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Wedding Wednesday – Worst Mother Of the Bride Ever

This is a bit of a long story; I’ll try to keep it as short as possible without omitting anything relevant.

I met my husband eight years ago. We were on a work trip, it was as if we’d known each other forever, and we just clicked. He took a transfer to my city six weeks later and we were engaged within five months.

My mom is a miserable person. She’s got a drinking problem and a (undiagnosed) narcissistic personality disorder. She’d left my dad for another man and was incredibly bitter at the fact that my dad moved on and remarried while her new relationship was unstable at best.

Now DH is a very attractive man and I’m pretty and I’m plus sized. My mom was absolutely convinced that this guy couldn’t actually love me and my then size fourteen hips. He must have been a shady character who was using me as a place to stay while he settled into his new city and found someone “better”.

Our engagement lasted two years and, during that time, my mom could never decide whether she wanted to be our biggest supporter or our worst nightmare.

I’d found my dress already and had put off buying it because I wanted my mom to see it first. She was in my city for another family event and she grudgingly agreed to come along if she could bring my aunt. Now my aunt was great! It turns out that my cousin had gotten her dress from the same shop and the same saleswoman and we had SO much fun! My mom suggested that I ask my aunt to help with my train once I’d walked into the ceremony and my aunt was thrilled! She threw her arms around me and happily agreed. And then my mom hugged me and whispered that there was “no f**king way” my aunt would come near my dress. Ummm what?

We’d decided to have a slight vintage theme to our wedding and people kept asking what they should wear. We’d made a wedding website with information about things to do in the city, places to eat, wedding menus, etc. After numerous “what do I wear” questions, we added an attire section. We basically said to have fun, wear whatever struck your fancy (as long as it’s not jeans and a t shirt hahaha). My mom threw a fit over this. Apparently her BF always wears jeans and denim shirts and he would be gravely offended if he knew that we had a “dress code”. A comment like that would make him feel personally uninvited. At this point, I knew this guy well and I don’t doubt for a second that he would have dressed appropriately. DH and I both tried to reason with her and explain that this was a semi formal, evening wedding. No one would be wearing jeans. We thought this was the end of it.

One day, about eight months before the wedding, my mom called to ask if DH had ever been bankrupt. I said no and asked why she wanted to know. She said it was just idle curiosity and ended the call. I called her back and asked again why she wanted to know and she said that it was nothing. DH and I were both a bit perplexed but we soon forgot about it.

A few weeks later, I got a text message from my brother demanding that I call off the wedding. According to him, I was marrying a liar. He refused to tell me what this was all about and insisted that I just trust him. DH called him and he told DH that he “had no respect for him at all”. All he would say is that our mom told him the truth about DH.

It turns out that my mom had found a website that allowed users to search provincial (Canadian) court documents by name. She’d found bankruptcy papers with DH’s name on them. When I’d told her that DH had never been bankrupt, she sent the full report that she’d actually paid for to my brother. Only she’d misspelled DH’s name in her search and the report she’d gotten was for someone else. We tried to explain this to her and she refused to believe us. We pointed out that he’s got a very common name and that, yes, the odds of someone in his former city sharing a similar name were high. She still didn’t believe us. I asked her why she hadn’t just come to me directly instead of playing games and involving other people and she hung up on me.

I’d put my mom on my cellphone plan ages before to help her save money and she didn’t realize that we had detailed billing. I began to notice odd numbers and I just knew she was up to something new. I ran the numbers in my system (I worked for the phone company). She was calling other men who shared DH’s name. I confronted her with all of this and asked why she was behaving so horribly. She explained that I’d acted like her BF wasn’t good enough and she wanted to show me that DH “wasn’t so great either”.

A few weeks passed and she sent a huge floral arrangement to my office for my birthday. She didn’t apologize but she asked to still attend the wedding and said that she would even stand in a corner in the back as long as she could see me get married. We forgave her and told her that she would be welcome. She told us not to bother inviting her BF because we’d insulted him terribly. Ummm OK. We’d go along and focus on having a beautiful day.

A few more weeks passed and my mom began to ask questions about my dad and his wife. Now they have a pretty awful relationship because my mom loves to antagonize my dad’s wife. My dad had made one request: that he and my mom not be forced together at any point and that he be able to keep his distance from her. I completely understood. We agreed that he and his wife and SD would sit in the front row on the “bride’s side” and that my mom would sit in the second row with my aunt. Our venue was tiny – four seats to a row and two rows.

My mom lost her mind when she heard this. Apparently this was HER day and she absolutely needed to sit in HER spot because I am HER daughter. She had been putting in all sorts of efforts to look “hot” and she wanted to be seen. We explained that my dad didn’t want to sit with her and that, since he was walking me in and he’d always been completely supportive of us, he was sitting there. End of discussion. She threatened not to come. OK. And then she relented. I explained to her that my dad would get the “good” seat (her words) at the ceremony and that she’d be sitting at the table closest to the head table at the reception.

A week before, she suddenly decided that her best friend absolutely must be in attendance. Our wedding was small but we could make room for one more. I rushed an invitation to her, changed the seating charts, made another wedding favour, etc. And then she also wanted her friend’s son to attend. Hmmm. This was a guy I’d grown up with and nearly dated. Apparently he still had strong feelings for me. But he wanted to be there so I and made more adjustments. And then found out that neither of them were even in town and would not be able to attend and my mom knew this already.

We got married in a large hotel. Most of our guests opted to stay there and I booked rooms for my parents. I specifically requested that their rooms be kept as far apart as possible. The hotel staff were great and they booked a room for my mom on the top floor and one for my dad and his family on the lowest floor. I didn’t tell my mom about these arrangements and I did tell my dad. He was very grateful.

We had arranged to have a large family dinner at the hotel the night before the wedding. DH’s parents and brother would be there as would my dad, his family, and my mom. Imagine my surprise when we walked in to discover that my mom and dad were sitting together and chatting! My dad’s wife looked upset and my dad looked awkward. Apparently my mom had arrived at the dinner early and had directed people where to sit. My dad and his wife thought that we’d overlooked something. I also discovered that there had been a problem with my mom’s room and she had desperately needed to be moved to another room . . . right beside my dad’s. She acted surprised but, after a few glasses of wine, she told me what she’d demanded from the desk staff. The list of requests she had (lowest floor, no corners, etc) made it nearly impossible to place her anywhere but close to him. Ugh. My dad’s wife was livid.

The day of the wedding, my mom disappeared to have a spa day to herself. OK. She refused to spend any time with me or my ladies while we got ready and opted to be alone.

I’d asked a BM who my mom knew and liked if she would help to keep an eye on my mom at the wedding. I also asked my aunt and uncle to watch out for her. She gave a lovely toast (and gloated that she’d gotten to speak before my dad did) and then proceeded to get absolutely wasted. She spent the evening loudly saying that my dad and his wife needed to get a room when they danced and hitting on our best man in front of his fiancé. Thankfully, they both just thought she was a hilarious, drunk cougar and didn’t take her seriously.

The next morning, she woke us up early to insist that we needed to get our gifts out of her car before she left. She had offered me a set of my grandma’s china and I was thrilled! At one point, she’d asked if I wanted two large pieces of framed art; one from her home and one from my grandma’s. I thanked her and declined because our home was small and they didn’t go with our decor at all. These were never mentioned as potential gifts. But lo and behold! She’d wrapped them and presented them as our wedding gifts! We couldn’t decline gifts, right? I didn’t know that gifting was a method of weeding out unwanted household items that were bought from the Home Shopping Channel a few years earlier; apparently one just calls them heirlooms?

Last year my mom’s antics proved to be too much and we finally needed to sever ties with her when she began drunk dialing me at work. Her response? She began prank calling us. We finally needed to ask for police intervention.

Thank you for letting me vent. 0417-18

{ 47 comments }
{ 47 comments… add one }
  • NostalgicGal May 16, 2018, 5:36 am

    Your mom is a case. Some of what she pulled was past uncalled for. It is the past however. The mean spitefulness this woman had on wanting to pull down and trample on good stuff for everyone else is past belief. Sorry you had to endure it. And glad you (and your spouse, your father, and his wife, were able to rise above it anyways) Hope that you can continue to do so if and when you add grandchildren to the mix unless brother has already done so… and I am betting that he’s probably estranged himself from mom by now too, especially after the ‘bankruptcy report fiasco’.. if he still believes she’s right on that, sorry you’re estranged from him too.

  • Anon May 16, 2018, 5:55 am

    So sorry that you’re mother turned out to be so poisonous you had to sever ties – but you certainly made the right decision in doing so. Good on you for keeping your composure throughout her antics.

  • staceyizme May 16, 2018, 7:39 am

    Narcissistic personality disorder is hard. But your mom- whatever her issues are, is deserving of no more of your time or attention. It sounds like you managed to get through the events surrounding your wedding despite her efforts and not because of them. Most of your narrative seems more about dysfunction than etiquette, per se. But many extreme etiquette blunders DO seem to have their origins in the Dysfunctional Family Tree. No contact sounds like the best plan overall.

  • DGS May 16, 2018, 7:58 am

    It is terrible that your mother is such a dysfunctional, horrible person, OP, and she has no interest or motivation to change. However, you can set boundaries with her and refuse to budge on those boundaries. The first egregious violation in your story should have been enough to not budge from your and DH’s stance. Her apparent disregard for you, her put-downs of you and your DH’s relationships should have been the first time and the last time she was involved in your wedding in any way, shape or form.

    The problem is that many people hold on to hope that unhealthy, malicious family members will change just because a big developmental event is approaching. However, those types of events tend to only worsen such behavior, and an attention-seeking, narcissistic individual with poor boundaries will only jump at the chance to act out rather than pull herself together to behave graciously. It is best to operate in reality, using the “best predictor of future behavior is past behavior” line of reasoning with such folks and set healthy boundaries from which one does not budge, in order to have a healthy, contented life.

    • Mark132 May 16, 2018, 8:48 am

      I think your advice is spot on, in particular if the mom truly has narcissistic personality disorder. Research would indicate that it is incurable and only marginally treatable. And the OP at some point has a right to move on with her life.

      • DGS May 17, 2018, 8:20 am

        Thanks! I am a clinical psychologist (Ph.D.) by trade. I deal with this professionally daily.

  • Girlie May 16, 2018, 8:48 am

    I’m having a hard time with the size of this wedding. First, the wedding has “two rows, with four seats in each row.” Even assuming that that’s two rows to a SIDE, that’s only sixteen seats.

    We’ve gone from “tiny venue,” to “we got married in a large hotel” (totally plausible if you chose a small room within the hotel), and then held a “large family dinner” the night before the wedding….for again, what? Thirty or so people ,tops?

    Either OP’s definitions of “tiny” and “large” are very different from mine, or this story has been crafted and some details have gotten confused in the process. I’m sorry, but I’m just not so sure I believe it.

    • Dee May 16, 2018, 12:04 pm

      I agree, Girlie, as I find it difficult one person (OP) could be so very … unintelligent … to not understand what the real problem was/is. Essentially, I read the story to be this:

      ‘I have a very sick mother and I was getting married and she likes to sabotage others’ lives, so I had to beg her to be involved in my wedding in ways that weren’t necessary for any reason, and I called her and chased her down to come back to me when she was upset after I tried to stop some of her diabolical plans, and she is determined to be as destructive as possible and has made that very clear to me so I did what I could to keep her in the loop so she could find those opportunities to wield her power. Look at what a horrible person she is!’

      All that drama made possible by one person (hint – NOT the mother) and the story has plausibility issues. Narcissism could very well be the issue here, since this story highlights such a need for any kind of attention, even if it’s all bad. Who do I feel badly for? The guests, wedding party, and the poor dad and his family, who tried their best to be gracious participants and still got all the pain. And maybe I feel for the new husband, too, although he could have run when he saw all this in his fiancé.

      Yes, I do think there is a major problem. I don’t think the mother can be blamed for most of it, since she’s just the catalyst.

      • Kate 2 May 16, 2018, 12:10 pm

        Whoa! Calling the OP “unintelligent” aka stupid, which is the “un”, opposite of intelligence, and a liar is nasty and beyond belief. Take a cue from a cartoon rabbit and centuries of mothers, if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all! No one has to write in to this site, and nasty remarks like yours will ensure they don’t!

      • admin May 16, 2018, 1:04 pm

        Questioning the intelligence of the OP does not seem to be a productive word to use. Foolish? Dealing with narcissists can be complex emotionally particularly when the narcissist is a parent.

        • staceyizme May 16, 2018, 8:23 pm

          “Trauma informed education”, “trauma informed mental health care”, “trauma informed care…” is a thing now because dealing with the impact of parents, family systems and communities with care givers or significant contributors who are addicts, have their own mental or physical health issues, are food insecure, violent or where other known privations are chronic and/ or acute is complicated, nuanced and difficult work even with access to full resources, support and with the application of one’s best efforts. Calling someone whose background includes one or more of these factors “foolish” or “unintelligent” when they are attempting to mitigate ongoing impact, recover from prior impact or prevent future impact is uninformed, at best. At worst, it could be construed as judgmental or very prejudiced. OP is likely in the early part of her life, perhaps in her very early twenties. So, really? Maybe we could extend a bit of courtesy, consideration and compassion.

        • Melissa May 17, 2018, 10:41 am

          I was thinking the same thing as admin; Perhaps OP was a bit foolish, but we all know that it’s easy to read a submission and see the whole picture and point out what the OP could have and/or should have done differently because we’re not in the middle of the situation in real time. It’s much more difficult to see the situation for what it is when you are in the midst of it. And we should certainly all realize that it’s exponentially more difficult to see the reality of a situation when your own parents are involved. OP grew up with this kind of dysfunction and it is very unkind to speak about OP, or others like her, as if they should just know better, they should have cut off their parents long ago, etc, when in reality, most of us would have a hard time cutting a parent out of our lives, or even setting healthy boundaries with a toxic parent, after growing up to feel that the toxicity is “normal”. I for one am extremely thankful I’ve never had to make a decision such as that, and I am not going to pretend that it should be easy for anyone to do, just because it’s pretty clear from a short story that this MOB is a toxic person. Calling OP, or anyone, unintelligent, which as Kate 2 points out, is just a nicer sounding word for stupid, is unproductive, unnecessary, and unkind.

      • CookieWookiee May 16, 2018, 1:32 pm

        “I don’t think the mother can be blamed for most of it, since she’s just the catalyst.” No, the mother is the ONLY person to blame for this. It is not the OP’s job to manage her mother’s narcissism and drinking problem. It is not the OP’s fault her mother couldn’t control herself. OP shouldn’t be blamed, at all. As someone who has dealt with a similar issue, it is very, very difficult to balance love for a parent with the utter exasperation, frustration, and anger over their behavior and unwillingness to change.

        OP, I’m so sorry you had to deal with all of this at your wedding. Going (and staying) NC is not easy, but sometimes it’s the only way. Best of luck to you.

      • AM May 16, 2018, 9:32 pm

        Wow.

        On the size of the venue: I agree it could have been phrased better, but I thought it was clear there were four seats per row on each side of the aisle (the two sides being the two “rows” in the OP, not that the seating was only two rows deep. I mean, have you ever seen seating that was 8 across and 2 deep at a wedding?) There could have been 5 or 10 rows of 8 across, with an aisle down the middle. That’s smaller than a lot of venues I’ve been to, many of which can accommodate 20+ people per row. How many people fit in the average church pew? Surely more than 4? So it’s reasonable to call this one tiny. The fact that it was in a large hotel just means there were a lot of rooms, not that the room they rented for the ceremony was large.

        As to the accusation that the OP is to blame for her mother’s actions because she… let her come dress shopping? Invited her to the wedding? Didn’t cut off contact until after all this drama?

        I’m still stuck on “wow.” That’s all I got.

      • crella May 16, 2018, 10:14 pm

        My, you’ve outdone yourself today, Dee. It’s obvious you’ve never personally dealt with someone like this. Good for you. Whether it’s NPD, bipolar, or dementia, you have to do the best with what you’ve got, and often it involves giving in a little to avoid Armageddon, and decades of putting out little fires so they don’t become bonfires. Stipulating how the mother attends and arranging her attendance keeps her from showing up unexpectedly, out of control, to perhaps destroy the whole day.

        • Dee May 17, 2018, 12:26 am

          I do have experience with several family members with serious mental illnesses, as we all do, since it’s highly unlikely any family doesn’t have at least one person affected by mental illness. And that’s why I find it difficult to think a person could be so clueless as to repeatedly walk into traps that the OP’s mother supposedly set for her, and thus why I agreed with Girlie that I don’t think this story is entirely accurate. But if I’m going to play along and buy the story in its entirety then, yes, I do think the OP is the one with the problem, since she wants us to think she’s of adult age, independent, has a good job/career that can afford to pay for some of her mother’s daily expenses as well as a fancy wedding, and so on. And yet she can’t figure out why it’s a terrible idea to repeatedly pull her sick and highly troubled mother into multiple scenarios whereby she could wreck havoc with everyone?

          Either I buy that and conclude OP has major issues or I go with my suspicions that this is an embellished story, at the very least. What I can’t do is buy the story as is, with OP as total victim. I’ve seen and lived through too much to deny my instincts. And that’s how I see it.

          • lakey May 17, 2018, 11:40 am

            I too have a relative with a personality and behaviors similar to OP’s mom. Luckily my sister doesn’t have the added issue of alcohol abuse. I know what my sister is like to deal with and I certainly don’t blame her adult children and daughters in law for whatever issues come up.
            As another commenter pointed out, the OP had to do a balancing act, trying to prevent the mother from creating a scene and ruining the wedding for everyone. So she sucked up her frustration, included her mother, and tried to keep the bad behavior from turning into a major blow up. Once the wedding stress was over she decided to cut contact with the mother. I think she handled the situation well.

            Is it possible the OP exaggerated? Yes, possible. However, I believe all of these issues could have been exactly as she described them. I’ve witnessed similar behavior, including making nasty comments about people, often in public. Then there is the issue of making changes to my cruise and flight accommodations without telling me. Then there is the classic of pushing you to add a guest to an already planned event that requires exact numbers, then finding out that the person never wanted to attend anyway. There is the general and ongoing lying and sneakiness to get her way. I believe that most of the things OP described happened as she described them. It took her awhile to face reality and minimize contact, but I think she was smart to not cut off her mother until after the wedding, thus avoiding a confrontation at the wedding.

          • staceyizme May 17, 2018, 10:41 pm

            There is some truth to the idea that one cannot fully know a thing that one has not lived. OP may have made choices that would not resonate with many people. Okay, fair enough. I just have difficulty with the idea that her narrative should be discounted because there is some theoretical failure of circumstantial logic or essential character. I cannot quite wrap my mind around the idea that a forum that prides itself on consideration of others as expressed through behaviors that conform, at least in larger measure, to accepted forms of social interaction might commit the faux pas of marginalizing the experience of a narrative’s author simply on the basis of their lack of experience with a parallel circumstance. It strikes me as both unjust and egregious. (It also strikes me as prejudicial, unwarranted and lacking in basic empathy- but that might be an emphasis that is justified but nevertheless lacking in essential “politesse”.

          • Twik May 18, 2018, 9:22 am

            I’ve lived enough to see that people who have destructive family members are often the most desperate to appease them. They’ve grown up thinking that they’re the ones responsible for keeping the peace, while the narcissist/alcoholic/batterer goes their merry way.

      • Semperviren May 17, 2018, 7:07 pm

        “Unintelligent?”
        Well, I’ll call it. That’s rude.

      • jessiebird May 21, 2018, 8:58 am

        Sometimes these “unintelligent” accomodations are made to narcissisists to prevent even greater drama and trauma, or so one hopes. This is especially the case with births and weddings and other highly emotional, symbolic milestones. Taking action to mitigate greater harm may look stupid to outsiders in hindsight when it doesn’t work in the end (which is often doesn’t with narcissistic people), but you really, really hope it will when it comes to your wedding day and your lifetime hope that your mother will be there for you for once.

        You tell a narcissistic person “no” and you will experience the wrath of the ages. No one wants that on their wedding day. Or any other day.

    • Queen of Putrescence May 16, 2018, 2:49 pm

      I will admit that I did find the wedding venue descriptions confusing. 16 seats at the ceremony? I was confused by the contradictions.

      • Gina tonic May 16, 2018, 5:44 pm

        1) a large hotel can have small function rooms.

        2) I’ve been to several weddings where there were more guests than seats. Ie a small row of seats for family and those who can’t stand up through a whole ceremony and everyone else stands. Particularly common for outdoor venues

      • AM May 16, 2018, 9:19 pm

        Where did you get 16 seats? I read the description as there were 4 seats per row on each side of the aisle; no telling how far back that went.

    • Princess Buttercup May 16, 2018, 9:47 pm

      I think that last two rows mentioned she actually means sides of the church. Like there was a right side of the church, an aisle and a left side of the church.
      Some churches have multiple aisles and therefore multiple lines of pews. (So there could be a right side, a left side, a middle, and even an inner left, inner right, etc.) I think two rows was just an unclear choice of wording there.

      • Leigh May 17, 2018, 7:18 am

        Or maybe the two or three rows at the front for family were much smaller than the rows leading to the back, sort of expanding out like a fan or funnel.

      • Suzanne May 21, 2018, 11:47 am

        That’s precisely what I meant

    • Suzanne May 21, 2018, 11:46 am

      OP here. To clarify, there were four seats per row, five or six rows, and two sides. We had sixty people in attendance. 🙂

  • Anon May 16, 2018, 9:40 am

    Time to go very low contact with her and perhaps go and see what you can do over at reddit with raisedbynarcissits and justnomil. Because as people have suggested, you can set boundaries, but you’ll need to be ready for any problems that may come up and over on reddit they can help you with those.

    You can never be under prepared for this sort of stuff. There are stories of moms over there who have done much, much worse. Trigger warning stuff worse. If you plan on going low contact/no contact, prepare yourself.

  • Helen May 16, 2018, 10:40 am

    I’m sorry your mom did all of these things to you and your fiance. It seems she didn’t really care about you or your fiance or anything you wanted, but that “family” factor came in and you tried your best to accommodate her so she would come.

    I’ll be honest- my family were not nice people so when I was old to decide whether or not I wanted to be around them, I choose to *not* be around them. I would have cut or seriously limited contact as soon as she started saying my fiance couldn’t love me and was looking for a place to stay while he found something better. The bankruptcy thing would have made me go no contact, not invited to the wedding, done with it. It is easier said than done because many of us feel guilty about “family” but there just comes a point when you have to do what’s best for you and if people can be respectful and civil, well, good riddance.

  • ladyv21454 May 16, 2018, 2:10 pm

    OP has MUCH more patience than I would have. Had my mother behaved like this (and thank heavens, she never would), she would have been banned from all things wedding when she pulled the bankruptcy routine. I would certainly not have gone out of my way to invite people to the wedding at the last minute because SHE felt they “HAD to be there”. As far as the hotel rooms – if OP was paying for the rooms for her parents, she would have been well within her rights to request that the hotel NOT move her mother to anywhere near her dad. Of course, if it was my wedding, this would have never come up – because I would have disinvited my mother. Any time you have a person that you need to ask other people to keep an eye on, that person should either not be invited, or should be ejected the minute she starts acting up.

  • Bea May 16, 2018, 3:25 pm

    It took her drunk dialing your work before you cut ties O.O

    I’m sorry this toxic nasty woman manipulated you for so long and I’m glad you finally got her out of your life. We all want to have relationships with our parents even when they have difficult personalities but there’s a point you need to think of yourself. After trying to dig dirt on my fiance I would never speak to her again.

    My paternal grandmother was terrible to my mom and aunts (my dad had all brothers). I made it clear before ever even dating that rudeness or worse, cruelty to my future children or spouse would result in disowning whomever was acting poorly. My parents are nothing like my father’s mother and welcome everyone with open arms but they also know where I stand if they ever got some nonsense stuck in their heads and acted grossly to my loved ones.

  • Princess Buttercup May 16, 2018, 9:49 pm

    Reminds me of my mom at my wedding time. A few months before she actually barricaded me in a room and demanded I call off the wedding or she wouldn’t let me out!
    Day of she just pouted and had a quiet fit but all groomsmen were warned that she or other ex’s may try something and they may need to double as bouncers.

  • koolchicken May 16, 2018, 10:07 pm

    I’m just having so many issues with different aspects of this story. The OP manages to go dress shopping without her mother, finds a dress she loves, but won’t buy it until her mother sees it? Why? If this person has nothing nice to say about the way you look on a good day, what on earth could you expect if you have to beg them to go see you in it? The OP’s mother has a drinking problem, and I’ll go along with personality disorder (even though it’s “undiagnosed” and presumably OP is not a medical professional). Okay, fine. Every family has one person who will say mean things, pull focus, maybe even start a fight. But when you insist in involving that “bad apple” in every little thing, you’re asking for trouble.

    My mother always says “Life is a series of choices”. Well OP, you chose to involve your mother at every step, so in turn you chose to invite drama, hurt feelings, and various inconveniences into your wedding. I see shades of the OP’s mother in the OP. That might be mean, but it’s my honest opinion. I don’t really feel there’s a better way to interpret things.

    • EchoGirl May 16, 2018, 11:31 pm

      There is. Parents — even parents like this — are often a mixed bag. It’s unlikely that OP has not managed to build a single good memory of her mother. It’s not easy to just cut an immediate family member out of your life.

      To make matters worse, our culture basically worships mothers, even moreso than fathers. With Mother’s Day last weekend, several of the internet forums I was on were discussing the matter, and there were many people (especially women) who talked about how people tried to guilt them for not being in contact with their mothers, regardless of what their mothers might have done. Others said the line seems to be drawn at physical abuse; physical abuse gives someone the “right” to cut off contact with their mother, anything less does not. We as a culture don’t fully understand emotional abuse and its potential impact. If OP’s grown up being bombarded by messages telling her she should fall to her knees thanking her mother just for giving birth to her, that would make it even harder to cut off contact; it’s not always easy to put yourself in a situation where you’re likely to come off as the “bad guy”, even when you know you’re right.

      • JxB May 17, 2018, 1:03 pm

        Agree completely! I have a friend with a mother like this. But she’s not horrible ALL the time (just most the time). There are 3 adult children. One has given up and pretty much cut ties (the son). But the two daughters seem to live in hope that “this time” (whatever the event is), things will be okay. More often than not, it’s yet another round of drama and tears. But there are enough high points that they never seem to give up.

        • MzLiz May 17, 2018, 5:11 pm

          Ahhhh, Narcissistic Parents…Why involve them in things like the dress buying when they might act up? Because if you don’t, you KNOW they’ll create an even bigger maelstrom when they realize they’ve been left out. OP was hedging her bets. Like the saying goes, ‘Keep your friends close & your enemies closer’. @OP: Guuuuurl, I totally get you.

          With NParents, esp. when it comes to important family-orientated events where you’re the ‘star’ (cos they HATE that, perhaps more than anything else on their Long List of Hate), the impossible challenge we assume we must take on is to think 17 steps ahead & twist ourselves in knots to clear the minefield of potential NParent blow-ups. Unfortunately, just when we’re convinced we’ve disarmed every bomb, we find we’ve missed a few….and NParent goes ‘BOOM’ alllll over our special occasion. We’re never surprised though, we just feel sad & rejected. And since narcissists usually come with a heaping helping of undeserved martyrdom on top (like the poison cherry on an excrement sundae) & because we’re used to being our NParent’s Emotional Bodyguard (for others, as well as for them), we also want to protect the people who love us from their toxicity. I can guarantee OP’s poor, unsuspecting guests wouldn’t have heard the end of it each time the bride was complimented on the day had she been absent from the dress purchase: “OP looks so beautiful!” – “Pfffft. Can you believe she didn’t bring me with her when she bought her dress?!?!? Me, me, me, ME” *grumble, snide comment, pout, sulk* Add a drinking problem to the mix…Yikes. (OP – You did amazing under the circumstances).

          Why put up with it? That’s a fair question. Echogirl is spot on when she mentions the Adoration Of The Mother (particularly) in society at large & how manipulative people like this can be. The minute there’s a hint they’ll lose you, they pullllll you back in with very convincing talk & gestures of change. They might even keep their promise for awhile, lulling you into a false sense of security but, alas, it never lasts. For those of us with soft hearts (and soft heads probably), it can take a LOT to give up on the hope of turning an NParent around. Most of us want a good relationship with our NMoms/NDads so desperately that we get extremely deft at convincing ourselves that it’s possible, if ONLY we could figure out the elusive Magic Formula. With a parent like this, your ‘normal meter’ is skewed after years & YEARS of growing up thinking/being told that THEIR behavior is OUR fault. As you become an adult, you tell yourself; ‘well, since it’s MY fault, then I can also fix it! If I’m kinder, more thoughtful, more considerate, understanding, etc, then my mother won’t be so hateful towards me. If I prove I’m the Worthy Child she wants, she’ll finally really love me’. So you try. You bend over backwards, you give without taking & you put them first, to the detriment of you & your needs.

          But inevitably (HOPEFULLY) it’ll hit you that there is no pleasing people like this, and you stop, accept & move on. It’s a very hard, bitter pill to swallow but we each reach our limit, and that comes at different times, in different situations for different people. It’s a personal & hard choice that only an individual can make for themselves when they’re ready & no two people approach it the same way. And just to make it completely clear – For children of NParents, when we reach that stage & get out of The Fog; BELIEVE me; we look back on experiences like this & are as bewildered as anyone else why we forgave or made excuses for their callous & cruel behavior. There’s no need to point it out to us, we are all-too aware of the boot-prints on our backs.

          • jessiebird May 21, 2018, 9:04 am

            Thanks, MzLiz, You know too well. (I’m sorry that you do.) And I agree completely, as I said above, OP was trying to mitigate worse damage resulting from not performing the show on her mother’s terms. The feeling of a NMom vindicating a narcissistic injury is like being murdered. You don’t want that feeling on your wedding day. Or when your baby is born….Or when your father is dying….:(

    • Dee May 17, 2018, 5:54 pm

      koolchicken – An odd thing I’ve observed is really strange behaviour in some relatives and acquaintances who have a close family member with schizophrenia. The non-schizophrenic people have serious behaviour issues almost identical in common to each other but not to their schizophrenic family member. It’s as if they have some sort of related disorder that isn’t like schizophrenia at all but that they’ve inherited along with the schizophrenia their family member inherited. And these people love their drama! They exaggerate and outright lie, they love to manipulate people to see what happens next (such as telling one person something someone else supposedly said about them, and then sit back and watch the fireworks), they can’t seem to handle living ordinary lives. They crave attention and can’t seem to live without it, whether it’s good or bad. They are almost more difficult to deal with than their schizophrenic relatives. In any case, I try to have nothing to do with any of them, for obvious reasons.

      And the OP in this story seems to love drama, too, with all the opportunities she took to drag her mother right into the thick of things. As you did, koolchicken, I found it so bizarre that OP says her mother is narcissistic but by the OP’s description of events, that it is the OP who could have kept her mother on the periphery but chose to bring her right into the center of things, repeatedly. If the narcissism is so bad (never mind the drinking) then what would possess a person to want to guarantee that kind of drama takes center stage? I wonder if the OP has some related disorder that isn’t narcissism, as she claims her mother has, but something else commonly comorbid with narcissism. It would explain a lot.

    • Twik May 18, 2018, 9:27 am

      My own mother had a saying, “Hope springs eternal.” If you want to have a good relationship with your parent, it’s hard to say to yourself, “Nope, it’s just not going to happen.” Instead, you say “Maybe this time will be different. Maybe this time, for my wedding, she’ll be supportive and proud of me. She kind of apologized last time she was cruel, right? Maybe this time, she’ll realize that I love her, and love me back.”

      Now, when my mother used this phrase, it really meant “forget it, it’s not gonna happen.” But that doesn’t stop people who’ve been denied love and support from hoping that just maybe, if they act submissive and give the narcissist everything they want, they’ll get it.

    • koolchicken May 19, 2018, 6:07 pm

      I didn’t expect so many replies to my comment so this is just a general response to all.

      I do understand it’s not easy to just cut someone out of your life, and it’s especially hard when the person on the chopping block is a parent. It’s true, society has taught us parents and the time we spend with them is of the utmost importance. So it might drive a person to continue spending time with a parent we shouldn’t be bothering with because we’re “expected” to. That we should always just keep trying because somehow parents are exempt from behaving decently towards their children. Even when that’s not in anyone’s best interest.

      I think my main point was, the OP didn’t appear to actually be looking to create those “special moments” with her mother. That would be something I could understand and sympathize with. But it’s not what happened here. The dress for example. We all know we’re “supposed” to dress shop with our mothers. But the OP clearly states her mother has never had a kind thing to say about her figure. That leads me to believe she knew actually shopping for the dress with her would be a nightmare. So she skipped that. Yet she wouldn’t make the actual purchase without her mother seeing it knowing full well she wouldn’t have a nice thing to say about it? To me, this is not a person looking to create a memory. It’s the behavior of a person looking to create drama then get attention after the fact by saying “woe is me, my mother said something mean”. From what I read, this was the theme of the wedding. The OP giving the appearance of bending over backwards to “avoid drama” while simultaneously creating situations for drama to thrive. Even the closing where the police were mentioned. It’s superfluous to the story and IMHO, is included only to illicit further sympathy.

      I think that I agree with Dee with what she says about children or other family members that have a relative that’s ill taking on similar attributes without having the condition themselves. Like a ghosting of the symptoms. Maybe it’s coping mechanism, maybe it’s mirroring, who knows? But I’ve seen it too and it’s very obvious something like that is happening here. Because the behavior of the OP’s mother is not normal, but neither is the behavior of the OP. I’m not looking to diagnose anyone via dramatic story told via blog post. But if this is a true and honest account of what happened, the OP should consider seeking help. If not to heal from a damaging relationship with her mother, than to keep her from becoming just like her. Because something just does not seem right.

      Even though I don’t see this as a true etiquette submission I think it’s a good learning opportunity for all. When you know a person is toxic, exercise that backbone. Don’t fuss with what other people might say or think. Just keep moving forward. Because continued proximity to such behavior and a willingness to be drawn in never gives good results.

      • MzLiz July 1, 2018, 4:47 pm

        koolchicken – When you’re a child with a NParent, the person you depend on for food, shelter, comfort & the other necessities of life, what’s your best survival strategy? Appeasement. By the time you’re capable of providing for yourself, you’ve been practicing this strategy your whole life. It’s all you know. And avoiding the parent’s tantrums is always goal #1. It can take a looooong time for it to sink in that the world won’t end if mom/dad get upset & that instead of getting involved in or trying to fix the drama they create, it’s OK to side-step it altogether. If you don’t have an NParent, it can be difficult to understand the physiology behind the choices we make. From your comments, it’s obvious you don’t really get it but that’s something you should be happy about. I wish I didn’t, tbh but I know all too well where OP is coming from.

  • Alysoun May 17, 2018, 7:17 am

    Better late than never. I would have severed ties with her after the first 2 paragraphs. How many chances to you give a psycho? Hope you cut off her cell phone too.

    • Queen of the Weezils May 22, 2018, 9:50 am

      How many chances? Well, when it’s your mother, you’ve grown up with this behavior pattern and are used to going along to get along. It’s a tough pattern to break and it’s hard to completely cut off your mother. I am not surprised it took an event like this to bring it all into focus and I’m not surprised she gave her mother so many chances.

  • ALM May 17, 2018, 11:35 am

    Thank for letting me know what the wedding I never had would have been like if a) I had had one and b) my mother were still alive. I know it’s hard and it hurts, but when your parent’s sole focus in life is themselves and their own pleasures from manipulating others, you have to stop involving them in your life, expecting them to behave as if they care about you and assuming they aren’t going to try to sabotage your happiness. Because they will, because they can and because they enjoy it.

    Your mother has shown she has no interest in having a functional adult relationship with you. You are an adult and no longer her doormat. Take care of you, even if that means no longer engaging with her.

  • pennywit May 22, 2018, 7:49 am

    And this is why people elope.

    • Queen of the Weezils May 22, 2018, 9:48 am

      Exactly my thought. I understand why OP is severing ties, or at least reducing exposure. We have had to do the same with husband’s parents. I’m convinced mother-in-law is a narcissist (and now has dementia), and father-in-law is a sociopath. It’s amazing husband is doing so well. I think he just has a whole bunch of “what not to do” examples to not follow. We haven’t severed ties. Then again, we haven’t had to call for police intervention! But we do limit exposure to controlled, short visits. Unfortunately, with mother-in-law’s early stage dementia we’ve had to increase exposure, but we still keep it short and controlled.

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