mother relationship

Hi Brooke,

My mother and I have had relationship difficulties since I was a teenager. She remarried when I was 12. To make a long story short, my stepfather was sexually inappropriate with me. At the age of 27, he did something that made me stop all contact with him. My mother never quite acknowledged her part in the situation and downplayed the seriousness of his behaviour. She stayed with him.

I went to therapy in my 20ies and feel I have since moved on. I truly believe that my mother did her best; her beliefs and values are her own. I do not blame or ruminate on the past. It was what is was. This said, I am stedfast in not seeing him again, and I’ve placed limits on my relationship with my mother as well.

Fast forward to now, he is old and in ailing health. She is having a tough time caring for him with the demands of her high pressure job. This is conjecture here, but my intuition tells me that she is angry that I am not interested in reconciling with him before his death; and from a practical stand point, that I cannot help with the care-taking.

Since I started a relationship with a woman 4 years ago, our relationship went completely off rails again. We were estranged for over a year. We made amends about a year and a half ago and started seeing each other on a fairly regularly basis, mainly meeting a the park to walk her dog. Since the estrangement, I made progress with my own thinking. I feel decidedly more comfortable with myself and more relaxed with her. The boundaries I set made a big difference. However, as I mentioned above, my boundaries are difficult for my mother.

I think I am coming to a realization that my mother will never fully accept me, or at least not on my terms. She rarely asked about me and what’s going on in my life. She certainly never asks about my partner. I ask her what’s going on in her life, but she does not reciprocate. Once in a while I slip in “we” to see if she will take the bait, but she does not. What is really odd is that I know she loves me deeply. Maybe this is her best?

Here is a model resulting from today’s encounter:
C: saw mother
T: she is not asking me anything, not even about work or “safe” topics
F: a little sadness (a follow-on thought is “how odd that a mother has no interest in her daughter?”)
A: ask her questions to get the dialog going
R: no reciprocity

I am not sure if I should just change the thought to something like “I am here for my mother”. Feels one sided and a bum deal for me. It has been a long long time since I counted on her for emotional support. This thought would just feel like the continuation of a pattern of not asking for much to keep the peace. A couple of my friends feel I should just “shock” her into reality by introducing her to my partner by surprise; shake her up somehow or make demands, etc. I am not sure that I believe in this approach nor do I think it will give me the results I am looking for.

What would be better thoughts?

Should I be looking at this differently? Ask better questions?