Super Dysfunctional Family

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-29-2003
Super Dysfunctional Family
Tue, 08-07-2012 - 11:36pm

Hello Everyone,

I don't even know where to begin.  My entire upbringing and life has been full of chaos and trauma.  I don't talk to anyone about my family because I honestly feel like I'm such a trainwreck.  The main problem is my mother, so I guess I'll start there. My parents divorced when I was 12, my father hasn't spoken to me in over 20 years.  But he tries to connect with my brother, so I guess he's always cared more for my brother than me. 

My parents divorced over spousal abuse, my father was abusive to my mother.  So I was mainly raised by my mother, she's pretty much my only parent.  Over the years, she has just became a mean, nasty, judgemental person.  She makes nasty comments about everyone, like she's perfect, when actually her life is a complete mess.  she's a hoarder and doesn't clean her home.  I've been married almost 8 years, and my husband has never been in her apartment.  She gives nasty attitudes to complete strangers- drive-thru workers, cashiers, other drivers...she doesn't care. 

I finally became a mother myself to a little boy 18 months ago. Prior to that I went through infertility treatments and had two miscarriages.  Which I went through alone, my mother was pretty much emotionally unavailable.  But she'd always make the insensitive remark like, I didn't know you wanted a baby so much.  But my DS is here now, and all of our dysfunctional family members love him, even my mean old mother.  J is all she talks about, she'd love watching him when I was working PT (she would watch him at our house BTW), she'd tell everyone that watching J was the job that she loved.  She always dotes on J and tells him that she loves him (she never tells me that)  In April, my brother tried killing himself.  My mother visited him every day and would stay the entire visiting hours.  He called her while we were out and she told my brother that she loved him and revealed in a visit that she gave him a hug.  I don't begrudge my brother needing that love and affection, but I was really hurt because she never hugs me or tells me that she loves me....not that I would know how to react if she did.  When I lost two pregnancies, she never gave me a hug.  Even when I had J, I got the equivalent of an "Atta girl!" from both my mother and DH's parents. 

Fast forward to this weekend (sorry, very long post.  Thank you for reading so far)  My mother thinks I am her friend, so she vents to me about EVERYTHING- regardless if whether I want to hear it or not.  BTW, she is also paranoid.  She hates her landlord, her neighbor, her job, everyone.  She starts telling me about my brother's jerk friend, who I feel is a bad influence, who has possibly knocked up his girlfriend.  Drama that I don't even understand why my brother has to share with my mom, as its not his girlfriend and possible child.  I responed with , well, good for her, since having so many difficulties getting pregnant, I just totally want to hear how easy it was for these two irresponsible people to conceive.  My mother is like, "not good for her.  she just got treated for cervical cancer and isn't supposed to get pregnant.  Plus, he is still legally married to his psycho wife, and he is 16 months behind on his mortgage".  Great....this is EXACTLY what a former infertility patient wants to hear.  When there is a 90% chance that J will be my only biological child, and when I'm getting to the point of thinking about having another child, even though I know it won't happen.  Trust me, if you've gone through IF and loss, you'd know what I was talking about.

So, I'm so upset and crying to DH.  I can't believe how in a short 2 hours my mother can upset me that much and be that insensitive.  Plus, I don't even know these people- so why does she need to tell me this?  Get no sleep, so the next morning I email her.  I never confront her because she can act very immature, so I usually take the abuse, but this time I felt like, why do I need to take all this?  (For the record, DH and his family are also good for making me take their nonsense, so I feel unsupported by DH when I try to speak up.  So for the past few years, I say nothing when people treat me bad)  Having years of therapy, I was careful not to put her on the defensive in my email... I didn't "go for the attack".  I just told her I didn't want to hear about my brother's friends fertility, having gone through IF and MC's.  Surprisingly she responds back with a mature email, apologizing and saying what a great addition J has been, and how lucky she is to get to see him as often as she does.  Wow!  Wasn't expecting that!  And just to make sure everything was smoothed over, I emailed her later that day, telling her about the fun J was having with his new kitchen playset.

She works on the weekends so I didn't hear back from her- no big deal.  I typically don't hear back from her until Tues, and she usually can't wait to see J again. This morning, Tues, I call her and leave a message, asking if she wants to have lunch with J and I, and watch J play with his kitchen.  I go about the rest of the day until DH comes home and its been 5, 6 hours and no call back.  Starting to get upset now.  I try to aks my brother if he's heard from her, but he works the night shift and can't really talk.  DH offers to drive the three of us to my mom's apartment to check on her.  My mother is diabetic and doesn't really take care of herself, so I'm envisioning that she's had a major health incident.  Get to her place and she is attempting to pull out of her driveway.  I don't know if she saw us, as I waved to usual, my mother was wearing her happiest face....don't know whether that is because I happened upon her, or just her usual grimace at the world.  DH pulls over and gets out to talk to her with a story that we were on a drive and bringing J by to say hi.  DH said she seemed quite suspisious of his story.  I'm fuming because, she is fine and that this is just another one of her silent treatment games.  Which bothers me because she loves J so much more than me, she only hangs around me to spend time with him, so I would think that she wouldn't play the silent treatment game. 

I feel like this confirms what I know- that my mother doesn't love me.  That I truly am on my own, emotional support wise.  I have a few disabilities, so I feel kind of trapped in my circumstances- like I can't just completely blow her off.  I'm having troubles in my marriage as it is, so its not like I can go to my parents for support.  I also married someone whose parents are as warped as my own....I feel the same way about my in-laws as I do my mother.  I feel so alone.  My mother was the product of a super dysfunctional family, so my entire family is screwed up. Its not like I have a single person I can go to for love and unconditional love.  Again, I am so sorry this is long....I just feel very alone.  I can't talk to anyone but my therapist and I don't see her again until late next week, as she is on vacation.  I feel like when I do open up about my screwed up upbringing, people look at me like I'm damaged.  I don't understand why I deserve to be treated so bad. 

Thank you in advance for reading!


Liz- Mom to Jacob, born 2/4/11. IF and Miscarriage survivor. Lilypie First Birthday tickers
iVillage Member
Registered: 02-23-2010
Wed, 08-08-2012 - 4:14pm

I'm not sure if any of your Mother's behavior means she doesn't love you.  My Mother is quite self absorbed and dysfunctional and I have been working hard to set strong boundaries....but what I do know is that she loves me in the only way she knows how to. 

I think you need to stop hoping they're different and work hard with your counselor on realizing your true place in your family.  It's the toughest thing I've ever had to do is realize that my family isn't good for me and to make the changes I need to stay sane.  I miss them but what I miss is the whole denial that I had a normal family.  I don't and accepting that fact is important to anyone's sanity.

You need to continue with your counselor.  Do you feel you are making progress since you indicated you've been seeing a counselor for a while?  You may need to find someone who understands better your particular situation and begin to move on.  You have to stop expecting anything from your Mother. 

I'm sorry life is so hard right now but you're the only one who can make the changes to help yourself so you can work on your marriage.  I'm sure he's real tired of living this too.


iVillage Member
Registered: 01-22-2004
Fri, 08-10-2012 - 11:34pm

I´m sorry that you feel that lonely. I´m sure you do, because you repeated that several times in your post.

I´m sure your mom loves you, but she is unable to demosntrate it to you in the way you want. Probabaly she never received hugs from her mother and that`s why she can´t do it. (she doesn´t now how)

If she gets along with J, she is demonstrating love to you in that way.

About your dad, he might be doing the same,probably he gets more in touch with your brother because he is a male as he, and he can´t do any better, because of the life he had.

About all your mom tells you, which seems to be a lot of emotional garbage, you don´t need to listen to all that crap. So, set some boundaries. Not sure if that communication is by telephone or what, but every time she wants to dump her emotional garbage on you, find a way to stop that. You have to become a kind of Houdini to escape from that. The food is burning, someone is at the door, you need to go to the bathroom, change the subject, fall asleep etc, etc, etc.

About the silent treatment, you don´t know for sure if she does it on purpose or what the heck is on her mind. So ignore that.

Don´t worry about her health issues, she is an adult that needs to take care of herself.

You don´t need to accept that anyone treats you in a poor way. Stand up for yourself with words and actions.

You can with this, try to find some help in CODA.

Relax and stand tall and most of all LOVE YOURSELF.