Lose Your Shit Day Preparation: Q of the Day
I really identified with Fury…I have a fucked-up relationship with my mother. I don’t live at home anymore, but she still totally dominates my life. She loves never runs out of ways to make me feel bad. She criticizes everything. My boyfriends, my friends, my job, my clothes, my apartment. She’s controlling and bitchy, but telling her to back off only makes it worse . She never thinks she’s the problem. How can I lose my shit at her?
So, I might be wrong, but it sounds like you want to know how you can establish better boundaries?
First off, it might help you to reflect on the circumstances that made her the woman and mother she is. Was your mom abused as a kid? Did she have a good relationship with her family? Chances are there was something fishy there, some dysfunction that made her clingy and engulfing. She had to become a “fixer” and develop a false self in order to survive her childhood.
I know you don’t buy it. To you, her “concern” feels manipulative. But reflecting on your mom’s past might help you find some empathy for her, and it might help you accept that she’s not willing or capable of change. People who develop false selves in order to survive emotionally can’t just rip off the mask; they don’t know who they really are underneath or what’s there feels worthless.
I think the best way you can lose your shit is to mourn the little girl who felt like her mother didn’t care who she was, how she felt, what she wanted and thought. Nothing you did or could have done could have altered your childhood for the better.
If your mother has difficulty with boundaries, chances are you do too. If your mom hasn’t accepted that you’re two different people, chances are you haven’t either. Once you psychologically separate from her—once you begin to recognize and accept that you’re your own adult person—she might begin to come around to the idea too.
Of course, she may not like it. She might try to tighten her grasp around you even more, and go double-time on her criticisms. She might get even more controlling and make even more efforts to pull you back into childhood. If that happens, you may need to step back from the relationship a bit, even if it’s just emotionally. Don’t tell her anything that would hurt too much if you she doesn’t show an empathetic response. Don’t demand compassion from her, she might not be capable of it.
Next, you’re going to have to silence the critical mother in your head. Chances are, you’ve internalized a lot of her criticisms. Maybe in times of stress, you bully yourself the way she would. ‘Oh X,’ you say… ‘This is soo like you. Why can’t you do anything right?’ You probably have to learn to treat yourself with more compassion.
The next time your mom gets a dig in, just say something like, “Thank you for sharing your opinion.” Then change the subject or walk away. Remember, the criticism isn’t about you. It’s about her. She hasn’t dealt with her emotional wounds the way that you are. The hurt little girl inside her needs attention and she needs to feel helpful.
Just keep working to accept your mom’s limitations; grieve your childhood disappointments; separate psychologically from her; identify and reframe the negative messages she gave you; get further in touch with your own feelings, values and belief systems; and continue to identify which patterns and behaviors you don’t want to pass down to your own kids when the time comes. You’ll be just fine. And remember it’s better to this at your age than it is to wait until you get to her age.
wishing you lots of love and luck,
- January 31 2012 | - Read More →