My mother has always been a very demanding, manipulative and cold woman who has hidden her true self from the outside world by spending time in her community - volunteering, organizing functions...a pied piper of sorts. She has a gaggle of people who think she is a saint, and that we her children are so lucky to have a mother who gives so much to the world, as she spent 5 years working with women in Thailand. The problem is that charity never really began at home. My mother has always been too busy to spend time with her children, and when she was spending time with us she was always critical and often abusive. For example, my sister was missing her running shoes and mother said, "if I find them, then I will beat you with them". When she did find them she proceded to hit my sister with her shoes. When I attempted to stop her, she then beat me with the shoes, saying I should learn to keep my nose out of other people's business.
She is an expert at shaming people and getting them to do what she wants. She has told all her friends that she is unemployed and has little money, so they are "helping her out" with plane tickets and spending money. Meanwhile, she has three bank accounts, and well over 20 thousand dollars available to her, plus money invested from the sale of her business and houses when she moved to Thailand.
I asked her to help out with the down payment on a wedding location when I got engaged, she said yes and then after two weeks said she couldn't because she didn't have the money. She lied to her own daughter and because of that I lost the space for the wedding. She then went behind my back to my fiance's parents and asked them to pay for the down payment. She even had the nerve to ask them how much my fiance spent on my engagement ring! When I confronted her and told her I thought she was manipulative and passive aggressive and that I knew she had lied to me, she called me down to the low and cursed a blue streak at me, saying that she gave brith to me and I owe her, and that everything I am she gave me.
I have told her that I am done being maniplulated and that I don't want to speak to her. I am well prepared to do this for the rest of her life. No matter what I or my sister do or say, our mother is not a mother.
Given the fact that our mother is not and never has been a mother to us, should we stop seeing her? Spending time with her does little more than upset our routines, frustrates us and our spouses, and causes unnecessary stress in our lives.
This is a very difficult question. As the therapist I cannot presume to tell people what to do. The role of a counselor is to clarify the problem that is being dealt with, the possible personality characteristics of the people involved in the problem, the dynamics of the difficulty, and the various consequences involved in the various decisions that could be made concerning the issue. The right of the individual client to be master of their own destiny remains paramount.
The role of a parent and the ideal of the connection between a parent and child are both magical and sacred. Unfortunately, all too often the reality of the relationship between a parent and child falls short of that ideal. It is imperative that whenever that relationship becomes strained both parties should strive to repair it. Walking away emotionally or physically from this relationship creates a tremendous strain on both parties. The feeling of isolation that can develop can be intense.
However, there are times when it becomes necessary for a person's overall mental health to limit or stop a relationship with either a child or parent. The rule of thumb is that whenever there is significant and pervasive abuse on either an emotional, physical, intellectual, or spiritual level that has been repeatedly confronted and yet the abuse continues, it becomes necessary to limit or stop the relationship.
I agree that in general mental health is the intolerance of abuse. A person will be healthier if they have healthy people in their lives. If they socialize with people who manipulate or abuse in general they will be less happy and have more problems themselves. Be very careful however when applying this principle to your immediate family. In general, it is often safer to limit the relationship in ways that will minimize the abuse rather than to stop the relationship entirely. If you feel that the abuse will continue and that you will suffer unnecessarily because of the involvement I understand why you would want to terminate the relationship. Either way you decide I wish you the best.
This question was answered by Jef Gazley M.S. Jef has practiced psychotherapy for twenty-five years, specializing in Love Addiction, Hypnotherapy, Relationship Management, Dysfunctional Families, Co-Dependency, Professional Coaching, and Trauma Issues. He is a trained counselor in EMDR, NET, TFT, and Applied Kinesiology. He is dedicated to guiding individuals to achieving a life long commitment to mental health and relationship mastery. His private practice locations are Scottsdale and Tempe, Arizona. You can also visit Jef at the internettherapist, the first audiovisual mental health online counseling center on the net.For more information visit: http://www.asktheinternettherapist.com/