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PA is not just for divorced families...tales of my mother

halo1998's picture mother.  I see now why on some levels I am about 100 ways of messed up.  Its my mother....and in some part my Dad.

My mom...only child of a alcoholic father.  As result of my grandfather drinking away all of my grandparents grandmother had to work a lot when my mom was young.  My grandparents divorced after my mom graduated high school....and my grandmother was a really great woman.  I still miss my grandmother to this day. She really was the person I talked to and was there for me.

I think the above has really messed my mother up.  Oy....and age has made it worse.  She already over eats as a means to deal with her emotions.

My mother seems to think that I should be her confidant for all things..including her issues with my Dad.  Now neither one, my mother or my Dad are saints.  My mother, however, thinks that she is always right and never does anything wrong. not the truth.  I realized through therapy that a large part of my people pleasing is due to her.  I have been managing her moods for the better part of my life.  My sister just noped out of the whole situation and keeps both my parents at arms length.  I understand it....but that leaves me to deal with them.

Over the last few parents have been fighting like cats and dogs.  Both are retired and neither have any reall hobbies other than annoying the heck out of each other.  As a result, my mother thinks I should be the one to hear her grievances against my Dad.  Spoiler... I don't want to hear it from either one.  She also fails to realize I have my own life, job, kids and a husband.  I have pulled back from her over the last year in order to focus on myself and my marriage.  I needed to focus on myself, something I haven't done for the majority of my life.

The latest was they were fighting the other night. Why...because my Dad rewashed "his" popcorn bowl that my mother had previously washed.  Sigh...not the biggest infraction.....and I made the mistake of asking my mother....yep its annoying that he did that but really is it worth getting all up in arms over it.  If he wants to rewash be it.  Now between mother is not the best at housekeeping etc.  Ok..she is pretty terrible at it truth be told.  Best guess the bowl was still a bit greasy and my Dad just rewashed it.  Other solution...DON'T WASH THE DAMN BOWL.  So....after I asked why let it bug her I got a text message that said the following:

"I give up.  I must be the most worthless person on earth.  I picked up the garbage from the back yard.  Took it to the garbage can.  You dad took it out of the garbage to make sure I did it correctly.  Just this once side with me and not him."

REALLY...nope..not going to happen.  I don't side with either of them and quite frankly I don't like hearing their complaints about each other.

I responded back with...

"I don't side with either of you and its unfair to ask or expect me to side with either one of my parents."

And now..I'm getting one work responses from my mother.  Plus she is on a roll posting all kinds of woo is me crap on facebook.

I don't think I'm wrong here..and I certainly do not do this to my kids.  I try very very hard to not say anything negative about their father and I don't use my kids as a sound boards for my issues with DH, or really for any of my issues.  Not their place to be my pseudo therapist.  Yes, I have told my mother she needs therapy or they need to divorce, or both.  In reality they really should have divorced a long time ago....classic case of..when the kids left and they retired..they figured out they can't stand each other. I'm in the dog house for not subscuming to my mother's attempts at getting me "on her side" their domestic squabbles.  I know..its boundaries and since she is a boundary stomper/rug sweeper this bugs her to no end.  I also think it bugs her that she sees my marriage as beting better than hers...for the most part I actually like my DH.  



la_dulce_vida's picture

What if you weren't succumbing to being in the "dog house" and, instead, relished being sent there? Maybe it's a nice dog house with comfy things to lay on and snacks?

That's the triumph over people pleasing: to be impervious to guilt trips.

It sounds like the two of them live to undermine each other and play petty and childish games with each other.

I wouldn't tolerate it - I would say, "I'm not listening to this. Please see a therapist."

halo1998's picture

and I usually just ignore it  But the latest exchange really showed her hand..she just wants me to side with her and say my Dad is a horrible person.  Now, don't get me Dad has his issues....he is a control freak and I get that. 

The guilt trips...I'm still working over coming those.

Yep..they live to annoy the crap out of each other...with stupid stuff. 

justmakingthebest's picture

My parents have started this stuff recently too! What is in the air??

I just looked at them deadpan and say, get divorced. It worked for me. 

They stop complaining to me LOL

Survivingstephell's picture

Work with your therapist and come up with a script you repeat EVERY time she starts this crap.  Threaten to end the conversation if she doesn't stop then follow thru.  She baits you easily from what you write.  I get it.  These dysfunctional boomers are real treat.  Eyeroll.  

halo1998's picture

I do feel bad for my mom..her home life as a kid wasn't that great.  My Dads wasn't much better..but dang..I'm way over paying for their childhoods with my life.  I can see through people pleasing contributed to my marriage issues.  

Yep she tries to bait me all the time....and this is why DH and I are looking to move far away....his family of origin isn't much better.

thinkthrice's picture

My parents, who are in their late eighties, have been religiously shunning me since 2004 mostly for "living in sin."   I prefer it that way as they are extremely judgemental.

la_dulce_vida's picture

When I look at my partner and my friends all dealing with failing elderly parents, I count my blessings that I walked way from my family of origin about 26 years ago. My other 3 siblings can tend to our a-hole father. My dad turns 80 this fall. My mom will turn 78 in June.

I don't have much animosity towards my mom, but they are package deal and my dad is not a safe person to be around.

1st3rd5thWEInHell's picture

At that age, they will never ever leave each other so suggesting separation for some bickering isnt even an option...

As we age, we become less tolerant and patient with certain behaviors and we have a tendency to complain a lot more because the filter is gone. Its very possible that your parents now view you as an adult who knows them and to whom they can vent for emotional support or simply a listening ear. Old ppl are very isolated due to friends passing away or simply getting out of the workforce which reduces their social interactions, hence turning to their inner circle to share their complaints/vents/grievances

As we get older, the dynamic between parents and children change. The parents who had an adult life and adult business are now regressing and becoming similar to children/losing their maturity in some ways while we are maturing and entering busier life stages. Its part of life, one day we will be in their shoes and calling our children (for those who have them) or relatives to vent about the dumbest little things including your spouse

Clearly the dynamics of your parents are rooted in control and who has the upperhand. Your mother attempting to control the environment and your father going after her to signify his upperhand


It is also very frustrating to have someone fix/redo everything behind you. I work with someone like that and I have wanted to scream at her to get off my ass and worry about her own job lol...This person will literally go through the trash at my desk and make sure I recycle correctly or look at my post it notes and reorganize them to her liking. She also watches me and asks me "why did you write this?" when I am writing a personal reminder for my notes

These types of ppl are usually seeking power and believe they are the only ppl capable of handling responsibilities. Coincidentally, I have found that many of these personality types have issues with hoarding and clutter as a way to control the space around them and also often use money/tools to leverage power in their relationships

Noway2b1's picture

Leveraging money. He certainly brings it up enough with his kids, how often he's bailed them out financially. Often unasked. 

1st3rd5thWEInHell's picture

Often it is a way to maintain the upperhand and ensure that the relationship goes the way they want.

Im not sure in what kind of  background/environment these personality types develop but they are definitely some of the hardest ones I have deal with in the workplace.

Noway2b1's picture

I think he's learned to manage it very well. He has his quirks that he cannot resist. Moving things where he thinks they should be without any sort of discussion, hovering over capable people making sure it's done "right" luckily his wide world experience isn't vast so he does have the wisdom to defer to those more experienced although common heard phrases from me in our home when I'm taking on a large project that he wants to micromanage but has no idea where it needs to start is "honey let me just do my thing, I know what I'm doing and don't want it over complicated, thanks" 

he's pretty good about standing down so too speak but I do know it's part of his personality that he actively has to keep in check at times. 

AlmostGone834's picture

I usually say something neutral along the lines of "oh yes I hear you, marriage is never easy" or "I think it's only natural for two humans living together to be annoyed with each other's habits". 

I agree btw that if he wants it washed better/to his liking then just let him do it. It seems she's taking him "redoing" her work as a personal insult. At least he's not trying to force her to do it his way. My DH has occasionally "redone" some of my work (for example revacuuming up the cat hair on the couch). I just think to myself, good if he does a better job then one less thing for me to do.

Kloewent's picture

Mine re-does the dishes in dishwasher, moves them to the 'correct' spot, rinses them. He tries to sneak it, but I could give a shit. My mom always said, well even if they are still a little dirty the heat sanitized them! He did really piss me off the other day when he was mansplaining to me about how the salt shaker works, little holes less salt, bigger holes more salt, just in case anyone on here wasn't sure!

Noway2b1's picture

lol lol mines into fact checking me lately. I just shrug and say "Look it up Google will back me up" because a lot of times I try to prove it to him. Lately I'm like "whatever don't believe me then, I don't care enough to Google it and send you proof" 

JRI's picture

My DH, a long-time control freak, discovered when he retired that I do many things wrong, like putting groceries away and vacuuming.  That's odd cuz I've been keeping house for 50+ years and raised 5 kids.  So, I agree, I do them wrong so nowadays he puts the groceries away and he vacuums.  Once in awhile, he asks why I don't do it and I remind him I would do it wrong.  Lol.

Noway2b1's picture

To them once they realize you've been doing it wrong. "Oh YOU want to have it done your way??? I would be glad to have you take it over!!!" Errrr not really I just want YOU to do it MY way. Lol lol 

strugglingSM's picture

Not quite the same, but since my father passed away, it seems like my mom is just itching to fight with everyone. She has a comment or a criticism about everything and has lashed out at people...including DH every time she comes to visit. I'm sure some of it is grief, but I also think that because she now no longer has anyone to manage (i.e. my father) she just perseverates on things. She has always had this belief that no one likes her, so she loves to lash out at people whom she perceives as not liking her. I couldn't figure out why she was getting so mad at DH all the time and then she said to me, "I know he loved your father, but he's never liked me." This is because when my father was still alive, DH would call him regularly to talk on the phone. He would also talk to my mother, but he really enjoyed talking to my father. Only someone like my mother could perceive this as DH "not liking" her. There's also some underlying dysfunction with my sister - who cut me off because she is a spiteful person and I was okay with being cut off because we've never had a relationship - that I think my mom blames DH for. It's not his fault, my sister just lost it on me when we got engaged (I think because she's single and of the two of us, she was the one who always wanted to be married). My mother has directed anger that should go towards my sister for "breaking the family" at DH, who had nothing to do with the whole conflict. She also recently lashed out at my aunt by marriage, who has always kind of treated my mother differently, but who didn't deserve to be shouted at, at a family gathering. 

I live across the country from my mother, so the only way for her to see my kids is either for me to fly to see her (no fun with an infant and a toddler) or for her to fly to see us...where she stays in our home...and inevitably fights with DH. After her last visit where she told DH she never wanted to see his face again, she now will say to me, unprompted, "it's not that your DH and I don't get along. We just have a difference of opinion." I just say to her "okay" in a tone that lets her know (or should let her know) that I don't agree, but am not going to pursue the conversation further and let it drop. I tried having a conversation with her about her shouting at DH and she always acts like I'm making something out of nothing. She doesn't know this, but I now don't enjoy talking to her on the phone and dread the thought of her coming to visit, even though I would like her to have a relationship with my children. 

My one goal in life is to work through all of my own $h!t so I don't subject my daughter to any of this dysfunction when I'm old. Why do women seem to become so mean and angry when they get old? 

Rags's picture

My sister just noped out of the whole situation and keeps both my parents at arms length.  I understand it....but that leaves me to deal with them.

Time for you to follow your sister's exampe and nope out of the whole situation.  You are choosing to deal with them and their failure as adults and spouses.   Be close with them sure. But... do not let them use you as their dumping ground.

Stop that.

Your answer to your mom was exactly right. It is not fair that she is attempting to get you to be her ally against your father.

My mom went through a bit of this phase when she was in her early 30s and she and my dad were in a rough patch after about 15-ish years of marriage. I was in my early to mid teens.  She would cry and complain about how she was not happy, etc...   

It was extremely uncomfortable for me.  She was using me as her confidante.  Both of my parents are amazing people and so good together. They married when mom was 17 and dad was 19. I was born when mom was 19 and dad was 21.

During that time I approached my dad with concerns that they might divorce. He assured me that even if they did divorce that he would take care of my mom and that they both loved my brother and I very much.  I think dad sat own with mom to align on my concerns and that I had spoken with him.   Mom and I went to lunch not long after that and she appologized for inappropriately engaging me in her unhappiness.  She told me that she is my mom and I am not her GF or therapist.   It was a very tear filled lunch for both of us.

Meanwhile nearly 46-ish years later and back at the ranch... mom and dad are still great together. In two weeks, they will will have their 61st anniversary.

Be good to you Halo.

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