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Posted by: VK | 2010/05/20

I think i need to apologize to mum

Hi there. I am a married 20-something woman. I am moving house in a few weeks and my family are coming up to gauteng for a couple of days to help me move (mum, day and younger sister). I have to add that I have moved house twice before in the past 3 years and so i know what is involved. Anyway, growing up, i always felt somewhat incapable in the eyes of my mum, i was shy, scatterbrained and did nothing but study... So my mum used to say things like " I dont know how you will manage on your own"  and similar things. Socially, she would whisper in my ear to prompt me to speak/greet relatives - which was pretty demeaning as it implies that i was some kind of socially stunted person. I grew out of this quite well. But she continues with such promptings. Things like " Do you clean your oven"  and " How can you speak to your mother in law like that"  , " I hope you will be cleaning the new house before you move in"  and " You must label the boxes you pack so you know which room they must go into"  - i mean hello - that is SO obvious!!! I felt so stupid and incompetent - and when i tried to explain to her that i would appreciate if she had some faith in my ability to manage things - she accuses me of being angry and shouting at her. I wasnt, but in her head, any disagreement with her is " anger, irritation and annoyance"  on my part. So effectively, and this is a recurring thing, she is telling me that i have no space to tell her if she has hurt or offended me. I am very frustrated as i know that what she has taken from the conversation is this " My daughter is impossible to speak to, i did not intend to hurt her, she gets upset about everything, i am not going to speak to her because she will shout at me"  Now - do i apologize for this? Wouldnt i be reinforcing the rescuer role i have so often played (she was and still is abused by my alcoholic father) I got a bit irritated with her when she told me some really obvious things and i told her to stop stressing because i have it under control. Must I apologize for my irritation??? Its amazing how your parents can make you feel like useless and nothing :-(

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

I don't se what you should apologise for. What she is doing is indeed iritating - but need only be mildly so, unless you give her the power to annoy you. So, like many older folks ( and surprisingly many younger folks ) she is locked into her habits, one of which is to see you as needing and benefitting from her wisdom and advice. You could choose to indulge her, not by accepting that you ARE actually inept, but by simply smiling and saying " Yes, I have" to all her suggestions.
IF she didn't have this role in your life ( as she sees it ) she might run a serious risk of seeing HERSELF as (useless and nothing ) someting she won't be keen to face.
I'm wondering why she and your sister are coming up from CT - do you really need their help in moving, or is i more of a sort of family tradition, which plays into HER rescuer role ( which makes her feel better about your occasional rolse as her rescuer ) ?

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Our users say:
Posted by: KV | 2010/05/20

Thank you for your response. Well they are coming up (from dbn) to help because she says its a tradition that we " help each other when big changes happen in each others lives" . To be honest, we had quite a disagreement about this a few weeks back. Mum:"  I wanted to come up but i dont want to inflict dad on you "  (he''s alcholic and destructive) Me: " Well thats up to you, just decide and let me know, my door is always open"  Mum: " I wont come up if you dont need me, i dont want to be a burden to you or anyone" .......So i eventually relented, made as if i really needed the help of her and my dad and my sister to satisfy her need to see us (hubby and I) every couple months, and I guess to let her feel needed. I dont need their help to be honest. I think she might be hurt if i said i didnt need her help.

Hmm.. that was an " aha"  moment right there.
What do i do though?? I dont want to hurt her. But i realize that in order to break out of our victim-resucer-perpetrator triangle,i need to do this.

Reply to KV
Posted by: cybershrink | 2010/05/20

I don't se what you should apologise for. What she is doing is indeed iritating - but need only be mildly so, unless you give her the power to annoy you. So, like many older folks ( and surprisingly many younger folks ) she is locked into her habits, one of which is to see you as needing and benefitting from her wisdom and advice. You could choose to indulge her, not by accepting that you ARE actually inept, but by simply smiling and saying " Yes, I have" to all her suggestions.
IF she didn't have this role in your life ( as she sees it ) she might run a serious risk of seeing HERSELF as (useless and nothing ) someting she won't be keen to face.
I'm wondering why she and your sister are coming up from CT - do you really need their help in moving, or is i more of a sort of family tradition, which plays into HER rescuer role ( which makes her feel better about your occasional rolse as her rescuer ) ?

Reply to cybershrink

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