8 thoughts on “Afraid To Set Limits With Mom? This Could Be Why

  • February 1, 2018 at 2:11 am

    I’m not sure what the “good daughter syndrome” is, but if it resembles what you describe here regarding this client and her mom, I am pretty sure it accurately describes my mom and I!
    We love each other and I too was an only child for a while (8 years). My mom and dad divorced and she married a toxic abusive man. I was made to feel responsible for taking care of my younger siblings when mom was working. I also felt as I got older (I dealt with sexual abuse for most of my childhood and until I was able to move out on my own) like I was the one responsible for any negative feelings–even from the adults. My then stepfather used to tell me while abusing me that if my mom found out I’d be sent away, it would kill her etc.
    Now that we are older (mom is 77 now) she is even MORE needy. She calls me anywhere from 1 to 4 times a day! When I try to set a boundary I feel guilty because she feels rejected and is not happy in her third marriage. She is NOT demanding or manipulative–it is much more subtle than that.
    I love her but I sometimes find myself feeling resentful (which she doesn’t know) and asking myself, “When is it going to be MY turn to have a life and not have to sacrifice for everyone else’s wants and needs?”
    I am mostly angry at myself for not finding my way out of this earlier!

    • February 1, 2018 at 9:10 am

      Thanks so much for writing and sharing your story. I DO think these situations are much more complicated than most people make them out to be. As per your experience, love and resentment can and do coexist! IMO you have been parentified and made to carry a burden that was not yours to carry. I hear this story all too often, the daughter waiting and waiting for it to be her turn after years of sacrifice. Also, you shouldn’t have had to deal with the consequences of your mother’s mistakes with men. It sounds like you are still paying that price. You did not choose these men, she did. I think you can learn to deal with the guilt and set some boundaries for yourself while still loving and caring about your mother. have some FREE resources for you at my website https://daughtersrising.info/ Start with the quiz to see if you are the “Good Daughter”. My guess is yes.

  • February 2, 2018 at 3:31 am

    Hi Katherine,
    Thank you so much for responding! I DID take the quiz on your site and if I understand the results right, it lists five symptoms I do have! Unfortunately there are a few questions that didn’t have an exact choice representing how we respond to each other so I just chose the closest one.
    For instance, she’s not a lecturer. She might say “I think you should do x,y,z” but if I did a,b, and c instead she’d accept it or at most say “be careful.”
    I felt guilty even taking the quiz lol! And hopefully she never reads here or recognizes my screen name. She is NOT a bad woman. In fact, I do know she loves me no matter what but I don’t feel totally comfortable around family members. A part of my distrust of my mom is that when I FINALLY worked up the courage to tell someone I was being abused at home, she stayed with her husband–my abuser. I felt totally betrayed and rejected. I also felt that maybe I didn’t have the right to protection or to expect maybe she’d leave him because I had just turned 17 when it came out. Plus she shut down, stopped eating, just sat there depressed and said “I’ll never be happy again because of this.” She said a little later “I don’t know what to think, I love you both and I have 2 younger kids to support. I can’t do it alone.” The abuse continued.
    Up until recently (my former stepfather died suddenly on January 18th) my half brother lived with him and the family would gather on weekends there to visit each other. My mom would ask me to go every weekend to “see the kids.” I was so used to shutting down and going away inside my head that I would do it several times a month. Therapy helped me stop that.
    Today I found out I need surgery–pelvic surgery next week. I am single and live alone. Very few supports. It sounds awful but I really don’t want family there. I feel more nervous and I don’t like being vulnerable around them especially even though I DO love them.

    • February 7, 2018 at 2:19 pm

      I am so sorry that you are having to go through this after all you have suffered. I do imagine the ongoing sexual abuse has complicated and made things much worse. Tragically many women carry inside themselves the deeply held belief that they are not worthy of saving and so can’t do it for their daughters.

      I think it is of note that you are the one feeling guilty when you have written about what was perpetrated on you ( the sexual abuse)! This is not yours to feel guilty about. I wish I could wave a magic wand and release you from carrying another’s shame. Best of luck with your surgery and continued healing.

      • February 9, 2018 at 4:48 am

        Yes, guilt and shame has been difficult for me to overcome and as you can see, I’m not quite there yet unfortunately although it HAS gotten better over time.
        Thank you for the surgery well wishes. I thought about this article briefly the morning of surgery. I live alone and have a very limited support system. I also don’t have a vehicle so when I learned on Feb 1st that I’d need surgery on Feb 6th, (day surgery) I began immediately making plans to try and find someone willing to be with me–at least long enough to bring me to the hospital and especially back home! I was supposed to also have someone stay with me overnight since I was given general anesthesia but I knew that part wouldn’t happen as I knew of no one available to do the overnight.
        However, my mom DID say that night that she wanted to drive down (90 minutes each way which I felt bad about since it’s winter and she is elderly now but she insisted she had no problem with it and WANTED to be there.) We agreed that would happen and though I don’t like feeling vulnerable around family–or anyone really, I was grateful to have her.
        My arrival time was 1 P.M. I checked with her the night before, she informed me then she had to take her husband to the doctor because he has had a bad cough and his doctor scheduled him the same day as my surgery. Mom said she could still do it.
        Next day, an hour and ten minutes before she is due here, she calls and tells me she DIDN’T bring her husband to the doctor because she “doesn’t feel that great.” She said she thought she was getting a cold when just the other night she told me it was “probably allergies or sinus stuff.” Long story short, she backed out last minute and I had to scramble to try and get a cab there which I did–only to find out there was a delay so I sat there for quite a while all alone until I was able to get a hold of a friend who came over until I was taken into surgery and then came back to bring me home.
        Still pending results of biopsies but the procedure went well. I hope the results are good news but won’t know until my appointment on Feb 19th!
        Thanks again.

      • February 10, 2018 at 10:12 am

        Dear Velveteen Rabbit,
        I can only imagine your disappointment as you were going through all of the above. My hope is that you will take stock and start to invest some of your energy in yourself. Your independence, your happiness, your autonomy. It is never too late. Remember real is better than good. Take care.

  • March 13, 2018 at 9:22 am

    Dear Mrs. Fabrizio, first of all let me thank you for publicising well-researched info on this topic! I just watched your “Are you free to say no?”-Video on YouTube, in which you describe a “bad feeling” in the stomach area, with the classic example of being talked into eating a second piece of cake. With me personally, I notice something else! It’s as if a manipulation-alarm went off inside me, and I react with Fight Mode (anger). Sometimes it happens with friends. They want to pamper me, offer something and I’m like “NO!!!” (over-reacting).

    • March 13, 2018 at 1:02 pm

      Thanks so much for writing and sharing your experience. I think you are dead on to something. And that is how enraging it is to be on the other end of someone overtly indicating one thing while doing its opposite. You feel the incongruence and it makes you mad as hell. If someone came over and stomped on your foot while saying hello it is so nice to see you, you would be like, GET OFF of my foot. Our emotions are there to protect us.
      I do hear that you feel you over-react to friends help but chances are- being aware of the overreaction you can make amends or deal with it better. What you are talking about is the basis of all of my writing, the mixed messages mothers give daughters resulting in shame guilt and self-doubt I even wrote a book about it!https://daughtersrising.info/daughters-rising/
      Again thanks for writing.


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