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How Do You Help Someone Like This?

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This is a long story but I'll try my best to explain it the best way I know how without letting the aggravation and hurt play a factor on the way I describe it. So here goes.....

Growing up, my mother was always "different". Don't get me wrong, there were times when she was very attentive because I was a sickly child. I was born very premature and was not expected to live. It was she who got me through. They sent me home from the hospital to let the family have time with me and told mom if she could get me to eat, I would have my best chance. So my mother fed me with an eye dropper little bits at a time every two hours around the clock until I was a whopping 30 lbs at 6 months! That takes dedication right there. LOL. Going from 4.1 lbs. to 30 lbs in 6 months is CRAZY! But she saved me.

There are certain things that stick in my mind about growing up and more so now that I'm grown. I never knew which mom she was going to be on a day to day basis. Sometimes she was the best, other times I'd wake her up because I had peed the bed and I would get ridiculed so I got to the point that at a very young age I would change my wet clothes myself, try to find a dry spot, and lay there shivering until I fell back to sleep. Then ofcourse when I got old enough to have my own opinion about things and tell her I didn't like the lacey dresses she was sending me to school in because they irritated my skin extremely bad, she got angry. I have a first grade picture where my clothes are absolutely horrible and my shoes were falling apart. I remember they were so dirty and they smelled so bad, but that was the only shoes I had to wear. Not because we couldn't afford them, but because all the rest were dress shoes. All the way through school, I made straight A's, graduating with honors, heading down a successful road. Not once did she bother to look at my report card, or see that I did my homework. I remember my older brother helping me with questions I had about my work and signing my papers with his name when my parents were supposed to be the one to sign it. Dad worked 3 jobs, daylight to dark, so he was gone when I got up and gone when I went to sleep. I never saw him much so he never knew of my outstanding acheivements until I started bringing home plaques and awards in high school.

Anyway, my mom always seemed to be a different person from day to day. I never knew which mom I was going to encounter when I got home from school. I loved her very much and prayed for the "real mom" and kept my fingers crossed when I got off the bus.

When I was 17, my boyfriend, who was 5 years older than myself, asked my dad's permission to marry me in the future. Dad said yes. One morning while getting ready for school my mom told me that her and my dad wanted to speak with me. She told me they wanted me to get married that day. When I asked why, she said she felt it was the best. Dad didn't say much, but I saw his eyes brimming with tears. Mom told me to call my boyfriend, tell him to come on down, and that she would sign for me to get married that day. I couldn't understand that, but being 17 and thinking I was in love, I agreed and I was married by the end of the day. I went through hell in that marriage. And it wasn't until after the divorce that I found out that my mother had told my father that I was going to run away if they didn't let me get married. She had told him she had saw a date circled on my calender that said leaving, when there was no such truth to that. I wanted to go to college and the understanding between my fiancee and me was that it would be a long term engagement. I wanted to go to college. I was taking college classes my senior year of high school just to get a head start. Now I wonder why my mom wanted me out of the house so bad. My life would have been so different.

In the 10 years, I've heard ludicrous allegations from her until it makes me sick. She accuses me of being on drugs, drinking, sleeping around, etc. If anyone has a thousand reasons not to do the above mentioned things, it would be me. I was completely the opposite of what she was telling my dad. Not until the last two years has my dad come to see that I'm not the child from hell that she has described. I do not know why she does this. She is very hurtful, disrespectful, especially in front of my children. She is obsessed with my oldest, my daughter, who thinks that whatever my mother says overrides what I say. My daughter told me once that my mom lets her call her mommy. That makes me sick.

My mom has told me a thousand times that when she dies she doesn't want me at her funeral. She has actually asked me to give her my daughter!! She doesn't do anything for my son. She doesn't watch him, buy things for him, or anything. She knows that if I want to do something with my husband like go fishing that she is the only person I have to babysit. But she will watch my oldest and not my son. She doesn't want me to get to have any sort of enjoyment whatsoever. She is a habitual liar. She often causes problems with me and my dad because she will come off with something completely absurd and he believes it. He always says "why would your mom lie" and then thinks I'm disrespectful to her when I tell her she's not telling the truth. She has lost all touch with reality it seems. She has 5 other grandkids besides my daughter that she has hardly anything to do with.

I know she enabled my brother's addiction, which killed him a few months ago, and she lies about that. Now, she's got my dad believing that it was murder and not an accidental overdose, when she knows different. I don't know what her problem is. I really think she needs help but how do you get someone to go get help. What in this world is wrong with her? I'm tired of hearing how I'm not her daughter, how much she can't stand me, and having her call over 10 times a day just to say something hurtful. If I don't answer the phone, my dad will call and leave a message because she tells him some big elaborate lie. I don't know what to do. Is this bipolar or what?

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Guest ASchwartz

Hi Jenna,

There is a wonderful book called "The Borderline Mother." I forget the author but you can easily find it. There is also a series of blogs that I wrote on this and you can find them here on this site. I don't know if your mother has Bipolar or not. Maybe she does. Either way, she can also have Borderline Personality Disorder, with or without Bipolar. Anyway, I suggest you read about this. Wow, you had a terrible childhood and teen years. I am so very sorry. In this reading you will find that you are not alone with this and that can help. I am not giving a diagnosis but just stating my guesses, guesses that make sense to me.


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Thanks Allan. I've researched online about several types of mental disorders and I had narrowed it down to the very two that you mentioned. When I bring it up to her to mention to her doctor the things that I see, and my daughter sees, and that my husband sees, and that my brother had saw, she refuses. I really wish she would seek help because after 27 years, I need my mother. Things seem to get worse. Depression and anxiety alone that I suffer from has knocked me down to the point I don't have the strength to keep getting up. But to hear such hurtful words from her, and to be treated in such a way now at the age of 27, I feel like she has contributed largely to the self esteem and trust issues that I suffer from. She keeps throwing fuel to the fire that is destroying me. It hurts so much that it's impossible to put into words. She's not only hurting our family but everyone around her. She needs help but I can't convince her to go. I'm the bad person for telling her. She finds me disrespectful for saying such. I can't imagine ever putting my children through the hell she has put me through. I don't know how a mother can treat their child in such a way. She never treated my brother that way. Sometimes I wonder if she holds it against me that she almost bled to death when she had me. I wonder often if she holds it against me that I was such a responsibility the first part of my life due to my health. I don't know what to do. But I do know that staying away from her and cutting off all ties with her would be a lot easier than to deal with the way she treats me daily. But she is my mother and I would never do that. So I guess I have to endure the pain, not that I don't already suffer enough. Allan it's just very destructive to my being. I need my parents, especially now to help me as I help my dad during the grieving process of losing my brother. I feel she is dragging me down when I feel like I've taken one step forward, she will drag me two steps back. It's a continuous cycle allan. One that I don't know how to break. I am very religious and pray for the matter, because I feel that God can fix anything. Sometimes though, my faith seem to get weaker, though I'm ashamed to say it. I feel like my dad is suffering more than he should have to because of her mental disorders which is causing him to self destruct. I don't know what options I have. I just want some sort of normalcy in my life and for my dad, for my children.

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Guest ASchwartz


I know she's your mother but sadly, that does not mean much in situations like this. I think you need to save your self. The fact that you may have been I'll the first pRt of your life is no excuse for her abusive behavior. Start taking care of yourself. Allan

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  • 2 months later...
I need my mother.

I would say that you do not need her, and that you SHOULD cut off ties. Not just for yourself, but for your children.

I am very religious and pray for the matter, because I feel that God can fix anything.

Be it as it may for the god(s) to have the ability to change things... we are all creatures of free will. God(s) cannot force anyone to do anything.

As such your mother is the only one who can bring about that change. Not you, or anyone else. God won't suddenly cure her one day; your mother is fully responsible for her actions. Her illness gives her NO excuse to act in any way that is not involuntary. Her words are her own, and she chooses to speak them, and she chooses to take the actions that she does.

The only way such a person might be able to get help is if she is institutionalized and officially diagnosed so that they can find a way through a combination of drug/talk therapy... but convincing her to commit herself for a week or two wouldn't be easy.

I think the term for your mother would be "physic vampire". The concept is one of my faith, and it is essentially one that exploits your feelings of duty or compassion for their ends, but it can apply to this too.

It sounds like that your mom may of very well cared for you when you were a young child, but given the pattern of behavior she is nothing but a leech now. It could be that she is passive-aggressively harboring hatred for needing to take care of you so carefully, but it really doesn't matter. She is responsible for her own actions and these things she has done has no excuse.

But the fact that she wanted you out to get you married like that is the sickest thing of all to me. I see marriage (as well as life commitments and life partners in general) as a sacred thing that shouldn't be used as tools like this, Not that I think you were wrong, far from it; I am saying that your mother is the blame for forcing that marriage on you. I can't speak for your case, and I am NOT blaming you, but a 17 year old marrying a 22 year old isn't something to just in to. The fact that your mother tricked your father into this and shoved it on you is what is wrong; not you getting married. I do not think you were to blame for that in the slightest.

I say, for your own well being and that of your Children, cut her out. She is a psychic vampire and is only out to hurt you for the god(s) know what. It will probably be for the best. And if your dad can't realize that she is lying, even in the slightest, he is in denial. I do not think that you should neccisarly cut out your father, but it might be hard to include him when cutting your mom out of your life.

Though I bet you already have an idea in mind; whenever one asks for advice they often already have their decisions made, and only want others to reinforce it.

Though take what I say as you will, and with a dose of salt if you wish. I am merely an unemployed 20 year old dropout trying to get a G.E.D. I can't really say what it is like for you; I'm not in your shoes. But I can tell you I have a mother that can be a real bitch. she never validated me, so I have had issues with my mom too, but not to the point that my mom made up stuff. It sounds like you may be way past the point to where you can repair the relationship... but again, I'm not in your shoes.

I'm just sayin' this because I think it's better to cut her off then take the chance of her messing up your and your kids' lives even more to fix your relationship.

Just my two cents.

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  • 4 weeks later...
  • 4 weeks later...

Whatever her diagnosis may be, I just know it's hard emotionally to deal with. Her behavior and the way she treats me has caused me many problems with how I see myself. I question my worth, and automatically assume no one wants to deal with me, so I have pushed all my friends away. I have been put down so much, I often wonder if what she says is true simply because she is my mother and I can't imagine a mother saying things about their child if it wasn't true. I would never talk to my children that way. I feel obligated to put up with her behavior simply because two wrongs don't make a right in my opinion, but then again, it's not doing me much good emotionally or mentally.

"Honor thy mother and father." That's what goes through my mind when I'm at my wits end.

My therapist asked about mental illness in the family and I tried to describe her behavior to him.... He said it sounded like she was bipolar. I'm not sure of her diagnosis, I just know she's breaking me apart.

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This all sounds so very stressful and painful for you, Jenna. I'm sorry you're going through this. :D

"Honor thy mother and father."

Maybe the best way to stay true to this is by honoring thyself. You don't have to put up with abuse even if your mother has mental illness. This kind of thing can wear down your self esteem. Is there a way to minimize contact you have with her or is this too painful to consider? She is your mother and you love her, but you have to love yourself too.

Take care, Jenna.

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