A little background: My mom, who is 61 years old adopted me when I was 10 months old. I am now 29, married, a SAHM, have an 8 month old DD, and one due in July.
I grew up feeling as though I was there to fulfill her and make her happy. I don't believe a child should be born (or adopted) with a job. She should have been there for me, but instead I got the distinct impression, even at an early age, that if I wasn't there she'd be utterly depressed. What an unfair burden for a child to feel that it's their responsibility to ensure their parent's happiness.
She is married, but it always felt like it was just me and my mom. When I moved out of the house 10 years ago, she had to go on anti-depressants. She seems to need constant reassurance, compliments and attention from others to be happy. Oddly enough, she doesn't seem to reach out to my dad in any way. She only wants attention from everyone but him. They eat dinner together, and then retire to separate rooms every evening. She reads her novels in the living room, and he watches TV in the family room. They've never been that close.
Not only does she seem to crave constant compliments, but she fishes for them to the point that she will give the same compliment to someone six times in an hour. She actually over-complemented my MIL's mashed potatoes once to the point that my MIL said, "Honey, it's just potatoes and milk.". Everytime she comes to our house it's like the first time she's seen it. All that aside, there's a bigger issue now.
She is starting to smother my DD and treat her the way she did me when I was growing up. She shows signs of selfishness and puts her emotional needs before our DD's well-being. She will hide the fact that she has a cold and hold our DD anyway. She kisses all over her face when she has a cold sore. I have now addressed these issues with her and she says she will work on it, but we shall see...
Not only this, but she is addicted to prescription pain meds, and isn't even the same woman anymore. She is always doped up and rarely remembers things you've told her, etc. I'm concerned about her destroying her health. I think she's using the pills as a coping mechanism to dull the pain and depression she feels.
I've read that the way to help someone with low self-esteem is to compliment them and help them feel good about themselves. This is a 61 year old woman we are talking about here, though. I feel to feed her emotional needs by over-complimenting her in return, etc. would only enable her, and not solve the real issue. She needs to learn to be happy for herself and with herself as corny as that sounds. Nobody else can fill the void that she feels for her (and I surely don't want her using my DD to try and fill it).
She does have childhood issues. Her father left when she was young and she's the oldest of four siblings. She had to help her mom raise them and they were poor. Alcoholism also runs in the family. I know that counseling would be very helpful to her, but it's not like I can suggest she get help, can I? I don't think she would listen...
What do I do to help her, and also make spending time with her less annoying in the process? I just want some semblance of my "old" mom back. She's only gotten worse since she's been addicted to the pills. Please help!
Your are great! You finally said aloud what you have inside of you, it is a very brave step!
I'm going to tell maybe odd thing, but all this story is the matter of you. You wrote absolutely right you can't and don't want to fulfill your mom's void. Everybody is responsible only for their owns lives.
You can't help your mom until she self wants to do something toward her needs. If something happened in our life, we incline to seek somebody or something that cause this situation. However, you are the cause-arisen situation. You write that prior to your father, there is no case, all the «soft» goes to you. After you left the house she began taking anti-depressant. You feel guilty, are not you?, and started blaming yourself for such bad behavior. But within you all is opposed to such a relation, you do not want to feel guilty and at the same time want to be a good daughter. After all, she adopted you. Realize now, please, what is: YOUR ARE NOT OBLIGED TO JUSTIFY YOURSELF IN FRONT OF ANYBODY AND YOU DON'T OWE ANYTHING TO ANYBODY. Make it your motto of life. At the same time, recognize that nobody owes you. Feeling guilty is an excess potential on its purest form. The thing is that concept such as good or bad don't exist in nature. To the balancing force, good or bad deeds are equivalent to each other. The balance will be restored in every case, whenever an excess potential is created. You've done something bad, you become aware of the nature of your deed, you then feel guilty ( «I should be punished») – an excess potential is created. You've done something good, you become aware of the nature of your deed, you then feel proud of yourself («I should be rewarded») – an excess potential is also created. The balancing force don't have an idea of why someone has to be punished or rewarding. They only eliminate the produced irregularities in the energy field. Do you like or not, understand or not, this world operates according to the laws of energy-information exchange. Everything in nature and in life tends to equilibrium. Trying to fill her emptiness, your mother unconsciously takes your energy. And you unconsciously give it to her. To interrupt this cycle you have to consciously abstract away from situation and move the focus of your perception not in the inner struggle with the situation and your mom, but on allowing it to be. Let it be. Become an observer beyond the dependence. Look at the mother as if she was a third person. How would you then have yourself? Have it felt. The feeling of guilt serves as a string by which the person can be pulled by manipulators. They are trying to impose a feeling of guilt onto their «charges», so that they'll have power over them and for their own self-assurance. Dependent relationships are created. As soon as you show that is ready to take on the feeling of guilt, your mom immediately sticks to you and starts sucking your energy. In order to avoid her influence, you simply have to refuse feeling guilty. Again, YOUR ARE NOT OBLIGED TO JUSTIFY YOURSELF IN FRONT OF ANYBODY AND YOU DON'T OWE ANYTHING TO ANYBODY. Don't you owe your loved ones something? The answer is no. After all, don't you care about them because you are convinced that it is the right thing to do, and not because you have to? This is a different matter entirely. If you are prone to justifying yourself, you have to stop doing that. Then your mom will know that there is no way she can hook on to you, and will leave you in peace.
Now ask yourself the question and try to imagine very clearly and frankly what is the ideal situation you see for yourself? I assume that you want to have as little contact with her as possible. Create the very clear image WHAT DO YOU WANT in details. See yourself in a pleasant situation, because it's true, isn't it? You are happy to spend time with your children (friends,
husband ...) you have a wonderful mood you are in your favorite business or you are just alone. All this must be submitted solely in a positive tone and in present tense. Do not say there is no mom here. In this case you just got it. Keep this image all time in the back of your head, back to it regularly. Always ask yourself the question meaningfully. Not «I do not want this and that», but «I want so and so ». Without «NO».
Set clear and specific boundaries, that you can let your mom and what you cannot accept. Quietly, without irritation. It's your rights. If you do not want your mother holds the child, kisses, etc., wake up to this point and say knowingly, you do not want that. Awareness – is the key to solving any situation.
You can even argue if feel that this is necessary, but internally in a state of suspended observer.
You have to be clear about WHERE you are WHAT you are doing and FOR WHAT? Usual reaction of a person is automatic. The time has come to live consciously. Also, let yourself be yourself and the others be different. You change the situation instantly if you consciously look at what is happening , internally letting it be and choosing what you want at this particular moment. Dare yourself act as you feel, not as orders «common sense».
Don't feed her with compliments .If you are doing a compliment, then do it wholeheartedly, when there is a feel impulse. Otherwise, it will be a fake. Are you need it?
So, work with yourself first. When you help yourself, everything around you will align properly. You should not worry about «How». Allow yourself be yourself.
Thank you for your reply. Honestly, I do not feel guilty in the least bit that my leaving made her depressed, or for any other reason. She has her own issues that she needs to deal with. It becomes a problem when I as her daughter not only hate seeing her destroy her health with pills and knowing that she is truly unhappy within, but when her unhappiness makes it almost unbarable to tolerate her company. She isn't just some friend, who if I find annoying I simply deside to no longer visit with. She is my mother and we do want her to be a part of our lives. I have told my husband that there are just some things she does that we have to make the choice to not let them bother us, but when it comes to her putting her selfish needs above our daughter's safety and well-being, I simply can't allow that. I have addressed these things with her. I had to e-mail her, as she simply refused to discuss them on the phone. We will see when we visit again if she does as we have asked with our daughter. I know I said that when I was a child I felt it was my responsibility to make my mom happy. I'm not saying I took on this job. I'm simply saying that I knew she was basically sucking me dry to make her happy. I don't allow her to do this. Others compliment her constantly because they know she's needy. I don't buy into this. I never compliment her (unless I truly mean it), and even when she compliments me, I simply ignore her. She has yet to take the "hint" from my ignoring her comments that I find them unneccesary, overdone and annoying. Another example is how she insists on basically chasing me around the house trying to hug me until I give her a hug when I come to visit. I am not a touchy-feely type person AT ALL, and the only person I have any desire to hug is my husband. She knows this. Why on earth would someone insist on trying to hug someone (when they are obviously trying to avoid it) when they know the person doesn't like to be hugged, except to fufill some selfish need within themselves? I hate hugging her! I feel like she is sucking the life out of me when she does it. I don't know why her self-esteem is so poor that she would take it personally that I don't wish to hug her, when I don't wish to hug ANYONE! It isn't my responsibility to make her happy, I know that. At the same time, I would like to see her get some help for herself. In the meantime, I just need to know the best way to interact with her. In other words, what is the proper way to respond to someone with low self-esteem (if trying to make them feel better about themselves, which doesn't work but temporarilly isn't the answer)?
Hello! That's very nice to hear you don't feel guilty. But, sorry me, we almost always hide our feelings coming from our childhood so deep, because of it's so painful, that we don't want to face it again. But... they are still there, waiting the time when we pay attention to them and let it go. What if I say you would not have such situation in you life if you really don't have this hidden feeling? Why I say like this? Simply because I went through similar situation. When I realized my deep guilt it had never come back. OK, only you can honestly answer this question.
May I ask you? Did your mother ask you about help? I assume the answer is "no".
.."and knowing she is truly unhappy"... Are you sure you know? Which opinion is here? That's You think she suffers. She does not. Why you decided she needs help? You put such heavy burden on your shoulders and took responsibilities to help her. But she does not need it. Imagine the situation, strange person approach you and say: "You have the problem, your act incorrectly, you live wrong way." What are you reaction? Indeed, you don't take it seriously, you ignore it or just say : "who are you to teach me how to live" . The same your mother. She knows how to live her life. It is her rights. She resists to do what you think she supposes to do(raise her self-esteem)She even may be does not realize she has low self-esteem. Release the situation. Release your responsibility. Surrender, and you get "win-win" solution. If the person does not want to change anything, you can't force her. She does not want to discuss with you about it (it's a sign, is not it?) And you are trying to insist on your point of view. You hate to see her destroying. Right, it's hard, I know.But again, that You can't accept you mom like she is. She is just your mirror. She shows you unconsciously what you have something inside of you that you can't accept.This is the reason of your unpleasant relationships. Understand, please, You can't change somebody's life. You can change only yours or at least change attitude to the situation. Nothing will change until you accept your mom with all her oddity and release your wish to help. Only after this you will be know from your heart how you can help her. You will get the solution made not by your logical mind, like you are trying now, but from the heart. And you will make steps in this direction. But - the outcome is only from God. No any expectations.
<> The answer is: CONSCIOUS inwardly acceptance and allowing her to be like she is. Forgive what she is like she is. You will get liberation. You need it, not her. Do it, You lose nothing, but the choice is always yours. I don't know for today any other way, logic and "common sense" does not work any more.
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Today's date: Sun, 25 Aug 2019 14:09:31 +0200