Under attack

My parents are here for Easter, and as with all families, that comes with its share of Stuff.  My mom in particular brings up a lot of the emotional issues that I’m working to change in myself.  She is very focused on doing things “the right way” – which just happens to be the same as “her way”.  She has gotten better over the years, in that she’s more subtle in her approach, but the judgment and disapproval are the same.

Unfortunately, in contrast, I’m trying to learn to be less critical of myself, and to accept that there are many equally good ways to do something.  Perhaps most importantly, I’m still learning that I can make different decisions from my mom, and have her disapprove, and that won’t be the end of the world.

Basically, Mom pushes the buttons that I’m teaching myself not to push.  As a result, I feel like I’m under attack.  I feel like I’m in a boxer’s stance all the time – constantly moving, shifting from one foot to the next, trying to anticipate the next direction of attack.  Of course Mom doesn’t mean to attack, per se, but in a way her motivations don’t really matter.

I’m exhausted from the effort of defending myself and my decisions.  I shouldn’t have to defend the fact that I use large eggs in my baking.  (Mom uses extra large, which is what Barefoot Contessa always uses, so why would I choose to use large?)  I shouldn’t feel bad that I’m not buying white patent leather shoes for my girls to wear on Easter Sunday – I feel okay with a nice pair of white sandals.  These are just two examples of the two hundred subtle attacks I feel like I’ve fought off.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned recently, it’s that I need to have coping mechanisms in place for dealing with these situations.  There’s a larger issue of how to deal with Mom herself, but I can’t tackle that at the moment.  Right now it needs to be about reducing the stress and anxiety I feel – which is manifesting itself as a pile of hot rocks in my belly.  That’s progress on the mind-body connection, yes?  🙂

And with that, I pull out my trusty toolbox and find some tools I can use.

  • I’m going to go for a walk.  It’s cold outside, but sunny and clear – a perfect day for a walk.
  • I’m going to take some time to myself to read and relax.
  • I’m going to step away from the bag of dark chocolate chips calling my name.  (Even though dark chocolate is good for you… 🙂  )
  • I’m going to set a reasonable bedtime for myself so that I get enough sleep.

Maybe by writing these down, I’ll be better about committing to them.  At least I recognize that this is a time when I need to pull out as many tools as I can – please chime in if there are others I could use!

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14 thoughts on “Under attack

  1. Sounds like a good plan. I think that just the fact that you stopped to blog about this today will help. You show that you know the issues, you feel and recognize the symptoms, and you have a whole toolbox of things to help you out. Yay! 🙂

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    • Thanks! I like a “yay”! 🙂

      I think you’re right – that just stepping out of the situation to write a post is a good step. Before I started blogging, I wouldn’t have done even that. I didn’t execute the way I would have liked, but tomorrow is another day…

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  2. I agree, recognising that she pushes all your buttons is a good first step. Time out away from the stress and enough sleep sound good too. Extra yays for you. Could you also pretend she’s a toddler and choose your battles. Let her “win” the one’s you don’t find so important “oh, I’ll try extra large eggs next time I go shopping” and give her choices for the others “no, the girls don’t have white patent leather shoes, do you think they’d be better in these white sandles or their black patent leather school shoes?”.
    As I write this I’m thinking of someone I worked with in a customer complaint department. He’d worked in the call centre and had lots of tricks for dealing with aggressive behavoir. When someone phoned up and angrily started complaining at them he would kick off his shoes, put his feet up on the desk, calmly agree with them about how terrible X, Y and Z was until they lost all momentum and then suggest what could be done. Wouldn’t it be great if you could mentally do the same.
    I must confess that I’m writing this hiding upstairs at my in laws where we are stopping for the night on our way home. I need to learn these tricks myself. As does my husband, who after a 5 minute phone call with his dad last night to confirm travel plans was all ready to abandon the stop over and go straight home he was so angry!

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    • It’s hilarious to me that you wrote this while hiding from your in-laws! 🙂 Hopefully you survived the night and are comfortably settled in at home again.

      As for mom, I like the idea of pretending that she’s a toddler. Right now I feel like I have to fight back on all things, but you’re right that some battles just aren’t that important. And maybe I need to invoke some customer service skills myself. I take Mom’s comments so personally, because there are decades of history and emotions, but maybe sometimes it would help to imagine her as a disgruntled customer!

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      • Well, we survived dinner out then spent a while putting tired children to bed, then went to bed early ourselves as we both have rotten colds and were exhausted. I have managed to stay in bed until his parents left for church although his dad managed to make him really angryö in 1 sentance again before they left. So now there’s some bonding time with brother in law whose also visiting before one last family lunch and departure. Fingers crossed.
        Hope you’re surviving too. Just realised if you’re the customer service dept answering your mom’s phone call it should go something like “We are sorry that you feel let down by Your Daughter (TM). I quite understand your concern that large eggs have been used instead of extra large, we will pass that feedback onto the buying department…..”

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  3. I also had a difficult relationship with a controlling mother, mine was also always angry. What finally helped me somewhat was to stop trying to forgive her every time – she’d be the same way the next time and SHE wasn’t going to change. I had to ACCEPT that is who she is and let it be OK. We didn’t see each other that often but I hated that I was always in an argument with her. When the fight went out of me and I could take it all with a smile, reversing roles as she was old that I was there to make HER happy, she stopped being quite so bossy and even actually opened up a little.

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    • Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts.

      You’re right – she’s not going to change. Sigh. Rationally, I know that, but somewhere in my head and my heart, I keep hoping that I’ll get a different response. That maybe after 5 years of debating the eggs, she’ll say, “You know, I don’t think it makes a difference. Everything you bake tastes great so large eggs are just fine.” The eggs are a silly example but it demonstrates the hope in my head that she will change.

      I don’t want to accept her – I want her to morph into the mother I’ve needed. Of course this is crazy-making! As you say, though, acceptance is the key – as it is with so many things. Thanks again for the insight.

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  4. Ah mothers! Got to love them. (Aren’t allowed to shoot them.)

    As for the hot rocks in your belly – isn’t it great that you’ve identified that bodily sensation and made a connection with the trigger which causes it? It would be great for me, anyway, because then when I felt it in my body again I’d be thinking “Ah! My mother-anxiety buttons are being pushed again!” (I had to retype that sentence once or twice so it didn’t come out creepy) But then again, that’s just me with my crazy-weired psychosomatic superpower. I’ll now follow your link and see what you’ve written about your body-mind connection …

    PS How are you finding WordPress?

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    • Thanks! You’re right that it’s definitely progress – I certainly wouldn’t have made that connection several months ago. I just need to keep staying in tune with my body.

      As for WordPress, it’s been night and day. Really such a difference from Blogspot, just in terms of the community and connection. Thank you for sharing your experience and helping me to make the leap. I’m grateful. 🙂

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  5. Pingback: A new spin on Mom | One Depressed Mama

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