Halifax (Glynis Sherwood Counseling) – Ask the Therapist – May 2020
Narcissistic Mother Sides With Scapegoating Sister:
I am 51 years old and have one sibling, a sister, who is turning 53 in September. For as long as I can remember Carla has hated me. When we were really little it wasn’t too bad. I knew she was not too keen on me but we still played and had a fairly normal relationship.
When I was about twelve she really turned on me and did everything in her power to turn everyone against me. If I invited a friend over she would tell them lies about me and soon they would become her friend. She spread terrible rumors about me in high school and taunted me relentlessly.
As adults living in a very small rural community it continued and it came to the point where I only went to work and came home and never socialized in the community for fear that everyone believed what she said about me. I spent almost nine years living in complete solitude except for one friend whom I spoke to on the phone regularly but never in person.
Thankfully an amazing man managed to find me hiding out in the middle of nowhere and saw the good in me, and eventually convinced me to marry him. We now have a son and are trying our best not to make the same mistakes with him that our parents did with us. This is an extremely long story so I will have to just skip to the end.
My sister rejected me many, many years ago and has never wanted anything to do with me other than to turn everyone else against me.
In all of this time my mother never once told her to stop or tried to defend me or anything to that effect. When I tried to talk to her as a child she ignored my pleas for help. As an adult she pretends she never knew it was happening. When Carla told my mother that she felt so sorry for my son to have me as his mother, she never defended me or told her to stop. When Carla told everyone who would listen that my wedding was “the most loveless wedding she has ever been to” my mother never said a word. These are just a few examples.
I have tried to talk to my mother over the years about it and have told her how much it hurts that she would never defend me but it falls on deaf ears. My mother will go on and on about Carla and my nieces and nephews lives even though I have told her that it hurts me because they want nothing to do with me and say very bad things about me. Finally after years of asking her to respect my feelings I decided I had to go No Contact if I ever wanted to try to heal and stop all of the negative self talk. I wanted to do this for my sake and for my husband and son…so that they could have the healthiest version of me and so I could maybe finally feel good enough to accomplish my ultimate goals in life before it’s too late.
This was not an easy decision as my mother is almost 80 and I really, really don’t want to hurt her but I felt like it was her or me. I asked her multiple times to please respect that hearing about them hurts me, but she just continued to do it. My mother really doesn’t listen well so I decided to do it in writing and it really hasn’t gone well at all…actually that is a big understatement…I don’t know if it could have gone worse.
My mother and I have had many, many emails back and forth. She has now completely turned everything around and claims they are all the victims of me now. There were days where I was so angry with her that I thought the no contact would be easy but now I feel so full of guilt and shame that I feel like I made things harder for myself.
I’ve been reading everything I can find on the subject and trying to help myself, but thought I’d write to you to see if you can give me some advice.
I’m sending you an email that I received from my mother recently. I reread this email when I feel really guilty to help myself feel less guilty! So below is my mother’s email to me telling me what is ‘wrong’ with me.
My Mother’s Email:
Subject: “Emotional Manipulation – A Common Tactic to Fix Your Internal Conflicts”
“Emotional Manipulation is born out of cognitive chaos. IT WILL FIND A GUILTY PARTY WHO MAKES THE MANIPULATOR LOOK LIKE A VICTIM. THE OTHER PERSON WILL ALWAYS BE THE GUILTY ONE.!!!!!
Emotional Manipulation is when someone tries to manage the emotions of another person or exert influence over someone else’s behaviour for self serving purposes. People who emotionally manipulate do so with little or no regard to the well being of others.
You cannot manipulate me anymore, you cannot control me anymore and that is why you do not want to talk to me. Until you face the truth about how you orchestrated the break-up of my family and relentlessly drove them away you will not find peace of mind. Until you acknowledge how you manipulated me when you thought I was getting too close to Carla.
I finally realised the extent of your cruelty when you sent me the email from X after all those years – you knew it would cause me pain and upset. Carla is not responsible for what you have done – you are. Finally take responsibility for yourself, look inside yourself and try and understand yourself and change for the better. Throw away your bad behaviour patterns, forgive yourself, and move on to a better life. I will always love you as I have always loved Carla.”
It is a very long story but basically Carla put her house up for sale and moved away and that is what I am being blamed for. Sorry if this is confusing! Thanks in advance for any advice you may be able to offer. I am trying really hard to stop the very loud voices telling me that I am such an awful, selfish, self absorbed, cruel, heartless human being for stopping contact with my mother, especially during this time of Covid when other families are helping each other.
Answer – Read My In Depth Response Here