I’m not standing up for myself very well (yet)
January 25, 2018 4:18 PM   Subscribe

I’m working on boundaries and assertiveness. I’m not very good at it. (Not yet... I tell myself.) My family, and some close friends, don’t really believe that I’m working on it or getting better at it, leading to worry-anger. How can I get them to leave me alone and believe me when I’m saying I’m trying? Maybe I’m not trying hard enough? Certain situation inside.

I have always been confrontation-avoidant. Sometimes it triggers extreme anxiety and panic to think about standing up for myself, even when I know it’ll be better in the long run. Logic brain knows that it is good for me. Anyways, I’m heading into therapy again for it.

Here’s a specific situation where I know logically that it’s good for me to stand up for myself, but it’s like fighting through mud getting myself to do something about it. Then it leads to a cycle of being berated about not doing anything.

A pest control guy has been coming as sent by my landlord. They’ve been in business with each other for a while. He’s a friendly guy, but too friendly sometimes. He would make comments like “My goodness, you’re my daughters age?? If I knew I wouldn’t think of asking you on a date”, or asking if I wanted company since I live alone, and when he mentioned his wife (which I try to bring the conversation back to talking about her) he would say “Oh she’s always out working, I’m so alone and lonely sometimes.” Once he made a comment “I don’t get sexual with my customers, except for two times now. Now one of them is my wife!” It would make me uncomfortable, but I guess I’m used to it from other older men in the community I grew up in, that I didn’t perceive it as a terrible thing. Just change the subject, move the person along quickly so the mice could taken care of, and say I had a friend coming over soon so please don’t linger. The pest issue didn’t resolve, so he had to come back a couple more times. Same routine. Same changing of subjects.

I was mentioning the odd comments to my mother, who immediately said “Excuse me. This man is here alone with you making these comments? And you’re ok with it? He could hurt you! Those comments are so gross! Call your landlord and tell them to make them change persons.” Then I realized that I might have been ignoring it.

I am intimidated by my landlord, and hope to be into a new apartment by the end of my lease. The landlord has already said to me that I should be grateful for the apartment I had and really think before asking for something that wasn’t necessary (I asked for a broken window to be fixed), which rubbed me the wrong way. But the lease will end in a few months. I am trying to work on sticking up for myself here, but I feel paralyzed when I think about saying anything to my landlord. What if they don’t believe me? They’ve been friends with the pest control guy for a while. What if I jeopardize someone’s job? Or what if my landlord just brushes it off or gets mad? So I haven’t said anything and just have tried my best to prevent any pests from getting in, beyond the visits the guy has made. I know that’s ridiculous when I write it down. I pay rent.

Anyways, when my mother asked for an update on if I told my landlord about the pest control guy, I said no I hadn’t. And she was furious. I understand, because she is worried. She started yelling at me, saying that I’m asking to get raped, that though I won’t be responsible for his actions, I could’ve prevented it by telling my landlord and changing pest control guys. That I’m stupid and if something did happen, God forbid, she wouldn’t be surprised because I’m so weak. She said she’s very disappointed and not to call her again until I called my landlord. She has now got my sister calling me and relaying how disappointed she is.

I feel like shit. I’m disappointed in myself for being timid and meek and afraid of others, and letting down my mother. But I also feel mad because I just started therapy and am trying small things to say “no” to, but this work doesn’t translate with my mom. I didn’t do the big thing. I never got a vibe that the pest control guy would harm me, just that he was an older uncle figure (we’re from the same culture) who doesn’t know his boundaries either. But why am I taking the risk? I feel stuck. Why can’t I do better??

It seems that therapy might help, or a script about what to say to the landlord/pest control guy. I’ve considered lying to my family to pretend I’ve gotten the situation fixed until I actually get the situation fixed, so my mom will talk to me again. (I probably shouldn’t have told her to begin with, but I have a hard time not telling her things.)

All these thoughts swirl in my head. If I tell them, what if they ask why I didn’t say something in the moment if I was so uncomfortable? Why was I friendly and why did I offer him water? Why didn’t I call sooner? Am I exaggerating? (I’ve asked myself this multiple times.) I did write down what comments bothered me though.

I know this isn’t that serious and I may be blowing things out of proportion. But after my family’s response, I feel panicked. What’s wrong with me.
posted by socky bottoms to Human Relations (20 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
So, uh, your mom's behavior is stressing me out from across a screen. I wonder how many anxieties that has caused in your life.

There is two things about boundaries: set them, and enforce them.

Setting them involves clearly communicating your needs, what you expect to not happen, etc. Also what actions you will take when the boundary is crossed.

Then you have to enforce it. This isn't being mean or hurtful or cruel, this is protecting yourself. For example "mom, I told you that you can not freak out and yell at me like that, so I'm hanging up now. I'll talk to you in a few days". Hang up the phone. Ignore her immediate redial. Ignore her dramatic voicemail. Tell your sister that you aren't goingto discuss your mom with her... And that you will enforce that boundary with her too.

Repeat as often as necessary. If simply hanging up dosent work, you may need to escalate the consequences
posted by Jacen at 4:43 PM on January 25, 2018 [19 favorites]

My thought is that you don't need a script for the landlord, you need one for your mother.

Trust your assessment - this is creepy inappropriate guy but he doesn't seem likely to actually rape you. You can do something to make yourself feel safer - don't be home or be on the phone with a friend or practice how you want to be. More importantly, as long as you think you are reasonably safe, it makes sense to recognize that you are a beginner and you need to practice to build your skills in this area.

My advice (and as I write, I'm thinking that it may even harder than talking to the landlord) is to tell your sister that you are working with your therapist on being more assertive in general and your therapist is helping you figure out the right way to do this. In the meanwhile, you promise to be extra careful and not get raped.
posted by metahawk at 4:45 PM on January 25, 2018 [18 favorites]

This is absolutely, perfectly something you can review with your therapist. Maybe you can practice repeating "You need to trust my judgement" as a mantra or even with your therapist.

But you should also examine why your first instinct is to appease your mother. You are confident with your judgement of this man. The fault here is hers, not yours.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:56 PM on January 25, 2018 [16 favorites]

Please don't feel like shit. Nothing's wrong with you. It's reasonable to not confront your landlord about the pest control guy, because you know it's probably a losing battle. Because your landlord is an asshole. If he won't fix your window, he sure as hell isn't going to fire his buddy. And you don't want to piss of your landlord because that could make your life ugly, and you don't want that. I'm not saying it would be bad to stand up for yourself, I'm saying that it's reasonable to pick your battles and decide against this one.

Some people feel better when they fight anyway, because then they know they did everything they could. I don't, and I won't take on a battle that I believe is unwinnable.

Pest guy - it's really common for women to try to normalize situations where men push boundaries. We know some people don't always behave well or rationally if they are told directly to stop their bullshit right now, and so we try to find more subtle ways to make the point. This is so typical that someone is building a (controversial) business around it. In this situation you sense that he's not a true threat so you're choosing not to confront. That's not unreasonable. There's nothing wrong with you at all.

Your mom is pushing you towards Olympic-level assertiveness when really many of us have to start smaller, with lower stakes.

* Therapy can definitely help
* Harriet Lerner's books talk about setting boundaries in ways that I find really approachable
* Scripts are good. If you have a friend who handles confrontation in a way that seems really manageable to you, you might talk to them. I like phrases such as "Why do you ask?" and "I'm not sure I need to know that." These can be really mild or snippy as needed.
* I know people who think I'm weak because I don't, for instance, yell at customer service people. I think I decide when to fight, and when I fight I go after someone who actually has the power to make a difference, and I do it with very polite letters, looping in the appropriate ombudspersons/authorities as needed. You and your mom may have very different ideas about what standing up for yourself looks like. So you might mentally prepare yourself to *not* win her approval even if you work hard at this and reach your own personal ideal of assertiveness.

I'm guessing that your mom and maybe your sis have strong personalities and that your childhood home was probably not an easy space to practice finding your own voice and asking for what you want. You'll be okay. You're not alone in this. Not at all. You're like, the opposite of alone here.
posted by bunderful at 5:02 PM on January 25, 2018 [7 favorites]

Your mom may be overbearing but the pest guy is DEFINITELY A CREEP and I think your mom has a right to be worried, and is trying to control the part of the situation she has access to (you!) because she can't stop the pest guy from coming over. How many more months is your lease? What if you offered to do your own pest control? My husband handles ours--you buy some shit at Home Depot and spray around the house, it's not a big deal at all. I am also worried on your behalf because his behavior is not okay, he knows it, and he's increasing his aggressiveness each time. This is the sort of behavior we're socialized to overlook in an effort to not make a scene or hurt someone's feelings, and I'm actually glad your mom is freaking out for you. Please be careful!
posted by masquesoporfavor at 5:41 PM on January 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

Hey Love, I also have a Mom with a capital M. Don’t let yourself get to the age of 40 and still be reeling from her judgements. Fuck that. The pest control guy sucks, but you are not impaired for taking your time figuring out how to respond to him, or to be seeking advice from your family members. My mom did this judgement thing to me, and still does, and I am responding to this by giving my daughter the freedom to face hard situations, giving her advice, and letting her find her way through it herself.

I think that my mom freaks out because she herself feels helpless and is furious with herself for not programming me to respond perfectly to challenging situations.

It’s a trap.
posted by lakersfan1222 at 6:32 PM on January 25, 2018 [8 favorites]

Your mom's reaction is out of line. You are in a crappy situation, and she is wrong to police your behavior. There is no magical right way to deal with this creep.

You should certainly work to cultivate more awareness of your own boundaries. When Pest Man makes a creepy remark, try to give yourself the space to think, "Hey, that is a weird and uncomfortable thing to say."

In an ideal world, this thought would be followed by action. You would tell Pest Man, "That is an odd / uncomfortable / unacceptable thing to say!" But in the real world, you are alone in your apartment with a creepy stranger and aren't used to asserting yourself.

In this case, I give you permission to push back in the most non-confrontational way possible. Leave the room, become very busy with household tasks, make a phone call. Does your landlord give you a heads-up that Pest Man is coming? Arrange to have a friend visiting or to be in the middle of a project. Leverage any sneaky strategies you can think of, even if they involve misleading your landlord or Pest Man. They don't deserve your honesty.

You're moving soon, and in the meantime you can practice being assertive in other, lower-stakes situations. Your interaction with this one guy is not the ultimate referendum on your ability to be a strong and self-reliant human being.
posted by toastedcheese at 6:38 PM on January 25, 2018 [8 favorites]

Oh, on the pest control guy, you have a few options besides telling the landlord to fire him.

* Ask your landlord for another pest control person. Don't tell him to fire the first guy, just say "Bob's been here three time and it's not helping with the mice. Everyone tells me Pat gets GREAT results for the same price and he uses this different technique." A little research and asking around might be necessary. Even if it's totally reasonable he might not go for it, but the stakes are lower.

* Hire your own pest person out of pocket. I've done this before when my landlord's pest controller of choice was not getting the job done. Technically, sure, the landlord *should* pay for it but to me it was worth it to have the problem done with. YMMV, check the terms of your lease.

* DIY it

* Have a friend with you when PCG (pest control guy) comes over.

* Be on Skype in a low-key way with someone you're working on a minor task with. You let the exterminator in and mention that you're on Skype with someone you're studying with/trying to hack into a bank website/whatever is a kinda legit thing for you. You don't turn off Skype, friend stays on screen, you occasionally say something to the friend, friend occasionally says something back. Exterminator knows he is being witnessed. For me this would provide a level of comfort - YMMV.
posted by bunderful at 6:39 PM on January 25, 2018 [6 favorites]

That variety of low level creepiness/appropriateness is actually incredibly commonplace if you're a woman home alone with any type of service or delivery men, unfortunately. Basically bad porn fantasies gone wrong type of deal; I've found ignoring it outright works best; proceed as if they said nothing. Even if you don't know self-defense, a hit with the palm of your hand upwards to the under-part of the nose where the nostrils are, if they get physical, have proven amazingly effective multiple times for me and given me more confidence+less anxiety about situations like that. Also, as another poster noted: learning basic living skills such as pest control so you're not reliant on, or in the presence of and alone with, strange creepy men with bad porn fanatsies.
posted by OnefortheLast at 6:39 PM on January 25, 2018 [2 favorites]

Sometimes the lesson in learning to set boundaries is in setting them with the people in your life who are trying too hard to "help" you with this problem. The biggest key to comfortably setting and enforcing boundaries for yourself is self respect and trust. When I was learning these lessons, I allowed a lot of people close to me to tell me that my gut was wrong. I felt bad like you say you do now when I "let someone take advantage of or mistreat me" according to some controlling people in my life. It took me a long time to realize that if my friends were making me feel like crap for how I lived my life, I needed to set boundaries with them, too. What helped me was to train myself to move through life with some basic assumptions:

1) my gut is mine and to be trusted. If something feels wrong, or good! I should listen to that. I should trust myself to learn from my own mistakes and that I know how to handle myself. I will mess up from time to time but I need to in order to learn, and I have my own best interests at heart so I will be ok.

2) nobody knows how I am feeling better than me. Nobody can tell me how to feel.

3) if someone is annoying or frustrating me, I should do whatever I want to make myself feel better and more comfortable. If that means rolling my eyes silently and suffering until it is over that is my choice.

4) If I feel judged by a loved one I do not need to change for them. They are entitled to their opinions, but I am not responsible for their feelings about my life. They are..

5) I am not responsible for anybody else's behavior. If someone hurts me or takes advantage of me that is on THEM. I will do what is best and reasonable to protect myself because I love myself. If something bad happens to me anyway, I will not blame myself.
posted by pazazygeek at 7:33 PM on January 25, 2018 [10 favorites]

Are you comfortable with your landlord and the exterminator being in your apartment while you are elsewhere? I wonder if pest control guy is doing a lousy job in order to keep returning, and if you can say to the landlord that you have a conflict for the next scheduled appointment, and that he'll need to be there in your stead, if the problem will finally be solved for the remainder of your lease.
posted by Iris Gambol at 8:21 PM on January 25, 2018 [6 favorites]

What a horrible situation from every turn. I know sometimes it seems, if you know a situation is bad (the exterminator) the person who is trying to "help" you fix the situation must be good (your mom/sister). Unfortunately, that's not always the case. Your mother's actions are inexcusable and I would say that she's the much larger issue here and I hope therapy can help you unpack your guilt at wanting to limit her influence in your life. I also hope you realize that you're much better at looking out for yourself than you think. Setting boundaries doesn't always have to be the textbook confrontational method.

You aren't giving yourself enough credit for realizing really important, not-obvious-to-everyone things: The exterminator is being creepy and way over the line, but despite this, your landlord is a jerk who isn't likely to help you. Many people, e.g., your mother and sister, see this situation in black and white: your exterminator is being inappropriate and you are responsible for stopping it by telling your landlord. The thing is, it's not black and white. You know your landlord is a jackass who has a lot of power over you. You're prioritizing your longer-term security in your home by not bringing this up to your landlord because you know you want to move out sooner rather than later. Sounds reasonable to me.

More importantly, nothing you did caused this situation and it's not your fault. Please don't feel terrible about a situation like this — I think you recognize that if a friend had this same situation, you would never judge how they handle it. You're probably going on past experiences with boundary setting that makes this such a tricky situation. People like the landlord and exterminator usually don't respect boundary setting so it's not as important to set a boundary with them so much as it is to prioritize your safety and well-being. As a woman, every single time I have set a boundary with a man like this, they have lost their shit, called me fat and told me I'm lucky they hit on me and maybe they shouldn't be so "nice" to me, etc. It has taken me SO MUCH THERAPY to get over this because it's really scary when it happens and I always feel so confused, like, "everyone tells me I have to stand up for myself. I did. And yet this scary and awful thing happened."

And you know what my therapist finally helped me see after many, many sessions? There is no good or brave way to handle someone like this. Take the "easy" way out. You don't need to set a boundary with a guy like this who isn't going to respect it and who you don't need to see again — ditto for your landlord. You just need to figure out the path of least resistance to never deal with them again in a way that keeps you safe. (And yes, sometimes you will need to confront someone even if they blow up on you, but let yourself practice that with your therapist in a safe space instead of forcing yourself to do it now, when I don't see how it'll change anything.) It fucking sucks, but I agree with paying for your own exterminator if you have to.

And yeah, lie to your mom if you want to get her off your back! Maybe she has qualities that make her worth having in your life, but insulting you is not healthy and you do not have to put up with it. And by that I mean you don't need to do anything like confronting her, just limit your interactions with her and lie if you have to. Seriously. It's 100% okay to do that.

Boundaries only work with people who respect them. I guess that sounds super obvious but I think so many people fail to realize that being good at setting boundaries doesn't mean confronting every person who doesn't respect you. You have to pick and choose your battles. And you're being smart about it right now and you should give yourself credit for it. Trust your gut — your landlord isn't a reasonable person to deal with, you don't need to call him just because other people think that's how to handle this.
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 8:34 PM on January 25, 2018 [10 favorites]

Hmm, could there be a connection between your Mom bullying and berating you and your fear of standing up for yourself?

If you think your landlord has all the power then I'm seconding the previous poster that you might want to take the easy way. Just don't have the pest guy over at all and have a friend over when you have to interact with either of them.
Good luck, and be kind to yourself.
posted by M. at 2:22 AM on January 26, 2018 [5 favorites]

+1 to the idea that you can lie to your mom or give her way less information about your life than it sounds like she currently has. Every time you think about sharing something with her (or you're in a situation where it's clear she's mining for information), can you build in a stage in your thought process along the lines of "do I actually want to share this with her? if I do, how might she be able to use it to manipulate or berate me? is sharing it worth that possible response?". Like, why does she know so much information about your pest control guy, to the point where she's criticising you in detail about how you're handling it? Get a lot more vague in terms of the information she's allowed in on. What she doesn't know she can't harangue you about.

This line from your intro jumped out: My family, and some close friends, don’t really believe that I’m working on it or getting better at it, leading to worry-anger. How can I get them to leave me alone and believe me when I’m saying I’m trying?

Something that was super powerful for me when dealing with differently-abusive family members was to remind myself a lot that I didn't need their approval or agreement in order to feel validated in what I was doing or to have what I was doing actually be real and meaningful. Doesn't matter if your family and friends don't really believe that you're working on this (and, again, what information are you giving them that leads them to this critical view of you and how much of that can you stop sharing?), it's still a thing you're working on. It can be true and meaningful for you without needing buy-in or external acknowledgement from other people in your life.

As an example, my mother is never going to admit that some of her parenting when I was younger was profoundly abusive, because we're both different and have a different dynamic now and also she loves to bury guilt and bad stuff in the past. And my sister and I disagree on just how abusive the parenting was because my sister is five years younger and our parents were different people with different stresses and anxieties when we were at different formative ages. For a long time I felt like I needed validation from both of them that my childhood was bad in order to feel secure in my own assessment that it was indeed bad, but that way lies madness and nonsense. I do not actually need that in order for my own feelings to be true to me, and I'm never realistically going to get it from my mother.

I agree with thorn bushes above about lying, as well. Often manipulative parents/parents with poor boundaries also have a huge thing about lying (and how any kind of omission of information is also lying and lying is the worst thing ever and why would you be a bad person and lie to your own mother), but I am 100% ethically comfortable with lying to people who have repeatedly demonstrated that they can't be trusted to treat you well when you tell them the truth. Your own happiness is significantly more important than any commitment to truth at all costs that other people feel you should honour, especially if they then beat you over the head with that truth when you share it.

To summarise: you don't need your family to believe that you're doing a thing in order to keep doing the thing, and if they treat you better when they don't get many specifics about your life, feel 100% guilt free about not sharing a ton of detail with them (or lying if you need to). Part of boundary work is recalibrating your own sense of what's okay in terms of your interactions with other people as well as their interactions with you.
posted by terretu at 4:16 AM on January 26, 2018 [7 favorites]

"Mum, thanks, but I'm finished talking about this now. How's your gardening/church/book club doing?"

I think your gut is probably correct, and you're probably really anxious about it because your mother's been telling you not to listen to it your whole life.
posted by warriorqueen at 5:22 AM on January 26, 2018 [1 favorite]

I'm just adding to the chorus here, but:

The way your mother is making you feel is utterly reprehensible. Now, I have a very assertive streak and a very considerate mother, so I can't say that I know exactly how you feel right now. But I do know that you should not be disappointed in yourself, you should be disappointed in your mother for failing to support you.

Standing up for yourself is really fucking hard. (It's even hard for me sometimes, and I was raised to be fiercely independent by two loving, supportive parents.) You are in therapy and taking steps to get better at sticking up for yourself. You deserve a major pat on the back for that, it's a tough thing to do. Seriously. Be proud of yourself, not disappointed!

PS: Your mother is flat-out wrong. If (God forbid) you are ever raped or assaulted, it will be exactly 0% your fault and 100% the aggressor's fault. It doesn't matter if you are "timid" or "weak" or "meek" or whatnot.

PPS: Trusting your instincts is great. Don't let your mother gaslight you into believing there are threats around every corner. By all means be appropriately cautious, but if you don't feel unsafe, don't let your mom browbeat you into terror.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 6:14 AM on January 26, 2018 [10 favorites]

Your mom is straight up wrong here, in several ways. Telling the landlord to fire his buddy would not make him do it; but would certainly antagonize him and probably make your life harder. So you are correct not to do it on her orders.

There are ways - excellent suggestions above - for handling the pervy pest guy. The person you need to be more verbally assertive with here, though, is your mom. "You're just going to have to trust my judgment here" is a good line.

It might help you to think about this from her point of view, just to help you de-escalate it:

1. she's legitimately worried you're going to be attacked
2. she's worried that you're going to be attacked because of something preventable
3. she's worried that the reason the preventable thing isn't being prevented is that she failed to train you to prevent it, so not only could a terrible thing happen to her baby, but it would be her fault.

She's wrong on #1 in this instance, but you can see how the idea that if you would just do what she tells you, you'd always be safe would be seductive enough that she would scream at you. I am not excusing her, just trying to help you see where she's coming from so you can disengage from the dance - whether by explaining to her that the guy is not dangerous, just annoying; or that you need her to control her own anxiety; or whatever gets through to her.
posted by fingersandtoes at 7:07 AM on January 26, 2018

I'm mouthy AF + I used to work with knives and flames for a living (chef) and I would have deflected Pest Control Guy EXACTLY the way you did.

Your mom is freaking out because she's terrified you'll be raped (remember here we don't know what your mom's experiences are, it's possible her terror is trauma from an assault or rape in her past) and she lacks the skills to communicate effectively or mitigate her response. Therapy for how to handle your mom.

Never ever be alone with the pest guy again. You seem keen and able to move, so do that. Landlords that don't fix windows won't protect you from predator service providers they have hired, and there is no boundary to draw with these folks. You might alert the landlord after after after you get your deposit back that the pest guy made inappropriate sexual comments and specifically noted you were single and lived alone. After you get your deposit back.


Honestly? in your shoes I would set up an old wifi capable cellphone with a home security app and pay the $10 per month subscription for cloud storage to keep an eye on my home when I am not around. MANYTHING is an amazing app and service for this!

Setting boundaries is not just confrontation, it's also picking battles wisely and taking precautions like having a buddy back-up or using security measures to keep safe. Escalation isn't always a good thing.
posted by jbenben at 9:09 AM on January 26, 2018 [1 favorite]

Hi, I'm also dearly wanting to improve boundaries and assertiveness. N-thing the people above who have said that there are many ways to go about keeping you safe and that assertive confrontation is one way, that could work in some situations but could also make some situations even less safe. For me the most important thing has been to really start trusting and respecting the value of my own inclination, instead of first-off tearing that down because I am probably wrong again, because I am famously bad at this etc.
Trusting your own gut, like so many have said. Only your feelings, your personal internal alarm-system will let you know important things about the situation at hand. Trusting my gut means that if I observe myself deflecting or escaping in a not-textbook-assertive way, my first reaction is to trust that I must have a good reason to react like that. You most probably have done the best thing in the situation because only you have all the information.
Maybe if you trust your own judgement more, before anything else, you actually don't need to work on the specific assertive behavior so much, because that will follow. It actually sounds to me like you have a sharp and clear assessment of the pestcontroller/apartment example, and you don't sound meek/weak/gullible at all.

A suggestion for a script for overly concerned well-meaning friends and family might be to keep repeating something along the lines of:
You: Thanks, it's good to know you care. (and end the conversation or topic with that)
Friend/family: but why haven't you..., you never ..., you're just not ...
You: I do hear you, you've told me before and I have heard your advice, and I know you care and that means a lot to me. It does. (And then finish again, if they continue then repeat again. Maybe start up a new subject.)

Also, if you start trusting yourself, you probably will need them less for advice, you will radiate less of insecurity, wanting their help, and possibly this will also make them less inclined to run to your rescue in this distrustful way. It works in more than one way.
posted by Litehouse at 11:36 AM on January 26, 2018

Your mom is basically saying that you need to have strong boundaries with everyone but her. Her treatment of you is a major and ongoing problem, and probably one of the first you should address. I have a similar mom, and I sympathize!
posted by Knowyournuts at 2:56 PM on January 26, 2018 [4 favorites]

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