It’s time again for “Dear Wendy Updates,” a feature where people I’ve given advice to in the past let us know whether they followed the advice and how they’re doing now. Today we hear from Not My Mother’s Keeper who was feeling pressured by some family members to invite her estranged mother, who physically and emotionally abused her growing up, to her upcoming wedding. “They are worried […] that she may commit suicide if not invited. Also, they believe I will regret not inviting her.” She updated us once before on whether she invited her mother, and now has a new update:
I decided to open up to certain close family members detailing the abuse I had experienced as a child and the bad behavior she had exhibited towards me as an adult. I decided that I wasn’t going to be a dirty secret to my family and instead be open and honest about the abuse. Most stopped pressuring me to be close to her but still encouraged me to give her a chance because they believed she had changed and was in therapy. After several emails, I told Christine that the only way I would have anything to do with her was if we were in therapy together. Surprisingly, she set it up. I met with her therapist individually and then we met for a group session. I confronted Christine about the abuse, lies, and manipulations. She denied everything, but it didn’t matter because I had confronted her to her face and I wasn’t as terrified of her as before. We met for one more therapy session before we found out that her father, my grandfather, was dying of cancer.
My grandfather and I were very close, but she had been estranged from him for twenty years. I flew across country immediately to my grandparents’ side and was a caretaker for him and my grandmother for the six weeks before his death. Christine also came to stay with her parents two weeks later after buying a one-way ticket. Needless to say, his death caused her to mentally lose it. On top of a heartbreaking situation (the death of my dear grandfather), she became jealous of everything I did, like even making the bed, and she tried to one-up me whenever possible. When I confronted her about her behavior, she lost it. She came at me with fists and blocked me from exiting a room. I left the house to give her some space, and she began screaming at her mother before running out into the middle of the night.
My grandmother arranged for her to stay at a neighbor’s house until my aunts could arrive and deal with her. I tried to get her therapist involved, but Christine rejected her therapist’s phone calls. My aunt who had offered to “watch” my mother at my wedding (see original letter) apologized for pushing me to invite her to the wedding. She finally understood how unstable the woman truly is.
I thought of the commenters on my original post during this conversation, I think it was Addie Pray who was angry at my aunt for pushing me. I truly am glad I didn’t invite my mother to the wedding, and now all of my family has begun to cut Christine out of their lives until she seeks help from a professional who can identify her mental illness and make sure she can receive intensive therapy. (She currently refuses to see she is the one with the problem.)
Before, during, and after the funeral, Christine tried to spread lies about me to anyone who would listen. It’s sad to see someone fall so low, but it’s good not to feel alone in my family and to have the bad behavior out in the open rather than be the family secret. I hope Christine can get help, but I won’t have anything to do with her. I can finally stand up for myself. I am so thankful to have a supportive husband who loves me despite the craziness that has filled our lives for the past few months. Now I am trying to grieve the lose of my much-loved grandfather and to let my mother stay in my past where she belongs. Thanks again to you and your wise readers who reaffirmed my desire to do the right thing and follow my gut!
Sincerely, Definitely NOT my Mother’s Keeper
I’m so sorry for the loss of your grandfather, and I’m also sorry for the continued abuse by your mother. Glad to hear you’re finally getting the support from your family that you deserve. Thanks for the update and best wishes going forward.
If you’re someone I’ve given advice to in the past, I’d love to hear from you, too. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with a link to the original post, and let me know whether you followed the advice and how you’re doing now.