A Tingle In My Ribs - My Mother Triggers My Anxiety
I am the only child of a single mother who grew up in an abusive environment. As a child, I didn't experience - or at least, I don't remember - the kind of verbal abuse I know that I am suffering now.
I am seventeen, and only have a few weeks until my eighteenth birthday. While it is incredibly easy to understand that I want to wait out these last few weeks when I have lasted this long, I find it incredibly hard to cope with the problems between us now.
I think the problematic behavior began when she tried to quit smoking. The stop-smoking aid she took was said to cause aggression in people, and though she didn't take it long, I still feel like it started for real then.
She has tried to control me financially (and succeeded thus far), and every time I develop close friendships, she tends to interfere and try to drive a wedge between myself and them. She encourages me to have friends at school, and yet when I develop friends that I actually share common ground with, she does not like them.
I understand where she is coming from; in the digital age, she has had her own share of mistrust over the Internet, but I have not. Most of my group of friends is well beyond my "peer group," but I do not fit in with my peer group.
She snooped on my best friend and created a large problem about his age a few weeks ago. Though she has done this intermittently over the past few years, this time she seems to have latched on.
I think she knows that her time for control is running out, and though she has no grounds to sic the authorities on him or anyone else, she keeps threatening it. I don't feel like going to court or seeking help would provide anything adequate in the time that it would take for me to turn eighteen, but I still would like to find help.
I don't know how to handle speaking to her. When I attempt to speak to her civilly, she gets very defensive and confrontational and she refuses to hear my side of the story. She has talked to him and they came to an impasse, but she has continued to be manipulative to me.
I have been struggling with anxiety and depression for many years, but I also didn't seek help for that. I would like to feel better. I would like to be able to speak with my mother about how she treats me and others, and about how I feel when she exerts control. Can you help me?
Response from Dr. DeFoore
Hello, and thanks for telling your story here. I can tell that you’re a very bright person, and you express yourself very well. I respect the integrity and courage of what you have written here.
From what you’ve shared, it would be my guess that conversations with your mother at this point will not be productive, and could make things worse. I will make some suggestions about how you can process your feelings, and also about how to interact with her as long as you’re in her home.
I encourage you to get out on your own as soon as possible. Your current relationship with your mother does not seem healthy for you, and could be part of the cause of your depression and anxiety.
Here are my recommendations:
I encourage you to read this page about anxiety, and follow all of the steps for overcoming anxiety. You can do this, and it will really help you with your depression as well as your anxiety.
Try not to discuss anything personal with your mother. Keep your topics light and positive, so that you’re not sharing anything she can attach herself to. You’re a young adult now, and it’s time to begin extracting yourself from the dysfunctional aspects of your relationship with your mother.
Be polite with her, and keep all of your negative feelings in your journaling process (described in the link above).
Also, feel free to ignore all of my advice and trust your own intuition about what is the right thing to do. You’re the one living in the middle of this, and the more you trust yourself, the better. If nothing else, at least read the web page I linked, and do the exercises recommended. I know for certain that this will help you.
Believe in yourself, and begin imagining your future as you want it to be. You are the creator of your own destiny, and the more conscious about this you are, the better it will work for you.
My very best to you,
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