How can I navigate a very challenging living situation?
April 17, 2015 5:11 PM   Subscribe

My parents are controlling, manipulative, and verbally abusive, but I cannot afford to leave. What are my options?

Dear Metafilter,

I need your help in terms of navigating a very challenging home situation, getting nearly impossible to live with at this point. I am 27, and moved in with my parents a little while ago, due to financial issues. I am currently unemployed and very low on money (I have some saved from before, but not enough to move out at all), and I’m searching and searching for a job which will get me out of this house. I have a Master’s degree and am looking to start my career in higher education administration (as an Admissions Counselor or Academic Adviser, specifically), and apply every day; I also interviewed for a job last week, so I’m just hoping it all works out soon.

However, I have been searching for a long time, and it is taking a while for my efforts to come to fruition, so I live in fear of how much longer I’ll have to put up with my parents’ abusive behavior.
I don’t know how to much to write on here, but I am being controlled constantly. My parents are Indian and conservative, I am not allowed to go visit my boyfriend or spend the night; in fact, my threatened to commit suicide if I were to drive to his house to visit him. He comes here to see me when he can, but my parents keep a close watch on us, and he’s not able to stay long. He’s currently in a tough situation as well, so I don’t have the option of living with him right now. Additionally, my father says very hurtful things to me regularly; for instance, the other day he told me that I’ll never find a job because I have acne, and that no job wants to hire someone as unattractive as me. (I have some skin issues, but I’m really not bad-looking at all. And I’m very smart and articulate, and well-qualified for a potential job). My mother also makes fun of my appearance and calls me terrible, hurtful names because I have a boyfriend, she constantly tries to control what I eat, when I eat, when I leave the house, and when I come home (even if I just leave to buy groceries). I have little to no privacy, for they are both constantly knocking on my door, asking me what I’m doing, and complaining that I don’t spend enough time with them. I get interrupted a lot while I’m job searching, which frequently prevents me from being productive.
I’m not sure what to do at this point. I’ve tried sitting them down and talking with them calmly about allowing me to live my life in a way which allows freedom and some sense of independence, but they are stuck on their personal values, and not willing to compromise at all. I’ve considered calling a local women’s shelter to stay at, but I’m scared, as I don’t know what the atmosphere at those places is, whether they are safe, etc. I’m scared and embarrassed to tell my friends what’s going on at home, but I just don’t know where to go. Things at home are getting worse, and my anxiety is terrible, especially on weekends, because that’s when they’re both home, their tempers are flaring, and they are free and uncensored with their horrible insults. I’m scared to face my life every day, and I constantly feel like I’m walking on eggshells. My stomach hurts every day, because I don’t know what I’m going to face next, or what I’ll have to hear.

So, my question for you is, what are some ways that I can escape my situation? Is a shelter or transitional housing a safe and favorable option? If not, then what are some ways I can further attempt to reason with my parents? Or, what are some ways that I can ease the anxiety of living in a highly toxic environment, and how can I shield myself from the negativity I’m exposed to every day? I’m open to all options at this point. I’m just so tired of living in pain. Thank you in advance.
posted by summertimesadness1988 to Human Relations (34 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
if your first priority is to GTFO, here are some ideas. They might not seem like the best ideas at first glance, but getting away from toxic people, even if you love them deep down, is the best thing you can do for yourself.

• house sitting on a long term basis
• job on a cruise ship
• "au pair" or live-in babysitter
• apartment manager (usually free rent)

Also, it's ok to ask your friends for help! Your friends will help! Try them!

It's ok to visit your boyfriend and/or move out with him. Your mother's threats sound a lot like my mom's threats, and she's still alive and kicking afaik.
posted by ChefJoAnna at 5:24 PM on April 17, 2015 [16 favorites]

I don't know where you are, so I don't know what of these observations will be relevant, but here goes:

Your situation sounds terrible. Your parents sound like they're either nasty, or trying to bully you in the direction they think you should be going (and maybe they would feel their behaviour is loving!), either way, if you don't feel you can endure it, it's time to go.

Can you look for work in a library, using their computers? Can you apply for some kind of benefit to keep you going until you have work? If you're not a flakey unreliable jerk, you can ask your friends to put you up for a while, until you find your feet, this is perfectly acceptable, and requires no more explanation than "it's really not working out at my parents' place".

I have no experience with shelters, but I think you could make enquiries about benefits and housing with whatever social security organisation you have access to. In the short term, though, how much worse could a shelter be?

And I know moving out is complicated and daunting, so maybe using a library to look for work, or maybe doing some volunteering somewhere will at least give you places to be that aren't your parents' house.
posted by mythical anthropomorphic amphibian at 5:26 PM on April 17, 2015 [2 favorites]

Apply for another graduate program and loan assistance. Use the loan assistance to move out until you find a job. You'll be in debt but free of them. Dont worry about debt. You moved back in with them knowing what they were, so I'm sure you felt you had no choice. But as an educated person you have resources and you should not be afraid to use them.
posted by charlielxxv at 5:31 PM on April 17, 2015 [4 favorites]

I'm sorry that you're dealing with this. Your parents sound like a nightmare.

First, have you contacted any temp agencies? Contact them and get yourself on employment lists. Even if it won't be in a field you want, it's still paying work, and right now what you need is money. I know you just interviewed for a job and that's awesome (seriously!! I have my fingers crossed so hard for you) but even if it's just for a few weeks, some temp income can help your situation (and your self esteem) a lot. (Temp agencies will ask about your availability. You are available 100% of the time. #1 rule of job hunting is that nothing is ever a sure thing until papers have been signed, so don't go into a temp agency saying something like, "well I just interviewed so I might not be here long.")

Next, this:
I’m scared and embarrassed to tell my friends what’s going on at home

If you are a nice person, and it sounds like you are, people will come out of the woodwork to help you when you're in a bad situation. Tell your friends. Unburden yourself of the secret of your horrible, manipulative parents. Talking about it will help you deal with all the negative feelings. Your friends might have suggestions for ways to help you (maybe a family member with an extra room, maybe personal experiences themselves with local shelters, maybe an elderly neighbor willing to pay for odd jobs, etc, etc, etc).

I also want to address the boyfriend thing. Really, what would happen if you left the house to go visit him? I mean, what will actually happen? Your parents are not going to commit suicide, that is a horribly manipulative threat but odds are extremely strong they will not do that. So what will happen? Will they kick you out of the house? What are they holding over your head to prevent you from leaving? You're a 27 year old woman. Unless there are serious, tangible consequences that will cause you direct physical harm, assert yourself and leave.

In the meantime, get out of the house as much as possible. Agree 100% with m.a.a. above who says to work in a library during the day. Go for walks around your neighborhood. Ask your friends if it's ok to come work from their couch for a few hours. Anything to get you out of the toxic environment your parents have created for you.
posted by phunniemee at 5:32 PM on April 17, 2015 [9 favorites]

Response by poster: phunniemee--Yes, they have said that they'll kick me out permanently, as well as legally disown me in court if I go visit my boyfriend.
posted by summertimesadness1988 at 5:46 PM on April 17, 2015

What kind of area do you live in? Is it urban? If so, getting a job outside of your preferred job would be your best move. If you can do temp work, administrative work, somewhere, you can get yourself into a roommate situation.

You really have to get out of there. It doesn't sound like them disowning you means anything at all. They kind of already have, by being so mean and unsupportive. So I think just chalk that one up to a done deal--you know to be emotionally healthy you have to get out of there and you shouldn't live with a guy in order to avoid a crappier living situation somewhere else. That path leads to misery.

Temp work, small scale goals, don't go for the dream career, go for steady income, work yourself into a place where you can stand on your own feet and into a life where you get to feel good about yourself on a regular basis.

There's nothing freaky about roommates and temp work at 27. Or 30. Or ever. Do what you have to do to take the small steps to get to the life you want. Don't focus on the perfect job or an apartment of your own. Focus on the steps toward peace and mental health.

You can get the perfect job and the apartment of your own and live with your boyfriend, if you want, some other time. This is not that time. This is 'get the hell out of that horrible toxic environment' time.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 5:58 PM on April 17, 2015 [10 favorites]

I'm so sorry you are dealing with this. I agree with the comment upthread - your options may seem limited, but getting away from toxic people is paramount. I'm jumping in to add house-sitting, temp agencies, and seeing if you can temporarily live with a friend or relative. I've even pet-sat for weeks for people who were away from their pets long term, and that pays decent if you can find it, and you like animals. Have you thought about splitting rent with a few housemates? That may be expensive than what you can afford right now but relatively cheap compared to renting a whole place by yourself. I rented a room in grad school on a very limited income and saved a lot of money that way. Another option is putting your stuff in storage (about $60-$75/month) and renting a room from someone.

Also, I have to disagree with the comment about going back to school and being "in debt but free of them" - I did exactly this in my life, for exactly the same reasons (getting away from certain toxic individuals) and strapped myself with an obscene amount of debt that will take years to pay off. I am grateful for the job I have, and that I'm able to pay it off, but know that if you choose this as a short-term option, it can become a long-term financial problem that cannot be discharged through bankruptcy. What happens when you're done with school and have to repay the debt? You'll be right back where you started, and gambling on the chance that you'll find a job that has to pay you more in order to stay afloat financially. I'm not trying to make you feel bad - just trying to show the other side. Debt is not an solution when you're already in debt.

You have options, and calling your friends in your hour of need is not an inconvenience if they're your friend. If my friend were telling me your story, I'd be offering my (tiny!) place in a heartbeat.

Another suggestion, which will not generate any money but may lead to good contacts, is When I was broke and unemployed, I joined a Meetup group and became the assistant organizer for a Yoga group. The organizer got me involved in the insurance business (which didn't last for me long term, but it was still would have been an option if Plan A didn't work out). I found a friend and a good Plan B - and this was in a brand new city where I knew no one. Meetup can be a great resource.

I agree with everyone who has said that you need money and to get away from your toxic family. All of that is true. To that I'd add that you also need a support structure and networking prospects. You'd be surprised how much people want to help support you, and how nice they are, if you reach out. Perhaps you can find a group for young professionals, or a couples group that you and your boyfriend can join together to meet folks and see what they do for a living, and if there are any openings? Also - if are you willing to move to another city or state to find work? You may want to be close to friends, but I thought I'd throw that out there too.

Best of luck - I'm crossing my fingers for you!!
posted by onecircleaday at 6:08 PM on April 17, 2015 [3 favorites]

Friends help us when we are down. It is part of why we have community and friends in the first place. Ask. They will help (even if it's just with job leads, but I bet they can help with housing at least for a short while).
They will listen (might be especially useful to talk to other friends who also have controlling parents).
And they will care.
posted by nat at 6:08 PM on April 17, 2015 [3 favorites]

Are you willing to share publicly (or just MeMail me) your location? That would help us help you more effectively. Nthing temp work. Also Nthing telling your friends because true friends will A. Want to know, B. Help if they can and C. Help balance the toxic shit your parents are dishing out by reassuring and supporting you in your goal of getting out of there asap. Which is a really fine idea. You sound like a smart, sane, together person. I would be thrilled to have you as my kid. It is a shame that your parents are so damaged they insist on being abusive. That's not a good reason to let them continue. Good luck!
posted by Bella Donna at 6:45 PM on April 17, 2015 [2 favorites]

Don't focus on the perfect job or an apartment of your own. Focus on the steps toward peace and mental health.

Nthing this. If you wait for the perfect job, it will either never arrive - or, by the time it does, you will be too tired and stressed out from your current situation to succeed in it professionally.

I say this not to discount your intelligence or mental stamina, but rather to emphasize the fact that you have been putting up with your parents' cruelty for far too long.

Find whatever temp or administrative work you can, and move out.
posted by invisible ink at 6:59 PM on April 17, 2015 [3 favorites]

I came from a conservative, ethnic family that used negativity and martyrdom to motivate. At a young age this is intimidating, but it also can become a template for living. Beware of this last thing I mentioned. It might be time to take a stand. Be nice to yourself. Change is good.

The most helpful thing I can say online is you don't need to accomplish anything today to start loving yourself, or to prove yourself worthy of love. On a spiritual basis, this is a fool's errand. You are already loved. You cannot let the outside voice become the inside voice. You must reject this constitutionally. And by that I mean, today, tomorrow, your parents can continue to say what they want, but for you, inside, it no longer has to be true.

If you have to dump your family, I strongly urge you to reach out to your friends and form new familial relationships with them. You don't have to tell them explicitly, or you can. Some of us have to do that. Best of luck during these growing pains.
posted by phaedon at 7:11 PM on April 17, 2015 [8 favorites]

My friend had parents like yours. The stress was so bad she didn't menstruate for more than a year at one point. What she did first is probably what you need to do first. You need to truly realise that it's okay for you to leave. You actually really can just go and whatever the consequences, you can be okay. They can threaten whatever they like and you don't control what they do, nor are you the cause of, or responsible for, how they react.

Once you understand that it is right and good for you to leave, you'll also understand that you deserve help. Start with your friends. Your true friends will help you. My friend first moved in with a friend and from there, made decisions in a peaceful, supportive environment. She is thriving now. Only a few of us know what her childhood and early adult years were like. She is an accomplished woman with a fulfilling and enviably glamorous life.

She didn't speak to her parents for a few years but eventually re-established a civil relationship with them. This is not necessary for you but just wanted to let you know it's a possibility.

You're an adult now. This is your life. Find your way. I wish you strength and luck. Call a friend today.
posted by stellathon at 7:37 PM on April 17, 2015 [15 favorites]

What is holding you back from just leaving besides money? Money is an awful thing to be afraid of, but is being poor really worse than your current situation? Your parents may be upset and yell and threat and other scary but stupid nonsense when it happens, but at this point they (in a healthy relationship) do not factor in to your happiness. If they're stopping you from living the life you want, then say goodbye and don't look back. It's terrifying to be on your own without much of a safety net, but you'll survive. You have friends. You have a boyfriend. You're not going to die in the streets.
posted by downtohisturtles at 8:40 PM on April 17, 2015 [3 favorites]

Subatitute teaching is one way to be in the education game. Find a weekend job, library docent, volunteer work. Be out of the house for the worst times. Or take care of a nicer elderly person for pay.
posted by Oyéah at 9:05 PM on April 17, 2015 [2 favorites]

I have a good friend whose parents were threatening the same if he married a person they didn't approve of. He married her anyway and was subject to many drama-filled conversations in which there was much shouting and screaming about 'disowning' etc. Bottom line, once you are an adult, being 'disowned' really doesn't mean anything. They were just saying it because they knew it would hurt. They did not attend the wedding and refused to let him visit for a while. Now there is a grandchild and suddenly they've realized the obvious - that it's actually their loss not to spend time with/continue to know their son. I wouldn't say they've become normal or respectful, but they are on speaking terms with him again, they are buying gifts for the grandchild and arranging for visits, and the threats and insults have stopped.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 9:06 PM on April 17, 2015 [9 favorites]

A few ideas for you to consider. Can you get up earlier/ stay up later than everyone else in the house you have some quiet "me" time? Go for a walk in the early morning/ late evening to get out of the house. Job hunt from a coffee shop/ library/ friend's house. Find a job that has housing (camp counselor, amusement park employee, national parks worker, youth hostel employee, house sitter). There's also WWOOFing.

To earn extra money can you baby/ house/ pet sit? Tutor? Sell your body to science (research trials) or plasma? Sell things on Craigslist? Become an Uber driver?

I humbly suggest the earplugs + white noise/ nature sounds (from youtube) combination as a way of creating a quiet oasis of calm.

At this point, I think you should have a bag packed with everything you might need if you had to leave in a hurry (clothes, toiletries, ID cards, etc.)
posted by oceano at 9:20 PM on April 17, 2015 [4 favorites]

At this point, anything is better than how you are living. So do anything. Work at a fast food restaurant if you have to but get out of that house. When they threaten you, ignore them. You are better off without them.

You might want to also consider dumping the boyfriend. He doesn't sound like much of a catch. Maybe stay single until your self esteem is higher.

And do share your situation with your friends. You are not the one who should be ashamed. Allow them to help you. Find your voice.
posted by myselfasme at 9:28 PM on April 17, 2015

they have said that they'll kick me out permanently, as well as legally disown me in court if I go visit my boyfriend.

These are not bad things. These are not things to fear or reasons to stay.

Not living with them ever again is good. Legally disowning you? You're 27. What does that mean where you live? That you won't inherit the family fortune? That doesn't matter.
posted by stellathon at 9:45 PM on April 17, 2015 [5 favorites]

First of all, you deserve a million tons of sympathy for dealing with this bullshit. I'm sorry. You don't deserve it. Your friends will tell you you don't deserve it, and even if they can't help, their love can bolster you and help you stay angry enough and confident enough to get out.

Second, I just want to say that your question is excellent -- covering everything, asking about all the angles in a way to receive practical help, revealing the emotional situation without getting bogged down into it... It should be enshrined as a model for these kind of questions; if such a thing existed on MeFi, I would nominate it. This is random and not answering your question, but I just wanted to say so.

Onto money. Here's a strategy I've used a few times in my life (quoting myself from this thread):
"Make three resumes: retail / customer service, restaurant / food service, and office / professional. Print out about a good handful of copies of each one. Go to a nearby district with a lot of storefronts that seem relatively thriving. Go in every building and give them the most appropriate resume. They'll say that the manager isn't there. Ask when s/he is and come back then." I'd now add, be prepared to fill out really annoying job applications in addition to your resume. And try on another street the next day. And kinda alter your work experience. My lab experience was rewritten from "researched... subsoil organic composition" to "measured... washed glassware... ordered supplies."
More money ideas: Craigslist gigs, the Online Turk kind of freelancing, local Facebook groups (in my city there is a Jobs for Radicals Facebook group, none of which jobs are actually radical), selling stuff you own, babysitting...

How to move out without money:
1) Do you have a car? Have you ever figured out how to put the seats down enough to sleep in that car?
2) Summer camp job
3) Camped out before? It's almost a really nice season for sleeping outside. Entire cities are ringed by BLM or National Forest land. Showering at some hostels costs like $3. The trick is finding a city with jobs available and figuring out how to get phone calls.
4) Is there a relative that would put you up? They don't have to be declaring war on your parents; they could be "hosting you in Chicago so you can find a job there."
5) WWOOF -- work on a farm part time in exchange for lodging and food; keep applying for jobs the remainder of the time

Just a few ideas. Hang in there!
posted by salvia at 9:57 PM on April 17, 2015 [5 favorites]

I'm a fellow desi girl who was pretty much in this exact situation for years. (Spoiler alert: I'm not stuck there anymore.) I'm not comfortable sharing some of these details in public, though, so please memail me if you want to know more.
posted by orangutan at 10:05 PM on April 17, 2015 [18 favorites]

Was going to also say that "legally disowning" you in court sounds very dramatic (much like threatening to commit suicide) , but really doesn't mean anything; it's just a scary-sounding thing to say to control someone. I don't even know what they mean (and they probably don't either, in fact); in the US, you can't have yourself legally declared a former parent of an adult. There is no such court proceeding, so they're making that up, either ignorantly or on purpose to frighten you.

If they mean "disinherit" -- well, you can decide whether it's worth letting them control you for the rest of your life by constantly threatening to cut you out of the will, but I would suggest that no, it's not worth it. If you walk away yourself, they won't have that power over you anymore.

Lots of great advice here, and I hope you're able to improve your situation soon.
posted by holborne at 10:06 PM on April 17, 2015 [15 favorites]

When you have so many issues at once, I think it best to prioritize them. Focus on finding a job first since money is the main impediment to your freedom. Then, get yourself a new pad somewhere. In the mean time, tell your boyfriend that due to your current circumstances you are going to see less of him. If you love each other, the relationship will survive the temporary break.

Also, these are your parents and I don't see why you cannot put up with them a tad longer, even if that means abiding by their rules as long as you live under their roof.

Internet strangers who tell you to cut all ties with your folks have no idea how your family dynamics work. I find this piece of advice much too frequent from selfish individualists who do not have to live with the emotional consequences of being removed from one's support network.

At 27, you are still very young and as controlling as your parents may be, this is not abusive behavior and your life is not in danger. Play the dutiful child until you can afford not to. After all, that's what you did for the first 18 years of your life. And forget the shelter / car / street sleeping arrangements that I have seen suggested up thread.
posted by Kwadeng at 10:41 PM on April 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: these are your parents and I don't see why you cannot put up with them a tad longer, even if that means abiding by their rules as long as you live under their roof.

I don't think you should put up with them any longer, because the abuse they are heaping on you--and yes, it is emotional abuse, and quite serious at that--is damaging to you and your physical and mental health and long term wellbeing. Just because they are your parents, it doesn't mean that they can treat you cruelly.

Internet strangers who tell you to cut all ties with your folks have no idea how your family dynamics work. I find this piece of advice much too frequent from selfish individualists who do not have to live with the emotional consequences of being removed from one's support network.

Your family dynamics, as you have described them, are dysfunctional. If you leave, you're not going to be removed from your support network because your parents are not supportive! You need to figure out who your support network are and ask them for help (friends, other family), because your parents are not at all filling this role.

At 27, you are still very young and as controlling as your parents may be, this is not abusive behavior and your life is not in danger.

Your life might not be in danger, but this is most definitely abusive behaviour. I'm the child of an immigrant mother from a traditional culture, and she had some strict rules and beliefs but I was NEVER treated this way, not ever. And you know what, if my mom heard that a friend of mine were being treated this way, she'd be horrified and that friend would have an invite to stay with my parents for sure. So please do not buy into bullshit ideas about any cultural need to be loyal to parents who are straight up crazy abusive like yours are.

Good luck and I really hope your interview works out! You sound like an intelligent, nice person who deserves a lot better. There's some really good advice above, especially about not being afraid to ask your friends for help--if you were my friend I'd help you in a hot minute. Good luck! There are lots of us rooting for you!
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 11:24 PM on April 17, 2015 [27 favorites]

Hi. I'm so sorry this is happening to you. I'm not from your cultural background, but I work with a lot of women from almost every bg you can think of who are in, from, or escaping abusive living situations. Unfortunately, a very common intermediary step between verbal abuse/suicide threats and frivolous or vindictive legal action (like threatening to take you to court to disown you) is physical violence. I'm going to take your mentioning going to a women's shelter seriously and say that your gut is telling you this situation is not safe. I think getting out of your parents' house is a priority.l

You've gotten a lot of good advice here ( although I would not jump into the waters of car or woods-sleeping if you have any friends whose couch you can crash on for a while.) Don't restrict your job search to the white-collar world. Education and temping applications are good and you don't need to give up your career aspirations, but Starbucks or Home Depot or any other service-sector job that requires no previous experience and trains you on site will get you enough of a paycheck to pay rent in a shared living situation or to kick some money to friends when you move in with them. And please please do reach out to your friends. I know it's frightening to open up about this kind of thing but there are people who love you who won't threaten to kill themselves or take you to court if you don't do everything they want. Best of luck, and please stay safe.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 11:28 PM on April 17, 2015 [4 favorites]

In terms of easy-to-get work, you just can't beat factory labour. If you're near a Goodwill career centre, they'll probably have you set up within a week with a low-wage job that will help you sock some money away and has the nice side-effect of keeping you away from your parents.
posted by Trifling at 12:15 AM on April 18, 2015 [2 favorites]

As the person who made the car / woods suggestion, I just want to defend and clarify it briefly. I've done this for months on end at three different times of my life, including times I was applying for jobs and times I had regular jobs, so I'm not imagining this would work; it did. It felt different each time, so I have a few thoughts on how to do it and how not to do it.

It's primarily about the mentality you bring to it, and if for you, it's about independence and enjoying a place you actually like to camp, it can be fun and freeing. It's about what it means to you. I actually read a whole dissertation about how people's satisfaction with where they live is most influenced by the story they have in their head about the place and why they're there.) If your mental story would be one of glee and freedom and abundance -- "I thought I couldn't afford to move out and then I realized that I can just sleep on the ground for free! all this public land is ours to share! my bedroom probably has one of the greatest views in town! And soon I will find a job and get my own place, " then it could be great.

That said, if it feels terrifying, unsafe, or grungy, it's not worth it. It'd be even better if you have an exit date on the other side (like if you're sending off your resume to summer camps).

Keep yourself warm and fed. Beware of bad weather; find a place that's warm enough and without a lot of summer rain. There's this moment in late afternoon that is always melancholy, like "time to go inside for supper now, oh wait... :( " So I tended to cook around 5:30 pm and fall asleep by 7:30 or whenever it got at all dark.

Be legal about where you camp and park. If you're in the US, there are public lands that are yours to enjoy if you follow a few simple rules. Then there are logistics to work out like where to put your pack if you don't have a car, but ideally you can find a place you can just leave stuff.

For me, it was an experience I'm glad I did. Besides camping, I met a ton of travelers and great people. And I felt really resilient, independent, and self-contained. I would never have been able to do anywhere near as much traveling if I hadn't slept outside like this.Of course YMMV, so trust your gut reaction.
posted by salvia at 12:50 AM on April 18, 2015 [5 favorites]

Another option that I don't think has been mentioned... it may not work for you but... join the military. In terms of privacy, it may not be much of an improvement, but you'll be independent.

And you're welcome to stay with my family for a month or two.
posted by at at 3:39 AM on April 18, 2015 [2 favorites]

At 27, you are still very young and as controlling as your parents may be, this is not abusive behavior and your life is not in danger.

THIS IS ABUSIVE BEHAVIOUR. I am only responding to this because this message is potentially incredibly damaging to someone experiencing emotional abuse. I spend a lot of my professional life working with people made homeless by abuse, and the notion that victims should just "put up with it" unless they're actually being beaten is prevalent, baseless and sometimes fatal.

Get out. If you were in the UK I'd know exactly what to suggest, but as things stand I'd still suggest contacting local domestic abuse charities and support services, and housing advice organisations too, as well as your friends. You should seek all the help you can get, not because you're weak (you seem to be doing a great job of bearing up in an unsustainable situation) but because you are being subjected to daily emotional violence, and that is not something which anyone can control alone.
posted by howfar at 3:50 AM on April 18, 2015 [27 favorites]

At 27, you are still very young and as controlling as your parents may be, this is not abusive behavior and your life is not in danger.

At 27, you are very much an adult. This is abusive behavior because it is preventing you from fully living your adult life.
posted by kimberussell at 6:29 AM on April 18, 2015 [10 favorites]

uch too frequent from selfish individualists who do not have to live with the emotional consequences of being removed from one's support network

The OP's parents are more certainly NOT part of her support network, and the advice is generally for the OP to build up a useful support network somewhere else because the present one at home is lacking.
posted by deanc at 7:11 AM on April 18, 2015 [10 favorites]

Legally disowning you in court? Don't show up.
posted by serena15221 at 12:00 PM on April 18, 2015

Given the home atmosphere you described, I am thinking that you may have been denied the opportunity to develop some of the skills that promote and underlie self-reliance. If that's true - if you doubt your ability to manage obstacles, or fear a lack of structure or support, I imagine that some of the solutions proposed above might be anxiety-provoking, or difficult to imagine in practice.

So I agree that it might be a good idea to use further education (another grad program) as a kind of scaffolding for movement towards independence - you'd have a sense of structure, and if public perception of your actions is at all a factor in your parents' behaviour, the "school" beard might buffer you until you feel more able to stand your ground. Or if that's not feasible for whatever reason, seconding reaching out to friends, or perhaps more distant relatives, ideally in another city. I am thinking that actual physical distance might help you a) enforce boundaries and b) give you space and material to imagine and practice a freer way of living. I imagine that being far from your boyfriend might be difficult, but it might not be less difficult than your current situation, and it might be that he could join you, in time.
posted by cotton dress sock at 4:28 PM on April 18, 2015

Would you consider leaving your country for another country? Maybe applying to work internationally may work for you (and perhaps for your boyfriend if he's interested). I'm not sure what your master's degree is in, but if it's education related that would be a plus.

Many overseas schools have relocation packages (which include flights and in the case of the Middle East, sometimes include advance pay).
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 9:00 AM on April 19, 2015

I'm with Kwadeng above. You can perhaps technically call it "emotional abuse", but this sounds to me like the kind of friction that commonly occurs when an older child lives at home with their parents.

OP, all I can do is reiterate--it's really not common for parents to threaten suicide, tell their son or daughter they're too ugly to get a job, or control their food intake or ability to leave the house for groceries. None of those things are normal or OK, no matter what the living arrangements, how stressed everyone is, or what culture you come from.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 3:49 PM on April 19, 2015 [8 favorites]

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