My mother is mentally killing me

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

I am experiencing a vicious cycle that I want to break away from. I have seen doctors and have been on medicine and nothing seems to work so I thought I would a forum to see if any outside source may help. My mother and grandmother are very negative people who believe everyone should be miserable if they are. My mother though takes it to a new extreme by extreme guilt trips and pushing all the blame on everyone but her (usually it falls in my lap or my grandmothers because we are convenient) She always also tells everyone what a bad guy I am and how I show her no respect. I have gotten to the point where I am trying to tell her how I feel and what it is doing to me. I keep telling myself maybe she might get it and I try to stay strong but cry every time because of how bad she makes me feel. I try to sound strong mentally but it is killing me.

I suffer with Bipolar disorder and am pregnant which doesn’t help matters. It is causing massive strain my home and work life. I have zero self esteem and apologize for everything. I also have tendency to pick fights for stupid things which if my husband wasn’t so understanding would of cost me him.

My mom makes me feel bad about everything. She still brings up my wedding (which was over 2 years ago) about how I did not include her and how I did not even want her there. She was mad I think because my dad was there. She lives over 300 miles away so she was not here and did not attempt once to come into town to help. She didn’t even see my ring until the night before the wedding.

My step mother and I became close during the wedding and now she has taken on the role of my mother in a lot of ways because she knew I needed help. Which before the wedding me and her never talked my mum used to tell me things that were very mean and used to play mind games with me and guilt me into not liking her.

I was very suicidal most of my childhood and got admitted three times into a psychiatric ward which my mum kept pulling me out of and taking me off my meds.

I though now am pregnant and she is already trying to tell me she wants nothing to do with the baby because my husband and I decided on a name without any feedback. She sometimes though acts real cheery and nice and I think she might of changed then the next day she goes nuts again. It is causing me though to get more and more down. I am trying not to show it and act like it isn’t effecting me but I am getting more and more depressed.

I have tried to tell her how I feel and she just says how I do not respect her and how no one cares and how it is my fault because of this. I am at the point where I do not think I do. I love her and want her in my life but at the same time I wish she wasn’t. I am starting to though do the same things she does to my husband and other people I do not want this to happen to my child.

I need to break the cycle but am unsure how to go about it. Please help. This is causing me to go nuts and might cost me everything. My husband loves me and is very supportive and says he never wants to leave me but I know if he did what I say and do it would be hard especially with a child now in the picture. I don’t want to be her.

A: I give you lots of credit for trying to break this pattern of mother-behavior. Your baby deserves better. You deserve to have the kind of relationship with your child that you missed as a daughter.

I worry that your mom has convinced you that you are responsible for making her unhappy and therefore you are responsible for making her happy again. You’re not. You can’t anyway. She sounds like one of those people who is happily unhappy. Take away her unhappiness and she is miserable. She needs treatment from a qualified therapist, not groveling from her daughter. You can’t change her (or your grandmother) and it’s way past time for you to stop trying.

There’s no need for you to act the way she does to put some healthy distance between you. Let her know that you absolutely do want her in your life but that you aren’t going to stick around if she is hurtful. Just quietly leave any time she starts in on you. Cut back on visits and keep them short.

Please don’t feel guilty about making a nice connection with your stepmom. I hope she offers you some of the support and affection that your own mother can’t. If so, consider it a gift. You have been given another chance to have a mother-figure in your life.

I hope you and your husband will consider getting some couples counseling while your motivation is high. A counselor can help the two of you learn how to draw healthy boundaries around your own family and how to support each other if you find yourself slipping into your mother’s patterns. You are young enough that you can learn how to catch yourself and how to do things differently. You have a lifetime of being a wife and mother ahead. It’s definitely worth putting in the time now to become the kind of person you want to be.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 8 Feb 2009

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2009). My mother is mentally killing me. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 25, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2009/02/08/my-mother-is-mentally-killing-me/