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Not ready to speak about issues but being forced.

-e
Community Member
Hi, I'm new to this so this might be a bit long but here is my situation.

I am 23, almost 24 years old. I had been, until recently, living in the UK for the past 2 years. My visa expired and I was forced to return to Australia.

After this I started feeling depressed and my anxiety worsened. I put this down to having to leave a place I loved to move back in with my parents. I started seeing a psychologist about this and it has been really helpful. However, I am struggling to maintain any relationship with my mother. I didn't feel comfortable speaking to her about my anxiety and depression and was content working through things on my own until I did feel ready to speak to her about it (I said this to her a number of times). However she would trap me in situations and try to force me to speak about it. Resulting in her getting extremely upset and angry with me and making me feel terrible. She then called my psychologist without my knowing to ask her what was going on with me. Obviously, this information wasn't given to her and I was told by my psychologist that she had called.

Things went downhill from there.
I confronted my mother about her calling my psychologist and said I was annoyed but that she could speak to her now that I'd given permission. She became very defensive and now blames my psychologist for telling me she had called and won't agree to speak to her anymore.

I feel I cannot be myself around her and so mostly keep to myself (resulting in her getting angry at me for not talking). I was speaking to dad occasionally about the issues with my mum but he seems to have grown tired of hearing it and seems annoyed at me for having these feelings towards her. So I now don't have him to speak to.

I don't have many friends here and none which I feel comfortable talking to about these issues. My best friend lives overseas and although we talk regularly, I'm extremely lonely. I go days sometimes without speaking to anyone and I feel I'm at breaking point. I'm almost 24 yet feel my mother is treating me like a child and constantly making me feel bad for not being ready to speak about a personal issue. I have no idea what to do anymore?

16 Replies 16

pipsy
Community Member

Hi -e. It would've been difficult returning to 'the nest' after 2 years of independent lifestyle. Moving into parents home, to them, mean they now believe they can take control again. It's a catch 22 situation going on. You want your independence, they want to resume control. Dad is 'pig in the middle'. Are you in a position to 're-leave the nest'? Could you find a way of doing this? Perhaps if you visit C'link and ask to see a financial advisor (it's a free service), they may be able to point you in the right direction. Your mum obviously was concerned by you needing to see a psych. But phoning her to discuss her concerns with her, instead of respecting your right to privacy is inappropriate, given your age and the confidentiality clause between you and the psych. If you are able to relocate, this would be beneficial in your recovery. Your parents won't be overjoyed, but you have the right to choose how and where you want to be.

Lynda

-e
Community Member
Hi Lynda.

Thanks for replying. All really good suggestions. Unfortunately, I've come back to no car and no job. My parents live in quite a small town and having no car, I'm limited to where I can work at the moment. I've looked into Centrelink but can't get any sort of benefit until I start back at university. (having no source of income means I'm not able to move into a place of my own). I'm going to try and move out when uni starts in March but feel like I'm at breaking point already and I'm not sure if i can keep living like this. I feel like I can't leave my bedroom without getting criticised by my mother about something. It's the only place in the house I can relax and be myself. I feel extremely alone.

pipsy
Community Member

Hi -e. May I ask what sort of work you had in the UK? Is there any possibility of obtaining some sort of casual employment? Casual could lead to permanent. You mention living is a small town, I presume this is an 'everybody knows everybody' type of town, which makes trying to keep yourself to yourself, difficult. Have you thought about doing some sort of volunteer work, I realize there's no monetary value, but the knowledge of freedom would be beneficial, plus meeting people could lead to other opportunities. I have a volunteer job which has opened me up to further work within the company I volunteer for. Also if there is an employment agency near you, perhaps you could inquire if there is some sort of casual/permanent employment you could obtain. If you have a C'link branch near you, maybe you could ask if they are affiliated with an employment agency that could help. I realize not having a car does present problems, but I think your first priority is obtaining employment to help you at least start re-building your life.

Lynda

-e
Community Member

I've recently come into a situation where I am back living in my parents home. I'm 24 and before now I had lived out of home for 4 years, part of that time overseas. I am actively looking to move out but given I'm a full time student, money is an issue at the moment.

(update) I have always had issues with my mother and its gotten extremely bad since I've moved back in with her.

She is controlling and overly critical of everything I do. She makes constant comments about what I eat, where I eat, how lazy I am etc. I tried speaking to a therapist about this but haven't been back since my Mum started contacting my therapist looking for information that I wasn't willing to share with her. She has even ruined relationships by being extremely intrusive.

I'm trying everything to avoid these encounters and not give her a reason to be so critical and controlling but it doesn't seem to be working. I've tried limiting how much we speak to avoid any arguements or criticism but this seems to make things worse.

I feel so guilty for not getting on with her and for wanting to cut ties. But I feel I'm suffering by being around her and feel like bursting into tears after any sort of negative encounter.

JessF
Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor
Hello e, welcome back. It sounds like things haven't really moved along any further since you last posted. The relationship with your mother is still difficult, and you are still living at home for financial reasons.

I'm wondering what you have tried since your last post in the way of trying to widen your circle of support, make new friends, building up your life outside of the home so you can be less tied to your mother.

It sounds like the issues with your mother are long-standing, and that a number of things may be holding you back from setting clear boundaries with her, your guilt for a start. Unfortunately, not all mother/child relationships are like the ones we see on Mother's Day chocolate box advertisements, and a good first step might be re assessing your relationship with Mum based on how things are, not how you wish they were.

Another thing to bear in mind: while your mother ringing your psycholgist behind your back to try and get information is crossing a line, it does perhaps show that she is concerning about you, and from what you say in your earlier post she was trying to find information that you wouldn't tell her. Now nothing obligates you to tell your mother anything, of course, but imagine for a moment the situation were reversed, you were worried about your daughter and she wouldn't tell you what was wrong, and you knew that she instead was paying to see someone else to talk about her problems? Might you feel that you had failed as a mother to provide the right support?

None of the above justifies her actions, but it sounds as if a lot of the issues in recent times result from a failure of communication. If you are unable to move out at this point, then what else do you think you could try to resolve things, given that the avoidance technique seems to be not working out for you?

-e
Community Member
Hi Jess,

Thanks for your reply! Since November I've gone overseas for a month. Many of my best friends live in other countries so I was able to see them and also met some new friends. Since returning from overseas I have also started back at University. This has been really good to distract me from the family problems I've been having and has given me an opportunity to meet some new people.

Of course, I know that she was concerned about my wellbeing. However, given that I had spoken to her about having anxiety and depression and discussed with her that it was helping, my age, and that I had explicitly told her on numerous occasions that I wasn't ready to speak in more detail about my feelings, that by calling my therapist (whose details she did not get from me), without my knowing is controlling behaviour. I also felt emotionally manipulated at this stage and there was no respect for my privacy.

I could forgive her behaviour if she would acknowledge that she is perhaps part of the problem, however, blame for her feeling upset is placed almost entirely on me and blame that we don't have a good relationship is because I don't try hard enough. Which, of course, is not true. I have had problems with my mum since I was about 11 or 12 and since then have continuously tried to have a good relationship with her.

I'm not sure what else I can do. If you have any suggestions I'd love to hear them? Her actions never change and she doesn't take responsibility for them. I do everything I possibly can to not argue or draw criticism and avoiding conversation is the only way that I can think that will fix this. The criticism hasn't stopped, but we don't argue if I don't respond to that criticism. This does bother me though because I want to be able to stand up for myself without being told off like a child.

It's hard to articulate all the details of the situation and explain someone's behaviour over such a long period of time but I hope what I've said can give some indication as to what I am dealing with.

-e
Community Member
I should add that I did let her go and speak to her psychologist about my anxiety and depression, as a way to potentially stop her emotional manipulation and express to her why I didn't like the way she was acting in the most respectful way possible. One of my psychologist's suggestions to my mum was that she needed to give me space and respect my boundaries. Nothing changed though as I think she still believes that she has done nothing wrong.

JessF
Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor
Hi e, such a tricky situation. It's a common one, though, here on these forums, family members who are behaving in a way that hurts you, and seeming unwilling to change that behaviour. In these situations, I believe all you can do is retreat to the things you can control. You can't control your mother's behaviour, so all that leaves is your reaction to it.

It could well be that after so many years, your mother's entire communication with you is based on the criticism, which I suspect in her way she believes is helpful. If you don't respond to that criticism, the arguments are avoided. The more you engage with her on the problems in your relationship, the more you argue. I believe it's communication with you that she wants, and even if it's arguing, it's at least a connection with you.

I wonder if you're able to think of any times when you speak with your mother that don't involve critisism or arguments. Any at all? Perhaps by rewarding these conversations with openness, and cutting off when the criticism arises ("Thanks Mum, I'll take that on board, I'm just popping out for a while/going to visit friends") you might gradually re-train her to engage with you more respectfully.

-e
Community Member
It can be difficult to predict with Mum what is a safe topic to talk about or not. She just seems to react negatively to opinions I have or decisions I make, where family members are immune to this 'judgement'. I can't really remember a time when we had a conversation where we didn't argue or she wasn't frustrated at me for something. I don't ignore her at all. I'll always answer her if she asks me a question and will participate in a conversation if there are others also in the conversation, as she generally won't say anything negative to me if she isn't directly speaking to me. Her attitude towards me also changes dramatically if her friends are around to see her interactions.
Of course, I'll try the 're-training' suggestion and engage her if she seems in a particularly good mood or she wants to engage in positive conversation but remove myself if things become negative. Although, I have tried this in the past and had her follow me, or trap me in places where I cannot immediately remove myself. But I'll continue to try. At least until I can find a solution to my living situation I think that is my best option.