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AE: My mom bad-mouths me

AE here. I need to vent, and perhaps get some advice. 

My mom and I butt heads frequently, and when we do, she (exaggeratedly) expresses her displeasure and disapproval of me to friends and family. I'm to a point where I don't know if I can take it any more and I'm not sure what to do. 

Every chance she gets she vocalizes what a difficult child I was (I never got into ANY trouble and was very obedient, yet I managed to stress her out all the time just by existing) and what a burdensome adult child I am now (because she tries to control me and I resist). I admit, I'm defensive and react easily when she criticizes me or tries to tell me what to do, but I did everything she said until I was 18, and then expected some respect as an adult, which still hasn't totally come in 12 years.

There was a period of time when our disputes would cause me so much distress that I nearly resorted to self-injury (I think I actually did on one or two occasions). When she would bring me to the breaking point, I would beg her to relax because she was making me want to hurt myself, and she would just yell at me telling me that was awful and she didn't like hearing me talk like that. I'm mentally in a better place now where self-injury is not an issue, but she still angers me on a regular basis.

During my wedding planning process, she was unbearable and wanted things her way. She told all her friends and family what a bridezilla I was. I wasn't; I swear (ask anyone but her!!). I mean, I like things my way, which are definitely not her way, but her calling me bridezilla stemmed from issues such as my insistence that we follow etiquette by inviting all shower guests to the wedding, provide options for guests with allergies (who happened to be VIP guests), etc. She would throw fits about how unreasonable it was for me to go out of my way to get a specific kind of cake that my MOH and a handful of other guests could eat (with my own money, in addition to "regular" cake), how we couldn't afford to invite 15 extra people to the wedding (then don't invite them to the shower!!) or other random things like how it worried her to the point of getting physically ill that I didn't want to deal with a florist (we did candles instead). Of course, the only thing she tells everyone is that I'm such a bridezilla and the wedding is causing her stress.

She's always been overly ashamed of me (or something) when I make choices she disagrees with. Years ago, I took time off college because it was wearing on me and I was depressed. In social situations when we were together, I would be asked what I do, and I'd answer that I worked at such-and-such place, and she would jump in to clarify (interrupt) that "She's a college drop-out and it was not my idea. I'm not proud." Personally, I'm very proud of my decision to leave college, because it saved my life and steered it into the direction it is today, but it's always hurt me how publicly ashamed she was of me.

I've since graduated with a bachelor's degree, which I suppose pleased her while I was working in my chosen field. Recently, though, I quit my "career" job because I wasn't happy, and have been working part time in a service job I absolutely love. My mom disapproves of this move, even though my finances totally allow me this luxury. I found out my mom not only expresses her unsolicited disapproval to my in-laws, but has on more than one occasion apologized to my MIL (who, for the record, has no issue with my working status) for having a daughter who doesn't work full time, as it must put a lot of pressure on her son. I guess she feels that because I make less than 1/4 of what my husband does, I'm a gold-digger, and that reflects poorly on her as a mother. So she has to make sure everyone knows she doesn't like it.

I'm very happy with my life right now, but her criticisms are really affecting me. My high self-esteem has been hanging by a thread for 30 years because of her. Even her positive comments are back-handed (Things like she was surprised and never had faith I could cook or be a good hostess until she tried my lasagna at a dinner I hosted, or "I was always worried you wouldn't be a good mother until I saw how good you are to your cat.") I frequently consider cutting her out of my life, but she's my mom. Any advice on how to deal?

Re: AE: My mom bad-mouths me

  • This sounds a lot like my mom. My sister was considered the 'golden child' and I was just "eh". Artsy never won out in our family against smarts. I literally don't remember my mom or dad ever saying much of anything positive about me to anyone else, th

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  • I'm so sorry that you're going through this. Is there anything redeeming about your relationship with your mother? From your post, it sounds like "but she's my mom" is the only reason you have for keeping in contact with her. It may be hard, but the fact

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  • Just because she's your mom does not give her the right to shame you and make you mentally ill.  Even if you don't cut her out completely, I would definitely keep her at arm's length, don't initiate contact, and share as little detail about your life
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  • Holy crap that is harsh! My mother says similar things, but only to me and her family, I think. Very rarely in public. However, two things I have learned which have helped immensely:

    1. Stop giving her ammunition, and view all information you giv

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  • Clearly this is a toxic relationship, it adds little to no value to your life. If you cannot set up clear boundaries then I would strongly suggest seeing a counselor that will assist you with that goal. I agree with the others that giving her very limited
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  • image Spin313:
    Just because she's your mom does not give her the right to shame you and make you mentally ill.  Even if you don't cut
  • Because you don't get to choose your family and are stuck with the one you have - cutting someone off is a painful, emotionally difficult experience. OP has gone through years and years of emotional manipulation and abuse - there are things to unravel

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  • I often as not wonder if a parent like this is either mentally ill or has a personality disorder.

    Your post hits close to home. Sometimes I still wonder what it is all about.:(

    YOu are probably better cutting her out of your life. You don't
  • Cut off contact ASAP, your mother is toxic to your life. It's all the reason you need. 
  • A lot of children secretly believe that their parent's behavior is their fault. 

    It's not. You didn't do anything.

    In trying to prove that the things she do not agree with about you do not reflect her parenting, she shows how she is a

  • Are you happy with what you're doing? If so, that's all that matters. And let your mom see that no matter how much she tries to insult or hurt you, that she can't get you down.
  • image Spin313:
    Just because she's your mom does not give her the right to shame you and make you mentally ill.  Even if you don't c
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  • The ladies gave you great advice. I'm sorry for how your mom treats you :( By now it's more than guaranteed she'll never stop or change so your sanity is on you - cut her out. Reach out for help if you need to but make it a priority to finally remove h


  • Along with others that have replied, I am truly sorry for the pain and frustration you must be feeling now. I admit that I am reluctant to tell you to "do" anything due to an undoubtedly long history of your mother criticizing you and telling you what to
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