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I Hate No-Win Scenarios

, , , , , | Related | May 7, 2023

The day I moved out of my mom and stepdad’s house, they came along to help me move. Normally, that would be great, but my mother has serious anger issues, and she was clearly looking for a fight all day. There were several small incidents before it finally boiled over that night.

Eventually, she started stomping around like a toddler and screaming that I was “f****** useless” over a minor problem with her suitcase, which I hadn’t packed and had never used. I told her, as calmly as I could, that we were in my house now, and if she kept screaming at me, I would ask her to leave.

Mom had a complete meltdown, spent the night melodramatically sobbing in my guest room, and left early the next morning.

After a few months of us not speaking, I had this conversation with my stepfather.

Stepfather: “You know, you should call your mom and apologize.”

Me: “I’ve been down that road. If you apologize to her, she takes it as an admission that you were wrong and she was right. I’m not going to tell her that it was okay to scream at me and call me names like that, especially over something that wasn’t my fault.”

Stepfather: “Well, you went too far. You shouldn’t have asked her to leave.”

Me: “If I call her and apologize, she’ll assume that means nothing has changed between us. She’ll believe she was 100% right to treat me the way she did and that I’ll just keep letting her do it the way I did as a kid. And that means that sooner or later — probably sooner — this s*** will happen again. So, let me ask you: what should I do?”

Stepfather: “What?”

Me: “When Mom’s throwing a tantrum, you can’t get her to stop. Believe me; I tried for years! I tried apologizing and telling her she was right, I tried reasoning with her, I tried standing absolutely still and not responding, and I tried standing my ground and fighting back. Nothing worked. She just keeps yelling until she runs out of steam or one of us leaves. Well, I refuse to stand there and be treated like s*** for no reason in my own house, and I refuse to leave my own house to get away from her. And apparently, I’m not allowed to politely ask her to leave, either. So, next time she’s here and she starts screaming at me over something that isn’t even my fault, what do you think I should do?”

He paused for a moment.

Stepfather: “I’ll think about it.”

That was well over a year ago. I did eventually partly reconcile with my mother, only because I hosted my brother’s wedding and I wanted us to be civil while she was at my house for that. I was right: as soon as I said I was sorry, she started telling me exactly how out of line I was to ever ask her to leave under any circumstances. The closest she came to taking any responsibility for the fight was a half-hearted “I’m sorry you felt like you needed to do something like that” non-apology, and she never so much as mentioned the screaming tantrum she’d thrown.

Mom hasn’t been back to my house since I moved in, except to attend the wedding, and she told my brother that she would never come back for any other reason. She told me to my face that she’ll “never trust me again”. And my stepfather never did come up with a suggestion for what to do instead, nor did he ever admit that there WAS no good alternative. 

Oh, well. I guess I was wrong about one thing. If Mom never sets foot in my house again, she can’t scream at me here again after all, so it doesn’t really matter that my stepdad never gave me an answer.

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