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Cinnamon_Teal

Depressed adult and my overprotective mom

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Posted (edited)

I'm 30 years old and my mom is 49. I love her so much but lately I find our relationship is getting strained. I fear it's my depression that is partly to blame. Mom has her own demons too and it seems that the problems we both have are clashing.

From her divorce in 2003 up until 2012, life felt like hell. We spent times homeless, slept in a hot van and even a storage bin at times. I dropped out of school and started working underage to help support us. I'm the only one who stuck by her side through the worst of things. Even still, no matter how bad life was, I valued my life and existence even though I felt like I was drowning in a stormy ocean. In 2012 our lives changed for the better. I did lose my job in 2011 because our van broke down but things turned around not long later. Landing on this little deserted island was like freedom. And yet now, I feel trapped in a cage. The past couple years I started feeling like it'd be easier for it all to end. I've thought about methods but couldn't decide on one since thankfully I'm more scared of physical pain than emotional pain. I never understood before why someone would want it all to come to a close and now... now I do. I'm not going to, of course, but I understand far too well.

My mom just doesn't seem to understand. She tells me that there's something wrong with me and that I need meds but she still insists on giving me a hard time about the way I feel. She refuses to be supportive of me and she approaches everything in the roughest way possible. This only makes me feel worse and feeds my darker thoughts. We can afford our own home to live in but mom is fine and content with this hotel room. She says I should be too. That many people would love to live like I do. But I want my own personal space. I haven't had my own bedroom or even my own bed since early 2003. She doesn't get it that sitting in this poorly lit dark room all day long with no reason to go out, no one to see, and nothing to do but mess around on the computer or play video games or watch television is slowly destroying me. She has this attitude that if something is fine for her, it should be for me. This applies to almost everything. I can't sleep with a light on but she can. I complain when she turns the lights on when I'm trying to sleep and she gets mad at me. There's something wrong with me and I should get used to it. She's happy living in this little "cave" of hers. I want more freedom. There's something wrong with me.

I recently realized I need to seek out my own happiness. I figured since I was going to turn 30 in April, I'd start making changes in my life this year. Meeting a nice guy a year ago also helped give me that motivation that I was needing. I accept my depression but I'm tired of it and my anxiety ruling my life. However, mom seems to be opposed to everything I want to do because she's "protecting" me. Or perhaps trying to make up for the past. I want a job, for my own extra spending money and for something I'm obligated to do. I need a reason to get out of bed in the morning. I know it'd feel good to actually work for something and be able to save up money for special things. Plus I want to save up to visit my boyfriend. She doesn't want me working. She actually yelled at me and accused me of wanting to move out. She even brought up that I said when I was 12 that I'd never leave her. I said that once, 18 years ago. And moving out isn't abandoning her (not that I intend to). I had to explain why I wanted to work. I'm also scared to tell her that my "friend" is actually my boyfriend for fear of her reacting badly to that and insisting I cut off connection with him. She's told me before that she thinks my friend "puts weird thoughts in my head" and that I "should stop talking" to him even though she knows he's the only friend I have other than her. But I think she feels that I shouldn't need any other companions other than her. The money situation is weird too since I have full access to her money but it's still hers. If I want something but don't want to actually buy it, she'll force it on me. Other times I tell her I want something and she'll complain about spending the money. Then times like this year, she decides to spend hundreds of dollars of her tax money on me for stuff I don't really want. I tried to tell her that I no longer find happiness in material possessions but she doesn't get it. I would much rather have her love and support than clothes and jewelry. This is one reason I turn to my boyfriend instead of her since I do get love and support from him, although he can't handle me at my darkest. The sweet guy tries but it's draining for him and I don't like putting him through that. I find myself trying to fake being normal as much as possible until I break.

Anyway, my mom has made a scene about a lot of my ideas. She got mad at me for making plans without telling her and for making plans that spend her money but I can't tell her about a plan unless I've come up with it first. And I did tell her prior to doing anything. In fact, I haven't acted at all without her permission. I want a job. I want to get my driver's license. I need to get glasses and/or contacts so I can drive. I needed to see a dermatologist for my skin condition on my face (something I put off for 6 years ). I did see the dermatologist back in March and it felt so good to have this taken care of. It's made me feel less insecure about my looks and it helped a lot since 6 years ago I had a bad experience with a dermatologist which deterred me from going again all this time. But mom has managed to make me feel bad about every single thing. She complained about all the money wasted on different soaps and stuff to take care of my face when I could've just gone to another dermatologist. Fair enough. She doesn't have to hang it over my head, though. Especially when I offer to pay her back with money from a job. Instead she refuses. It's like she wants to keep that control over me. I find I'm stuck doing things her way. She'll let me get a job, but I'm only allowed to work here at this hotel we live in. That's a lot like the hell we went through in the past. I spent time before housekeeping at a hotel in exchange for a room. This time it won't be like that, but the similarity brings back flashbacks. Something else she says I should just get over it because she has. She doesn't want me driving (long story there) and I have no one else who could teach me. Plus, in her opinion, even if she does teach me, I've got all the time in the world to learn. She's fine with me getting glasses, but again I have to wait until she wants to take me. I also plan on getting my own bank account. When I'm feeling a bit motivated, I usually sit around making my own indie games and I thought I could sell them. Of course, I can't have a paypal since she doesn't want that connected to her accounts. So I have to wait for her until she feels like taking me to the bank so I can get a separate account from her. Of course, she'll go out any time she feels like it to the store, but is making me wait on visiting the bank. I don't mind that so much but it's just hard and I lose motivation so easily, especially when she intentionally is trying to deter me from my goals.

I don't know what to do and it's impossible to talk with her. You can't point out anything to her about herself. She refuses to see it. She'll turn it around so that I'm the one who's wrong or insist that I'm living in her home on her money so I have to deal with things being her way. Or she'll just ignore me and walk out of the conversation. I want to confide in her but I can't. I wish I could rely on my boyfriend's help but we're too far apart at the moment sadly. I have no other friends to turn to. She took the initiative to talk to the folks here about me working which made that awkward for me but I've yet to hear from them anyway. Some days I don't even know why I try and fight for a change. I feel like giving up and giving in to the darkness. I would, if I didn't have my boyfriend to look forward to. And I wish I knew how to communicate with her. I don't like that our relationship has turned into this. She just takes things personal or gets mad at me. I can't handle confrontation and I know that's my fault. She's not going to do anything harmful to me, but her words tear me apart emotionally. I've tried to not let it affect me but with this depression it's so easy to get demotivated. I know I need to grow and get stronger but it's easier said than done. I don't know what to do or how to proceed. I'm tempted to see professional help but I'm also worried she'll complain about the cost and driving me there. I feel trapped and stuck like this.

Edited by Cinnamon_Teal

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Wow, I'm sorry that you are going through all that. From what you write, it does seem like she is toxic for you and trying to control you most likely out of her own fear. There is nothing wrong with you. You seem like you know what you need to do for your own wellbeing yet are up against difficult circumstances. I think that there is on-line therapy available that maybe you could try. Keep reading and posting here too. Than should help also. We will be here for you. You are not alone in this.

BW

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I am so sorry that you are in the situation you describe.  Wish I had some useful advice for you. 

Many people have told me that they were helped by self-help books dealing with the subject of "controlling parents" and "how to deal with controlling people."  There are probably articles on the subject on the internet too.  Some of the articles on the internet are probably of a practical nature and would offer very specific things one can do to gain some control over one's life.

I just did an internet search.  I typed "how to deal with controlling parents" and many articles came up.  I didn't read through many but the ones I looked at offered very practical advice.  Maybe that would be helpful.  I don't know.

- epictetus

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I'm sorry to hear how you're suffering. It sounds to me like you're being smothered and she's sabotaging all attempts for you to launch. 

I want to affirm a few things. You deserve and are worthy of a life of your choosing. This includes the freedom to make your own mistakes. You can love your mother, be a good daughter and live your own life - when you define for yourself what each of these mean. 

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Thank you all so very much for the responses and advice.

BeyondWeary, I believe you're absolutely right. I believe she's scared. I probably would be too in her situation. She has no family other than me (and she's all I have family-wise) or anyone else in her life she can truly rely on. She dealt with abandonment too in her life and it makes complete sense that she would become controlling and almost verbally aggressive from that fear. She loves me and cares a lot about me and her fear of losing me is likely driving her to this behavior. She's not normally like this and she was never controlling when I was a child either. In fact, I spent a lot of time away from her with friends or babysitters, etc. She raised me not so much as a child to mold but as she put it "a little person she met and was getting to know". It's now that I'm an adult and deciding to try to live life as I want to that she's suddenly gotten like this. Thank you again. I've been searching around for online therapy today and I think I found some helpful sites.

Epictetus, thanks for mentioning the articles. I read through quite a few and I found them very motivating. Many had good tips on how I can approach this situation and take control in a calm, constructive manner without hurting her. In my helplessness I never really thought to look up into this. In fact, I never really thought of her as controlling. I suppose she has gotten like that. She knows my weaknesses all too well. She's also always been a confident person (in action at least) who's not afraid to speak their mind whereas I've always been more timid and willing to bend to keep the peace. She was like me when she was younger, though, so she has personal experience with my type of personality. I feel a lot more motivated to stand up for myself now.

Atra, I really like the way you put that. It's really had me thinking. One thing she's always told me is that she raised me to not make the same mistakes she has; to be better than her. I do appreciate her goal of helping me learn through her mistakes but I never really thought about what mistakes she didn't want me to make and how she wanted me to be better than her. For example, I was always obsessed with getting good grades but she always said as long as I tried my best, that's what mattered. She never pushed me to make anything of myself. So that's not the "better" that she meant. I wonder if she doesn't trust me because she doesn't trust herself. Maybe she doesn't believe she did well raising me. I need to think about these things and maybe even ask her. As you say, I also have a right to make choices, good or bad, and to learn from them. I feel it's fine for her to try to keep me safe on some level but not like this. A person sometimes needs to fail in order to grow. I don't think I've grown as a person as much as I should have by this time in my life. I'm going to take some time to understand and define what those things mean to me.

I can't thank you all enough for the help and support. ♥ This really helped turn my day around and I don't feel as helpless anymore.

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Posted (edited)

You've survived a really tough path that I can't even begin to imagine.  Your resilience and recovery is nothing short of remarkable.  And you're clear on just what is going on with both parties, past and present.

My situation with Mom was a little different, but perhaps my experience will help.  Back in her more lucid days, I found I had to be the adult in the room.  That is, detach emotionally from whatever manipulations were being tossed at me and say, "Look, this is how it's going to be."  Albeit without success, I even pressed the matter of her seeking professional help. 

It changed our relationship.  It caused some tenseness, to put it mildly.  I suppose one advantage I had was that we weren't living under the same roof.  I had to walk away from her drama and toxicity more than once.  I simply refused to participate.  In that respect, since you mentioned you really don't have your own space, is that an option now?

idk if you can express many of the thoughts you've written here to her but, particularly on the empathetic side, those might be useful...provided she's even in a frame of mind to hear them.  It sounds like you're probably better with that skill than I am.

One glaring point I noticed.  It seems she's not working.  She sits in the dark playing video games.  Not to be harsh - I certainly don't know all the details - but why not?  She's an adult.  Maybe it's a guy thing, but that fact alone, to me, is leverage.  And I've got quite a few years on her.

Perhaps in a similar vein, if you're the breadwinner then it seems to me it's your rules.  You're already apparently taking on the role of parent to her child by default.  That's not good for either one of you, imo, but if that's the way she wants it....

You absolutely deserve to be happy in your own life.  You're not responsible for her happiness or self-inflicted misery.

 

Edited by MarkintheDark

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Thanks, Mark, for your kind words. It's very draining and some days I feel like it's pushing me far beyond what I can handle but being here on the forums has recently been helping me more than words can express.

Thank you for also sharing your experience. I'm very sorry to hear you had that trouble with your mom. It's good you didn't have to share the same roof with her, but I doubt that really made it any easier. It's amazing how you stood up for yourself. It's not very easy "being the adult" in situations with parents. Especially if they still see you as the child. I've never found detaching emotionally to be easy, especially with my mom since I crave her approvals and acceptance, but I think that's the best route to take in these kinds of situations. Even though I can't distance myself physically, I have been distancing myself from her during any kind of toxic situations. It may be rude, but I've taken to ignoring her if she says certain things and only participating in parts of the conversation that are healthy. It's my way of showing that I do love and care about her, but that I won't give in or be a part of something that's not good for me. I'll also be sure to remember that I'm not responsible for her in some ways. It's not my fault her life was hard. And she can find her own happiness. Perhaps she already has. It's time for me to find mine, though.

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Posted (edited)

I would like to post an update on my situation. And also apologize for not using quotes. It took me this long before I realized that was a thing I should do when responding to replies, haha.

I went ahead and spoke with the owners here at the hotel myself. They do want to hire me to work, but not for housekeeping as I was hoping and instead for the front desk. This isn't something I'm comfortable with but I don't want my anxiety ruling my life. Mom did try to talk me out of it at first, but she didn't seem to be doing so for selfish reasons. At least it didn't feel that way. If anything, she almost seemed confused since she knows I don't feel comfortable doing front desk work. Seeing that I've remained steadfast, though, she let it go quickly enough and is being supportive. Due to my refusing to work in the evenings to talk with my boyfriend, she did end up questioning me on that instead and did express her concerns about my friend possibly becoming my boyfriend, but I ignored that part of the conversation. I'm not ready to approach that subject yet. One step at a time. I respect that she doesn't trust him, but I don't plan on dumping him either. One thing that was brought up was that I have "changed" as of late and she thinks it's his fault. Perhaps he does have something to do with it, but that's not the entire reason. I made sure to give her a good explanation for everything she brought up and afterwards she let it go.

I did go ahead and share with her that I joined this forum. I used my shortcomings as a way of trying to break into serious conversation about life and what bothers me instead of pointing out her behavior or "attacking" her. She's not completely unreasonable and it seems that this is the best approach to reach her. I want her to know what's going on with me even if she doesn't fully understand. She actually admitted she doesn't trust me to do things on my own (which explains a lot about her not wanting to let me drive and such) and I admitted that I take some things she says too personally which ends up with my feelings getting hurt.

When I said I was going to pay her back for some things, like the money I've cost her for my face, she said I didn't have to. But when I told her I was going to split my pay with her, she seemed very touched and thanked me.

Thank you all again for the support and advice. I don't think I could have done this on my own without everyone's help. Just thinking about what you've all said has really given me some strength and energy to power through this. I think I may be making progress here. I do feel that I've drained a lot of my emotional strength though. I'm almost too tired to be anxious about the job, although I'm having trouble sleeping due to all this stress.

I wish you all plenty of days on the up ♥ And I hope I can one day help you all as you've helped me. I'm going to at least try to pass it on here in the forum.

Edited by Cinnamon_Teal

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The front desk job went well. I did training for only 3 days since they needed me to work the 16th through 21st (minus the 20th due to an early morning dermatologist appointment I had made two months ago) while they went on vacation. The owners are always here in the morning so I had to take over the morning shift from 7am to 3pm.

That first day was terrifying. Not only did I end up getting sick with allergies (and probably stress) but I had such bad anxiety that I only slept for 3 hours. The first customer I rented a room to, my hand shook violently as I held their license. By the second day I finally felt more comfortable. Slept about 4 hours that night but I managed. By the the third day, I found I actually enjoy the job. I'm still awkward with people and I still don't like messing with money that much but I began to feel less awkward and that was a nice feeling. Such a wonderful feeling to face my fears, power through, and overcome them! I felt so alive!

The day off was good and the dermatologist appointment went well but I was told yesterday night that they didn't need me this morning. The owners were coming back in the morning so the lady for night shift decided to just stay until they arrived. I didn't mind too much at first.

But during the day today I've started to feel more and more depressed. I feel bored and aimless. Who knows when they'll need my help again. Working made me feel so good. I looked forward to my free time and had all sorts of things I wanted to do when I got off work. I would actually do whatever I was planning on, too. Now here I am again, not feeling like doing anything. I have all the time in the day now and I don't want to do anything. I don't understand why I'm like this. I like feeling like I don't have enough time to do all the things I want to do. It makes me choose things to do that have a higher priority and makes me appreciate being able to do them more.

I also feel a little jealous of my boyfriend (not in a bad way). He has a very consistent job and his mother is willing to drive him to work since he doesn't have a car at the moment. But he's not like me. He hates working and he values having as much free time in a day as possible. He can't relate much to my situation (although he is supportive of me).

Mom was very supportive of me while I worked but I could tell she didn't really like it. She drank pretty heavily those days and seemed really down.

I put in an application a few days ago with a youtuber who is looking for a part-time video editor. Mom seemed pretty happy about that since I can always be here in the room. I don't think she can really understand how I feel and it seems our personal needs clash at times. I'm sure we can find a balance one day.

For now, I don't know what to do with myself.

Edited by Cinnamon_Teal

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