Helpers need help sometimes…


I am a therapist and counsillor myself but need someone objective to give me some advise and a clear view.  My mother and I have had a relatively strained relationship since I can remember and she has always (especially when I was a child) used guilt to make me do certian things.  I know she is emotionally needy and comes from a family where her father certainly also abused her emotionally. She stays in another country (we are about 2000 km apart) and we speak regularly on the phone.  In the past when I received calls where she obviously would like me to notice that she is upset about something and keeps on complaining, telling me that she is so stressed, unloved, unrecognized etc.  The tone of voice is a clear indication and then I know…trouble!  I once (about 5 years ago) told her straight that I don’t enjoy phoning her when I have to listen to complaints and emotional suffering all the time and it seemed that she understood and changed that – to a  degree.
Things have been going well the last few years with small incidents in between.  But now we have a situation where I did not invite her to join us for a weekend and a show and I have to get the “you don’t care about me”  ” I am just so sad that you did not consider me”.  I explained my side and after the conversation, which ended in a sigh and a “well don’t worry about me then, I will try to forget it”, I felt the same guilt and – anger.  
Now my concern is, is it expected of me to ‘say sorry’, crawl back?  Must I continue as if nothing happened?  
We are planning to spend Christmas with them, but under the circumstances (and my hubby is really upset) I don’t think that will be a nice experience at all. Must I be the least?

In the past I have tried to gently coax her in going for therapy (response: the therapists are useless and she does not trust them), I have gently told her to look at her own ways and consider her role in her unhappiness (response: she is not to blame)Being judgemental and blaming will not help her withering friendships, she must be forgiving and more tolerant (response: I don’t have time to waste on people who are difficult)
I will appreciate your assistance.



Your job is not to caretake your mother. She is a big girl. Your job is to enjoy your marriage and your life and make attempts to honor your mother. If she wanted things to be better for herself, she would make attempts to have things better. When she calls you and gets you to caretake you take on that role, but there is a problem. While you take on the role to caretake it doesn’t work and then you and your mother stay stuck. So one of you needs to make the move to get unstuck. From what I read here it’s probably going to be you. I think you simply continue on. You know you care for your mother. You also know you have your own life. You by now also know that your mother is a person who won’t be satisfied by most things. Stop being surprised and trapped by this. Expect it and move on. Guilt implies you are doing something wrong, and I don’t see you doing anything wrong in this relationship from what you describe.


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