Relationship My Mom has PTSD and I can’t do anything right. How can I better support her?

JJmorgan

New Here
I am new here. My mom has Complex PTSD from childhood neglect and abuse and from a rape when she was a teenager. 3 years ago the child she gave up found her. My mom tried to have a relationship with her but suffered deeply from flashbacks anxiety and depression. It has been debilitating. I live in another country and my family had a meeting and decided she could not continue perusing the relationship. I told my mom I respected her decision and would also stop communicating with the girl if she wanted. My mom asked me not too and said it would provide her with relief to know my sister would at least have me and she gave me permission to meet her. I live in another country and recently was able to return home. My mom told me when I was there that she wanted my sister to know she was loved but she could not meet her because of the PTSD. She even started packing a load of stuff she bought for her and wanted me to deliver to her and talked about what she wanted me to give her when she passed.

The day I went to meet my sister my mom was acting strange on the phone. Calling me to have small talk then hanging up on me without saying bye. She then called and said she would be in the area and she wanted to meet afterwards. It all seemed like she wanted to be close and perhaps wanted to meet her or spy. I realised the place we were meeting wasn’t close to where my mom was going and let her know this. She then got extremely irritated with me but wouldn’t tell me what was wrong. She kept hanging up on me.
After meeting my sister I went to my moms house and she refused to hug me and made some passive aggressive personal attacks. I asked her if she was feeling ok and she said “Never better I feel great perfectly fine”. I told her how much I loved her and that I would always love her.
Once I returned to my home country my mom had my dad call me to tell me I broke her heart and she never wanted to talk to me again. I feel completely blindsided. I did everything she asked me to do. She wrote me a number of attacking texts saying that I don’t listen and always do what I want. I feel so confused. She told me she wanted me to meet her. She never said not to.
My dad said if I don’t want to loose my mom I need to apologise to her for meeting my sister and promise to cut my sister out of my life forever. I feel so gutted I don’t know what to do. I have already had to cut so many people out of my life for her. What do I do?
 

Sweetpea76

Moderator
Your mom is mentally ill and you are an adult. You do not need her permission to have a relationship with your half sister. You also do not need to apologize to her for *her* irrational behaviors, triggered states, or lashing out behaviors. She is the only person responsible for her emotions.

Tomorrow it will be something else she is going to cut you off for. Trust me, it never ends if you don’t set boundaries.
 

JJmorgan

New Here
Your mom is mentally ill and you are an adult. You do not need her permission to have a relationship with your half sister. You also do not need to apologize to her for *her* irrational behaviors, triggered states, or lashing out behaviors. She is the only person responsible for her emotions.

Tomorrow it will be something else she is going to cut you off for. Trust me, it never ends if you don’t set boundaries.
I am starting to realise I need to set boundaries. I have always been the one that is the buffer between her and others. She has been suicidal and has threatened to end her life. I couldn’t live with myself if I did something that triggered her to harm herself. I know it’s PTSD but she blames me and I know her blaming me is probably her reaching to her mom who rejected her when she was rapped and who punished her when she came forward to report her stepfather was abusing her. I know this is about her anxiety and anger toward them but if I keep my relationships with other people that are her triggers then I am the one causing it? It’s just so confusing because what I have read is that I should stay away from triggers but what if the triggers are people? And cutting them off triggers their PTSD and feeling of abandonment. I hurt someone no matter what I do.
 

Sweetpea76

Moderator
I couldn’t live with myself if I did something that triggered her to harm herself.

but if I keep my relationships with other people that are her triggers then I am the one causing it?
Here’s the deal. *You* are not in charge of her mental health. *You* are not “triggering” her. *She* is being triggered. She is the one responsible for that. It’s happening in her head.

You would never be able to avoid everything that may be triggering to her. She doesn’t even know what all will trigger her until it does, so how are you supposed to know.

I know it’s PTSD but she blames me and I know her blaming me is probably her reaching to her mom who rejected her when she was rapped and who punished her when she came forward to report her stepfather was abusing her.
She’s blaming you because she is lashing out and you are an easy target. Better to blame you than to work through her PTSD and address the actual issue.

She has been suicidal and has threatened to end her life.
You are not responsible for that either.
 

Friday

Moderator
I know this is about her anxiety and anger toward them but if I keep my relationships with other people that are her triggers then I am the one causing it?
No.

This is HER mixing up the present and the past.

You did not rape your mom.
You did not abuse your mom.
You did not do what ANY of these people did to your mom.

Her mixing you up with other people? Is. Not. Your. Fault.
Her treating you like other people? Is. Not. Your. Fault.

You can’t make her treat you like you, by somehow never triggering her.
She’s going to get triggered.
Mixing you up with others? Is something happening in her head.
SHE is the one who needs to seperate out YOU from “everyone else”

Going along with it, and apologising, and taking the blame for evils others have done, and acting as if her upset is totally rational? Like you actually did something wrong, that rates this kind of upset? Only makes that harder. It blurs the lines between past and present, you & them, even more.

When SHE mixes thing up?
When SHE gets triggered?
Don’t agree with her that it’s you, and your fault, and something you’ve done.
 

JJmorgan

New Here
No.

This is HER mixing up the present and the past.

You did not rape your mom.
You did not abuse your mom.
You did not do what ANY of these people did to your mom.

Her mixing you up with other people? Is. Not. Your. Fault.
Her treating you like other people? Is. Not. Your. Fault.

You can’t make her treat you like you, by somehow never triggering her.
She’s going to get triggered.
Mixing you up with others? Is something happening in her head.
SHE is the one who needs to seperate out YOU from “everyone else”

Going along with it, and apologising, and taking the blame for evils others have done, and acting as if her upset is totally rational? Like you actually did something wrong, that rates this kind of upset? Only makes that harder. It blurs the lines between past and present, you & them, even more.

When SHE mixes thing up?
When SHE gets triggered?
Don’t agree with her that it’s you, and your fault, and something you’ve done.
Thank you for your advice. This makes total sense. My dad and brother are also pressuring me to do whatever she wants. I tried to tell them I didn’t think it was right. I told them when she was in a better state of mind she told me what she wanted me to do and she told me it was the right thing to do. I will have a talk with my dad and bro to let them know that is doing what she says is just making it worse. I think deep down I knew that which is why I feel so torn up about it. I love my mom and would never hurt her. My bro told me she always tells him that I am the one pushing the relationship. It is so confusing but I do believe she wanted the relationship to happen and now that she is trigged she has gone into her child state of fight or flight. Does she even know that she tells me to do one thing and then later says she told me not to (even though she didn’t). When my bro asked her if she told me not to meet our sister she said she called me. Yes she did call but didn’t say anything about the meeting. Do you think she knows she is saying different things at different times. Or is this apart of PTSD. She seems to forget details.
 

caroline_13

Confident
Thank you for your advice. This makes total sense. My dad and brother are also pressuring me to do whatever she wants. I tried to tell them I didn’t think it was right. I told them when she was in a better state of mind she told me what she wanted me to do and she told me it was the right thing to do. I will have a talk with my dad and bro to let them know that is doing what she says is just making it worse. I think deep down I knew that which is why I feel so torn up about it. I love my mom and would never hurt her. My bro told me she always tells him that I am the one pushing the relationship. It is so confusing but I do believe she wanted the relationship to happen and now that she is trigged she has gone into her child state of fight or flight. Does she even know that she tells me to do one thing and then later says she told me not to (even though she didn’t). When my bro asked her if she told me not to meet our sister she said she called me. Yes she did call but didn’t say anything about the meeting. Do you think she knows she is saying different things at different times. Or is this apart of PTSD. She seems to forget details.
I just avoid my family. Slightly different dynamic, but no one is ever at peace with each other. Or with themselves.

I don't believe in saying "I can't": so I'll say it this way, the only way you can fix them is to let go of it all and work on yourself. It doesn't mean you have to cut off all contact, but you will have to have trial and error to find what keeps you the most peaceful.
 

JJmorgan

New Here
I just avoid my family. Slightly different dynamic, but no one is ever at peace with each other. Or with themselves.

I don't believe in saying "I can't": so I'll say it this way, the only way you can fix them is to let go of it all and work on yourself. It doesn't mean you have to cut off all contact, but you will have to have trial and error to find what keeps you the most peaceful.
I’ve always been so close to my family. It makes me sad but now I am terrified to even talk to my mom again. She sends me such different messages then blows up because I couldn’t read her mind. I’m afraid I can’t do anything right.
My heart hurts for my dad as he has been caring for her over the past 3 years and she has done this to him a number of times. I have encouraged him to see a psychologist. His love language is acts of kindness and I think this has not helped her. He does everything for her. She doesn’t even drive anymore 😢

**Caroline_13 do you limit contact with the person who has PTSD and your family and anyone who is a trigger or just the person with PTSD?
 
Last edited by a moderator:

caroline_13

Confident
I’ve always been so close to my family. It makes me sad but now I am terrified to even talk to my mom again. She sends me such different messages then blows up because I couldn’t read her mind. I’m afraid I can’t do anything right.
My heart hurts for my dad as he has been caring for her over the past 3 years and she has done this to him a number of times. I have encouraged him to see a psychologist. His love language is acts of kindness and I think this has not helped her. He does everything for her. She doesn’t even drive anymore 😢
Sounds a leeeeetle bit like my family dynamic, my dad abused by my mom (as well as me and my brother). My brother an abuser to me.

My mom had a horror story of her own, but she never really TRIED to get help. I know in a sense she was always doing the best she could, but that's no excuse for me to stay tied to her.

I have spent ENDLESS hours and energy trying to help my dad, only to realize that he just wants to stay a VICTIM.

I still love them but love isn't enough. Not if you don't have self love.

And to all those eye rollers and eye wideners out there who have facial reactions (or verbal...but the facial reactions pain me the most) when I say I didn't talk to my parents for 10 years, or I don't see them, they can suck it.

I'm not close to my family. It is what it is and what you think is what you think.

I'm just saying, you sound like the past me.
 

caroline_13

Confident
Caroline_13 do you limit contact with the person who has PTSD and your family and anyone who is a trigger or just the person with PTSD?
Well, I have PTSD. Probably both my parents do (my dad has said he does, on ONE occasion when he used it as a control tactic) but none of this is ever discussed.

My mom was the principal abuser, and my brother. My mom was sexually abused by her father (dad told me this when I was in my 30's) and it all made sense, both my parents are very very religious. The kind of people who make every little thing right or wrong, and believe people are inherently bad. I long considered my dad the good parent, but now I see how complicit he was and is in all of this and actually find my dad really unbearable. He is SO controlling. And he is always having temper tantrums of his own that he never deals with and completely normalizes, so I have an extraordinarily difficult time being around him and keeping my peace. He makes fun of and belittles people (that's his way to bond) and constantly comments on politics in a confrontational way.

I have the best contact with my mom, oddly enough, because she at least isn't as controlling and we just text back and forth about our pets. My dad has to throw politics into everything and he's somewhere on the autistic spectrum so I think he struggles to relate to people, but almost everything is a criticism (either good or bad) of me or someone else. I feel like I get so sucked into it I lose all my balance. Always have felt this way with them. He has virtually no sense of self responsibility or self awareness and is always making himself the victim in any situation.

I have no contact with my brother.

I don't have time for people who don't respect me, or make me feel small. I don't "think" about it as much anymore, if someone doesn't feel good, I'm out.

Now, if my parents are old and decrepit one day, and I have a support system, that may change a bit. I may have slightly more contact. But it almost makes me hyperventilate to think about it.
 

JJmorgan

New Here
Well, I have PTSD. Probably both my parents do (my dad has said he does, on ONE occasion when he used it as a control tactic) but none of this is ever discussed.

My mom was the principal abuser, and my brother. My mom was sexually abused by her father (dad told me this when I was in my 30's) and it all made sense, both my parents are very very religious. The kind of people who make every little thing right or wrong, and believe people are inherently bad. I long considered my dad the good parent, but now I see how complicit he was and is in all of this and actually find my dad really unbearable. He is SO controlling. And he is always having temper tantrums of his own that he never deals with and completely normalizes, so I have an extraordinarily difficult time being around him and keeping my peace. He makes fun of and belittles people (that's his way to bond) and constantly comments on politics in a confrontational way.

I have the best contact with my mom, oddly enough, because she at least isn't as controlling and we just text back and forth about our pets. My dad has to throw politics into everything and he's somewhere on the autistic spectrum so I think he struggles to relate to people, but almost everything is a criticism (either good or bad) of me or someone else. I feel like I get so sucked into it I lose all my balance. Always have felt this way with them. He has virtually no sense of self responsibility or self awareness and is always making himself the victim in any situation.

I have no contact with my brother.

I don't have time for people who don't respect me, or make me feel small. I don't "think" about it as much anymore, if someone doesn't feel good, I'm out.

Now, if my parents are old and decrepit one day, and I have a support system, that may change a bit. I may have slightly more contact. But it almost makes me hyperventilate to think about it.
I am sorry to hear that it has been a difficult journey for you. I talked to a psychologist today and she said it sounds to her like my mom is too far gone and will never recover but will have to make the hard decision to seek treatment to help her manage it. She said people like me either leave the relationship to protect their own well-being or set boundaries with having a surface level relationship. Sounds consistent to what you are saying.
She said I would never be able to have the close relationship I had before with her and she recommended I take some time to grieve the loss of my mom.
It’s all really hard for me to imagine. We were always really close. I don’t want to believe we won’t be able to talk about meaningful things again but now that I think about the past 3 years it has been like you say. We can talk about my dog the weather but not politics not about my life and work. Little things about the kids sometimes trigger her. I’m always walking on eggshells.
If I cut my sister out would things change? Is there a chance she will snap out of it? I get why she kept it all a secret for the past 50 years. This allowed her to have a life separate from her trauma. Now that I know and met my sister does that mean I will always be a trigger to her? I don’t want to hurt my sister but I know she wouldn’t want our mom to be suffering. I just want my mom back and I want my mom and dad to be able to enjoy their golden years. Sorry for the talking I. Circles I’m just trying to process. I feel so lost. My sister and I have become close and she has an amazing way of comforting me like my mom use to. She reminds me so much of her which is probably why we clicked so well. but I can’t reach out to her. I feel like I’m morning the loss of two people.
 
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