My mom is manipulative


#1

My mother is 69, not a Christian, and is chronically unhappy. She is a widow, although she is divorced from my father, who is still living.
Right now she is trying to make me feel guilty because I didn't plan a trip around her schedule so she could (at the last minute) accompany me. I was unable to comply with her request because of my work schedule, and because it was really kind of last minute that she announced that she wished she could go.
I could go on and on about the numerous ways that she tries to make me feel terrible about myself, but it would be a bit repetitive. She complains about me constantly to my sister, who lives a thousand miles away (while I live 20 minutes away!) My sister is really good about defending me in a Christian way, but it doesn't stop my mother. It gets to the point to where my sister refuses all contact with our mother for weeks and months. I try to ignore it and even laugh it off, but sometimes I feel bad about the situation. She truly only has me, because there are no friends, no support network, etc. due to her abrasive personality.
Knowing she is not a Christian, I try to exhibit Christ's love to her by ignoring these slights. Should I continue to do so, to win her soul? I really am not going to confront her and demand that she straighten up or else, because my goal is her conversion.
What do I do? How can I use this situation to God's advantage? :shrug:


#2

Hi Musician - As nasty as your mom is coming across to you, she is probably coming from a place of fear. Fear of losing you, fear of not being able to control you, which will leave her all alone. She fears proper boundaries of a parent and child because she sees them as walls. Ironically, the methods she uses to keep you in check actually draws you away. Have you read up on borderline personality disorder? She seems to have some of the characteristics. My husband's mom was borderline and his life was a constant influx of guilt and manipulation until he left the house after college and finally set some boundaries.
You aren’t do her any favors by allowing her to mistreat you, it just keeps her sick and you miserable. You deserve a life! There is an author, Dr. Susan Forward who has some great books on dealing with a borderline personality.


#3

Keep praying -- it's hard sometimes. My late mother and I had lots of drama and sometimes I couldn't win with her. In her last years of serious illness we had reconciliation and forgiveness and now I am able to remember the good, and sort of shrug in almost a kind of amusement over the bad. That may sound crazy... I call it perspective.

But it's hard when it's currently happening. I did read the Emotional Blackmail book by Susan Forward -- actually read it to help with a friend situation too that was becoming a problem. It has good advice.

There's a book for women called When You and Your Mother Can't Be Friends -- some of the info might be applicable to sons as well.

And I have 2 volumes of Saintly Solutions to Life's Common Problems that help me in many areas of life including dealing with difficult people.

One thing I had to do with Mom sometimes when she was trying to say something bad about me that wasn't true, was just say, "Well, Mom, you may believe that, but in my heart I know what I believe."

God bless you as you carry this difficult cross.


#4

Oops I goofed -- I saw "Catholic man" and thought you were the son rather than daughter! My bad!

As long as I'm posting again I wonder -- you may have already tried this -- has your mom been evaluated for depression and to see whether some kind of antidepressant meds might help?:confused:

There is a book about How to Survive When They're Depressed

Oh, yeah, and one other book that helped me in my situation was Coping With Your Difficult Older Parent (I had to hide it when I moved in with Mom after Dad died....)

As you can no doubt tell, I run to books for help quite a bit!:D


#5

I think that reading books about problems in our life, emotional or practical, difficulty with relatives or how to get cat urine out of a basket of clothes that has just come out of the dryer ( he probably liked the warmth), is a good way to go. Sometimes it helps a lot.
(wash clothes again but add a cup of apple vinegar along with regular detergent) ...sometimes not so much.
Musician, I don't think that it's okay for anyone to emotionally manipulate you, have you ever told your mom that she's hurting you when she says and does those things?

Your sister is wise to back away. It's good that she has your back. If you can gently explain to your mom that you won't allow her to verbally abuse you anymore it might help.

A lot of times people do come from a place of fear, as the other poster said, but I also think that sometimes folks say mean things because they've made a habit out of it and they get a satisfaction from your response. I don't know how you respond to her but maybe should try another reaction....the opposite of how you're responding.

Would your mom consider counseling with you? Sometimes that helps. I've read your other posts and you are clearly a kind person.


#6

Oh boy.

I could go on forever about my mom and her controlling and manipulative ways. It was said to me that she was more toxic to me than my cancer!

MercyMia stated it well. That's basically what a priest told to me about my mother.

There is also a good book called Boundaries... I think the author's last name is Townsend.

Anyway, put your foot down with her now!


#7

I might have made it sound like I am more of a doormat than I really am. For instance, I ignore her manipulations by pretending they don't exist. Or if she says something offensive, I just smile sweetly and act like I don't get it. It is very effective and amuses me that she thinks can manipulate me. I don't actually let her get away with it, but I don't get confrontational either.
MercyMia really has it right: I think my mom has Borderline Personality Disorder, because she drives everyone away with her caustic personality.
I don't think she is depressed though, I think she just enjoys being miserable. There are some people like that.
My question to you all is: how do I show her the love of Christ more effectively?


#8

For what it's worth, this has been my observation in my own interactions with relatives and friends and also my observation of other people's situations with their own "difficult" people in their lives:

The "difficult" person might not appear on the surface to appreciate the "truth told in love" that you have to offer, and yet they continue to seek you out and listen to the wisdom. They just don't want to admit that it really is helpful, because they would lose face.:o

So if you feel you are being loving and are truthful (not enabling falsehoods) then your mom or any other "tricky to deal with" person probably deep down appreciates it. We just may not know in this life!:)


#9

[quote="3DOCTORS, post:8, topic:204071"]
For what it's worth, this has been my observation in my own interactions with relatives and friends and also my observation of other people's situations with their own "difficult" people in their lives:

The "difficult" person might not appear on the surface to appreciate the "truth told in love" that you have to offer, and yet they continue to seek you out and listen to the wisdom. They just don't want to admit that it really is helpful, because they would lose face.:o

So if you feel you are being loving and are truthful (not enabling falsehoods) then your mom or any other "tricky to deal with" person probably deep down appreciates it. We just may not know in this life!:)

[/quote]

Wow! I think you are probably right about this...That is why I don't really want to confront her, but neither do I want to enable her. So far I have been able to walk that line pretty well, except for a few times when I have had to "lay down the law". I try not to do that very often because I think deep down she has very poor self-esteem and it makes her feel better to pull someone else (me) down. I don't let it get to me very often but sometimes it hurts.
Anyway, great perspective on this for me and I appreciate it!


#10

Musician,

It's been borne out in my own experiences and those recounted to me by friends. One friend of mine has a very negative ex-mother-in-law to whom my friend is very blunt -- even blunter than I would be -- to the point where you'd think the ex-MIL would tell my friend to go someplace where snowballs melt really fast:D and then have nothing to do with her. Instead she still keeps contact and seeks out my friend. But my friend is frank with her about the whole "If you want advice, don't shoot it down and say 'yes, but...'" thing.

Anyway, I may be starting to digress. I don't believe it's always necessary to be blunt -- I'm basically a "catch more flies with honey" type. That doesn't mean I haven't shot off my own mouth in a weak moment (and had to go to Confession and apologize!).:o

Glad to have been able to help some, though. It makes my day. You have a good one too.:)


#11

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