On Her Terms.

I can’t deny that living back home with my mother is difficult. David and I have been here for ten months now. We were not anticipating being here for so long and unfortunately now it is becoming a struggle.

I find it hard enough to live solely with my husband let alone another person. My mother has her own amazing qualities as well as some awkward and irritating faults. Most of which she will quite happily defend or deny. I am feeling pretty frustrated at the moment and I know my husband shares these feelings too. 

Not that the time here hasn’t been pleasant but at thirty two, I have grown as has David and we are in desperate need of our space. Yes, we have the option of renting again but it totally defeats our original purpose of coming here in the first place. As we wait patiently through this agonizing time for my father’s inheritance (it will soon be the 2 year mark) I can’t help but wish for it to come sooner. Not only would it be beneficial to find a property before the little one comes, we need to be able to breathe. Sadly, both my parents share similarities. I was and am unable to laugh with them on my terms. My humour differs to theirs. My Dad liked silliness or humour at other’s expense. My mother likes old fashioned humour rarely understanding modern comedy. I and David are quite dry in our humour; quintessentially British we like to think. There are therefore occasions where our humour is lost on her.

She takes offence very easily even when nothing is set to offend her. A passive attitude and defeatist demeanour aids this. Although she once told me she was an assertive person, there is nothing to support this. Once maybe, a long time ago but it has been many, many years since I have witnessed assertive behaviour from her.

One thing she always confuses is passion with anger.

I do believe you can feel passionately about something and when this happens you may explain it in a forceful way. A moment ago this happened as I showed my mother a recipe. In her usual manner, she found fault in it before anything else (Dave and I are struggling with her constant fault finding in life at the moment) and when I justified the Michelin starred restaurant’s recipe, my mother snapped and in her native language shouted,

“Don’t get angry!”

A phrase she utters every time you dare to disagree with her. Sadly, this is happening more often than not. I vent here on WordPress because it is safe. I cannot approach her with this as she walked away from our spat fuming. I refuse to argue or shout whilst carrying this little one. It is not fair on the baby nor is it fair on me. 

I could never speak freely with Him and unfortunately I can’t with her either. Life is on her terms.

I am too old for this! 

She can give it but she cannot take it.

I’m not really a fan of those who hand out criticism freely but cannot accept it when it is directed at them. My mother and I have just been in that situation. I am writing this straight after our heated talk. She is currently upstairs having a tantrum (or at least that’s what it sounds like). She is banging doors and generally stomping around. Not really the expected behaviour of a seventy odd year old woman. She is patently angry yet her anger is not justified.

My mother is very critical; of her herself occasionally but mostly of others. She is a fault finder and my husband and I are usually on her list. I am mostly used to it as this is not something new. I do not like the constant fault finding in my husband however. Soon, he will be unable to put a foot right. I know it’s getting him down. He is already afraid of failure and this is hardly helping.

This morning was not targeted at my husband. My mother woke up late with leg pains. For the last few weeks she has been suffering with them and after a day of long walking, her pains worsened over night. I had already been up for a couple of hours before her when she came downstairs. No “Hello” or “Good morning”, only chat about her disrupted night. I made her a tea and continued about my business. As David and I have plans to head into Central London today, I began getting ready at ten. After doing my make up, I headed upstairs to collect my phone and saw my mum sitting on her bead. She looked tired and weary so I went and gave her a hug.

I showed her my eye make up and asked if she liked it. She said that it was nice. As I left the room my mother spoke in a mix of English and Bengali and said,

“Why don’t you wear another pair of trousers? You’ve worn those yesterday. You got so many others that are nicer”.

This may not seem like an odd thing for a mother to say to her daughter but when her daughter suffers from BDD, it is not the most appropriate thing to utter. There was a similar incident yesterday morning where my mother thought it would be okay to criticise my weight and say that I needed to cut out fat in my diet. She was complaining about her own weight before she started to attack mine. I was still in bed as she ranted on. It immediately left me distraught. Every day I am aware of the weight that I have gained these last few months. The portion size at home has not helped as my mother eats very large portions of food. Cooking for her has become difficult as I tend to have to cook much more than I normally would. Temptation is always there and after a long and stressful day at work, it is enticing to have those extra five roast potatoes.

I made David explain to her that I suffered from BDD, that it is an illness and the slightest comment can set it off. She was incredibly understanding yesterday and apologised for her comment. Today was a different story. I had hoped that what my husband told her would resonate in her mind but it was almost like what she heard yesterday never happened. I got upset as soon as she criticised my clothes today. I tried to stay calm but as soon as I feel uncomfortable in what I am wearing I cannot shake the feeling off. I become very aware of what I look like and become defensive. My mother gets defensive all the time but cannot accept it when anyone else does. I tried to explain what she said had hurt me. She proceeded to stand by her comments. To her, it’s trivial. To me, it destroys my confidence. Why does she need to find fault in me? The same thing happened two weeks ago and she ruined my day out. She always does it as I’m about to leave the house.

I went a whole twenty four hours without taking my inhaler yesterday, I was so happy. This morning scuppered any chance of that lasting as after I got upset my mother fully lost her temper and launched into a rage. I ran downstairs struggling to breathe. I sat on the sofa as my husband looked on and covered my ears, quietly reassuring myself as her screams from upstairs echoed above me. When eventually her outburst had finished, I removed my hands – my chest was tight and a rash had appeared on my face. I fought hard to keep the tears back. She is just too stubborn to see past it all. She has turned the whole thing back on herself and is now playing the victim when all I needed was a bit of reassurance. Never in my whole life have I witnessed my mother shout and scream at my sister in the way she does with me. Why does the woman who bans her from seeing her grandchildren get more respect than the daughter that stands by her? Tell me?

Why do I still need to explain and describe to my family about who I actually am? For my entire adult life I have justified having emotions. They will not let me have a day off. To them I am to be happy and positive at all times. I am to be there for them and listen to their needs yet my needs are persistently neglected. I give up. I am too tired of it.

I am still a little tight now.

But writing this has helped.

I should be on the tube right now heading into London.

Instead I feel like shit.

Am I assertive?

Possibly. Maybe? Perhaps not as much as I would like to be but – I’ll get there!

I have learnt a lot about assertive behaviour over the past few weeks. I see it appearing within myself and then fading into oblivion when I feel like I’ve taken on too much. I want to change and become more assertive but it seems like a daunting task. Over the past week, on the few occasions I’ve put it into practice, it hasn’t totally gone to plan.

In one situation, with a family member, it went completely awry and blew up in my face. One thing our tutor mentioned, was that the people we know may respond negatively to the fact that we are changing. They may not like the new assertive and confident person we are turning into. They are far too use to us being passive, obedient and subservient. It is too much for them to undertake or comprehend and their frustration is bound to come out. Which it did in my case. A rather loud and heated argument followed with me letting rip. Sick of pushing my anger and emotions to one side, I let a little leave me and I did not apologise nor feel guilty after. Within reason we all have the right to feel anger – appropriately of course. I think I will choose my words more carefully next time. However, I do not plan to stop being assertive.

This is a new me.

A confident, open and clear me. One who can ask for what she wants, accepts criticism, feel anger without being judged, feel she has human rights and can say ‘No’ without fear of letting someone down.

She isn’t here yet and I’ve never seen her in me before but I hope, I really hope that I can find her.

What are you afraid of?

I fear many things. I wish I was more daring and able to take more risks. I used to be able to especially as a child. Fear was something I lacked. I spoke my mind and challenged bad things, I defended myself and took emotional risks. I let myself fail believing that there was a lesson to learn from it. 

Fear grew quite quickly. By my teenage years I was becoming more afraid. I had been criticized by my mother and sister for being selfish and self-centered as a young child. The world revolved around me apparently. I was a confident child being punished for living life. Soon, the fear came. 

During the divorce and the pressures of choice, I feared everything. Outwardly, my family saw a show. I appeared to be calm and in control but mentally I was failing. I knew I was about to make the wrong decision but in fear of becoming targeted and bullied for even thinking it, I went with my father. It was, in my mind, the easiest thing to do. I had backed myself into a corner that could not be further from my mother and sister; we were practically strangers. I had to go with him and I was scared to do it. I did not know that he would be the man they said he was but I had my doubts. I had the fear. There was the possibility. 

My fears magnified when living with my father. they became embedded in me. Not only was I clearly petrified of him, I became a shadow of the girl I once was. To me, I was no longer myself. I was a nobody. 

Rejection.

I fear this still as an adult. I am married and I don’t feel it with my husband luckily. I do feel it in most walks of life especially with friends. I try to avoid it when I can, rarely asking anything of anyone. I thought I could depend on my father, he always told me I could but each time I confided in him or asked for anything, my request was rejected and berated. I have been rejected recently by some people, people I still see. One in particular I took as being a close friend but she has recently, within the last year, decided I am not worth her time. I do not know what happened as there was no explanation yet she continues to smile and play nice. I allow her to do it. I refuse to “chase” her and mend what was clearly already a broken friendship.

Criticism.

I often wait to be critiqued and devalued by people. I expect criticism. I fear it immensely. It is my biggest insecurity yet something I cannot confront.

Tempers.

I fear fights and aggression, I try to stay out of it but sometimes it cannot be avoided. I cannot stand someone raising their voice at me, it frightens me. I hate it. It only brings back every time my father did it. How he used his volume to belittle and demean me. 

Death.

Unbelievably, not my own. I often think about dying. I don’t think I am going to live very long. David hates it when I talk like that but to me it’s a matter of fact. I fear my mother dying. It is, at the moment, my greatest fear. I think about it a lot. She is 70 now and I have begun predicting how long I will have her for. When I speak to her I worry it’ll be the last time. I cry nearly every time after the phone has been put down. It took us so long to get a normal, loving relationship, I feel as though all those years fighting a pointless battle were wasted. Time has disappeared and I may not have her for long. I am angry at my sister for what she has done to her. My mother is a shell of the woman she once was. I know in many ways she resents her life. I hate that she feels like that. I fear the day when I won’t be able to hug my mother. Her touch immediately soothes me, her voice calms me, her little idiosyncrasies make me laugh. I don’t want them to be memories yet.

Fear stifles our thinking and actions. It creates indecisiveness that results in stagnation. I have known talented people who procrastinate indefinitely rather than risk failure. Lost opportunities cause erosion of confidence, and the downward spiral begins.
Charles Stanley