Reply To: Newbie seeking support


I’m not certain if this is where I place this comment, but I’m new too, and definitely need support and insight.

My childhood, if you could call it that, was extremely dysfunctional. You’ve seen the saying “We put the fun in dysfunctional.” That definitely was not us.

I don’t know what “label” to put on my parents. They were both crazy, violent, manipulative people. My father raped a pregnant woman, and that was one of his finer acts. He managed to avoid prison or jail time, although he violated many people. Folks would just always go for his outlandish excuses. My alcoholic Mom beat up my Grandmother with her fists, tended bar, was a “dancer.” It’s hard to condense all this into a few words, but suffice it to say, I did not win the Parental Jackpot.

Both were what I call “serial abandoners.” I lived with so many people as a child; I never knew which end was up, or what school I would be attending next. My life was dangerous and abusive. I stayed in a state of high-alert. It’s a wonder I ever learned anything in school. They have both continued to abandon or cut off love or communication through out our adult lives.

Based on what I’m reading here, I suppose my Mom was/is a malignant narcissist. I guess my Dad is a sociopath. I have half-siblings from my parents various relationships. None of us are close. We were all left at different places, in varying circumstances and none of us was whole enough to forge good relationships.

I’ve always read a lot, and tried to figure out on my own how to be a good Mom and a reliable human. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was creating my own family unit. I’m close to my husband’s big, happy family and they are a blessing. I’ve tried to keep my word, apologize when I’ve wronged people, be a good employee and love, love, love my children. I’ve made mistakes, for sure, but I can honestly say that I have given this Mom-thing all that I have.

I’ve always craved my Mom’s attention, but it has been elusive, and mostly damaging. It’s wasn’t ALWAYS like that, though. She could be nice and seem interested at times. I would get reeled in, maimed, stumble away bleeding, rinse/repeat etc.

My Mom was only nominally interested in her grandsons, but fixated on her granddaughter, my youngest child. My sister, who is so very much like my Mom, never was able to conceive and wanted my child to be her own, and has tried repeatedly to “erase” me from my daughter. It’s diabolical. There has always been this tug-of-war, where they would try to strongly influence and cross boundaries, and I would hold my ground.

I did see that there was a problem, but I wanted to believe that things could be better. There was some “gaslighting” (?) going on. My Mom stopped drinking, but she never stopped being crazy and mean. She was good to my daughter (in her own way) and I could see (or thought/hoped/prayed) that she was trying.

As my daughter got older, the real struggles began. My Mom and sister would sway her to do things she shouldn’t, and when I would protest, there would be this triangulation of the three of them against me. They encouraged promiscuity and bought liquor and such. I had to cut them off to maintain any semblance of sanity.

My Mom would be apologetic, so I would try again. It was a wearying cycle. As a Christian, I want to forgive people, so I have given lots and lots of chances.

A few times, my daughter has moved in with my Mom and sister, and made some really awful choices and we have been left to pick up the pieces. There was a high school pregnancy, extreme partying, etc. When these things would happen, our daughter would run to my Mom and sister, cut us off, refuse to speak to us; I especially don’t exist. They talk about me, make things up, try to ruin my reputation. It’s ghastly stuff.

My Mom and sister appear to take extreme pleasure and delight in this passive aggressive behavior and they seem to derive a vampiric power by influencing my child to hurt me. I am totally shut out, and “punished” for not buying a ticket on the Crazy Train.

My close friends and husband think it is jealousy that drives this. I clawed my way out of the hell-hole of my life, got an education and have been successful, and for the most part happy. I can’t imagine why this would bother them, though, because they had the same choices and opportunities to do something different.

Lots of water under the bridge, many more situations like this. Fast forward to now.

We have helped raise our daughter’s child. They both lived with us for the first five years. This was no casual baby-sitting deal. My husband and I have made many, many sacrifices to spare him the things that I experienced as a child. (I had a teenage mother. I know how these things can go badly, and he knows how I suffered.) We do not resent these decisions. Every dime, and every resource of time or energy has been well-spent and we would do it again. This child is beloved and we have made sure that he knows it.

His Mommy loves him, and he loves her. That is the way it should be, and how we WANT it to be! We have done everything in our power to help her and him. We love them dearly.

Our daughter, though, uses some “disciplinary” tactics that are abusive when she is frustrated. Brad Pitt is in trouble for things like this, I think, so it’s not just my opinion. These are not behaviors that she saw modeled in our home. I have spoken to her, counseled her, scolded her, even ramping up my disapproval because I know how damaging these things are. It makes me look controlling (and my Mom and sister bang that drum loudly) but I’m really not trying to take over. Dear God, we want a life of our own. We certainly do not want to take over. We want to be out of the kid-raising business. We will gladly help if needed, but we don’t need a hobby or a project. Our lives are full and meaningful.

Last week, our daughter spanked her son three times, pulled his hair, slapped his mouth and berated him repeatedly on Saturday morning. He is 7. His little heart was breaking. She couldn’t get him to stop crying, so she called us to calm him down. We were all on FaceTime. She initiated this call. We were out of state on vacation. We weren’t trying to micromanage anyone. We were trying to have a moment to ourselves, quite frankly. We saw how devastated he was, though and had words over it. I told her it was abusive. She was indignant. She said I was “ruining our relationship. “

Enter Stage left: You guessed it. My Mom and sister are at it again, thrilled to be involved in some drama, and here comes the silent treatment for me. “Poor baby. Your Mom is so unreasonable.”

Are firemen control freaks when they put out a fire?

Our daughter isn’t speaking to us (again) and I don’t know how to disengage myself from this rotten mess. I’m pretty sure I am being abused and I think I recognize bad behavior when I witness it. I just don’t know what to do about it.

Am I a controlling nightmare of a Mom, or are all these people as crazy as they feel?

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