< Back to article

"I Love My Mother, But I Don't Like Her"

496 Comments

I was told by my counselor that loving a person does not mean you have to like them. I learned to love my narcissistic mother as a human being rather than my mother. I would not let anything happen to a stranger if I saw them and I would fight for them to receive the same kind of care. The only difference for this particular human being is she had the title of mother in my life and I could honor her by putting safe emotional boundaries around me while making sure she had basic fundamentals in her life taken care of.

Loving someone does not mean liking them. I would never choose my mother as a person to have in my circle of friends or even acquaintances, but she was in my life for whatever purpose. We have to learn how to set those boundaries and realize it's okay. Do it in a loving and God-fearing method and you won't feel guilty.

I went to the mountaintop of extremes with my mother too often to count. But somehow no matter how narcissistic she was, she never went over the edge of the cliff other than choosing her own fate at end of life. Ah yes, tough love. The hardest one of all.

The opposite of love isn't hate, it's indifference. You are honoring the 10 Commandments by caring for her, but you don't have to like her.

There is no WAY that I will give anymore direct care to a physically abusive mother who demands that I rearrange the couch pillows while she languishes in bed, all propped up with her NYT and crossword puzzles. I am a single mother of 2 with a full time job. I will be god damned if I am going to cater to this abusive woman during my limited time off work. RIP can't come soon enough!

I think we have a troll here...(above)

Well this is a hard one and a very fine line. Honoring is about not becoming a whipping post, but also I had to also forgive my mother. I don't miss her in the least, but she was like she was because she was so fearful and gripped that fear TIGHTLY all her life.

I think people believe that boundaries are not healthy or when they see a parent throwing a tantrum, the guilt sets in. It does at first, but that's where therapy comes in. I am fortunate in that I had a counselor who was a Christian and had foundational beliefs as I did (not intentionally sought out). He turned out to be an answer to prayer and 20 years later we are friends and he is actually helping me with a non-profit I am now building.

Your sister-in-law sounds like she is looking to be a martyr. I could be wrong. But with what I've learned, I'd tell her mother (if I were her) "Well, see if you can find someone else to handle everything for free and get back to me." And I would be prepared that if she hired someone else, I was free of the duty. Ask my girlfriend. I say all the time that when my mother was pissed off at me and wouldn't talk to me, I was grateful for the peace and quiet and lack of drama in my days. LOL

Caregivers think they have to do it all. NOT true. Sometimes we cannot physically do it. This isn't like handling a 8 lb baby taking care of feeding, wiping, clothing, etc. These are full grown adults. There are independence issues to deal with, legal matters, housing, their responsibilities on top of our own. It's a nightmare.

I have more respect for people who seek assistance and aren't afraid to say they cannot do it all. Because I know that even in what I did (when my parents were in AL), it still took a physical toll on me and many years to recover. Actually, I think I'm still recovering after 3 years.

The key is understanding the difference between honoring a parent and becoming a doormat. God doesn't take to dysfunction and Jesus already took the burden of the cross. We just need to learn to forgive those who hurt us and set the healthy boundaries of God's love to let things work as they should.

mitzipinki,

Thanks for your reply. I agree that " But honoring does not mean being a whipping post " This is where I hear people like my sister in law who despite counseling to the contrary allows her narcissistic, verbally abusive mom to do to her treat her as "a whipping post" because she's trying to honor her mother. However, her mental and physical health suffers greatly as a uterine cancer survivor since 2001 and it appears that she's reached her breaking point. Her mother is still competent and wants to deal with her rental houses, etc. but does not want to pay anyone to manage them, but has Debra do it for free. Yet, her mother can barely see and hardly hear. If her mother was not competent, then Debra could take charge and hire people to do things.

That is not the case though. However, Debra does not have to be at her mother's beckon call all of the time with her in assisted living which can take her to doctor's appointments. Her mother has tons of money that she could hire some people to manage her properties. Her mother is still competent and could select someone to be her POA if Debra were to resign.

I don't know how many times I've read stories of incredible sacrifice made by caregivers many of whom are trying to get an parent who was not loving from the start to change via all of the sacrificial love they poor out on the parent to no avail with the end result being no more home, can't get back into the working world, devastated retirement funds which leaves them nothing for their own retirement, ruined marriages because of being more emotionally connected to a parent than to a spouse, lost friendships, physical and health breakdowns, disturbed relationships with their own children which often is tapped off with "I know this is what God wanted me to do."

Thus my question for I read this so much, I just don't see how that is always the case when it leads to dishonoring one's spouse, one's own children, one's own health and finances for one's own retirement.

To me taking up our cross and denying ourselves in helping others is not the same as self-destruction which strikes me more like unhealthy love where one person is absorbed into the other in an enmeshed, codependent relationship in which only one person really exists because of the lack of health boundaries. I don't think Jesus wants us to deny or crucify the very unique self that God created us in his image to be as if our being a human being lacks any real value at all at the expense of others.

cmagnum, I'll speak from my experience since my mother and I never got along for as long as I can remember. We could barely stay in a room with each other for 15 minutes before things would ensue (as I learned to defend myself).

The call is simple. "Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you." But honoring does not mean being a whipping post and I think that's where everyone struggles.

When I finally learned how dysfunctional my life was after my father's stroke and that time I was 35 years old, I needed emotional healing because of a break down I had where I sobbed for days. It was through counseling I learned the importance of boundaries and where my journey began.

In providing for my mother I set boundaries in place. Well learned how to do it. Sometimes it was a piece of cake, other times I felt like I could have just beat the wisdom into her first hand (I said FELT LIKE).

I knew I couldn't take care of my parents on my own as an only child and married. Thankfully my father did things to make a way for them for their life in retirement and for their care. But assisted living was certainly the answer. I had no problem leaving her in capable hands, but I still had to maintain things from a distance. I tried not to encounter her, but when I visited her, things still lasted about 15 minutes and now she definitely was not shy about that time either.

I made sure she was eating properly or as she would allow. I made sure they had a bed to sleep in and their money was taken care of. Dad I did more for but he was so routine oriented with mom, he was kind of on auto-pilot even with having dementia.

So to answer your question, its about honoring our parents. But boundaries are EXTREMELY important with a dysfunctional parent. Sometimes it is about walking away, but if you know the bare essentials are taken care of and they still fight that, sometimes its just out of one's hands. Just do all you can do to the best of your ability.

I went to the mountain top with mom and she still always found a way to go over the cliff except for me walking away. She knew that I would and she would not cross that line. That and a WHOLE LOT of prayer!!!

How do we know that God wants us to do the things we say we know that God wants us to do? I"m not being sarcastic or critical. I'm just asking.

I am grateful for this article because I thought I was the only one who loved my mom, but didn't really like her. I came to take care of my mom who has dementia two month ago when her husband passed away. Our relationship has been on and off over the last 20 years due to her late husband. When my aunt called and told me about what had happen, I really didn't want to come and take care of my mom but I knew God wanted me to do it, since I had been a caregiver in private home health care and assisted living for the past 7 years. I have a brother who refuses to help. I have taken care of many different strangers. Praying for support team. I am healing. This is the hardest thing I have ever done.

comment

Thank you very much, Texarkana! :,)