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Oh, moms.

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I have a problem. That problem is with my mother.


It started when my dad died when I was 12. We clung to one another desperately, and have for a long, long time. It's been almost 10 years since that happened, and not much has changed.


I was told our relationship mirrors the Seligman learned helplessness experiments. She gives me bait, I take it, and I get verbally torn asunder for it. I'm still a dependent, and I need to ask for things in order to live my life comfortably. I ask for something new, say, a bra, and I'm told we don't have enough money. Then, I'm given it, and yelled at for asking for it. I'm enabled to continue to smoke as long as I live with a smoker, and I'm constantly told she can't afford me, but I'm still given the implements in which to feed this habit. I needed new glasses last year, and I chose pair of frames I liked, only to hear her berate me on the phone to my aunt a week or so later, telling her how I 'looked like a huge dyke' and how she 'hated them' and wouldn't have let me got them if she were paying for them out of pocket.

She's done my chores for me my whole life and only recently started to try to force me to do them, which leads to me wallowing in messes and thinking they'll never get cleaned up. She berates me for it, calls me lazy, calls me a slob, and picks them up for me without giving me a chance or encouragement.


I push when I want something, because it feels like I'm denied a lot, and when I push I feel like I've regained some kind of control over my life, but whenever I push I'm told I 'ruin everything' (her words, not mine) and I'm given what I wanted/needed, but I'm left ripped apart.

Yet, I'm fiercely protective of her. When she's kind to me, I see it as the best thing in the world. I do things with her when I want to do them, and sometimes because I feel like I have no other choice so I take advantage of her good moods.


A lot of the time, I wake up in my room to hear her ranting about me to my aunt, and I have to try not to listen, because whenever I hear it, I feel sick. I have this sick fear of being talked about behind my back, especially in my own house.


My idea is to establish more boundaries with her somehow. I'm just not sure how to go about that yet. I can't move out right now, as much as I'd like to. This relationship is unhealthy on both ends. I tried to get her to see someone for her own mental illness for a long time, but kept getting deflected.

I just. Ugh.

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I grew up in a similar situation.  My parents divorced when I was 11 and b/c my mom's new partner.  As you said, there were times that she raged at me (calling me a lazy bitch) and other times that she acted like a "real" mom.  I was also very protective of her.


I know you said you can't move out  right now, but that is exactly what helped me.  At 18, I went to college and getting some distance from her really helped.


I'm only now (20 years later) learning to use boundaries with her.


Is it possible for you to talk with her and say things like, "When you call me lazy, I feel bad about myself".  or "I know there are things about me that you would like me to change, but I feel hurt when I hear you talking to my aunt about me."

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