Crashing with Friends, Controlling Mothers, and Complete Chaos

Rashell describes her recent difficult experience of moving our of her parent’s home to distance herself from a painful relationship with her mother. This was first published on her site.

I don’t know when I uploaded my last post, but it’s safe to say that I haven’t been posting a lot because I’ve been going through a LOT.

Basically, I feel like I’m going through a major life transition right now. Yes, my dad is okay now, and is safe with his little temporary defibrillator. But, I’m also moving out at the same time. And when I told my mom about this… well, the conversation didn’t go great.

I’m not going to say everything she said. I feel like it’s too soon and too revealing to tell a public space that she said this this and this. But I will say that she didn’t like that I was moving out. I mean, of course. She’s my mom, it would be horrible to say that she didn’t care at all. But she did say hurtful things that didn’t make sense.

When I told her that I already signed a lease and paid my security deposit and everything, she was hurt that I had made all these decisions without consulting with her in the first place. (“We’re a family, after all,” she said.). Which makes sense. Right now it’s tricky with my dad having major heart problems and my mom finding a job. But it wasn’t because I was leaving my mom because she gives me too many chores- it’s such a pain to live with her.

She’s very authoritative- and I know a lot of moms are like that. But the way she talks to me, yells at me for little things, (like how she yelled at me and scowled at me for putting too many candles on my brother’s birthday cake… by accident) and thinks of me as a manipulative person.

For example, I tried to come home at 8:30 pm because I had to put gas in my parents’ car and take care of moving stuff out of my old apartment, but I came home around 9 pm even when trying to plan ahead and come home earlier. I remember seeing my mom at my dad’s office, and her turning to look at me in an angry manner, to then tell me that she’s so disappointed in me coming home at night, that I was being a bad influence on my brother, and that I should go ahead and tell the truth as to when I was coming home.

“But I tried to come home earlier! I just lost track of time,” I told her in desperate Spanish.

“No,” my mom said, looking at me sternly. “You lied to me. You just wanted to come home late anyway.”

There’s never any point in arguing with her. Yes, it is normal for mothers to see their adult children as needing support and seeing them for what they were as younger kids, but my mom takes it a step too far.

And I couldn’t take it anymore. I had to leave or I would let my mom step all over me and decide my decisions.

It was last Saturday, and I was at my friends Allison’s* house stuffing Chick-Fil-A nuggets in my mouth at 3 pm after skipping lunch. I agreed that yeah, based on how I felt at my parents’ house and how my mom is crying, and how my dad is asking me if I can get out of the lease (because my mom is so upset that it would benefit the family in me getting out) I thought it was best for me to stay at her house with her husband, Derek*, for a little bit.

I sat at their small dining table, looking at Allison, who had to leave to record a podcast. She looked like she was concerned for me. I didn’t know what I looked like to her. I tried to dress up presentable from what I was wearing that morning, which was a worn-out ugly VBS t-shirt that I never wanted but my mom did, ugly red-stained ripped jeans, and wild, uncombed hair. Now, I was wearing a nicer gym tank top, some cute jeans with nice patches, and nice Nike tennis shoes.

But I thought I looked wild. Allison brought me some Chick-Fil-A because I told her I was so busy packing as much stuff as I could so I could leave in secret that I didn’t eat anything. I left the house shaky and so sweaty from the 90 degree heat. I didn’t know if I stank either.

Allison later told me that trying to coax me and encourage me to leave when my mom was crying while I felt like a mess, and asking if I need a ride felt like trying to smuggle me out of a foreign country. (Of course, these are two completely different scenarios, but there was still a sense of panic, urgency, and a strong need for me to leave.)

Things wouldn’t be calm in the house if I stayed. My mom would try and use that time to make me feel guilty and like I was making a bad decision, possibly, and I couldn’t deal with that for 2 weeks if that happened.

All I wanted to do was calm down and eat waffle fries. I remember when I finally stuffed everything in my dad’s Nissan Altima (that my mom told me I shouldn’t take with me, even though my family paid for it so I could use it to drive to my college town- for a car that I needed for transport). My mom went outside in complete shock as I stayed in the car, motor still running for me to leave.

“What are you doing?” she said, mouth open and looking at me like I was leaving her forever. “Get out of the car! I want to talk to you.”

I came out finally, talking to her for what seemed like centuries. It wasn’t a great conversation. We argued for like 10 minutes, me saying I couldn’t live with her subtle control over my life, her not understanding what I was talking about.

Then I brought up a moment in my life where she had hurt me by trashing my room (me finding my room around 7 years ago with things thrown on my floor, and finding my bedsheets ripped off and the mattress moved, as if she tried to overturn it- or, did she overturn it?), and she didn’t remember any of it.

“Rashell, I don’t remember that at all,” she said. “Are you sure it wasn’t you that threw stuff all over your room?”

No, it wasn’t. Why would I do that, I asked. She said she didn’t know. More and more arguing.

Then, she said similar to, “Okay, it’s not like I threw your stuff outside on the patio that day! I just threw them in your room!” As if that made it better.

More arguing, until I had to leave when she said it might as well be her that left the family for good. I drove off while she stared at me with her mouth open, like me leaving that moment wasn’t possible. Then she sat down on the steps with her head in her hands as I drove the other way.

And now I’m here, typing this in my friend’s house, better but still raw. It’s been around 10 days after I left my parents’ house. The first few days after that were a little rough. I felt like I was at a stranger’s house, eating their food and using their washing and drying machine. I could literally imagine my mom’s house as I used their cups and plates: What are you doing? Make sure you’re not actually an unwanted guest! And why are you using their water for your laundry?

But now I feel safe and secure. I may move into my apartment early August, and I already have *somewhat* of my stuff. I still need my table, recliner, and dresser from my room- but again, with my mom, I don’t know if that’s possible now.

I know that things are still going to be difficult with my mom (for a WHILE). Right now, I don’t want to talk to her, joke with her, or laugh with her until I figure out what relationship I can have with her and what boundaries I have to set.

I don’t want her to guilt-trip me into doing something I don’t want- or worse, make me feel again that my decision to leave her now is the worst, and “selfish at a time like this.”

I need to be more aware of my surroundings and environment, because leaving at the very last moment obviously brought more strain than needed- and it was because I was ignoring something that in my heart I knew was there a long time.

*fake names

by Rashell, Diary of an Unbreakable Soul, 30 July, 2021

Reblogged: social fucking anxiety!

My demons by Anna Vanes

Social anxiety is often defined as an overwhelming fear of negative judgement or social situations. In her latest post, the blogger linked below presents her own interpretation of her social anxiety as a sense of being unsafe in others’ presences. More overt in such a definition is human threat, as well as vulnerability. The blogger suggests that the ‘codependency’ integral to her family’s culture, particularly, amongst the women, has been, at least, a barrier to recognising and starting to overcome that sense of vulnerability. She has been helped by therapy but continues to search for a way to feel safe with people.

“in an entire 2 weeks, my grandma could not name what she wanted to do that made her happy without referencing helping someone else. her idea of fun was buying me pants on a whim – while i know that money is tight, while i know that i don’t need them and expressed that sentiment, and i was served a sweet side dish of i-have-difficulty-accepting-things-of-all-kinds. monetary, quality time, love – all of it, but that’s a different story.”

The blogger replicates this ‘generosity’ or what might be considered as a ‘safety behaviour’ by giving people, “my 150% listening ear – in an effort to appease them, take the attention off of myself, and establish myself as a nonthreatening person so they are less likely to hurt me.”

The sense of being unsafe or vulnerable around people arose, she states, in her childhood: “i did not feel safe around or nurtured by my parents – physically, emotionally, or mentally – and i was often placed in a position where i had to gauge their moods first because that would indicate how much of their moods would be taken out on me.”

Rather than develop self-dependence and strength, her wider family’s codependency, she suggests, ingrained in her the tactic of self-sacrifice to ingratiate and protect herself generally. Moreover, they may have helped to hide the reality of her vulnerability from herself: “i always thought i was just nervous: nerves were those arresting stomach churning moments where my hands couldn’t stop shaking and i couldn’t sleep the night before, leading to very quick, jerky movements and a spotty memory the following day – right?”

Her therapy, she says, has helped her become more aware of her fear as bodily sensations and her ‘band aid’ of taking care of others. She is “literally burning all of the files in my head on how to be in relationships and writing something up anew. a hypothetical phoenix. a mental health maverick.” However, without the band aid, the sense of vulnerability and feeling unsafe with people, she says, is amplified.

The blogger’s interpretation of her social anxiety in terms of safety is stark. However, it has the benefit, unlike other terms such as ‘negative judgement’ and ‘social situations’, of more overtly acknowledging human threat and, impliedly, the need to develop resistant strength.

Image designed by Anna Vanes
Stock image credits can be found here.

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