Life Advice


Health & Spirit

Give yourself permission to move away from toxic mom

Carolyn Hax on

Dear Carolyn:

No one in my family, including myself, wants to spend time with my mom.

She can be really toxic. She has hurt me all my life, and, really, everyone I love. I stopped asking my husband and kids to go with me a while ago. In fact, I limited my children's exposure to her when they were growing up, but they still have scars from stuff she did or said when they were young adults; it's difficult to be prepared for the truly awful stuff she says and does, even when warned your whole life.

Even though I know all this and I'm normally pretty pragmatic, I am finding it tough to just cut my mom off. We've had so many conversations over the years about the things she says and does, but she is never going to change because she just doesn't get it. It's almost like punishing a fish for bad behavior. She never accepts accountability for anything, and never sees the damage. She says and does petty, horrible things in irritation, then just shakes it off, accusing others of being too sensitive.

I really am the last one. If I don't go see her, she will truly be alone.

We are talking about moving away. We would be across the country near my husband's family, who are just wonderful. Sweet, loving and supportive. I'm so conflicted. On one hand I'd be free at last! But she'll be bitter and all alone, and it pains me because, in spite of everything, this damaged woman is my mom and I do love her.


Maybe I just need permission from an objective third party. I'm almost 60. Will I ever have peace?

-- Conflicted in California

Permission granted.

How's this for a reason: You've lived near your mom all this time, and you're almost 60, and presumably your husband is roughly your age -- so when does he get to be on the same side of the country as his people?


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