The two sides of my mother

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littlebluejay

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The two sides of my mother
« on: April 28, 2022, 03:19:55 AM »
This is my first post and one of the things I am most struggling with right now. Discussion involves not being able to reconcile the two sides of my abusive mother.

Everywhere around me I see the goodness of my mother. A mailed box of Easter gifts, I'm wearing a shirt she bought me, she's in pictures hanging on my wall, she sends me texts about the charity work she's involved in. And yet, the other side of my mother is all around me, too. It's in my nightmares and flashbacks, my fears, my self-talk. I can't even call her an abuser--it just feels so wrong, even though what she's done to me repeatedly is awful (I've just recently truly accepted the reality of this). How could these two sides coexist? How can I reconcile both sides? How can she possibly be both this good and this awful at the same time? I'm able to reconcile the two sides of most people, those who've offended me but not traumatized me. It's different with my mother because the sides are so different. And she never acknowledges or seems to notice the awful side of herself.

I know my mother has undiagnosed and untreated mental illness, although she would never agree. I know she has her own trauma. I use these to excuse away her actions. And I think, if she can be so good on one hand, it must be me that brings out the monster.

Does anyone have any insight? Anyone else struggle with this? It is so hard to accept that my mother can contain all the good and evil I have experienced. I don't know how to accept it.


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phil72

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Re: The two sides of my mother
« Reply #1 on: April 28, 2022, 02:43:49 PM »
Hey littlebluejay :)
There have been plenty of times I wondered this. I mean, who was I to question the awful things when everyone else just sees the goodness?
In my experience the goodness wasn't real, at least it wasn't to me. I think it can be a mirage to simply be recognized by others for being so wonderful.
I'm sorry you're struggling with this right now.. it may also be because it's your mother, that its so different than with most people as far as reconciling it too. 
I wish I had a good answer.. I thought my mother's mental illness was an excuse too for a long time...and I was just the unfortunate casualty, but that isn't how it works. You deserve(d) safety, caring, and love no matter what. I'm sorry that you're haven't. I hope you find some wonderful help here.. you deserve that too.

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Kizzie

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Re: The two sides of my mother
« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2022, 03:41:20 PM »
Hey littlebluejay, my mother sounds like yours and what I came to find out was her behaviour was typical of someone with covert narcissistic personality disorder. 

She portrayed the good mother, wife, friend, etc but did so to garner attention of the "Isn't she a wonderful mother/wife/friend?" variety.  I struggled with understanding and accepting she was abusive for many years, decades really until finally I was diagnosed with Complex PTSD and had to admit I had been abused.

Whether or not your M suffers from NPD, the fact is if you have Complex PTSD symptoms you were abused.  They are common to relational trauma and the fact that they are common validates the fact that survivors respond in certain ways to survive abuse/neglect. 

None of us want to be a part of this particular tribe but at least we have each other, we don't have to suffer alone. 

 :grouphug:

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Armee

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Re: The two sides of my mother
« Reply #3 on: April 28, 2022, 06:00:36 PM »
Hi littlebluejay. I love your name and have such a soft spot for birds.

I can relate to all of your post. My mom portrayed such a victim. I started to add "...that no know else can understand the evil that she did." Then I deleted that because I am as conflicted as you. My heart raced and my brain told me it wasn't evil she was just mentally ill. You (me) are bad and wrong etc. All that played out for me just in half a sentence.

Kizzie may be right on the covert NPD but my mom displayed similar traits but seems to better fit with BPD. Just mentioning in case NPD doesn't sound quite right to you.  (My mom also was diagnosed with but never acknowledged bipolar disorder, along with it). I think the damage from BPD and NPD abuse are about the same.

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littlebluejay

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Re: The two sides of my mother
« Reply #4 on: April 28, 2022, 08:03:48 PM »
Hey littlebluejay :)
There have been plenty of times I wondered this. I mean, who was I to question the awful things when everyone else just sees the goodness?
In my experience the goodness wasn't real, at least it wasn't to me. I think it can be a mirage to simply be recognized by others for being so wonderful.
I'm sorry you're struggling with this right now.. it may also be because it's your mother, that its so different than with most people as far as reconciling it too. 
I wish I had a good answer.. I thought my mother's mental illness was an excuse too for a long time...and I was just the unfortunate casualty, but that isn't how it works. You deserve(d) safety, caring, and love no matter what. I'm sorry that you're haven't. I hope you find some wonderful help here.. you deserve that too.

You're right, I think the fact she is my mother is also keeping me from reconciling it, from truly accepting both sides. There is a tie to one's mother. An innate desire to please and even protect.
Thank you for your words. When I look back at little me I get so sad--how could she have denied me such safety? Now that I'm an adult I have been able to find my own community of support, including a figure that I consider more of a mom to me than my actual mom. But I still have those ties to my mother. And I want a relationship, just not like how it is.
This community here has already been so comforting. Thank you  :)

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littlebluejay

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Re: The two sides of my mother
« Reply #5 on: April 28, 2022, 08:11:49 PM »
Hey littlebluejay, my mother sounds like yours and what I came to find out was her behaviour was typical of someone with covert narcissistic personality disorder. 

She portrayed the good mother, wife, friend, etc but did so to garner attention of the "Isn't she a wonderful mother/wife/friend?" variety.  I struggled with understanding and accepting she was abusive for many years, decades really until finally I was diagnosed with Complex PTSD and had to admit I had been abused.

Whether or not your M suffers from NPD, the fact is if you have Complex PTSD symptoms you were abused.  They are common to relational trauma and the fact that they are common validates the fact that survivors respond in certain ways to survive abuse/neglect. 

None of us want to be a part of this particular tribe but at least we have each other, we don't have to suffer alone. 

 :grouphug:

Thank you for this. The covert NPD sounds a lot like my mother. I've had two different therapists tell me over the past 4 years her behavior is abusive. It's maybe been 2 years that I've considered it. And it has been showing up in my symptoms since I was a child. I had a complete shutdown this weekend, turns out I was in an intense hypoarousal state and my body was trying to protect me. Thank you for that assurance... the fact I have these symptoms validates that I've walked through abuse and relational trauma. Even when my mind tries to convince me I've made it up and it's all in my head.

Thank you for your words, I'm already finding this community to be so helpful and comforting  :)

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littlebluejay

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Re: The two sides of my mother
« Reply #6 on: April 28, 2022, 08:28:46 PM »
Hi littlebluejay. I love your name and have such a soft spot for birds.

I can relate to all of your post. My mom portrayed such a victim. I started to add "...that no know else can understand the evil that she did." Then I deleted that because I am as conflicted as you. My heart raced and my brain told me it wasn't evil she was just mentally ill. You (me) are bad and wrong etc. All that played out for me just in half a sentence.

Kizzie may be right on the covert NPD but my mom displayed similar traits but seems to better fit with BPD. Just mentioning in case NPD doesn't sound quite right to you.  (My mom also was diagnosed with but never acknowledged bipolar disorder, along with it). I think the damage from BPD and NPD abuse are about the same.

Ugh, how I relate with all of this. I have all those same thoughts, and I question everything. My therapist today said that's the worst kind of abuse when you can see both the good and bad so clearly. When everyone around you goes on and on about how good the abuser is, but at home, they are a different person. My mom portrays to be such a victim, too. Whether that's in her marriage, her parenting (or lack thereof), etc. It's hard not to feel sorry for her. I will look more into BPD too. My mom has never been diagnosed bipolar but I really think she is. I just think her mania presents more as out-of-control rage and this incessant desire to expose others/prove others wrong. There's probably a lot going on but I know she will never willingly be evaluated.

Thank you for sharing with me, I hate that you have gone through similar things and struggle with similar things, but I am so glad I'm not alone in these horrible thoughts.

And thank you for the compliment on my name. We had lots of bluejays around where I lived growing up. They were noisy but they were so funny and beautiful!
« Last Edit: April 28, 2022, 08:33:07 PM by littlebluejay »

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Armee

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Re: The two sides of my mother
« Reply #7 on: April 28, 2022, 08:40:35 PM »
Those blue jays have tons of character. We have scrub jays here but I assume they are similar.

I am embarrassed to say I am quite lucky because my mom passed away last year so I am done with the torture. It's been a massive psychological and physical relief. Now I only have to navigate the condolences that trickle in when people learn of her passing. I have been pretty open but sometimes quite gracelessly in expressing my relief.

I hope you find a way for some relief or enough healing that it is bearable without attacking yourself.

Right now I'm sitting outside and there's a noisy baby titmouse bird chirping away at its parent.

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littlebluejay

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Re: The two sides of my mother
« Reply #8 on: April 29, 2022, 01:03:49 AM »
Those blue jays have tons of character. We have scrub jays here but I assume they are similar.

I am embarrassed to say I am quite lucky because my mom passed away last year so I am done with the torture. It's been a massive psychological and physical relief. Now I only have to navigate the condolences that trickle in when people learn of her passing. I have been pretty open but sometimes quite gracelessly in expressing my relief.

I hope you find a way for some relief or enough healing that it is bearable without attacking yourself.

Right now I'm sitting outside and there's a noisy baby titmouse bird chirping away at its parent.

I've thought about this a lot, the relief of what it'd feel like for it all to be over. I hate admitting that. But I really believe at this point my mother is not capable of change, so the only way out is for her to pass. Again, I hate admitting that. There's a lot I love about my mom too and I know I would miss those aspects a lot. It's very complicated. The following sentence is a trigger warning about a threat she often says to me concerning her own death, so skip this sentence if you don't want to read it-->> my mom will often tell me she is going to kill herself, or that she will die in a car crash while she's mad at me, and it is my fault and I would have to explain to my sisters why I killed my mom. And while she said this over and over this weekend, I quietly hoped for the day she would pass away.

<<End trigger warning. Ah, to be a noisy little bird who does not have such a complicated relationship with her parent! I got outside for a walk in the park today and saw some beautiful cardinals and sweet robins. Nature is so therapeutic.

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Armee

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Re: The two sides of my mother
« Reply #9 on: April 29, 2022, 03:09:37 AM »
I'm sorry. That is a horrible thing to go through. I went through similar. It's not ok. When we got to the point where I was single handedly providing her care through cancer and broken bones and then hospice care, my mom's self harm shifted to self neglect as a form of the same manipulation, except then I was also viewed by doctors as responsible. It was a complete retriggering of the suicide threats and self harm and feeling responsible for her staying alive as a kid. It was a terrible trap and I wished many many times that I had seen the damage being done to me and my family and cut ties before she was frail and ill. 

Others here have read this before but I'm going to say it here too, so you don't feel alone in those thoughts. There was a point when my mom was hospitalized due to septic shock from chemo toxicity. I was really sad she was there and alone, it was over the holidays and during COVID. I believed she would not ever leave the hospital and that she would quickly die there. I felt sad about that but didn't cry. I NEVER cry. But after a few days my sister called to say she had talked to doctors and that good news! Mom was going to live! I sobbed that entire day. I don't think I've ever cried so hard. I was not crying in relief. I was grief stricken that it wasn't over yet. Up until that point I defined myself as being a kind person and that took a lot of support to be able to integrate that awful grief with who I thought I was. But that is what people like our moms do to us. They manipulate our kindness until we are the bad and mean ones. It's really terrible psychological abuse and is severely damaging.

My heart hurts knowing what you are going through.

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littlebluejay

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Re: The two sides of my mother
« Reply #10 on: April 30, 2022, 02:11:52 AM »
Hi Armee, I am both filled with grief and with relief hearing how you relate with me. I feel so much shame for wanting things to end. I've often thought about that with my mom... when she's old will I care for her? She has medical issues and I've spent many many nights in the hospital with her, caring for her after surgery, etc. She is not close to dying though. I don't think I will have the capability to care for her on a long-term basis, but what does that say about me? What would others say if I send her to a nursing facility?

I am so, so sorry to hear about what you went through when your mom lived. It doesn't say anything about your kindness though. I also think of myself as a kind person but I feel like there is this other part of me when it comes to my mom. I still treat her very nice but I have so much anger. It's interesting, I rarely cry. I used to never cry too but the last couple years I've started to sometimes.

Thank you for your honesty, for making me feel less alone. I really cherish it