said it was a two sentence response from her talking about the seasons. It completely upset me again because she didn’t even mention my BH as “doing well” either…but of course she NEVER has.
So my question is for anyone who has gone through this with their Mother. What do I/We do? I feel like I can’t not reach out to her for her birthday, but I know that feeling is only in me because “SHE IS MY MOTHER”. How do we move forward? What do I do about my kids contacting her for her birthday? Is she a N?, my brother and I thought so..either that or she is completely insecure and this causes her to try and keep us to herself. So many questions and no good answers. Please help. And thank you so much for anyone who got thru this mess of a post.

Crescita posted 8/13/2013 18:26 PM


I have a very similar relationship with my grandmother (she raised me) and I am still looking for answers myself. NC is more peaceful, yet there is always this sadness, wishing you could just have a normal relationship.

Have you seen Sally Field as Mary Todd in the movie Lincoln? After seeing her in the movie this character just resonated with me so much that I did some research into her history and stumbled upon Borderline Personality Disorder. It is similar but quite different from N. Reading up on BPD doesn't fix anything, but it does help me understand my grandmother a little better.

betrayedfriend posted 8/13/2013 18:37 PM

your mother sounds like mine. she's either borderline or NPD. The best thing you and your siblings can do is minimize contact and keep it to superficial things. No politics, no religion nothing but the weather. She's not a healthy person to be around.

lost_in_toronto posted 8/13/2013 19:34 PM


I read your entire post and my heart goes out to you. My MIL can exhibit the same behaviour, although less extreme.

Did I read this right, that your BH is actually not allowed at her house? Wow, how damaging to your family.

Listen, I understand how difficult it is to cut someone off, especially your mother. We make a ton of crazy concessions to keep my MIL in our life. But I think it is okay and healthy to draw a line and stick to it. We know where that line is, and is my MIL crosses it she is done. I think it is okay to draw boundaries.

One thing is, be wary of allowing her contact with your kids without being presented yourself. She sounds as toxic as my MIL, maybe more so. My MIL does not filter anything, and for that reason she is not allowed to be alone with my daughter. I know she would talk shit about me, my WS, and my daughter's aunts and uncles. I don't want my daughter exposed to that, and the only way to protect her is to supervise visits.

Whatever you decided, it doesn't have to be forever. You can limit contact now, and keep visits very short. Cut off contact except for email for awhile. Take it slow and protect yourself.

brkn_heartd posted 8/13/2013 21:07 PM

I am sorry you are going through this. It has to be terrible. While I have not had an interaction like that, I had problems with my father as a result of my parents D after 32 years. We didn't speak for years and even now it is difficult sometimes.

Personally, I would send a card for her birthday, maybe a gift card. you have acknowledged it, but you did not "reinforce" the negative behavior and you have continued to stand your ground. You might also consider IC for you dealing with your mother. It can be helpful.

Hugs to you.

RSEB posted 8/14/2013 06:29 AM

Hi everyone,

Thank you for your responses. I am sitting here typing and my stomach is dropping just thinking about her and realizing how close her birthday is coming. I will send a card, that sounds like the best solution...for now.

Lost in Toronto:

Did I read this right, that your BH is actually not allowed at her house? Wow, how damaging to your family.

No my BH is NOT invited at her home on her birthday or for mother's day which has put a damper on my Mother's Day because I am a Mom now to obviously, have been for 13 years. So every mothers day I get up earlier, set my alarm to get to her home which is about 30 minutes away by about 10am with my kids, to spend a few hours with her and then go back home to hopefully relax for the rest of MY day. I remember when I was pregnant with my first baby, I was 9 months pregnant when Mother's Day rolled around, she didn't even give me a present, not that I wanted some huge thing, but an acknowledgement of the beautiful event that was happening soon from my OWN MOTHER for my first child, her first grandchild would have been nice. But instead we sat at her table on Mother's Day and when my sister gave me a little gift for the occasion, my mother said she didn't get me anything because something along the lines of "you don't even know what it is to be a mother yet".

There was also one of my Mother's birthdays 5 years ago, when my son was 3 years old, my daughter was 8. We were going out to a restaurant to celebrate her birthday (my brother and sister would be there). My mother actually called me about a week before when she was making the plans and told me she didn't want my son to come because he wouldn't sit still enough and she wanted to "enjoy her night". I actually agreed to it, without even blinking an eye. Looking back now that hurts me the most. How could she allow my daughter (who is her favorite, through MANY examples) and not my son. Everyone I tell is COMPLETELY shocked.

So no, my BH is not allowed. As I said she had some "somewhat" valid reasons to keep her distance...but that was TWENTY TWO years ago. She always likes to say she doesn't like the way my BH and I argue, she has seen us "argue" I would say TWICE in the TWENTY TWO years we have been together. She never gives my BH any credit, she keeps him at a distance (as well as my brother's girlfriend who also is not invited on family events). Don't get me wrong when we used to have Thanksgiving and Christmas at my Mom's (we have them at my home now) both my BH and my brother's girlfriend are completely allowed. Which reminds me, what should happen by the holidays? I suppose she will come and it will be uncomfortable. Or should she come? I know I am always EXTREMELY uncomfortable when she comes to my home for ANYTHING, but now I guess it will just be obvious to everyone. Having her here just ruins every holiday for me, on the inside, no one except for my BH and my brother is aware of to what extent I feel this way.

My BH and I had a MC session last night and I mentioned my issues with my Mom quickly at the end of the session. The MC said that we needed more time, so I scheduled an IC session for tomorrow night. I hope she gives me some more clarity.

I looked up BPD, and I don't know if I see my Mother in that. But then maybe I am not seeing it clearly because of blinders. I did see her in an article I found online regarding N. I sent that article to my brother about a month ago with all different highlights I made of similarities I saw. I thought there were some so far off the mark, but my brother says he also saw her in those as well.

My brother seems to think that she is SO miserable in her own life and she is EXTREMELY insecure.

As Cresita said:

yet there is always this sadness, wishing you could just have a normal relationship.

My brother is stuck on that quite a bit. He wishes that things could be different, as do I, but it hurts to see my "little brother" hurt. I have told him one of the points I learned here on SI. You can't change anyone, you can only change how you react/respond to that person, and you can only change yourself", which is what we have finally done. We have put the spotlight on her and her hurtful words, and made her aware of it, and the more my brother pressed her in those emails, the more angry she became, like a caged lion. My brother refused to let her hide behind her emails and the more he pushed the more she threw in other examples and attacks about myself or my brother (never my sister). My Mother actually started trying to divert the emails to my brother and his "lack of respect" for her and for me and my sister, which is RIDICULOUS. She started talking about how when she comes to my home and if he is already here, she EXPECTS him to get up when she walks in the room to show respect. That is how she started grasping to get the spotlight off her. WHY?? Because she doesn't have anything to complain about when it comes to my brother. What she hates is that my brother has started to chose to enjoy his birthday. How does he do that? By going away on his birthday weekend with his LIVE IN girlfriend. My Mother gets SO annoyed about that. I can't believe it, she won't directly say that, but I can always guarantee a LONG phone call from her right around his birthday going on and on about them going away. Like my brother says whenever they go on vacation and he tells my Mom, she NEVER says "have a nice time", she always has a dig to put in about wherever their destination is. My brother truly wishes "it were different", he sees how close his girlfriend and her Mom are. He is amazed by it. Her Mom lives in Russia and they talk almost EVERY night about EVERYTHING.

It is SO hurtful and we can't wrap our minds around the fact that someone who was there for us and did everything for us when we were growing up could be so judgmental and distant now that we are grown and have our own families. I'm sure you can tell I am still upset and hurt by her actions and words throughout the years. I hope I have my points in order for my IC appointment tomorrow.

lynnm1947 posted 8/14/2013 08:57 AM

I haven't read all of this thread, but one thing did grab me. (I apologize in advance for this 2 x 4, but I think maybe it needs to be said.) Your BH and your brother's GF are not allowed in your mother's house for Mother's Day and her birthday. Talk about lack of respect!!!! My own mother is long gone and was never the sort to do this kind of thing, but if she had, I can guarantee you that *I* would not be going to her house for Mother's Day or her birthday celebrations, either. My spouse is MY choice of mate and if she wouldn't accept him, I wouldn't accept her. To my mind, you and your brother have reinforced your mother's strange behaviour in this regard by putting up with it and actually bypassing your spouses to see your mother without them. The disrespect for your spouses comes not only from your mother but from YOU both. If you had refused to go without your respective spouses, maybe your mother would have learned much earlier that she can't control your behaviour.

[This message edited by lynnm1947 at 9:08 AM, August 14th (Wednesday)]

RSEB posted 8/14/2013 09:56 AM


Hi, and trust 2x4 taken...I 100% agree!! that we never should have agreed to this, but for some reason in our heads, I suppose we were raised by her and only know "her" as our Mother, it kind of just "was". Kind of in the form of "that is all we knew". Now I kind of am stepping back and no longer want to accept this from her. It was always easier to just accept then to face the "wrath", which of course she will never raise her voice because that is "disrespectful" and she is "perfect", but she WILL keep up on the phone or in an in person conversation for a LONG LONG time, so it was easier to just go along. I can't truly explain it, I hope it made sense.

All I want is for all these issues to be addressed and hopefully worked on, however, sadly as my brother has often pointed out to me, he is afraid she will never change because she sees nothing wrong with what she does or says to us.

I am looking for a solution, and I guess in a way where there is not an altercation, however I am starting to think that is not possible. if we don't point out our issues with her then we will just have to go back to the way she has always had it...HER WAY.

Has anyone had experience with this whether it be N or BPD that you confronted the issues, and things changed? Or do you come up with hitting a wall and having to choose to stay away. I am inclined to staying away, but then that darn child/Mother guilt sets in. I still am lost.

lynnm1947 posted 8/14/2013 10:04 AM

I don't have any experience with this, but I know there are people here who have had to cut parents out of their lives because of their toxicity. I hope someone will be along soon to help you.

RSEB posted 8/14/2013 17:47 PM


Thanks for your help and opinion. I hope someone has some words of advice because I really could use Mother's birthday is rapidly approaching.

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