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Old 08-15-2014, 08:15 PM
Location: 1000 miles from nowhere
549 posts, read 435,060 times
Reputation: 975


The thread title should probably be "depressed (and jealous?) parent," but I don't know how to edit that part.

I'm really close to my mom. Well at least I thought I was. However she has always been a bit emotionally distant and not my most consistent supporter. As in, I know she loves me very much and all, but sometimes in the past when I've needed her, emotionally or whatever, she wasn't there for me...although often and for the most part she is, too. We get along pretty fabulously for the most part but the air is changing a bit between us and I'm not sure how to proceed.

I was clued into this several years ago. I had just gotten engaged, had a good career track going, and everything was really peachy overall. I was with my then-fiancé and my mom discussing a female coworker that I'd been having issues with- nothing major, she just behaved a bit snidely towards me. My mom suggested that this coworker was jealous. I didn't think much of it, but later my fiancé gently pointed out that he thought my mom might be the jealous one and projecting her feelings. The idea shocked me at the time. But now it seems more obvious.

My mom's been having some rough times for the past few years, money trouble, changing jobs, uncomfortable living situation with relatives, health stuff...my heart goes out to her, so much. It's painful to see her so down and out. I've helped her out in little ways, as have others, but she really gets herself down in the hole in various ways. She's pretty depressed on top of all this. The worst part is she just sometimes completely seems to give up and just be. I don't think she would take her own life (I really don't) but she is so down. She needs counseling and anti depressants and to exercise and she acknowledges these things, but never does anything about it.

I admit sometimes I get frustrated at her. I know she's human and she is dealing with some difficult conditions and ailments, but I wish she would just try to take little steps. But she'll just say, "I should [do whatever she needs to].." but then basically feels sorry for herself and kind of blames others for her position in life. That bothers me too, although I would never point it out. I mean she'll say so-and-so ruined her finances (there's a couple people she mentions) or so-in-so is out to get her, or doesn't like her.... God it's making me very self-aware of my own negative self talk, that's for sure.

I feel so sad for her overall, but am tired of her excuses and misplaced blame. She does acknowledge her fault in past occurrences but then will immediately beat herself up over it, and say things like, "I'm so stupid." I feel like she wants me to be like a therapist sometimes, but I have troubles of my own that I don't feel comfortable airing anymore. When I have tried, she turned my concerns or issues into sad stories of her own. On the other hand, if something good happens to me, she acts very short and snippy and comments on her inability to achieve the same (ex. I recently bought a new device -not a super pricy one- but she commented on how nice it was and how she couldn't afford anything like that and then got kind of angry, not at me I guess, but seemed very irritable and hostile in general). With the wedding stuff too things got weird, I distinctly felt that she was jealous of my life and body. It's uncomfortable, to say the least. I feel like I have to hold back many things more and more, and I noticed I do it around other people in other areas of my life - say, I don't want to be too overdressed and made up around my past female coworkers, because I don't want them to feel frumpy. Which is crazy and weird because who thinks like that but it dawned on me this an ingrained pattern of behavior I have...and now this is a giant ramble.

If anyone else has dealt with family or friends in a similar situations and has some suggestions on how to deal with or help in any way, I appreciate it. I just want to have a healthy relationship with my family members but boy it can be a challenge..

Last edited by nostoneunturned; 08-15-2014 at 08:22 PM.. Reason: Title clarification
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Old 08-15-2014, 11:23 PM
10,803 posts, read 8,014,824 times
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As I read this, I can't help but think that you might want to deal with your own issues before projecting them onto your mother.
Are you in therapy? If not, I suggest you consider it. You talk a lot about your mom needing help, but a trained, objective professional could go a long way in helping you distance yourself from your mom's problems.
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Old 08-16-2014, 06:45 AM
Location: Squirrel Hill PA
1,929 posts, read 1,862,701 times
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Sometimes you really just have to step away and deal with your own issues. Your mom has to decide she wants to help herself before anything you or another person could do will be effective. It isn't easy to make that choice but there are times when it is very necessary. It does not mean you don't love your mom. It just means you are taking care of your own well being. You should really find a good counselor that you can talk to about your issues. Perhaps by doing so you will set her an example that she might choose to follow.
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Old 08-17-2014, 05:45 PM
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I think you should help her, but then she's an adult so she must help herself.
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Old 08-17-2014, 06:45 PM
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I am sorry you are going through this.

You have to take care of yourself.

It would be a very good idea for you to go to a counselor yourself to discuss what you posted in your original post.
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Old 08-18-2014, 02:10 AM
Location: Tucson for awhile longer
8,872 posts, read 13,497,465 times
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You two sound really enmeshed. Do you have siblings or are you an only child? Do you have a father in the picture? Do you and your mother live together?

There's nothing you can do if your mother is depressed and refuses to seek therapy, take appropriate medications, attend to her physical health, and get her finances in order. Of course these are all signs of depression but no one can make another person stop being depressed and she has no right to expect her child to "fix" her, take care of her, or even be her constant sounding board. I've been treated for clinical depression myself for decades, so I can recognize "wallowing" in depression a mile away. You CANNOT change that for her, so please stop trying.

The worst thing anyone can do for a person in the midst of depression is to ENABLE them. She wants that from you but if you do it, she will just get worse. Are you familiar with the term "co-dependency"? It's most commonly used to describe a relationship between a non-addictive person who enables and is enmeshed with an alcoholic or addict. But anyone who is intimately yet unproductively enmeshed with another person who is not functioning in a healthy manner can be said to be co-dependent. Read this brief article and see if it might apply to you and your mother:
Therapy for Codependency, Therapist for Codependency

Please understand that you cannot cure another person of their deep-seated issues, you can only work on yourself — how you live your life and how you respond to hers. Discuss this with a therapist or at least read some books on co-dependency. There are some good ones. Sometimes even just recognizing the trait in yourself and taking steps to stop the practice can help you. The book Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself by Melody Beattie has sold many millions of copies and is highly regarded in the recovery community.

Another book that has good reviews is Emotional Blackmail: When People in Your Life Use Fear, Obligation, and Guilt to Manipulate You by Susan Forward and Donna Frazier. Both these books are available at libraries and in paperback and other editions.
Emotional Blackmail: When the People in Your Life Use Fear, Obligation, and Guilt to Manipulate You: Susan Forward, Donna Frazier: 9780060928971: Amazon.com: Books

Best of luck to you in extricating yourself from this pattern of behavior.
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Old 08-18-2014, 09:46 AM
Location: Canada
3,872 posts, read 2,705,846 times
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Originally Posted by nostoneunturned View Post
I know she loves me very much and all, but sometimes in the past when I've needed her, emotionally or whatever, she wasn't there for me...although often and for the most part she is, too.
My mom's been having some rough times for the past few years, money trouble, changing jobs, uncomfortable living situation with relatives, health stuff...my heart goes out to her, so much. It's painful to see her so down and out. I've helped her out in little ways, as have others
I feel like she wants me to be like a therapist sometimes, but I have troubles of my own that I don't feel comfortable airing anymore. When I have tried, she turned my concerns or issues into sad stories of her own.
I'm only going by your own words but it appears your biggest complaint is that your mother is too involved with her own problems to support you emotionally. You want her to be your therapist, not the other way round.

Have the "little ways" you have tried to help your mother out during her rough times over the past few years included offering to go with her to the doctor to discuss her depression?
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Old 08-18-2014, 09:55 AM
Location: Southwestern, USA
15,130 posts, read 12,004,212 times
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Very smart people on this thread!
I wasn't allowed to give more reps, however.

This is the place I'm coming when I have an issue.

Nothing for me to add.
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Old 08-19-2014, 11:03 AM
5 posts, read 3,650 times
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I have been in the exact situation that you describe. While I agree with all the replies here I must be truthful and tell you that all those suggestions are good but they're easier said than done. My mom is gone almost 5 years now. We were very close and she depended upon me for most everything. The jealousy issue was present and I refused to see it. I had my husband take me to the ER one night because I thought she had pushed me over the edge. She gave my husband a hard time, she had a love/hate relationship with him.. she really did love him but as you say, wished she could have a relationship like I had with my husband with my father who was a cheat and a liar. The psychiatric nurse came down to the ER and told me that my mother was jealous, I was mortified!
Years later, my father left her when he was 65 and she was 60, the situation got worse. My mom depended on me even more. I have a sister and a brother but they were a little more selfish and my sister had her own problems and moved in with her and my father with her two kids. (Her husband left her.) I was the responsible, happy sibling so it all fell on me. I had my problems too, a husband who had an intestinal illness and was at death's door many times and then I was diagnosed with MS.
That didn't matter to my mother. She, as you say, distanced herself emotionally from my illness. She still expected my services. I thought that I was "supposed" to help my mom and I put her first. I had two kids and as you see many health problems. I loved my mom so much. She used to tell me how much she loved me and that I was her best friend and that she trusted me with her life. Later that changed, she became suspicious and accusatory. (although that was a part of her personality throughout her life). She had a rough life as a child and my father was a womanizer and always got caught, he never really loved her. I resent him. He's 91, still drives and is in better health than me. I could go on and on and tell you more stories. I won't bore you. She had a stroke in 2007 and I took care of her during the day, my sister did too but she was going through her own mental health issues, she was newly remarried..my brother had moved out in the early 90's and he stayed at night. He was another problem as he was instrumental in turning her against me and my sister. He had that jealousy problem too. He befriended my father and my mother accepted this. But she wouldn't accept it from my husband who went to see my father once with our kids. She had a loyalty thing with us. My brother got diplomatic immunity as he was the king and couldn't do any wrong in her eyes. (the golden child as I learned thru my studies of narcissistic parents). Sorry I said I wouldn't bore you.
Well in the end we had a tragedy, my son and daughter-in-law lost the baby (1st grandbaby) on the day of his birth. He was stillborn. It was a terrible blow. My mother at first was so sorry and said it should have been her. The next day she concocted a story saying it was my daughter-in-law's fault and that she really didn't want this baby and that she took pills to kill the baby!!!
I tried to keep it a secret from my son and D-I-L.. What a mistake. My son found out from her, she tried to change the story and say that I was the one who said that about his wife! He was furious and stormed out of her house and told her that I, his mother devoted my whole life to her and that she was a liar. He regrets that he told her to drop dead. He was horrified that she would say that his wife killed the baby. My poor daughter-in-law was curled up in a ball for weeks on the couch with grief for that little baby boy. It was a horror story. Later I realized that my mother must have not been getting her meds the proper way as I left it to my brother and sister, who refused to learn how to give her medications for all her ailments. I all fell on me!!
I can't tell you the turmoil this caused even on the day of her funeral! I didn't tell you everything as it would be a novel. I cry for my mom every day. I miss the very wonderful side of her, she was a superior, affectionate and protective mother.
I did so much study on her behavior, I discovered that she might have had a personality disorder (narcissistic among other problems).Sometimes she could be downright mean. She became very depressed. Her brother committed suicide and she blamed herself as they were on the outs and she didn't go see him towards the end of his life.
She did have a nervous breakdown in 2000-2001. I took care of her in my home. She refused to take the meds and my sis and I made sure we put the pills in her coffee every day. That was so difficult for years! One of us had to go to her every day. If she didn't take the pills she'd go off again. She hallucinated and became delusional. I took her to all kinds of doctors including a psychiatrist who hid all the signs in his office that indicated he was psychiatrist so she'd see him. She couldn't face that she was so depressed that she became so ill. She took the pills for about a month. Then she said she didn't need them anymore. It was a nightmare. There is more that I left out that happened before the breakdown.)
I don't mean to frighten you. See if you can get someone to help you convince your mom to get an antidepressant. Maybe your family doctor or a trusted friend or relative can help you. Distancing yourself may make you more upset wondering if she's okay. (I do believe that you need to help yourself too as everyone here is saying.) This is an overwhelming task, I know. My heart goes out to you. Don't let this all take a toll on your health. My MS suffered with all the stress. My kids suffered as well as you can see. I know my mom was suffering and I don't even know what I could have done differently. I know where you are with your mother. I care, post and let me know how you are doing. Sorry if there are typos or some of this is seems confusing or disconnected, too much to tell you.
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Old 08-19-2014, 02:13 PM
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This sounds like an excerpt from my relationship with my mother. That being said, below are a few thoughts I wanted to share with you...for what its worth.

Yes, your mom is jealous. Understand that she will always be jealous of something you have - if its not money, marriage, friends, etc. it will be for your youth, luck, or even the extra piece of bacon you received at breakfast. There is nothing you can do to change this because its not an issue with you or your behavior - its her. The only thing you can do is minimize by sharing as little of your life as you can. Sound unfair? It is. Normal families can be happy for other people and while your mom might at first pretend she is happy, it will soon turn to resentment. Remember you do not have a normal family.

If your mom is anything like mine, then no good deed will go unpunished. Here is a great example of what I mean:

Mom: "I cannot afford my $100 prescription"
Me: "Oh hey, here a prescription coupon that is available online - now its only $10"
Mom: "You were wrong, it was $12, now I'm broke - thanks."
**next month**
Mom: "My life sucks because X,Y - plus I haven't been able to get my prescription because YOU didn't give me this months code"
Me: "I sent the link, you should have it"
Mom: "Well if you don't want to help just say so"

Everything will always be your fault. My suggestions are simple:

- Realize that this relationship will never be fulfilling. You will never have her approval. You will never be able to rescue her from herself. If you are like me, then the only reason you don't cut her out of your life is so that you can live with yourself and the guilt of NOT completely abandoning your mom.

- Do not share anything about your life with her, unless you cannot hide it, then barely mention it. She will soon be back to talking about herself, so don't worry about filling a void in the conversation.

- Do not enable her. Don't volunteer to do anything for her. It WILL come back to bite you. This is very tough, I know from personal experience because I enjoy helping people.

- If she asks for something, try to give less than what she wants. You have to make it uncomfortable for her to rely on you, or else she will lean on you for everything, stop trying to do anything for herself, and then blame you.

- Do not give advice. If you do give advice deliver it in a "take it or leave it" way. Remember -they are living in a world where they are victims. Doing something that makes sense is beyond them and would take this away from them. I equate it to feeling like Willy Wonka in this clip: Stop, don't, come back - YouTube

- Minimize the interactions she has with your family and friends. She will plant seeds of poison so people will feel sorry for her. Think: You're mom never lets me see you. Why is she so mean to you. Look at this hoity toity house...

- Its okay to be sad about it. Its a crappy situation. You're not alone though. Therapy will help. People who don't have crazy moms will never understand and venting to your husband puts him in a bad situation. He will learn to hate your mom, but can't express that without fear of your ire because you will always love her.

Good luck.

Last edited by Eazine; 08-19-2014 at 02:56 PM..
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