Email From My Mother

I just checked my email for the first time in a little while. And found an email from my mother with the subject line reading, “???”

I debated only for a moment whether to open it or not.

I did.

She wants to know if the email address is still valid and if it’s one she can communicate with me through.

I haven’t answered. I am shaking. I am confused and don’t know how or even whether to reply.

In my heart I don’t want to sever all ties. And I certainly don’t want this to be about the subject she emailed me about. Her will. .

It needs to be changed to follow the laws and guidelines of the state she moved to.

She wrote, …although I do not plan on dying soon…” (“I need to update blah, blah, blah.”)

I admit, I was happy to read that she is OK and that statement hints to the fact that she is well.

The email is dated 5/22 and today is the 26th. I just got it this minute. She started by saying that she wants to make sure that my email is indeed the same before sending a more detailed message. That may or may not have something to do with her will.

I worry that responding will open up a gate for her to send numerous messages. And as much as I’d like to deny it, I fear that my response will make her think that despite my no contact, that I want to be sure I’m included in the will.

I have often wondered how it will be when she passes. If I will go to the funeral. Or if she becomes ill before she passes, will I go to her? Will it be right for me to go to her?

I miss a lot of things about her and I can feel the wanting of her approval right now.

I’m stuck and not sure what move to make and if I do write her back, if I should just tell her yes, this is still my email address or if I should just tell her to write me out if that makes her more comfortable, considering the circumstances.

It seems like it might be the right thing to do. But then I also feel like I’ve relinquished myself, bowed out, sacrificed myself enough.

Even if I did write back and tell her to write me out, I don’t want it to sound or seem like I’m being a martyr about it.

I’m noticing right now that I’m feeling the desire to relinquish right now. Just throw my hands up and give in. Just forget this whole no contact thing, at least with her.

I felt a disappointment and coldness in the email, despite little words. I feel that pull to stop her feelings of disappointment and possibly frustration of my stance.

I feel so pathetic.

Update: Already, I said, ‘Fuck it.” And sent a quick response to let her know it’s still my email address. That is all I said.

I am now at the point of going ahead and laying it all out. Clearing up her confusion as to why I don’t want to talk to her or see her.

When I hear from her I feel like I’m the bad one.

When I think about laying it all out, I have confused feelings about it.

Why bother? I’ve attempted explanations before and have been fooled into believing she understood only to be stabbed in the heart.

Fool me once and all that you know.

This sense of guilt that maybe I’m wrong and should just lay the shit aside and just be in her life.


18 thoughts on “Email From My Mother

  1. Pingback: My Picks Of The Week 2017 – #21 | A Momma's View

    • Not since I signed off yesterday. I don’t check my email everyday anymore, hence why I got hers 4 days after she’d sent it in the first place.

      Now that I’m expecting something additional, I’m nervous to check it again. My throat and heart sink into my stomach when I see one of my fam members’ names in my inbox.


      • I cannot even imagine. I would feel the same. When I used to get them I would just stare at it for a long time. My husband would say to delete it without reading it but I never could. I always regretting reading it but I knew I’d regret not. I blocked them all now though so if they do want to communicate with me it wont be by email. I didn’t like the feeling I got of worry when I checked my emails.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I tend to get them when I least expect them now. I’m trying to remember, but I don’t think I got a Christmas card from my mom this past year. But she’d sent a birthday card a couple months prior.

          I got the invite for the annual Christmas party though, which had to be rerouted because of the address change. I never gave any of them my new address…but then it’s easy enough to find out.

          I keep thinking that eventually my mom will just be too angry at my ignoring to keep attempting contact, which I also get weird about.

          There’s a conflict inside of me that wants them all to stop contacting me while feeling like if they do that means they hate me. I know that’s coming from the need for approval.

          I thought about deleting and ignoring but I continually hold out hope that there will be some meaningful message there and an indication that she gets it. I’m mostly talking about my mother there as I never ever expect that from my sister. I believe my sister to be the most narcissistic out of the bunch of us. If any of them ever come around, I would bet on my brother, but not betting a lot on that either.


        • Thank you. I try not to think about it too much. Being email and not the phone is helpful. I can take my good old time responding and think about whether I want to say anything at all.

          Tbh: what I’d really like is to heal my own wounds to the point that I can let things go enough to at least be on speaking terms with my mother.

          Right now it’s not possible for me to talk to her on the phone or go visit her because it would be too awkward for me to be fake, knowing I have so much I have issues with pertaining to her, while also knowing she doesn’t want to have those conversations.

          I want to respect that, more for me though, because it won’t get me anything but pain anyway.

          It’s just sad and hurtful really that I’m not receiving the respect from the angle that I need to resolve that shit before we can be ‘friends.’ What’s worse is that she isn’t even aware that it’s her behavior during the ten weeks my father was terminally ill that has me staying away from her as opposed to what happened in my childhood.

          As I said though, the only way I believe this will ever get resolved is if/when I do so within myself.

          Thing is, accepting her treatment of me… the betrayal, the triangulating with my sister, the excusing my brother’s raging at me in a very physically threatening way…all that comes back when I’m thinking about making amends that aren’t even mine to make and I think, wtf, am I thinking? How can I possibly accept that even with healing and still speak to her as if all is well?

          I mean it’s normal to walk away from people who aren’t family who treat us like that, but it’s supposedly wrong to do if family does it.

          I still feel guilty and bad for never responding to her invitation to go visit her. It kind of sucks too, because where she lives now, would be a great place to visit.


          • I feel for you. I think your confusion and shaking happened because you knew that you were being put in (or were going to be put in) a double-bind. This is very distressing and confusing. I remember feeling that once and reading the Wikipedia article on double-binds, it was very helpful. The good news is that double-binds only work when there’s a third “bind”: you are not free to escape the no-win dilemma by opting out of the situation or relationship. But you’re an adult and that third bind may not actually be there for you.


            The way I was able to resolve my guilt about no contact was to bend over backwards, draw my parents a map, tell them explicitly this was their last chance to deal fairly with me, in a very respectful and fair and calm and polite way. I asked them questions about certain transactions between us and let THEM fill in the blanks, not pushy at all.

            They understood what I was saying, acknowledged the truth & significance of my concerns, and signaled agreement with my points (initially- probably because they were undeniable in the moment)

            Then after a few days, they denied that anything significant actually happened and explained that they did not think that my concerns were “important”.

            Well, OK, if that’s your reaction to your son’s telling you explicitly “this is your last chance”… that’s on you, not me.

            The way they denied what happened recently involved some logical contradictions so glaringly apparent (to a 2 year old) that they showed they were willing to embrace irrationality and transparent nonsense in order to invalidate my concerns. I felt betrayed & abandoned; I was. They really don’t care about me in any meaningful sense of the word. It’s all about their primitive defenses maintaining their false selves. Sad but true.

            Within a couple months, after I ceased communicating with them, they were back to their cheery, grandiose & “magnanimous” selves, talking about how it’s high time that we start a “dialogue”, as if the problem were that I’m giving them the silent treatment or am being non-communicative or something, and there’s always two sides to every story, you have to work at relationships, probably a misunderstanding or miscommunication, etc, etc, blah-bitty blah blah blah.

            Now I have no (or almost no) guilt, because I know in my heart of hearts that I did everything I possibly could. I don’t think I’ll ever talk to them again, they’ve used up all my trust and second chances for this lifetime. I’ve found that I can forgive and accept them more when I realize that I do not have to be in any kind of relationship with them.

            I blocked their phone numbers & set up an email filter that sends their emails to a label completely out of my sight (I could have set them to auto delete or go to spam also, but I don’t even want their emails in my trash or spam in case I’m in there looking for something). I haven’t checked that folder for 6 months now.

            I feel way better. I’m sure I’ll be written out of their will but my peace of mind & sanity is definitely worth it. Things are much better for me after no contact. My feeling is that if you stay in relationship with the main people who don’t take you seriously and who treat you like garbage, you’re going to have a very hard time not letting other people (most importantly yourself) treat you the same way.

            I think you should address the concerns of your conscience fairly & critically (taking into account that you’ve been trained to take blame that’s not yours), your conscience is important, but get your concerns resolved, whatever that takes for you.

            If you determine they are not treating you right or are using you, then no contact is a noble option for a child of people who are essentially telling their child to believe lies and pretend that unfair treatment is “all good”.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Wow! Double-bind…that explains a lot and I can see how what my mother asked me and said in her email is actually that!

              Thank you so much for this thoughtful comment. I learned a lot from what you said and will certainly read it again…and again. I’ve only started reading the wikipedia page but wanted to comment back first before I finish it.

              It’s really helpful to me when words and explanations are put to what I’ve been feeling. The double bind thing is definitely a big part of why I felt the way I did after reading her email. Thank you so much!


              • No problem, glad I could help! 🙂 I was in the exact same situation you are in about 9 months ago. It was an email, and all the sudden I felt panicked.

                That article really helped me a lot too. Because it MAKES SENSE AND IS TALKING ABOUT WHAT IS REALLY HAPPENING, unlike crazy making parents.

                It helped me a lot to make sense of things through the double-bind lens & trace out exactly how all the components & the dynamics applied to my situation. Turns out it fit like a glove and validated my instincts / intuitions / not-fully-articulated suspicions & thoughts.

                I especially like this line from the article:

                “Double binds are often utilized as a form of control without open coercion—the use of confusion makes them both difficult to respond to as well as to resist.”

                Really all we would IDEALLY need in order to know that email was horseshit & that you should beware of Mom is your intuition, intelligence & gut instincts- those are there for a reason. We wouldn’t IDEALLY need a Wikipedia article.

                But you’ve probably been trained to doubt your instincts, hunches, assessments & intuitions & instead to second guess yourself and feel guilty instead. Scapegoats are trained to doubt themselves and feel guilty for objecting to unfair treatment. Things have been flipped around so many times that you don’t trust yourself to think straight.

                Double binds are extremely anxiety producing, distressing & even panic inducing. And it’s really hard to put your finger on exactly what’s going on.

                For me, the light at the end of the tunnel is the “tertiary injunction” that is imposed on the subject to prevent them from escaping the dilemma; i.e. opting out the situation. If you can remove the tertiary injunction, you can escape the no win dilemma and become sane.

                With respect to all the guilt about cutting off contact with your parents, I struggled with that a lot too, especially since I’m a Christian and believe the Bible is inspired by God. And it says a lot about honoring your parents. Society echoes this sentiment too.

                What ultimately helped me was realizing that it is NOT honoring to people (including your parents) for you to enable them to deceive and mistreat other people (including yourself). They are being bad & becoming worse people (or at least not getting better) by engaging in that kind of behavior. Even if they do some of it on an unconscious level. You don’t want to be responsible for re-enforcing that.

                Plus the command to honor/obey your parents is built on an implicit premise that they’re out for your own good, and they know more about reality than you. Usually this is the case, hopefully- but it is not always the case.

                The bible also says to obey the government and not to lie. But it’s right to lie to the Nazis about the Jews hiding in your attic. It’s the lesser of two evils, which is a philosophically sound way of making decisions when you’re faced with 2 bad options. Plus, the Nazis shouldn’t have put you in that situation so it’s on them.

                Your parents may claim their motives and actions are above-board all day long, but if you think in your heart of hearts that they’re full of crap and they are mistreating you, then it is honoring to God,(and yourself & the truth & reality) to believe what you actually believe.

                You might be wrong, but you have to go on your best guess, which is what you actually believe, not what somebody else is claiming but you don’t really buy, not what somebody else is conning and pressuring you to believe for their own reasons.

                You might be afraid nobody else will believe it & that maybe you’re even wrong, but you still have to go on what you really believe. It would be insane and disingenuous not to.

                Plus the way to honor bad parents is to become the kind of person that they SHOULD’VE raised you to be, the kind of person they SHOULD be proud of; a healthy, autonomous person who trusts her perceptions, who doesn’t get tossed about by nonsense & reaches her potential. Not who they actually raised you to be- a doormat or whipping boy or whatever function you serve for them. That’s not your job or your responsibility. Your responsibility is to become who they OUGHT to have raised you to be.

                To honor them and preserve your conscience & avoid real guilt, you can refrain from revenge, refrain from gossiping about them to people who know them, even speak well of them, help them financially maybe. But I don’t think you’re obligated to engage with them & indulge their pretensions of friendliness & harmlessness if you don’t buy it, and I think you honor them by protecting yourself & becoming who they OUGHT to have raised you to be.

                About no contact, you don’t have to make any permanent decisions now, or ever necessarily. You can just ignore them for as long as you decide to, as yet to be determined. If that email is eliciting the kind of reaction you described, my opinion is that you need some distance now.


                • I’ve been in this weird place between ignoring and NC since summer 2013, with my siblings and mother periodically attempting contact, either through email, holiday cards or birthday cards.

                  I’ve been afraid to make the big leap to just tell them to stop contacting me altogether. I’m afraid of the finality. But at the same time it creates that stage in grief where you’re waiting for something to happen.

                  In reality I am the one that needs to make something happen or more accurately make these attempts of contact stop happening.

                  My mother seems to think my grudge (my word) is about my childhood and the mistakes she made back then. But the catalyst for my needing the separation came about during the time my father was terminally ill. I was manipulated, scapegoated and gas-lighted. I initiated the separation from my sibs and mother after my father passed.

                  Your comments have helped me to see even more clearly how real this all is and makes it all the more difficult to deny what I’d rather not believe.


                  • Sorry. It’s a crappy situation, and it doesn’t feel good. It’s not your fault though. Far from it. It’s sad.

                    It’s kind of surreal and lonely to realize that your own mother doesn’t actually love you in any meaningful sense of the word – she mistreats you & would sacrifice you to preserve her image and false self. As kids, we simply cannot believe this and even as adults this is tough to come to grips with. But it turns out that we will be OK; we’ve got resources, alliances, other relationships and fully functioning brains now. We didn’t have those things as kids. It is still really hard to wrap your mind around though.

                    I think there is healing in accepting the reality of, and being sad about, things you ought to be sad about. Real pain like that is (relatively) short-term and even good for you, whereas denial and running from it causes long term suffering and dysfunction.

                    It’s “funny”- the abuse in my family towards myself also became glaringly evident during & in the wake of a terminal illness. I think when people are stressed like that, it brings out the worst in them, the family system goes back to old patterns, and people revert to their defensive ways of being. Family scapegoats (given our sample size of 2) seem to take the brunt of it.

                    You may discover someday that the abuse played out in more subtle ways previous to your father’s illness. I did, and it actually wasn’t very subtle.

                    So your mother is implying that she thinks your desire for distance from her is about you being unforgiving, resentful or bitter about “mistakes” she made during your childhood. Methinks I smell guilt tripping manipulation.

                    I mean: Who doesn’t make mistakes? And wasn’t your childhood a really long time ago anyways? What- are you going to dwell on that forever? You can’t forgive your own mother for mistakes from 20 + years ago? Don’t you think you could cut her some slack? She’s getting older you know. Are you even a parent? Then don’t you realize you make mistakes too? It seems you should just get on with life. If you have TOLD her it’s about something else, then she’s DEFINITELY trying to manipulate you with guilt.

                    I think the whole contact / no contact / low contact thing is tricky. Sometimes I think there’s a sort of “peer pressure” or “notion” in the ACON community that you have to be real definitive or confident or strident about how you go about your “official contact status”. I think it’s entirely individual, every situation is different and only you can know or decide what’s best. And that’s really hard in itself. I don’t think you should put any undue pressure on yourself to have an official, clear, no going back status. You are where you are with that.

                    But I also understand your desire to just rip the band-aid off & be done with all the crazy making nonsense and get on with living your life= with people who appreciate the sincere, caring & intelligent person you are.

                    My eyes were opened to these dynamics back in 2010, and I tried being perfectly respectful and assertive in my communications with them for 7 years, agonizing over every word I said to them- was I being respectful, was I talking about myself and not them, was I accusing them at all, was I imagining it, was I being too sensitive, why couldn’t I just let things go and not care?

                    I would craft every word in my emails perfectly, spending days thinking about every interaction, being friendly, respectful and trying to be properly assertive and expressive while they baited me, antagonized me, did passive aggressive things, ostracized me, triangulated people against me, made covert and overt threats, disrespected me, assaulted my character, mocked me, openly gas-lighted me, insulted me, even yelled at me in public in front of my friends, etc etc. At best, I would get offhand disregardful responses to my concerns.

                    I just “finished” with my parents 7 months ago or so. I confronted my father about something unequivocal, told him this was his final chance to acknowledge reality. He did acknowledge the reality of my grievance because it was undeniable. Then 2 days later he took it back, pretended he never understood, said the thing probably never happened, and said he “didn’t think it was important”.

                    That hurt. It was finally the last straw, I saw there was no realistic hope for him to change, and I had enough. That was the last time I give him an opportunity to betray my trust.

                    I never told my parents that I’m not having any more contact with them, I just blocked them. My Dad tried to “connect with me on LinkedIn” a week ago (he’s retired & doesn’t have a real profile), I blocked him. Already blocked them from facebook, etc.

                    It does feel good to me to know that I’m finally done putting up with their nonsense.

                    I don’t think it’s written anywhere that you have to tell your FOO “no contact”. I didn’t tell mine anything & I have no intention of doing so.

                    In my family my rights are: “You (referring to myself) do NOT have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in the court of public opinion.”

                    So I’m not saying anything; why would I? They would only use it against me- “Can you believe he said he’s never talking to his own mother again? Yup he actually said that – I can show you the email, it’s right there in black and white. It just hurts me so much.”

                    I don’t think you are under any obligation to explain yourself to your Mom or FOO, she’s the abuser, let her guess or whatever if you don’t want to say anything. You’ve probably tried to explain yourself before & she simply doesn’t want to hear it. Or you could make an announcement.

                    I know what you mean about being stuck in no man’s land with the ignoring family members off and on.

                    Knowing what I know now, if I had to do it all over again, I would’ve called out the abuse in no uncertain terms much earlier and said “no more” much much earlier. Like 7 years ago.

                    Life’s too short. You can waste your whole life feeling guilty about stuff that isn’t your fault and trying to fix relationships by doing your part perfectly even though there is no good faith or reciprocity coming from the other party- in reality relationships take two.

                    Anyways, it’s hard to decide how to deal with contact, my thoughts and prayers are with you.

                    Speaking for myself, I’m MUCH better off with 6 months of no contact under my belt. I’m not constantly getting disturbed by abuse so I can get better. And it turns out I’m perfectly fine, much better off in fact, without them.

                    This seems to be the consensus of the experts and virtually everybody I’ve read about online.

                    But it’s still a hard personal decision that only you can make. I’m sorry your family of origin isn’t able to treat you well, and you have to deal with how to navigate that.


                    • Thanks again John. I’m sorry that your family doesn’t treat you well too. It really is a difficult and lonely situation. I do live with someone who is supportive and although his family isn’t near as dysfunctional as mine is, he gets it when I tell him about these behaviors and is clearly on my side.

                      I didn’t think he’d understand when I first began to realize because no one in his family is the manipulative sort. Don’t get me wrong they have their issues, but I don’t see any sort of abuse or scapegoating. Which is why it surprised me that he understood what I was telling him. Plus he is a man of little words so I don’t always know what he’s thinking. lol.

                      I appreciate what you say about not needing to really make an announcement. That made me feel much better. I’ve felt like I did an incomplete ‘job’ of going no contact by simply going ‘no response.’ Now I don’t feel that it’s necessary and maybe that will also help me get out of that ‘waiting for something to happen’ stage. So thanks for that.

                      I have blocked my sibs on FB. My mother isn’t on there. I blocked my siblings emails and thought I’d blocked my mother’s too. But I guess not.

                      On the manipulation, yes, I’d written about the birthday card my mother had written that in (about getting me to forgive her) and ended up in a comment exchange with someone pointing out what she saw and read. The post is marked private atm, but having that comment convo was super helpful for me. It was weird because I’d detected manipulation in a birthday card she’d sent me before, but this time it had escaped me. Frustrating to feel like I’m going backwards at times in my recovery.

                      I have no doubt there was much more subtle abuse than I’m aware of so far. I did see a similar kind of triangulation from the past when my sister and mother pulled that shit on me during my father’s illness. I have also become aware of my mother’s apathy and emotional neglect. Her minimization of my feelings and experiences. No doubt more will come to light as I move through all of this.

                      All that stuff you wrote there about “Who doesn’t make mistakes?”
                      After something emotional took place for me that I then involved my family in via an email, I got that same kind of thing from my sister. She was basically excusing my father’s behavior during our childhood. (He was the active abuser, while my mother was the enabler).
                      She then went on to say things like, “I had no idea how difficult it was to be a parent until I had kids, blah blah fucking blah.”

                      I’d already been the scapegoat and this incident made it all the more easier for them. My father got sick a year later and I felt like they had this thing hanging over me so I felt like I’d dug myself into some hole and had to pay some price to get out of it. So yeah, you bring up a good point of anything you say being used against you. My sister is queen of that shit. And the double standard is nasty of course. They are all against bringing up the past unless they do it.

                      Anyway, thanks for your comments. They’ve been really helpful. I have to stop now although I could go on.


                    • I’m glad I was able to be of help to somebody with my experience. At least something good came of it. It is a really awful thing to have to deal with.

                      Yeah, I don’t think “no contact” is something one needs to announce to their FOO.

                      I think that it’s not about getting them not to try to contact you; they might keep trying & there’s nothing you can about their actions, you can only choose what you do & how you respond. You can block them, let them know maybe, etc but who knows what lengths they’ll go to get their garbage can back. Some family systems really need one, and they’ll try to lure you back in & then squash you back into your role.

                      I think of no contact as finally being clear in your own mind about the fact you’ve been mistreated, you’re not imaging it & it’s a pattern & deciding how you’re going to conduct yourself, what your limits are, what you’re willing to do & what you’re not willing to do (& resisting guilty feelings that may come from that), that you’re not going to engage in relationships with people who aren’t straightforward & don’t respect you, what you’re going to do in response to family trying to hoover you back in, etc.


  2. wow reading your posts and responses is so bittersweet. I realize that I am not unique with this shadow hanging over me called my mother. She was abusive, neglect, emotional abuse and always used her advantage to my disadvantage and now the only ace in her hand is her will. I hate myself for hating her but she threw me away like garbage when I was 12 and now she wants me to play her games and be in her life because she is old and has no friends anymore. Everytime I try and tell myself (its not that deep) she strikes again and has her indirect way of creating chaos. I wish I had the guts to totally stop contact like your friend (John) above but I feel that she has hurt me so many times that being written out of her will would be one last lick that I dont know if I can handle. I am trying to become financially independent where I can tell her to take her $ and shove it but I am not there yet (yet) and it kills me to feel so weak.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I feel weak too. I think I am mostly concerned with hurting her and feeling guilty that if I say, “Just write me out and stay out of my life” I will feel like shit for being mean.

      Pretty ridiculous I know, but I still don’t want to hurt her.

      Financially I am struggling too but whatever my mother has in her will, will not cover me for the rest of my life. She is not wealthy, but ok. She was always quite savvy with what she did have.

      But I know what you mean about not being able to handle the rejection of writing you out. That’s also something I’ve thought about too.

      The emotions involved are so complicated here. It sucks.

      Liked by 1 person

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