Advice to deal with an abusive mother

IT’S NOT MY MOTHER! I SWEAR! My mother is a nice lady!

Zach Galifianakis

(this is not my mother)

No, I am here today on behalf of my high school friend and roommate (we’ll call him Mr. McDoodlePants, to protect his bearded identity), a 24-year-old man who has the most bat-shit crazy, evil, abusive mother I have ever known. I don’t know much about his childhood aside from him insisting that it was normal. His dad had drinking problems, which is potent in his family (although when I get into the details of the mom, you won’t wonder much about why his dad drank), but his dad got dry completely. His brother is diagnosed psychotic and OCD to an extreme, so he lives at home in his late 20s early 30s (not sure specific age). The mother has to deal with the older brother on a daily basis this way, so many would say she deals with a lot and shouldn’t be put on the spot. Well, ladies and gentlemen of the internet, she does NOT deserve your sympathy.

These are all going to be little stories, true experiences I have had dealing (or being a witness to) my friend’s mother. To being, let us go back to the summer after my senior year. My roommate and all but one of my friends were a grade below me, and we had all decided we were going to drive to Hershey, PA and spend a weekend at the park. We got a hotel, set everything up, and went. Mr. McDoodlePants had told us he managed to convince his mother (who was adamantly against him going, despite being age 19 at the time) to let him come along, but asked someone to come pick him up on his road in the morning as she wouldn’t drive him and he didn’t want her to change her mind as he was leaving. I agreed, and picked him up down the road a bit and we were off for awesomeness.

That evening Mr. McDoodlePants gets a call on his cellphone. It’s his mother. She talks to him for 45 minutes, screaming so loud that we can all hear (and this is 9 kids spread across 2 bedrooms). She calls him immature, irresponsible, and ignorant for leaving her alone at her home. You know, because she doesn’t have a second son or a husband or anything. She says that he needs to be home to help her, and by help, I mean take care of her. Now this is a woman who can walk, talk, eat, sleep, bathe, raise 2 children, raise one child into his 30s, etc. She needs taking care of? Finally, Mr. McDoodlePants hung up. We advised him to keep the phone off, because she didn’t know where we were (we had not given her the hotel address or room number), so there was nothing to worry about. Wrong.

At 111:00pm she begins calling my boyfriend’s phone. He talks to her a couple times, and then gives up. She calls my boyfriend’s mother. She calls MY mother (a woman who is NEVER up past 10pm). She calls every parent of our group that she knows. They all tell her it’s fine. He’s among good kids, and we’re all responsible enough to take care of each other. She keeps telling them, “You don’t understand. He’s too immature, too irresponsible to be on his own. You don’t understand.” This is the same person who needs him home to take care of her. By 12:00am she managed to get the hotel room number and phone number from one of our parents. She begins calling the room non-stop. The phone will not stop ringing. We are pushed so far as to ask the front desk to turn the line off so we don’t have to listen. Then she goes back to calling my boyfriend’s phone. Mr. McDoodlePants dejectedly picks up. When he hangs up, he starts to cry. His mother is coming to get him. It’s almost 1am and she going to drive over an hour to take him home.

Upon arrival to the hotel, we also discover that she has not come to get him alone. She has forced her husband AND Mr. McDoodlePants’ brother to come with her, and she even forced her husband to drive. After the minivan comes to a final stop, Mr. McDoodlePants’ father steps out and walks up to Mr. McDoodlePants, who had walked out to meet him. Now note that it’s the FATHER who comes out. The father and son speak for about 3 minutes, the father turns back to the van, gets in, turns on, and drives away, leaving Mr. McDoodlePants standing in the parking lot. He came back to us and we asked the obvious. All he had to say was, “He asked if I was having fun and wanted to stay and I said yes, so he told me have a good time and left.”

This was my first main experience with Mr. McDoodlePants’ mother, and it was VERY mild.

Another random and quick example of her insanity is that she forced him quit his job while going to college. Not because his grades were slipping, not because she was worried he was overexerting himself. No, she demanded he quit his job because he, you guessed it, should be taking care of her.

Now this is getting long, and I’ve sworn off crazy long posts like the last one, so the rest of the story will come later. For those who have read this, what are your initial thoughts? Is she crazy? Is she wrong? Is she a bad mother? Post your thoughts, ideas for my roommate to cope with her incessant badgering, opinions or her or the situation as you understand it now, ask questions, etc. I want to get him some backup to stand up to her, so I thought I’d try here.

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10 thoughts on “Advice to deal with an abusive mother

  1. Well, you mention that his brother is diagnoses psychotic/OCD…and I would venture a guess on where he gets it from. It sounds as if she could benefit from some therapy to get her emotions and expectations under control…but no, it doesn’t sound like you are overreacting at all. She might even have Munchhausen.

    I’ve known people like this before, and they push and push until people give in and give them exactly what they want. In my experience the best way to handle people like this is to stop giving them what they want. Don’t be wishy washy, either…firmly tell them you’re not going to deal with this crap and then don’t deal with it. The behavior will continue as long as she knows people will acknowledge it and continue to act based on it.

    I think I’d be very interested to know more about her husband and why he puts up with it!

    • I would venture the same guess. I think Munchausen could be a possibility, except she only directs her needs toward her son and sometimes her husband, and most times it’s not necessarily a physical ailment which causes her episodes.

      My mother suggested he stand up for himself, especially against her cursing him, but that was a total fiasco unfortunately. There’s simply no way we can figure out to deal with her. It also doesn’t help that he doesn’t have a job and is using a car they technically own.

      As for his dad, he was an alcoholic for a while. Now he’s partially brainwashed and partially trying to help my friend escape the crazy, but he can’t decide whether to be on his son’s side or his wife’s. He’s stuck in a very nasty middle right now, because I think he genuinely wants to see his son do well in the world and even has good ideas on how to help with his relationship with his mother, but at the same time he supports his wife’s crazy claims against his son, so he’s everywhere at once. He’s caught in the crazy, and he’s never getting away at this point.

  2. I think she has nothing besides her family and acts over-protective. That is somewhat understandable. Since she “lost” her first son, it gets even worse with the second.

    I guess the strategy Sarah outlined in the previous comment, is the right way to handle her. Especially the part telling her straight and firmly what is acceptable and what absolutely not.

    Maybe you or your friend could encourage her, to do something beside her home duties. Maybe blogging?

    Her husband has taken his role. He has married her after all and such behavior doesn’t emerge from nowhere. His role is to hold the family together and at the same time keeping her from completely freaking out. That’s hard work. And what else should he do, leave them altogether, would be better for him, but for no one else.

    • I can understand her over-protectiveness; she also had a very bad childhood and young adulthood (which she explained year by year in detail for 4 hours to us once, while we were trying to get his car keys back so he wouldn’t be stranded at their house forever). She’s dealt with psychologically unstable people all her life, it runs in her family. I feel like she expected her second son to be the same, and still assumes that he can’t make it on his own. Additionally, it seems that because he is the most stable of the supposedly unstable in his family, he should also be the caretaker of the family, aka her. He has been treated as the adult of the household for years (her expecting him to take care of her when she can very well take care of herself), and yet she is constantly berating him as irresponsible, etc. (repeating myself, sorry!)

      She thinks computers are Satan’s poop. I don’t think a blog would work. XD She’s far too preoccupied insisting she’s busy taking care of the house and the family to consider having a recreational activity. I think if she did do something he suggested, she’d probably purposefully hurt herself just to blame him for it.

      I agree about your view on her husband. He’s stuck there. The problem is she does the same belittling and degrading toward him as she does to her son. Her husband was an alcoholic, and she will not let him live it down. She’s constantly saying that he needs this med for this and that med for that. He’s just gotten so used to it he finds it normal now. It’s depressing.

  3. My initial thought? After a five minute recovery time from the scary photo, my initial thought is that the resistance to his mother must rise up from the man himself. There is the mother’s problem of control, and there is the son’s problem of acquiescence. He needs to develop the internal strength to break from this cage. Any shortcut that bypasses the process of him mustering the courage to deal with her as first two comments very well stated, will still leave him open to control in other situations. They say that they secure elephants with a rope tied to a stake when they are babies, and later in life the full grown, five ton animal has no idea that little rope and stake cannot keep it bound. Next, he must forgive his mother, and move on in life not in reaction to her, but in responsibility for his own life. Responsibility is the proper motivator to break control. She is still his mother, and he needs to love her. The way to break control is to make all decisions by what is right – not whether the person is being controlling or not. So he may decide to spend Christmas with her, despite her manipulative behavior in trying to get him to come, but resist some other demand. The other thought I have is that manipulation must often be dealt with straight up, but situation to situation. In other words, to lash out at her manipulation in one fell swoop will do little good. But in each particular situation he may need to call it out. In this her control is broken gradually, while he comes to develop his own strength.

    • I completely agree. We (his friends) have been trying to establish some sense of self-esteem in him for years. Now that he is experiencing her manipulation from a distance, he is getting the hang of it, but unfortunately (especially with the recent hospital visit) her behavior has gotten worse. If he tells her he loves her, she says he’s lying. If he calls her first, she assumes that someone put him up to it as a front. If he lets her talk, she says he never lets her know what’s on his mind or opens up to her. If he tries to talk, she calls him a blabber mouth and that he should shut up and listen to what she has to say. Everything revolves back to him being wrong and a bad son. He has been able to develop his strength, and still love her unconditionally, and she still calls him vain, rude, stupid, unloving, and an awful son. When he resists, it’s ammunition for her, but when he concedes, he either doesn’t do it fast enough or doesn’t do it often enough. This had been going on for at least 3 years, although only 6 months of it has been while at the apartment.

      • The situation sounds like a real mess. And now, ready for me to draw this conversation back to spiritual things? I wasn’t planning to, but as I puzzled over your reply, and was thinking about what a tangled, gnarled, complicated mess this is, I asked myself what I would do in this situation. I would rely on the Holy Spirit to show me which of all the possible reasonable responses was best at any given time. (And all the posts on this seem to have a lot of good advice in them) He is called “The counselor”. He has a way of taking an immense problem and showing us the key to unlock it, and break it into something manageable. For instance, the immediate answer could be for him to move away, confront her, confront her with his father, get professional help, show spontaneous acts of love that she does not control and resist her attempts to extract love through control. Sometimes there are spiritual strongholds that need to be broken (and I believe this is the case here), and no amount of natural wisdom can solve it. I am not saying the woman is demon possessed, but I believe there are very clear signs of demonic involvement here, which comes in where there is strong rejection and fear and manifests in the form of various forms of control that go beyond natural control, and actually exert spiritual (demonic) pressure upon others. And as you said, she could possibly even hurt herself. This is where we need a real and present God. I can’t tell you how many situations I’ve been in where the Holy Spirit would put my finger on an issue or a response to an issue.
        And regarding your post about her thinking that “computers are Satan’s poop”, after designing and tweaking my new website and all the hassles involved, I’m beginning to agree with her! (Actually I just put it up on the web tonight, and it went pretty well, except for the hours and hours of dealing with wordpress plugins an forum software that the cavemen used to use, fumbling my way through html, etc.

      • Thumbs up Rolling Thunder! I would also inform her that what she asks from her son (based on your comment Rana) is impossible, since each request is contradictory to the other. It seems as though she enjoys being the puppet master. As her son tries to do what she asks, constantly she feels in control. People do this because they feel their own life is out of control, which is perfectly logical given the state of the first son. She needs to deal with her own feelings about her life. She needs someone to vent to who is willing to listen. She needs hobbies and a vacation. She may not have time to do this because she is constantly taking care of the first brother, which can lead to this feeling of an out of control life. She probably does need help but what she is doing to Mr. McDoodlePants will solve nothing. It will only temporarily solve the symptom. If this is her biggest vice then she needs to find a way to share the burden of taking care of the other brother clear of what she is currently doing to Mr. McDoodlePants. I’m sure she loves both of her sons and would want the best for both of them. She needs to realize though that her current method of dealing with her misery can be extremely detrimental to her son and Stop. I feel bad for the struggles you are going through man and DON’T EVER GIVE UP.

  4. Pingback: Abusive Mother: Take Two! | Virginia the Viruliferous
  5. Pingback: Future Plans: Too tired to do any serious blogging tonight | Virginia the Viruliferous

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