I grew up mostly with my mother, living with her after my parents’ divorce. We’ve always had a volatile relationship. I was constantly yelled at.
My half-sister, ten years older, hasn't spoken to her in decades.
My mother had always wanted to return to Germany, and bring me along, but my dad wouldn't let her. I believe she harboured resentment for this towards me.
I grew up, moved an hour away, became successful and married a very financially secure man.
My mother’s never been happy for me and still criticizes me.
If she’s babysat the kids because my husband and I have a night out, she’ll look me up and down, but only rarely says something nice.
I've tried to speak to her but she dismisses or interrupts me.
When my first husband left me because he was cheating, I felt she was betraying me by still calling him sometimes. "He's never done anything to me," was her response.
When I met my current husband, a wonderful man who loves my children like his own, she was rude to him. (We’ve since had a child together).
Now, with self-isolation a new reality, I invited her to stay with us, as I don't think she should be alone.
She came to stay but said she’d leave the day after my birthday, a week away. That day she abruptly left before my birthday dinner. I wasn't surprised.
She sent a letter apologizing, along with money, whether for my birthday or for "letting her stay” as she wrote. She said she was overcome with emotion and felt like crying.
She’s previously left when I've needed her (e.g. she disowned me before the birth of my firstborn).
She’s threatened that if I don't let her see the kids, she’ll "tell your ex’es parents exactly what you are."
I’ve not responded to her latest letter. Do I ignore behaviour, again?
She can also be very thoughtful and helpful. Should I let go the bad parts?
I don't trust her. I've seen a therapist over my inability to hug her without feeling repulsed.
Is she toxic? Am I? I don't ever feel good when I see her anymore, and neither do the kids.
Toxic or Not?
For someone who endured such a stressful childhood relationship, you’ve admirably tried periodically to stay connected… and so did she.
She babysat the kids; you had a date night with your husband. A fair and normal exchange. Still, the relationship remains strained.
You’ve had some therapy about this, and still feel she can’t be fully trusted.
She clearly hasn’t had a happy life - resulting from leaving her home country, her divorce, tensions she must’ve had with her now-distanced step-daughter, and her lack of patience with you as a child.
Yet she’s not always toxic to you, sometimes even emotional e.g. about your birthday.
I believe that cutting all contact with her now would weigh on your good conscience. You showed that feeling when you asked her to stay with you to be safe during this pandemic.
You suffered as a child but you’re now a lot happier and emotionally healthier than your mother’s been. There are no surprises coming from her.
Help your children understand that these unusual times of COVID-19 call on all of us to help each other if we can.
Stay in touch with your mother for now at least, despite some frustrations.
You’re the stronger one, in both heart and soul. You can handle this.
He’s a couple blocks away and didn't bring anything for my birthday.
I received a generic, unromantic e-card. I’m not feeling well. He works, I’m isolating. I wish for any sign of love, a song, a wave. Nothing.
I only want acknowledgment that I’m important to him.
A few years… now I feel I’m invisible. I’m rethinking the relationship. He thinks that I choose to be home, that the pandemic isn’t a worry.
Hurt and Alone
Things didn’t become clear until the last sentence. It seems he’s also hurt, thinking that you chose to stay away from him, despite that you two obviously had feelings for each other prior to the deadly coronavirus in our midst.
He’s among those who stubbornly don’t “get” that it’s unsafe for you to be with him if he treats the pandemic as “no worry.”
If reality doesn’t sink in, he’s all wrong for you.
Tip of the day:
Some difficult mother/daughter relationships still call for moments of connection (remotely) during this dangerous pandemic.