#136 Mother-controlling daughter / Who's controlling who?
DEAR ABBY: I'm in my late 20s, single and have no children. I have lived on my own since I was 18. I own my home, my car and have no credit card debt, but my mother refuses to acknowledge me as an adult.
When I do simple chores or cook meals, she acts surprised. She constantly pleads with me to move back home because she insists I can't take care of myself and refuses to discuss it any further than belittling me.
My friends say what she's doing constitutes abuse. I'm not sure I agree, but I do think it is rude and manipulative. How can I deal with her condescending attitude when I'm with her? -AT MY WIT'S END
DEAR WIT'S END: Most parents strive to make their children independent. Your mother might want you home not because you can't take care of yourself but because she doesn't want to live alone. I wouldn't call that abuse, but I do consider it to be selfish and self-serving.
You should not sacrifice your lifestyle to live with someone as manipulative as your mother. When she attacks, laugh and deflect her with humor.
Assure her that as incompetent as she thinks you are, you're "muddling through!' And if she persists, point out if she doesn't ease up, she'll be seeing less of you. —ABBY
DEAR NO WIT YET: I’ll begin with what most readers can easily see; specifically, that you don't consider shutting-down communication (about any topic), invalidation, condescension, rudeness and manipulation as abusive?* Can you spell d_e_n_i_a_l? If a date related with you that way, according to your programming, you'd put up with it, yes? If so, then you'd trigger contempt and even more disrespect of you which would cause even more abuse. A bully resents anyone who mirrors their own perceived weakness and so they attack that very weakness. * Read definition of abuse. Yes, your mother is a bully!
It's important to know that if you can't recognize abuse now then you'll most likely attract and marry someone who will treat you as she does—because you think that controlling, etc., equals love. More accurately, they will have no choice other than to mirror your leadership-communications skills. As it is now, you unconsciously set your mother up to abuse you—that is abusive of you.
What's going on between you two is not love. The love that once was has become conceptualized. Love is intending the person to be and behave exactly the way they do, without trying to change them. My sense is that it has been a long time since you’ve experience joy and belly-laughter with each other. The love is there, it's just buried under hundreds of overdue conversations. To create an experience of love you first do The Clearing Process, then invite her to do it, after which you can both do The Clearing Process for Couples.
Some girls have no choice other than to attract controlling men. No woman (actualized and mature) attracts or consistently interacts with a controlling man. A controller prowls for girls like yourself whom they can control. A controlling man can’t attract a well-adjusted woman and so they surf for girls who need to be manipulated. Such a man acts nice and polite and loving at first and then slowly they begin to try and change you such as your mother is still trying to do. That is to say, no woman would let their mother or anyone treat them that way.
Although most readers will take your side and agree that your mother is both abusive and controlling, few can see that you too are abusive and controlling, that you, using your leadership communications skills, set it up for her to invalidate you, to make you wrong; then you blame her (for not acknowledging you as an adult) for trying to control you. She treats you as a child because you are still acting like one; she has no choice because of how you present yourself to her. She isn't satisfied, she’s not complete. She knows she hasn't taught you to stand on your own two feet and to not allow someone to bully you. The transition from girl to woman includes cutting the apron strings (it's a specific communication, after which, neither of you relate the same with each other, for life).
Some men transition into manhood by standing up to their father gorilla-style with their first chest-thump-bump. The maturity communication is always a fork in the road for both. A mature woman would stop your mother in the middle of the first sentence that didn't feel good and they'd say, "That didn't feel good." If she argued or tried to justify or explain it, rather than validate your experience of being abused, and say, "Yes, I get that it didn't feel good. Thanks for bringing it to my attention." If she continued to argue then you'd say, "Can you get that what you just said didn't feel good to me?" The question requires a definite verbal yes or no answer. Someone addicted to abusive arguing will not say, "Yes," often they will attack you, accusing you of starting the friction; "Well, if you'd only . . ." If she continued to argue and justify her abusive communication a mature woman would say, "I'm going home now. Call me when you can tell me that you know that what you said didn't feel good, that it was abusive. I've got to know that I'm not unconsciously intending you to invalidate my choices, my life style. I need to be able to visit you and feel good when I leave. It doesn't feel good for you to keep trying to change me." In other words, to have a magnificent relationship one must be willing to not have it at all times.
I'm wondering who in your life would say that you treat them the same way she treats you?
We haven't gotten to the source of this friction between you, however, the reasons you both use to explain what your move out of the house at age 18 was about contain lots of irresponsible blaming and make-wrongs. Both sides of the story contain blaming lies for which there continues to be undesirable consequences.
Not to worry, this is your leadership-communication mastery curriculum; you’ve unconsciously set it up for her to communicate abusively so that you can recognize it, and to know how to handle the very very first incident of abuse on a date. Your responsibility with abuse is to insist that it be verbally, responsibly (from cause), acknowledged each and every time (else you become cause for all successive abuses), or recess yourself, estrange yourself, from the relationship so that you don't unconsciously intend abuse.
Yours is a valuable letter, many will see themselves as either you or your mother.
Thank you, Gabby
Note: You don't mention your father. If he lives with her then he is abusively enabling her abuse of you. If she has driven him off then it's possible you have taken her side as to who caused the split.
Last edited 11/19/17