My mum and I have a toxic relationship of hostility, anger, and hate, with mean words and hurtful actions stemming from years of unresolved issues.
I was verbally and emotionally abused, physically abused as a child, and pushed by her when I was pregnant.
It’s taking a toll on my health and I'm sure hers, too. She’s a very great Grandma but disrespects me and refuses to see a therapist alone or with me.
She thinks she’s never wrong. I'm sure I'm not innocent and can improve my behaviour to her and how I respond.
It’s also affecting my relationship with my husband, as I take my hurt and anger out in him. My parenting is also affected because I'm depressed.
I'm willing to look at myself. But without her doing the same, I feel this relationship will continue to harm both our lives.
If she's unwilling to get help with me, I’ll seek my own, but I need to stop seeing her, at least temporarily. My husband wants me to stop seeing her.
How do I stop feeling addicted to her? Because I want to fix the relationship, I keep going back.
She says she’ll take us to court for her grandparent’s rights, that I'm using the kids to manipulate her. I'm not. How do I stop seeing her?
End The Toxic Cycle
Do not wait for your mother to agree to get help together. Go on your own regarding the years of abuse, and learn strategies from a professional therapist about how to respond to her in future.
The current pattern of hostility and anger won’t be the same once you’re working from a different script for yourself.
You don’t have to first cut ties (creating an issue regarding grandchildren) unless you and the therapist find this necessary.
Meanwhile, avoid her more by being “busy,” and end conversations when she shows disrespect.
Instead of threatening her with total exclusion – while you yourself are so vulnerable to her - put her on notice that you’re now getting help for all the past abuse.
Her “rights” to her grandchildren are not equal to your responsibility to protect them.
Once you’ve started the counselling process, it’ll become clear whether, as a “great Grandma” (your own words) she’s not harmful to them and the problem rests between you two.
FEEDBACK Regarding the father who’s considering moving to his new love, leaving his three sons behind (Jan. 26 and Feb. 22):
Reader – “I met my husband shortly after he and his wife separated. I’d already been accepted to follow my dream of becoming a Police Officer, which involved moving. My training date was moved several times, allowing more time for us to fall in love.
“My husband made it clear, wherever I ended up, he’d follow. However, he had two children whom he saw every Wednesday night and every weekend. They were very close.
“My dad wisely counselled me that they were a packaged deal and I had no right to disrupt their relationship. He said I needed to choose to be part of their life, or move on without him.
“Now, 35 years later, I’m an adored mother of four (my two stepchildren and two children we had together), and a grandmother of six. The children get along as one family.
“I even have a good relationship with his ex-wife that’s stood through showers, weddings, and births. I have no regrets.”
Reader’s Commentary “Here’s what I advise regarding the addicted son (Feb. 13):
“Try to be supportive to his girlfriend. Give clear messages to your son, e.g. “You made a decision to follow this lifestyle. I/we can no longer deal with the lying, stealing, threats from drug dealers, etc.” Repeat when necessary.
“Do a cost analysis of his activities on your resources. Compare with your other children and work out a fair distribution of the assets from your estate. Inform all children of your decision.
“Put this adult child's share in a trust to be given out on a monthly basis. Never give money as gift. Buy food, clothing, phone cards, fitness membership.
“His other relatives must agree and not rescue him.
“Say that you’ll only support sustained positive effort to be clean and sober while he applies himself to gaining meaningful employment or work skills. There are many programs for retraining and further education.”
Tip of the day:
When a relationship’s toxic to you, don’t wait for the other person to agree to get help. Go on your own.