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very long: accepting and coping with the toxicity of a parent

15 years ago

My story is very long and painful. I'm the oldest of three kids, and my parents' only daughter. My brothers are a year and three years younger than me respectively.

Long story short: My youngest brother is Mom's favorite child. The "golden one". He can do no wrong. She will fight for him, defend him and "protect" him from the minutest scrapes while at the same time punish, abuse, tease, denigrate and treat me like she never gave birth to me but picked me off of the streets. She even told me (I was around 13 at the time) that she made me feel bad about myself just because she thought that by doing so, she was "evening things out" and "compensating him" for his "weaknesses". It wasn't "fair" in her eyes, to have two strong children and one weak one, so in the interest of "equality", she would weaken me to "make things fair and square" - someone needed to be BELOW her golden boy in the pecking order and since she couldn't weaken my other brother, she would weaken me! Can you believe that she actually told me this to MY FACE?

Incidentally, this is EXACTLY how HER Mother treated her - Grandma, according to her, made things "even" between Mom and her younger sister, Grandma's favorite. Grandma's father apparently treated Grandma's older, motherless half-sister as his "special girl" because she had lost her Mom young while Grandma and her full siblings (whose mother was around) were forced to toe their big sister's line because... GASP! their Mom was still around while his oldest's was not. So, this dysfunction goes back a few generations but will stop with me.

Anyway, I suffered all my childhood due her abusive favoritism. My so-called "Dad" is a real piece of work, too - he would whip me if I so much as protested the partiality - Mom would start screaming at me and he would fetch a whip and give me a licking.

After years of this, I FINALLY got away from the insanity. I found a good job, married a decent guy, and had my daughter. Around the time my child was born, Mom extended the olive branch to me. I took it eagerly, BELIEVING she had changed and truly wanted a relationship with her grand-daughter. WRONG. She was only interested in being in my life because her sister found out about her estrangement and began to tell Mom how she could never get along with any other female etc. So she wanted to act loving with me just to prove a point to her hated sister!

Then, of course, her golden sons married and things went rapidly downhill from there. My MIL is a bit of work all by herself. So much so that DH & I moved far away to be away from her. In the meantime, my brother married a woman whose widowed mother lived in my MIL's neighborhood. The two women quickly became "best friends". DB's MIL began to believe everything that my MIL told her about DH & me. When DH & I bought a house far, far away from MIL, DB's MIL called my Mom up asking her how I could abandon my MIL - after all, elderly people need their adult kids' moral and emotional support and we had broken my poor MIL's heart. How dare I "steal" an old woman's son away from her???

Mom promptly told me this. From then on, our relationship quickly deteriorated. I blasted SIL's Mom and told Mom that she should have told her off. After all, this is a woman who has NEVER lived near her own MIL and whose daughter (SIL) does not live to close to HER in-laws (my parents), either. Mom got mad when I told her that she should have stood up for me. Apparently, she was getting tired of "playing nice" with me and so told me that not only will she not hear anything against her poor son and his poor wife but also that I was a mean hag for even suggesting that she should have hauled B's MIL over the coals during her phone conversation with "Mom". "Mom" went on to claim that her poor weak son couldn't possibly deal with all the hatred I was pouring on his "family" and that I have always been a "bad seed" who had hated her precious son from birth (!) and that she would not permit anything said not just about him but also about his interfering hag of a MIL!

After that rant, I cut her off. I never called her and kept a distance from her but she began to accuse me of all sorts of things via email and phone calls (left on my answering machine). She even accused me of being after her money and how "everything" is for her golden sons and how I won't see a dime etc! In one such email, she told us that we were her greedy "poor relations"!!

My DH at that point had enough. We moved, changed our phone number (unlisted new number) and blocked her from our email ids. This was all a couple of years ago - contact was limited to a couple of cards during the holidays with our pictures. Last week, I emailed her a holiday e-card with pictures of my daughter from a Christmas party. OUT OF THE BLUE (usually, our cards are not acknowledged!) she emailed me back saying not to send any more photos of my kid! BTW, she dotes on my brothers' kids and thinks they are the cat's whiskers!

Frankly speaking, I am stunned and hurt more than I have ever been hurt before. I can even get over the hatred she has for me - I am used to it - but I have a hard time wrapping my head around the idea that she seems to even hate my DAUGHTER to the extent that she doesn't even want to see her pictures once a year?!!!!! The walls of her house are simply PLASTERED with pictures of my niece and nephews. I just cannot believe that even someone as abusive as she is would transfer her poisonous dislike of me onto my innocent little girl. What has my daughter ever done to this woman?

How do I get over this hurt? I never want anything to do with this woman again. I am expecting my second child, a boy, in a few months' time and she does not know. She may not even know unless my MIL tells her - but I have chosen to keep that safe distance from her for my babies' sakes.

Another issue is that my daughter occasionally asks about Grandma. Till date, I have always changed the topic very deftly. I would call a friend of mine and put DD on, so she would forget about talking to Grandma for a little bit. It has always worked. She is not even 4 years old, so her attention span is quite limited. At other times, when she won't give up wanting to talk to Grandma, we call DH's aunt and pretend that she's talking to my "Mom".

I see now what a HUGE mistake it was to allow her access to my daughter (during the time we had an uneasy truce). I cannot expose my daughter to her toxicity, now that she had made it clear that she harbors ill-will toward my child. It was bad enough that I had to suffer all of my life with her, I'll be damned if I put my kids through this. My son will NEVER have a relationship with her - at least until he's 18 and can take his own decisions - but my little girl's queries about "Grandma" breaks my heart.

Please help. How do I explain this to my young daughter (she's not even 4)? In addition, will I ever find peace with the idea that I have been motherless all of my life? It's so difficult to accept that the woman who calls herself my "Mom" is a hollow shell of a failed human being. But how do I deal with it?

If you're still reading this post, thank you for your patience (this is a VERY long message) and for any words of advice that you might have for me.

-A VERY hurt and wounded daughter

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