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Why Is My Mom Following Me Around To Take Over My Life?

Question:

My mom has verbally and physically abused me my whole life. Now that I’m an adult she still verbally abuses me, but in a more inconspicuous way by using criticism. She does this so she can get away with it in front of the family. I’m married and have 3 kids. Sometimes she tries to get other people in the family to join her in a "light hearted manner,"like my husband,to tease me. Sometimes he helps her out without realizing her manipulation. I have moved recently one state away from her to get some space, since everything I do is "wrong" and I’m tired of my kids hearing her say that. In the past year she has even stood up and challenged me to fight when I stood up for myself and asked her to leave my house for verbally attacking me. Although she adores my irresponsible older sister who has a son, she insists that I’m the one she is going to follow around for the rest of her days to be near her grand kids. I fear one day she will turn them against me with her powerful manipulative character by using money and an outlet from me. She took me from my father and sometimes I think she is plotting the same with my kids. She has so many regrets in her life that I think she’s using me like toilet paper to solve her emotional wounds. She has me so tense around her that I no longer feel strong enough to defend myself without looking like a "weirdo" who has social problems. Are there any suggestions to the guilt I carry when I consider kicking her out of my life completely? Is that too far to take it? I’m losing sleep on this,and have a hard time deciding since we have no other family on both sides.

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Answer:

"Gee, why would you want to get such a nice old lady out of your life?" Ha, Ha! I am joking and smiling as I write this but I do not want you to think that I am laughing at you or at your situation. On the contrary, my attempt is to use irony to show you how you should feel no guilt for want to part ways from your mother.

You state that you and your husband have no other family. However, that is not true. You have one another and your children. From what you describe, your mother is not a good influence on you, your children or your husband. In fact, you state that she has been abusive to you all of your life and continues to be to this very day. On those grounds it seems to make sense to end contacts with her, if you wish, and to move on with your lives.

Of course, there is a less dramatic option that you could take and it is to "lay down the law" for your mother. What I mean is to tell her in no uncertain terms, that if she continues to correct you in front of the children and husband and if she continues to tease you that you will end all contact with her and she will never see you or the children again.

If you tell her this, you must really mean it and then enforce it if she continues to treat you badly.

Also, there is no reason for you to defend yourself against anything she says. In fact, by defending yourself, you are letting her know that she is powerful and can hurt you. Instead, stop defending yourself and either ignore her comments or dismiss them with a statement such as, "Sure, mom, if you say so."

In many ways what you are struggling with is not the mom of today but the mom who raised you. In other words, you are reacting to her as though you remain her little girl instead of the adult you are. This is why you are defending yourself. In a way, you are acting like a child when you allow her to provoke you into an argument and then throw her out of the house. Then, she refuses to go and that makes you look bad. Instead, avoid "taking the bate," ignore it and, next time you speak to her on the phone, let her know that she will not be welcome in your house if she treats you that way again.

In sum, avoid these power struggles with her because she wins when she is in a power struggle.

I would also suggest that you reduce telephone contact with her between visits. The less you speak with her the better you will feel.

Believe it or not, she is no longer the powerful woman you thought she was when you were a little girl. She cannot harm your relationship with your children or with your husband. Remember, you are an adult woman and not a child. She cannot take over your life and she cannot follow you around if you want to stop her. As an adult, you have the power to set firm limits with your mother and that is something you must do. Again, the other alternative is to cut her out of your life. It’s up to you.

Good Luck

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