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How Do I Cope With A Parent Who Is Trying To Ruin Me?

Question:

My mother has always made it clear that she loves money more than anything else. Shortly after my parents separation, when I was 15, she ejected me and my siblings from the house and wiped out my parents’ joint bank account and all the assets she could get her hands on. For the next 8 years, we did not have any communication with her. Foolishly, we, her children, began to speak to her again after she sent messages to us begging for forgiveness.

A couple of years of good relations have turned into a couple of sour years where ugly scenes have taken place and She has been trying to use her wealth to manipulate and bully us again. I have mostly been the focus of her attention since getting married and having a son.

Last year following a very uncomfortable visit to my house, she sent my son a parcel full of Christmas presents. But she didn’t call to wish her own children a Merry Christmas, nor did she call to wish me a happy birthday or to ask about my current pregnancy. I know she has done this out of malice and is trying to provoke a reaction from me. As a result, I have decided that any attempts to have a relationship with this woman cause me more trauma than it’s worth and I have stopped contacting her again. I want to focus on my own family life.

However, I discovered that she has been vilifying me to all of my relatives and, even to my brother who she still speaks to her on occasion. She tells all sorts of outrageous lies about me. And, even though I try to cut her out of my life, I cannot stop obsessing over every injustice she has perpetrated.

When I am alone in the shower or in the kitchen, I relive all of the horrendous incidents in my life, right down to the early ones. For a change, I want her to feel hurt and humiliated. I feel hurt and anger on a daily basis and I need to find a way to silence her voice.

I hope you can help.

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Answer:

What a sad and terrible story you tell about your mother and her inability to relate to her own adult children. In fact, she is so very hostile and provocative that she makes it impossible to relate to her young grandchildren.

Your mother is a good example of a type of individual who does not know how to relate except through manipulation and hostility. Even though she she does not get what she wants, she repeatedly uses the same failed patterns of behavior. It is tempting to guess that she has a Borderline Personality disorder. However, there is no way to make a diagnosis over the internet except to say that what you describe has some of overtones of that type of thing.

In her unsuccesful attempts to relate to her children, she does do one thing well. She seduces you into obsessing about her. It’s interesting because in the absence of your being in contact with her, she certainly gets your attention. Your reaction to her spreading rumors through the family is to feel outraged, pained and angry to the point where you want revenge.

She gets your attention through a classic type of manipulation. Instead of talking to you, she goes behind your back, and talks to other people. She does that knowing full well that they will carry the information back to you. That seems very clever, doesn’t it? No, not so clever and I’ll explain why.

My guess is that she wants very much to have a family, visit with her children and see their kids so she can be a grandma. She fails all around. She fails not because of you and your siblings. She fails because this is the only way she knows. You think of revenge? You need not obsess because she suffers as a result of her machinations.

What can you do to keep her out of your life and not allow her to succeed in provoking you? When your family begins telling you what she said, interrupt them, with a comment about your not wanting to hear about it. This may need to be repeated but, in the end, they will get the message.

At the same time, it’s always important for all of us to be reminded that we cannot control the behavior of other people. In other words, there is a good chance that some relatives will continue to carry messages to you even after you repeated ask them to stop. What to do?

First, remind yourself that she is trying hard to get your attention. Second, remember that, just because she is spreading rumors, does not mean that anyone believes them. Third, tell yourself that it makes no difference in your life whether others believe her or not! So what? Why should you care? Let her say anything she wants. I agree with you that you have a husband, children, your own private family life. No one can touch that unless you let them by obsessing.

One more thing: I have the notion that, perhaps, she is waving her money in front of all of you in an attempt to keep you tied to her. If this is true, forget about money. Your husband and you work to support your family.

Do not allow her to focus your attention on her. Focus your attention on your kids and husband.

Good Luck to you.

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Comments
  • Ruth

    I too have a mother with the same problem. I have been researching her problems and found a multitude of mental health issues such as BPD, and Antisocial Personality Disorder among others. I agree with Mr. Schwartz, that we fuel the fire when we respond to insults and injury with revenge, as tempting as it seems, only gives satisfaction to the person that initiates the lies and deceit. Living well is the best revenge and that is something that they will never know because they are not well. Take care of yourself and family first. And know that you may never be able to fix what is wrong with others.

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