Question: Dear Luise: I grew up in a low-income area and was raised by a single mother. She married when she was a teenager, largely to escape a sexually and physically abusive home. My siblings and I were victims of much abuse from my mom, but I have forgiven her because I realize that she was raised in the same way. She has always let us know that we were “bad” kids, and therefore, we must have deserved some of her abuse. My problem is she was also very neglectful and not around. She loved to go drinking, and would be gone for weeks at times in the summer. She never “owns” up to any behaviors that she may have done to hurt us. More recently, as I have finished college and have made a nice home for my family, I feel more and more distant from her. She mocks college-educated people and acted like she would not attend my graduation, which she did. She also jokes that I think I am better then other people because I live in a nice house. To make matters worse, she would miss events for my kids over the years, then blame me. She would say stuff like, “She is not good enough… I am ashamed of her.” I would explain to her that if I were ashamed, I would not invite her. I have invited her to many events, many of which she behaved very inappropriately. I feel like she is blaming me for her faults. I have tried to discuss the problem with her, tried to find out what I’ve done wrong. I feel really bad because she is really close to two of my siblings’ families, but she completely rejects mine. My two siblings need a lot of help, but I do not. I am not sure if she feels like she cannot help me, so she refuses to come around. It’s bad enough that she did not want to be the mother I wanted when I was a kid, but now I feel like it’s worse because she rejects my kids. She has no shame in admitting that she is only close to certain grandkids, but I really want to understand why and how I should deal with this behavior. I am ready to just leave her out of my life because I cannot let go of my feelings of rejection. I try to say stuff like “It’s fine. I accept that she does not know my kids.” The truth is that my kids are wonderful, honor students. Strangers, teachers, people from church adore them. I cannot help but feel pain that my mom cannot see anything good in them. I feel like a kids again being rejected by my own mother through my children. I am afraid to cut her out of my life, but I think I deserve more than a constant reminder that I am not good enough for this woman. S.
Answer: Dear S.: I don’t think that’s what’s going on with your mother. It sounds like she has a lot of issues and self-worth is probably one of them. It’s pretty sick when putting someone down is what a person does to build herself up. You have done a great job with your life, you really have. Be careful not to let her project her misery onto you. Set boundaries and limits and practice self-love.
And come on over to my Web-forum with your issue to get some ideas regarding how to do that. There are a lot of women there who understand each other and want to help. It’s a lovely community. See you there? www.WiseWomenUnite.com . Blessings, Luise