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Dealing w/childhood abandonment issues?
March 2, 2005
1:11 am
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nancee
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Does anyone know about how our childhood issues, abandonment, for example, effect our relationships as adults? I personally was raised by a mother who was divorced from my father when I was three and my brother was an infant. She remarried and we had a step-father over the next 14 years or so, off and on. So I never knew what it was like to have a father figure in my life for any length of time. He might be there, he might not...not that he was much of a father figure.

Over our early childhood years, she would from time to time 'abandon' us and leave us with our grandparents. I'm going to start talking about this as 'me' rather than 'us', as my brother died in a car accident when he was 19...again, I wonder, if our mom's emotional unavailability was part of the reason he chose to drink and take drugs to excess and had little regard for his life.
Since he's no longer here, I can only wonder about my own issues and how they affect me now as a so-called adult.

My grandmother has told me that when I was about 4 years old, my mother became upset when she would come to pick me up and I would totally ignore her. She was concerned enough that she took me to a child psych and was told something to the effect of the problem was coming from her and the way she related to me. So even at that young age, I was having issues with her.

She always worked and I spent most of my afterschool and summer time with my grandmother. She had a beauty shop in her house and was always home. I think in many ways, mom took advantage of that situation and sometimes would not pick me up for days at a time. One time, she even moved to another town to live on her own and just left us there with our grandparents. There went the 'us' again. I guess I see all the childhood stuff with my bro right there beside me. When I was 9 and my bro was 6, she began to send us to spend time with our real father who was basically a stranger to us. It was horribly traumatic to me. Some weekends I would just cry the whole time we were gone. I'm sure it was a relief for her to get rid of us for a couple of days so she could do whatever she did. Most of what I remember of her from that time when she was home is her always being in bed. We might have a fun Saturday with her every once in a while and go to town and maybe get a teen magazine or a new record and things would be good...but then they would just fall back into the same old pattern.

Nothing I ever did was good enough for her. I cleaned the house and cooked supper from the time I was big enough to do it. She would always pick out the one thing I didn't do to complain about.

When you are a child, isn't your mom the person who is supposed to hold you close and tell you how wonderful you are? that you're the most beautiful little girl in the world? that you can do anything and be anything you want to be? Isn't that where your confidence and self esteem originates? I did get those things from my grandmother but I think I always yearned to hear those things from my mother.

I was crying and talking to her a few weeks ago about my relationship with Will and the loss of my job and she said I had no self esteem. She told me I was usually smart enough to do anything I set my mind to, usually the smartest one in the group, yet I chose to hang in the background and let others get all the credit. She didn't understand what made me that way? (WHAT?)

March 2, 2005
1:25 am
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nancee
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Got so worked up I cut my post off. Does anyone think that maybe part of the reason I have low self esteem might be because I never felt that unconditional love you are supposed to feel from your mother? I spent much of my time with my grandmother, and when I would be with Mom and say something good about my grandmother, Mom would go into a rage and tell me to just go live with her if I loved her so much...she would start to pack my stuff. What little kid deserves to be treated like that? It haunts me to this day.

Which brings me to my big question? How much does this effect the relationships I have now? Is that why I always wind up with guys who are emotionally unavailable and indifferent? Pretty much the way she was when i was a kid. I feel like I never learned how to have a healthy relationship at the age when I should have been learning those things. At that age, had a step-father in the house, out of the house, mom fighting with him, making up with him and never explaining any of it to us. I guess I just don't expect any more for myself now than I had then.

How do I get past this and get comfortable with healthy relationships? Any time anyone is nice and tries to get close to me, I get scared to death and run as hard and as fast as I can to the nearest emotionally unavailable, selfish man who will have me. If he isn't around all the time, hey, never had a man around all the time when I was a kid, how is this any different?

My mom and I are very close now and talk about just about everything and that is okay until I say or do something that she doesn't agree with. Things were going very well between us until I lost my job...I was fired for being sick earlier in the year and missing too much work. I had medical documentation for all of the time I missed but they fired me anyway. Well, instead of being supportive, she wonders what else I must have done to have that happen to me. Because it all comes back to her in her mind. She didn't want to tell my grandmother because she didnt want her worrying...really she didn't want anyone to know that her daughter got fired.

She remarried about 12 years ago to a wonderful man that I call Dad. He treats me like I am his daughter and we have a great relationship. I worry that she is going to lose her marriage if she continues to be the control freak that she is.

I know that I have put way too much information out there for anyone to make sense of but maybe someone can relate to just one little part of it. Anyone know of a good book to read that would help me leave those childhood hurts in the past and get on with learning how to let someone be good to me? Anyone just have anything to say? I really need to talk about this.

nan

March 2, 2005
7:27 am
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hopeful for change
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Hey nancee, it wasn't to much information, it's strange because I was in a real similar situation. I to struggle with low self esteem and abandonment issues. Ofcourse it's related how couldn't it be!!!!!! I mean to me I just don't get it, I have two kids that are now 15 and 12 and have basically been a single mother their whole lives, well been married to a couple of different alcoholics, but they weren't the caregiver or anything. But I have never abandoned my kids, they are my world and I would tell anyone to go screw themselves if it came to my kids!!! I guess all of it made me be a better mom!

I am on my third marriage, and not hopeful it's workingout. What I am trying to say is that I keep doing the same thing over and over. I'm like struggling so much for someone to love me and cherish me and see that I am worth loving.

My first husband (kids dad) was emotionally unavailable completely, and an alcoholic. My second was an addict an alcoholic, but could say all the right things that I ever wanted to hear,he was physically abusive sometimes and really messed up. I tried saving him forever, I finally broke away, and he stalked me for years and did things to keep me scared to death and to hurt me.
My third husband who I thought was so different (the current one)- he was self employed made good money, clean cut, didn't do drugs etc. - Well he is emotionally unavailable to, never gives me the things I want or need even though I have explained it, begged, asked and pleaded. He is an alcoholic, and like the rest I have tried to do everything for him to show him I am worthy of loving.

Now that I am trying to take my hands off his stuff and take care of me, I have realized that he is n ot here for me in anyway. All he is is a financial providor. None of my other needs get met. I find myself missing my second husband constantly because I just miss the way he could make me feel, and give me the things I thought I would need.

Sorry to ramble, it's just I have figured out that this is all a result of my childhood, I have no self esteem or self worth, I try to get it from other people. I need to take care of me and heal this part of me, and I am trying but don't know how really..I mean when I think of leaving my husband I think someone out there will love me the right way, but with my patterns I will end up in the same situation.

Sorry to ramble...but i do think its all related

March 2, 2005
9:28 am
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Although I'm a man, I have many of the same issues. My father left us when I was very young, my mother went though periods of being unavailable and depressed and not knowing how to show us kids we were worthwhile and loved. She eventually married a jerk and he treated us terribly. I responded by self medicating at a young age and running away from home a lot.

So now I go through life thinking I'm not quite good enough. I assume at times that people will leave me or my insecurities get so much in the way, that they eventually do
(self-fulfilling?). I see relationships as hurtful and full of betrayal- not many women interested in that kind of thinking.

I've been divorced twice. The first time was my fault, take total blame there, was young and did some things that to this day I regret.

My second marriage was to a tough woman. Very distant, selfish and secretive. I knew things about her behavior that I didn't like but thought she would change or I could change her. Ha!

After my second marriage I was in another relationship with a wonderful woman. She was supportive and gentle and trustworthy. She showed affection and love and caring but I didnt treat her well. No matter how much she tried to explain her sincerity I must not have felt good enough about myself to believe her.

I don't think highly enough of myself. I look in the mirror and don't like what I see. I'm not unattractive but inside theres something that won't go away.

It's that little boy who felt so unloved, untrusting and pushed away, I want him gone cause i'm way too old for this

March 2, 2005
12:22 pm
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Yes, abandonment issues affect our relationships as adults, but they don't have too. Will write more later for you.

March 2, 2005
12:54 pm
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nancee
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I've read that as an adult, you choose partners that reflect an unresolved issue from your childhood and try to change that person or situation to make it work out. I think that's what I do, I choose emotionally unavailable men and strive to make them see me, treat me the way I was never treated as a child....I am constantly on my toes, ready to be abandoned at any moment and it happens. As Foggy said, self fulfilling prophecy. How do we break this cycle?

I know I have issues with my mother that I need to face now but it is so difficult to deal with her. She doesn't want to hear anything that might make her sound less than perfect. She always finds someone else to blame.

March 2, 2005
3:05 pm
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kathygy
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The first step is to stay away from unavailable men. They are easy to identify. Make a committment to never get involved with another one again. If you do that you will start feeling better about yourself and can make room for an available man. It may feel uncomfortable at first but tolerate the discomfort and it will pass. How you treat yourself effects yourself esteem so treat yourself like your best friend. Stay away from people who diminish you in any way and surround yourself with people who love and nutrue you. It sounds like your mother is not a safe person for you. Limit what you tell her if she is not supportive. Don't set yourself up for critisim from your mother.

March 2, 2005
3:07 pm
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EducatedMess
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Nancee,

I think your questions are valid. I also think that what you went through while a young girl was more difficult that you even imagined. You are now seeing the pain that was caused.

I recently lost my wife to drugs and an auto accident. Much like you and your brother, her mother abandoned her and her brother and sister at a very young age. She simply fell off the face of the earth for about 15 years. She resurfaced late in my wife’s short life.

My wife had a very addictive personality and a very low self-esteem.

After the accident, her mother took her little girl that I had raised for the last 4 - 5 years. Many of the family feel she did this out of guilt for leaving her children and she wants a second chance.

It is very apparent to me as well. She has one blamed me for all of the bad things that happened.

Abandonment is a terrible thing to deal with as a child. I think that it affects your entire life.

Thank goodness you are here asking the questions. My wife was almost 37 when she died and she had been suppressing the feelings for a long time and covering them up with secret drug use.

Keep asking questions. You will be surprised how many people are familiar with your situation.

Remember these types of issues when loving and caring for your own. Spare no expense to ensure your children are getting all they can out of their parents.

Good luck and God Bless

EDMEss

March 2, 2005
3:17 pm
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mytimic
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Yes, abandonment can affect relationships. I found out not too long ago that my issues of abandonment led me to have low self-esteem issues witch have entered into my life on a regular basis ever since I can remember. I had to sort through alot of old memories and found out that the beginning of the whole problem was my issues of being abandoned when I was a child. After sorting through alot of pain I was able to talk with my spouse about its affect on our marriage and even though it didnt remove all the bad feelings, I now know why they are there and he does to, and it helps.

March 2, 2005
3:43 pm
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chickyfighter
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Nancee, I also have been abandoned, or felt abandoned. Yes there are so many books out there, I am reading the one called "Women who love too much", and "Facing Love Addiction: Giving Yourself the Power to Change the Way You Love..." Both great codependent books, not only dod they help you see the you in them but how to fix it, and it gives you a look at the abuser as well. The first step for me was to realize I had a pattern/problem and mine was b/c I grew up w/o a mother or father being tossed around from uncle to grandma, to whoever would take us. I did not know my real parents until I was 8 y/o. It hurts but if you have kids, get help for them b/c you don't want them to face the pain you feel. I know we must do it for us too, but when you don't even care about you and care more about the man you love thenyou look into your kids eyes and you realize that the stupid choices we make affect them also. staying away from men who are as cold and unavailable is good to stsrt, but once you are in it and to stay strong it tkaes support groups sometimes, there should be a codependent support group near you. I am attending one this wekend, I'll let you know how it worked out. Stay away from peopl who bring you down right now such as your mother. I had to learn to that w/my parents. You have to love you and nurture yourself back to a healthy lving you, no man will ever love you unless you love you and don't accept anything but the best. I am work in progress believe me, It is hard.
Will write more later, goto run!

March 2, 2005
4:01 pm
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pedalsa
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Nancee,

From what I've read and my own life your childhood sounds like a classic recipe for co-dependency. I am just learning about his in myself. My mother came to town this weekend and we went to church which has become very important to me. I became aware that my stomach was in a knot waiting for the minister to say something that would offend her because she has lots of issues with religion. It made me remember that I felt that way all the time as a child: watchful, careful, protective. I never knew how she would react. I think that maybe that is one reason it is so hard for me to know my own emotions- I really wasn't allowed to feel mine. I have joined a coda group and it is very helpful. It is under the 12 step umbrella at my church and would help you understand the alchoholic partners as well. I just started reading it but I have heard so many good things about a book called "Search for Significance" and it has opened my eyes in a very practical way to some issues. Good luck. You are on the right tract.

March 2, 2005
4:22 pm
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nancee, reading all these posts made me realize we aren't alone. My patterns are obvious.

I really believe what one of the posts said about not revealing to much and subjecting yourself to your moms critisicms. My parents and I have had a decent relationship for about a year now. I don't tell them the personal stuff. I always felt their love was conditional. If I was living my life the way they see fit.

Being in a relationship with them again, is good. However, it hasn't healed me. My dad is still emotionally unavailable, he may be there physically, but the way he was then is still the same.

March 2, 2005
7:24 pm
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nancee
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I feel better already just talking about this. What is it they say, admitting there is a problem is the first step to curing it? I bought the book "Women Who Love Too Much" a few months ago but never read it. Maybe it's time to dust it off and see what I can gain from it.

Everyone cross your fingers for me, i have a job interview tomorrow morning at 10:00 and got another call about a job today. That will be the first step toward dealing with my mother is getting a job and financial independence. I've seen over the years that she controls me by buying me things, even at my age (38). Now that I dont have a job she is just waiting for me to ask to borrow money so that she can come to my rescue and then throw it back in my face every chance she gets. Part of me feels so bad talking about her like this, I do love her more than anyone else in this world but getting along with her is a full time job.

EdMess, I am so sorry about your wife. That scares me to think the same thing could have happened to me. I have an addictive personality and tend to overindulge in everything, be it food, alcohol, sleep, etc. I hate to think of the pain your wife lived with.

One thing I am sort of thankful for is that I haven't had a child yet. There is a part of me that I think has always been afraid that I would treat them the way I have been treated. I don't think there's a chance in hell that I would do that to my child, but I definitely need to deal with these issues first. Thanks for all your input.

March 2, 2005
9:41 pm
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Nacee, many blessings on your job interview tomorrow!

March 3, 2005
3:19 pm
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Thanks, Chicky. It went well. It was just with a staffing service but the lady seemed very impressed with my resume and will be trying to find a job for me. But the really good stuff is tomorrow. I got a call yesterday from a hospital I had applied with and I have an interview with them tomorrow afternoon. Then when I got home from my interview this morning, another clinic that I had applied at called and scheduled an interview for tomorrow after the first interview. When it rains it pours, huh? I would love to get hired at either place I am interviewing with tomorrow, they both have really good benefits. Everyone think positive thoughts for me to do well. I need a job soon so that I can start dealing with my other issues.

March 3, 2005
3:48 pm
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Glad to hear about your jobs interviews Nancee. Keep us posted we want to share your joy, you go girl!

March 3, 2005
10:07 pm
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March 3, 2005
10:22 pm
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nancee
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you know, I can't blame everything on my mother because I am just as guilty as she is. Sometimes I don't know where she ends and I begin...the mother-daughter thing can be so powerful, I need to learn how to break the ties without breaking her heart. That's why usually I just go along with whatever she says because it's easier than arguing with her. One thing that really bothers me is the fact that she still tries to dictate my emotions. I have tried to tell her I am 38 years old and there is little probability I will change. I am an emotional girl, always have been, always will be. She gets mad when I cry, acts irritated when I tell her about a panic attack I had at work or wherever...like she doesn't believe me. She doesn't believe or understand what it's like to have an anxiety attack and to cry uncontrollably, regardless of where you are or who is around you. I think I have had some that were probably pretty close to having a nervous breakdown. I think she feels like any weakness in me is a reflection on her. I have tried to tell her that the anxiety thing is my problem but I think she feels guilt over the way she raised us when we were little and I think she feels responsible and maybe that is why she is so uncomfortable discussing the situation with me. She just doesn't get me and never will. It hurts but that's how it is. It breaks my heart that I can't sit down and discuss all of this with her because she would feel I was blaming her rather than just trying to understand how her behavior has affected my behavior. It's like she feels she owns me and has the right to direct my life when she sees fit. Like I'm her possession rather than her daughter, a separate person. How will I ever figure this out?
I am going to get out Women Who Love Too Much and start to read. Can't change my behavior until I understand it. I've just been rambling and not making much sense but it's making sense to me.

March 8, 2005
10:47 pm
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Hi Nancee,
I'm glad I found this site. I just found it through a search because the same issues that you've been dealing with are coming back into my life and I'm not dealing with them well. It was interesting reading your posts because a lot of what you've been through is exactly what I've been through. It's kind of comforting knowing that I'm not the only one, because lately I've felt very isolated and alone. I'm married to a good woman, who is understanding, but I'm not completely comfortable talking about the things I'm dealing with in my head right now with her. I wish I had a magic solution to offer to you, but right now it's just nice to be able to read and share with you and others in this thread. I'm 27, and until recently I've always been able to shut the door on these feelings when they start and just go forward with life, somewhat happily. As I said, I've dealt with a lot of the same things you have. My parents divorced when I was about 5. My mom was completely irresponsible. She was never a parent. I was never disciplined by her, ever. She used guilt on me to get me to do what she wanted. I wish I would have been as responsible as you were. You mentioned that you cleaned and cooked from the point that you were able to. I didn't take that initiative. My mom wouldn't clean, the house got to the point that the entire kitchen was full of garbage bags that sat there for, I don't know how long. I wasn't allowed to go in the kitchen, nor was I allowed to go outside. She would guilt me into not going out. I tried many times to go out and play, made it to the door, but the guilt she used kept me inside. When we would go somewhere was the only I could go out. Luckily I spent a lot of at grandmother just like you did. Every day before and after school I woul dgo there. My grandmother was absolutely wonderful. Thank God for her. I grew up in California, and ended up in Wyoming with my wife, where we live now. What has brought these issues back into my life is my mom moving here because my sister couldn't deal with her any more. She is still irresponsible and hates working, and does what ever she can to not work, therefore making my sister and I responsible for her. She moved and lived with us for 2 months and finally moved out to a house 3 doors down from us. Yes, 3 doors down from us. Things seemed to be goin okay until about 2 weeks ago, when I could tell by what she was saying that she is getting to try to loose her job and move back with us. So here I am. The stress has been building and building and this outlet is great to have. I never thought I would do this, but I've just started talking with a couselor, which is a nice outlet. I recommend it if you can do it. I used to be a full time student at the college here, and now I'm taking one class, but it allows me use the counseling services at the college at no cost. If you're able to pay a counselor that is great, but if not, you can find people in the community that are available to you. If you're like me, you're used to dealing with things yourself and are reluctant to see someone, but don't be ashamed to do it, that's what they're there for. At this time, I would support your idea of breaking ties with your mother. The things that your and my mother do to us with their mind games is very malicious. Sometimes I ask myself, "Is she doing this intentionally? Maybe she doesn't mean to do what she does to me. Is the front she puts to make herself look innocent really her, or is she actually this mean person?" The other day I was over at her house fixing a faucet for her and a subtle thing happened that solidified my opinion of her. She was telling a story of how hard things were going for her, although in reality it wasn't hard at all. I was looking down at the faucet while she was talking, and at one point I looked over at her. She had allowed what I think was probably an intentional tear sit on her face and she was just staring at me with her eyes as big as they could be. She had been holding the same position and when I finally looked she just kept it there for me to see. Again, she is trying to use guilt to manipulate me. My opinion is now solid. She does all of this intentionally. It is all planned out. I can't say what your mother's intentions are, but for people like us, our sanity may rely on cutting ties with people who intentionally do this to us.
I wish you hapiness.

March 9, 2005
12:53 am
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irongrl
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Nancee,
I read your post and I have many of these same issues. I am currently reading a book by Debra Mandel, "Healing the Sensitive Heart". I think this book would really help you as it deals with the issue of childhood abandonment and abuse and how these things affect our relationships in adulthood.

All my best

March 9, 2005
1:27 am
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orangeboy
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nancee, i just read this post and kept getting these sorta chills, because you sound like you could be me talking for about 95% of it. wow. we should talk.

March 9, 2005
11:12 pm
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nancee
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September 27, 2010
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Wow, I feel so blessed to have so many who share what I am going through. My mother and I had a big blow out Monday because I don't want to date the guy she wants me to go out with. I am not ready to date anyone right now. I try to get her to understand that I am working on myself but she doesn't quite get it. Anyway, as it turns out, my uncle who is very ill was admitted to the hospital Monday night and mom and I have made peace for now, although she continues to bring up Paul, the guy I don't want to date. He is possessive, clingy, needy, everything I do not need in my life. She and I have agreed that we need to be concentrating on family right now and trying to get along. She told me today that she will love me no matter whoever I end up with but it's all about control with her. This guy, Paul, is friends with my step-father and mom thinks he is just wonderful but she is not the one who would be dating him. He is moving near them so I know she wants me with him so I will be nearer to her and she can get me under her thumb again. I am thankful that I can still to this day talk to my grandmother about these control issues my mother has and she understands. And I am also able to talk to my uncle who is ill, he is my mother's younger brother. My whole family knows how she is and just tolerates the control thing. But if anyone should say anything to her (mom) about being controlling or bossy, she completely loses it. I love her so much and would never want to lose her but it is so difficult to get along with her sometimes, like lately. It seems so silly to me that we are arguing over a guy that I have no feelings for but friendship. I have explained to him that I just want to be friends for now and if anything more happens between us, great, but I do not want to rush things. He doesn't seem to understand. He thinks we need to talk every day and I dont' feel that I need to talk to him that often. I am very independent and feel like he is crowding me. I have explained this to my mom too. I have told her that I can't force a relationship, that it may or may not happen. I think she is wanting me to hook up with him and have a child so she can be a grandmother. She doesn't realize I am just stubborn enough that if she doesn't leave me alone, I will make sure I never have a child.

She and I have issues that I just feel like I just deal with on my own and hold inside. I sure can't talk to her rationally about some of these things. My only sibling, younger brother, was killed in a car accident when he was 19. It understandably affected all of my family deeply. I feel guilt to this day for being the one who was left alive and he was the one who died. Sometimes I think my mother resents me for still being alive. When I tried to remind her the other day that I deal constantly with depression and anxiety, she threw in my face the fact that she has been depressed since my brother died 17 years ago and she wakes up to it every day, as if I should be able to deal with it if she can. My point is that everyone deals with depression and anxiety in different ways. I feel very fragile at times and when anxiety hits, I will cry uncontrollably, no matter where I happen to be. She cannot understand this and I think she believes I am just weak. I guess it's something thats hard to understand unless you've been through it.

I don't feel like I can break ties with her, so I guess I will just go back to not telling her anything personal and pretending like everything in my life is fine. That's the only thing I know to do right now. It's so hard when the person you love most is so hard to get along with.

Me Too, I'm sorry your mother is forcing herself into your life. It's good you are going to counseling and have someone to talk to. I think it's very important to have a place to vent. I am looking into counseling too. I wish you luck in dealing with your situation.

Irongrl, thanks for the book suggestion, I am going to look it up on amazon.com right now.

Orangeboy, I'm not on here all the time but check in often. Any time you want to talk...

March 14, 2005
12:46 am
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nancee
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Hey, did all my friends on this thread 'abandon' me? LOL!!!

March 14, 2005
8:26 am
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trying2getwell
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I hope one day I have as much sense as you do. Sounds to me like you're doing everything right. Good luck with your mom, though. Sounds like you might need it. I say keep on doing what you're doing.

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