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My mother doesn't understand boundaries


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To everyone around us, my mother and I have the best mother-daughter relationship possible. Everyone says I'm lucky to have a mother who is like a friend to me.

After my parents' divorce fourteen years ago, my mother brought me up alone. I have an immense amount of respect for her for that. Since we were two women living alone without any third person with us, and since my mother is pretty progressive, we always had a friendly relationship. I've been there to witness all her relationships and breakups and everything in between. I've been the friend who had always been there when she needed to get back up after another relationship went down the drain.

But it's not all fun and games like it seems. What this relationship meant that my mother remained like a friend. She never became a mother to me. I was very young when I realized I didn't have a mother. I had a friend of a different age. I had to learn to become the caring figure in my life.

But that's not the main reason I resent her. Even the friendship with her is not balanced. It's always about her. Her relationships, her breakups, her friends. She didn't even notice me going through two breakups, coping with my best friend's suicide or struggling with my sexual orientation. She never bothered to ask how my day was. When I found out my best friend killed herself, we were in the dinner table and I couldn't eat. She bluntly said that girl was not important enough to be so sad over her. So only her friends are important.

Maybe I'm being unfair. Maybe she had my best interests in my mind. But she never tried to understand me as a person. I know she loves me. But she doesn't value me as a person.

That brings me to the next topic. She doesn't understand boundaries. She doesn't understand where she ends and I start. When I buy something for myself, she either wants to take it or wants me to buy her the same thing. She wants to participate in my every activity. She says it's my duty to make her happy since she brought me up alone. I guess it is, but I just want something for myself, and myself only. I want to be my own person, not her shadow. She's suffocating me. It's even worse in this pandemic because I have to spend every waking minute with her.

I really do love her. I don't want to hurt her. How do I successfully enforce boundaries without hurting her?

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Sorry this is happening. All you can do is fortify your outside life with friends, work, school, interests, volunteering,etc.

How is your rapport with your father and siblings?

Do both you and your mother work from home?

Avoid being the parent and therapist. Start to curtail conversations about her dating and personal life.

As far as your concerns, talk to friends, support groups, and when available a therapist.

As far as your other concerns, you can seek support from LGBTQ support groups.

Part of overall family dysfunction is this type of guilt tripping and role reversals. That's why a therapist could help you climb out of this.

Depending on your age, you may need to consider getting your own place. You're not her therapist and she's not yours. For now all you can do is stop over sharing things.

 

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I'm an only child. As for my father, he's pretty much a stranger to me. After awhile he married again and got busy with his new family. Now he only gives me courtesy calls once or twice a year. It's obvious he doesn't want to be bothered and honestly I don't feel anything for him either.

I've always been very introverted with very few friends. So you can see how my life became centered around my mom and her problems.

Yes, we both work in educational sector and in my country there's no sign of educational institutions opening yet. So we both work from home and we're stuck together. I guess familiarity brought more contempt to surface.

I've actually thought about the curtailing conversation tactic, but I'm very weak when it comes to her. I admit that's my fault. The moment she starts crying I feel very guilty, as if I'm the one responsible for all her problems. I have to keep trying to be firm with her.

I've considered moving out when I get a full-time job. But again she guilt trips me whenever this discussion comes up, that she brought me up and now I'm throwing her away etc.

I guess I'll cross that bridge when it comes, and for now I'll try to set more boundaries. Thanks for your suggestions. They really mean a lot in this confusing time of my life.

Edited by ElizaJ
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16 minutes ago, ElizaJ said:

I've considered moving out when I get a full-time job. But again she guilt trips me whenever this discussion comes up, that she brought me up and now I'm throwing her away etc.

Ok, the pandemic is making a lot of people feel like cabin fever. 

Try to reach out more to friends, co-workers, alumni, neighbors,etc. Even a simple holiday greeting would be much appreciated.

Don't discuss your plans with her. As an adult you can simply plan your exit slowly but surely.

Keep in mind however, moving out may help, but there's still the issue of boundaries.

 

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5 hours ago, ElizaJ said:

I really do love her. I don't want to hurt her. How do I successfully enforce boundaries without hurting her?

Well, the fact is, you have to put aside that worry in order to get yourself out of this predicament.

You see, she's been holding you hostage with her emotions this whole time.

She will get upset when you start enforcing your boundaries. No avoiding that. You have to do it anyway. 

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5 hours ago, ElizaJ said:

When I found out my best friend killed herself, we were in the dinner table and I couldn't eat. She bluntly said that girl was not important enough to be so sad over her. So only her friends are important.

I just want to say on your behalf and on the behalf of your best friend....I am so sorry! That was a heartless and cruel thing for your mother to say and although you may forgive her, it was completely wrong of her.

 I am sorry someone even thought to belittle your feelings for her like that and your friends life like that.

 

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I am very sorry about your friend.  Your mother's comment was heartless.  

 You also need to have a talk and instill some boundaries while living there.  When you do move out, you need to make some major changes, as you have been enabling this situation for too long.  Time to make some changes.

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Despite what she might tell you, she will survive if you move out. You must realize she is an adult and doesn't require you to be present in order to live.

If she has friends and relationships she can rely on those people for attention. She doesn't have to get it from you.

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