Was my Mother a Cougar? More on Toxic Mother Relationship Problems

my mother the cougar
I was innocent

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,

Darlene Ouimet

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Related Posts ~ The artilce about the night my mothers boyfriend came into my bedroom

Dysfunctional Mother Daughter relationship Category

62 response to "Was my Mother a Cougar? More on Toxic Mother Relationship Problems"

  1. By: Lisa Posted: 23rd March

    Hi Darlene (& all):

    It’s been a while since I’ve had time to read your blog and I saved this one to read especially because the title grabbed me. I knew I would relate to this somehow…and WOW, did I! Since I started reading your blog, I’ve started therapy – finally! The top thing we talk about it my mother because I realized since reading your blog is just how toxic a force she is in my life so I started to detach from her. She thinks that because she is biologically my mother, she should have a place in my life. Trust is something you earn, much like respect. She has never given me any reason to trust her.

    By the time I was 10 and told her about her boyfriend molested me, I was so programmed that when she told me I needed to protect myself by keeping my door closed, never come out unless I’m fully dresses (not even in a robe), I actually thought she was giving me good advice. She allowed him to live with us for more than a year after that.

    Reading your story, I thought about a boyfriend I had in high school. There was always ‘something’ gnawing at me about what happened then. I still can’t put my finger on it but at one point, I got an infection that when I look back, may have come from her. He gave her a dining room set that she still holds on to to this day (more than 30 years later). She doesn’t use it; it’s in her basement. I feel like it’s some sort of trophy for her.

    Later, she ‘hooked up’ with one of my older brother’s friends. I know this because we shared a bedroom at the time and I woke up to them having sex. There may have been more of my brother’s friends but that’s the only one I know for sure. We were always embarrassed because our mother never wore a bra and her ‘headlights’ were always on. She was also very loud during sex and we would often have to leave the house because of the embarrassment of hearing her have sex with her boyfriends.

    When I was in my 20’s, I lived with her and her new boyfriend for a short time. I still never come out the bathroom unless fully dressed. The reason I left was because she called me one day and asked me if I left my panties on the bathroom floor (I must’ve dropped them on the way out) to seduce her boyfriend. I was so angry that she dropped the subject and told me to forget she even asked but the damage was done. I only went back to the house to get my stuff. She is married to this man now and has been for about 20 years.

    To this day, when she calls, I cringe. She leaves messages that say things like “I have a questilon to ask you” all the time. Those rank right up there with “We need to talk” for me. The questions could be as inocuous as “Would you like to have dinner on Tuesday?” or they could be “Why won’t you forgive me?” I never know what it’s going to be any given time she calls. I do know now that I can’t trust her. I need to only allow her in my life on my terms, whatever those are at the moment.

    Thank you for sharing your story and providing this forum. It means so much to be able to ‘vent’ and know that you are not alone.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 24th March

      Hi Lisa
      Yuck. I could really relate to your comments. I don’t even know where to begin to respond because I can relate to almost all of it so I will leave it at that. good for you for deciding that you will allow her in your life on YOUR terms.
      Thanks so much for sharing,
      Hugs, Darlene

  2. By: Laura S Posted: 22nd March

    I want to say thank you to all of you as you share your stories. As a single mom of two, a boy and a girl, I am encouraged on how to help them lead a healthy life by remembering the things that lead to dysfunction which i choose not to live in. So while each of you are working towards healing remember that your past does help the future of those around you when you let it.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 22nd March

      Hi Laura S.
      Yes, it is so important that when we understand how that dysfuncition damaged us, that we can be more aware of NOT repeating it.
      Thanks for sharing! The most valuable thing I have ever done as a parent was to heal from the damage and the abuse in my own life. The positive effect that this has had on my children could fill a book of it’s own.
      hugs, Darlene

  3. By: kathryn Posted: 21st March

    I dont think i understand this well cuz my parents were not sexual around me at all. I was never told one thing about sex men boyfriends annnyything.
    I was told that there is something wrong with the way i look and the way i am and who would want that..no one. I felt beyond tom boy ackwardness, i felt likean alien with guys. I forced myself to finally get a boyfriend before graduating high school. I had no examples of relationship relating at all. My parents acted like aliens that never touch each other. Oh and also i got beat up when mu dad saw me kissing a guy at 15. That is probably the reason i didnt have relationships. Or loving relationships and ended up marrying a narcissist.my father killed the love for guys for me. And the next couple narcs i was with killed it again. I pray i will meet a normal guy soon.
    I had no idea i was pretty until about 30 yrs old. Sigh.. so crazy. And then after that i still cringed at photos of me. Its just so incomprohensably sad to know my parents didnt tell me i was pretty on purpose. It is so sad to know they screwed me up so badly on purpose.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 22nd March

      Hi Kathryn
      Yes, the self esteem that was never put in place by the parents is always at the root of the whole thing. That was always at the root of my recovery too ~ layer upon layer of replacing my self esteem by facing how it got damaged and went missing in order to restore it.
      Thanks for sharing,
      Hugs, Darlene

  4. By: Pam Posted: 21st March

    Darlene, I consider my parents disorders to be character disorders and their personality disorders I believe, were born out of the original. The way they chose to do life made them mentally ill. Isn’t that how it works for most of us when we get stuck in our coping mechanisms?


  5. By: Pamela Posted: 21st March

    This post really rings bells for me. My mother was constantly all over my boyfriends..she’d pat the couch and tell them to sit next to her and tell her all about themselves. She would rub their shoulders and smile and wink. One guy said it creeped him out so bad he refused to come back to my house!And naturally if they ignored her, I wasn’t allowed to date them because there was something wrong with them. I had no self esteem growing up because my mother always talked about how wonderful her “golden child” was while I was cast as a slug. Like others have posted I recently saw a picture of myself when I was 16 and I was overwhelmed. I took it to my therapist and told him that I was stunned because the girl in the picture was really pretty. See, my mother burnt all the pictures of me taken in my childhood (my cousin sent me the picture I have now) so, I always had this image that she and my sister had given me of a pudgy, acne face, oily stringy hair kid. I don’t remember my weight but I do know I wore a size 5 jeans. Why was i called pudgy??? Because my sister was overweight! I could never be better than her. Sorry…I know this is starting to ramble but this post and the replies have hit so many buttons. I am so sorry this had to happen to us however, I am so grateful to Darlene for getting it out there and giving us all a place of healing.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 22nd March

      Hi Pamela
      Welcome to EFB
      It is amazing how all these different examples of abusive mother behaviour all end in the same result. I was remembering earlier on this thread how my mother was so proud of me when creepy older men leared at me, and I think my mother thought I was pretty, but because of all the other stuff that happened, I too didn’t realize that I was pretty until my self esteem was restored.
      Thanks for sharing ~ I am glad that you are here.
      Hugs, Darlene

  6. By: Daisy Posted: 21st March

    Darlene, thank you for acknowledging what happened to me. The incest in my family is not something I can talk about to anyone else in my life. My parents neglect and physical abuse seems to have done the most damage, but as I’m healing I’m also starting to really look at all aspects of my childhood that were wrong.

    Thank you and all here who make EFB a safe place.

  7. By: Kera Posted: 21st March

    Darlene (Comment #11)

    Thank you so much for your validating words! I struggled with whether or not to post that comment … because I feared I was the only one who would get the meaning behind my FOO’s hurtful words. (I guess I’ve just gotten used to the common response from others of: ‘I’m sure they meant well” vs. “I see the full true meaning/intent behind their words”) Covert abuse is an excellent way of putting it! (Thank you!) They have this amazing talent for getting their words to be dripping with meaning and manipulation – but have encased those words just enough to the point that they will have plausible deniability if they are ever confronted about their hurtfulness. (“But I was only saying how much I love your father’s hands … you REALLY need to stop being so sensitive and twisting my words … it hurts me so much”) AHHH! SO frustrating.

    I love how you said (#30) that Diagnosis doesn’t make a difference to you. That is so true … it is what it is. Diagnosis or not, the damage is the same. (the fact that they are able to hide their bad behavior from ones ‘outside the circle’ shows that its conscious. I never realized how true that was with my FOO, before EFB. Thank you for that realization! It’s really helped me stop making excuses for them and helped me get un-stuck from their crazy web. Feeling so much better! (Love your posts! Thanks again!)

    Alice (#16) – thank you for sharing your experience! It helps me to know that I’m not alone with my own experiences. I’m sorry you had to deal with that kind of demeaning stuff too 🙁 …

    Caliban’s Sister (#20) – “” She never spent a dollar on my education, now tries to claim credit for what I’ve become “” – I know! What IS that? Anything you’ve done in their eyes that is good the response is “She’s only good at that because I _______” But, if you do something they don’t like (i.e. -gasp!- have an opinion of your own) they turn around and act like “I don’t know where SHE get’s THAT from … I certainly NEVER taught her to be so disrespectful” … I guess it all just goes back to being seen only as an extension of them, rather than as an individual. It’s so refreshing to finally realize WHY that always made me feel bad – and to be able to move forward from that. (ps, how confusing/frustrating that must’ve been for you to have your mom to give you dirty hostile looks like you were bad for the way someone ELSE was looking at you! -Rather than respond with a protective “Don’t look at my young daughter like that!” it was more about what YOU were taking away from HER … so wrong!)


  8. By: Michelle Posted: 20th March

    Histrionic personality disorder? Perhaps comorbid with some narcissism?

    Just wondering…

    Certainly abnormal, dysfunctional and toxic.

    My mom, for all her craziness, did not act cougarish. But I have a creepy cousin who is total hpd and dressed in the most inappropiate outfits ever around her son’s friends. Yuck.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 21st March

      Diagnosis doesn’t make any difference to me. 🙂 (I don’t even believe in 75% of them) I don’t consider my mother to be a narcissist because a disorder is NOT controllable and what my mother did was very controlled. She made sure that she didn’t do this stuff in front of the ‘wrong people’ for the most part.
      It is certainly YUCK!
      Thanks for sharing!
      Hugs Darlene

  9. By: Daisy Posted: 20th March

    I wonder sometimes if my sexual abuse/incest was an element of deliberate negligence by my mother. I’m one of eight children in a 3 bedroom house. The girls slept in 1 room the boys in another. Some of us slept top to toe in single beds. She “allowed” my 14 year old brother to sleep in my bed when I was 11. This happened because the brother he usually slept with was sick. My oldest brother took my virginity that night and we subsequently had 2 more encounters.

    What kind of mother would allow a 14 year old boy sleep with his 11 year old sister for 3 nights and be oblivious to the outcome? Come to think of it, wouldn’t my father have know too?

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 21st March

      Hi Daisy
      And even if she was NOT aware, and didn’t think about the danger at all, it is so important that we acknowledge the damage in order to heal from it. It is okay to be angry and hurt by parents even if they didn’t realize the danger.
      Having said that, I am so sorry that happened to you! This is so horrible!
      Hugs, Darlene

  10. By: Cathy Posted: 20th March

    The term “cougar” means women who date younger men. Mother’s who flirt and are giddy with their daughter’s boyfriend’s are sick, there is a difference.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 20th March

      Hi OnMyWay
      My mother had a steady boyfriend that was 27 or 28 when she was about 44 too. (not the guy that molested me but he was really young too)
      I really relate to your comments today. Thanks for sharing them. This stuff is painful but as you say it was more painful not to face any of it and pretend that my growing up years were ‘normal’ and that it was my fault that I was having issues because I couldn’t cope with “normal”.
      hugs, Darlene

      Hi Cathy,
      The man that molested me when I was a teenager (that I wrote about in this article) was 29 years old, quite a bit younger than my mother.. and as far as my friends I really have no idea if she hooked up with that 20 year old friend of mine that night. Creepy!
      Hugs, Darlene

  11. By: OnMyWay Posted: 20th March

    Dear Darlene,

    Thank you for sharing this. I am so sorry you had to endure the inappropriate and cruel behavior of your mother.

    The first time I remember being embarrassed about my mother’s “cougar” behavior was when I was a teenager and a female friend came over to pick me up for a New Years Eve party. My mother was getting ready to leave to a “club” or some party and had on a wig, false eyelashes, lots of make-up, and a very low cut sparkly halter top dress with no bra and her chest 1/2 hanging out. She looked like a hooker but I didn’t think anything of it. When my friend and I got to a party she told everyone how “sleazy” my mom looked and that she didn’t know any mom who dressed like that. I felt so embarrassed and ashamed. My mother was on the prowl for male attention but I was so numb and accustomed to it I never thought about it before then.

    When my mom was around 40 with 4 teenagers she was pursuing a guy who was 30 and had no children. She had met him at a small town bar “up-north” about 3 hours away from where we lived. Her parents lived there and she would go out drinking / dancing on Fri / Sat nights and leave us alone at her parents. She started going “up-north” without her kids every other weekend and left us home alone with no one to look out for us. Turns out the guy eventually told her that because of the age difference and her 4 teenagers he couldn’t see pursuing the relationship. She tried to convince him that people think she is much younger than she really is so they wouldn’t have to tell anyone. I actually felt sorry for my mom that she was so desperate for the younger guy that she was trying to convince him why he should stay with her.

    When I graduated high-school my mother hosted an “open-house” for me and invited her relatives. She did not speak to me or acknowlege my existence during high-school or at the open-house but she had to show her relatives what she was doing for me because it was expected in her FOO. When the “open-house” was winding down my older brother (20’s) had a friend come over to pick him up. My mom & her sister were flirting with him and wanted to know if he was single and talking about his body in front of me.

    Like some of you have mentioned in your posts, I didn’t know that I was attractive as a teenager. When I look at pictures now I see a beautiful young lady with a normal body. When I started to develop as a teenager and men started to notice & pay attention to me my mom (and her sisters) began to chip away at my self-esteem and body image. Looking back I can see that they had issues with their own looks / body image and hated any female they thought was competition. My mother would not take me shopping to buy clothes or make-up as a teen. She always laughed the loudest when her siblings di-sected my body. One of my aunts husband would stare at my body (in a creepy / inappropriate way) and made a compliment about my appearance in front of my aunt. She retaliated by making me get on the scale during holiday functions (in front of her husband) to show how abnormally over-weight I was getting. She made me stand next to her daughter to show how much taller / bigger I was. Another aunt who was large chested constantly talked about how flat chested I was. I had beautiful strawberry blond hair that men complimented. That meant my mother & her sisters had to tell me how stringy & greasy it looked. I tried to become invisible and melt into the background so they could find nothing about me to critize. One time my maternal uncle was over with his wife and they got in an argument. My uncle said I was prettier than his wife (in front of her). It was 30 years ago and his wife has humiliated / degraded me about my appearance every chance she has gotten since.

    It is painful to face the truth about these things but it is more painful to not face it.

    Thank you.

  12. By: Caliban's Sister Posted: 20th March

    Darlene, Kera et al, I remember one time coming home in the early evening, after a bike ride, when I was sixteen. My father wasn’t home. But our next door neighbor, a married man named Scott, was talking with my mother in our living room. I walked in the front door, said hello to them, and he looked me over, really gave that “assessing” look that men give young women they think are sexually attractive. It registered on me dimly that he was looking at me that way. Then I looked at my mother’s face. I didn’t understand at the time what I was seeing on her face, but I know now what it was. She was frowning at me with a look of sheer jealous resentment. She could tell that our neighbor was “sizing me up.” I registered these visual details of their faces but could not process what it meant, so I didn’t think too much about it. My mother was always looking at me with cold hostile facial expressions. So many times, for no reason. I now wonder whether my mother was having an affair with this neighbor. Never did know why he was in our house, at 7pm in the evening, when my father wasn’t home. They were only talking in the living room, but I definitely felt like I’d interrupted some important conversation. I’ll never forget the frank look of sexual appreciation he gave me, and my mother’s hostile “get the hell out of here” look. I was just a teenaged girl coming home after a summer evening bike ride. No wonder I could never understand why my mother “disliked” me so much. Later she became jealous of everything. My looks, my intellect, my achievements. F$%* it. She never spent a dollar on my education, now tries to claim credit for what I’ve become (while also stealing my ideas, and alienating me from my sisters). What a piece of work these narc mothers are.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 20th March

      Hi Caliban’s sister
      Your post reminded me of a few things; I remember many times where older men leared at me and my mother looked so proud! Sometimes she even commented about it like “did you see how that man looked at you?” and she was really happy. And that went along with how I was raised to believe that my looks and sexuality was my only value. So it was really confusing when she turned on me and was acting like I was her competition. This is such a huge subject! My mother went both ways with all this stuff. I was always in the spin trying to figure out which way she wanted me to be!
      Thanks for sharing; this is a great conversation!
      Hugs, Darlene

  13. By: Gidon Posted: 20th March

    As a man that went though physical, emotional abuse, and neglegance, but only suspect sexual abuse, I am alwas surprised how all your posts have relavance in understanding my impared social reactions in a compleatly differant enviorment.
    Thank you so much. I am always waitin for the next post.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 20th March

      Hi Gidon
      Welcome to Emerging from Broken
      Thank you. I try very hard to show that this stuff applies to all kinds of situations in dysfunctional families, not just to the details that I might share. (I actually have not shared that many on purpose)
      I am so glad that you shared; please feel welcome to share often!
      hugs, Darlene

  14. By: Raven Posted: 20th March

    My goodness Darlene. I just think that your mum being ‘jealous’ is so true. Instead of viewing you as an individual, or her daughter, she became a competitor. And that in itself is truly sick. I also think that when you started to mature and became ‘womanly’ she felt threatened. It’s just another horrible aspect of Narcs.

    In my family, because I am not ‘attractive, or beautiful’ because I was born with a birth defect, I didn’t count. So therefore, I wasn’t a threat. My mum didn’t teach me about sex, she kind of thought or believed that this was something I wouldn’t have to be concerned about. Ugly people don’t do sex. Or have romantic relationships. No bra buying, no makeup lessons, no hair, or things that mum’s are supposed to teach their daughters about. BUT, because my sisters are ‘normal’ they were expected to be and do what females do. I became invisible and anorexic. I learned that if I didn’t exist, then I wouldn’t have to compete.

    However, very similar to you and what other’s have echoed, my mum asked innapropriate things: Like how big is my boyfriend (now hubby) she would ask how sex was with him and similar questions.
    I always had this rule, that whenever my family would come for a visit, (we are military) I wouldn’t have sex with my hubby. My hubby could never understand why I felt this way. Then one time, she traveled overseas to visit us, I think we’d been married for about 2 1/2 years at this point. My hubby wanted sex one evening. He was really frustrated because I kept telling him no. Then we were fooling around, and he started to hear something outside our bedroom door. He crept into the hallway, and my mum was sitting on the top of the steps, grinning like a Cheshire cat, trying to come in and see what we were up to. My siblings told me of times they would be alone in their homes and my mum would ‘catch’ them doing it. I always felt disgusting and creeped out. What was it any of her business. If I hear someone having sex in their own home,. I’d leave. I have always felt that this is sooooo wrong in so many levels. It’s private and none of her damn business. None of my siblings business either. Sometimes they’d all sit around and compare their boyfriends/hubbys. SICK SICK SICK. I have been called a prude, goodie goodie, and uptight. One of my sisters told me I need to get raped because I am too rigid.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 20th March

      Hi Raven
      My mother made a lot of references the size of men too ~ totally inapropriate comments to make. YUCK.. and that sneaking around trying to hear other people stuff I would call a ‘turth leak’.
      I was watching a show on TV last night where this mother was humiliating her teen daughter by “interviewing” the new boyfriend and laying down the law but it was all about sex as if she “knew” that is all that he wanted; it reminded me of all kinds of things as well as and it made me think about how that mother would feel if someone spoke to her that way! So disrespectful and demeaning.
      That shocking comment your sister made to you is horrific!
      Thanks for sharing.
      Hugs, Darlene

  15. By: Alice Posted: 20th March

    Kera, wow. I am going through this same realization right now. I look back at pictures of myself whn I was younger and finally realizing that I was actually very pretty. I was always a “tomboy” because my mother made sure not to communicate and sort of positive femminine attrributes to me. She said had my dad’s “monkey feet” and not her perfect toes, and my dads crooked teeth and gigantic mouth. Little narcissistic things like that…

  16. By: Alice Posted: 20th March

    I think that some of what you’re describing your mothers envy towards you. Envy is different from jealousy. Jealousy is a more healthy feeling of wanting what someone else has – so you go out and get that for yourself without damaging or hurting anyone else. Envy is different in that the person doesn’t really want what someone else has, they want that other person not to have it anymore, and to suffer. They perceive someone else as being better, so they do what they can to bring them down. My mother never flirted with my boyfriends because I never had any. I was too terrified of becoming the slut that she always was. I once snuck out at night as a teenager and got caught, my mothers immediate reacting was “did you use a condoms?” I never had sex. She was projecting her own perceptions about herself onto me. I was a virgin until I was 20 because I didn’t want to be like her. I do recognize the envy from your mother though. My mother envies me, too, even though she never had any of my boyfriends to flirt with. When I did get a boyfriend in my 20’s, she would play on his disregard for me since I was prone to choose men who didn’t respect me. I’ve come to believe that her narcissism and envy had a large part in her abuse towards me. It is really hurtful and confusing to be treated like this when you have this crazy concept in your head that your mother loves you.

    My dad though, he is gross. He would size up all of my female friends like meat without regard to how that made me feel (gross and ashamed). He is now married to someone 3 years younger than me.
    I have more thoughts on this but I have to go to work. I wanted to get that out before I forget.

  17. By: Light Posted: 20th March

    Hi Darlene,

    If I came across as a know-it-all I do apologize. I know that you know the dynamics inside-out. Sometimes words on a screen don’t adequately convey what is meant. As I was reading your post, I almost felt like we were in a kitchen chatting together and I was getting fired up and saying “OMG….the boundary busting!”

    And I can really relate to what Kera wrote. Similar comments have come from my older sister. Maybe not so much about looks, but there are other examples where she feels the need to let me know that she is superior.

  18. By: Pam Posted: 19th March

    Darlene, After I posted, I thought of something else to add to this. I always felt that my mother was jelous of my dad and I. He would sometimes, make remarks about my developing body and that was creepy enough in itself, but my mother’s jeleous response made it even worse. It made me feel responsible for the creepiness and like I’d done something wrong. I was shocked years later, when my mom told me that my dad was extremely, jeleous of me taking her time when I was a baby. I don’t understand any of that. It’s no wonder I never felt secure with my parents.

    Do you think all of it is purposeful in breaking down boundaries in order to maintain control? Isn’t some of it just because they are so sick they don’t know how twisted they are in how they relate to other people including their children? To me it sometimes just feels like their brains are in backwards. I can discern purposeful tactics in many of their behaviors but alot of it is beyond any kind of reason.


    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 20th March

      Hi Light
      No worries! You didn’t sound like a know it all at all. I love that you feel like we are having a face to face conversation and that your reaction is so honest! That is awesome! I totally get that!
      hugs, Darlene

      Hi Pam
      My mom had some problems alright. She groomed me from a young age to believe that my only value was in my looks and sexuality and then hated me for it. (I write about that in my early work here, and it will be in the e-book soon to be published) That thing with your Dad and the young girl; that is very damaging to a child too, to witness all those dynamics between parents. It sends a whole other message to a child and trust is destroyed even beyond the family. Your mother blaming that young girl is so typical of our society, but you were sent the message that no matter what YOU did, or what happened to you, it would be your fault. How does a child go forward with that?? There is no safety or security, no confidence, no trust in going forward knowing that you are not safe, and whatever happens you will be at fault for.

      I think that much of what goes on IS on purpose and they are very aware of what they are doing and some of it is just ignorance because of the way they were raised too. That is why I always say that it is the damage that we have to heal from. As for the why they do this, I believe it is because they believe that control over another person is the only way to feel ‘loved’ ~ the compliance and obedience of the victim and the surge of power they feel when there is compliance and emotional pain to the victim “restores the order” of the abuser and temporarily allows them to feel “okay”. It’s like those reactions are the “proof” to the abuser that they are worthy. And guess where they learned it? When we are taught a false def. of love, we adopt a false definition of love. And that is why it is called a cycle of abuse. I could talk for hours about all this, but the problem is that understanding ‘them’ is dangerous for the majority of healing individuals until AFTER they begin healing and taking their own lives back. We (thank God) are in the cycle of recovery!

      ~About conscious actions on the part of the abuser; I was lucky enough to work with a couple of abusers who recovered enough to admit which parts were conscious when they were jerking people around so I got a greater understanding of some of this stuff. It was interesting when I started to notice which parts they do in public and which parts they hide and even what is said in public and what is not said in public. (and I mean GENERAL public ~ because family systems are sick. My mother flirted with my boyfriend in front of her boyfriend; she was sending him a message too just not the same message)

      Awesome comments Pam. Thanks for sharing.. Hugs, Darlene

  19. By: Pam Posted: 19th March

    Hi Darlene, I think your mom was as creepy about sex as my dad. I think my dad had a sexual addiction and I think your mom did too. I think competing with you sexually and letting you know she could have your guys if she wanted to, was a fix for her. Isn’t the way she treated you also, a form of emotional incest? I can’t help but compare what you’ve written here to the way she also, used you as bait to pick up men. Your mother’s sexual behavior is way out of line and it makes me really sad to think of you going through all of that as a teenager. Sex is confusing enough without adding the twisted messages sent by a parent who is sexually insane.

    My dad had a ‘thing’ with a girl just a couple of years older than me. I don’t know how far it went but she bought him presents, like aftershave, and my dad made a special place to keep them. He liked to rub it in my mother’s face and she would put up with it. Her anger wasn’t even directed toward my dad, (who deserved the boot, after she turned him in to the cops) but toward this teenaged girl. She blamed the whole thing on her seductiveness. It was so bizarre and so confusing for me. At the time, I didn’t know how horribly, inappropriate the whole thing was.It just made me feel awful. I don’t know if my dad had sex with her or not but I can’t help but feel that it was a strong possibility.

    My mother treated me the same way as she treated the girl my dad may have been abusing. It didn’t matter that the man who coaxed me away from home was more than ten years older than me. In her eyes, I was the seductress. I was held to a greater level of responsibility than grown men and it seems to me that since I was young, that responsibility was increased,being a teenager increased my threat. My mother also, had a weird thing about the size of her breasts and even when she was the age I am now, it was important to her that her breasts were bigger than mine or my sisters. I think women were so routinely, treated as sexual objects that it fostered sexual addictions in them. I guess I’m making an excuse for ‘weird’ but it is hard not to want to know, why. No matter why, it definately is about them and it sure was hard to free myself from the sexual confusion it caused in me.


  20. By: Kera Posted: 19th March

    Wow! I’m sorry, Darlene … as if the awkwardness and insecurities of teenage years weren’t tough enough … you had to deal with … whatever the crap that was … (SO messed up!) (((Hug!))) Go you for surviving all that craziness! (and now thriving!)

    Caliban’s Sister,
    “”” Your mother did regard you as competition. Many narc mothers do this with their daughters. It’s a matter of degree, I think. My mother was very competitive with me, but never did anything like what your mother did.””” – I am the same way! While she(and the other women in the N. crazy boat) never actually tried to flirt with the guys who would come to see me … they made sure that (behind the scenes) I knew dang well that I was NOT nearly as desirable as they were. (Ps, they really are not) Once I started hitting my teen years is when they really started in. Looking back at my pictures, I can now see how beautiful I actually was then. But, the way I was spoken to – I never knew I was pretty. They would say things to me that just ‘proved’ how much more beautiful they were than I was. “You have your father’s hands … I always loved his big manly hands. So masculine. ~sigh~ mine are just so dainty and small.” … “When I was your age I only weighed 109 lbs … I guess I just had a better figure. Better self control. You know.” … “You are reminding me of _____. She is SO disgusting and improper. Not at all like a lady!” “Well, only truly feminine ladies _________ (fill in the blank with whatever was the opposite of what I had done)” … They would say SO many things that just served to emphasize how “UN-lady like”, how “UN-feminine” I was – and how, they were -then/in turn- the model of true feminine beauty. I believed that I was this ugly, fat, butch, man-girl. Even when guys, good loving normal guys, would tell me they loved how “elegant” I am … I NEVER believed it. I just assumed it was their way of trying to get some attention from me. It couldn’t possibly be true … there’s no way I am desirable. Because I’m “Not nearly as delicate and beautiful” as “they” say they are. ….

    SO sad that, in order to try and ‘validate’ their own ‘beauty’ they had to work so hard to crush the beauty and self-esteem of their own child!


    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 19th March

      Hi Kera
      Ya, I used to think I was alone too. I have not written about this before because I thought it was just too weird, but after 3 years of doing EFB I knew I wasn’t alone on this one either so I decided to share it.
      Your comments to Caliban really hit me. What your mother did in those examples is a very covert way of communicating (that you are what she wanted you to hear you are) and excellent fantastic examples of how it is done! Thank you for sharing that! I am going to repost it here because I hope everyone will read it.

      KERA WROTE: “While she (mother) (and the other women in the N. crazy boat) never actually tried to flirt with the guys who would come to see me … they made sure that (behind the scenes) I knew dang well that I was NOT nearly as desirable as they were. (Ps, they really are not) Once I started hitting my teen years is when they really started in. Looking back at my pictures, I can now see how beautiful I actually was then. But, the way I was spoken to – I never knew I was pretty. They would say things to me that just ‘proved’ how much more beautiful they were than I was. “You have your father’s hands … I always loved his big manly hands. So masculine. ~sigh~ mine are just so dainty and small.” … “When I was your age I only weighed 109 lbs … I guess I just had a better figure. Better self control. You know.” … “You are reminding me of _____. She is SO disgusting and improper. Not at all like a lady!” “Well, only truly feminine ladies _________ (fill in the blank with whatever was the opposite of what I had done)” … They would say SO many things that just served to emphasize how “UN-lady like”, how “UN-feminine” I was – and how, they were -then/in turn- the model of true feminine beauty. I believed that I was this ugly, fat, butch, man-girl. Even when guys, good loving normal guys, would tell me they loved how “elegant” I am … I NEVER believed it. I just assumed it was their way of trying to get some attention from me. It couldn’t possibly be true … there’s no way I am desirable. Because I’m “Not nearly as delicate and beautiful” as “they” say they are. ….”

      and yes, abusers will do whatever it takes to make themselves feel better including crushing the self esteem of their own children.
      Hugs, Darlene

  21. By: Lora Posted: 19th March

    Hi Darlene! you are touching on some subjects that I thought I was very alone with. The more you share your story, the more I realize that I am not alone with my feelings and thoughts. It is because of your sharing that I am finding my own courage to share my own stories. What I am really finding through sharing here is how validated I feel on so many levels for what I have witnessed and experienced throughout my life. When my parents divorced (I was 16) my mom left for about 3 months. My dad took us (my sister was 18) and we lived in an apt. My dad fell into a depression for a couple of months then ended up hooking up with another women whom he spent most of his time with. My sister and I were on our own to run the household. He supported us financially but that was about it. It was then that I saw a side of my mom that hurt me deeply. She had man over for sex while I waited in the kitchen until she was finished. The man was half her age so I guess that would make her a cougar. There are so many other experiences I witnessed that make me feel so ashamed. The part that I struggle with most is when she shared with me at a young age that her dad had abused her, I believe there was some incest involved and her uncle had also tried to molest her. She was gang raped at about age 13. I realize that in my mind I made the connection to her behaviour and took great pity on her. My sister and I had a very different relationship with my mom and it has affected us differently. My sister always faught against my mom and I always let myself be controlled because on some level I felt sorry for her and what she had gone through as a child. My own compassion was used against me. When ever we got together for a visit, if a man called she would bail on me to be with him. She would cheat with married men and I would be there to witness it. I always seem to be in the wrong place at the right time when she was creating some kind of drama. My sister never saw this behaviour and my mom would use me against my sister as well. I’m starting to understand why my sister thinks I was the favorite which is messed up in itself. My sister has no idea how my mom has affected me because she is now following in the same path as my mom. It is so clear to me now that when our wounds go untreated we become the people we despise to be around. I slowly saw things in myself that scared me to get help. I started to see myself behaving in similar ways and hated myself for it. When you don’t even feel worthy of getting help you are in a very bad place. Support in my family was a sign of weakness so I struggled with receiving it. Just sharing this now helps me appreciate how far I have come on my healing journey. My dad’s acceptance of my mom’s behaviour instilled in me the belief that I had no value at all and adults held all the power. If I could be so bold as to use the analogy, my dad was god in our home and my mom was satan and satan always got her way. I realize now why god was this illusive being that really wanted nothing to do with me or so I thought. I am learning to have a relationship with God now in a way I never thought possible. I’m not a religious person, I just believe there is a loving Universe that really does care about what happens to me. I’m slowly piecing myself together and I know I will make it through all this. I know I went a bit off topic here but once I get going I never know where I will end up..;-) I feel better just being able to talk this out and to validate myself for all the work I’ve done. Thank you Darlene for being one of my Earth Angels. Your healing is helping so many of us and one day I hope to be able to be an Angel that helps someone too!

  22. By: Laura S Posted: 19th March

    That jist shed a lot of light on things when I was a teenager that didn’t make sense. While my mom may not hve hit on my boyfriends she was rather attached to them as if they were her friends instrad of mine. She treated the few girlsfriends I had the same way. It was if they came to visit and spend time with her and not me.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 19th March

      Hi Laura S.
      Yes, there are many ways to communicate that they are more ‘important’ than you including making you wonder if your freinds come over to see her, and not you. I have seen this stuff over and over.
      Hugs, Darlene

      Hi Lora
      I love your expression “when our wounds go untreated” that says so much about exactly what I am trying to communicate in this entire website. These things cause wounds and when they are not treated they get worse. My whole process has been about finding out what those wounds were and how to treat them!
      There is something really nasty about having to hear your mother have sex with a man. And I am not talking about accidently hearing her have sex with your father… strange men and especially when it is clear that YOU come last. I know all about both those things too.. oh AND the married man stuff… the guy that sexually assaulted me whom I mention in this article was one of them. uggg.
      Thanks for sharing,
      Hugs, Darlene

  23. By: Caliban's Sister Posted: 19th March

    I think the feeling you experienced when your mother came on to your friends wasn’t jealousy, it was buffered horror, that she could be so, well, evil. This is evil behavior. To blame you when her own boyfriends behave like predators; to act like a predator herself with your own boyfriends or friends. Such behavior is not only unloving, it’s beyond any normal explanation, even of narcissism. I agree with Light; it’s wrong on so many levels. Your mother did regard you as competition. Many narc mothers do this with their daughters. It’s a matter of degree, I think. My mother was very competitive with me, but never did anything like what your mother did. It’s beyond creepy, it’s just horrible. I’m so sorry you experienced such a crazy-making upbringing. Thanks for writing about it.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 19th March

      Hi Caliban’s Sister
      Oh yes, horror, that my own mother could do all those things… I was trying to communicate how I was trying to relate those emotions to a regular say girl at school who was flirting with my boyfriend. I was tyring to ‘normalize it’ back then and trying to find a way to comprehend how she could do it, and how I felt about it.
      Thanks for sharing!
      Hugs, Darlene

  24. By: Caden Posted: 19th March

    I can relate to this post. Except my mother said a lot of creepy, suggestive things to me as a teenager, not really to any of my friends. Things that implied she was very ‘into’ any relationships I had or what she thought attracted me sexually. Like I accidentally walked into the kitchen where my brother’s girlfriend was only in her underwear (she thought she was alone in the house) and my mother said that “well that must not have given you such a thrill because she’s so flat chested.” Why the fuck would anyone talk to their son that way? And then later she claimed that I wasn’t gay, I just thought I was because “your ex-girlfriend was so dumpy!” An insulting, base, and ridiculous thing to say to me. But she was like sexually sizing up and ‘rating’ the bodies of anyone that my brother or I dated, seeing them as her competition almost. She tried to setup my 19 year old brother with her boss at work, a much older woman (asking him if he would like a “sugar momma.”) And I would hear her talking to her boss all the time about how ‘sexy’ he was.

    Of course now I know what I didn’t know then–that my mother sexually abused me as a prepubescent child, and then she brought this sick, possessive, jealous atmosphere into my teen years. I just remembered that she also tried to sexually assault me when I was 18–she was drunk and tried to shove her hands down my pants, but I fought her off….disgusting! And this may very well have been one of the factors that caused me to mega-relapse on my eating disorder at that age.

    I concur that for some of the stuff there’s no words to adequately describe how sick the vibes that she gave off were. And yes, it was all about her; these intrusions into my body, my relationships, my sex life…she made all of that about her. No wonder I spent so much time and energy trying to maintain some sort of private life that she didn’t know about and couldn’t control.

    Thanks for this article Darlene, it brought up a lot of stuff for me.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 19th March

      Hi Caden
      My mom did other creepy stuff too; she made inappropriate comments all the time to men about me. Ugg. It makes me sick to think of how long I thougth it was ME and how I made excuses for her. She told my cousin in front of the whole family that I was on the pill if he wanted to sleep with me! Good grief..it’s so sick.. I have barely begun to scratch the surface of what I could share… and thank you for validating what I was trying to communicate. This one was hard for me to name the emotions!
      Thank you so much for adding to this post with your exp. as a male. Only the details are different! The sick is the same!
      hugs, Darlene

  25. By: Light Posted: 19th March

    Darlene, I am very sorry this happened to you. My first thoughts are MAJOR boundary busting. I am so glad that you have come to see this and her other behaviors as about her, not you. As I hear more of your story, my admiration for what you have overcome only increases with time. Please know your voice now is very powerful and you are having a huge positive impact on many, many lives.

    You asked why a mother would do this. Along with what you said, I wonder, too, if it was a way to validate herself. So wrong on so many levels.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 19th March

      Hi Light,
      yes of course ~ there never really were any boundaries. That is what “ownership” means, that she owned me and I had no real rights.
      My why and how questions are only rhetorical ~ i know there is no answer other than sick. I know what she was doing and I know it was how she validated herself. By undermining me.. but making sure that I knew that I was not ‘as good as or as valuable” as her..
      Thank you for sharing and for your support.
      Hugs, Darlene

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