My life has changed a lot since I stopped posting in July 2012. I’m a new mother and I have also had some large familial changes. I did a lot of research about how much my life would change after having my baby and none of it prepared me enough. The one thing I didn’t expect was a feeling of urgency for drawing boundaries in toxic relationships.
My relationship with my mother has fallen apart since the birth of my daughter. I knew how manipulative she was and how stressful confrontations could be with her but I hadn’t felt like I needed to take a stand until after my child’s birth. I suppose I felt I could handle it before and after I felt I needed to protect my daughter from it. I also needed to simplify my life and reduce my stress.
Before the birth of my daughter, there was a lot of drama and stress surrounding my baby shower that my mom had volunteered to throw. She scheduled it at the end of January and we had to reschedule it twice. I was at a birth class the day before my rescheduled baby shower and she called to ask if we could reschedule it again to the day before I was due. I said no and she tried to manipulate with guilt and being passive aggressive. I couldn’t deal with the stress and asked my husband to deal with it so that I didn’t miss any more of my class. I ended up canceling the baby shower because my mom was making the issue personal. This was the first time that I questioned my relationship with my mother.
My mom breastfed all of us kids and she is a huge advocate for breastfeeding. This, I understand. I tried so hard to breastfeed but it was excruciatingly painful. The lactation consultant I went to see suggested that I try pumping on the side that it hurt the most so that it could heal a little bit. I had been having anxiety and depression and it felt better when I had company. I asked my mom to come over one night when I was feeling particularly anxious and she did but questioned what the lactation consultant told me to do. She told me that it would get better on its own and that I shouldn’t pump because introducing my daughter to the bottle too soon could sabotage our breastfeeding relationship. I stopped pumping immediately because I was terrified that I couldn’t continue breastfeeding if she got nipple confusion. I gritted my teeth and bore the pain. I ended up going to the ER that night after she left because I couldn’t stop crying. I didn’t see the connection then, but I do now. She came over to help me feel less anxious but increased my anxiety by questioning what a professional had told me to do. A few days later I called to talk to my mom because I was feeling anxious again. I was still having a lot of difficulty in breastfeeding and I made the mistake of asking for her advice. My husband called in while I was talking to her and I told her that I would call her back. Her advice hadn’t been helpful and I was crying when I answered the phone. My husband had grown sick of my mother trying to be “supportive” but really just pushing her opinion off on me and making me feel worse. He contacted my dad and asked him to talk to my mom and ask her to stop giving me advice unless it was truly supportive. He said that she would no longer be allowed at the house until she could realize that she was there to help me and not to further her agenda (I am totally paraphrasing here). She sent my husband a nasty text message saying that she didn’t have a problem and that she didn’t understand why I couldn’t talk to her about it. She told him that he was the one putting a wedge between she and I. She said some other inappropriate things as well but I don’t remember exactly what they were.
At this point my husband and I decided that this was a toxic relationship and that I needed to have a little time out from her. If anything it would reduce my stress.
Drawing this boundary has been extremely difficult for me. My mom is passive aggressive and has used guilt as a weapon for my entire life. My immediate internal response to taking a time-out from the relationship was a sense of guilt. With time and even more irrational behavior, my mom has shown her true colors and my decision has been validated. I’m not sure if I will ever be able to reestablish a relationship with her or if my daughter will ever know her grandma. I hope so, but for now I am in a state of mourning. I need to set these boundaries for myself and my family but also for my mom. Continuing to enable her behavior is the worst thing for her.
Boundaries are new for me. I usually let others walk all over me until I get sick of it and cut them out of my life. I don’t know how to have a relationship with my mom without eventually caving and letting her get away with too much. It’s easier for me not to talk to her and hope she is getting the help she needs. The grapevine tells me she has only been spiraling further and making more poor decisions — concreting my decision even more completely.
I honestly questioned writing this post because I figure someone will read it and think I’m airing too much dirty laundry. But there it is. It’s all out there. None of it is false. No assumptions. No secrets.
I’ll write more about what I do to cope in a later post. It’s been a long day.