real life

"Why I ended my toxic relationship with my mother."

My relationship with my mother had always been quite good, or so it seemed to me.

We were very close, and it’s the ‘were’ in that sentence that breaks my heart a little. You see, over the past year or so we’ve drifted apart. Well, not so much drifted apart as had a bomb planted that blew us apart.

It was a bomb that had probably been growing over time, with more and more explosives added to it over the years until it just got too big and had to detonate. It has become clear to me that our relationship was a controlling one which only worked so long as she was in control, and I did as was expected of me.

If ever I did something she perceived as ‘wrong’, she would first blow up in a yelling, abusive tirade, bringing up every way in which I may have slighted her over the years, and all the ways she thinks I’m failing in my life. She would never give me a chance to defend myself, and defending myself would have been pointless anyway because she was never, ever wrong.

She was never, ever wrong. Image via iStock.

Following such an explosion would be the silent treatment. This would last for as long as it took me to apologise and play the peacemaker, whether I was in the wrong or not.

And I always did apologise just to get it over with. I know it’s weak, but I’m sure anyone who has been in a similar position with a parent knows the sickening, crippling anxiety that comes with silent treatment, and the guilt they make you feel for not living up to their expectations.

The straw that broke the camel’s back for me came when she exploded at me in front of my children. No child should have to hear their mother being abused in such a way, and the things she said were dreadful.


They were so frightened, and I knew in that moment that something had to give. They had never heard grown-ups fight before, and it affected them deeply.

My little boy who had recently toilet trained regressed, and my daughter has developed anxiety. My husband and I decided we needed to put some space between our family and my mother, so we made the decision to move interstate.

It was hard on everyone, and I feel guilty knowing that it is difficult for her to be apart from her grandchildren, but I just couldn’t continue to live that way.

Mothers confess times they felt like a terrible mother. Post continues after video...

For the first time in my life I feel free to make daily life decisions without having to consult her, which at nearly thirty is amazing. With the help of a psychologist I am learning to deal with my anxiety and depression surrounding this relationship, and I’m feeling better than I have in years.

My children miss her, although my middle son is very wary of her since her explosion, and still talks about it sometimes. My daughter would like to talk to her on the phone however I am once again being subjected to the silent treatment for some imagined slight, and this time I am trying to be strong enough to let her be the one to get over it and apologise. So far I have managed to put my little girl off by saying “another day” when she asks, but I know she’s wondering why her Nanny doesn’t call.

It breaks my heart that her issues with me are so deep seated that she will willingly hurt her grandchildren, but it just goes to show that we made the right decision to put some distance between us.

I know that things will never be the same between me and my mum, as I’m no longer the weak little girl who will do anything to try to get her approval.

I do hope though that someday we can have some semblance of a normal relationship.

My children are growing up fast, and it saddens me that she’s choosing to miss it.