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Forum Name: Psychiatric Topics

Question: Help me understand my mum


 Miette93 - Sun Mar 29, 2009 2:41 pm

First off, I want to make it clear that I'm not looking for a professional diagnosis as such. I know that is not possible on a second hand account. But I have a need to understand and any help that could be given in that regard would be most welcome.

To make a long story short then my mom is wierd. She will always explain everything in the worst possible light. A prime example would be after she found out that my hubby wanted a new set of kitchen knives - she became convinced that he was planning to kill me and spent weeks convincing me to move back home, to the point where she was putting money into my account to make sure that I had cash to get away quickly. Another example would be how a friends daughter got cancer and died "because she hated her life, her husband was cheating on her with another women and her children were both mentally handicapped." As far as I know, none of this was true, and even if it was, then I don't think you get cancer on purpose. All my life I've had to listen to stuff like that - how my penfriend was a criminal writing me from jail (she could see it on his handwriting), how the new woman who got hired at her office was determined to have her fired (she could tell because this woman had invited her over for dinner and a glass of wine, obviously to get her to spill all her secrets so they could be used against her), etc. etc. etc. With a few notable exceptions, all men are rapists with just one thing on their mind and all women are out to backstab you at the first given opportunity. Kids were usually ok to the point where they were better than me - I remember being quite hurt over how she felt that the neighbour kids had potential unlike me (if only I'd dye my hair blonde, then perhaps ...), or over her praising another kid for always helping with cleaning the table (I was never allowed, because she worried I'd drop things). She would often tell me though that I was the only rational person in the world, the one one whose advice she could trust and that it was "us two against the world."

My mom was born in germany in '38. My grandma was some sort of high-society, so my mum had a nanny - to tell the truth then I don't think my grandma ever liked my mum much, and I remember as a kid hating her for it. My mum would show her almost fanatical devotion and granny just couldn't care less as far as I could tell. Her favorite was her youngest for whom nothing was too good, including money that my mom would give to my grandma for household expenses, only to have grandma give it on to her younger sister so that she could feed her kids. My mums family, then her parents and her younger brother, fled to a different country in the year '45, but not before my mum almost starved to death and absorbed quite a few of the nazi ideals. F.ex. she could never watch the Cosby show on TV because she didn't feel that "naked gorillas" should have their own show. Also, she hates all handicapped people, either mentally or physically. She wants very much for me to be "the ideal" with blonde hair and blue eyes - I have brown hair, a fact she first denied for some years and then started a campaign to get me to dye it. She experienced some pretty horrible things in the war - she's told me of how they'd do school drills, running one at a time over the fine sand so that if the brits started shooting only one kid would die, how they'd hunker up in bomb-shelters and how she had to leave her guinea pig (which she subsequently believed got eaten).
She didn't thrive very well in the new country - she didn't know the language, and felt very different, having dark hair and brown eyes. She ended up trying to go to the university but was living at home at the time, having to pay rent and help take care of her siblings so she dropped out again. She always felt that this was my granddads fault, that she'd somehow been forced out of the university. There is no doubt that he wasn't the most caring man in the world, although I loved him intensely and as a kid felt that he was the only grown up person in my world. She ended up finding an office job, moving out from her parents, and having an affair with a married man which eventually led to my conception. At that point, she was 36. My dad (wisely) decided to stay with his wife, which led to my mum moving back in with her parents, and that's where I grew up for the first thirteen years of my life. Even though there was enough space, we always slept in the same room. I remember her griping endlessly about how she'd be forced to do all the household work, while my granny just lay on the sofa, but at the same time she seemed to be doing it for my granny so she'd love her.
When I was thirteen, she found the money for us to move into an apartment. I remember I was looking so much forward to it, and had big plans for my own room - only to have my granny decide to buy a horrible cabinet from IKEA that didn't fit with my plans at all. Because it was from my granny, I was given no choice but to accept it. It didn't end there - it was like my mum had no sense of personal space - the whole apartment, including my room, was to be kept spotless. In the beginning I'd clean my own room, but eventually figured out that it didn't pay, because she'd always redo it afterwards. I don't know for whom we were supposed to keep the apartment so clean, we never really had visitors. On the other hand, she'd often seem to have a desire to break things on the spotless kitchen floor - some of my most vivid memories are of her standing in the there with a plate or a cup in her hand, poised to throw it and growling. She never actually did though, not that I remember. However, when I moved in with my now hubby, he had an anger management problem - he quickly got that under control when he realized that every time he started cursing and swearing I'd crawl under a table and start crying. I didn't do these things at home with mom - it was like I was immune as long as I lived there.

The thing is that I've been in therapy twice now for depression and no one wants to talk about my mum. As soon as I bring that angle up, they seemed to roll their eyes, and judge it non-relevant. The aim of the therapy has been to cure my depression, and that seems to have worked. But ... will I become my mum? Is it genetic or behavioural? What traits of hers have I taken with me unknowingly? I remember a long time ago deciding that I did not want to live in her world of fear - it wasn't worth it, I'd rather die. Recently someone told me that I was very fearful still - have I taken these traits with me after all? I've taken a test for adult kids of alcoholics and I fulfill most all criterias it would seem (85% on alcoholism.about.com, whatever that means). Except that my mum was not an alcoholic. She's as far as I can tell not schizophrenic, not psychotic, not suffering from OCD... then what?

Today, I have a great life, with some good friends and a wonderful hubby. But I feel that I need to understand her to understand the last pieces of who I am. I know that I'll never be able to ask her - the first time I went to a psychologist she spent months griping about it, how I was only going there to hang her out and that shrinks could never understand what she'd been through (the second time I chose a psychiatrist and didn't tell her about it). I'm officially "cured" and I lead a mostly normal life - but I don't feel normal. More to the point, I feel I can't trust my judgement - I never know when I'm just making up stories, when my powers of observation and my memory have failed me as I so often saw them fail my mum.

So - any insight into what might have been going on with my mum would be welcome.

Thank you for your time,

Miette.
 simonne westort LPN - Tue Apr 07, 2009 11:35 pm

It sounds like you have a lot of concerns about your mother.
Almost sounds as if she had some paranoia about your husband and the knives,
also about the woman who worked with her that she thought was trying to get her fired. She could have some depression from her upbringing. If she hadn't felt accepted by her own mother, there may have been a lot built up in her mind. And if she never got any type of therapy or diagnosis to be treated for, that could have led to her not totally understanding what was really going on with her. It sounds like her world was all mixed up and she wanted it perfect for you. Almost like she was trying to change but didn't know which way to go about it.
As for you, it sounds like you are going in the right direction. You have had therapy and realize some of your issues. You are dealing with whatever depression you may have. As far as not wanting to be like her in some of the ways you don't approve of, keep up the positive direction in your life. Even if your concern about it being hereditary, you may be able to overcome this with therapy, because you are accepting and seeing the whole picture.
It is not easy when you have a rough life. Some people are not as strong as others, and it takes them in the wrong direction. People who are stronger seem to go in a different direction. Those are the ones who are more fortunate.
Good luck!

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