Was I really in the wrong?

I've always had a tense relationship with my mum. I only remember negative things about her from my childhood and growing up with her was so difficult. She was always belligerent, and would belittle me, and abuse me both emotionally and sometimes physically. Recently things started getting better because I don't live with her anymore, and she came to visit me today. I was trying to work something out in my head and because I have dyscalculia (mathematic dyslexia), I asked her for help. She knows I've always struggled with maths but still called me lazy for not doing it on my own.

I didn't appreciate that, and I told her so, saying 'I'm not lazy, I struggle with numbers', and she started shouting, telling me I have no sense of humour, and to lighten up. I kept saying that I didn't find it funny, and she said 'because you have no sense of humour, and it is funny', and then I started trying to explain, asking her over and over again to just be quiet and let me finish, and when she just wouldn't, no matter how nicely I asked, I ended up screaming it 'PLEASE JUST LET ME FINISH', and she looked at me like I was a monster, an insane person, and told me 'theres something wrong with you', I said no, there isn't, but I'm entitled to not find something funny, I'm entitled to not want to be the butt of a joke, and she started walking out, so I really lost it, and said 'maybe I should push YOU down the stairs and see how YOU like it'. She went through a phase of knocking me around, kicking me out the house, throwing empty glass vodka bottles at me, and I managed to forgive her for it, and give her chance after chance to prove she wasn't like that, but when she started acting that way again, I just couldn't let her walk out without feeling terrible. She went scarily quiet and calm, just like she used to before I'd end up homeless for weeks on end. She asked 'what', and just to make a point of how she'd made me feel, I feigned a calm lighthearted voice, and said 'look, I lightened up' and she walked out.

I feel terrible for bringing up that phase but I also feel she deserved it, she was pushing me deliberately and not letting me do something as simple as finish a sentence. She did the same thing last time she visited, and I can tell she's going back to her old abusive self, where all I am is her punching bag. I can't handle it and this has made me feel a way I never wanted to feel again. I can't go through this again. I don't know what to do.


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14 Replies

  • Hi in this case I think Gambit has made a few very good points. Firstly hard and all as it is you may have to accept that she is not the helpful

    Loving mother type. I think asking her for any help is a waste of time

    And it will only result in a row.

    You did seen to overreact a bit probably because it brought up

    Painful feelings of the past. I don't agree with saying you would

    Push her Down the stairs. As Gambit said she will just look at you

    As if you are a mad thing.

    Anymore would it be a good idea to meet in a coffee shop, where it

    Will be easier to be polite to each other. Havana there is no right or

    Wrong. Let it go now as you cannot control anyone's else's

    Behaviour, but you can control how you choose to react.

    It's always hard when our parents don't behave in a loving fashion,

    But maybe she had her problems and just couldn't cope when you were

    Young. I am not defending her , but you don't live with her now, so

    Try and get on with your life now. See her on your terms , she has

    No right to bully you and it's up to you to set your boundaries with




  • I don't get on with my mother either though think you have more right not to get on with yours than I do.

    It's really hard when someone who should actually be a source of support and comfort to you isn't and you always have that hope that they will change ... and I think it is right that you give her the benefit of the doubt ... and though you may not feel good about the way things ended, focus on the fact that you stood up to her.

    I'm not really sure that there is anything that you could do that would change the scenarios you face - she's unlikely to do anything but smile and look at you like a mad thing if you try to lay down some ground rules when she arrives.

    With my mother I try to make sure that if we meet up it is somewhere in public - like going for a cup of tea at the local garden centre. May be that might work for you.

    It is up to you whether you give up on her or not. There are arguments both ways - giving up on her is effectively giving up on the idea that people can change and there will still be that bit of you that wants her to be the mother you should have had, but living with that disappointment may be better than living with the continual periodic blow outs. There isn't a right or a wrong answer - there usually isn't - so whatever you do decide tell that to the little voice in your head that will tell you you have done the wrong thing.

  • Hi Havana

    For what it's worth I think you were right to do that & disagree with Pete about the pushing down the stairs thing (so long as you wouldn't have actually pushed your mum down the stairs). It showed her you remember what she did & that you aren't going to allow her to bully you anymore. Personally I loved the way you said that you'd "lightened up" - would have loved to have been a fly on the wall & seen your mum's face. In all seriousness though I hope this hasn't ruined your day & that it doesn't cause you to be down, or for too long if it already has.

    Don't allow yourself to go through that again. Don't allow your mum to bully you anymore. Our parents are not above us, we are on the same level. Our view & opinion counts as much as theirs does in this world.


  • Hi James,

    I completely agree - but many parent's don't, mine being one of them. Just because I was once a child who she could make decisions for doesn't mean I still am. I'm only 19 but her making me homeless and forcing me to fend for myself so many times when I was only 15 - on top of other things - has made me a very independent person and she doesn't seem to realise that. I often feel I'm more mature than her because I'm at least willing to always hear my opposer out, and listen to what they have to say...her...well let's just say if I said the sky was blue she'd argue that it was green!


  • Hi Sarah

    Yeah I know the type, never admitting to being wrong or that you could be right.

    It's a shame that some feel that because they are a parent that what they say automatically over rules their grown up children. While they will say that want a child to grow up & become an adult able to stand on their own two feet, they still view them as the small needy children we all once were.

    Personnally I don't buy into unconditional love. My love has one condition: treat me how you want to be treated. If family or any loved one cannot do that then they can jog on - it might take me a little while to get tired of being treated badly but in my own time I'd tell them to get out of my life because I feel I'd be better off without them or the stress they cause.

    Now I'll admit this is easy to say but I have done it a couple of times for a few years each time (after time we managed to sort out our differences & move on, and both times it was with one of my parents). It may not be the best answer or most mature but I've only got so many cheeks that I can turn. If we don't put up with being treated badly by a friend or stranger then why should we have to put up with it from a parent? If anything they should be the ones treating us better than anyone else on the planet, shouldn't they?

    That's not to say my way is the right way, because after all I'm typing a post on a depression forum so my way clearly isn't the easiest, but it allows me a clear conscience.


  • Well having read that lot I think you were absolutely right in reminding her of what she has done to you in the past! Sadly we can't choose our parents, but as an adult we can choose whether to allow them to continue to bully and abuse us and you are choosing not to allow your mum to continue doing that to you. It is right for you to defend yourself verbally and have self-respect. You have survived her abuse and put-downs, now you can break away from her.

    The one thing I feel sad about is that you still continue to turn to her for help in the hope that she will change. However painful it is to accept - she will NOT change - unless something happens to her that suddenly brings about a transformation and makes her want to change. She is used to having you as the butt of her jokes - things she thinks are funny - so why should she change. If you allow her to use you as a dumping ground she will continue to do so and so it is good that you are finally holding your own with her.

    You do not need to go through things with her again - you are an adult and not a child. When you are ready to accept that your mum is the way she is and there is nothing you can do about it then you may begin to let her go and allow her to live her life the way she does while you live yours in a better way.

    You do know what to do - STOP asking your mum for things she will never give you - and learn to turn to other people for help and love instead. You don't say how old you are but in time you will realise you no longer need to be her child.


  • Hi Sue -

    The strange thing is, she did sort of change for a brief period of time. She had always been belligerent and very verbally aggressive and ignorant, but the violence didn't start until her drinking got worse. She would drink one of the large bottles of vodka a day and not even seem drunk because she was that used to it at that point. That's when the violence and really bad stuff started.

    After a few months of that, she started getting help, and started to seemingly be getting back to normal. Things were better already because we didn't live together anymore, and since she'd started to make positive changes I started actually wanting to see her, but then suddenly, just the past couple of weeks, I've seen bits of who she used to be starting to creep back in.

    After she left yesterday, I spent a long time composing a long, well thought out email to her in an attempt to get her to see what she's turning in to again. I pointed out what she was doing, how she was refusing to hear other peoples words anymore, how it was unfair of her to not let me finish a sentence no matter how many times I asked...and the email I got back just confirmed she's broken down again. It was full of pitying words, telling me I needed medicine, that I was sick and deluded if I felt she had any issues and that she was going to steer clear of me because 'she doesn't need crazy in her life'...she used to say that all the time...that she was completely innocent, that I was 'out to get her', that she didn't want me in her life because I was what was ruining it for her....I now know that she's back, and I'm not sure I'm going to help her this time...:/

    Sarah x

  • Hi Sarah it does seem that she has a lot of problems. Maybe she

    Is drinking again? Some people change completely when they

    Drink and don't have any recollection of what they have done. Then they cannot remember how they verbally abused someone,

    And as a result they are never sorry.

    You have to protect yourself. I left home to go to Universty at 18

    And I never lived at home again. My mother had her problems

    But all in all she was good to me and I really miss her. She died

    9 yrs.ago. Sarah I cannot imagine a mother like yours, Mam

    Always put us kids first and even though she was moody, she

    Was a great Mam.

    You did right to let her know that her behaviour is awful. Please

    Look after yourself and dont count on her for anything, unless

    She has a radical change of heart.

    Are you a student or working? Or how do you survive .



  • Hi Sarah

    It sounds as if your mum got things under control a little but drinking releases all her inhibitions and she says things that even she probably regrest but it doesn't stop her from saying them.

    Yes, living apart can bring some normality into a situation - maybe her recent behaviour is a sign that she's drinking heavily again? Most people who turn to drink for comfort don't manage to give up drink completely unless they have hit rock bottom and gone to alcoholics anonymous or similar. It's all too easy to turn back to the bottle when things feel painful which is very sad.

    Good idea to send the e-mail, but she is clearly in denial and nothing will get through to her in that state so please stop trying to change her even though I know you mean it for the best - let her be and get on with your own life. Presumably she associates you with the crazy bit of herself and so attacks you. Do not try to help her, she will only attack you for it because when you do try to help you only remind her of how useless she feels. If you can just keep a distance and if you need more support than you can get on this website ask your GP to refer you to a counsellor who can help you to cope with the mixed emotions that letting her go much of the time may create in you.


  • Oh I know how you feel. I always hoped my mother would be loving and supporting but she very rarely was. But I will tell you how I coped with abuse once. One of my sisters let the other one down badly a few years ago. When I remonstrated with her very calmly she flew off the handle and stormed off and went straight round to my mums. I had to go there as well. I knew there would be trouble as my mother always took her side. I walked in my mums flat and I was immediately savagly verbally attacked. They were both screaming at me and their eyes were snapping. They looked

    like they were really enjoying themselves. I decided not to row back and thought if they want to that's up to them, I don't have to take part, so I didn't. I stayed very quiet and just watched them. My sister carried on yelling and crying but my mother calmed down a lot. We had a few calm words before she got nasty again. You know what I did? I looked at them both and in turn said to them 'I don't know you'. They were stunned. I then walked out and didn't speak to them for 3 months. They didn't gang up on

    me again :d

    Ok afterwards I was really upset and crying for a while but they didn't know that... xx

  • Good for you - sometimes we have to tell people home truths in order for them to see what's right in front of their face.

  • That's so brave of you. I tried that technique a few times with my mum but silence angered her, it just made her worse. I'd just get taunting about how I couldn't even stand up for myself. I'm really glad you managed to get your message across and get the peace you deserve xx

  • Hi Deaf_Havana, your mum has problems to say the least (and I'm thinking they probably have a psychiatric label but we won't go into that) Of course she loves and cares as much as she is able, but she is not very able as she is unable to deal with her own problems let alone give you what you need.

    The important thing for you to realise is that is not your fault and also if you are tying in the idea of what "love" is with how she treats you then you need to stop thinking that way as she can never give you what you need. I think you are fairly sussed though and do realise that this is not a good role model, as I'm sure you wrote somewhere you have a loving partner which means you are not too damaged to make a good relationship yourself; which is all very good news ,as is the fact you no longer live with her.

    You are young enough to get the help you need to heal and carry on without her being too close . Try and think of her like you would think of someone else out there with a big problem and doing the best they can but really not too able; It's fine to have compassion for her as you would for anyone who is struggling but don't cling on waiting for validation from her or stay too embroiled as that will just perpetuate all your problems. As for the e-mail, why bother? I think there is a part of you still hoping; you need to let go of that; sorry if it sounds harsh but in my opinion it is the only way. You are not going to change her or solve her problems for her and then her turn round and be a proper mother to you ; that will not happen. If she wants to get better then she needs to do it for herself and by herself. My advice would be to keep a distance (if you are unable to "cut her out" completely, and don't get pulled in to false hopes with her or attempts to make her better. Work on YOU.

    I say this as someone who only started to realise things about my own family very late in life. So to have this kind of insight at your age is a very good sign and every good chance you can make a good and loving family for yourself.

    Gemmalouise :) X

  • Hi Your mum sounds like she doesn't like herself, and pushes all her negative feelings onto you. As an adult you don't have to put up with abusive behavior. You may feel responsible for your mums actions and behavior, but you are not. She may have been covering her own lack of ability in maths, by saying you were lazy, and not trying to understand you have a genuine difficulty. As adults we have to decide how we respond to others, and how we let others treat us.

    You could meet your mom in a cafe, and tell her gently that you want to get on with her, and if you feel things are not going well you will walk away; this takes strength. It is not easy when we have a history of abusive behavior from family members. I have a brother who is lonely isolated and a widower. He is emotionally abusive to me, often displaying the worst behaviors of our parents, and for my mental well-being I do not stay in his home, despite longing to, I spend time with him, I listen, talk with him, and when he starts on his personal tirades, I tell him we need space, and will meet up later, or the next day if longer is needed. This has taken time to sort. I would love to have a loving relationship, with no anger but I try to manage the relationship we have, and have good times.

    I think you may have to give up on expecting a loving relationship with your mom, and work on getting the best possible outcome for both of you.

    You don't have to accept bad behavior. It is OK to walk away from it. Your mom sounds like she has long term issues, which have not been resolved. It is up to her to resolve them or not, you can support her, but not change her.

    My mom abused me,mentally physically and emotionally, my revenge, is to be a loving parent, and a loving caring person, most days I succeed.

    I know I can't stop my brother ranting or thinking I am a lesser person than himself, I can set perimeters which minimize most emotional fallout from him; this includes not seeing him at all if he becomes to abusive.

    Take care of you. Try to avoid old arguments ( not easy )

    Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;

    The courage to change the things I can;

    and wisdom to know the difference.

    Above all else find ways of creating happiness for you, and treat yourself kindly There is nothing wrong with you, you want a good relationship with your mom, I hope you get it, however sometimes we have to accept a good enought relationship.

    Sometimes parents don't have the skills to love themselves, and find it difficult or impossible to be loving to their children. This does not excuse bad behavior.

    I didn't get a loving mom, but I have a loving relationship with my daughter, which works most days.

    Hugs from Cathy