Leaving Mom without Losing Dad

Question: Dear Luise: I am beginning to hate my mom and I don’t know what to do? I am 40 years old and my sister is 39.My mom is emotionally wrapped up in my sister’s life. My sister is estranged from the family due to her drug abuse. She has lost her children. At one point I (divorced mom of 6) was raising her 4 children and now am still raising her 16 year-old daughter. The problem is my mom picks me to pieces over anything I do and complains that I am not doing enough for my sisters kids. The 2 younger kids are being adopted (by friends of the family) in an open adoption that allows us to continue our every Sunday and anytime we want them situation. She leaves my kids out of many functions in order to have alone time with my sister’s kids and she belittles me and my children in front of others. I feel I need to just stay away, but then I feel bad for my dad who also is on the verge of bailing on my mom. At times she is so out of control I feel as though we should have her committed. She is seeing a therapist but it seems all he does is increase her meds and only sees her once a month. My mom has been this way to me my entire life. My early memories are all bad. No matter what I accomplished (good grades, softball, swimming) she was never there, literally she never showed at anything. But went to every one of my sisters things. I divorced my husband for being emotionally abusive and my kids have thrived, but now I feel that I need to estrange myself from my mom for my own good and also for my children. Am I doing the right thing? When I am not around her I am more confident and happy but when I stay away I worry about my dad. K.

Answer: Dear K: The bottom line is always survival and functionality. If you don’t take care of you, who is going to?

It sounds to me like your mom doesn’t know how to be supportive. She knows how to indulge and how to neglect but neither is supportive. No wonder your dad is having a hard time as well.

There are those, and I have no idea if your mom is one of them or not, that only feel adequate around people who fail. When they are around those who succeed they feel inadequate. The common “cure” for that is be critical. That’s an oversimplification, of course, and may not even apply…but there is obviously something going on under the surface in your family.

Whatever your mom’s problem is, you have paid a high price for it all of your life. Abuse has many faces. You and your dad know that. It seems to me that it is time for you to take a stand for your own peace of mind and in your children’s best interest. That may even inspire your dad to do likewise. You need to let him know what you are doing and why. Be sure to also tell him how much you love him and want to stay close to him.

When you can, pass on hating your mom. She is doing her best no matter how it looks and no matter how it is experienced. Something is missing in her makeup that forces her to behave the way she does. That’s no excuse but it is an explanation of sorts. She’s severely limited. You may feel some degree of compassion for her once you have permanently removed yourself from her destructive path. Be grateful it’s not yours. Blessings, Luise

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