Ask Amy: Guilt follows in wake of estrangement
Dear Amy: My 82-year-old mother has an undiagnosed mental illness, marked by narcissism, paranoia, delusions, and abusive rages.
Beginning in my teens (I’m in my 50s now), she has caused long periods of estrangement over perceived slights, so she missed my wedding and the births of my children.
My father divorced her when I was eight years old.
And yet she also has better periods when she can be lovely and charming, and so whenever she called me to reconcile, I always did.
Throughout the pandemic, I visited her regularly, took her to her many doctor’s appointments, and helped her through other major problems. I did this because she has no one else – literally zero friends or other family willing to talk with or help her.
But then last year, because I failed to return her call during the single hour I was in church for a special Mother’s Day service (oh, the irony), she left me more than a half-dozen increasingly hostile and abusive voicemails.
I called her back and told her that we were done.
I then wrote her a long letter explaining why I was ending my relationship with her, and that the only way I would ever reconcile with her is if she agreed to see a psychiatrist (she has always refused any mental health consultation or treatment).
I then blocked her on my phone, so I don’t see her calls, but she can still leave voicemails.
Since then, she regularly leaves long, rambling voicemails to me that are self-aggrandizing and verbally abusive.