Unfortunately, it involved a lot of crying, but at least it was productive crying!
I had a little contretemps with my mom this morning (what else is new) and I realized afterward that what really bothered me about it was that she didn’t seem to have any confidence in my ability to make good decisions by myself without her “reminding” (read: nagging) me about things I already knew. This not only made me feel like she was guilting me, but hurt my self-esteem and sense of self-efficacy because it indicated her low opinion of me and therefore made me doubt my own abilities to make decisions for myself like the 32-year-old adult I actually am.
Having a discussion about this with my therapist, I realized that this is a big part of the dysfunction in our relationship. I said to Mom a couple of times that I needed her to say that she loved me and was proud of me. But honestly, I think part of what I meant was that I needed her to say that she not only loved me, but respected me. I’ve been having a lot of trouble with a lack of self-respect, and part of it is because I feel like my mom doesn’t respect me and my abilities–and who knows you better than your mom?
Only, of course, she’s wrong.
When I got really sick of her making a big deal out of me occasionally forgetting to pass her something at the dinner table, and was fully convinced in my own mind that this was HER problem and I shouldn’t feel bad about it, I managed to maintain my self-esteem and not descend into a boiling mess of repressed anger, hurt, guilt, and anxiety when the problem came up: I was better able to let it slide off my back because I knew SHE was the one being unreasonable rather than ME being the one failing in a basic family duty.
I need to learn to do this with the rest of my life. Because I have this VERY BAD PATTERN of having to tell her (and, especially if I don’t get the reaction from her I want, my friends) about every decision I make: and it’s because I want confirmation that I made the right decision. Well, I have to realize that my mom is not the arbiter of good sense, the unbiased judge she’s set herself up as in my life, and that I really am the best judge of what’s right for me. It doesn’t mean I won’t take advice, but it does mean that I need to learn to take my mom’s judgy behavior with a grain of salt.
And hopefully it will also make me less judgmental of other people’s decisions, too, because even when I don’t express is, I am often super judgy in my head. And I need to learn that other people also have to make their own decisions for themselves and probably know what they’re doing a lot better than I know what they’re doing, if that makes sense.