[ISFJ] Trying to figure out how to deal with my dysfunctional ISFJ mother

Trying to figure out how to deal with my dysfunctional ISFJ mother

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  • 1 Post By Marvinteck

This is a discussion on Trying to figure out how to deal with my dysfunctional ISFJ mother within the ISFJ Forum - The Nurturers forums, part of the SJ's Temperament Forum- The Overseers category; Hoo boy, where to start...this could be a really long post, but please bear with me, because I really, really ...

  1. #1
    ENFP - The Inspirers

    Trying to figure out how to deal with my dysfunctional ISFJ mother

    Hoo boy, where to start...this could be a really long post, but please bear with me, because I really, really need advice. I actually found this message board when I Googled "unhealthy ISFJ"--a perfect description of my mom and her Myers-Briggs type.

    Let's start in November 2009, when my girlfriend and I got engaged. Laura and I met on a Christian dating site in April 2008. From the moment I first told my mother about Laura, Mom asked me why I hadn't told her that I'd joined a dating site--as if it was any of her business! And I told her very frankly that it wasn't her business--I was 37 at that time, not a kid (I just turned 40 in November) and had just gone through three years of agony after my then-fiancee (who was also my high school sweetheart, back in the late '80s) had left me for a coworker of hers that she'd had an affair with. I'll mention for the sake of background that I'm the oldest of three boys (I just turned 40, my brothers are 30 and 32--Laura just turned 31) but I'm the only one living in the same town as my mother. I've found out over time that my brothers left the state exactly because of the intrusion/passive-aggression and other dysfunctional behaviors that I'm observing now in my mother firsthand.

    My mother has been trying to inject herself into all of the major life changes I've made the past couple years. Last year right before I proposed to my girlfriend, my mother had a meltdown--seriously--when she saw my Facebook status (she's not on Facebook, but she was visiting my cousin, and my cousin was online) that said simply "I'm going to have the best Thanksgiving weekend of my life!" and after I tried to evade her question as to why it was going to be the best Thanksgiving weekend of my life--I told her that it was going to be the best because I was going to be spending it with Laura and her family, etc., etc., just trying to ad-lib my way out of having to give a direct answer, my mother asked me point-blank if I was proposing to Laura that weekend. When I told her that, yep, I was popping the question, my mother started crying--CRYING!--because I hadn't told her yet that I was going to propose. I WAS going to tell her--AFTER Laura said yes. But not before then. And the only people who knew in advance that I was going to propose were my boss (I wanted the entire weekend off), my uncle (who's one of my best friends--he's my mom's youngest brother) and Laura's parents, who I'd called the week before--my exact words were, "Darnit, I wanna spend the rest of my life with your daughter!" --and her parents were extremely happy. I'm the first guy Laura ever seriously dated, but we clicked from the moment we met.

    Now, for the 31 months we've been dating, Laura and I have been long-distance (she's about 200 miles away and can't drive because she has spina bifida), but we've been seeing each other every few weeks--either I drive to see her, or she takes the bus here. Last March, we both had a meltdown one weekend over the stress of being long-distance, so we went to talk to her pastor, who advised us to spend the next six months going all-out trying to find a job in each other's town, and if after six months I couldn't find a job there, Laura would move here (since I already have a full-time job with benefits and Laura isn't working full-time). So six months passed, we realized that the obvious answer was for Laura to move here, and on Sept. 12 we signed a purchase agreement on a house here. During the six weeks or so that Laura and I were looking at houses here (she was coming up every weekend by bus), my mom kept e-mailing me real estate listings and calling me with information on houses she'd seen "for sale" signs on around town, but I kept telling her (and telling her, and telling her) that Laura and I had specific things we were looking for: the house must have a basement (to create a safe room in case of emergency, especially since Laura is disabled), must be out of the floodplain that was hit by a major flood two years ago, must be at least 1,200 square feet (a figure I arrived at by taking the combined square footage of our current apartments and adding about 25 percent), the mortgage payment must be less than $400 a month, and--our preference--we really wanted an old house, because we love old architecture). As best I recall, the vast majority of the house listings my mother sent me had NONE of these criteria, and still as she was sending me all of this stuff, I told her that we already had houses we were looking at, but I thanked Mom anyway--and then reiterated that we already had houses we were looking at.

    So on Sept. 12, we went back to a particular house we'd looked at earlier and realized that it was pretty darn close to what we were looking for--out of the floodplain, built in 1900, bone-dry basement, a very nice-looking neighborhood, a mortgage payment under $350 and a ton of kitchen space--so we signed the purchase agreement on the house that day. By the time we'd done all of this, Laura had missed her bus from my town, so we went about 75 miles up the interstate to the next direct bus route she'd be able to catch home, and while we were on the road we called my mother to tell her that we'd signed the purchase agreement. Something either didn't sink in, or she hoped that we'd change our minds (never mind that the purchase agreement was a legally binding document). So over the next three or four days, my mom kept e-mailing me links to other houses--despite the fact that I REPEATEDLY told her that we'd already signed legal papers to commit to buy this particular house. After four days, my mom finally got the message and stopped sending me house listings.

    I've been working second or third shift for more than 11 years, so I rarely wake up before noon. After six weeks in my house, I'm finally starting to recover from the physical exhaustion of moving, unpacking and getting settled. Off and on since I moved in (until last Wednesday--more on that in a moment), my mom has called me well before noon telling me to get up because she wanted to come over to see the place. I sleep really deep and usually don't hear the phone when I'm asleep, and I've slept right through most of my mom's calls before early afternoon. My mother KNOWS that I'm rarely up before noon and I think it's flat-out rude that she keeps calling me to wake me up just so she can come over, although I haven't told her it's rude, I've just said that I probably wouldn't hear anything before noon (which she should know, since I've been working those hours for so long). Three weeks ago, she asked me if I could ask for a certain day off so I could take her to see a doctor an hour and a half away--not a "major" doctor, just an ENT, and we have plenty of ENTs here--but my mom said she didn't like any of them here, so she wanted to go to the big city an hour and a half away. I'll mention here that my uncle had no qualms about having open-heart surgery here instead of going to a "real" hospital in the big city, and I told my mom that if having heart surgery here was good enough for my uncle (her brother), then surely she could find a simple ENT here to treat her chronic sinus issues. She started crying that "I'VE DONE SO MUCH FOR YOU AND ALL I'M ASKING IS THIS ONE THING!!" and hung up on me. I tried to call her back but she wouldn't pick up her phone.

    Fast-forward to this past Wednesday (six days ago). First, I'll mention that I know of at least four relatives or family friends, not including myself, who my mom has talked into driving her more than an hour each way to medical appointments the past few months, only to have her doctor not find anything and the whole day basically be wasted for the other person. I got up in the middle of what's usually my night (about 9 a.m.) a couple months ago on one of my days off on which my mother had scheduled an appointment out-of-town on because she knew I was off that day. Six hours after we left, we got back home after her doctor didn't find anything particularly wrong. I was not a happy camper. So then this past Wednesday, Mom calls me while I'm at work to tell me that she had another out-of-town doctor's appointment the following morning and that she was getting a ride from the daughter of a longtime friend who was in town because her uncle is terminally ill with cancer--yes, this woman is in town because her uncle is DYING and my mom asks her to drive her 150 miles round-trip to go to another doctor's appointment. How I kept from blowing up at that moment, I have no idea, but I told Mom I'd call her back on my dinner break a couple hours later. So on my dinner break, I called her and just exploded. How in the WORLD could she keep dragging people along on this medical wild-goose-chase that never ends (she exhibits classic hypochondriac symptoms, not at all alleviated when she looks up various symptoms online and imagines she has whatever disease matches her symptoms), with no regard at all for the other person's obligations?? I'll also mention that Mom didn't work from mid-September through early December because of various ailments she said she had--how she can afford to be off from work so long, I have no clue--and in the middle of asking her how in the WORLD she can justify having this poor woman whose uncle is dying take her on this all-day trip to the doctor, Mom starts crying and says that I just don't UNDERSTAND how she feels and what she's going through and how hard it is for her to feel so sick but still having to go on with life, etc. etc., and that if she keeps on feeling so sick and can't work--I still can't believe said this--that she might have to move into my house if she can't afford to keep living where she's living. And there's not a snowball's chance I'll let her move in with me. But I can imagine what's coming next, because she's tried stuff like this before: I'd be willing to bet that she'll pull out the card that "The Bible says that children are supposed to care for their parents," because she's done stuff like this before about how REAL Christians love each other and do things for each other (I'm an ordained lay minister, so I know a little bit about the Bible), and oh yeah, she's done SO MANY THINGS FOR ME, SO IT'S THE LEAST I CAN DO TO HELP HER...and I have no good response for any of this. I'll also mention that right before she hung up last Wednesday, Mom said that she was sorry I was so busy and that she wouldn't ask me for any favors ever again...and she hasn't called me or talked to me at all since then. I'm really, really at a loss for words and not sure what the wisest thing would be to do or say...or not do or say.

    So to make a long story short...if that's possible at this point...what, if anything, can I say or do to let Mom know that I cannot and will not "take care of her" in ways that she refuses to do for herself and how can I get through to her that unless and until she is physically unable to care for herself--she's not unable to care for herself, she just wants others to do it for her--then there's nothing else I can do for her because my first obligation is to my soon-to-be wife? What this all boils down to is that my mother has a long track record of starting all kinds of emotional fires among friends and family members that have basically destroyed any meaningful relationships in her life. She has no real friends, she's even alienated a cousin that she grew up with and had been really close to for more than 50 years until just the past six months because of her behavior, and now I'm just waiting for her to play the "The Bible says kids should take care of their parents" card and I have no clue how or even if to respond to her, but I'm trying to stop the damage she's caused from going any further and I certainly don't want it to spill over into my marriage if she tries to keep throwing guilt trips and me and my fiancee, but I have no clue what to say or do and really, really need advice. I'm not betting on having a functional relationship with my mother from this point forward if this trajectory continues, but right now I want to protect myself and my fiancee and really need to know what I should (or shouldn't) do or say.

  2. #2
    ISFJ - The Nurturers

    This may sound cruel but run the other way so she has no other choice than to solve her own problems. I definitely wouldnt let her move in with you. Sounds like your brothers had the right idea with jumping ship before she dragged them down with her. I wouldnt completely cut her out of your life but definitely dont enable her odd behaviors. Suggest she seek out psychological help because it sounds like she has more problems than just being an unhealthy ISFJ. If she continues with her abrasive and odd behavior then sit her down and have a frank talk to her about all the problems she is causing. If all else fails and she tries to move in with you then toss her into a old folks home and tell her that she has more problems than you can take care of.

  3. #3

    I will warn you once and only once :S do NOT let her move in with you. Never ever! Somehow get her to seek help. Seriously it will not end well. Listen to Marvinteck :S...I and my parents have lived with my mom's mother who is similar and she UTTERLY DESTROYED my mother!

    :< it sounds cruel..but listen to me i am INFP i care about ppl as much as u do but trust me when i say letting her close is not good at all. Stay in touch mostly but it better be far away from her. She needs help and needs to deal with her problems.


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