I have been pondering how to proceed with my relationship with my mother for many months (years?), so thought I’d put it out to you fabulous peeps to see if you have any advice. First, a little context.
My dad is definitely a narcissist, my mother I’m on the fence about. She’s very self-absorbed, and when I was growing up her abuse was primarily in the area of emotional incest and parental alienation. I was made to feel responsible for her feelings at all times, and constantly expected to show that I was on her side and against my father. I don’t remember a time when it wasn’t so. I also don’t remember ever feeling really loved. (However, I do remember constantly going to my mother as a young child asking, “Do you love me?”)
In my twenties, I went through a period of trying to be an awesome daughter, loving, understanding, supportive, whatever i thought it would take to build that Hollywood family I craved. In my mid-thirties, I started to become aware that I had grown up in an abusive home, and in the last year I’ve really come to learn about narcissism which has changed the way I see my parents.
My relationship with my father is ok now. I understand who/what he is and expect very little from him emotionally but, because he has been able to acknowledge the difficult childhood my sister and I were given, I feel able to move forward with him in some capacity, albeit with quite limited contact. (Easy to do since he lives on the other side of the world.)
My mother, on the other hand, isn’t open to the conversation of my childhood and instantly became defensive when I tried to bring it up a few years ago, and continues to be very self-centred in all her behaviours. She expresses an interest in what I’m doing only to gather enough information so she can brag to others. She always speaks at me or over me, and I’ve noticed that every time I’ve had an emotional fallout, she has immediately made it about herself and provided no emotional support whatsoever.
I understand that being married to my father would have been brutal, and that probably the emotional incest etc was her way of surviving in a very unhappy marriage. Part of me feels like after everything she’s been through in her life, I should be able to suck it up and spend a little time with her once in a while; after all, I don’t think she’s a bad person, I just think she’s a bit ignorant and incredibly self-absorbed. The other part of me thinks spending time with her now has no bearing on the past, so her past shouldn’t be part of my decision making process today.
For the last 8 months, I haven’t really spoken to her other than when I had to drive her to my niece’s birthday party in May, and even then I barely spoke to her in the car. I haven’t missed her in my life, and I have no desire to see her or want to be around her. She asked if she could stop by last week because she was going to be in the area, and I said no.
As we’re heading into family gathering season (Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc.), I feel I need to start planning ahead for how I’m going to handle this. I’ve already started thinking I’m going to bail on Thanksgiving which means she will spend it alone. (My sister bailed on most family gatherings years ago, leaving me last woman standing.) I can handle the guilt of that.
My quandary is this: should I try to look at this relationship as a further opportunity for personal growth and work at keeping her in my life because she’s my mother, or should I gradually this relationship erode as I’ve already been doing, recognizing that I don’t feel she actually adds anything positive to my life anyway?
I’d love to hear your thoughts, and maybe how you’ve handled adult relationships with your selfish parent(s). If you’ve previously written a post about a similar kind of quandary, please include a link in your reply so I can pop over to read it.