Family is important, but this is unhealthy:
My single mother (55F) wants to live with me forever in the same household (19F) and I’m getting depressed.
This is my first time expression a family issue online so I hope I don’t get judged. Recently my mental health has been like complete shit and it’s because of my living and family situation. My mom had a lot of financial issues and we weren’t able to afford a place on our own since my dad left us more than a decade ago so we moved in to my aunt’s place. Needless to say, I never got a room to myself and I have to share it with my mom. Before this never really bothered me, but now that I’m older, I developed a sense of need for privacy ( my own room). But I never complained to my mom about this since it sounds spoiled given her financial situation and all that. My mental health started deteriorating when school took over and online school was implemented since covid. Next semester some courses are going to be marked with participation which means webcam needs to be on which I am not at all comfortable with as my mom takes over the room and it is really small with a lot of messy boxes and stuff.
My next issue (which is my main one) is my mom wanting me to take care of her forever. I’m not saying a simple phone call or visit. I’m talking about her wanting to move in with me with my boyfriend in the future and live with us forever regardless of my feelings. She said she gave birth to me so that I can take care of her. Everytime I act a little bit stressed during exam times, she would tell me to stop acting up like I am crazy and that she can’t afford me acting “crazy” because I can’t take care of her if I suddenly become mentally ill. She tells me that since I’m stressed in university I should go to college ( I’m in Canada so this means in a sense an easier education as it’s more hands on and less theoretical studies). She told me that if my boyfriend decided he only wants me and him together in same house, I should “fight” for her and persuade him to let her in our future home. Honestly, I have never had any sort of privacy so my dream was and still is, to live alone with a husband and have a happy family. I’m not saying I’m not going to take care of her but imo it would be extremely awkward if she lived with us and we acted all lovey dovey (we would get second hand embarrassment and restrictions on expressing our love to each other). She has a bf who has a house yet clings onto me saying “he is just going to die soon because of old age so I can’t depend on him”. Like what???. She has been saying that I have to take care of her and not leave her almost weekly and it’s driving me almost to the point I’m becoming suicidal because whatever I’m doing it’s supposedly for “her”. I feel depressed and I have expressed to my bf but my depression often happens at home. My mom has never asked me about how I feel or what I am doing etc. She never cared what I did or how I feel and she says it’s as long as I can find a job and buy a house for her to live in with me she is happy. I have lost every respect and emotion with her and I just don’t feel anything anymore with her in terms of empathy, sadness, care because I know at the end of the day she is using me to get a more comfortable life. My bf told me to break off my relationship with her if at the end of the day she doesn’t respect my decision but she is technically my only close relative or family member because my relatives don’t give a jack shit about us because we’re not as wealthy so they don’t talk to us. I have no idea what I should do and I feel so hopeless. I have been wanting to get therapy but it is too expensive and I get more sad each day
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Honorable people feel a sense of obligation to their family. This is a healthy, natural, and normal thing. This becomes extremely problematic when it starts to get expressed in unhealthy ways. If some stranger mistreated you, behaved like a lunatic, or generally took advantage of you, you’d probably feel comfortable telling them to go to hell. When it’s mom, dad, your child, grandpa, or grandma, they can end up getting a pass for behavior for intolerable behavior for a long, long time. Sometimes, if it’s something minor, it might even be worth letting it go under the concept of, “Well, they’re family, so I’ll put up with it.”
On the other hand, even family can go too far or ask too much. Dad doesn’t have permission to beat the crap out of you because he’s drunk. Your kid doesn’t get to sell your TV to buy drugs. Your brother doesn’t get to move in with you and then refuse to get a job. Oh, and mom doesn’t get to live with you FOREVER.
In fact, it sounds like the mother is enmeshed with the daughter. What’s enmeshment? Here’s a basic definition:
In one kind of unhealthy parent-child dynamic, the problems may be harder to see. These parents and their kids are “enmeshed.” And it means just what it sounds like — the boundaries between parent and child don’t exist clearly, if at all. They’re all tangled up with one another.
If your mom is in a tight spot and desperately needs a place to stay for a month or two or alternately, can no longer take care of herself and you want her to stay with you, everyone gets that. This is not her mother’s situation. Her mother doesn’t need to stay with her daughter, doesn’t want this to be temporary, and is inappropriately putting pressure on her daughter to, “take care of her and not leave her almost weekly.” That’s not how parenthood is supposed to work in Western culture. You are supposed to raise your child so that they can leave you and take care of themselves when they’re adults, not carry you on their back like a donkey for the rest of their lives.
Does she need to cut her off? Not necessarily, but she does need to put some boundaries in place. Those are easy enough to enforce. All she has to do is not give her a key to her new place. Moreover, if she stays in contact, once those boundaries are in place, she may start to find that she’s better off, her mother is better off and both of them will be able to have a healthier relationship. She should give that a try.
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