Don’t blame your daughter, that’s just sentimental

I was angry earlier – I suppose it showed – and I’m starting to feel a little guilty for lashing out verbally on such a time-worn subject. It’s a story which has been done to death over the years, and I’ve cried more tears over my mother’s control than anything else in my life. Although I didn’t cry this time, I wanted to; the only thing holding me back was a sense of pride in believing I was right, and not wanting to show weakness to her while she had the emotional upper hand.

Understand this; I love my mother. I worry about her constantly – her physical health, her moods, her depressions, the way she rarely eats – and I’d fall apart if anything happened to her. Although I hated her at times throughout my teens, I gradually learned that not everything she did was to spite me; over the years, my mother has opened up about her abusive relationship with my father, her brother dying when he was eight years old, her father dying of cancer when she was fifteen. She’s had a turbulent life – like mother like daughter, I suppose – and the more I get to know her, the easier it is to see that I’ve learned a lot of my behaviour from her, such as my ridiculous attitude to food. She’s obviously struggled with a lot of stress and drama, and sometimes I see flashes of myself in the way she rants and raves; flashes of BPD.

I suppose we’re too alike in many ways. Both prone to sulking and unjustified anger. Both trying to control situations; she tries to control me, I try to control myself. Both living with chronic pain. Both dealing with the stress of illness. Both knowing that men are sometimes unspeakably cruel.

I’ve spent so much of my life feeling inferior to her, feeling pushed out of the family and wrapped in cotton wool. Been the baby of the family for too long. I’ve watched my brother go off to be a train driver. Seen my sisters become managers and childcarers. Felt left behind as they buy houses and settle into their lives. My sister (E) ran away from home in her teens and stayed in a B&B, because she couldn’t cope with the controlling atmosphere in the house… leaving me to receive it all.

In a way, I wish I could hate her. It would be much easier to think she’s just a cruel woman; but she isn’t. She’s ill, she’s ill in the ways I am, but she will never admit to it. I’ve tried; she admits to having depression and I know she’s been on antidepressants in the past, but I know she struggles more than she ever shows.

I don’t know how I feel about moving into a flat with S – possibly next month – because I know she relies on me. As a child, I thought her demands for cups of tea were akin to slave labour; now I know it was because she couldn’t handle the kettle with arthritic fingers in the morning. I thought her hatred of my boyfriends was some sort of jealousy, when she turned out to be right about them every time.

She hurts me, though. Her little comments about my weight – hinting I shouldn’t be eating so much – and piercings/tattoos get me down. Her need to know every single thing about my life is tiring, especially when there’s so much I could never tell her. Her control over my finances… it’s destroyed my trust in her, because I know she doesn’t trust me. I’ve tried my best to be the daughter she wants me to be, but I know deep down I’ll never achieve that because it just isn’t me. I have piercings which she hates. I have ink she loathes. I hang around with people she can’t stand. I wear clothes she may not always approve of. I take risks and make decisions without her input… and that won’t change, because it’s taken most of my life for me to begin to realise who I am. I’ll never be what she wants.

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40 Comments

  1. Love from a pretty evening in Maine. Does your mother read your blog? These are the kinds of things she needs to know — that because you want to stand on you own does not mean you’ll abandon her. If you moved away, I’d bet she discovers that she likes having her house to herself. Of course, I may be way off base; these are just options to think about. 8-)

  2. Sadly my mom and I never settled our mother-daughter drama. I would give anything to have the opportunity to finish our business. So my advise (which you may discord if you like) is don’t wait to long to work through all the rough spots. Moms aren’t perfect and children don’t come with directions so there is a learning curve. It took be becoming a mom to figure out my mom did the best she could with what she knew. :)

  3. In my experience, having been a challenging child & having had a challenging child: all the drama is not the foundation. The love is. Try to remind yourself & her that the love will never go away; that the ways we all wound the ones we love most, out of our innocence/ ignorance are not the core. Forgive yourself, forgive her, but *do* live your own life.
    Life is short. My son died when he was just a little bit older than you, in a traffic accident & here’s what I have experienced: there is really no need to “fall apart” when those we love transition out of body. He was a brilliant being, but extremely wounded in this last lifetime; but (gratefully) I can feel & communicate with him now & ya know what?? *ALL* the pain & B.S. we carry around in these earth lifetimes of ours dissolve like freaking mist when we die.
    He’s not pissed any more, not in any inner pain, holds no grudges &, on the contrary, all his wisdom & strength is what he IS.
    Long story long to say: don’t suffer over what might be in the future, nor when it gets here (we all leave our bodies eventually).
    Love her, live your life, set as many of the wounds free as you can while you’re still human.
    Freedom is inevitable, love.

    • Skye, thank you so much for sharing your son’s story; I can’t imagine what you went through, and I really do understand what you mean when you say it all dissolves when we die. I’ve lost two family members in the past few years, and although I had no actual issues with them… if I had, I know it would all have ended when they died. Death changes everything.

      You’re wonderful. Thank you.

  4. “In a way, I wish I could hate her. It would be much easier to think she’s just a cruel woman; but she isn’t.”

    These two sentences make so much sense to me because I feel exactly the same way about my mother. I have chosen not to talk about my relationship with my mother on my blog but it hurts like hell to be caught in the bind of this woman not being a cruel woman. It would be so much easier to hate and walk away, but I can’t. My situation is different, but the same. Just want you to know someone else feels that way, and actually I think it is okay for us to feel that. Hugs.

  5. I spent a lifetime hating my mother and resenting her and even though we are now closer than we have ever been,Im merely resigned to the fact that things will never change in some regards. She is your mother though,so love her for what she has done for you,forgive her for her sins and try claim your independence from her.It will be the best thing for both of you and may be the only thing that can save any sort of relationship between you.

  6. If you love trust and have faith in S – please do move in with him. You need – for your health’s sake and indeed in a way you perhaps wont see (or indeed she) your mothers health. (Should have read this first prior to my last comment re moving out.)

    I wrote a post in April touching on ‘mother love’ and how it can be destructive. Please be assured that I am not implying that the post is your situation but your writing suggests a destructive element.

    It is good that you love your mother and I have no doubt she loves you – but you have reached a time in your life where you must love yourself more.

    Kind regards (and hugs) Anna :o]

    • I do have faith in S, and love him more than anything. I know that moving in together could be the best thing I’ve ever done; I just hope it all works out.

      I’m just off to read your post; and trust me, it is destructive. Perhaps not intentionally, but her behaviour has done a lot of damage of the years.

      Hugs right back, and take care of you Anna :)

  7. This thing with the tats and piercings….I have to say my generation (your mom’s and mine) had the long hair, and MAYBE a pierced ear. Of course, OUR parents were against all that. Same with your generation. Tats and body piercings is the thing. My son has a tat, but my husband is just so belligerent about it. He doesn’t understand why someone would want to do that to their body. He can’t accept it. I, on the other hand, have a more open minded approach to it. No, it’s not my thing because it wasn’t the “thing” in my lifetime. But this is the trend for young people today. If this was the trend in the 60’s and 70’s, then I probably would have had a tat and piercings, too. If and when you have kids, lord knows what the trend will be for them. You’ll probably be a little more open minded about it, but most will be “We didn’t have THAT when I was growing up”. Did this make any sense?
    Mom just wants to make sure you’re not straying off the course and into some impending doom. She needs to let you grow up and have faith and trust that you can handle things on your own. I wouldn’t worry about moving out. You need this. You need to start living your life. It’s not like your moving across the world. You’ll still be around for her. And vice versa. It’ll do both of you a world of good to separate and live under different roofs.
    She has her good and bad days like you and I bet when she’s really hurting that’s when she’s lashing out the most. She just wants a better life for you than she had. Some people have a different way of showing it.
    I just wish when my mother was alive that she told me she was ill. I never knew she had Lupus (she thought she had Fibro and was self treating herself for it). So there were days when she was just nasty and mean to me. I never knew or understood what I did to make her so angry at me or why she would get so drunk. Always thought it was my fault. If I had know what the problem was I may not have been such the little shit that I was. I always tell my kids now if I’m not feeling well or not up to doing something. This way they understand my actions.
    Ok, I’ll shut up now. :-)

    • Oh, keep talking! I love your comments. I get it about piercings; my mum was a bit of a rebel, but grew up while rationing was still taking place and earrings were the last thing on her mind. Plus she had a very Catholic mother, so there was only so much rebelling she could do.

      The flat I’m hopefully moving in to is about four miles away, so it’s no distance at all. I’ve told her she can visit (with permission) and stay over if S goes away with his mates.

      I do have a lot more empathy for my mother now that I have chronic pain; I realise now how much anger and frustration it creates and if I had a pound for every time I’ve lashed out because I’m hurting, I’d be rich. This is why it’s so difficult; I understand why she lashes out, but it doesn’t stop it hurting when she does. I suppose it’s difficult not to take it so personally when she’s my own mother.

  8. My mother and I had drama for over two decades. When I was 10 I discovered that I was broken, but no one could tell my how or why. I went to my mother to fix me because that is what mothers did. If it is broken, they fix it. I was broken but she couldn’t fix me. I resented her for it for over 20 years. It wasn’t until I had a correct diagnosis that we were able to start healing. She is now my best friend.

    Give your mother time. It may never get totally worked out but as you take control of your life there will be space for personal healing on both sides.

    • “My mother and I had drama for over two decades. When I was 10 I discovered that I was broken, but no one could tell my how or why. I went to my mother to fix me because that is what mothers did. If it is broken, they fix it. I was broken but she couldn’t fix me.”

      I’ve never really considered it from that angle, but you’ve hit the nail right on the head; I expected my mother to fix me as a child, and she couldn’t. In ways she made it worse, although she was trying to do her best. You only realise that bit years later.

      I’m glad you now have that relationship with your mother. I doubt we’ll ever be best friends, but I know from past experience that moving out and spending time apart does improve things between us a lot.

  9. It shouldn’t be as scary as it is about how much of our own traits are picked up from our parents. But it’s only when we’re able to look back at a time period that we can make the connection.

    I think it would be best for you, for you to move out, because your mum needs to learn to stand on her own two feet as much as you do. I have no idea how you’d tell her this without causing her any upset tho’.

      • You can call your bank and say you’ve lost your bank card and get them to send you a new one, if your account is still active, and then just contact the Job Centre (if it’s them who are responsible for the administration of your benefit payments; I apologise for my lack of knowledge of the system) to change your bank account details with them. Your money should go to your account, not your mother’s.

        (((hugs)))

        • I wish it were that easy luv :/ Because the money is paid into her account, it’s classed as her being my ‘financial carer’ or some rubbish to that effect. For me to have the accounts changed, she has to give her permission.

          If she doesn’t start sorting it in the next few weeks (I’m hoping to move out in a month) I’m going to speak to the CAB and see if there’s any way of getting it sorted without legal action.

          ((hugs right back))

    • Massive hugs back; losing your mother must have to be one of the most difficult things ever. My boyfriend’s mum died of cancer a few years ago, and even thinking about it upsets me.

      Sometimes, knowing the suffering has ended… it helps. I can relate to that with my stepfather. He died a couple of years ago, as did my uncle. Both were ill and it does give me comfort to know they’re not suffering any more.

  10. “I’ve learned a lot of my behaviour from her” – I understand this so much.

    I’ll never have my mother’s approval either. It’s easy to say “whatever”, but so much harder to feel it. It’s hard to be someone she wants without compromising who you are x

  11. I have the same kind of relationship with my mom. And I was also diagnosed axis 2 borderline, basically we had ineffective parents or maybe some abuse in childhood, whatever the case, now ineffective coping skills. I think my mom has some kind of personality issue too, but anyway. My problem was mostly with the guilt I felt about not being able to make them happy. But I stopped trying to be something else, I was kinda forced into it since I’m on disability, and now, it seems pretty clear I’ll never be the daughter my parents wanted. So, they are sort of more accepting. My mom still says stuff about my weight and buys me clothes she knows are too small. I get angry but I don’t let it get to me. I just think, whatever, and throw it on the stack in my room. It’s okay if you want to say whatever makes you unhappy or happy in your blog. It’s your blog.

    • I think ineffective parents is probably the best description. My father is an alcoholic and although I never witnessed the abuse he dished out to my mother (not that I can remember, anyway), I’m sure it’s done some damage. My mother’s subsequent fear of men and violence and alcohol have tainted my life in a lot of ways.

      My mother accepts I’m on disability – in a way, I think she likes the fact, as she’s never supportive if I suggest maybe being able to work in the future – but I know she had a lot of hopes and dreams for me. My siblings have been very successful in their careers, and I suspect she sometimes feels disappointed I didn’t follow suit. Maybe that’s just my own paranoia though.

      Well done for not letting the weight comments get to you; I wish I could!

  12. until recently, i always believed my parents were disappointed in me. i was sure nothing i did was good enough. it has taken a lot of therapy for me not to take my parents’ comments as much to heart as i used to. they put me down for many long years, but therapy and my own acceptance of my disability has allowed me to cope better. i think the main difficulty borderlines have is with their coping skills. whether or not your mom is disappointed in you or disapproves of you, it’s not your fault. maybe if you think of the good things she has done for your or helped you in some ways, then you can find a way not to let her other faults hurt you as much. for instance, i have to live with my parents now because i’m disabled, and i’ll be 38 next year. i think i’m lucky and i’m grateful that even though my parents don’t like me sometimes, they still took me in. i hope in time, your mom will be more accepting and appreciative of having a wonderful person like you in her life.

    • Yeah, it’s difficult coping. I’m getting much better, but it’s so hard when my mother’s involved. She knows which buttons to press, I suppose. I’m glad you’re coping better; accepting disability can be so rough. I’ve almost accepted mine, but there’s still some denial hanging around, telling me I’ll wake up tomorrow feeling perfectly normal and able to work a 9-5 job. Fat chance.

      I’m grateful for my mother taking me back in when I broke up with my ex; it was a messy split and I fell apart entirely. She made my bed and tucked me in like she did when I was a child. I only meant to stay for a few weeks until I could find a flat, but soon the old control crept in and I’m still here, two years later. I love that she’s taken me in, but wish she’d let me go, you know?

      • yeah, i know how you feel. i still struggle with denial v. acceptance re: my illness. i still have my weight issues, which my mom always nags me about. but i have gotten tired of arguing, it never changes. if she wants to stress over it, fine. basically, i stopped caring how she feels about it, because it is too exhausting trying to make her happy. i try to be polite, but as soon as there’s a lull in the conversation, i go to my room. that is how i deal with it now. sometimes i feel angry with how my life turned out. and sometimes, i just feel tired, and am reminded again all the reasons i’m on disability.

        hang in there!

  13. I think it will be great for you to move in with S and get some independence from your Mum. I also think it is fantastic that you are considering going to the CAB to sort out your financial independence. Good luck with it!

  14. Thanks for sharing. I also had a love/hate relationship with my mother. The few years before her death we became much closer. I suppose it was because we had both lost so many family members in such a short time that we started to see that we had each other and that’s what really mattered. My mother had a very hard life and was abused for most of it by her father, my father and mostly by herself. She programmed me to be who I was and it has been a long road to find I am not at all the person that she had twisted me into being. I loved her truly, but in some sense, I was relieved by her death. I know it sounds terrible but she lived in a prison within her own mind and remained tortured until the day she died. I refuse to allow my life to be like hers. I am not my mother at all. My road to find me has been very rough but so very worth all of the effort. It could have been done with my mother still alive, I’m sure, but maybe it would have hindered the most difficult part which was to admit I was very angry at her and then to let that go. I accept that she was just doing the best she could, with her programming in life, to be a good mother. Now I am so much more free than I ever was and I can love and forgive myself much more freely than ever. Mothers are just little girls who grow up, just like us, and they will not be perfect. Neither will we but we can be happy for who we are. Forgiving and accepting has helped me and so have people like you who understand me.

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