Something is off in the way I respond to my mother

Discussion in 'General Advice' started by TwoBrokenMirrors, Mar 28, 2015.

  1. TwoBrokenMirrors

    TwoBrokenMirrors Merely a whitebait in the mayo of life

    I don't know if it's her fault or mine or both of ours, probably both. Though of course I want to blame myself entirely. First, know that my mum is not abusive; this has been fairly well verified.
    Here is an exchange we had this morning, after a brief discussion about how me having to go to one of my volunteering gigs would impact her going out, and me telling her how I got sent home early from last week for being so tired and how I wasn't entirely sure it wouldn't happen again this week.

    Her: You know, if you're going to commit to something then you really have to go and do it properly, and if you're too tired to do the job then you should admit to that early. The worst thing is when they don't- (I sort of interrupted her here, i think she was going to say something like 'they don't know if you're going to be able to do the job or not when you get there')
    Me: But I didn't know I'd be that tired. I just got there and bam, no energy. Like, I'm tired now, but if I stay this level of tired I'll still be able to do the job, I just don't know if I will until I get there.
    Her: Mm. -a couple of minutes later- I would say that you should go to the doctor to check for thyroid problems if you're that tired. You're not really doing much you know- you're doing half days and a dog walk, that's not even close to the amount of work people do in a real full-time job. I understand that you might not be used to it, but if it's physical tiredness then you should go to the doctor. If you think it's emotional then you're already doing something about that (referring to my CBT).
    Me: Yeah.
    Her: -again, a couple of minutes later after she'd taken the dog out for a brief wee and come back in- And you should eat better. You don't eat, and when you do eat you eat sugar, and then you will crash. You should get up ten minutes earlier and make a proper breakfast- cheese biscuits aren't really going to cut it (referring to my habit of taking a small bag of cheese biscuit things on my dog walks). I know it's annoying, but you should.

    Typing that out now, everything she said looks entirely and completely reasonable. But I reacted to it badly- it made me feel completely defeated and miserable. I think this is because of the following reasons:
    • The assumption that I don't know that I ought to do the job if I've committed myself to it, and that I'm somehow being insensitive by not phoning them up and going 'too tired, can't come in'. As I explained, I often don't know if I'm going to be too tired to do something until I'm there and whoops, there's no energy left. When I think back, I can kind of see a pattern of her frequently telling me that I have to 'take things seriously' and I can't 'mess about' if I'm going to do jobs and stuff, as though she assumes that my default will be to waltz in and go 'hi, i'm here to fuck about and make everyone's life difficult with my demands'. If I ever said, or say, that I didn't like doing something, or that something was tiring, her response was and is almost always something like 'well you know you'll have to do that a lot in secondary school/sixth form/university/a job', or 'that's life, you'll have to get used to it'. I also frequently got told 'you know, university/a job will require a lot of self-discipline, and you're not always very good at that'. Well up yours mother, I got through university just fine applying self-discipline at least sometimes, even though I have the idea that I'm shitty at it and are therefore afraid of trying to go for any jobs- like writing- that require it.
    • The going to the doctor is probably a good idea, and I was actually kind of thinking of that myself; thyroid problems are not completely unthinkable, as mum herself has them, and I was actually tested for them when I was quite young because I kept having to go lie down at school in the afternoons (though the tests came up negative that time). But I have this thing where I deeply resent being advised to do things like that, especially by my mum- I just dislike it a lot more than it warrants. This is definitely a problem with me.
    • The minimisation of what I'm currently doing kind of hurt, as well. I was talking about this with another friend, who is much older than me and has been a teacher for many years so she has, you know, life experience- and while she did say that I ought to keep doing what I'm doing to see if I did adjust to it, she also said that it sounds like I'm actually doing a lot. And I am not really used to doing the amount I'm currently doing, but the implication that really it's not very much and that I ought to get used to it tout suite because when I get a real job I'll be doing LOTS AND LOTS MORE ALWAYS is, well, sort of hurtful to me, as well as terrifying because jesus, if I'm so tired doing what I'm doing how the fuck am I going to cope with having a proper job? This is very likely again just a problem with me being oversensitive.
    • The eating thing. It's true I don't have a pattern of eating that's very good, but the idea that I don't eat and then eat sugar isn't actually very true- these days I'm making more of an effort, and semi-frequently buy food when I'm out the house in town on the way to my volunteering, and no it's not sugar, it's usually a supermarket sandwich or a steak bake from Gregg's. But of course mum doesn't see that. It's true that I usually don't eat breakfast, but to be honest it's because usually at that time in the morning I don't want to eat; this morning I knew I should, because I was going horse riding which takes a lot of energy, so I made one slice of toast, ate half of it and ended up throwing the other half out because I couldn't make myself eat it. I mean sometimes I can eat, but if I can I usually try to, so 'getting up ten minutes earlier to make breakfast' isn't going to do much. Even eating the cheese biscuits on my walk is sometimes something of an effort and can make my stomach go weird and crampy. The cheese biscuits are an actual attempt of mine to get something in me early on so I don't get cripplingly hungry later. But 'snot good enough apparently. Plus I don't fucking want to get up ten minutes earlier. I feel like I need all the sleep I can get, and the evenings are when I actually get to partake in what socialising I can with the people who really matter to me.
    So really, most of this is not a problem with my mother, it's a problem with me. But I don't know how to stop interpreting everything so badly, or fix my eating, or anything. Except by moving out, which is... too big and complex a step at the moment, even if it probably would actually fix a lot of things. So I suppose I'm asking for advice on that.
  2. albedo

    albedo metasperg

    I think those are pretty legit annoyances, although I also think they're pretty normal for folks who still live with their parents as adults. This reads as 'normal level of conflict with parent, + sperg issues', not abusive.

    You want to be treated like an adult, because you ARE one. But your mom sees any case where you're 'not doing things right' as a sign of immaturity. Not of, you know, not being a perfect bodhisattva yet, or of having reasonable, adult differences of opinion.

    This is pretty common, I think; change blindness means that parents often have a hard time seeing their kids as adults, instead of as kids or teenagers. It's the same reason it's probably jarring for you when your parents start getting grey hairs, or when your brother is suddenly going off to Adult Life instead of being in middle school. Pain in the neck, but moving out and demonstrating you can adult on your own is the best thing I've found for that; it's just really hard to fix when you're still living with them.

    Also, sounds like she's neurotypical, and has trouble understanding that your brainstuff makes things take more spoons than they would for neurotypical people. E.g., too much work makes you overloaded and crash, which also means that you don't have the spoons to call people and tell them you're out of energy.

    For what it's worth, the sudden tiredness sounds like either spergy stuff (thing most people wouldn't notice wear you out a lot, like loud noises or talking to people), or depression (fewer spoons than most people, making yourself Do Stuff is hard), likely both.

    Your mom's definitely not being super empathetic about this, but in a pretty normal-if-sucky way. I don't think you're being oversensitive; those things hurt, especially when they come from someone you care about and who you would expect to know you better than to say that. Sounds like you're handling things like a totally reasonable-if-not-perfect-yet adult.

    I think talking to the CBT person would probably be a good idea, both to help you find ways to predict when you're going to crash and to conserve spoons, and to confirm that these are Legit Issues, not just you being a hypochondriac. Sometimes confirmation from an authority can convince parents, when your own words won't.

    And yeah, not eating breakfast sounds reasonable. Any chance you can take a snack with you so you can just munch when you actually get hungry? I also find that bland stuff in the morning helps with the morning-nausea; for me, it definitely seems to be 'it's been too many hours without food, so I stopped being hungry and the thought of food started sounding gross' in the mornings.
    • Like x 1
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