Help! My mom thinks she's me.
November 5, 2014 2:52 PM   Subscribe

This is so weird I hardly know how to phrase it. My mom keeps telling anecdotes from my life as if they are things that happened to her. She doesn't seem to be aware of this behavior but it makes me feel uncomfortable and violated. How should I deal? Details inside.

My mom and I were close all through my youth and most of my adulthood, until I had a nervous breakdown about 10 years ago (and when I say "nervous breakdown," I mean I walked around for a week hallucinating and not eating until my family checked me into a hospital). I'm in good shape now and my life is stable -- I've been working the same job for 8 years now and I've been happily married for 3 years.

I grew up with an abusive alcoholic father who kept my mom under lock and key, not allowing her to have any friends or interests aside from going to work and taking care of his needs. I was born when my parents were both teenagers. My mom finally gave my dad the boot when I was in eighth grade. From that time on, she and I were extremely close, with her re-living (or living for the first time) the youth she never got to have in the first place. From the time I was 16 until I was 19 or so (and my mom was in her late thirties), we went out to parties, shows and concerts together.

As a result, she shares all her cultural and musical references with me, which is annoying in itself, but not pathological.

For the past 10 years (I'm almost 40 now, and my mom is almost 60), I've been trying to separate my sense of identity from hers and get my own life. We had so much in common, and I never minded in the past (we were so much on the same wavelength that we would speak in stereo). But now I am desperate to become more of my own person. My mother's friends are mostly my age, and if I'm able to make friends on my own, she goes out of her way to pursue them. I finally unfriended her on Facebook just to have a corner of my life to myself. (I feel a little bad about this as it probably hurt her feelings, but my mental health has improved immensely since I took this step a couple months ago).

Here's where it gets weird: every time I've seen her recently, she's told stories about herself that are flat-out not true about herself, but that are true about me. She also uses pronouns weirdly. For example: I went out to dinner last night with my parents and some family members and friends. (I've been mostly keeping my distance, but I went out last night because I didn't want to miss out on the event.) While at dinner, my mom claimed she was once a vegetarian for two years. I promise you, my mom has not previously identified herself as vegetarian, but I was a pretty committed vegetarian for two years while in college (and then I later fell off the wagon, but that's another story). I asked her "when", and she said "when you guys were kids". Which is just not true; we were living with my dad the whole time and were very much a meat-and-potatoes kind of family. So I challenged her -- because I'm tired of this, and then she said "okay, it was you when you were a teenager and you made my life miserable." Which is closer to the truth but the wrong time frame -- I was not living at home when I was vegetarian, I was in college and living with my boyfriend.

The second weird thing she did last night was this: she said she had gotten a DVD from one of her cousins of film taken 2 1/2 decades ago at a family reunion. She then said, "there's footage of us from when we were fourteen!" To which I said, "excuse me, when who was fourteen?" and then she corrected herself.

This seems petty and trivial in isolation, but it keeps happening over and over, every time I see her. Most of the time I don't challenge her because it's not worth making her and everyone else at dinner (which is where it usually happens) uncomfortable, but it always later makes me feel uncomfortable, violated and depressed.

I've been avoiding her because of this, but it seems like the more I avoid her, the more opportunities she finds to tell stories-about-me-about-herself when I'm in her presence. And if I do avoid her altogether, I'll miss out on seeing my family members (most of whom are awesome) as well.

I don't even know what advice I want. I think she needs therapy, but I've brought it up already and she thinks everything's great. I've been in therapy before, and probably should go again, but it makes me pissed off that I have to spend my money dealing with this. Are there books I can read about this kind of situation? Does it have a name? Anyone else been in a similar situation and can offer coping strategies? Ways to deal with parents with crazy boundary issues?
posted by hand-knit sock to Human Relations (35 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
She may be having a cognitive impairment issue. May be unrelated but loss/confusion of common anecdotes is something I have seen happen and was an early sign for a relative of mine. 60 is not too young to have problems with memory start to occur and even early onset dementia. Go with her to a Dr's appointment if you can and have them run some tests.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 3:00 PM on November 5, 2014 [40 favorites]

I don't know that she needs therapy, she may need an evaluation for cognitive decline though.

If it makes you feel better, as we age, this shit pops up. And yes, it's annoying beyond belief.

Recently on a visit to my family, my dad told this story of how I once called them and asked them to help me out with a loan, and how wrenching it was for them, but that they just couldn't give me the money. And my head swiveled, and my mother's head swiveled, and I said, "Daddy, that never happened." Thank goodness my mother piped in and said, "Yeah, where did that come from?" The point is, that as the years pass a lot of stuff gets conflated. Since you and your mom both shared a lot of common history, it's just possible that she really believes that those things happened to her.

Don't attribute so much import to it, it's a thing. She's not doing it to make you crazy, she's doing it because when we get older, we get crazy. Next fun thing that's going to happen is she'll start losing her filter and her brain will connect directly to her vocal chords. Oh what joy THAT is!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 3:03 PM on November 5, 2014 [7 favorites]

I heard someone talking about a very similar situation on NPR less than a year ago (except with a guuy and his father), maybe on the TED radio hour or Radiolab. Not to alarm you, but IIRC, the father had Alzheimer's or some other similar condition and wasn't doing it just to get attention or anything.
posted by LionIndex at 3:05 PM on November 5, 2014 [7 favorites]

Yeah, this sounds like something to make a doctor's appointment about. It's possible she's getting confused.
posted by tel3path at 3:06 PM on November 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

This is very common, and you should try not to take it personally. And hell, "an abusive alcoholic father who kept my mom under lock and key, not allowing her to have any friends or interests aside from going to work and taking care of his needs"? Try to give her a break, even if she's making things annoying for you.
posted by languagehat at 3:07 PM on November 5, 2014 [13 favorites]

Is it common? Because it feels weird as hell to me, and I had no idea it was a common thing. Any links? Stories? Resources? And maybe I should "give her a break," but I had to live in that house growing up, too.
posted by hand-knit sock at 3:13 PM on November 5, 2014 [5 favorites]

My mum did similar stuff some years ago. I called her on it some times, and then she (almost) stopped. Since it never really harmed me, I didn't think much about it. There were a couple of episodes where I felt hurt, I told her to never do that in front of me, and she respects that.

While I agree with everyone it might be a good idea to see a doctor, my mum was not and is not demented - she just has moments where she can't really discern between imagination and facts.
posted by mumimor at 3:16 PM on November 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

Sorry if I missed this, but have you tried talking to her about all this (her interactions with your friends, the false memory stuff, etc.), and telling her how it makes you feel? If so, how did it go?
posted by evidenceofabsence at 3:19 PM on November 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

Extremely common. Without even a hundredth part of the trauma your mother went through, my own mother is, to put it indelicately, already starting to lose her marbles in her late 50s. She forgets, repeats stories, transposes events, forgets which child (if any!) was a vegetarian--or when, etc.

Trauma and alcohol and sleep problems can make all of this a lot, lot worse. Is your mother usually doing this stuff at a dinner where she's had a few cocktails? Late at night? For a while my brother and I thought my mom was having actual strokes when it turned out she was just kinda wasted and reaaaaallly sleepy.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 3:19 PM on November 5, 2014 [8 favorites]

Definitely common, and might or might not be a medical issue. Most importantly, if it IS related to cognitive decline or Alzheimer's, "give her a break" is really the only answer. You can't logic someone with a mental impairment into having a better memory. It is definitely painful and difficult for kids -- I saw my dad go through it (with his mother) and it was awful for him. But there was no way he could "logic" my grandma into remembering things better. While I suppose it is your right to cut your mom out of your life because she's gotten ill, I think most people would consider that pretty cruel unless she, personally, was abusive toward you. There are a lot of resources out there for caregivers/children of folks with Alzheimer's, so on the plus side if it does turn out to be this, you are not alone and there are communities out there to draw on for support.

Now, this also could be a weird boundary-violating thing that she's doing either intentionally or unintentionally but which is unrelated to any medical cause. If the doctor's visit checks out fine, then it's totally appropriate to sit your mom down and say: "Hey, I love you dearly and I'm glad we're close, but this verbal habit you have is REALLY BUGGING ME. I would really appreciate it if you could be more aware of this and stop doing it."
posted by rainbowbrite at 3:24 PM on November 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

Evidenceofabsence, I have asked her to respect some boundaries with regard to my friends. (Specifically with her repeatedly inviting my friends to an event that she knows I can't be at due to my work schedule.) Her response the first time was "I can invite who I want" which, while factually true, was kind of a crummy response. When I asked her again, a couple months later, she told me to "fuck off" and said that I'd made her cry.

These are friends who are younger than I am (and thus a whole lot younger than my mom) who I met in the course of living my life. I don't know. My mom is a very social person, but I wish she would respect my desire to have my own life and my own social circle.
posted by hand-knit sock at 3:26 PM on November 5, 2014 [7 favorites]

Very common, yes.

I Googled "false memory elderly" and got 573,000 results.

"The prevailing evidence indicates that, compared to younger adults, older adults exhibit both diminished memory accuracy and greater susceptibility to misinformation. In addition, older adults demonstrate high levels of confidence in their false memories."

One study.

Another study.
posted by kinetic at 3:28 PM on November 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

I don't know whether it's age-related dementia (or god forbid, Alzheimer's), or the weird psychological issues that have always existed between us, or both. I hadn't seriously considered the fact that it might be due to illness, so I guess that is a helpful perspective. I'm not looking forward to having a conversation about her going to the doctor, though, and not sure how to approach it.
posted by hand-knit sock at 3:29 PM on November 5, 2014

Given your update, I would stop introducting my mom to my friends, full stop. After all, she can't invite people around who she has never met and whose contact information she doesn't have. No reason you can't plan to do brunch with Mom and hubby, and then meet up with your friend from work afterward. I actually think it is fairly rare for people to combine parents and friends (who are not "family friends") at lots of events, and you may just need to draw this line a bit more strictly than other people do. If she asks, you can simply say: Look, I asked you to respect this boundary twice, you chose not to, and this is the result.
posted by rainbowbrite at 3:30 PM on November 5, 2014 [12 favorites]

It's sort of normal but sort of not. I also wondered if perhaps your mother had had some alcohol to drink at these family dinners - metabolisms do change as they get older. And sometimes older people just pull out some memory or story to share but they don't really mind the major details of the story, like who it actually happened to. It also just plain sounds like your mom has a really poor sense of boundaries between a mother and a daughter, and that really sucks for you.

I am going through something similar with my own mother. She doesn't really remember anything about me in particular from my childhood - what I liked, what I didn't like it, stories about things I did, nothing. Now I have a kid and she wants to go down memory lane, but there isn't much in the way of memories there, so she tells stories about my older sister as if it had been me. Sometimes I gently correct her, most of the time I just ignore it, because to address it would involve opening the big can of worms labeled "childhood was fucked up." I sense that the dynamic between you and your mother may be similar. You can't force someone into therapy or to address their own issues, you can only handle your own stuff. Maybe it would be helpful to keep in mind that whatever nonsense comes out of her mouth, your experiences are indeed your own experiences and she can't take that away from you.
posted by stowaway at 3:36 PM on November 5, 2014 [10 favorites]

It might be cognitive dysfunction, it might be psychological dysfunction, it might be neuropsychological dysfunction as a result of exceptional stress and possible abuse from your father. It's probably all three.

What it's not - in all likelihood - is deliberately meant to hurt you. Whatever the mechanism, the bottom line is that her identity and boundaries (and boundaries regarding her own identity) are broken. You didn't break them, but you are the one most directly impacted by the problem. Find a framing (and if necessary, a distance) that makes it tolerable, but take into consideration when you make those calculations that you can't make it stop and it's probably going to get worse.
posted by Lyn Never at 3:41 PM on November 5, 2014 [39 favorites]

It's probably a combination of things. There may be some very real cognitive problems emerging. And, she may also be in a very unhealthy emotional place where she's reconstructed her reality to be mostly fantasy using your life as fuel. Her boundary disrespect is a problem no matter the cause. Removing her from your Facebook is an excellent step as is preventing her from making new friends in your friend circle by segregating how you spend time with her and with your friends. You are entitled to have a social circle that she's not barging into and coopting. You may also want to mention to closer friends that you're trying to separate things between your mom and your friendships a bit. It's very likely that they feel obligated to be friendly/social with her out of loyalty to your friendship. It's fine and healthy to have boundaries. Don't feel bad about establishing and reinforcing them.
posted by quince at 3:46 PM on November 5, 2014 [6 favorites]

My mom tells stories from my childhood that are flat out untrue, also. I think this is just a thing. It's a weird quirk that your particular mom manifests this common phenomenon in the particular way that bothers you. But it's not that weird, in the grand scheme. I don't know if parents' memories get warped (it has to be kind of weird to live your own childhood, and then live someone else's childhood vicariously), people remember things differently, there are things you don't know about her past before you were really sentient, or what. But, y'know, parents do this kind of shit on the regular.

Re the general disrespect of your boundaries and looming so large in your life, frankly, it sounds like an easy fix for this would be for you to move away and get your own life. When I was in high school my younger brother would "poach" my friends and it drove me crazy. Now we live on opposite ends of the country and most of my friends have never even met him. Obviously I didn't move to get away from him and his friend-poaching ways, but let's say this is a nice benefit of being more independent from my family.

Also, yes, even if I did live in the same city as immediate family, not a goddamn chance in hell would I invite my parents to mingle with friends they otherwise did not know. Not because I hate my parents or anything, but just, like, I'm an adult and I have my own life and they have theirs.
posted by Sara C. at 3:55 PM on November 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

Her response the first time was "I can invite who I want" which, while factually true, was kind of a crummy response. When I asked her again, a couple months later, she told me to "fuck off" and said that I'd made her cry.

Oof. I'm sorry to hear that. That sounds super crummy.

I think people are right to suggest that the best thing you can do on the friend front is set up boundaries: not introducing your mom to people, and dissociating friend time and family time entirely.

I was going to suggest talking to her about the memory stuff in a non-confrontational way ("Hey, you've been doing this thing, and it's been bugging me, and I'm concerned about you"), but it sounds like that would be pretty tough, considering how she responded the last time, and the fact that you'd probably have to choose between expressing your feelings and talking about her health.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 4:24 PM on November 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

Well, fwiw I think thi is very odd and not the same as just getting stories mixed up. Being confused about being a vegetarian for 2 years is not forgetting which beach you used visit as children. And conflating the two of you in age (when we were fourteen) is strange but especially so in the context of other behaviours. It sounds as though she is acting out a desire to be you!

Wherever that comes from, it's surely best for you to keep creating and maintaining your own boundaries, since, as others have said, you can't do much about your mother's behaviour.

But just wanted to confirm that this does not seem normal to me. Not that you/one can't sympathise with your mother, but the examples you gave go beyond normal older person muddled-ness to me.
posted by jojobobo at 5:36 PM on November 5, 2014 [5 favorites]

Just another point of anecdata: I'm 60 years old and I find this anything BUT normal and certainly something I would want to look into further.

I skimmed the above studies that turned up in the google query re "false memory elderly" and did not see anything regarding the definition for the "older adults" in either study. Regardless, a woman in her late fifties isn't "elderly".
posted by she's not there at 7:20 PM on November 5, 2014 [8 favorites]

My father did something similar the last year of his life, which was incredibly weird as we were not close & I'm female & he didn't always change the genders. He even went so far to present himself as a female bookseller in online forums, which considering he was a 65 yo male chef was very strange. I only found out about his online life after he passed away & my mum asked me to clear his computer of personal files. I have no idea why he did this, but he was on a lot of drugs for pain etc his last year as he was dying of lung cancer so we kind of wrote it off as that. Though it still creeps me the hell out.
posted by wwax at 7:43 PM on November 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

maybe I should "give her a break," but I had to live in that house growing up, too

If she's been doing this since you were a child, it's unlikely to be due to a recent health issue.

If you do get her to see a doctor for this, she can't just go by herself. A friend of mine who works with Alzheimer patients has often mentioned that they can't evaluate the behavior of patients if they arrive by themselves. Someone else who has noticed symptoms has to go with her.

I'm not sure how she's finding out who your friends are to invite them to her things, if someone is introducing your friends to your mom, ask them to stop. YOU inviting your friends to social time with your mom basically is an invitation to them to make friends with her.
posted by yohko at 8:16 PM on November 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

Does she get a lot of attention when she's telling these stories about her/you? The two examples you told were when you were with other people; does she ever do this when it's just you two together? I don't want to jump to the physical abnormality conclusion because I've had similar experiences with my mom I which she will hear something I did or witnessed, make it into a great anecdote, and flat out refuse to stop telling it in company even when I tell her it never happened. Because she gets to be the center of attention, she will never stop doing it and I've had to make my peace with it. (If she did do this when alone with you, I would be more inclined to wonder about illness. However, as she's not there points out, she's 60, not 80.)

Apologies, no good solution, but I do understand how frustrating that is.
posted by sfkiddo at 8:22 PM on November 5, 2014 [5 favorites]

I don't know if it's the result of impaired cognition but I do think that a mom with a sort of stunted life, identifying strongly with her daughter whom she admires and wishes she were more like, is definitely a thing. Mothers meaning no harm but still emotionally cannibalizing daughters is a super common thing.

From the anecdotes you've shared it sounds like your mom looks up to you and wishes she had a life like yours, and is acting out a bit of wish fulfillment -- it's so easy to do when she feels like you are a part of her anyway. Like, if you're an extension of her, then some part of her was a vegetarian when you were, you know what I mean? It doesn't feel like a falsehood to her when she says it. She sees a video of you at 14, it reminds her of herself at 14, she sees herself in you, it's a video of "us at 14."

I think it's unlikely to change, and I hope you can learn to hear it as an expression of love. I think the reason it bothers you so much is because it goes hand in hand with the bigger problem, which is that she is she horning in on your friendships. Now that -- that needs to stop. You need to keep those boundaries clear or you're going to be lonely and angry. Most people do not hang out with their parents socially. Good for you for locking down your Facebook, now lock down more of your social time.

Good luck. I have some experience with the conflation situation, and it is very trying, I know. Compassion is the only thing that has worked for me as a coping mechanism and it has helped; when I am warmer towards her, my mom feels more comfortable expressing love and pride in healthy ways.
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:40 PM on November 5, 2014 [11 favorites]

I think your Mom missed out on having a life of her own and she doesn't really have any stories to tell without stealing yours.

She's not intentionally hurting you, but she's trying desperately to go back and be that person she wishes she could have been 20 years ago, which means having a lot of friends and being the center of attention sometimes and even getting all girly-girly like "girls" do in their teens/20s (some do, anyway). She just wants to do the giggly, life of the party, BFF stuff that she feels so badly about missing that she's overdoing it - and then some. It's not meant to hurt you directly, but she has no friends other than yours, right?

Could you figure out a way to find her some friends? Some uber-social, slightly wild and crazy, women her age who spend a lot of time going and doing things? How's her financial situation? Can she hold her own if she joins up with a bunch of lunch/brunch or shopping or travel-happy or casino ladies? If the women were a little younger than your Mom, in their late 40s or early 50s, it would make her feel younger than she is; I think a lot of her problem is she feels old and feels that she missed her young life. What does SHE like to do? Dance? Play cards? Cook? Take a class in something? Read? Paint? Maybe there's a group she'd fit right into? How about volunteer work in something she's interested in? Even the arts have need of volunteers - so do teachers, libraries, hospital gift shops and all sorts of other spots, museums, police departments/courts, etc.

Or yes, it could be some kind of mental illness or dementia, but the response she gave you when you called her on her behavior doesn't resonate with dementia to me. Anyway, I'm no doctor and it would be a good idea to have her evaluated if you can pull it off. If you can't and it is dementia, it'll make itself known more clearly before long and it will be easier to get her to go to the doctor then.

Just try not to take it too personally, though I know that's hard.
posted by aryma at 10:06 PM on November 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

If you haven't been to any Al-Anon meetings, consider attending a few to see if they are helpful. There is nothing as crazy-making as the inability to control the people we love when they do crazy-making stuff. Al-Anon is great for learning to establish limits and boundaries with love, not hostility. (It takes awhile, usually, but it's worth it for many of us who grew up in alcoholic households. :-)
posted by Bella Donna at 10:20 PM on November 5, 2014 [3 favorites]

Your mom may also be upping the ante because she senses that you are pulling away. Stay strong, expect these things to increase in frequency. Perhaps see it as the price you pay for emotional independence? And for her it is perhaps the consolation prize for losing access to your social life?

Also, I think one of the irritants about this situation for you is that you are not yet certain of your own identity separate from hers. You're only beginning to stand up away from her as a strong person. So of course your mom trying to tie your identity to hers more strongly must be alarming and as a result of that, angering.

So continue building your own life without mom, gain self assurance and inner peace. Your mom's clingy habits will get less annoying to you once you internalize that they are her problem, not yours.
posted by Omnomnom at 1:58 AM on November 6, 2014 [5 favorites]

I don't really have any answers other than to sympathise and restate, as people above have, that this kind of thing seems to be pretty common. Whilst not exactly the same to your situation, my grandmother started getting very confused about who was who and who'd done what as she aged. Towards the end, she seemed to be fully convinced that my dad, her son, was actually her long-dead husband, and that I, her grandson, was actually her son. She constantly called me Brian - my dad's name, and called my dad by either his dad or her brother's name. She'd relate stories about things I'd done as a kid, which were actually things my father did 30 years earlier. I don't believe she ever saw a mental professional before she passed away, and was never diagnosed with any particular condition. She was probably about 65 when this started happening, and passed away in her early 70s.

I don't mean to infer that your mother is about to pass away - sorry. I just mean that this kind of thing seems to happen as we age.
posted by Diag at 5:24 AM on November 6, 2014

First of all - I agree with everyone who says that you are absolutely within your rights to enforce boundaries with your mom. No matter how bad her marriage or how guilty and responsible you feel, you have a right to your own life and your own friends and to not be emotionally cannibalized by your mom. She is a grown-ass adult and she can seek help and support that is not her daughter.

As for her projecting onto you - I have a suggestion that is out in left field, but hey, it's NaNoWriMo and I find it therapeutic for me: Is your mom a fan of any novel or TV show or movie? Encourage her to write fanfic! It's fun, it doesn't need to be posted on A03 or or anywhere, and she can have all the wish-fulfillment she needs by, for instance, writing Hermione Granger as a lively young woman with tons of friends.

I find that writing fanfic is helping me work through a lot of childhood and young adult issues. Not all of it sees the light of A03, but just writing it is enough. Besides, I've met some really cool people in real life through writing and discussing fanfic.

If Mom is not a fan of anything, encourage her to write her own original fiction. It doesn't have to be for publication - it can be for her eyes only. She can create her own young women character(s) that have all the fun she lacked in her young adult years.

None of this is a substitute for therapy, which I also hope she is open to. But I think it helps, and if Mom adamantly refuses to go to therapy, it's much better than nothing.

It sounds like your mom spent her young adult years trapped in an abusive marriage and unable to do the things she wanted to do, and then she became dependent upon you once her marriage ended. It also seems as if she used you as a substitute for actually going to therapy or a self-help group and building her own life post-divorce - late 30's is not old, and many women have successfully built a good life at that age even if their 20's were horrible. It still is not too late for your mom. Good luck!
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 5:53 AM on November 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

My mother has had boundary problems with me from the git-go, and it's true - the only solution is to train yourself to compartmentalize, both socially and emotionally. In my case, when I was very young I got to be her "bad self" subject to mockery and criticism; as I aged and even after I cut off for a few years, she tended to coopt my childhood friends as her own. That meant that, when friends sought to find me through her, it was a dead end, so I lost touch with them as well. When I did get back in touch, her first move was to invite a number of her-generation friends to tea with me - as if we had really traded identities. Now, decades later, I still see evidence of this occasionally, and it is still infuriating - but there's nothing for it but to grin and bear it. "Understand the weapon, understand the wound."
posted by mmiddle at 6:47 AM on November 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

Definitely some boundary issues here. When putting up with an abusive drinking husband I assume there was some codependency. Then trying to be best friends with her child is a dysfunctional family type thing.

My family is a little "quirky" and there is a lot of narcissism, most of it relatively benign. My father always refers to the band that "we" like. Well, "we" don't like anything. You and myself like things as individual units. Plus you don't even know the name of that band!

The one that drives me nuts is related to my parents trying to vicariously live through me when I was younger. They required me to play tennis. I hated tennis. I used to throw games so I could go home. My last year on the team we had a dinner at the end of the season and I got a most improved player trophy. Well that was a lie. My tennis got worse that year as I disliked it more and more. It was one of those things were everybody got a trophy. MY mom 20 years later still talks about that trophy as something to be proud of. I've explained how her memory of it is different from mine. It's like she's still trying to maintain this illusion that I was into her thing.

Anymore, I just ignore it. It's annoying but harmless.
posted by Che boludo! at 3:27 PM on November 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

The friend thing is tough. My mom eventually remarried a really great guy, and she and my stepdad are the "cool parents" (and trust me, they really are cool). I didn't know any better when I was younger and so I invited them to my parties all through my 20s and early 30s. They have a massive social circle that pretty much touches on anybody age 40ish-60 in the town we live in. When I say my mom's friends are my age, that encompasses both "my" friends and friends she's made on her own. She just prefers younger people -- but that makes it harder for me to find people to hang out with my own age, and so most of my good friends now are about 5-10 years younger than me.

My mom has plenty of hobbies and interests and friends of her own. She has a fabulous life now, which is why I'm a little resentful she wants to steal mine, too. She also has a lifetime's worth of issues, and I try to be compasssionate, but it's still kind of a pain in the butt sometimes.

The most helpful advice I've read in this thread is that she's probably not deliberately trying to hurt me. Lyn Never was the first in this thread to say that, and I cried when I read it. I think it is probably true -- she's not trying to hurt me. I will try to hold that perspective in mind. I do think she is trying to get attention, but oh well. I don't have much control over that.

It's also been super-helpful to know that some other people understand this and have gone through it. Thank you for understanding -- it helps a lot.
posted by hand-knit sock at 3:27 PM on November 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

My mother's friends are mostly my age, and if I'm able to make friends on my own, she goes out of her way to pursue them.
They have a massive social circle that pretty much touches on anybody age 40ish-60 in the town we live in.

It's possible that what seems like "out of her way" to you might be your mother's usual means of pursuing social connections with anyone of particular interest (such as a mutual friend who's important to her), not just your friends.

It might not be how you make new friends -- but the ways of those with massive social circles are different.
posted by yohko at 9:58 AM on November 7, 2014

I instantly thought Early Onset Dementia or Korsakoff's syndrome (alcohol dementia). this checklist may help.
posted by Riverine at 12:12 PM on November 7, 2014

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