55. MJ’s Story of Going “No Contact” With Her Mom
Mary: Let’s talk boundaries. I’m here with MJ and we are discussing boundaries around when you might need to go no contact with a family member. Hey MJ, thanks for being here.
MJ: Hi Mary, thank you so much for having me.
Mary: Thanks for sharing your story today. So tell us a little bit about you and how come you’re interested in talking about boundaries with us.
MJ: So I’m MJ. I am originally from Honduras, which is a small little country in Central America. Migrated here, I was very small and I grew up in Houston, Texas. And I have been living in Colorado for the past five years. My boundary story is about my mother. So I know that’s super controversial. But yeah, that’s kind of been my journey. It’s been the toughest boundary to put has been for my own mom.
Mary: I love that you’re here and willing to share your story. All right. Well, tell us how it started. What’s the background here?
MJ: So for me like I guess many people it’s trauma. And we spent a lot of time in foster care. And so, when I got older, that’s kind of what I dedicated my life to. Kind of that sector of work. But things didn’t really change with my mom. Still very absent. There was a lot of other things that, you know, she got into that prevented her from taking care of us. And I now have a sibling that is 13 years old. And it seems like the same pattern is repeating, not that it seems, it is. But for me personally, it has been just a lot of, of trauma in those early years. And then, of course, the teenage years. However, it just, the boundary that I needed to set kind of came in clear a little after I was married because I found that my mom would constantly ask me for money or ask my husband for money. And it was always financial. Like her help was always financial. And if I said no, she would get upset. If I let her borrow money and I needed it back, she would get upset. So it got to the point where we fell behind on our financials because it wasn’t, you know, let me borrow 50 bucks. It was like, let me borrow 400 they took my truck. Let me borrow 300 they cut off my light. Let me borrow, you know, like bigger amounts. So after a while, obviously that takes us toll. And then when I start, you know, when I started saying no to money she kind of went a manipulative way about it. And she, she kind of would not let me see my sisters. And as an older sibling, there’s six of us, my sisters grew up really close with me. And so once I started kind of seeing that side, it was like, all you care about is money. Right? And so moving on. Once we got to Colorado the relationship just kind of deteriorated even more because it seemed like the asking for money didn’t stop and then anytime I express my opinion or try to talk to her, you know, about it or, you know, how we were struggling it was like the conversation was directed to her as well, you know. And it wasn’t like, okay, fine, don’t help me. It was like, remember everything I’ve done for you and remember da, da, da, da. And so it goes there and it turns into like an argument or she starts to belittle me or, you know, words hurt.
And so it was a lot of attack, but I think when she, she told me once that my blood was poisoned. And so, yeah, I guess from my dad’s side, she has this very strong hatred to my dad. So, one time during an argument, she told me that, you know, I was rotten and my blood was poison. And I, that’s what clicked for me. It was like, there’s nothing I can do. To make you proud, like nothing. Like I I went to college even after dropping out of school I decided to you know, put some effort in got my GED, I went to college. And I mean I got a hand clap emoji from her when I graduated So, you know over the years I’ve kind of seen like I’m I’m not the favorite child. That’s okay But there’s no support, there’s no, you know, emotional connection, there’s no, I’m proud of you, there’s no, it’s just asking and taking from you.
And I think because part of that is because she grew up more as a friend than she did as a mom, and so she probably has always seen me that way. But being out here in Colorado, I kind of was able to just get away from her. I can turn off my phone, you know, she would show up in my house because we did live close by, kind of. And now it’s kind of like that peace of mind where it’s like, okay i’m miles away from you thousand miles away from you, I don’t need to answer the phone if you call I don’t need to text you back and go into an argument like, my peace is good. But I did try to you know, make peace. I did invite her over For mother’s day a couple of years back.
Mary: Yeah. So can you talk a little bit about leading up to the decision to go no contact with your mom, what other things you had tried, what boundaries you had in place before that, that kind of ultimately led to that decision?
MJ: Yeah. So the first thing it was, kind of putting a stop to the financial sucking that she was doing. Because again, I didn’t know how bad it was until I found out that my husband was taking out loans just to get us by. Mind you, he didn’t have to. He worked, he made good money, but a lot of that money was going outside of our household. So that was the first boundary that I did try to set, you know, to just, I can’t, like I physically can’t. And then I did also try to just kind of not spend so much time around her. She tends to be pretty negative and have like a bleak outlook in life. And I’ll give you an example. All of her kids, we all have dreams. And she’s just that type of parent to be like, Oh, well, if you write a book, who’s going to read it? Or my sister who wanted to be a cosmetologist. And she was like, why do you want to cut hair? That makes no money. And so, you know what I mean? Those, those little jabs and those little backhanded comments. And it’s like, it’s almost like you start seeing your parent for what he or she truly is and I’m just like you’re just sad or bitter. I don’t know what it is. Maybe she never wanted to be a mother, but you start seeing a different side. And, you know, I wasn’t okay with that. And so another thing I’ve tried was, you know, trying to talk to her and telling her don’t bring the kids into this, like don’t involve the kids. Because I don’t, you know, the problem is between me and her. And so I asked her to stop doing that with my siblings, like stop keeping the girls away from me. You know, they come over every weekend and she wouldn’t. I mean, every time she was upset, that’s what she would throw. They’re not going over there anymore.
Mary: Is withholding your siblings from you?
MJ: Yeah. Just withholding my siblings from me.
Mary: And how did you try to have a boundary around that?
MJ: Well, it wasn’t so much a boundary created then. I just had to kind of like let her calm down and then just reach out to them again. So around this time they were, you know, 12, 13 years old, but they were always at my house. Every weekend, sometimes they switch school districts. They lived with me. I mean, we grew up very close and so that’s one of the things that hurt the most that she would just put the kids in the middle and use them you know, as a weapon every time she was upset. And so I did talk to her and I told her, Stop, stop doing that. Like, stop using the kids. But no, she kept on. So, you know, little by little, like I said, it’s a progression. Little by little, you just eventually go no contact.
Mary: Right. And what was that decision like for you emotionally to decide to go no contact for now with your mom?
MJ: It was hard. It was super hard. This is my mother. This is still, you know, throughout it all, this is the woman that gave birth to me and, and you know, she, she cared for me. So it was hard because as a single mother, I, that’s the only parent I’ve ever known. I don’t know my father. I don’t have a relationship with him. And so, it was hard, I questioned a lot. Was I doing the right thing, maybe this is wrong you know, that’s my mom. And then you hear people, or your friends, family telling you, like, how can you cut off your mom, that is your mom. So it was very hard, kind of trying and battling that, I guess, within, you know. I guess having the need to be around and having the need to have that relationship with your parent. I see so many women that have great relationships with their mothers, their best friends. So I wanted that. I genuinely wanted that. And you know, being judged didn’t feel good either. But I, at the same time, I didn’t want to turn around and be like her. I didn’t want to bleed the way she was with me and the way she is with me. I didn’t want to bleed that over my own kids or talk to my kids the way she spoke to me or use my kids the way she used me. And so I figured if I don’t get out of this, I’m bound to repeat those patterns. Like whether I tell myself I’m never gonna, or I fight it all throughout. I feel like that energy that, you know, constantly is around you. You can’t help it. That’s eventually what you start to project.
Mary: Yes. So how long has it been since you’ve had contact with her?
MJ: It’s been maybe, it’s been one text message just this one year.
Mary: Okay. So one text message in a year. And how do you decide when to loosen up those boundaries and when it’s kind of safe or healthy to have contact again?
MJ: That, I don’t know. I think that for me, I went four years without talking to her, like straight four years. I had a brother, my brother was always telling me, you know, talk to mom, talk to mom. And I tried, but the conversation is almost like, you know, I don’t really care if you reach out or not. So, you know, I’ve been trying to build it slowly. And I did, like I said, I sent her a text message this year, about a month ago. But I do eventually want to build a relationship, but I think for me, it’s going to be when she comes to terms and maybe takes a good look at herself because I think accountability is also important. We tell our kids, you have to be accountable and you have to, you know, I guess, pay attention to the consequences of your actions. And I think when you’re up there in age and you’re still going around life like you never did anything wrong and the whole world is against you It’s like it’s time to look at the mirror maybe. And so for me I think that deciding moment when that barrier can kind of fully calm down is when she owns up And not necessarily say sorry, but the day that she’s like, Hey, I’m open to have a conversation, not a shouting match, not a belittling match it just, with my mom, it’s very volatile. Our relationship is very toxic. So even if I came in calm and collected and tried to talk, it turns into a shouting match, like her energy and how loud she speaks, like it just elevates and trying to get a word in, it pisses her off more. So, you know, it’s just kind of like for me, it’s going to be when I know she’s ready to just sit and talk, like just talk.
Mary: Okay. When would you be ready to sit and talk?
MJ: I think I’ve been ready. I think I’ve been ready to just kind of let it all out and cry about it and hug it out. I’ve been ready. But I’m not, you know, I’m not going to put myself in the position to beg her. Because again, she’s still making those mistakes and we’ve all told her, you know, the mistakes she’s making. Like I said, there’s six of us, the five older ones were all adults. The baby’s 13 years old. And so again, we see her still doing the stuff that she was doing when we were kids and leaving her alone a lot and stuff like that. And so we continuously tell her like, stop doing that. Like we raised ourselves and you’re, you’re doing it again. You know, but she sees nothing wrong with it. And that’s kind of where it’s like, well i, I don’t know, like I cannot approach you and tell you, let’s have a talk when it’s just going to be the same thing because you’re still doing the same thing, you know?
Mary: What is the reason why you might want to loosen up the boundaries and have some kind of connection or relationship with her?
MJ: Because at the end of the day, that’s still my mother. And again, I don’t, you know, I don’t know my father. So that’s really all I have. My mom and my siblings. Outside of my husband and my own children, like family, it’s just my mom. It’s always been my mom and my siblings. So I do hold her dear, close and close to my heart. I love her. But I love myself, you know, I love myself too. And it took me a long time to get to the point to love myself and say, Hey, I can’t have you talk to me like this anymore. I can’t have you yell at me every time you’re mad. I can’t have you throw insults every time I disagree. Like it just, you know, again, it goes back to, I don’t want to be you. So I have to just kind of get away from you for a while so that I can figure out who I am, who I want to be. And then, you know, go from there.
Mary: Okay. What if she were not to change some of the things that you’ve described, such as you know, her parenting of your teenage sibling or the way that she speaks, if she were not to change those things, then what would be your next step?
MJ: That’s a good question. I don’t know. I think as long as she refuses to kind of acknowledge the pain and the hurt. And, you know, it’s, it’s going to be really hard for me to go and sit and talk with her and if she never changes, I, I don’t know, maybe we just never talk, maybe she becomes like my father and is, you know, just a distant person in my life, I don’t know, but I know that for sure, I’m very set on just not wanting to be like her, and just being around her and having that energy is just, it’s draining, it’s truly draining. And I, I caught myself You know, every time I had a fight with my mom, I caught myself being in a bad mood, and then projecting it on the kids. And then I had to really sit and think like, whoa, why am I acting like this? And a lot of the times I had those triggers, it was from her. So it was like, I can’t do this. I so if she never changes, I don’t know. I mean, I think eventually I would hope that I would change eventually and tell myself, well, all right, forget about it, time to build a relationship, but I think as long as that, you know, that prevails the way she is, it’s just gonna, I don’t know if it’ll ever work.
Mary: Yeah. One of the things that’s so interesting to me that you just kind of spoke to is when contact with a difficult loved one starts to impact our behavior and we start to see behavior in ourselves where we’re able to recognize that, hey, I’m not showing up the way that I want to, I’m not acting as my best self here, and that’s the impact that this relationship is having on me, how that oftentimes will move us to that space of this isn’t a healthy relationship for me because it’s changing the way that I’m behaving in a way that I’m not comfortable with.
MJ: Exactly. And I notice the changes in me. And I noticed that I was starting to, you know, talk to my kids the way she would talk to me or I would yell when I didn’t need to yell. And so I, you know, I started catching that and saying like, this, this is not me. Like, I sound like my mom and it’s just much healthier to not have that kind of influence around.
Mary: what is it like for you to not have contact with her?
MJ: I think it’s been great. , I’m not gonna lie. It’s been great. Less triggers for sure. And kind of trying to set a new, I guess a new cycle in our generation. I catch myself doing a lot of things with my kids. I homeschool my kids. So I run a tight ship and I think we’re all in general, pretty close to each other as a family. We do camping, we do, you know, trips. And that’s something that obviously I never got to do as a kid, so without her influence around, or without her asking for money, or without her, you know, I’m able to do these things, so it’s been better for me and my kids.
Mary: Is there a bittersweetness?
MJ: Oh yeah, for sure. Because they love their grandma, and I would, I love for them to be over there, and I, I mean, it’s crazy because she is, The most perfect grandmother. She is just, I’m just like, where was this lady when I was growing up? So, you know, she’s just like this angel of a grandmother and I’m just like, wow, like you’re still doing some really horrible stuff at my age.
Mary: It’s funny how that happens. There’s this joke that we say sometimes it’s like, this is not the person who raised me.
MJ: Exactly. I’m like, who For sure, but it’s been bittersweet because again, I love that they have that bond with her, that relationship with her, and that we’re so far. I would like to be close to her because I feel like an orphan sometimes. And I just, you know, I, I hope anybody out there listening, I feel your pain. I get it. But you know, you have to do what’s best for you and it’s bittersweet, but again, it’s been the best five years of my life.
Mary: Thank you so much for sharing your story. I know that there are listeners who have loved ones that they struggle to know, like, if it’s possible to have boundaries in place and maintain a relationship and a connection with that person, or if they are on the fence about maybe going no contact with a person that they love, or if they have gone no contact, how to kind of loosen up those boundaries and, and reconnect to that relationship. And so I really appreciate you being here and sharing your stories. So MJ, what’s next for you?
MJ: Thank you. Thank you so much for having me. What’s the next for me is just kind of continue building those strong bonds with my own kids. I’m currently Trying to put together a project where I collaborate with different community members, community leaders, to try to bring a youth program to where I’m at. There is nothing for the youth out here in, in rural Colorado Southeast side. And so, you know, I’m having my kids involved as much as, as I can have them involved. And so it, you know, it’s, it’s a whole new world, a whole new set of rules, a whole new cycle for me that I really, I’m hoping that in the long run my kids can build really strong relationships with their own kids and kind of see like, okay, This is what we did growing up. This was our traditions. and some of the things that i’ve i’ve instilled in them, I just hope that they can pass that down but always be together. Like, I, I just want them to have a great relationship with their own children, but that has to start with me.
Mary: I love that. You’re changing that generationally. What’s next for you and your relationship with your mom?
MJ: I would hope to kind of get together a Christmas. I don’t think it would be this year, but I would hope to just, you know, reunite eventually at some point. Preferably with the family around because she’s less volatile that way. And then maybe I can get her in a corner and be like, Hey, let’s talk. But I, I do hope that one day, you know, the family comes together because ever since I left, it seems like my siblings followed suit. And so, you know, nobody really talks to her, my one sister still talks to her and the baby that lives with her, but the rest of us, we don’t speak to her. And I didn’t mean for that to happen, but they, you know, again, the abuse, the verbal abuse, the belittling, it continued with them too, even after they were grown and out of the house. And so again, it’s not something that is just, you know, it’s not just my perspective, it’s something that, All of us, we all kind of feel jaded over it. And so, I think it’s just, if we can all come together eventually, that would be great. I would really hope to mend that relationship, and we have to start somewhere, which is why I sent the text earlier this year. She did not respond, by the way. And so, you know, when you’re the only one trying, it’s like, well, maybe I should stop trying and then let you be ready when you’re ready.
Mary: Mm hmm. Are you willing to share the text message content with us?
MJ: So it was just telling her, I asked her for forgiveness for, you know, how I was as a teenager, and I just, I told her that I hope you forgive me for my mistakes, and just know that I forgive you, I love you, and I hope that one day, you know, we can sit and talk. And what prompted that is because my brother actually flew all the way out to Honduras to meet my dad last month. And so I felt really proud because, I mean, he had a very strong hatred for him. And so I felt really proud and very motivated to kind of just do the same. Like if he can mend things with our dad, then maybe I should mend things with my mom. So, you know, just kind of a text message but she didn’t respond. She didn’t call. So I just kind of left it at that. But it was just a short, sweet message like, you know, I’m very proud of my brother. I’m sorry for this. I forgive you and I hope we can talk.
Mary: Awesome. And your hope is that Someday, you’ll be able to have a Christmas celebration with her. What boundaries would you need to have in place to make that safe and comfortable for you?
MJ: I think the only boundary really with her is just like, don’t disrespect me, especially in front of people, in front of my kids, just don’t raise your voice at me and because it spirals from there. It’s almost like she needs, she needs a stage and it gets louder and louder and it gets a lot more toxic the more she speaks. And so I think it would just have to be like, you know, I’m here to have fun. I don’t want to fight. Like, just don’t, don’t speak to me that way.
Mary: So I’m hearing you say that your boundary is that you will not be disrespected or screamed at or belittled or attacked, verbally attacked. And so if you were at a family gathering, even if it was a holiday and those things were to happen, then how would you uphold that boundary?
MJ: I would leave.
Mary: You would leave?
MJ: I would honestly leave. Yeah. I would, if the kids want to stay and party the rest of the Christmas night, that’s great. But I would leave because I would feel that nothing’s changed and I can’t talk to you. Like I literally cannot talk. We can’t talk. We can’t have a conversation, you know, I just kind of, I walk away.
Mary: Yeah. And I also heard you say that you would like to have a one on one conversation and kind of come to the table and acknowledge the hurt that’s happened. And if your mom is not willing to have a one on one conversation, Are you still willing to consider working towards a holiday together with extended family?
MJ: Oh yeah, for sure. Okay. I think it would be, you know, one of those relationships where you just kind of keep it cordial. She’s never willing to talk, then that’s that, you know, I have to focus on my own kids.
Mary: Right. So MJ, my last question for you is for listeners out there what might you say to them if they are in a situation of considering having a period of time with no contact with the loved one?
MJ: I would say first and foremost, think of you. Think of how you feel and how this specific someone influences you, your actions, your moods, pay attention to that. And that if the costs are greater than the benefits, if the cost to your mental health, if the cost to your emotional well being, If it’s greater than that, then, you know, I think it’s time to take a hard look and say, maybe I just need a break from you because it is hard. I will share that. It’s, it’s very difficult. This is somebody that you truly love and you want to give them, you know, the benefit of the doubt. But when it’s the benefit of the doubt over and over and over and over and over for years and years and years, it’s just like, at what point do you put yourself first and you say, Okay, you know what? It’s my turn. It’s my turn to smile. It’s my turn to feel good about myself. It’s just my turn to shine, you know? And as long as you have those influences that, that just influence you and, and get you to project certain emotions that are out of character, it’s like, well, why keep them around, you know? You have to do what’s best for you.
Mary: Mm hmm. Yes. Any other advice to people who might be in your shoes?
MJ: Just find the people that you do love and you do love to be around. That’s definitely something that’s helped for me. I have friends everywhere and I love my friends. I, I love them to death. Because they’ve been there for me, you know, through, through all these things. I’ve have had some friends that I’ve called on the phone crying over some things that were said in regards to my mom. So, you know, I would say just kind of gravitate towards the people that love you and appreciate you and want you around and don’t need to make you feel little so they feel so big.
Mary: Yeah, we all need a supportive community because we’re hardwired for connection and we want to be around people who bring out the best in us. So I think that’s just a natural human tendency to, to have that need and that desire. So thank you so much.
MJ: Yeah, no, thank you so much for having me. This was really fun.
Mary: Awesome. Thanks for sharing your story.