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I'm so disappointed in my mum

Community Member

Yesterday I sat down with my mum to try and explain why I've declined to go to the next family birthday do. For the first time I outlined what it has meant for me to have anxiety, like actually what it means in day to day life. I then talked about the family group dynamics and what I see going on and why I get so anxious. By the end she was only humouring me. At times she stated/threatened that I have to be careful as there are "consequences", also mentioned that I'll loose my relationships. She was quite upfront about it.

Then at the end she launched into this whole spiel about how life gets easier as the kids get older and I need to make sure I don't prolong the difficulty with decisions now. I need to get out and make friends; queue advise on how to do that... totally ignoring what I had explained about anxiety. She told me that the difficulties I have with the dynamics can only be changed by me (read between the lines, it's my fault). She told me to use disassociation as a coping mechanism to ignore the meanness and manipulation. And yes, she should actually know what disassociation is.

She learnt nothing about me. I secretly recorded it so my husband and I could listen to it, and together we were able to identify the maniplutaions, gaslighting etc. She talked about how she and Dad would watch me get bullied as a kid and they did nothing because "what can you do?"... leave, you can take your child and leave. You can teach your child what is happening and how to stand up for themself... unless of course you don't want them to use those skills to stand up to you.

I feel so exhausted and overwhelmingly sad today. I've held out hope that it's just my dad that is the bully in the family, but yesterday my mum proved she is right in there with him.

7 Replies 7

Skary Bill
Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member


It sounds like our mum's would get along great. They could chat about how when you and I want it badly enough, we'll just get over our anxiety.. {Sigh/facepalm}

The bottom line is they just don't get it. And I'm going to steal one of my mum's favorite lines and use it against her lol. "People only know what they know." I see mine listening.. I also see her eyes glaze over as her mind wanders lol. Sometimes it feels like you're describing being stuck in a desert to a penguin.. And they're like yeah..But have you tried just sliding on your belly? Maybe you need to swim more and get more mackerel in your diet... It's frustrating to say the least.. Bordering on infuriating.

The sad reality that I've come to accept is that I can't talk to mum about anxiety. And it's not because she's a bad person or doesn't care. She just simply lacks the experience to appreciate what I'm describing and so she falls back on what she knows and advises accordingly. And seriously wth is with watching your kid get bullied!??!i! Mine did that too, and I've spoken with her about it. Why didn't you do something? I ask.. Oh well you were just a normal kid, and kids being kids.. etc.. Were all the kids being bullied? I ask.. Oh I guess we'll change subject now lol. So I normally don't talk to her about that either.

Sigh.. Family, you don't get to choose them and you don't have to like them. About all one can do is accept them for who they are and selectively measure one's exposure to them. I will say one thing that is almost like what your mum said. And that is to caution against falling into a pattern of avoidance. That is a mistake I made, and while I don't questions the reason why I distanced myself from family and others in the first place. I have to acknowledge that a decade or so later, I am feeling very isolated and really have nobody to blame but myself.

So with all due respect to your anxiety, I would still encourage you to participate when you can. We are at the end of the day social creatures. But don't do it because you feel obligated. Do it on your terms and do it for you.


white knight
Community Champion
Community Champion

Hi, welcome

I see what you are saying. If I can be a devils advocate for a while.?

See, I was 54yo and my sister 49yo when we both terminated our relationship with our mother but we had gone through many ordeals with her and tolerated her, ignoring our pleas for her to seek out treatment, diagnosis as we believed she has BPD (borderline personality disorder). That can be a destructive disorder for family and friends. I mean she even ruined my first wedding and 25 years later threatened to ruin my second one. Hence a court order was obtained and I haven't seen her since (9 years).

Now, ask yourself, do you think you have exhausted all avenues to having a relationship with your mother? EG Have you considered a relationship that has less contact?

The main reason I suggest this is that people with no mental disorder usually do not have the capacity to understand those that do. This can be compared to a non smoker wondering how a smoker cant just stop smoking and so on. This is why we get the "just get over it" comments. Anxiety to your mother MIGHT mean nothing to her or slight nervousness. I know when I told my closest cousin about my depression he said "so what are you sad about"...I wanted to yell at him "It isn't about sadness!!!" Yet he does , love me we are like brothers. I just don't expect any understanding because -he doesn't have the capacity

So I have a few more things to say and recommend.

1/ I suggest you don't record people. This is because it is illegal if you don't have their consent. If for example it got back to her one day it would cause irreparable damage.

2/ Some people are programmed a certain way eg you mentioned "gaslighting". They are usually not wise to their own behavior. This is why one should always give the other party chances to a/ redeem themselves to understand b/ seek therapy with you

3/ Try distancing yourself from anyone that is toxic only the bad ones

4/ boost confidence

5/ Google - (first post of each thread)

Beyondblue topic they just wont understand- why?

Beyondblue topic fortress of survival

Beyondblue topic fortress of survival part 2

Beyondblue topic wit- the only answer to torment

Beyondblue topic anxiety, how I eliminated it

So, if you keep anyone in your life that causes you issues you can respond firmly eg "that's gaslighting mum" or "mum, I'm not in this world to live up to family's expectations".

If you have second thoughts down the track on such decisions you don't want guilt or regrets.


Thank you Bill, it's nice to know I'm not the only one out there. The expectation in my family is that everyone will attend every get together, which includes birthdays, Easter, Christmas, and mothers and Father's Day. It works out about every 6 weeks year long. This is the first time I've declined one, and I only declined it, not any others. It's just astounding I've been met with warnings of broken relationships...

I completely agree she just doesn't understand about anxiety. I thought she was understanding, until the advice started.

This was meant to be a bit of testing of the waters to see how much I could selectively measure my exposure, and she's all but said it's all or nothing. I find that really sad because if I only have so much of myself to give and have to choose between my husband and kids or my parents and siblings, my mother will not be happy with my choice. It doesn't have to be so black and white though.

Thank you TonyWK,

I am at the point where I'm exploring reduced contact options. My sister blocked contact with the family (me included) 15 or so years ago, and I never really understood why. I went through an abusive marriage and since have realised the manipulation technics he used are also prevalent in my family. I just never saw them before. I've tried talking to various family members, but this has not gone well. The issue I have is that the family stuff triggers my anxiety, so an afternoon social engagement easily upsets me and my husband and kids dramatically for 3 weeks. And with a 6 weeks interval for these family events... it's really not good.

As for your suggestions... thank you. I realise recording is not okay. It's not something I did easily, but I did it for a specific reason. It won't be repeated.

Im trying to figure out how to destinguish family members so I don't loose all of them. At the moment though, everything is done as a group, so this is difficult.

Thank you for the google suggestions. I spend a lot of time reading up on different dynamics and how to handle them, about different conditions and how to manage/improve them. This gives me more avenues to explore.

Im finding as I get stronger I am responding in the moment. But this is a slow process. I've mostly not realised it at the time (hence why recording and listening back was a helpful exersize), but I'm getting better at this.

Well done and it was good Bill chipped in with a similar experience

There are techniques you can use like facebook where you can have a relationship outside of the 6 weekly drama. I'd explore that.

In effect your mother is placing unfair expectations on your lifestyle. If you halved these events it might be better overall and your mother might back off.

A book called "walking on eggs shells" is relevant. Or google waif hermit queen witch

In particular the "queen" who's character is most insistent.

Hope that helps


I googled waif hermit queen witch as you suggested. My world has been turned upside down, I didn't know...

My ex I believe was a narcissist. I've researched those traits extensively. That didn't fit my mum, but I could see her using similar aggression/techniques to manipulate. Reading about the Queen, it fits so well. I even can identify where she has slipped into the other personas at times.

This explains so much.

Thank you for responding TonyWK, and you too Bill. I didn't have a question specifically, but the input you've both provided has been invaluable.

Well that note of gratigication just blew me away.

Until we understand where others treatment of us is so wrong and documented, we find it hard to move forward.

Thanks for making my day so wonderful.