Worst Summer Break Ever!!
June 13, 2011 2:54 PM   Subscribe

I recently got into a fight with my mother, who now refuses to let me drive MY car or go anywhere!

I am a college student who is currently going to school year-round to finish a 5-year program early...and also to avoid coming home. To say the least, home was never a great place growing up. My parents refused to allow me to have guests over, travel beyond the block, or go my other friends' houses. I have very few stable relationships in my hometown. But that has somewhat changed now. I am enrolled in college where I live five states away. I pay my own tuition and I am a sub-par (3.2ish) student. I have made lots of friends. The problem arises in between the quarters, where I have 2 to 3-weeks off to prepare for the next trimester. I usually come home and go to the library during the day time to study in advance for my next course load. Visiting the library allows me to have peace and quiet from my hectic family. I will then go out until 9pm with friends.

Yesterday, my mother asked me to take my younger sister to the mall. I did not want to, since I was upstairs resting and catching up on re-runs. Plus, my parents were heading in the same direction as the mall. My mother then overreacted and took my own car keys away from me (the car was a gift from my cousin). Currently, I only drive the car when I am home because my mother forbids me to use it out of state...but that is another story. Without a car, and without many friends in-state, getting to places I need to go will be a hassle for the remaining of my time here (10 more days). Furthermore, I am no longer allowed to use anything in the house other than electricity and water (no food, nada...good thing have a little change saved and work on the internet).

I don't plan on coming back home to stay other than on Christmas, but I am not sure how I can study effectively and get other errands done in time for school. I have explained the situation to my friends, but only two of them have reliable transportation and don't seem too willing to lend a hand. I could ask my older brother and sister, but hitching a ride with either of them will cost me $15 a day for gas (apparently, only my tank can run on $5 a day). It seems like everyone relies on me to help them, but when the tables are turned, I feel like I have little support.

Any suggestions on how to manage this sticky situation, and how to get around town? My mom won't even accept my apology, so that is out of the question. Any words of wisdom would be helpful. Thanks!
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (51 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
Is your housing already settled for the upcoming quarter? If so, is there anything that prevents you moving in sooner than planned?

I'd start checking the relevant Craigslist or equivalent for sublets and jobs near your campus, and figure out how to get the hell out ASAP. There is nothing good that will come of staying in this situation.
posted by FlyingMonkey at 2:59 PM on June 13, 2011 [6 favorites]


Why are you staying in that house? Get the keys back and leave. Where is she keeping them? Can you really not access them? If she won't give them back, have a friend ready to pick you up, then call the police and say she is stealing your car, which she is (you may want to warn her you will do this first).
posted by brainmouse at 2:59 PM on June 13, 2011 [75 favorites]


Call a cab company and ask them what the fare would be from your house to wherever you need to go. You can also take a cab to a bus stop, if there aren't any within walking distance. A bus will be cheaper than a cab.

Good luck with your situation. You are wise to not be coming back.
posted by corey flood at 3:01 PM on June 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


Is your name on the title and insurance? If you go back to school early, do you have somewhere to stay? Up to and including sleeping in your car. If both of those are yes, demand the keys back and leave. Take the car with you. If you're paying for tuition, there is very little your mom has to hold over your head. There's a time when it becomes the best decision to call her bluff. She won't "let" you do lots of things, but you're an adult. She only has the power over you that you allow her to have.

This isn't the politic, smooth things over answer. But I've been in your situation with a crazy and controlling parent. It only stopped and got better when I finally drew the line about what I was willing to accept. I did sleep in my car for a long time. It was totally worth it. You are the only one who has power over you.
posted by stoneweaver at 3:04 PM on June 13, 2011 [44 favorites]


Please don't read this too uncharitably, but you're either an adult or you're not.

Everyone has to make some choices in life that cost them things sometimes. In your case, the choice is to live under someones roof and accept what comes with that.

You're talking about being in the situation for 10 more days, it's not the end of the world. Consider this a valuable lesson and make choices to not be put in to that situation again. It will serve you well when you're out of school and need to make similar choices and weight the benefits of future decisions when it comes to roommates, jobs, and other relationships.
posted by iamabot at 3:04 PM on June 13, 2011 [11 favorites]


Is the car in your name? If so, she has no right to take the keys. The exception to that is if your parent(s) are covering your expenses in any real way, because then you have to consider what you are willing to give up to live under their roof.

If you are covering all of your own expenses at school and living, then maybe it's time to take your car out of state, against your mother's wishes, and not come back. It really sounds like your mother has control issues, and you have to decide whether to let her control your life or not. It's not an easy call to make, but at some point you will have to decide the day when what she says isn't how things are going to be. Is it that time now? Only you can answer that for yourself.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 3:09 PM on June 13, 2011 [4 favorites]



Please don't read this too uncharitably, but you're either an adult or you're not.

Everyone has to make some choices in life that cost them things sometimes. In your case, the choice is to live under someones roof and accept what comes with that.


Oh dear. As someone who was abused at home, it would be difficult not to read this uncharitably or as lacking some basic understanding of how the dynamics of control and abuse work. Indeed, anonymous, you may have to make a difficult choice here, but the fact that it is difficult and possibly quite scary isn't your fault. Get out of there, but not because you're acting like a child. Get out of there because you're not even being treated like a cherished one.
posted by liketitanic at 3:10 PM on June 13, 2011 [73 favorites]


Do what you can to get the keys back. And then consider signing up for counselling when you return to school - it should be free at your school. It sounds like you may be coming from a "not okay" family environment and that you may have some stuff to work through. If you are going to stand up for yourself -- which is not the same as being an adult or not -- you may need extra support. BTW, if you want to leave now, you could call a domestic violence shelter and ask where you can stay. "Violence" doesn't have to be physical. And you can get a locksmith to cut new keys or go to your dealership and ask for help.
posted by acoutu at 3:10 PM on June 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


A few years back, a friend of mine had a similar, but more extreme version of this.

Her family would take the keys as an abusive way of controlling her. The keys for the car, and the house, generally got left on a key rack near the door - one morning, she woke up to find the keys gone. Not gone because someone had borrowed the car- it was right there, but gone because they wanted to keep her from traveling anywhere or leaving.

When she finally got the keys (by taking them without asking), her father tried to literally strangle her to death.

Even if your situation isn't that serious, taking your keys away and forbidding you from traveling is not how adults treat each other - that's manipulative and abusive behavior.

Get out as soon as you can, call on friends, and check out some local abuse hotlines/counseling, even if your family hasn't physically harmed you- the controlling behaviors are a problem and folks can give you real advice on dealing with it.
posted by yeloson at 3:11 PM on June 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


Trying to understand: Your mom wanted you to run an errand, but you were busy watching re-runs of some TV program so you said no. She got made and took your car keys.

I suggest you give her time to cool off, and then sit down with her with a cup of tea (like an adult), and ask her how you can help her in the house now that you are one of the adults in the household. Part of not being a child is not acting like one. So act like one. As the conversation, which is about you contributing to the household and not acting a privileged spoiled way, I'm sure the car will come up, and you can suggest to her that you can make a bigger contribution if you have it to provide rides, get grocercies, and run other errands.
posted by zia at 3:11 PM on June 13, 2011 [15 favorites]


People only have the power over you that you allow them.

Decide what it is that you really want. Then, decide if you are willing to do what it will take to get it.

Good luck.
posted by WaspEnterprises at 3:12 PM on June 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


oops... She got MAD, not MADE
posted by zia at 3:12 PM on June 13, 2011


An adult who lost his keys would simply take his title and registration and driver's license to a dealership and say "I lost my key, can you make me a new one." Replacement keys run around $100.

Then, if I were you, I'd find a new place to stay for the next few weeks. But try if you can to be an adult about it. Mom, "I love you, but I'm an adult now and I think it's better if I live on my own...let's figure out a time for me to come over and have dinner with the family, I'll bring..." Should do the trick.

The key here is to act like an adult even if your Mom won't.
posted by bananafish at 3:19 PM on June 13, 2011 [8 favorites]


I have explained the situation to my friends, but only two of them have reliable transportation and don't seem too willing to lend a hand. I could ask my older brother and sister, but hitching a ride with either of them will cost me $15 a day for gas (apparently, only my tank can run on $5 a day).

So between the two friends with reliable transportation, your brother, and your sister, that's four people who you can hit up for rides over the next 10 days. That's only 2 or 3 times per person, and maybe you can work things to not need rides every one of those 10 days?

Also, if the car in question is in your name, you might call the local police's non-emergency number and get their take on the situation.

Also also: I am no longer allowed to use anything in the house other than electricity and water (no food, nada...
Seriously? Are you supposed to buy your own food with your spare change and nibble on generic saltines while the rest of the family eats dinner?
posted by shiny blue object at 3:22 PM on June 13, 2011


I feel like there are pieces to the story that we're not getting. Nevertheless, I think it completely inappropriate for your mother to take your keys and deny you food. Do they pay for your insurance? If they don't pay for your car at all, you could definitely call the police-that will definitely come at a price re family ties, I think. Only you can know if it's worth it.

We can't tell from here about the rest of your family situation, whether it's abusive or not. I will say that your question reads that you come home for breaks and use your family home only for sleeping and eating their food. Do you help out at all? Do the dishes, make a meal for everyone, pick up milk? If you don't help out, eat food they buy but don't socialize, then refuse to do a quick errand-well, taking keys is over the top, but even a pretty mellow parent might've lost it a bit.

In other words, if you are an adult but just expect to crash at their house without contributing, I want to gently suggest you look at the other side of this story to gain some perspective.
posted by purenitrous at 3:29 PM on June 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


Is it really your car? Are you making the insurance payments, paying for the gas, etc? Is the title in your name?

If the answer to that is "yes," get the keys (by taking them back in the dead of night, by getting a copy at the dealership, whatever) and leave, now. Staying at youth hostel will cost less than $15 a day to go anywhere, and the stand you take will clearly establish the boundaries for your future relationship with your mother.

If the answer was "no," sit out the next two weeks and spend your time (instead of hanging out) making a coherent plan to get that car in your name and take over the insurance payments. Once you have those things, you can clearly establish the boundaries for your future relationship with your mother.

And next time you're in a shared housing situation with someone else, I suggest you find a way of dealing with them that isn't guaranteed to push their buttons. I was stuck being a ride service for my siblings for years as a condition of car access when I was home on break: that was the deal. I could have stayed elsewhere, but I chose not to (some years, I did stay at school, living in the dorms over break with the foreign students.) It seems your mom thinks that's the deal you have with her.
posted by SMPA at 3:36 PM on June 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


Members of my family have done this weird control thing. It's a form of abuse. This is how I would deal with it:

1) Get those keys back
2) Get yourself in housing off-camp SO THAT YOU NEVER HAVE TO GO BACK TO THAT HOUSE
3) Once established, write an email to your mother. Make it clear that her behavior was unacceptable. Prepare to not speak to your family for a while (because when controlling/abuse people lose control, they tend to lash out)
4) Ignore the commenters who are saying "you may have been a dick." You need to get out of an abusive situation and not feel guilt about doing so.
posted by angrycat at 3:38 PM on June 13, 2011 [9 favorites]


[comment removed - please be constructive.]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:41 PM on June 13, 2011


purenitrous: "In other words, if you are an adult but just expect to crash at their house without contributing, I want to gently suggest you look at the other side of this story to gain some perspective."

This. Take your stupid sister to the stupid mall. Your mother is being a tantrum throwing teenager but it doesn't sound like you are 100% on board with being a grownup either.

If you want to crash at home when you're not at school, you need to play by home's rules whether you like them or not. If you don't like the rules, you need to sort out another home. If you have to leave the dorms during breaks, can you arrange to live off campus nect year so you have year-round housing? Can you rent a room in a frat house or other alternative campus housing between terms?
posted by DarlingBri at 3:42 PM on June 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


Meta.
posted by liketitanic at 3:45 PM on June 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


If you are the owner of the car (i.e., the title is in your name) and you pay the insurance*, call the police. They will come to the house & force your mother to return the keys to you, but you must show them the title to the car. If you do this, be prepared to leave the house immediately and not return. If your mother supports you financially in any way, be prepared for that support to end. If your siblings are very close to or supportive of your mother, be prepared to have a falling out with them.

Of course, only you can decide if this is the best course of action for you. It was for a friend of mine, who was in a situation similar to yours and called the police to have her car keys returned. They showed up, forced her mother to return the keys, and she left.

*I added the caveat about insurance because if your mother or another relative pays for your insurance and you call the police to have your keys returned, they're almost certainly going to cancel your policy that day.
posted by pecanpies at 3:45 PM on June 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have an answer in several parts, plus some thoughts. But first, let me say unequivocally that I am on your side here and that I think you're being treated unfairly. Here goes:

1. Your car? In what sense? You said that your mom forbids you from taking it out of state. Is it legally yours, or does it belong to your parents as a car designated for your use? You're anon, so you're not likely to answer that, so let me just say that, if the car is not legally yours, you need to stop thinking of it as your car. I mean, you say that's "another story," but really it's a big part of this story and one that would significantly affect just how unjustly we all think you're being treated.

2. All you've told us about the current conflict is that your mom asked you to help the family out by doing something simple - driving your sister to the mall - and that you refused solely because you were "upstairs resting and catching up on re-runs." To an adult who is hoping that their adult child will help out with family duties, your excuse would reasonably be interpreted as ridiculous, unreasonable, and a little mean, frankly. I understand there's history there that you have only partially explained to us, and I'm sure there's a serious dynamic going on. But you didn't honestly think that it was going to go over well when you basically told your mom that chillaxin' and watching re-runs was more important than helping her out, did you?

3. Could it be, possibly, that your mom views your access to this car as contingent to some degree on your generally helping out and being a productive part of the family, and that she thought that you ought to be willing to use this car to help give transportation to other members of the family? She may have overreacted, but can you see, maybe, where she's coming from here?

4. Two or three weeks between trimesters? Dude, just take some classes and stay at school year-round. And if you're home for those few weeks because you need the free rent, then realize that your parents are giving you something of value and that maybe, in exchange for that free rent, you could give your sister a ride to the mall when all you've got going on is relaxing and watching re-runs.

5. I understand that your home sucked to grow up in, by your estimation. But I also don't think you've given us enough information to justify the assumption by several people in this thread that you're being abused or have been abused. Absent more information that would specifically support that assumption, I don't think those responses are justified.

6. How far is the library? If it's less than several miles, just walk.

7. Are you an adult? If so, behave like one. That includes such behavior as doing other adults a favor like driving kids to the mall. It also includes being self-sufficient, controlling one's own assets (like a car), and moving out of your parents' house when you decide you don't like being treated like a child anymore. But is the car really yours or not? Because if it's actually technically your parents' car but you're just allowed to use it, then the adult thing here is to admit that it's not your car and accept that one of the conditions of borrowing your parents' car is that you drive your sister to the mall when you've got nothing better to do than chill and watch TV.

8. Dude, 10 days is nothing. You can handle it.

So, keeping that all in mind, my answers to your specific questions:

Any suggestions on how to manage this sticky situation

You've got to de-escalate, take a lot of deep breaths, and get to where you can communicate like a grown-up with your mom. That means you're going to have to voluntarily accept some responsibility that is probably not actually yours. Yes, that sucks. But if you want the situation to get better, you need to focus on making amends for what you did wrong, not on getting the other person to admit their own wrongs.

and how to get around town?

Walk. Seriously. Or ride a bike or skateboard or whatever else you might have handy. But really, walking ain't so bad.

My mom won't even accept my apology, so that is out of the question.

You don't apologize so that the other person will accept the apology. You apologize because you've done something wrong. Did you do something wrong? If so, apologize without any expectation of benefit. Any other apology would be insincere anyway.

If you want your relationship with your family to get better, all you can do is control your own behavior. Based on what you've said, it sounds like they're behaving badly and being somewhat immature. But I see nothing to suggest that they're abusive. So bend over backwards to make things work. Do everything you can do. Put up with more than you should have to. Make sure that, no matter what, there's nothing in your own conduct that could reasonably set them off. And drive your sister to the mall, for crying out loud. Re-runs will run again, by definition.
posted by The World Famous at 3:47 PM on June 13, 2011 [31 favorites]


Also, my comment above is coming from the perspective that you're ultimately seeking to cut ties with your mother and permanently move out of your home. If that is not your goal, or if you're not prepared to take this step yet, then clearly disregard what I've said.
posted by pecanpies at 3:48 PM on June 13, 2011


It's hard to tell all the facts that may or may not justify a particular response to this. If you have title to the car (e.g., your name is on the papers and you are the legal owner), your mother can't lawfully keep you from it. In this case, get the keys back firmly. If nothing short of force will do it, call the cops instead. If she is financially supporting you in any way, she's still being childish, but you're in a gray area and may not have the leverage. If the car is "yours" only in that you usually have possession, but not title (e.g., it's mom's car on paper, but you're the only one who drives it), you're screwed, and may want to respond with better diplomacy.

In the meantime, sublet a room or move back to school early, and work (or keep working) to pay for it and some emergency funds.

Last, if you have title to the car, do yourself a favor and get yourself a spare key.
posted by Hylas at 4:03 PM on June 13, 2011


Please don't read this too uncharitably, but you're either an adult or you're not.

I was going to go with a comment similar to iamabot's above. Then I remembered.

You see I was brought up in the same kind of controlling/abusive family situation that you seem to be a part of. Kid, I feel for you and I have to tell you it's not over yet. So let me tell you a story ...

I'm 22 years old. I've left home. I am in the U.S. Army putting my life on the line in the wilds of Columbus GA. And I wan to buy a PET 2001 computer because it just cam on the market and I am and always have been a complete geek for new technology. It costs $800 and if I buy it I will have no money at all for a month. I make about $500 a month but have a little saved and my food, gas, and frankly everything is payed for so WTF ? But I never bought anything this expensive in my life. Never. And I am only 22. So I ask my Dad who tells me "What do you need a computer for??. That's ridiculous . Don't do it." Which is inevitably always his advice to anyone wanting something different then he would want. So I consider it. For about a day. Then I buy the computer feeling utterly guilty and disobedient about it. But I have a freaking great time geeking out with it in my barracks.

Fast forward one year. I get appointed to a somewhat technical position in my (army) Company because out company commander saw my computer and is impressed. Fast forward 20 years. I am making six figures at IndyMac Bank (not my fault) as a computer programmer.

So I know how you feel.

Cut the cord right now. You pay for your college. You pay for your upkeep. The car belongs to you. Demand the keys back from your Mom. If necessary do it loudly. If necessary call the police and have them make your mother give your keys back. You are an adult . You deserve that much respect. You earned it.

If I am not reading too much into your situation and if your family is anything like mine was, the fun is just beginning for you with regard to them. Stand up for yourself now. Nothing that happens will be worse then the regret that you will feel in the future for not doing so.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 4:04 PM on June 13, 2011 [14 favorites]


There are a lot of growing pains during the college years w/r/t carving out an adult identity for yourself and yet still co-habitating with your parents part time. I had very different issues with my family - my stepfather faked a heart attack on Christmas Eve to try and prove some point about my getting too much attention - but I do feel for you.

Others have offered advice about what to do about the car keys. My own advice here is to try and maintain perspective. You're talking about the next ten days. Your situation sucks, but you will survive ten days and then you're out of the house. Use that time to try and mend the damage with your family - even if you don't think it was your fault - if you can, or lay low if you can't. Try to see your situation from your mom's perspective, even if you absolutely don't agree with where she's coming from, realizing it can help a lot in figuring out how you want to go about things in the future.

In this case, she asked you to help and you provided a reason that you couldn't. She may not have considered it a good reason and clearly felt hurt and blown-off. Now, maybe she over-reacted, but there was a definite cause and effect and not just a random event. Try and problem solve what you can do to mitigate the damage in the future. It may well be nothing, but it may be doing things that you really don't feel like doing in the present (running an errand) to be able to do other things that you do feel like doing (such as having your car) in the future.

And seriously, if I ever told my parents I couldn't help them because I was catching up on re-runs? OHBOY. There would definitely be a handle off of which they would fly.
posted by sonika at 4:15 PM on June 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


From the OP:
Thanks for all of the wonderful tips and responses. To start off, the insurance is not in my name, the car was given to me by a cousin. I may have to chalk up the car as a lesson lost until I am able to afford to purchase a vehicle and pay for the monthly insurance. I do admit that I should have done the favor when asked. This situation could have been completely avoided. I decided that I will use this time to continue studying and working. Thanks again for the advice.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:18 PM on June 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


OP: Please understand that lots of people go through what you're going through and that probably everyone in this thread, regardless of what advice they're giving you, has behaved far worse than you did here on at least one occasion and has got in a similar fight on at least one occasion with their parents or similar authority figures. We all have our differing analysis of your situation based on what we perceive as the implied facts. But what we have in common is that we can all understand where you are to one degree or another. If you're looking for a sympathetic ear here, please know that you have all of us, whether or not that is apparent in our actual answers.
posted by The World Famous at 4:22 PM on June 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


To say the least, home was never a great place growing up.

It still isn't. And it might not be for your lil sister either.

You should have a plan with your little sister when she needs rides. Going through a crazy middle man (your mama) may just muddle things up.

Look out for your little sister...get an ally that will help, not worsen the situation.

Good luck.
posted by hal_c_on at 4:23 PM on June 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


These things have happened to me. I was being abused by my parent, and the extreme groundings were a method my abuser used to control me. If you are being abused, and need help, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7923).
posted by brina at 4:33 PM on June 13, 2011 [9 favorites]


One more thing: If the car is legally yours (i.e. the title and registration are in your name) but is insured by your parents because you cannot afford the insurance, you might consider selling the car to raise money that would help you to gain your independence.
posted by The World Famous at 4:47 PM on June 13, 2011 [12 favorites]


I find your comment about food most disturbing. If your parents are really withholding food from you--and by 'withholding food', I mean that there is nothing in the house or a lock on the fridge so that you CANNOT partake of meals with the family or make yourself something to eat, not that you just can't go out with your friends and get what you want to eat any time you want it because you are without a car at the moment--then you should call the police, or family services. In fact, if your parents are abusive, why have you not called them for your sister's sake already?

If your parents pay the car insurance (which they may, as you say your mother will not 'allow' you to drive the car out of state, and as you are 19 and not a minor I don't see why that would be her decision), or if your cousin 'gifted' the car to you but the title is in their name, your mother has the right to take the keys away from you. It sucks, but taking your sister to the mall would have been the smart move here. Again, if your parents are abusive, I would think for your sister's sake you'd want to help her get away from home sometimes anyway at the very least.

Oh, and if you don't like it at home, there might be another solution! You pay your own tuition, right? Does this include dorm, meals, textbooks, etc.? Are you on scholarship or do you have a job? I ask because I feel like if you can already pay for all that, maybe you could work some more hours or get a part-time job, save up some money to pay for yourself for those three weeks when school is out, get yourself an apartment off-campus and some roommates and live there. Problem solved.

Otherwise, you are going to have to live by your parents' rules while you are living in their home. So you might want to consider sitting down, talking to your Mom and apologizing for not taking your sister to the mall. I didn't see any time in your schedule allotted for doing laundry, cleaning the house, babysitting your sister or cooking, so I assume you are taking advantage of having those things done for you.

If you are not acting like an adult at home, you really shouldn't expect to be treated like one there.
posted by misha at 5:30 PM on June 13, 2011


Oh, man, OP, I'm sorry. I just saw the update (posted while I was writing my reply).

Sounds like you have a handle on all this now. Good luck to you.
posted by misha at 5:32 PM on June 13, 2011


(Even though I could have written this exact post 20 years ago, I must ask...)

WHAT???

The "punishment" your mother is imposing is OUTRAGEOUS.

Your reasoning here is the reasoning of an abused person. You should not have done the favor when asked if you couldn't.The car would have been taken away from you sooner or later for another reason. How do I know? Check my answer history.

Your answer does not clarify who's name the car title is in, only who pays the insurance.

Take the car and stow it at a friend's if it is in your name. Do you have AAA? Free towing there! I don't think they even need to get inside the vehicle, although they can pop the lock if need be.

YOU CAN GET A NEW KEY FROM THE DEALERSHIP WITH THE VIN NUMBER!

It might cost a little or a lot. Call the local dealership for your car and ask.

-------

Practicalities aside, your bigger problem is that you describe your family as "not OK," when it's quite worse than that based on your explanation.

Again. I've been there.

Kids like us don't always turn out OK. I'm really really proud of you and glad you turned to metafilter. This is not a "one off" problem - there is a system breakdown in your family. I'm so sorry.

The advice to "man up" is straight on. I wish I had done more of that when I was in your position. Again, YOU ARE DOING GREAT. Paying for your own school, just wow. Excellent. You're on your way!

- Please don't go home for Christmas.

- Get some counseling and leave these folks in the dust.

- Make it your intention to never ever repeat these behaviors in your own family, when you have one.

- Forgive yourself when you make mistakes in life. Why? BECAUSE THIS IS THE ONE THING YOU'VE NEVER BEEN TAUGHT TO DO BY YOUR PARENTS:)

Being too hard on yourself is a control lever you've been taught to wield against yourself for their benefit. Does that realization make you mad? It should!

Being hard on yourself has helped you get this far. I just want you to know that down the road, and soon if you are college aged, that defense mechanism will Fuck. You. Up.

Know when to discern your responsibilities from the other person's. This will come up for you a lot in life. Be prepared, k?

-------

I have lots more. I hope you MeMail. Anytime, even if it is years from now.

Some of us do overcome this kind of upbringing. Join us!
posted by jbenben at 5:37 PM on June 13, 2011 [10 favorites]


Concerning misha's answer, just above mine...

At times I did things like apologize for "infractions" like this to get back into my mom's "good graces." On occasion, I knowingly debased myself to achieve goals. (once, in an unprecedented and never repeated demand on my mother's part, apologizing including crawling across the floor and begging, at the age of 16 or so. just once. but it was ugly enough to forever remind me how outrageous the entire dynamic was.) I think in abuse speak this is called bargaining or some such. Sometimes it was OK to apologize, and sometimes it set me back emotionally. YMMV. Do what you feel you must today, just keep reality in mind.

Also, you don't have to feel hatred towards someone (or a group of people) to realize that you need distance.

Also, you may not be responsible for your siblings well-being. My 2 years younger bro? Couldn't save him, as hard as I tried. And I tried.

I tried to improve things for my parents, too.

Point being: Everyone has their own journey in life and the free will to make their own decisions. If your intention is to always do the highest good, you'll be fine. In that pre-flight airline lecture, they always say to put your own oxygen mask on first before helping anyone else. THIS.
posted by jbenben at 6:01 PM on June 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


Nthing that you need to find ways to stay on campus during breaks. I didn't come from an abusive household (and I'm not convinced, despite others who are reading between the lines quite differently, that you do either), but I constantly fought with my parents when I went home for college breaks and generally felt completely listless and depressed about it. Before my senior year I got an unpaid internship in my college town which made me eligible to stay on campus over the summer, and it was easily the best summer of my college years.

For what it's worth, going to stay with my parents for more than a couple of days at a time still makes me crazy. And why shouldn't it? We're all adults with our own lives and habits. I'm envious of my friends who have closer familial relationships but also much happier for having come to terms with the fact that my parents and i.just.don't.really.get.along in a 24/7 setting. This is one of those things you learn to negotiate as you get older and it will get better, as unbelievably crazy as it may make you right now.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 6:15 PM on June 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Currently, I only drive the car when I am home because my mother forbids me to use it out of state...but that is another story.

No, it's the same story. If the car isn't in your parents' name, find your keys, and drive the car back to college. (You keep saying the car is a gift from your cousin- so what? That doesn't give your mother any rights to the car.) Your mother can no longer "forbid" you to do anything, and you need to no longer accept her attempts.

I don't plan on coming back home to stay other than on Christmas

Rethink that. Do not stay with your parents any more. You need to get your own place in your college town and stay there on breaks. Work full time if you need to; plenty of people juggle both.

I do admit that I should have done the favor when asked.

No, this is actually irrelevant. You were being a brat, but this has nothing to do with you accepting "punishment". Your parents are no longer in a position to punish you.

To start off, the insurance is not in my name,

Again, so what? This doesn't make the car belong to your mom. Get your own insurance. Until then; grab the keys and drive home now before your mom cancels the insurance.

You need to take control of your life.
posted by spaltavian at 6:18 PM on June 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


[folks, there is a metatalk thread on this thread already. Give answers to the OP, metacommentary goes there not here, period, thank you.]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:36 PM on June 13, 2011


Sounds like you've got this figured out. I just wanted to point out that you said you would consider hitching a ride with an older brother or sister, but you'd have to pay your own gas. I understand that maybe your family isn't very close and it seems like they wouldn't give you a ride for free, like an older sibling should, and if they are that way at their age, they might not change. But use this crappy situation to try to be a better older sibling to your younger sister, now that you see for yourself how much it sucks to not be able to get a ride when you need one.
posted by never.was.and.never.will.be. at 6:41 PM on June 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I used to take cabs to the greyhound station and then I'd take the bus to somewhere I had a friend or a place to stay.

Often airport shuttles will pick you up at your door and then from the airport you can take another shuttle/public transit to a place to stay.

Eventually, I quit coming home, but I know how hard it is on school breaks. Hang in there.
posted by the young rope-rider at 7:10 PM on June 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


For the short term, can you borrow a bike to get around town? Or buy a cheap used one?

For the long term, I think your family sounds manipulative and staying in the house is unhealthy for you. Unfortunately the car isn't really yours (because you don't pay insurance on it) and seems to be something of a red herring at this point. The car isn't the problem, your mother is. Find a way to officially move out so you don't end up back the homestead every break- could you find a part time job where you go to school and work there during breaks? Cars are a money suck (the car isn't the expensive part, the insurance, gas, and repairs are) and not a necessity. Put your energy and money towards the goal becoming fully independent from your parents. You're already paying for your own tuition and food so surely you're capable of it. And it doesn't mean that you have to cut off your family, but when you're no longer dependent on them, you'd be able to interact with them on your own terms.
posted by emd3737 at 8:01 PM on June 13, 2011


OP - if the title is in your name, then YOU own the car.

Paying insurance doesn't convey any ownership rights to your parents. If they've convinced you of this, they are selling you a load of bullshit.

Get your own insurance and drive your car back to school with you.

The car is yours and does not have to sit in the driveway or stay in your parent's state. Make the car street legal by paying your own insurance and take your personal property back to school with you.

Your cousin likely gave you that car to help you forge your independence. Honor the spirit of the gift by following through on your ownership rights to your car!
posted by jbenben at 5:28 AM on June 14, 2011


It's interesting to note the two camps evident in these responses. People who have not lived through parental abuse seem to discount the abusive behavior while those who have lived through parental abuse recognize what they recognize. Your parents are abusers and are out of control. You've gotten plenty of advise here about options. Looks like you've chosen to stay (and thus reward your mother's outrageous behavior.) That's fine if you really think it is the best choice for you. It's not fine if you are basing that decision on the fact that you did not behave perfectly by refusing to give your sister a ride to the mall. You do not control your mother's behavior by altering your own. Period.

I was raised in an abusive family that was likely worse than yours. My mother was physically and emotionally abusive. They worked me like a cheap mule. I left home while still in high school at the age of 17. The ultimate fight was over which college I would attend. I worked, bought my own car, put myself through college and finished grad school with a Ph.D. My younger siblings stuck it out, had their cars bought for them (brand new!) and their college paid for completely. This was all many years ago and my brother and sister still have not forgiven me for leaving them in that house alone. Now and for many years, I am the only one that my parents have any respect for. Sorry to say that I can never return that respect to my mother...some things can never be forgiven. But we do have a cordial relationship. She finally reluctantly realized that I set my own boundaries and if she ever wants to see me or my family she must respect them.

I was scared when I left. But I was angry...that helped me get through the initial arrangements. It was the best thing I ever did for myself. In some families you cannot wait for the "adults" to pronounce you adult. Sometimes you just have to make a declaration (as much to yourself as them), then go build your life.
posted by txmon at 7:47 AM on June 14, 2011 [5 favorites]


From what's been said so far, it sounds unlikely that the OP actually owns the car. I could be wrong, but it seems like the OP would remember signing a title to the car when it was given by the cousin.

OP: If you signed a title you'd have done so shortly after receiving the car. It's an important piece of paper in proving who actually owns a car, and is required when you visit the DMV to get plates, file for insurance, etc., If you aren't absolutely sure about the existence of this paper, with your name on it, be very cautious in following advice above regarding taking the keys or car anywhere.
posted by odinsdream at 7:52 AM on June 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I imagine you would have said this if it were a possibility, but have you tried calling college friends to see if you can couch surf? I know I drove some crazy distances to pick friends up from lame parents over breaks. What's more, it was a fun excuse for a mini road trip (the longest I ever drove was probably 11 hours, so not exactly cross country) and I didn't see it as a hardship at all. You might be surprised at what they're willing to do.
posted by small_ruminant at 8:34 AM on June 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Thanks for the comments! I will definitely take these points into consideration.

@ odinsdream: I have never signed the title. Up until today, I always thought the title was just arbitrary ownership...I still don't know how to change a flat tire, either. I have a lot to learn about cars (and life), I guess.
posted by nikayla_luv at 10:44 AM on June 14, 2011


You should totally learn how to change a tire. It's easy and you feel like a badass when you can whip one on in 15 minutes while your friends are still trying to figure out how to call AAA or whatever.
posted by small_ruminant at 10:56 AM on June 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


From my own history-- get out, and be prepared to never come back. It sounds, to me, like your mother has gone *way too far*, and like this may not be uncommon behavior. You sound like a pretty responsible person. I think you can handle breaking with your family. And I think this is necessary.

A few years ago, after a relationship which had always been contentious and never been workable, my mother finally lied to me on too large a matter to ignore. So I expressed my displeasure, and stopped talking to her. Entirely. For a year, and I was prepared to go on forever. I did not have the best time during that year, due entirely to other factors. I was very, very poor, despite working full-time, and didn't have enough to eat. But I didn't take this as a reason to get back in touch with my mother and beg for food. I was, as far as I was concerned, done being lied to and treated like shit.

A year later, she showed up at my place of employment with an easter basket. It was a nice concilliatory gesture, and I took it. Since then, we've had a much better relationship. She has learned my boundaries, and I got enough distance from our previous difficulties to control my own responses a bit better. She treats me like an adult now. It helps that I live across the country from her, but we're capable of speaking on the phone fairly regularly. I do not love her. I do not tell her I love her. But I like her a lot better than I did, and I guess some family feeling is slowly trickling back in. But this wouldn't have worked if I had not been prepared to stand up for myself, and stand on my own, forever.

It worked for me. It might work for you. In any case, I can say it's what I would do, because it's what I *did*.

Good luck. And be strong.
posted by Because at 5:37 PM on June 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


I have an off-topic question about the phrase "I am a sub-par (3.2ish) student". Anybody can answer.

Is 3.2 a grade point average out of 4, where 4 is straight A's and 3 is straight B's. If so, how is 3.2 (that is, slightly higher than a B average) 'sub-par'? Or is the original poster citing some other grading system with which I'm unfamiliar.
posted by dbarefoot at 9:44 PM on June 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


1. GPA of 3.2 is not sub-par. It's damn close to cum-laude at my alma mater (which has a tough grading scale).

2. Your manipulative, controlling mother has approximately two decades of experience manipulating and controlling you, starting when you were too young to understand such games existed. She's a pro at her game. Do everything in your power to limit her access to your vulnerabilities, because she will exploit them for her own emotionally needy reasons - as she has done so in this situation. No rational person would punish another adult by stealing their car keys.

Good luck. I deal by having no contact whatsoever with mine; you need to find the balance that works for you.
posted by IAmBroom at 7:07 AM on June 18, 2011


My parents were like this.

The best thing I ever did was leave that house (again) at 28. I called the landlady of hte apt. I looked at a week earlier, leaving a message at 2am after a horrible blow out. (little did I know it was leaving a message at her home; waking everyone.) The next day at work I filled out all the paperwork/lease and got it approved. The day after, I took my clothes, money, ID, car keys and left all of my furniture at home. I told my parents I'm sick of their shit and didn't give them my address or my phone number. I called THEM weeks later just to check on them (they're old). I'm not even advising that part.

And then I entered myself into therapy and got on meds. Twenty-eight years of their abuse was enough and it affected everything I did and who I was. I was getting wicked PTSD symptoms since leaving them and that too was a reason I went into therapy.

I can say now at 39 that was the best thing I did.

I suggest you do the same.
posted by stormpooper at 10:44 AM on June 23, 2011


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