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Re my mothers over done empathy

(20 Posts)
Wailywailywaily Fri 07-Nov-14 10:05:02

Its been a stressful week. DS has been to a&e and is undergoing more tests. However I have been coping really well, my anxiety is at a low amber level, DS is improving, in my mind things are under control - until I speak to my mum.

She does this kind totality over the top empathy/sympathy type thing - all "Oh darling, I don't know how you cope, it must be so hard, poor, poor you". By the time I put the phone down I was feeling that I must be a terrible mother because I really don't feel stress to the extent that she thinks I should be. I have stopped answering the phone to her this week as I really don't need guilt on top of everything else.

I can't work out if she really means it or if she just hasn't actually got empathy and so is trying to make it sound like she has but is failing to modify it according to the person she is directing it to iyswim.

AIBU or should I really be feeling more stress and anxiety than I actually am?

lornathewizzard Fri 07-Nov-14 10:11:22

Stress and anxiety don't solve anything, so there isn't a right level. Don't let other people worry you. Hope everything is OK with your Ds.

WorraLiberty Fri 07-Nov-14 10:12:08

AIBU or should I really be feeling more stress and anxiety than I actually am?

No of course not.

I thought you were going to say "AIBU to be irritated by my Mum trying so hard to support me".

I would have said, "Yes you are, although it can be understandably irritating".

It sounds like she's just trying to be a good Mum and Gran though smile

Wailywailywaily Fri 07-Nov-14 10:18:02

Yes I see Worra, I wrote the post in two parts and so lost my train of thought half way blush. I am irritated by her but that is a lifelong irritation. What is niggling me now is is she right, should I really be that wound up?

Lorna, thanks for the concern, the hospital have been amazing and have been in daily contact with updates and questions. They are honest but their concern is reassuring me. DS seems to be getting better but we are under instructions to keep a very close eye on him and any change he must go straight back in.

StarlingMurmuration Fri 07-Nov-14 10:22:07

Is it that her overdone concern is making you worry that there's more to be worried about, iyswim? Like, you thought it wasn't something to be very concerned about, but now she's made you feel it is? Or is just really a irritating?

Wailywailywaily Fri 07-Nov-14 10:27:46

Starling, its sort of both. I am very confident in the hospital but well aware of how serious it could actually be for DS so I wonder if I should be more concerned. But its really that I don't feel any sincerity from her - its just over done and frankly irritating. For example she puts a huge amount of emphasis on how I must be feeling and how awful it must be for me but has hardly actually asked how DS is doing.

whattheseithakasmean Fri 07-Nov-14 10:28:16

I can understand OP, I don't like to make a fuss about things & prefer to get on with them quietly. My sister is much more drama-queeny than me & prefers to make a huge song & dance.

I would never dare say it, but I suspect my sister doesn't actually feel things as deeply as me, which is why she needs to 'over egg' her feelings publically - it is like she thinks that is how she should be feeling & behaves in accordance.

For me, the deepest feelings show themselves in silence & restraint. People who are showy-offy about their emotions just don't get this.

Notbythehaironmychinnychinchin Fri 07-Nov-14 10:30:17

One of my DC wasin hospital ealrier this year with something that could have been very serious - needed lots of tests and scans so a lot of the time we were waiting round for results and Doctors' opinions (DC responded really well to the treatment and is in recovery). We were pretty calm, thinking unless the doctors/consultants told us we had something specifically to worry about we weren't going to go down the ifs and buts road - just concentrate on supporting DC while he needed us.

My mum and dad phoned constantly. They were SO worried. they couldn't think of anything else. They had cried at work. They had felt sick and couldn't eat.

I found it really irritating as I felt they were being dramatic, creating scenarios when we didn't actually have a diagnosis or prognosis. I found it really difficult to speak to them as I felt they were draining our energy and making it about how THEY felt.

Months later with my rational head on, I know it was just a case of them being different people and having different reactions and becasue they weren't there in the hospital they must have been letting their imaginations run wild.

Your reaction sounds a lot like mine so obviously YANBU grin

Preciousbane Fri 07-Nov-14 11:04:11

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

WalkingInMemphis Fri 07-Nov-14 11:14:56

AIBU or should I really be feeling more stress and anxiety than I actually am?

I'm wondering if anyone is the same as me.
I suffer from constant low level anxiety all the time. I overthink things, my imagination runs away from me and I have constant worrying/anxious thoughts about the worst that could happen...often to do with the dc.

BUT...when there's a crisis, my anxiety is much less than usual bizarrely.

When ds1 had a convulsion and was rushed to hospital in an ambulance and took quite a while to come around - I was calm, I was focused. It was like I had no spare energy to waste on worrying and being anxious because I needed to focus on what was happening, and my rational brain kicked in massively.

It's the same with work - there was a situation that I was dreading, worrying myself sick about, thinking about all the time. One that may or may not happen. When it did happen, I took a deep breath and just dealt with it. And although the situation continued to spiral downwards (which is what I had been anxious about to start with!), when it was actually in the process of happening (and not quickly...over 1-2 weeks), I didn't feel half as anxious about it.

Anyone else the same?

littlewoollypervert Fri 07-Nov-14 11:17:15

If I were in that scenario (and it's quite likely, my Dsis does hand wringing & no practical help while I'm icy calm in a crisis but privately wobbly) I would be a little bit evil and say "Yes I'm incredibly worried and upset, can you help me by doing x,y,z (laundry, shopping etc)" so that
1) I have less pressure
2) Dsis has something practical to focus on
(I have a funny feeling that Dsis just likes the drama though, so I don't know if she would appreciate being given actual helpful tasks to do!)

littlewoollypervert Fri 07-Nov-14 11:23:12

Walking I cross posted with you and I find my thinking and reactions are quite similar! I wonder if it is because we have already rehearsed the negative situations in our heads, the actual events are easier to cope with?

I also respond very well to deadlines. Give me a deadline, I have the work done on time for it. Tell me "whenever suits" - you'll never get it unless you remind me. Deadlines create a healthy level of stress for me that gives me the oomph to get things done.

BreconBeBuggered Fri 07-Nov-14 11:25:39

I react in a similar way, yes. When there was a double family crisis, ie 2 family members admitted to different hospitals with life-threatening conditions on the same day, I was completely calm. Numb is possibly the better word: for me it was clearly a defence mechanism. Getting repeated calls from ILs who reacted differently and wanted instant answers and solutions where there were none, was hard to handle. I had to keep reminding myself it was a sign that they actually gave a fuck, they could be worse, etc. But yes, they did dig out some of the anxiety I'd been hiding from myself when I wasn't able to handle it. It didn't help.

Wailywailywaily Fri 07-Nov-14 11:31:37

Notbythehair, I think you have hit the nail on the head.

Littlewoolly, My mum is in Ireland and I am in Wales, there is nothing she can do but worry and stress.

I suppose that because she feels worry and stress then she thinks I must do too. I know that when we were kids she was a single mum and no one ever offered her much by way of emotional support when one of us had a crisis. Maybe she feels that that is the thing she most wanted and so I must want it. But I'm not a single mum, DH supports me, so I don't need it or want it from her.

Thanks for your responses it has helped me to clear my head.

Wailywailywaily Fri 07-Nov-14 11:35:46

Walking, I do worry in general life, I try to moderate it by researching and being prepared. I find that in most stressful situations I am very calm and focused but there have been rare occasions when I have just totally melted down.

MollyBdenum Fri 07-Nov-14 11:38:03

I think that when you are the one in the hospital, dealing with the practicalities, you just get on with it because you have to, and becsuse you are doing all you can already.

For your mum, the situation was different. She had the worry, but she didn't have any practical tasks, or direct contact with medical staff, so was having to imagine more. And she also had a big extra worry that you didn't. You were focussed on your DC, but she was probably worried just as much about you. Although you are a capable adult, she probably still feels that desire to protect you and spare you pain and suffering that she did when you were tiny.

That's not to say that her behaviour isn't highly irritating and pretty thoughtless. It's not unreasonable of you to feel annoyed and stressed by it. But I can also see where she is coming from.

Seriouslyffs Fri 07-Nov-14 11:39:56

Walking I could have written your post word for word, right down to the ambulance/ convulsion scenario. DH who is not generally anxious was useless and fell apart!
OP do you think your mum is genuinely sympathetic or a drama llama? Could you say, 'I'm coping by getting on with it, don't be too sympathetic as I just don't have the emotional energy to be introspective'?
brew and flowers

Wailywailywaily Fri 07-Nov-14 11:47:27

Seriously, I think she has genuine concern but I think that the sympathy is way over the top. It really is a long monologue on how awful things must be, she can't believe how well I'm coping, how do I manage to hold things together under such unimaginable stress and on and on... I feel like screaming its really not that bad! but it is just easier to not answer the phone. I do send her vibre messages to keep her up to date and try not to read the dramatic sympathetic respoonces

DoJo Fri 07-Nov-14 15:29:39

I can relate to this - I sometimes don't tell my mum things because I know it would worry her and I know she would want to talk about it endlessly which I often don't want, especially when it's something I am still processing. I prefer to sort everything out in my head and then let others know when I am 'done' with it and have reached some kind of stable place.
However, one thing that has really made me feel better about my mum's concern is thinking about how I would feel if it was my child. He is only a toddler, but I can't imagine ever not worrying about him and wishing I was able to make him feel better just by being there, and that thought process has made me much more able to deal with my mum's ministrations as I do understand how difficult it must be to let go, even when your baby is grown up.
Plus, she has you and your son to worry about and isn't in a position to do anything even as practical as cooking you dinner or a few loads of laundry so perhaps over solicitous empathy is the only way she can feel as though she is really able to express her love for you all. So YANBU, basically, but she probably genuinely does mean well so flowers for both of you and I hope your son is better soon!

Wailywailywaily Fri 07-Nov-14 16:16:44

Thanks DoJo, I am feeling a lot more sympathetic to her following this thread smile

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