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Should I sever ties with my mother?

Connie wrote:

My mother was diagnosed with a terminal disease over 2 decades ago...I found out about it when I was 18. My parents divorced when I was 13 my step-dad raised me and put me through school. My mom's east African and my step-dad's from western Europe. After I graduated I left East Africa, came up here, went to business school and I'm now working. I haven't seen my mum in ages and we have an odd relationship. I contact her by phone whenever I can. I was never able to talk to her as I was growing up. I know she's proud of the person that I've become but she takes it as far as to think it was through her doing (her sacrifice of allowing my dad to have custody of me (giving me up if you will)) that I got where I am and not my dad's love for me (that led to his adoption of me) and his investment in my education and life. My dad pays for her medical bills and does so much for her even though he doesn't have to (for my sake) but she just doesn't get it….she constantly bites the hand that feeds her.


Now guess what, she wrote me to thank me for the money I sent and to say that the boy loves me...??? He doesn't know me, I don't know him...she seems to think that my half-sis and I had a relationship and now she's playing on my emotional vein. I got a call last week which I didn't pick up and when I heard the message I felt sick. It was the boy...I could hear my mum in the background saying things to him in native tongue...he said hello, said who he was, listened to what my mum said and then told me he loves me...and hung up. I'm sorry, but am I wrong in saying that this boy is not my responsibility and that I refuse to accept him as such? I can't deal with the psychological warfare and I asked my mum to stop but she continues to do it. Should I just make a break? I can’t go on feeling guilty and responsible for my mother. It’s killing all the happiness in my life to walk around with such a weight on my shoulders.
I'm sorry that this has turned out so long.
Thank you for your advice.

Dear Connie

Thanks for the long note, it does help to have the detail to better understand your frustration; I've editied it, because it's a unique story, and I wanted to be sure you don't allow yourself to be identified.

A unique story, but not a unique problem, alas.

You love your mother, but she has been abusing you for years; I wonder why you've finally decided to face up to it? Not that I blame you; she has deliberately failed to understand your point of view, she just sees the world with her at the centre.

But you write as if it's all (you keep giving, she keeps taking) or nothing (you cut off from her).

Not at all! What I'd advise is to do what you should have done from the beginning - take control of your life, and your purse. Stop being a child who allows mum to control you.

This time, write back and say you cannot afford anything at this time - make up a white lie if that makes it easier for you - she's been doing that for years. Tell her to write back in three months, and let you know what she ACTUALLY NEEDS for medicines and whatever you are happy to support her with - if you don't want any commitment, just say write in few weeks to tell you how she is. Don't make any specific promises.

Every time she contacts you for money, just say you cannot afford anything at the moment, and how is she? Speak of other things. You may find it easier to avoid her calls. If she writes, reply, but do not mention money.

Then, when things quieten down - it may be weeks, even months - send her a small mount of money. Don't get in long discussions about it, just say you sent what you afford. Repeat this. Evetually, if you are strong, YOU will send money as and when you wish, and SHE will say thanks.

It won't be easy; but while you have been acting for years as if this was about money, you have been wrong; it's entirely about control. And you must control your life and your money.

Once you have won control, you can then decide exactly waht you feel you can give. But every time you give on demand, you reinforce her feeling that its her 'right' - which it isn't.

Give at your times, irregularly, and when you DON'T hear from her.

And Be Strong! - Good Luck!

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