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Mom Just Meddles And Meddles And Meddles….

It’s tough recognizing when you are being manipulated and having the frame of mind to resist it.

 

I am the oldest of three daughters and my mom and I have never really gotten along very well. There are various possible explanations for this, none of which have much, if any bearing on the story. I also was always on the chubby side, not exactly fat per se, but definitely a few kilos overweight. Unfortunately, my mom’s constant nagging “you’d be so pretty if you just lost some weight” combined with the fact that every single thing she said sounded like an accusation, led to me withdrawing more and more and spending less time with the family which resulted in mom kicking me out of the house shortly after I had started my first job (I was 22 at the time and had planned to save up a bit of my salary before moving out, but, oh well). I don’t pretend that I was the perfect daughter, but I do believe in talking to the person you have a problem with before the problem becomes bigger than it needs to be and not in getting second, third and fourth opinions from friends and family to back up what a horrible human being I am and then blowing up big time with all the “evidence” or “back-up” from random people. The kicking out happened 14 years ago and I have since forgiven her, mostly, because holding that grudge made me feel physically ill in the long run. I’ve let it go and just make a point in a) not trusting her with personal information/problems/anything, because I know that she will share those with anyone and everyone and b) only going there for Christmas and other big family things and, if possible, sleep somewhere else like my partner’s parents’ house or a hotel.

Probably at least partly due to the weird relationship with my mom I have never felt qualified to be a mom myself, but my younger sisters both have children. Last year in June, when my story starts, my youngest sister D was a couple of days past her due date with her third boy and my middle sister K was about 8 weeks away from having her second child.

For me, it all started with a call to K. It was my niece’s birthday and I wanted to say hi and happy birthday and ask if my presents had arrived and if my niece liked them, only to be greeted by K, basically sobbing into the phone that something was wrong with D’s baby and that everyone was waiting for news from the hospital. So, I called my parents who live in the same house as D and got the information that my sister had gone for her check-up (she had to go every other day since the baby was already a week overdue) and the baby’s heartbeat was gone. My sister was still at the hospital, having the stillbirth induced, my parents had driven BIL there after he got the news and were taking care of the older boys. (I don’t know about anywhere else, but in Germany, procedure seems to be to not induce a birth until the baby is 2 weeks overdue unless it’s medically indicated during check-ups.)

I didn’t know if I would reach D by phone with her in the hospital and possibly giving birth and wanted to send her a message she could read later instead. Then I noticed that the last things she had messaged me were a picture of her sons and one of her giant belly, I so did not want her to open her messages when she got one from me and see those pictures in that moment. However, I did not have to wait long for her to send me a message with the information that my parents had already told me, so I sent the message I had already typed out that I was thinking of her and that I’d be there for her in any way I could.

Once the baby was born, cause of death was immediately obvious: there was a knot in the umbilical cord, not visible on ultrasound, and it had tightened during the night (D said she had felt the baby kick the evening before), the only saving grace of this being that no autopsy was necessary on top of all the trauma and that neither the doctor nor my sister nor anyone could have done anything to prevent this, it was just nature being a b*tch. So, I talked to my sister, I cried while my partner held me, I live 700 km away from them, so just going there to hug D and cry with her was not really an option. D had said she would let me know the funeral arrangements once they were made and I planned on talking to my co-workers and boss to take a day or two off later that month once I knew the arrangements. (I had a lot of stress at work during that time, we had just switched to a different inventory management system and were not supposed to take time off until about a week before the start of this story and of course, the time-off requests were already piling up). K had asked D if she could come visit and if D would be okay with seeing K’s own pregnant belly and D had gladly accepted the support, mom and dad live there anyway and I was completely prepared for long phone conversations and then a few days’ visit a couple of weeks later.

Enter my mom. She calls me on my cellphone on Monday (all this happened over the weekend) while I’m at work. I’m still a mess from the news and I’ve told my co-workers what happened, so they’d know why I might act weird and that I was going to ask for time off once I knew when I needed it. Mom proceeds to turn me into a blubbering mess right there in the office where I’m trying to hold it together. She proceeds to tell me that I need to come right now. I tell her that I can’t take a lot of time off work and that I’m planning to come for the funeral, but she insists that it would be more important for me to be there now than at the funeral and that I was supposed to have been godmother to the baby (“but don’t tell D I told you this!”) and on and on. Thankfully, my co-workers understand, they send me outside for fresh air and some alone-time to collect myself. I check with my partner if he can take time off work and come to our hometown with me for a few days and he agrees. My boss is quite alarmed when I knock on his door and enter with puffy, red eyes, but I explain the situation and without missing a beat, he signs off on my vacation day.

Thursday that week was a holiday, so my partner and I both take Friday off for a long weekend and drive across the country to see our families. Obviously, the mood is pretty somber, we hug and cry and talk all weekend.

Now, I’m not one to pry. I’m the person who listens. If my sister wants to talk in detail about the recent tragedy, I will listen. If she wants to talk about her older boys, I will listen. If she wants to talk about repairs she means to do around the house, I will listen. Whatever she wants to talk about or get off her chest, I listen, occasionally asking additional gentle questions. We take a walk to the grave site they are considering and it’s beautiful. While there, BIL informs me that I was supposed to have been godmother and that they would be honored if at the funeral I would carry the urn together with the other chosen godmother. My heart sinks. I really cannot take more time off work at this time and I cannot drive across the country again in 2 weeks. I tell them I don’t know if I can come to the funeral and that I’m really sorry, inwardly seething at my mother’s meddling. Of course, I would have been honored to participate in the funeral and now, I most likely can’t. Both D and BIL tell me they understand, but I am furious with mom.

Her foot-in-mouth, however, is not yet done for the weekend. Saturday, D turns to me and says “you know, I don’t think I’d fit into your jeans right now.” This comes totally out of the blue for me. I had lost a lot of weight over the past year or so and I had mentioned that I had just bought new jeans, still, I really don’t know how to respond, because usually D is the slim one and she just carried a baby for 41 weeks and lost him just 7 days ago. While I’m still trying to figure out what I should say to that, my mom says “well, D, *you* have a feminine figure”. (Yes, my butt was a bit smaller than before and my bellyfat was a lot less, but seriously, mom, you’ve been after me to lose weight for as long as I can remember and now that I did, you deny me femininity? Broad hips? Check. Boobs? Check. Okay, she was possibly trying to make D feel better, but shouldn’t she be able to do that without putting me down?)

Saturday evening comes and since my partner and I have to leave early on Sunday, we say our goodbyes to my family. Mom takes me aside and tells me off for not talking to/comforting D enough. I’m not sure how she wants me to rectify this in the next 5 minutes, but I give D an extra hug and tell her I’ll call her when I get home on Sunday. She thanks us for coming and we leave.

When I call D the next evening, I tell her I’m sorry if we didn’t talk about everything in enough detail and that mom had said I should have made more effort, but that I just didn’t want to pry and that she can come to me with anything she wants to talk about. She said it was okay and not to worry and that she understands that people are different, even if mom doesn’t.

A few days later, she lets me know the details of the funeral and the only way I would have been able to go there would have been by plane and I was fully prepared to do that, but connections between the next airport from here (1 hour drive) and there (1 more hour drive) are few and far between and with the time and date of the funeral it’s just impossible without days off which I can’t take. I tell D and BIL that unfortunately, I cannot be at the funeral and how very sorry I am (so far, I have not mentioned my mom’s meddling to anyone, not even my partner, because he already doesn’t like her much for how she’s been treating me ever since we met).

The next thing that happens: dad calls me. Now, he never calls me. I’m pretty certain that mom asked him to call and to tell me to come to the funeral. I tell him that it’s really impossible for me to get more time off work and that I already explained this to mom when she called to tell me to come *right now* and insisted that it was more important to be there now than later at the funeral. I think that conversation between mom and me was news to him. He sputtered something along the lines of “but what are the people going to say?” which “argument” deserves nothing but an eye-roll. Then he told me that all the relatives from all over the country were going to be there, which I kind of doubted. Parents and siblings of the bereaved parents, yes, maybe a close aunt or uncle, plus some very close friends, but none of those had to make a roundtrip of 1400 km twice in 2 weeks.

I felt emotionally manipulated, but as I don’t have the best reference points concerning mother-daughter relationships, I called K to talk about what had happened and she could not believe my mom had manipulated me into coming immediately so I’d have to miss the funeral and then make dad call me and try to manipulate me into coming to the funeral anyway. Well, sadly, she could believe that mom was trying to pull this off. Guilt-tripping people into doing things is one of mom’s preferred methods of communication. To this day, I’m not sure if mom really thought she was doing any of her daughters a favor or if that was a weird attempt to have me there on her birthday which happened to fall on that long weekend and I hate that I cannot even tell if she had good intentions or selfish ones… K called me after the funeral and said our parents had said something about my absence and she told them off. Thanks, sis 🙂

I called D a few hours before the ceremony to let her know I was thinking of her. She understandably wasn’t in a very receptive frame of mind in that moment, but when we talked the next time she let me know that she appreciated that call. 0402-18

{ 38 comments }
{ 38 comments… add one }
  • Sugarcookie September 17, 2018, 4:08 am

    I’m not sure about your sister, but as a mom who went through delivering a stillborn baby several years ago, I would have more than appreciated your level of support. Stillbirth is uniquely difficult, because unlike a normal funeral where people can talk about the deceased and share stories, the focus is almost solely on the grieving parents.

    I remember being absolutely furious, because my mom invited her entire family- around 100 people, to our daughter’s funeral. All I wanted was a quiet day with just our closest friends. My mother turned our private day into a family event. I have forgiven her, but I’ll never forget it.

    My point is, funerals bring out the absolute worst in people. Keep being there for your sister. Trust me, the phone calls and being a good listener mean SO much more than attending the funeral. Right now, she’s in a numb haze of grief. There will be points in the coming months where the grief will feel unbearable. Let her know that you’re still here for her.

    I’m so sorry for your loss.

  • staceyizme September 17, 2018, 5:21 am

    I think your only remaining issue with your mom is that you allowed her to manipulate you. She’s a bully, probably a narcissist. You won’t fall for her meddling again, no doubt. Don’t allow anyone to force you to act against your own better judgment. It generally results in a mess.

  • at work September 17, 2018, 7:14 am

    I’d say it’s pretty unlikely Mom will ever be able to manipulate OP again. Be strong and recall these events the next time she starts stirring the many-layered brew of “family obligation.”

  • Girlie September 17, 2018, 7:32 am

    No comment on the etiquette of this story, because I think OP did everything she could.

    I just wish there had been a warning about the subject matter at the very beginning. By the time I realized what this story was about, it was too late. As someone in her third trimester of pregnancy, I am deeply disturbed by the fact that I am constantly seeing posts about miscarriages and stillbirths everywhere I turn, and I am trying to avoid this so as not to cause my anxiety to flare up. I would not have read this at all at this time if I’d known it was about the death of a baby.

    • Sugarcookie September 17, 2018, 1:35 pm

      If only the world had a giant trigger warning, so your feelings could be spared. Losing a child isn’t like catching a cold. Just because you happen to read a story about it, doesn’t mean it will happen to you.

      • ladyv21454 September 18, 2018, 5:01 pm

        Wow, Sugarcookie, talk about rude – and tactless – with a side of cruel. Just because you didn’t feel that way when/if you were pregnant doesn’t mean other women haven’t felt that way. Yes, it’s true that losing a child isn’t “contagious” – but it doesn’t mean that a mother-to-be doesn’t get concerned and even frightened when she’s bombarded with posts about miscarriages and stillbirths.

      • staceyizme September 18, 2018, 7:16 pm

        It’s uncalled for to quibble over sensitive subjects. Who are you to say what her degree of anxiety might be? Perhaps it’s marginal, perhaps it’s significant, perhaps it’s a euphemism for a label. In any case, she simply said that she wished she would have known prior to reading. It’s no different than people who prefer to avoid posts that might be sensitive for other reasons in either blogs or on social media. Warnings about content are almost more the norm these days than otherwise, so it’s not really a case of “special snowflake-ness” in my estimation and I think your comment was ungenerous to intimate otherwise.

        • EchoGirl September 22, 2018, 6:19 pm

          I have to second this, I really don’t understand why there’s all this freak-out about content warnings. They’re not really a new thing; look at any PG- or higher-rated movie made in the last 40-50 years, they all have warning explaining what kind of content they have causing them to be higher rated (Is it violence? Language? Sexuality/nudity?). TV shows are much the same, how many of us have heard the “viewer discretion is advised” warnings before a show? But for some reason, when people ask for content warnings on online media, they’re treated like the concept is unheard of and like they’re entitled brats just for a polite request. In the extreme, I’ve even seen these types of people berate people who voluntarily put warnings on their content, making it clear that they’re opposed not to “the pressure to do so” but to the concept itself. I just don’t understand, why are people so opposed to the idea of warning somebody about potentially upsetting content?

    • Kheldarson September 17, 2018, 4:30 pm

      Kind of as an aside, I had the same thing happen my third trimester. It was like everything I saw was related to dead kids and broken families. Pretty sure it was just confirmation bias talking but it was really weird!

      Just so you know it seems to be a thing and not a sign 🙂

      • at work September 18, 2018, 5:53 am

        Definitely is a thing. As an expectant young mother I was this way. I also went into an odd protective fury when I heard sirens of any kind because it meant there was danger in my child’s world.

      • Kate September 21, 2018, 11:39 pm

        I’m 32 weeks right now – it seemed like every time I read a pregnancy related article during my first and second trimesters, it was about miscarriage or having to terminate due to severe disability. Now that I’m in my third trimester I seem to see stuff about stillbirth all the time. I like to remind myself that not as many people go online and write posts about their totally normal, problem free, relatively pain free births, but it doesn’t mean they don’t happen every single day!

        • admin September 22, 2018, 7:16 am

          This was one of my points in my blog post last year about breast cancer. Social media, Google and the news media presents the absolutely worst cases when the reality is that the vast majority of women diagnosed with BC will have caught it early, get treated and go on to live happy, productive lives. They aren’t dying or going to die from BC. Women do not spend their time writing weekly blog posts about how great they are doing, they just go on living life.

    • Catherine St. Clair September 17, 2018, 9:27 pm

      Don’t allow yourself to think about it in that way. Think about its true message-it is vitally important to have a loving and nurturing mother. Sit down and write about what kind of mother you want to be to your child. When he/she is sixteen, is backtalking you, knows it all, and you are ready to strangle him/her, take out that letter and remind yourself what your goals were and stick to them.

    • Anon September 19, 2018, 4:24 pm

      Girlie, I felt the same way immediately following the birth of my daughter two years ago. It seemed like everything that was popping up in the news had to do with child neglect and death, and it impacted me quite a lot during what is already a very difficult time emotionally (due to all the hormones, sleep deprivation, etc). No, stories aren’t “catching,” but certain kinds of stories can effect some more strongly than others, depending where you are in life. So I hear you! Pay no attention to nasties like Sugarcookie (a misnomer if ever there was one). I would have appreciated a brief trigger warning too, as someone who is also about 5 weeks away from giving birth!

  • Stephen Dedalus September 17, 2018, 9:29 am

    Please look up narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder on youtube. There is even a German language channel for it. There are so many good videos, and unfortunately, you will recognize your mother in them. There are so many signs of it in your letter. Dr. Ramani is a good resource, as is Julia Kristina.

    • Stephen Dedalus September 18, 2018, 10:36 am
    • Lacey September 25, 2018, 1:55 pm

      Came here to say this. OP, look up narcissistic parenting – they always have a scapegoat and a golden child. It sounds like you are the scapegoat (this is NOT your fault and is just the narcissist’s projection). You can’t win with your mother and again, it’s not your fault.

  • Cat2 September 17, 2018, 9:38 am

    A quick note – no matter what mom says at the time, check in with people whose info you feel you can rely on. You can reach out to D directly “Hey… I wanted to check in with you – I want to be there in the way that matters the most for you. I can come this weekend, or I can come for the funeral. I really wish I could do both, but unfortunately I just can’t get that much time off of work. When do you want me to come?” If you don’t feel comfortable asking D directly, reach out to K who probably has a better sense of what’s going on.

    Because yes, your mom COULD have been notifying you of something real and that is why she was able to get to you. But you have other sources of info to rely on and you need to remember to keep them primary no matter what she says. Because she’s unreliable. So deal with the ones you find reliable and yes, you might get it wrong once in awhile, but you’re much less *likely* to get it wrong and it’s important to remember that for yourself, no matter how many tickets your mom is buying you for that guilt trip. Her tickets are like the offering for a cut-rate hotel room that you get there and discover that’s because the entire rest of the floor is under construction. Research the tickets before you accept.

    Glad to hear it sounds like your sisters are in your corner.

    • Melissa September 17, 2018, 1:44 pm

      Those were my thoughts exactly. I don’t fault the LW at all for listening to mom this time, it was a horrible tragedy and of course she just wanted to be there for her sister. But hindsight is 20/20 and I definitely think anything mom says from now on should be verified with one of the sisters if at all possible. My heart goes out to this family though, especially D and her husband. How heartbreaking.

      • SJ September 20, 2018, 5:10 pm

        It seems like, in her mother’s eyes, the OP was never going to do the right thing. No matter when she came, even if she came both times, her mother would find fault. That’s rough. Best to just ignore.

  • lakey September 17, 2018, 10:53 am

    [quote]To this day, I’m not sure if mom really thought she was doing any of her daughters a favor or if that was a weird attempt to have me there on her birthday which happened to fall on that long weekend and I hate that I cannot even tell if she had good intentions or selfish ones[/quote]

    There are people out there who really believe that it is their place to tell everyone else what they should do. They think that they know better than everyone else. They interfere and manipulate. If you don’t do what they want, they keep at you. They think that they can make you do, what they’ve decided you should do. You’re on the right track in dealing with your mother by limiting visits to major holidays and not staying overnight.
    For the future practice saying a line, such as, “I can’t talk about this right now,” and walking away or hanging up the phone. Get in the habit of cutting off conversations.

    • Debbie September 18, 2018, 10:29 am

      “There are people out there who really believe that it is their place to tell everyone else what they should do.” Too, too true – and if only they would take their own advice, because they are actually the ones that need to most help.

  • Orwellian September 17, 2018, 12:37 pm

    I’m so sorry for your family’s loss.

    She seems a master at triangulating, telling X that they should do Y for Z or that Z is hurt because of Y. She is also full of advice on Things You Can Only Do With A Time Machine. It might be that she’s a narcissist or that her method of self-soothing is making her puppets dance. I did notice that doing what she wants still leads to you being Wrong and her being Right By Proxy.

  • Lara September 17, 2018, 1:10 pm

    This is such an agonizing situation that everyone’s emotions are going to be running high, and probably no one can really think clearly about it. Your mother was wrong to interfere, and wrong to criticize and insult you for not doing what she thought you should. At the same time, it was your decision. You’re the one who had to take time off work and make the trip, and only you could decide when to do that. And while you regret missing the funeral, the time you spent with your sister was not wasted. You went, you comforted her, you showed support, you did everything you could reasonably do. You were there for her. That matters more than what particular day you were there.

  • bopper September 17, 2018, 1:20 pm

    I bet you think you are the only one that feels like this, but your family dynamic is a very common one when a parent is narcissistic. Look for discussion boards on personality disordered/toxic parents (e.g., outofthefog.net) and you will find many stories where the mother is the gatekeeper of the information, is controlling what people do, interfering in relationships.
    You have to not let your mother triangulate these relationships…tell your siblings to contact you directly about any news or things they would like you to do.

  • Devin September 17, 2018, 1:20 pm

    OP I’m very sorry for your families loss. I can’t imagine how hard it is to deal with such an unexpected tragedy.
    My comment for you isn’t an issue an etiquette but an issue of mental health. With all that has gone on, you might benefit from seeing a counseling or therapy. Your mothers actions and comments have effect you for decades, and it seems that many issues may not fully be resolved. Having a professional neutral party to talk to could be very beneficial in helping you come to terms with grief and your mothers treatment of you. Continue building up your polite spine and fostering family relationships that are healthy for you.

  • Bea September 17, 2018, 1:27 pm

    I’m so sorry for the loss your family has suffered. I’m glad you seem to have a good relationship with your sisters because I was scared this story would end with your siblings being hurt and not accepting your mom’s meddling as the problem.

    We do the best we can when we have a manipulative mother. I’m grateful you’re out of her house and her city, that space is a blessing with her toxic personality. Continue to communicate through your sisters before making decisions on the future, whenever possible.

  • rindlrad September 17, 2018, 2:59 pm

    OP, the only problem I see here is that you lack confidence in yourself. You knew what you could and could not do as it relates to time off work, but you allowed your Mother – who one presumes is not in a position to know what is going on in your work life – to derail your decisions. It’s easier said than done, but try to ignore what your Mother says. Practice the phrase, “I’m sorry, that won’t be possible.” No explanations, no arguments, no justifications. Perhaps, in the future, when your Mother starts to criticize, try changing the subject or, if that doesn’t work, politely terminate the conversation. She can only bully you if you allow it.

    Someone above mentioned not allowing your Mother to be the source of information. This sounds like a really good idea. You’ll have a happier, healthier relationship with your Mother and the rest of your family if you make it a policy to get your information directly from the source, and it will cut down on confusion and misinformation.

    It sounds like you were very supportive of your sister and her family at a difficult time. I hope everyone is healing after this sad loss.

  • Ashley M September 17, 2018, 7:09 pm

    Thankfully I haven’t experienced it with family but I’ve been in friendship situations that have lead me to always go straight to the source.

    In this case, that source would have been D, or D’s partner. Even if the timing was difficult, D would know better if she wanted you at her side immediately or at the funeral.

    I do want to make it clear here, I don’t think that OP did anything wrong. It sounded like she was as supportive as possible giving the tricky work schedule and delecateness of the situation and all the third party interference from mom. It’s just a shame that it usually takes something like this to get people to realize just how manipulative other’s can be.

  • Catherine St. Clair September 17, 2018, 9:20 pm

    You have a toxic mother. As the daughter and survivor of a toxic mother, I can tell you that she knows exactly what buttons to push to upset you. She doesn’t plan it. It comes naturally to her. She will continue to do it until you stop her. Do not engage in long phone conversations with her, especially at work. That’s where it is the most fun to reduce you to a sobbing mess. Keep information from her brief, saying, “Thank you for letting me know. I will consider what I am going to do. Love to all. Goodbye.” When you have decided on what you will be doing, tell her in short, declarative sentences and, when she tries to make you do as she wants, the answer is, “I considered that and decided against it. My decision is not up for discussion or comment.” Stick to it. No argument, no vacillating, no appeal to rules at work, just no. You can’t change Mom. You can change her ability to rule you and to make you miserable.

  • JD September 18, 2018, 10:20 am

    What a terrible circumstance for OP’s family! OP, you had a painful experience, but it taught you a lot about dealing with your mom. OP’s mom seems so odd to me — I am awaiting the birth of another grandchild in a few weeks. If this terrible thing happened to my family, far from berating and bullying my other kids to come when I command, I’d be needing all my strength to 1. try to hold up under this devastating loss and 2. to muster the strength to support my daughter and son-in-law in their bereaved state. While commiserating with the rest of my family, I would not be bothering with dictating how and when they should appear to provide their own support. I’d be struggling too hard to deal with my own emotions to be able to manipulate the emotions of others.
    Please note, I’m not saying OP’s mother did not suffer any pain, but that she chose to use emotional energy in a way that is incomprehensible to me at a time like that.

    • EchoGirl September 22, 2018, 6:55 pm

      Unfortunately, I’ve seen my own mother behave the same way (not to this extent, but enough that I can recognize the pattern). As near as I can figure, it’s the control-freak version of “taking your grief out on someone else”. When tragedies happen, people often feel like everything’s spinning out of control. People like OP’s mother and my own have a driving need to be in control, combined with a lack of sensitivity/understanding for the feelings of others, so they fall back on a familiar pattern of behavior; namely, controlling the actions of others through manipulation, guilt-tripping, etc. because it makes them feel less like they’re losing control. In many cases (including my own mother) they’re literally unable to perceive that they’re hurting other people; in others, they simply don’t care, or insomuch as they do they care more about satisfying their own emotional needs.

  • OP September 18, 2018, 2:01 pm

    OP here. Thank you all for your condolences, kind words and advice. D is doing better, she already was a social worker before and has now taken classes in grief counselling parents after the loss of a child, so she can help others who experience such a tragedy. I‘m not sure whether she wants to have another baby at some point, but that‘s none of my business, she will tell me when it becomes relevant.

    Ever since I moved that far away, I‘ve become much better at not having mom manipulate me. When I lived just 30 minutes away, she would drop by unannounced and ask me to look something up on the internet for her (I wish I was making that up) and then spend the evening with no consideration for my own plans.
    My sisters‘ relationships with her are much better, always have been, but she‘s overstepped some serious boundaries with each of them as well, so they have no trouble recognizing her signature moves. I am much closer to K than D, but we all get along very well.

    Mom‘s still trying to make me do things I don‘t want to do („How long are you going to stay for Christmas? Oh, you‘re leaving for [event] on the 26th like every year? You‘re just going to have to come earlier then!“ Erm, no. Not that I need to justify myself, but there‘s another event I go to every year right before Christmas, I will not skip that for her very divided attention.), I‘m usually very good at deflecting her which doesn’t mean she‘ll ever stop trying. The information that broke me last year was the godmother bit (which she obviously was not supposed to tell me since she asked me not to tell on her). I don’t know if that sparked some sense of responsibility to be there or if it was the fact that D and BIL had chosen me when I didn’t think we were so very close, in any case, it had the desired effect. At least, it turned out to be true :-/
    And yes, I should have checked with someone – anyone – else before fixing anything. Hindsight… do not trust the unofficial communications officer when that’s the person most likely to manipulate you.

  • GM September 21, 2018, 8:41 pm

    Take this as a lesson for the next family tragedy as she’s taught you two very important things: 1. she’s telling you what she wants in a situation and 2. it’s not always what’s right for every situation. So if something happens to her directly, she expects you to come and be there. If something happens to one of your sibs, just be direct with them and don’t listen to your mother. There’s no good etiquette for distance.

  • noodle September 22, 2018, 12:37 pm

    The mother is a straight-up narcissist.

  • NicoleK September 22, 2018, 1:20 pm

    I think the take-away is for next time, ask the actual bereaved person what they would prefer.

  • Queen of the Weezils September 24, 2018, 1:27 pm

    You sound like a great, supportive sister. I’m glad you were able to be there for D, even if you weren’t there for the funeral, and I think you took the right angle of letting her guide the conversation. Your Mom needs to back down, but we all know she won’t. I agree with the recommendation to check out resources for narcissistic personality disorder. Even if she isn’t diagnosable, you might be able to glean some nuggets of info out of it.

  • Kitty October 2, 2018, 9:37 am

    “but what are the people going to say?”
    What? What will it matter what other people say? OP is not the important person of the funeral!

    OP, you need to cut your mother as much out of your life as possible. You have already done a good job by limiting visits and letting her know about things going on in your life. But this person needs to be gone. It’s already clear she was making you physically ill, and her manipulations make you emotionally, and maybe even mentally, ill. Get out. And don’t look back.

    Maybe your sisters need to limit their contact with mom, too. I don’t think this will happen, but if she realizes that her attempts at manipulation have caused others to leave her and that they no longer will *let* themselves get manipulated, she might ease up.

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