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Old 04-06-2008, 11:44 PM   #1
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I grew up with an overly critical mother and I myself am overly critical of myself. When I am alone, I'm able to work on my positive thinking and be less hard on myself. But, whenever I'm around my mom, I'm overwhelmed because not only is she constantly nagging and reminding me of my weight, health, and fatness but I end up beating myself up. *SIGH*

She's visiting me (for the next 3-4 weeks we'll be around each other a lot) so I'm surrounded by our old habits and when she's here I have a really hard time turning my thoughts back around and I slide back into my old habits to "escape" from the harsh comments.

I come from a culture where, though I've tried, cannot speak up against my parents as it is a sign of complete disrespect. I have tried to tell her how frustrating and hurtful her comments are to me but it's as if she doesn't hear me or doesn't care that it hurts me. In her mind "mother knows best". I can't tell you how many tears have been shed over this and my parents only view my tears as a sign of weakness.

I'm so frustrated because I want to change my self-thinking but when she is by my side telling me that I need to exercise more or eat less or this is what I should eat or this is how I should exercise (rub my stomach) or how the only reason I can't meet a boyfriend is because I'm too fat or the reason people look down on me is because I'm fat or I should spend time going out with friends that I should go exercise or I shouldn't sit and watch TV I should be exercising or while we're eating she'll give me a look or as I"m getting ready for bed she'll come over and say "you need to be drinking apple vinegar to lose the weight" or "your stomach is so huge... what's wrong with you. you look like you're pregnant" or "well, if you think THAT outfit looks good on you then go ahead... wear it. But, you need to go shopping and find clothes that look better"...

I love my mother and I don't want to defy her. But, I also want to be in better control of my thoughts and self-love even when she is around so these comments she has become accustomed to saying will not have power or control over me and my self-esteem.

Everytime she leaves from her visits I always go into a dark spiral and slide into old habits. I can feel it happening already.
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Old 04-07-2008, 12:08 AM   #2
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Well, I think it's good that you're trying to turn this around and that you recognize what you usually do when she's nearby. Also, that you're trying to do something about it before she's here.

I wish I had great advice about what to do. I come from a very different place... I still can hear my mom shouting "We live like pigs, pigs I tell you, pigs!" And it actually makes me laugh... because my siblings and I just burst out laughing at her. Which made her even more upset >_>

You can always do the listen/ignore technique. You hear the words... but they just don't register. Almost as if you're seeing the world through tupperware. You've got yourself and your positive thoughts inside this tupperware, surrounding you. And then you can still see your mother, but her words are muffled, and are unable to get inside your tupperware, because the lid's on tight. It sounds silly, but visualizing it may help prevent her "advice" from hurting you as much.

I wish you all the best with the visit. If you need to vent, make sure to get on 3FC whenever possible.

Regardless of what others might say, there is everyone here on 3FC saying the opposite. Saying that you CAN. That you are worth it! That you're a wonderful human being right this very moment, not only when you get to your goal. We're real people, and we know you can!
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Old 04-07-2008, 12:19 AM   #3
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That's a brutal situation to be in, I don't envy you. You don't have to openly defy her or be disrespectful, as you clearly can't change her behaviour. The only control you have is how you react to her. Easier said than done, no kidding! Maybe just nod your head and say "good idea mom, i'll try that" and let it go LOL....good luck!
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Old 04-07-2008, 12:32 AM   #4
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Oy! Mothers, I could go on and on! I agree with Faerie, I think it's awesome that you recognize this as a problem and you are already looking for ideas to get around it. I just had a visit with my mother inlaw today and MAN is she super critical and MAN can I never say anything, but I got through it As nerdy as it sounds, I just repeated "3FC" in my head all day and knowing I had this outlet really really helped. Good luck and will be happy to be one of the many ears you can vent to about it all!
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Old 04-07-2008, 12:34 AM   #5
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My sister and I were discussing this very issue today

I think that every family has it's own dynamics -- everyone has their "place" -- whether good, bad, support or critical. My mom is your mom!! I have learned that there is a respectful way to put your foot down. However, it is best to take care of this matter immediately, before there is a chance she can hurt your feelings or take charge. I have found that immediately upon the beginning of my visits with my mom I do the following -- clearly state I love to visit her but that my weight/exercise/eating habits (personal life in general) are a non-topic during the visit. Then, whenever she brings any of this up, the topic is changed by me as quickly as possible, being sure to remind here of my "ground rules". I personally feel she lost her ability to control me as soon as she stopped supporting me. However, it probably took me a good 20 years to realize that!!

Good luck to you -- no matter how your visit goes, know we are thinking of you, wishing you the best and whatever happens, remember you can be the person you want to be -- YOU are in control!!
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Old 04-07-2008, 08:18 AM   #6
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It's early here, and my brain is failing me, but I wanted to offer you a really big "hug".
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Old 04-07-2008, 10:26 AM   #7
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I think shelby gave you come great advice.
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Old 04-07-2008, 11:36 AM   #8
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Hey julz,

This is a good situation to be in therapy about... gracious me, how awful. I have to tell you, your mother is using you as a punching bag and probably always has. You are the person she can always pick on and put down and never worry about you striking back. And she enjoys that power. She is always going to be able to push your buttons because after all, she installed them.

You have been stuffing your normal and quite understandable feelings of anger and hurt for years, and instead of lashing out, you've been... well... stuffing. It's the only way you have had to keep your autonomy, your sense of self.

Look at your mom and see what she really is--a mean woman who doesn't understand how to treat her child in a supportive way. That's sad for her as well as for you. Try to see her as just another person on earth, rather than as your mother. Her words are like the birds singing in the trees, except they are nasty little birds--however, you can just let the sound drift away if you like.

I'm wondering why you allow her to visit. If she were my mom, the welcome carpet would have been rolled up years ago. Two days would be the max--I'm amazed that you tolerate her for 3-4 weeks.

I'd say, limit your contact with her as much as possible. If she happens to ask why you're avoiding her, tell her in a kind way that you just have other things to do. If she pushes, you can always say, "Mom, I love you but you put me down all the time, and it hurts me." This doesn't have to be said in anger. Yes, from what you've said, she won't react well--but it won't kill her to hear it. And, if she tries to slam you, tell her goodbye for now and hang up the phone...

And don't go and eat over this! That won't help you to feel better.


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Last edited by JayEll : 04-07-2008 at 11:37 AM.
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Old 04-07-2008, 03:33 PM   #9
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Thank you for your kind words and encouragement. Actually my mom is already here with me which is why it's been tough these last few days.

I have been through therapy on this one. I don't hate my mom, we are actually very close but this is one area of our lives where we are a bit dysfunctional. It goes back to my teenage years and I think I understand why we are the way we are. It's just that neither of us have figured out a way to communicate better with the other person. It doesn't help that we are both the youngest in our line of siblings so we are both people that demand attention from others which is partially why I think we butt heads. My difficulty right now is being able to move myself out of the moment (mentally) and have a plan to have more productive interaction with her.

One quote that always inspires me is:
"Grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change, the courage to change the person I can, and the wisdom to know it's me."'

I know this is true and I know I need to take responsibility over my own behavior. I can't change my mother but I can change myself and that's what I need to learn to do while in the midst of an interaction.

After last night's "discussion" with her, I reflected on the conversation and I think my poor behavior (defensive, whiny, etc.) is due to my low self-esteem. I tend to blame myself a lot and get really hard on myself and I seem to want my mom to be able to "ease my pain" or "lift me up" but that will never happen. She doesn't know how to "lift me up" so I think I need to learn to "lift myself up". *sigh*

Anyhow, my top is fitting looser this morning so I'm feeling a little smiley about myself (I gave up sugar... you can see the sugar thread for my path on this goal).

The question is "why do I beat myself up when I do not reach my definition of 'perfection'"?

Thanks again for the supportive thoughts. I will definitely tune into 3FC for support. It's been amazing for me this time around.
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Old 04-07-2008, 04:18 PM   #10
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Shorter visits.
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Old 04-07-2008, 04:47 PM   #11
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Quote:
Look at your mom and see what she really is--a mean woman who doesn't understand how to treat her child in a supportive way.

I'm wondering why you allow her to visit. If she were my mom, the welcome carpet would have been rolled up years ago. Two days would be the max--I'm amazed that you tolerate her for 3-4 weeks.
I think it's easy to say this if you don't know or understand the culture, but it's not that easy if you live it.

Correct me if I'm wrong, Julz, but your family is Asian?

I grew up overseas in Singapore and the relationships between mothers and daughters is complex and often filled with this kind of stuff in a lot of Asian cultures. It's very hard to speak up against your parents ... especially your mother ... because it is seen as hugely disrespectful, no matter how old you are.

And in many Asian cultures the idea of refusing your parents' visit ... that would be tantamount to telling them you didn't want to be a part of the family any more. Not just disrespectful, but a huge betrayal.

I can totally understand that you're between a rock and a hard place on this one. I agree that the bst thing you can do is to put up a sort of mental filter - see everything your mom says through hazy glass and think of it as being distant from you! (easier said than done, I'm sure).

Also maybe just subtly changing the topic ... not refuting her or telling her to not discuss it, but just moving on whenever she starts in ... might help. Think of it as distracting a toddler!

Good luck to you and hang in there - you can be strong enough to do this.

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Old 04-07-2008, 05:30 PM   #12
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Julzchiki and PhotoChick,

Yes--PhotoChick, you're right that it's easy to say those things when one is outside a culture. Julz, I didn't realize you are Asian until I looked at your avatar pic more closely. I apologize for my presumption.

Culture does make the situation more difficult--but I still think that self-esteem is hard, especially for women, regardless of culture. I think we could look at many cultures and find mother/daughter battles going on.

I wish you both the best--you and your mother.

Jay
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Old 04-08-2008, 03:23 AM   #13
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I feel you and feel for you. I am a 43 year old woman who will always seek my Mothers approval knowing I will never have it.

This is for your Mother whom I can also relate too as our children grow and we lose more of our influence and ability to shield/protect and yes as hard as this is to say, control.
When I use the word control here I mean as in outside influences that could harm my children emotionally, mentally, or physically. The helplessness you feel as each of the ages and stages take them further n further away from you. ( The safety of you. ) That is our whole purpose of being to guide and mold our young into happy, healthy, productive members of society.

I don't presume to know anything of the asian culture or family dynamics. But I do know the complexities of a Mother/Daughter... Daughter/Mother relationship, from both sides of this picket, prickily fence.

I have two suggestions one from each side of the fence.

Since you are in the midst of Mom mayhem, you are also in the midst of a growth opportunity. Each night as you retire to your room and think about the days going on, write down the hurts said or done. Write when you shut down and what made you put up your barrier of protection. We always think of better ways to of handled a situation AFTER the situation has occured. Things we wish we would of said or done. This exercise may not help you this visit but it will come the next visit. Be sure to write the good things too. And the things that give you hope. All the little things do add up good or bad.

Hopefully this will help with the now during this visit. The next time your Mother "starts" on your eating or exercising after she is finished, turn to her and look deeply into her eyes, placing your hands on her shoulders... ( by doing this your body language is saying you mean something to me, I value your opinion and I hear your concern. Your hands on her shoulders is closing the bond between you and she. Bridging the gap of time and space. In that moment in time there is nobody but you and her. ) ... and say, " I hear you Mom. Help me. Come lets take a walk together. I am sure with you by myside I could a little longer or walk a little faster. " or if its food end with, " Do you have a dish or recipe that you would like me to try or you feel would be better for me? " or better yet... " Show me Mom. Lets cook something healthy and delicious togther. I have a ton of recipes or maybe you know one or have one in mind." By doing this your simple incorporating her into your solution. Making her feel like an interactive part of your solution instead of a bystander, helpless. Needing her, respecting her that she may know a thing or two on health and weight. She probably is carrying a ton of her own weight issues. (for years, perhaps stemming from her own Mother.) Wishing more and better for you but has no idea how to voice it. So she is tossing at you everything she has ever heard in hopes something will help.


I am writing a book here but I felt so strongly for you both in this difficult dilemma. I do hope my words came across as they were meant. If ever you would like to talk, I am but a PM away.

Sincerely,

Sassy
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Old 04-08-2008, 03:59 AM   #14
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I have a very critical mother. While arguing and disagreeing with her culturally is not an issue, it rarely has had a positive effect. I've found that when I agree with her, as sincerely as I can, she tends to be less agressive about the nagging and criticism than if I disagree or don't say anything. I generally try to agree in a way that isn't a complete lie (you could be right, or you're probably right, rather than you're right).

Also, when it comes to weight loss and such, my mother has struggled as much as I have (doesn't stop her from telling me what I SHOULD be doing, even if she's not doing it herself at the time), so I can often say something that redirects the question to get her talking about herself rather than nagging at me. It seems like a small distinction, but when she gives me some "profound" (and usually obvious yet vague) advice or criticism, sometimes asking her to tell me what she has found helpful when she's faced a similar situation difuses the situation.

I think resisting or passively waiting for the lecture to be over tends to make my mother feel like she has to cram the unwelcomed advice down my throat by nagging and driving her point home. But when I not only agree (even if I'm disagreeing inside), but ask for advice (even if I intend never to take it) it really seems to reduce her need to be critical.

Don't know if it would work for you, but it couldn't hurt to try.
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Old 04-08-2008, 04:27 AM   #15
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Dearest Julz,

Each of us has her/his own culture, and way of acting and communicating. I'm sorry that you are going through this; I know what you are going through because I have experianced it my self, since I was a little girl, it was not mainly from my parents, but from my direct relatives.. my uncles from both sides used to say I look like a "Barrel" or a "Cube" ..etc, they would say stop eating ... lock her in a room and so on.. it killed me.. and my mother used to cry because this was my body structure "Large" and "Big" for similar children in my age... this was between 9-17 years old, it hurts so much... i would actually compare my self with my cousins and how they eat... I was given similar portions as they are...but my body functioned differently.

After Graduting college I gained weight and this time, my mom started giving me hints and saying that i have gained so much.. and trully I did, especially after having two babies with C-section, and breast-feeding and all...

BUT back to your point... our mothers dont hate us, or are abusing us, it's just the way they handle the situation, one mother might ask if she can prepare your food for you.. to ensure it's healthy another might do what your mother is OVER doing ...
The bottom line they want the best for us, but their way of expressing is WRONG.

My advice: show her that you are doing something about it, and appreciate her support... take this oppertunity to change the situation.. talking and showing how much you need her actually will snooth her heart for you.. and actually things might change...

At the end, I wish you all the best and I hope things would turn around for you.. if you need any support we're here for you.

Good luck
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