Foundation of a Dysfunctional Mother Daughter Relationship

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Dysfunctional Mother Daughter Relationship

Today I’m highlighting a snapshot of where the dysfunctional mother daughter relationship began between my mother and I. The emotional abuse and dysfunction began before this event, but this was the point of no return.

Just a couple of months shy of my 13th birthday, my parents separated. That in and of itself isn’t the worst thing that can happen to a kid, but as in everything else in life it all depends on how it is handled. Kids need a little help handling that kind of a thing and neither of my parents was very helpful. For my mother it was all about her. For my father it was all about him.

My father had just been transferred and we had to move from Montreal Quebec to Mississauga Ontario and away from all the friends we had. My mother didn’t have any support. Even long distance phone calls back then were an expense that we couldn’t afford.  I am not sure why my Dad picked that time to leave, but that is the way it was. My mother had a serious breakdown and since my mother was susceptible to having mental health breakdowns and serious depressions, it wasn’t surprising.

I was the only girl in the family. I am not sure what my brothers went through. I don’t remember if I ever talked about it with them or not. As for me though, my mother leaned on me. I became her confidant her support and her friend. It might not have been so bad if she had not been suicidal.

We lived in a newly developed neighbourhood in a beautiful new house. It was so new that many of the homes were not finished being built and there was no grass in yet. We were living in a construction site and there were huge holes, wooden ramps and plank sidewalks. The ground was uneven everywhere. My mother would go walking in the dark of night and because everything was so new, there were no streetlights yet. I pictured her weeping and stumbling around the neighbourhood alone in the dark. I pictured her that way because she told me that wandered around in the dark and she was hoping she would fall in one of those construction site holes and die. I felt so sorry for her. I wanted to help her; I wanted to be the friend she needed to support her through that time in her life. I believed that the whole burden of whether she lived or died was on my shoulders. I was only 12 years old.

This one incident impacted me and the rest of my life in such a huge way. What 12 year old would refuse this burden? How was I supposed to deal with this? What choice did I really have? Looking back my father was not exactly the kind of dad that I believed would have taken care of me if my mother died, I mean if you think about it, he was the one who moved her away from all her friends just a few months before he left her and I don’t recall even one time when he talked to me about how difficult this was or even asked me how I was doing. Why didn’t he see how distraught she was, and why didn’t he realize that I was staggering under the burden of her dilemma and thinking that it was up to me if she made it or not? What would have become of me if my mother did commit suicide especially if my father didn’t care? And finally, why did my mother forget that I was only 12.

This incident laid the foundation for the rest of the dysfunctional mother daughter relationship my mother and I had to play out. I suppose that this laid the foundation for the nonexistent father daughter relationship I had with my father too. Things might have been tough before, but now they were disastrous.  

 If you are interested in more history regarding my mother daughter relationship stuff, please visit the mother daughter category button under the header graphic. This story is an example of emotional abuse by both my parents. Stay tuned; I will continue.

Please feel free to share your viewpoints or your experiences. As always I truly appreciate your comments.  

Darlene Ouimet

53 response to "Foundation of a Dysfunctional Mother Daughter Relationship"

  1. By: San Posted: 26th January 2013

    Jenny,

    Your perspective provides great insight to how a mother on the side of the relationship feels/has felt. While I am not being objective on your thoughts, feelings, or position I am just stating from that position and situation. When my mother tells everyone we are with, when we are in a public setting, that I hate her; I say nothing. This isn’t because I hate her. This is simply because of how ludicrous the statement and that explaining or running over myself trying to deny the accusation isn’t worth it. On the other hand, maybe she does hate you. As everyone in the thread has mentioned the fix to the issue starts with you. You can only do your part. Talk with her and exhaust all of your efforts and when those fails continue to do everything in your power to make the best of the situation.

  2. By: Monica A. Posted: 27th December 2012

    Today I had a very eye-opening conversation with my mother. Well, more of a lecture. She told me and my younger sister while we were washing the dishes that she gave us everything and all we gave back was disrespect. She said it might be best if she just went back to the Philippines (where she grew up and where her family is) where she was loved and cared for.She said she didn’t think my father, her husband loved her anymore. She was crying through the whole thing. Our relationship hasn’t always been the best- she always expects more than I have to give and denies her part in any problem or argument. She frequently feels picked on and unloved. I tend to shut her out of my life and yes it is true- I am not always the most respectful when conversing with her. We’ve argued before. Ever since I was about 8 or 9. Once on a vacation to Disneyland we had a big argument that ended in her freezing me out while I cried in my Father’ s arms. My story certainly isn’t as tragic as any posted here but I feel we do have a problem and since I’ m still relatively young and living at home, I want to know if there is anything I can do to fix our relationship. I love my Mother but I don’t think our relationship is heading for happy years. I know this is a late post but I would love a word of advice.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 27th December 2012

      Hi Monica
      The best advice that I can give you is to keep reading. The mother daughter categories and the family category would be a good place to start.
      It is wonderful that you are willing to work on this and if your mother is willing to work on it too, then you can have success in this relationship! It is important that BOTH people work on it though. Relationship is never one sided.
      Hugs, Darlene

  3. By: semion Posted: 15th October 2012

    I wish you all peace and joy on your journey.

    I have seeing the cycle continue with my ex and her mother and now to my daughter. Trying to be the best dad I can. I am in the final stages of divorcing ad would appreciate any advice on breaking the cycle.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 15th October 2012

      Hi Semion
      Welcome to EFB! There is tons of info in this site (over 360 articles all with discussions) about breaking the cycle by finding out what the cycle is and how it starts. Having said that I will also say that empowering kids to know they are loved and accepted goes a long long way. What is missing in most kids is the knowledge that they are enough and that they are equally valuable to the adults in their lives. They can’t learn that any other way but by the action of love, respect and acceptance. YAY for you trying to break the cycle! Hope to hear from you again.
      Hugs, Darlene

  4. By: Mimi Posted: 21st February 2012

    SMD,
    Thanks for your comments. I’m a work in progress with self love also. Since I have set out some things for my mother to think about, it’s been very quiet. I haven’t heard from her much. I’ve been blessed by that in two ways. I got to actually speak and hold her accountable, and subsequently, she’s withdrawn, and I’ve needed that space to think clearly.

    The result of that space from her has been exactly what Darlene describes about the fog lifting. I didn’t think I would ever understand that, but I’m starting to now (I think). It’s as if I was under a shadow cast by my mother. It’s the strangest thing to try to explain. Even if I didn’t talk to her for a few weeks before, I was still under that shadow. For the first time in my life, I feel like the sun is starting to shine, and the shadow is moving; the fog is lifting. I’m a little scared to celebrate that still.

    My hope is that as the fog lifts, other things will fall into place, or at least be easier to guide into place. Self love is one of those things. I want to be comfortable in my skin, stop avoiding mirrors, be content with my decisions, etc, etc. I am hopeful.

    I wish the deepest form of self love for you SMD. We all deserve that, right? 🙂
    With enormous HOPE,
    Mimi

  5. By: SMD Posted: 21st February 2012

    Hi Mimi,

    Thanks so much for sharing your healing process. I love your insightful statement,”it is out of love; for myself, more love for myself than for her.” There IS Nothing selfish about that!..I’m glad you took my statement the right way…I was worried you’d think I meant your selfish, which is far from the truth. SELF LOVE is important and I’m a work in progress when it comes to that!
    Peace to you & for sharing so much of yourself in your posts.
    Sincerely, SMD

  6. By: Mimi Posted: 21st February 2012

    SMD,
    It took me what seems like forever to get to the perfect place ~ the place where I had a golden opportunity, and I was ready at the same time. During that waiting time, my emotions and intentions were like being on a roller coaster. I would plan an idea of what to say/do with my mother, then it could be only a minute later, I’d have a different plan. It was grueling not being settled on ONE idea or emotion. But, things evolved to the point that it was time to act. I am so thankful that I’ve finally acted and the decisions, worrying and rumination are behind me. UGH….that period of limbo, waiting to be ready, or for a good oppotunity, or both. It’s not at all easy. It consumed me really.

    After taking a first step, I felt liberated and a little empowered. I held my mother accountable for lying. It’s been something like a month now since that initial email. Although there’s been a little correspondence, she has acted like she didn’t even see the part about the lies. I keep pointing her back to that first email. By saying she loves me and misses me, and she’s ready to be accountable, she thinks I will forget that initial email. She thinks she can still touch on that tender side of me that really loves her. Unfortunately, that little spot within me has become so small, I don’t think she’ll ever touch it again. I’m aware of what her mushy words are designed to do now. To weaken me.

    I’m reminded of the process of discovering what those mushy words TRULY meant. Perhaps the worst pain I’ve ever felt. Ironically, she never even SAID those words until the past few years. When I was reunited with my dad’s sister, it started then, after our very first meeting with her. OHHHHH, the crap that would unfold following that!! Sheesh, just crazy stuff!!

    Anyhow, SMD I hope your heart isn’t broken again too. Peace to you as you reach toward that goal of cutting all ties.

    One more thing, I never thought of it before ~ the way you stated coming from a place of LOVE not EGO. It struck me so hard when I stopped on that statement. I thought to myself, “It is out of love; for myself; more love for myself than for her, wow, there’s nothing at all selfish about that. Isn’t it past time, after 43 years?” After being brainwashed unto her way of thinking, it’s easy to fall back into the thought that she’s more important than me, and in all instances her feelings come before mine. I know in healthy people, it’s not that way. Thanks for reminding me that it is in love.

    Peace, love, and hope!!!
    Mimi

  7. By: SMD Posted: 20th February 2012

    Mimi,
    It felt good to read your post! You got to the heart of the matter by saying, “My only interest is to be free of what has bound me for so long.” The point is to face the TRUTH of what was done. Coming from LOVE not EGO.
    I’m to the point of being tired & fed up with my toxic family. Like I said in a previous post, Why continue to be poisoned, when you already know that every time you go back to the source, the same thing will happen!…I’m staying away more often, and My goal is to break the ties, I just haven’t gotten to that place yet. I’ll know when that day comes and hopefully before I get my heart broken again. Peace Out!
    Sincerely, SMD

  8. By: Mimi Posted: 20th February 2012

    Darlene,
    Your words always bless me. Thank you!!!
    Mimi

  9. By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 20th February 2012

    Mimi
    Although your comment here is to Jenny, I feel nurtured by it and I hope everyone reads it. This is the heart of healing. What you wrote “IS” the point. This was my goal too even when I didn’t know it. Thank you so much for writing and for sharing your heart with Jenny and with all of us here.
    Hugs, Darlene

    p.s. Jenny, I too hope to see you again. What Mimi is saying is like gold.

  10. By: Mimi Posted: 20th February 2012

    Hi Jenny,
    I have reread your first post calling out to daughters who blame their moms, and the Freudian reference, etc.

    I want to make a point that I don’t feel in my heart that I’m “actively” blaming my mother. At the age I am, what I seek is peace and harmony, and I want to thrive with passion about things, etc. I have been in counseling off and on since I was 14 years old. I spent a week on a hospital psych floor in my early 20s. It’s not like counseling isn’t something I haven’t taken up. My interest isn’t in blaming, shouting, pointing fingers, slathering guilt, etc. My only interest is to be free of what has bound me for so long. I have no desire to speak to my mother and say, “you did this to me”. It would do no good anyway.

    To me in my particular circumstances, I can liken it to an abusive husband, or boyfriend, partner, etc. It gets to a point where you don’t want that lifestyle anymore. You must have felt that when you left your husband. That is EXACTLY where I am with my mother. I don’t want this facade anymore. Not so I can point fingers… so I can be free to be me. Did you leave your husband so you could blame him, or because you wanted to be free?? My guess is at the root of it all, you just wanted to be free of the abuse, etc. That’s where I am today with my mother.

    It seems like in most one-sided relationships, there is eventually a breaking point, or rock bottom, where the abused says, “I’m outta here. There has to be a better life.”

    My breaking point was last year. I assure you it’s not so I can point the finger at my mom. I think any number of women here would choose to have a loving mother over a total breakdown of the mother/daughter relationship. I know I would.

    If what your doing has worked for you and you’re truly healed from everything, I certainly applaud you. I’m don’t honestly believe that is the answer for everyone, however. And, I do think (just my opinion) that there must be a stone left unturned, or you wouldn’t be here, and your relationship with your daughter wouldn’t be strained.

    One last thought regarding blame. If I blamed my mother even a tenth of the blame she has placed on me for nearly every little bump in her road of 70 years, I bet she’d be trying to escape me too. If we want to discuss the blame game, my mother would be a certain finalist. That said, the person with the blame problem in my specific scenario would be my mother. My job has always been to keep my mouth shut. It’s hard to blame with a closed mouth and brainwashed mind.

    Just my thoughts Jenny. I hope to see you again.
    Blessings,
    Mimi

  11. By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 20th February 2012

    Mimi
    I love your feedback here.
    Thank you for sharing your story about your father. My mother did her best to turn me against my father too. It was a “extra layer” of healing that I had to go through because the truth was buried deeper with her lies on top of his lies.
    I love what you said about adding a “but” ~ that applies to SO many situations. My mother is famous for her “but” and I had to take a close look at the way she used it.
    I also love your point about the word “require” ~ my mother also never saw me as an individual.
    Thank you for sharing.
    Hugs, Darlene

  12. By: Mimi Posted: 19th February 2012

    Hi Jenny,
    If your daughter has expressed the reason she’s angry is because you distanced her from her father, then that’s probably the reason. I don’t think you can add a “but” to that. “But I was protecting her” is what you said.

    My father was violent at times. He never hurt my sisters or I, never even spanked us that I know of. His anger was toward my mother. As a result of that, my mother’s fear, or alleged fear of him spilled over into every aspect of our lives. We all lived in terror. My father willingly left us behind when I was 11. From that time until just a few months ago, my mother has dramatized, retold, emphasized, etc, etc, the horror in our household from what is now 32-42 years ago. After my dad left, she instilled the fear that he wanted to steal me from her. I had to look over my shoulder all the time, waiting for him to attack. The truth was, there was little evidence that he would do that. She was carefully laying the foundation for what would become a life of distance from my father. I never had to wonder if he loved me or thought about me because she made sure I knew he didn’t. I know it was my dad’s reponsibility to maintain contact, I didn’t need her constant reminders. She wanted to solidify her place within me to make sure there was no place for him. It worked for several years. Now, I am in a relationship with him, although it’s not what I would call deep. It is mine though. It isn’t hers anymore. She doesn’t get to dictate what I feel or what he feels. What she still cannot understand to this day is, he is my father. The only bio father I have. She had a loving father that supported her until he passed away. She never cares to put herself in my shoes, a life and childhood without my dad. A life of hearing her mouth off about how he didn’t love me and never would. All that did was cause bitterness toward her on my part. It was never her place to decide how he felt and then force feed it to me. From my perspective, she was trying to make sure I was always under her thumb by making him out to be a monster, telling me he didn’t love me 100s of times, etc, etc, etc. It’s not your place to decide if your daughter forgives him. It’s hers. It is between her and him. You really have no place in the dynamics of that. The more you bash him, the harder she will run toward him.

    When you used the word “required”, I heard my own mother. She views me as an extension of herself. Not a separate entity that gets to live and make choices, and be independent. She views herself as someone so important that I should “require” her in my life for my mere survival. It’s just not that way. I am separate from her.

    Also, when Darlene said “hear” your daughter, I think that was very sound advice. Not that she hasn’t screamed at you or that you haven’t heard her loud and clear. But listening and hearing are two different things. I think if my mother would listen with an open heart, and a genuine desire to better our relationship, we could really move forward. The big roadblock is not IN the blame I’ve ever placed on her. The roadblock is she is in denial. It has nothing to do with whatever blame I feel. She lives a life of lies, manipulation, thievery, deception, projection, the list goes on.

    I am not a person who can’t forgive. I can and have. I can forgive mistakes she made when she was raising 3 young kids in her 20’s. I don’t think I would have known how to do that either. BUT, we all got older and the crappy stuff she pulled only escalated and continues to this day. I have lived a sifled life of depression, fear, anxiety, agoraphobia, anger, etc. Do I hear you saying that if I would just suck it up and pretend it didn’t happen, everything would be okay? We would all live happily ever after?? If I just go ahead and accept this lackluster life in order to preserve my relationship with her, that THAT is the superior choice? Jenny, I want to LIVE!!!!!!! I want freedom, and I want to be fearless and I want to thrive. Not just drudge through every day. I’ve learned that the best way for me personally to reverse the damage inside and live a life of truth, I have to do some digging, face some pain, tell myself the truth, tell others the truth, and move forward. Not living a facade is what it’s about for me. A perfect example would be my mother never allowing lying. That was the BIG SIN in our house. But, now, her lies are being uncovered. Does that mean I have to brush it under the rug? She gets to lie ABOUT me, but the rules are different for me??

    Finally, I just want to say Jenny, your daughters anger and lashing out didn’t come from the blue. My mother is so mystified by the distance my sisters and I have created the past year. It isn’t even about blaming her. It’s about living a life of wholeness, peace, and leaving the drama in the wake. Have you analyzed why your daughter has created this distance with you? There’s a reason. Did you go with your heart in your hand, knowing what she says no matter how bad it hurts, it’s what you have to hear? And,then follow up and make changes to repair your relationship? I always have this day dream of my mother coming to me sitting on the edge of my bed while I’m laying down. Extending her hand to me and saying, “I’m sorry, how can I help you, or make this better?” If my mother ever even THOUGHT about doing that, our relationship would be vastly different today. She has recently sent me an email claiming she’s ready to be accountable and move forward. I haven’t seen anything that leads to that end however. Until I do, I ask YOU why I should let her be a hindrance to my truth and wholeness? Ignoring it has brought 43 years of discontent. Isn’t it time for a different approach?? I feel for you and I know this distance from your daughter is painful. I have this suspicion that what your daughter needs is for you to sit on her bedside, and offer her your hand.
    Peace to you and your daughter,
    Mimi

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