I have written about how my mother accused me of flirting with her boyfriend’s when I was only a young teenage girl. I have expressed the pain of being accused of causing one of her boyfriends to come into my bedroom in the night and how it was communicated to me by my mother that I must have done something to send him the message that I wanted him to… and that I ‘invited him’ by some action that I wasn’t aware of. I have expressed the terror of “causing this to happen again” that I lived with for so long after that, because I was not protected or believed and instead I was blamed. And soon after that it was as though my mother saw me as a threat to HER after her, which makes sense if she really believed that I HAD done something to attract him even though I was an innocent teenager and a victim of his assault. By the time I was 15 my mother was accusing me of acting inappropriately with her men.
But there was another consequence to that event that I have not written about; my mother flirted with my boyfriends. It was very confusing to me when my mother expressed inappropriate interest in some of the boys in my life. She said inappropriate things to them. She acted in a way that confused me, embarrassed me and hurt me. I felt powerless and stunned ~ I can’t even express everything about HOW it made me feel when my mother did this stuff. I still don’t have the words.
The first time I heard the expression ‘Cougar’ as a description for a mature woman who goes after young men, I cringed. The though repulsed me and I felt creeped out. In my mind’s eye I felt like I was physically trying to push something away from me.
As is common for me when a new ‘reminder of the past pops up” I thought those feelings of disgust that I had had something to do with me…that perhaps I needed to check my actions in case I was acting like a cougar, but I quickly realized that if this expression had existed when I was a teenager, my mother may have been called a cougar. She certainly fit the description of one. That little fact was the actual trigger of my reaction to the word and concept of what a “Cougar” is. My mother may have been a cougar.
I started to recall the feelings that came up for me back then when my mother acted flirty towards my male friends. What a terrible feeling it was to feel ‘threatened’ by my own mother; to feel afraid that my own mother might try to get something going on with one of my boyfriends or with one of my friends that was 25 years younger than her. I can’t even label the feelings in a way that sits right with me; I don’t know if I felt ‘jealous’ ~ but I suppose that whatever that feeling is, it is related to jealousy in the way that I was afraid that she was trying to take my romantic interest away from me or that she wanted to have a romance of her own with MY guy. I don’t think that type of jealously is something that is normal for a daughter to feel about her mother. I think it is caused by the actions of the mother.
I felt ‘uncertain’ about my own mother’s intentions towards my boyfriends. It’s so odd, and it isn’t easy to explain. I felt ‘powerless’ and perhaps that was her intent; to remind me that in all situations, and even when it comes to MY boyfriends, she wanted to remind me that I WAS powerless. She wanted to remind me that she is the queen, the god and that she is always in control of whatever was going on in my life. My mother seemed to have to remind me that she could make me or break me. She had to make sure that I always knew that I was not ever going to be as important as her and that no matter what, she could take whatever happiness that I had. She had to remind me that she owned me and that she held ALL the power.
My own mother was ‘competing with me’ in the dating arena to feel her own power. What a sick way to feel better about herself and to build her own ego up. What a sick way for her to validate her own attractiveness. At my expense; she invalidated me, she walked over me in order to feel better about herself. And that is not at all related to parental love. That kind of sick treatment towards a daughter is toxic.
I don’t know what was worse, the feeling of embarrassment, that my mother was flirting with my friends, or the awkward “not knowing how to respond or act” feeling. I still remember not even knowing how to get my head around the idea that when I was 17 my mother was flirting with one of my 20 year old friends. And he was awkward at first, but then he started flirting back. It was horrifying. I was so scared that they were going to hook up later.
When I was 18 years old my mother flirted with my boyfriend. She sat on his lap and put her arms around his neck and said some flirty stuff to him. I remember how ‘helpless’ she made me feel. I felt frozen and powerless, unable to react, unable to STOP her or to stand up to her. I was unable to confront her. I was shut down and reminded that I didn’t matter. Even my boyfriend was not ‘off limits’ when it came to her.
I didn’t want to ‘feel’ as though I couldn’t ‘trust’ my own mother, it just felt so ‘wrong’ but what do you do when your mother does stuff like that? How was I supposed to feel? I couldn’t even put a name on those feelings. I was confused by her actions. I was shocked. I was uncomfortable and embarrassed. It was awkward.
But I didn’t have the words to confront her about it because she was my mother. How could my own mother be ‘a cougar’ when it came to MY boyfriend? My boyfriend and I didn’t even discuss it. It was one of those things that just got swept under the carpet where it grew and festered, destroying and corroding the already difficult and damaged toxic relationship that I had with my mother.
What kind of mother does that? What kind of mother has to send that kind of message to her own daughter? For years I asked myself what it was about me that caused my mother to treat me the way that she did. I wondered what it was about me that caused her to have so little regard for my feelings.
Today I realize that my mother’s feelings towards me were not about me; they were about her. The fact that she regarded me as competition when it came to her boyfriends was not about me, or anything that I did, it was about her. The fact that my toxic mother accused me of attracting her boyfriend into my room was not about me, it was about her. The way that my sick mother saw me as a threat to her, was not about me it was about her. The way that she communicated to me that I could never measure up to her was not about me… It was always about her…
Today I realize that it wasn’t about me. And the bottom line is that was the problem in the first place… nothing was ever about me.
Please share your thoughts. This post relates to all actions that discount and disrespect the daughter or son in the parent/child relationship. These feelings and the message communicated by the parent can be communicated in many other ways besides the way that I have highlighted here.
Exposing Truth; one snapshot at a time,
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