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Controlling mother - advice please!

(26 Posts)
FireflySerenity93 Tue 04-Aug-15 19:27:49

I'm on here looking for a bit of advice on how to handle a situation with my mum. Thought i'd get honest opinions here. Sorry this is going to be a bit lengthy.

A bit of background. I am 23 and I have suffered from depression and social anxiety since my early teens. Last year my mental health started spiraling downwards and after 6 months this ended in a suicide attempt. I don't feel like its too dramatic to call it a breakdown. I have been trying to recover my life ever since. I have had to take 2 years off university and I have been on and off antidepressants and in and out of counseling. Obviously when all this happened I had to move back in with my Mum. Counseling has made me realise how many of my issues are down to my Mum and my relationship with her. She is controlling, she constantly makes me feel awful about myself and she nags me so much that I feel like i'm a useless waste of space who can't achieve anything. My Mum has always had a very pragmatic, just get on with it approach to life. I have a different way of approaching things. In our house we didn't indulge emotions, and it is only recently I have been able to acknowledge my emotions and realise that there is nothing shameful about expressing them.

Anyway, on to my point. Back in June I had a really bad period of depression. All my classmates were graduating, and the photos were flooding facebook. Add to this the fact that I am totally dependent upon my mum (I live with her and work for her since my mental health has prevented me holding down another job), and that I spend my life listening to my Mum tell me all the things I am doing wrong, things got pretty bad. So I made a decision. I would run a 10k to raise money for Mind. I had been meaning to start exercise as a treatment for my depression for ages, and this seemed like the perfect motivator. I started training and the effect on my mental health was almost instantaneous. I was doing so well. My mum asked if she could come through to meet me at the finish line. I was thrilled, it seemed like for once I was doing something for myself and she was proud of me.

Problem is, a few weeks later she announced that she had registered to run the 10k too just in case I freaked out beforehand and didn't do it. Since i'd made it look such good fun, she had decided she was running it too regardless. Honestly that made me feel about an inch tall. I was trying to prove to myself that I could do it, and she tells me she doesn't believe I can. The whole point was for me to have a personal achievement after a 2 year downward spiral, now its another thing for my mum to nag me about. Obviously its a free country, if she wants to run it she can. But honestly, i'd rather she didn't. First of all I feel like she is kind of stealing my thunder. I wouldn't mind her running a 10k, just not this one. All the joy has gone from running for me now. The other day she even told me that I need to "pull my finger out" if i'm going to run this. Then she told me that I shouldn't feel I have to do it just because she is (which totally misses the point). I'm probably just being a brat, but its how I feel. Can she not just let me have one little achievement for myself? Obviously I am grateful that she has taken me back in and given me a job, but I have done nothing of worth for the last 2 years, and everything in my life is linked to her. I just want to do one thing for myself before I head back to uni in September. Problem is its more than my life's worth to tell her any of this.

Am I being really unreasonable?

ahfuckit Tue 04-Aug-15 19:42:36

No, you're not. It sounds although she feels the need to be involved in every aspect of your life. Could you enter for a different run as well/instead and not tell her? Well done for doing it!

Atenco Tue 04-Aug-15 19:52:40

Oh I wish I could take you in and give you a job, because us mums have too much of an influence on our children and it is really time that you got away. Congratulations on the race, btw. You really only have to compete against yourself and you don't even have to finish if you don't want to, though it would be great if you did.
I second the idea of not telling her about your next project.

BurningGubbins Tue 04-Aug-15 19:55:14

This sounds exactly like my brother's experience, uncannily so. I don't have much advice about the race, other than maybe accidentally losing her in the crowd or saying you don't want to hold her back so you'll see her at the finish?
I really came on to say that after 2 years out my brother has just graduated and has saved enough money to move out. You can pull this back. Good luck to you.

PotteringAlong Tue 04-Aug-15 19:58:46

Do you have a park run near you? It's 5k but would give you something to do each week to mark your running achievements off against and you don't need to tell your mum!

meiisme Tue 04-Aug-15 19:59:36

She is clearly doing it because you were starting to feel better about yourself and she can't stand not being on top in your relationship. It's hard, but see if you can find a way to keep training without engaging at all with her about it. Don't tell her anything out of your own accord, answer any probing/needling questions with breezy 'oh, don't worry, I'm doing fine' or 'good for you' if she talks about her own achievements. If you're feeling up for it a clear 'I'm not going to discuss this with you, good luck with your run'. ell her clearly that

yogababymum Tue 04-Aug-15 20:02:42

Firstly you are not being a brat or U! You've come along way & from what you are saying I can tell that the fog is lifting for you a little, so well done for that. Exercise is an amazing positive activity especially running, it's a real passion of mine, much for the sane reason, it really clears your head & makes you feel good.

There's only one way I would deal with this. Thrash her in race grin grin that's my naughty side but it's what I would do. She's obviously not going to back out or take your feelings into consideration so go for it. When your running it will give you that extra push to get to the end, when you finish your going to feel amazing anyway, may as well watch her & then gloat about beating her ! It'll take the wind out of her sales that's for sure.

So go for it, train hard focus & remember you can do anything you put your mind to! I for one am right behind you flowers

meiisme Tue 04-Aug-15 20:04:17

Posted too soon. Basically, block her out of your own experience and make it look as if her run has nothing to do with you at all. She wants to see you upset and quit, but you don't have to give her that satisfaction or get drawn into a game of showing her she is being ridiculous. You were doing great training by yourself and you can continue to do so smile.

TracyBarlow Tue 04-Aug-15 20:09:30

I agree with yoga. Absolutely thrash her. Then train harder and so the marathon next year. I'd like to see her decide on a whim to do that grin

Sallyhasleftthebuilding Tue 04-Aug-15 20:16:12

I think your mother needs to back off... how annoying. If you do the run, do it for you, think of her as another person in the crowd... tune her out, dont listen ...

RolyPolierThanThou Tue 04-Aug-15 20:21:05

She can't bear it that you're doing something that makes you feel good and makes you potentially appear better than her. She has got a lot of insecurities she isn't dealing with very well.

She wants to run the race, well whatever. Just treat her like any other runner there. Beating her would be satisfying, but if you don't, so what. Her running It takes absolutely NOTHING away from your achievement. It was YOU who decided to do the run, YOU who researched it and signed up, YOU who made the big, bold decision to do something outside of your comfort zone and she is just riding on your coat tails.

I'd be very tempted to remind her she's not being very original with 'it's really great you want to do this run, too, but maybe you need to find your own thing instead of copying mine'.

musicalbingo Tue 04-Aug-15 20:33:11

A alternative idea that may be to say after everything that has happened it would mean so to you if she was waiting at the finish line cheering her on on your first race but you'd love to run a 10K with her and you have found <insert name of some other 10k>. You can pick a different charity you both care about and run for them.

hope this helps

You can search by region here - there are tonnes wink
therunningbug.co.uk/events/find-10k-races.aspx

Kewcumber Tue 04-Aug-15 20:36:44

Jesus I'd poke her in the bloody eye if it was my mother. Sorry that's not really helpful is it? You are so not being unreasonable.

FireflySerenity93 Tue 04-Aug-15 20:49:42

Wow, thank you so much everyone. I was honestly expecting to be told to stop being such a brat and be more grateful. You have no idea how much all of your responses have done for me. I have serious issues with self worth and I was convinced I was just being an awful person as usual. Thank you all so much.

dodobookends Tue 04-Aug-15 20:57:37

You aren't an awful person at all, you sound absolutely lovely, and I wish you the very best of success with the race.

If you need people to be waiting at the finishing line cheering you on, you know where to ask!

modelthroughit Tue 04-Aug-15 21:35:52

I've just started running again after a pretty serious bout of depression, so I totally understand the benefits it can bring!

Unfortunately, short of sabotaging her in some way (which I don't recommend!) you might have to accept that she is doing this one too... So sign up for another, and keep it to yourself! You can set a target to beat your time for the first one...

I second the parkrun suggestion smile I've been going for a couple of months now, and the buzz when I get a new PB text is pretty incredible!

LeftMyRidingCropInTheMortuary Tue 04-Aug-15 22:16:57

Hey OP,

I can sympathise a lot with what you say - I had to move back in with my parents after a relationship breakup and it was pretty shit! I was unemployed at the time too and had problems with alcohol. My parents reverted to treating me like a teenager (I probably acted like one too!)

Chances are your mother loves you and means well. But no, it's not ideal to be this closely dependent on her. So just start ticking the days off your calendar.

The race thing is a red herring - ok, she'll be there on "The Day" but it's the months of training beforehand which is the "thing" you've really achieved for yourself - committing to something, improving, feeling better about yourself.

You DO matter and you ARE a good person. And a person in your own right. You are still very young so you have plenty of time to branch out on your own.

Take care of yourself and just enjoy your training and then your day of glory!

mommy2ash Tue 04-Aug-15 22:40:06

Just to play devils advocate here is there any chance your mum means well but is just getting it really wrong? I don't think it's helpful to get on a negative mindset with regards to the people closest to you, this is all a learning curve and she needs to learn you can do things on your own and she doesn't need to hover over you. After watching you go through everything she did she could be so worried about you it's clouding her judgment.

Of course if I'm totally wrong just disregard my comments it's just I've been on the other side of this before where as family members we thought we were helping but were actually making things more difficult but honestly didn't know any better

badg3r Tue 04-Aug-15 22:41:06

YANBU. I completely see where you are coming from, shes really knocking the wind out your sails. There is much more sensible grown up advice here but if it was me I would be determined to win by a) running faster b) raising more money and c) using it as a springboard for a half marathon. Where can we donate?!

LuckyBitches Wed 05-Aug-15 09:33:31

YADNBU! It sounds though your mother needs to control you - so she's the weak person. I think it would be perfectly acceptable to say 'sorry mum, but I really want to do this on my own'. I completely understand how difficult assertiveness can be, though. Best of luck with the run! star

Desperatelyseekinghelpandadvic Wed 05-Aug-15 09:46:16

I was going to write a similar reply to mummy2ash. It's so hard for parents to do the right thing by mentally ill children and as those children turn into adults it can feel as if everything you say or do is wrong. The assumption by some posters that she's worried you're going to do better than her is a bit sad. She may feel that by doing this with you she's showing support in the best way she can. You must have an open conversation with her and tell her exactly how you feel - you want to achieve this on your own but would be happy to do other events with her.

She's your mum. She may be getting it wrong, but that doesn't mean she doesn't deserve the chance to get it right.

Desperatelyseekinghelpandadvic Wed 05-Aug-15 09:52:15

Should add I wish you all the best. My son is not much younger than you and (hopefully) coming out of the worst of his depression and anxiety. I know for sure I've said awful things to him but I hope the good things I've said and done will be enough to stop him feeling badly towards me.

drudgetrudy Wed 05-Aug-15 10:17:32

When a young adult has mental health problems their parents' sometimes become over-protective and interfere with things more than they normally would.
In your post it does sound as if your Mum doesn't have much faith in you but it is possible that she thinks she is supporting you.
I would try an honest conversation with her without snapping or loosing your cool.
Explain that it makes you feel as if she doesn't have faith in you and tell her what you would like her to do. Try to listen to her too and don't make assumptions about her motives.
It is difficult for both of you.
Wishing you the best with your recovery.

FireflySerenity93 Wed 05-Aug-15 16:26:08

Thanks for all the advice guys. Opposing viewpoints are totally welcome, I want honest opinions! I do think that her original intention was good, if a little misguided. She was only going to run it with me if I panicked beforehand and didn't want to do it anymore. That makes sense cause I have social anxiety and I can sometimes find new situations daunting. But she has kind of got carried away with the whole thing now and it has become about her. Her boyfriend is coming to meet her at the finish line, meaning that she has the support and someone to cheer her on and I don't. It upsets me quite a bit. I don't feel like I could tell her. If I tried to she would immediately go on the defensive, its just the way she is.

I have now posted my confirmation email on facebook, with no mention of her in the post, so that I can't talk myself out of doing it. I feel like that goes some way to reclaiming it. I guess I just wanted to have her there supporting me, but I need to accept that I don't have a normal supportive encouraging mum. My mum has a lot of her own issues, to the extent that one of my siblings has already cut her out. She can be a little self centred, and she is really having trouble with a lot of the things I have been encouraged to do by my counselor. For example, asserting myself when she invalidates my emotions or criticises how I choose to do something. I suppose its just going to be a difficult transition for us both.

meiisme Wed 05-Aug-15 18:06:57

Well done, FireflySerenity smile.

I need to accept that I don't have a normal supportive encouraging mum And this is actually the crux to developing a healthy, adult relationship with her. Some people simply aren't able to be caring without making it all about them. They usually mean well in their own mind, but their own issues prevent them from respecting other people as equals and unfortunately they often go furthest with their children.

It is possible to have an adult relationship with (some, not the worst of) them, but you will need to be the one to implement boundaries, as you are doing now. By evading her infringing on your personal space rather than confronting her, you might be able to create enough space for yourself around her without feeling she is taking over. It is important that you keep doing what you want to do thoigh, because otherwise you might build up too much resentment against her and lose yourself in the process.

You sound very level headed and with compassion and understanding of her, and I think she should be proud to have a daughter like you smile. Good luck with the race and getting back on your feet!

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