Help me plan for a difficult conversation with my mother
July 10, 2014 8:57 AM Subscribe
I need to talk to my mother soon about something I did, and I am looking for advice on how to handle the conversation in a way that respects her but is also mindful of my own boundaries.
posted by mermaidcafe to Human Relations (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I recently moved to get out of a living situation that was beyond hellish. (I posted a couple times about that situation and the acute trauma response/PTSD it triggered.)Because my income is limited to SSDI that I get for mental health reasons (bipolar II, GAD, PTSD, insomnia), I had hoped to move on the cheap via folks from craigslist. Unfortunately, I had three different movers that I found there fall through. I was in constant panic and freaking out at that point over all the stress. A friend helped me find professional movers who came highly recommended, so I got an estimate from them and set up the move. The movers were great and wonderfully friendly and professional. Unfortunately, the move ran longer than estimated, and I didn't have enough money to pay them the $350. However, I do have my mother's credit card information (which she gave me for emergencies; it was her idea), so I decided to use that.On one hand, it seems like "well, she gave you that for emergencies, and this counts." But my mother is completely obsessed with saving money. Whenever we talk on the phone, her end of the conversation always features a monologue about great deals she's gotten. It isn't that she doesn't have money. She has always been comfortable financially and never lived on her own, much less on an income as fixed as mine is. Saving money is some way that she likes to feel in control, I think.
This is even more complicated by how unwilling and/or incapable she's been of even acknowledging the trauma symptoms. I had wanted to tell her about the credit card charges right away, but before I could she started texting me 3-5 times a day reminding me to do something that I knew would be crazy triggering. I tried so many approaches to get through to her that I was not just being difficult. I sent her an article about trauma avoidance and followed up on it. I told her flat out that every time she texted me reminding me to do the triggering thing, I had a panic attack. And she kept on. So my guilt over using her card was compounded by anger towards her because she was not only being unhelpful; she was being reckless with my fragile state.She went to Europe on vacation (not as extravagant as it sounds--her trip was free because she took a group of people) so has been out of range but gets back tomorrow, and I want to be prepared to talk to her. I want to acknowledge that she has a right to her feelings if she is upset, and I understand why she could be. But I also want to display self-respect and try to maintain healthy boundaries. And I don't want to make the conversation about stuff that it may not be about...I don't know how relevant it is that she won't acknowledge most of the awful stuff I've been through.
I would appreciate any suggestions on how to handle this conversation in a way that shows respect while also asserting my right to be treated respectfully. Tips on how to phrase things are also excellent. (I will add that I am happy to work out a repayment plan with her if that is good enough, but I don't know if it will be. Also, there is no one who could loan me the money right now.) Thank you.