I’m a 47 year old woman, and my mom has been living with me & my husband & kids for the last decade because, at the time she & I were evaluating her housing options, I couldn’t stand the alternative –government housing. She is an immigrant & in our culture, a child doesn’t send her mother to government housing. The cultural obligation to care for one’s parents is said to be an honor, after all, they gave us LIFE! –But in reality, it feels like a big drag. My thought is that I can’t live my life the way I want to as long as she is here, AND that that truth makes me a bad daughter. It is painful and pervasive. Here are some example scenarios:
*She tells me how to do every last thing, down to which spoon I use to stir the batter.
*She gets wounded if I can’t entertain her whenever she wants. If I set up boundaries around my working time, she *says* she thinks it’s good, but then she accuses me of being “American” and “White” and she gets icy.
*If I declare I’m no longer eating sugar, or snacks or breakfast, she’ll still offer me some, and when I decline, she tells me I’m militant.
*She LOVES me and tries so hard to show me the only way she knows how: by offering to do everything for me, even if she is sick or clearly doesn’t want to, like a martyr, and even when I clearly do not need or wish for her help.
I have an unrelenting feeling of shame around her that I feel like I can’t escape, and it’s so deep and so uncomfortable that I think I am literally sick over it. Below is this morning’s model.
[Background: I have a new-ish IUD and have been having some unusual cramps on one side for two weeks. I made an appointment to have it checked, but I’d been hiding it because I didn’t want to face the panicky 3rd degree I would get if I told her I had an appointment (especially because it’s about a birth control device). I had arranged for my husband to drive our daughter to school, and then I was going to walk to the (nearby) doctor’s office, simply offering to my mom that I was going to take a long walk. What I hadn’t planned on was developing an incapacitating neck-ache last night]:
C: The neck ache I went to bed with was still limiting my movements this morning.
T: Oh my God, this is going to make my mom freak out.
A: try to hide it, don’t make eye-contact, try to minimize it, refuse her help, be easily annoyed by her, try to just do everything myself before she could get in the way and try to do it for me, use a belittling tone, tell her every idea she has won’t work, even though they might, and – importantly – I cancelled the doctor’s appointment I had because I couldn’t figure out how to explain that I was going to take a long walk when I could barely move my head.
R: I don’t get the medical reassurance that I want
I’m not sure my model is quite right, nor am I sure where to go from here. Help!