My Mom, The Monster | YourTango


As a last resort, I sat before a seasoned rabbi. “Could you help me?” I asked him, after painting a picture of my mother’s erratic and toxic behavior. I told him about her guilt trips, silent treatments, rage, gaslighting, torturous conversations, and all the ways my mother had repeatedly hurt me.

The rabbi looked me straight in the eyes. “You have no choice. You tried everything. It is time to forge your path.”

Panic rushed through my body. “Is there no hope?” I asked.

He nodded slowly. “Sometimes, one has to break away from the environment they grew up in. You can either replicate the environment you grew up in, or run away from it. She will not change. Protect your new family.”

I had naively hoped the rabbi would offer a resolution that could allow me to keep my mother in my life, albeit at a distance. The commandment to honor thy mother was subject to exceptions, and apparently, a borderline mother was one of them.

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I grew up with a mother I couldn’t relate to. There was an issue between us, but I couldn’t pinpoint what it was. My father was notoriously difficult: Insulting, punitive, and lashing out randomly. With my father’s unpredictable outbursts, my mother faded into the background, helpless and victimized.

I once told that I told her I was unhappy at school, she looked me straight in the eyes and said I couldn’t do this to her. How could I be so selfish as to bring up my pain when she was dealing with much more?

I learned not to approach my mother on certain matters; it was too much for her. When I once fainted and needed her to pick me up, my mother arrived in hysterics. “You are exhausting me, Emerald.” I internalized her words — I was exhausting. I didn’t want to be the one to exhaust my mother.

We didn’t have any real conversations, except her commiserating about her life. Over the years, I listened to her endless complaints about how every other woman had a caring husband while she married a selfish, stingy monster. Sitting with her, I realized to get close to her I had to listen to complaints.

Then, there were the hysterics. When my father came to my grandmother’s family dinner uninvited, my mother stepped onto the dining room table and screamed at him to leave. She warned the guests that she was ready to faint. She had to be calmed down.

Most of all, I didn’t know who my mother was. My friends’ moms were happy and relatively carefree, but mine seemed to be carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders. Like a child is wired to, I loved my mother unconditionally. This has since changed.

Over the years, I got a few glimpses into her psyche whenever she felt she was losing control over me. When I had my first boyfriend, I expected her to be happy for me. While his family welcomed me with open arms, she did not wish to meet my boyfriend. When he did eventually come to meet her, my mother turned her head at him and did not wish to interact. Instead, she told me he was not good-looking and not going anywhere in life. She shamed me for going out with him. “I hope you have a terrible time with him,” she said. I trusted that she acted this way because she wanted the best for me.

I kept it all in, and I didn’t discuss my relationship with her. When I was on the phone with him, she turned to me, filled with disgust: “Who were you talking to?” When I told her the truth, she blew up. “How could you speak to him? What a mistake you are making.”

I found myself at a crossroads and lied to keep my mother quiet. I told her we had stopped dating. I played this game because my fear of abandonment as a child followed me deep into adulthood.

My engagement should have been a time of joy, but instead, it threw my mother off the edge. The wedding had to be exactly as she demanded. She said if I didn’t have a particular band, she would have a car accident, and it would be my fault. “Do you want me to have an accident?” she said to me.

She refused to discuss our upcoming nuptials with my fiancé, or even meet his family. She wasn’t ready and according to her, they should understand. They also should understand that her Moroccan Jewish traditions prevailed, and nothing was to be done according to their traditions. I asked her for a compromise, as it was not her wedding. In a fit of rage, she wished me a horrible wedding, with an evil gleam in her eyes.

When I didn’t cave, my mother expressed her disgust with me to my brother, her new confidante. Then, behind my back, my mother called my fiancé to express that she believed I suffered from borderline personality disorder. My fiancé was flabbergasted. He said he had to go. He called me to tell me. I immediately felt faint. My mother had called my fiancé soon after we got engaged to tell him I suffered from a personality disorder that I had never been diagnosed with.

I confronted my mother about this — she denied saying I had a personality disorder and blamed my fiancé instead. She couldn’t believe he said he would call her back and didn’t.

RELATED: 17 Things People Don’t Realize You’re Doing Because Of Borderline Personality Disorder

This incident, right before my marriage, prompted me to schedule an appointment with a psychiatrist with her. I wanted to get to the bottom of my mother’s diagnosis of me. She agreed to come. In the waiting room, she did not greet me, still enraged that I was upset that she contacted my fiancé with her made-up diagnosis. 

The psychiatrist stated that he did not believe I suffered from borderline personality disorder. He added that usually when a mother diagnoses her daughter, it’s a reflection of what is going on within her. 

After the session, my mother concluded it was a waste of time because according to her, he had neither confirmed nor dispelled that I had BPD. I felt angry but mostly confused as to what she was trying to achieve. Why was she so committed to trying to find me sick? She drew my brother into it, stating that I was ruining her life with my alleged mental illness.

During the next few years, I maintained low contact with her to avoid her poisoning my mind with her diagnoses and perpetual victimhood. I refused to engage deeply to avoid getting hurt by her conduct, and what I then perceived as insensitivity.

When I was pregnant with my first child, I naively dreamed that my mother would be supportive and that she would derive happiness from caring for her grandchild. During my pregnancy, she alternated between being very excited and ignoring me for weeks on end. 

I was embarrassed by how my mother treated me. I often found myself wondering if she was just fragile, or selfish. I did not wish to believe she was selfish. She often told me how much she did for me, and what she did for others, and I still, despite everything, believed it.

When my daughter was born, my mother didn’t show up during the first few months to help care for her. I asked her to come, and she snapped at me, claiming she was busy, and dismissing my needs. “We are so tired,” I pleaded. “That is the life of a parent,” she replied. “She cries a lot,” I implored. “Babies cry,” she responded.

When my daughter was a mere three months old, my great uncle, my mother’s uncle, passed away. I tried to attend the funeral but on such low sleep, I had a car accident and was too late to make it. My mother called me afterward.

“I cannot believe you didn’t show up.”

“Mom, I had a car accident.”

“Perfect,” she yelled as she hung up on me. To mend ties, I messaged my family sending condolences and apologizing for being unable to make it. My mother ignored me for two weeks and did not ask about me or my daughter. I went through mental gymnastics trying to make sense of her behavior. 

Instead, she showed up at my house unexpectedly when my mother-in-law was over. In front of my mother-in-law and daughter, she turned her head away when I said hello. Then, my mother’s rage got the best of her.

“You are never there for me. You should be ashamed — you didn’t show up to my uncle’s funeral, and everyone expected to see you,” she screamed, pointing a finger at me.

Witnessing my mother spewing venom, my mother-in-law tried to calm her down. “Emerald is a new mother. She cannot run out so easily. She did try to go to the funeral.” My mother then turned her head at my mother-in-law and continued to scream at me. My mother-in-law felt disrespected and said, “Are you listening to me?” My mother then stormed out of the house.

I was ashamed my mother-in-law witnessed this behavior and I was angry at my mother for acting this way.

Days later, my mother-in-law shyly asked if I had heard from my mother. I said no. She gasped. “How could a woman not ask about her granddaughter?” she said. “She was rude to me, and the way she treated you was obnoxious.” Her words stabbed me like a knife. I wished I was loved and supported.

Weeks later, my mother contacted me, acting like nothing had happened, and asked to see my daughter.

I felt angry, at her dismissal of my feelings, and her lack of respect. “I will never see your mother-in-law again. She disrespected me,” my mother said, making herself into a victim again. 

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Over the next few months, I never received the apology I so deeply yearned for. Instead, I was labeled a monster for not complying with her random requests to see my daughter. She then involved my brother, who again served as her mouthpiece, stating I was a cruel and toxic person. My brother told me to be a nicer daughter. My heart broke into a million pieces.

I continued to try to engage with my mother: “You hurt me”, I would say.

“Where is your respect for your mother? Do you know one of the Ten Commandments is to honor your mother?” she retorted.

“Don’t you see me?” I asked.

“I see a monster, not the daughter I raised so lovingly.”

To avoid the guilt of being blamed for her misery and her guilt trips, I allowed her to see my daughter sporadically. Sometimes, she would text me that my daughter is the most beautiful person in the world, and then ask me about her four times a day, a stark contrast to ignoring me for weeks on end. Her messages felt insincere.

She showed up at my home, while I wasn’t there, and texted me to say she was waiting. I said I was gone. She nonetheless demanded to be let in. I said I wasn’t home. “You liar!” she said, “I will wait here until someone calls the police.” She even went so far as to say she saw my car in the driveway.

Was she delusional, or simply cruel? Did she care that she was causing me distress? I couldn’t understand. At this point, I wanted peace, so I rescheduled her visit. No matter how many times she saw my daughter, my mother was unable to connect. When my daughter cried in her presence, my mother could n’t handle it.

“You don’t have a mother. Pretend I am dead. I am dead to you,” my mother’s evil glare remained.

I asked her to stop threatening to call the police if I wasn’t home. Her response: “Should I kill myself? I am sure that when I die you will be so happy. You are praying for my death.” Occasionally, when she called me, for a brief second, I hoped that she would be sympathetic. Instead, she said I want you to hear me cry. And then she proceeded to sob loudly on the phone. I was shaking, next to my daughter.

I had finally reached my breaking point. The words of the psychiatrist years ago, my mother-in-law’s words and the constant storm my mother caused in my life pushed me to the edge. I knew I had no other choice but to cut ties.

In one final attempt, I explained this to her. “How many times have I screamed?” I calmly explained that she screamed at me before my child and mother-in-law.

“That’s nothing,” she responded. “You are depriving your daughter of a good grandmother for selfish reasons.” I opened my heart, explaining her instability. I said she sometimes goes months without asking about my daughter. She ignored every word I said.

“When can I see your daughter?”

“Did you hear what I said?” I pleaded.

“When can I see your daughter? Why don’t you answer me?”

It was a technique she used to exhaust me, to deter me from ever questioning her. My mother was unable to discuss and apologize. She then asked me to never tell anyone about our troubled relationship because I would just cause problems.

In my attempt to get my mother to respect me and stop her abuse, I wasted energy and mental resources due to my inability to accept her mental illness. I naively continued to try to reason with her, all while she shot darts at me, invalidating my existence. I finally saw her cold, calculating, and manipulative core. She lied to make herself into a victim. 

I returned to see the psychiatrist I had met with her years ago. I needed clarification.

“Do I have a personality disorder?”

“No you do not,” he reassured me.

Then, I couldn’t help it: “Does my mother have one?”

“Oh yes.” the psychiatrist answered. “I remember her very clearly. She was also secretive about her own pathology.”

Her extreme inability to deal with emotions and volatility were telltale signs of borderline personality disorder. That was my answer.

I stopped getting emotionally involved so my mother couldn’t hurt me anymore. She was and will always be my mother, but she is unhinged, hurtful, and blissfully unaware of her toxicity. I look at her as a woman who lacks a self: Easily broken, raging for weeks, unable to process emotions and most of all, unable to heal.

The frustration of being unseen and unheard resides within me. I still grapple with guilt and a slight desire for her acceptance, but these feelings have dimmed. The hardest aspect for me is learning to be unfazed — to let her be and stop seeking the apology I long for. I needed to step off her rollercoaster of emotions so I could breathe. When I slowly began not answering her, relief washed over me. Suddenly, I was no longer on the rollercoaster. I was left feeling dizzy and in pain, but for once, I had to focus on my daughter, myself, and my family. 

A daughter’s role should never be to manage her mother’s dysregulated emotions. My mother taught me the importance of managing my emotions, listening, and validating feelings. She showed me how crucial it is for me to be different from her and break the cycle. I just wish struggling with a loved one who suffers from BPD wasn’t such a big part of my story, because the rollercoaster nearly broke me.

If you think you may be experiencing depression or anxiety as a result of ongoing emotional abuse, you are not alone. 

Domestic abuse can happen to anyone and is not a reflection of who you are or anything you’ve done wrong. 

If you feel as though you may be in danger, there is support available 24/7/365 through the National Domestic Violence Hotline by calling 1-800-799-7233. If you’re unable to speak safely, text LOVEIS to 1-866-331-9474.

RELATED: Her Borderline Rage Was Terrifying, Especially When It Was Aimed At Me

Emerald Myara (she/her) is a writer who covers topics such as narcissistic abuse, trauma, mental health, relationships, and healing. 



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