Dear Life Matters,
I am having a really hard time. I can’t even say what I really want to say because you won’t publish it. But I hope you are listening and really hear what I am desperately trying to say.
My mother is divorced. For a long time now I have somehow become her go-to guy, her best friend. Actually, I feel more like the parent than her son. She is constantly texting me messages about her boyfriend problems or her medical problems or whatever. It seems everything is a problem for her. I would call her a drama queen except I think the situation is worse than that.
I think she is one of those women who were strikingly beautiful (she used to model) and decided that all she needed was a rich man to take care of her and she would be just fine. Well, she has definitely had a number of well-off guys who did take care of her, but throughout it all I still was her best buddy.
It used to feel good, like I was somehow really special to her, but I am now beginning to see it differently. I feel special only to the degree that she can and does use me. She truly has no life or her own. She lives through others and she lives through me most of all and I do not know how to get away!
I am very ashamed to tell you the horrible things I have said to her and terrible names I have called her. But not even that works.
I am in my 20s and have always done well in school. I am one semester away from graduating from a prestigious university, but I just cannot seem to get it together and finish. I must admit that I have taken to smoking pot every day and, honestly, it is the only relief I have. It is the only way I can get away from her! I don’t know if it is the bud or my anger at her that keeps me from graduating?
She begs me to finish and she pays the tuition. I think she wants me to finish so, when all else fails, I will be there to take care of her. I cannot ever see a life of my own, for myself.
So, I do love her and want her to be well and happy, but I also harbor extreme rage towards her. I just hate her sometimes for being so selfish and robbing me of a life.
I can see that your situation is dire. It is most unfortunate when we have a parent who lives through us, which is what you seem to be describing.
I think most, if not all, of us love our mothers at some level, but it is certainly true that an intrusive and selfish one that cannot see that she needs to back off and let you breathe is intolerable. It does lead to extremely angry feelings; perhaps rage is the best term for this. We all need the space to be ourselves and grow into who we are meant to be. It sounds like you are being robbed of this experience right now and actually for some time now.
I think it is extremely sad when beautiful women (and it can happen to men too) just rely on their looks and charm to capture that person who will take care of them in the fashion that they see fit. It normally does not work. They can’t keep the relationship because it is too shallow or someone moves on to a younger model. Actually, I have counseled a good number of these women who have objectified themselves and many of them hate their husbands or partners, and they really are miserable. This is sad, but we need to first help you.
I think it is most important to focus on you right now! She is obviously getting to you, but let’s think of how you can gently back off and begin to take care of yourself.
Is smoking so much grass keeping you from finishing your college degree? If you step back and think for yourself, is this degree something that can put you ahead and that you would like to have, independent of your mother? Are you punishing your mother by not graduating when it might well be the best thing for you personally?
I think you should seek some counseling to separate yourself and learn to think for yourself and do what is best for you. Your university healthcare center most likely can and will provide you with no cost counseling. Get it now and do what is best for you.
We can tackle the mom problem later and most likely the college counselor can help with that too.
Mom needs serious help, but we need to start with you.
Dr. JoAnne Barge is a licensed psychologist and licensed marriage and family therapist with offices in Brentwood. Visit her at www.drbarge.com or send your anonymous questions to firstname.lastname@example.org