Help me, my mother is a drama queen!
August 21, 2008 9:26 PM   Subscribe

Help me endure my unbelievably self-absorbed and recklessly-impulsive mother just a little longer.

(I apologize PROFUSELY for how long and sloppy this is... I've held off on poking the hive mind since I've been brought up to think my problems are insignificant and imaginary, but after what happened today I am stumped.)

My mother is one of those antisocial types... antisocial in the sense that she has branded all of humanity as being evil and out to get her based on coworkers and childhood experiences. She has no friends, and frequently complains of being mistreated at work. When I was younger, I believed her until I realized that she was refusing to do anything about it (such suggestions are dismissed with "everyone in the Post Office is corrupt, they won't help me," or "it's not worth petitioning the Postmaster," or "I only have 10 more years") and her treatment towards me and others is a very potent indicator of how she behaves towards others.

She has also cut off pretty much all of my maternal relatives over imaginary complaints and childhood grudges. Officially, I am supposed to be banned from contacting them, but I am in frequent e-mail contact with my aunt, who is seriously a nice and wonderful person and nothing like the malicious older sister my mother has painted her to be.

She pretty much defines herself by her strong work ethic. That's nice and wonderful... until it went to her head. Yes, we all know she works as hard as 10 people, but she has used that to proclaim herself superior to everyone, and that she can do no wrong. She also abuses that work ethic and her self-pity over being "abused" at work as an excuse for reckless spending-- why yes, because of it I do have some nice things, but I would trade it all for not being socially held back (I was basically BANNED from having any kind of a social life until college... not for safety or grades or religion, it's just that my mother hated other people and couldn't be bothered to deal with them. I was also forbidden from going to any colleges that were far away/out of state.) and having to hear her turn around and lecture me for being spoiled/greedy (even though much of what I have, she offered or even surprised me with).

Because of such impulsiveness, she racked up huge credit card debt, and when my father passed away, my mother wanted to confiscate my share of the inheritance to pay off her bills, even though I really need a car so I can get some kind of employment (as well as not be stuck at home all day with my just-as-unpleasant stepfather). My older brother (who was named executor) finally decided he had enough and knew my mother would not pay back a cent of what she would have taken from me, and segmented the inheritance 4 ways (me, mother and siblings) so that she wouldn't have to take mine. He could have easily just said that my mother wouldn't be allowed anything, but it would have gotten much too ugly for what we were prepared to deal with.

Recently I tried to buy car insurance but was turned down because I only had my permit. I was going to come back after getting licensed, but my mother got the half-baked idea that if I bought it under her name and changed it to mine when I pass my behind-the-wheel test, that I would save money. This backfired BADLY; because my mother had a speeding ticket she neglected to tell me about, the premium jumped $200, and she refused to reimburse me the difference and nearly tore me apart in front of the insurance agent. Needless to say, my siblings were INCENSED that my mother would trick me like that.

While my younger sister has somewhat forgiven my mother for what she tried to do, my brother has not and still does not want any contact with her (unless she agrees to seek professional help) because it would certainly degrade into a shouting match. I do not fault him for this, and am glad that he finally stepped up to confront my mother on her behavior. Whenever he declines to speak to her, or the subject of his not speaking to her comes up, however, my mother spirals into a sobbing pity-party in which she starts spewing outright lies about how my brother wanted to take all of the life insurance money for himself so that he would feel macho and powerful (no... he just wanted to ensure everyone was treated fairly), or how she thinks he is rounding up people at the post office to crank up the abuse (I... don't see how this is even POSSIBLE) and other such nonsense. My mother has also taken to consoling herself by buying VERY expensive French Bulldog puppies; I presume that she is using them to replace my brother.

I had the pleasure of being in the middle of another episode of these pity parties tonight, with the added bonus of my stepfather yelling at me for "sticking my head in the sand" because I refuse to make my brother apologize for being "an immature, cruel bastard for being so mean to his mother."

I am just... so tired of this drama but find myself at a loss for how to endure. Here's my circumstances if that helps:

- My mother does not believe I have "real" problems and that claims everything that makes me miserable is due to laziness or hypothyroidsm-triggered weight gain. This in spite of teachers/counselors/principals calling home since elementary school BEGGING her to either send me to counseling or consent to my being treated by the school psychologist. The way I was treated BARELY avoided being considered abuse, so beyond all that there was nothing that the schools could do. I eventually had to seek treatment behind her back, and that didn't last long because I hated making my father lie so that my mother wouldn't ask questions, among other things.

- I am now 24, and I'm in the process of training to get my driver's license (got my permit in July, I want to get this done no later than the end of September since I really don't want to sponge rides off siblings), and there is a very good chance I could get a part-time position as a library page within the next month. This last part would make me so happy, because I have had the worst luck in trying to get work (I have an A+ card but NO work experience at all).

- I used part of my ($75k) inheritance to buy a car... but because I only have a permit, I had to co-sign with my mother. I am DEATHLY afraid to confront her about anything until I am licensed (and can thus delete her name off the title) because she really would find some way to take my car away. I pocketed about 10,000 from what's remaining to cover future gas/car insurance/maintenance, my medical expenses (aged out of parent's insurance and because I am on synthroid and had been treated for depression, no insurance carrier will touch me) and all the vet bills (in lieu of paying rent). The remaining money is stashed away in CDs.

- Should I indeed get employed, everything I earn would be saved up towards moving out... ideally into a low-priced condominium, since I would prefer not to pay into a rental black hole.

- I have only one local friend, and while she and her family are VERY understanding of my home situation, a huge part of me thinks it would be needlessly imposing and cruel to ask if I can couch-surf even if just until my mother and stepfather go back to work on Monday. My friend's parents are on a fixed income due to disabilities, and she and her sister account for half of the family's income... and when I brought up the subject before, they actually refused my offer to pay them if something happened and I had to hide out at their house.

- I cannot go back to my brother's house; it is on the really small end, and I have not lived with him or my sister for the past 11 years. Also, my sister is allergic to cats and I REFUSE to go without my big orange furball. (Seriously, I probably would have considered suicide were it not for my kitty... he keeps me sane enough to function.)

- I do plan to ask my aunt and other maternal relatives for help, after I get my license. Of course, any visits will have to be done in secret (I would just disguise these detours to San Dimas as going to the Montclair mall or something along those lines). They all miss me and my siblings terribly, and we haven't seen each other since my mother decided about 10 years ago that all our relatives are bad, horrible people and forbade us to have any contact with them. I have even been told that my grandmother is STILL holding things she meant to give me and my siblings for freaking HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATION.

Beyond that... is there anything else that can be done? I had even entertained the thought of anonymously contacting my mother's supervisor to see if they could compel her into some sort of counseling... but surely that would get traced back to me and I would be punished for it. (For the record, my mother HATES any kind of therapy, claiming that it's all about "telling your secrets to strangers so they can rip you off or have you arrested/committed.")

It is, frankly, miserable to hide in my room all day to avoid being party to my self-absorbed mother's impulsiveness and whiny self-pity episodes.... it has gotten to the point where I am buying dorm-sized appliances to stash in my room because the den/kitchen is slowly mutating into a dog kennel and thus becoming too cluttered to actually cook in. (If not that, then I prefer not to be barked off the first floor by my stepfather for his imaginary dislike of me).

So, again... how does one cope? Or is this just hopeless? I will not fault or otherwise be mad at anyone at all if they say unkind things about my mother, if that's a concern.
posted by Yoshi Ayarane to Human Relations (44 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Hopefully you live on one of the coasts, because my suggestion to you is to move to the opposite coast from your mother. If you live in the middle of the country, you might have to go to Alaska or Hawaii.
posted by kindall at 9:40 PM on August 21, 2008

If you're unhappy somewhere, just move out. You have enough money to do, so stop your whining and go where you're happy. Rent a cheap place for a few months till you're ready to move into someplace better.

The longer you stay with your mum, the more you'll become like her.
posted by markovich at 9:48 PM on August 21, 2008 [13 favorites]

Get your license as quickly as you can. You have enough money that if you live in a relatively inexpensive area, your $10,000 on hand can help buffer you while you get employment. Unless you have serious attachment to a given area, or find it vital to be near certain relatives, it really would be ideal to move more than a full day's drive away. I suggest anywhere in the mid-west US. California is simply expensive.

Perhaps I'm a little bit cold here, but your mother is toxic to your well-being. Whatever her issues are, she's an adult and should handle them herself. You are an adult as well, and should cut and run as fast as you can. See to it that anything regarding you (insurance, car title, possessions, bills, phone, etc) is in your name only. Set up a post office box or forward all your mail to a relative or friend you trust to help you in this.

When you leave, be thorough. Anything you leave behind is certainly lost. Do not tell her where you are moving, and if she makes any effort to interfere, get a restraining order. You must stand firm and be complete in this.

There is no coping here. Leave and do not look back. Life is going to hit you at full speed, but you'll find things are a lot easier without constant fear. If you have a college degree of any sort, you're in a good position already. Don't put up with this any longer than you have to. Get your license, and be done with this.
posted by Saydur at 9:56 PM on August 21, 2008 [3 favorites]

- I am now 24,
- I used part of my ($75k) inheritance to buy a car...

You're 24. You have money. Move out. Why are you still there?

You can't change your mother. You can't force her to get help. It sounds like she has a personality that is predictable. Stop or limit contact or work with it and maintain your boundaries. Camp in your room until you have to, or if it's so unbearable, rent an efficiency. You're an adult now and you get to make these choices. You don't have to live with people you don't want to. Get a roommate. Post an ad.

I don't know your mother but not a lot of people make up such stories if their childhood was roses. Something happened. That doesn't mean she should abuse you or your siblings, or have a grudge against the world, but I wouldn't discount her allegations as pure lies. Good luck.
posted by Fairchild at 10:00 PM on August 21, 2008 [2 favorites]

How much longer until you can get your license already?

Second the "move out" suggestion. $600 in rent is much less than you're going to throw down the homeowners insurance / HOA dues / mortgage interest black hole.
posted by salvia at 10:00 PM on August 21, 2008

I read the whole thing but your actual question is a bit buried. I think you are asking how you can move out, with some caveats of why it's not a good idea to do that right away. If that's case, it seems obvious to me that you should grit your teeth for another month until you have your license and just move out!

Look, you have a $75k inheritance. Perhaps you spent $20k on a car and $10k on other expenses (vet bills?) That leaves you with $45k. That is more money than I make in 3 whole years as a grad student. And I manage to even sock money away in savings! That means that you can move out in September and live for three whole years without even the need for a job.

I'm not sure what you can do in the short term to make living at home more bearable, but if in Sept you don't a.) Transfer your car and insurance to your name only b.) Find a place to rent. and c.) Move out quickly (as in overnight) after announcing to your mother that you have found your own place, then fankly, you will be choosing to be miserable.

In the meantime, you could probably make life more bearable by concentrating on the tasks you need to do to move out in September: find a pet friendly apartment, transfer some money out of CD's if necessary, and especially: find a job. That last one should appeal to your mother's work ethic and pounding the pavement in search of work is a great excuse to be out of the house for hours and hours at a time.
posted by no1hatchling at 10:02 PM on August 21, 2008

By the way, when I said choosing to be miserable, I meant that you should look at paying rent for at least a few months while you get your life together and look for a condo to buy (if that's what you really want) as a necessary expense for keeping your sanity. If, after you have your license, you choose to stay at home for perhaps months while looking for a suitable condo then you have no-one to blame for your misery but yourself.
posted by no1hatchling at 10:05 PM on August 21, 2008 [4 favorites]

You're 24. You have money. Move out.

Seconded. It really is as simple as that.
posted by amyms at 10:07 PM on August 21, 2008

You have ~50K. It doesn't sound like there is anything more valuable you could do with that money than move out. Rent isn't a black hole, it's paying for somewhere you want to live. Why would you put up with that kind of crap when you're 24 and have money?

With regards to the car, can't you get your brother or aunt or something to take on the title instead of your mother? Then she doesn't have that over you and you can move out and hang on to the car. (I don't know how you'd get that done, but it shouldn't be any harder than getting her to take her name off it altogether once you've got your license).
posted by jacalata at 10:08 PM on August 21, 2008

When I was your age I moved to the nearest city that had a public transportation system with no car, no apartment and less than a thousand dollars and figured it out. I will deliver you one tidbit of gospel truth from my harrowing experiences of young adulthood: there are plenty of jobs that they will give to anyone.

Here's what to do with all that excess time: beg every licensed driver you know to take you out practicing driving so you can get your license. Get the car in your name. Move out. See and talk to whomever you want to openly because your mother can't forbid you to do shit because you are an adult. Pretty soon you'll be banned too and then you'll realize that your mom hasn't banned anybody from your family but herself. You can't fix your mom.

Go back and read what you wrote. All you're doing for umpteen paragraphs is complaining, blaming all your problems on someone else, and buying into a crazy person's drama. Sound like anyone you know? You're not responsible for your mother and nobody is responsible for launching you into an adult life but you.
posted by nanojath at 10:21 PM on August 21, 2008 [7 favorites]

Wow, you seem to be in a very negative situation. My advice:

1. Follow your plan to get your license at the end of September and, during that time, find an apartment to rent. Saying you'd prefer not to pay into a "rental black hole" (BTW, renting is sometimes better economically than buying) means that instead you'll need to save 20% down on a condo. I don't know where you live, but would you be willing to live there until you save, say 20K minimum? Putting that as a condition of leaving makes me think that some part of you does not want to leave the familiar, even if it is bad. It's OK to be scared--especially considering you don't have many friends--but I think you need to get out ASAP and rebuild a network of family and new friends.

2. Let your mother know why you're leaving. I wouldn't do it right when you're moving out; you can just say you want to live on your own (you're 24!), but at some point you'll need to spell it out to her.

3. After you've moved out, don't contact your mother for a while. Right now, she has no incentive to change her behavior. When you're gone, that may convince her to at least tone it down in order to see you..

3. In a few months, call her but if she starts on a rant, say, Mom, I'm not listening to this, I'll call you another time. Say the same thing each time (it'll take a while) and do not allow yourself to get sucked in. (This worked quite well with my mother and we have a much better relationship now.)

4. Do NOT contact her employer. If they get an anonymous message from someone suggesting your mother get counseling, they'll probably tell her and she'll figure out it's you. Not to mention they wouldn't be able to force her to go, so I'm not sure why you're even thinking about doing this (unless it's for a measure of revenge).

So, get your plan to find an apartment, get out, and live your life on your own terms. It's no fun being the supporting player in someone else's soap opera. Good luck.
posted by sfkiddo at 10:22 PM on August 21, 2008

When I was reading this I thought you were 17. You're 24 years old. You have access to cash and a car. Rent a cheap apartment, move out, and don't give your mother the number. At this point, your unhappiness is not your mother's fault but your own.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:27 PM on August 21, 2008

Get out, now. You will not regret your departure. Don't become more evidence that "youth is wasted on the young," 'kay? There's a great big world out there, and your mom's not in it, trust me.
posted by emhutchinson at 10:28 PM on August 21, 2008

One more thing: just get an apartment. That "rental black hole" thing is just an excuse and it's holding you back from doing the one thing you desperately need to do, which is take 100% responsibility for your own life. The economics of property ownership are extremely complex but the blanket assumption that you will lose money renting is often erroneous. In any event, you need to devote your time and energy figuring out how to live as an adult and what you want to accomplish with your life. When you have a handle on that and are living in a place where you have strong ties and a really good reason to be there (i.e. a career, relationship etc.) then it's time to start thinking about buying real estate. You need to start examining every obstacle you perceive between you and moving out and asking yourself if they really make sense.
posted by nanojath at 10:37 PM on August 21, 2008 [2 favorites]

$75K is more than I make in two years. If I had that, I would move out IMMEDIATELY. Find a city with a good public transporation system, and move there. That way you don't need to worry about the car situation right away.

I know you don't want to stay renting. But this is just for a couple years, until you've learned more about being away from your mother, what you can do for yourself, and how to drive. Then you can get a car, if that's what you want, and you can get a better job and work towards buying a place, if that's what you want.

But you HAVE MONEY. Get the hell out of there.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:42 PM on August 21, 2008

You mention San Dimas in your answer, so I'll assume you're in suburban LA. According to this New York Times calculator, even with $2000-a-month rent - you could live here in Santa Monica on that and still have $500 a month left over! - it's still better to rent than own for ten years if you've got a $350,000 home bought with a 10% down payment and a 6.1 percent interest mortgage. And that's assuming home prices are rising at 1% a year - fat chance in this market! - which means it's actually more than 10 years that you'd be ahead by renting.

Renting an apartment and getting the hell out are your best options. Do it.
posted by mdonley at 10:53 PM on August 21, 2008

Oh, and: community college while you're working - it's totally affordable, and here in California transfering to a UC/CSU when you finish is really simple. My brother's about to start his first semester and his parking permit, fees/tuition, books, and lab fees come to under $800 for the whole term.
posted by mdonley at 10:59 PM on August 21, 2008

Move. Now.

But also realize that you may be 24 but you have less life experience than most people have by 17 or 18 (most people of my generation anyway) and you appear to have a very low risk tolerance and no real exposure to the economics or logistics of adult life. It's ~perfectly~ OK for you to move in with your aunt or brother for a while until you learn to make rational decisions for yourself. The idea of buying a house is a perfect example of an irrational decision you are making because you are so isolated right now (trust mefi on this one, it's a really bad idea to saddle yourself with debt and with no job you won't be able to get a loan).

Call everyone you know and tell them you need a place to live. Pick the most responsible person that says yes, pack your shit and leave. And don't tell your mother where you're going or call her for 6 months.

As far as I know there is no law saying you need a license to own a car. You can take your mother off the car title right now (assuming you can actually do this, which I think you will find you can't as easily as you're assuming) and park it until you get your test. OR put your brother on as a co-owner. Even if you have to give up the car, who cares? There are other cars in the sea, so to speak.
posted by fshgrl at 11:02 PM on August 21, 2008

Living in London I have to tell you - you finally come to terms with the fact the rental black hole idea is a myth....

It's not like you're just giving some random person the money. For the said amount of money you get *somewhere to live*. Away from your mother. There is no more valuable thing you could spend that money on right now than not being there.
posted by Augenblick at 11:09 PM on August 21, 2008 [2 favorites]

- I am now 24,
- I used part of my ($75k) inheritance to buy a car...
- there is a very good chance I could get a part-time position as a library page within the next month.

Move, asap, get a full time job and learn to live independently, abandon the car if you have to - there is absolutely no need for you to be in this situation!

2nding fshgrl 's advice about living with somebody else for a while to allow you to get used to it all as I bet the sheer idea freaks you out right now :)
posted by koahiatamadl at 12:56 AM on August 22, 2008

I'm sorry to say it, but you sound extremely immature. You're using your mother's issues as an excuse for your own problems.

The most important thing you can learn is that YOU are responsible for YOU, and that includes how you respond to your mother's issues and craziness. As an adult, it's your responsibility to define your boundaries and enforce them.
posted by miss tea at 4:36 AM on August 22, 2008 [2 favorites]

You have $45K minus a car. Move out. I'm 22 and I only have 12K (saved up, 4K of which I have to spend on school) and I'm moving out from the same sort of weird family dynamic in 10 days. You are 24. Your family is not your problem at the moment, and you are sustaining an artificial child status for yourself.
posted by Phalene at 5:36 AM on August 22, 2008 [2 favorites]

You're 24. You have money. Move out.

Simple as that.

I've been forced out of living with my parents when I've had absolutely no money at all. Turns out, being independent is worth whatever you're going to pour into the "rental black hole."

You're making a lot of excuses for why you can't move out, and trying to turn the problem you're having around so that it's all about your mom. It's not. It's very simple: you're unhappy where you're living. The solution is also very simple: Move.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 5:53 AM on August 22, 2008 [2 favorites]

It sounds like one of your mom's greatest tricks is coming up with every excuse in the book as to why she can't do something. As hard as it might be to realize, if you reread your post, you're in some ways doing the same thing - coming up with reason upon reason to delay moving out.

You have the means, and the deisre to be healthier than your mom. That's the BIG difference.

I'm going to agree with virtually every person here and say move out ASAP. Investing a few thousand dollars in your own physical, emotional and mental health is the best investment you could make... WAY better than a house. ;) Plus, once you're living on your own you'll be able to get yourself to a therapist on a regular basis without the grief; that's one step I hope you'll really make sure you take. Again, it's an investment in yourself, to make a better future.

Good luck.
posted by twiki at 6:08 AM on August 22, 2008 [3 favorites]

That rental black hole is your ticket to freedom. Your mother sees things in black and white. You need to recognise the shades of grey here: Rent isn't always the best financial decision, but moving out of that house ASAP sure as hell is. Claim your life back. Your sanity is worth the money.
posted by heatherann at 6:26 AM on August 22, 2008 [3 favorites]

Echoing the "move out" sentiment. When I moved out at the age of 18 I had a grand total of six whole dollars in freaking food stamps to my name.
I really, really think you can manage on the $10,000 in your pocket at the moment. Hie thee to a rental agency!
posted by hecho de la basura at 6:43 AM on August 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

I agree with the general consensus on moving out and not using the rental black hole as a cop out.

It sounds like it might take you a long time to get your mother's behaviour out from under your skin, and the sooner you start that, the sooner you'll be happy and not replicating the things that frustrate you about her.

Nothing is going to help you with that as much as knowing that you're truly independent, paying your own way, working, and not needing your mother's name on anything. You can totally do this - it will require you to be a lot less picky and to recognise that you have everything you need to change your life (including the money). You can totally do this within a month, and everything will get better.

(Incidentally, getting employed doesn't sound like an 'if' for any reason other than you're filtering out a hell of a lot of options.)

The alternative is continuing the self-pity and playing child/victim, and that is never, ever, ever going to make you a happy or healthy person. Good luck!
posted by carbide at 7:08 AM on August 22, 2008

Not only move out but move far away. I love my parents but still moved 1000 miles away when I turned 18, just so I could learn to cope with life by myself. There are plenty of places to live where ~50k will last you two years while you find a job.

Also, I would actually suggest planning to rent for at least a couple years - in this market, I wouldn't want to buy unless I was prepared to put down roots. It's not a good time to sell if you find a dream job in a different city. The downside of renting is no equity - the upside is flexibility, and at your age, that's worth quite a bit.
posted by restless_nomad at 7:08 AM on August 22, 2008

Please let us know if you escape. I'm also pleading you to move out and get an apartment.
posted by agregoli at 7:27 AM on August 22, 2008

You could move out and throw away money on rent, but at the same time learn how to take care of yourself and grow up.

You could stay at home and make excuses about how you can't move out because of your mom's excuses and your fear, and let your mom con you into spending your money bit by bit.

Either way, in a few years the money will be gone. Which sounds better to you?

I did the exact same thing as you when I was 18, except my family life was great. They didn't kick me out of the comfy situation, so I stayed at home. I did get my license that year, but I was too afraid to move out. It was too expensive. What if I didn't have enough money one month? Then at 19 I did it, and moved cross country with my brother. I ended up sleeping on a porch my first few months. That wasn't so bad.

Bit by bit I grew up (it takes a while. It took me until I was about 27 to get the hang of it). Some days will suck. You may face days where you don't know how you can buy food until you get paid again (but you have a cushion, you may never face that, either!). But one day, you will get the hang of it, and you will know (even if your mom never realizes it) that you can stand tall, because you can take care of yourself. That is your inheritance from your father, and the money will help you achieve that.
posted by Monday at 7:30 AM on August 22, 2008

Well, you haven't had much opportunity to learn how to transition to adulthood, have you? No good behavior to model after. I've been there. I know it's scary. I moved out of my abusive home at 18 after putting my foot down to my guardian, who demanded that I go to the local university after high school. She wanted me to continue living with her because she was lonely and was very much like your mother (the diagnosis as schizoid with paranoid tendencies came later). But at 17, when it was time to sort out college (and after 13 years of being a punching bag of various kinds and giving her free therapy), I had to stand up for myself. Some people don't like that, do they? I know! But it had to be done. Because that's what adults do to protect themselves. You're an adult who's allowed to stick up for herself.

While I didn't shake off my guardian and her troubles completely until well after college, at least I got out of her house and went to a school that was out of town. I no longer speak to her. It's just not a good idea to take on someone else's emotional problems. It's co-dependent and keeps you from focusing on what you need to do for yourself. Don't use your mom's troubles as an excuse to do nothing for yourself! No one said it'd be easy, but you'll feel a lot better and will be able to make better choices for your future if you make just one step towards it now. Get out of that house ASAP, and if you have to rent or couch-surf, so be it, understand? It's your life at stake. What could be more important?

When you're sick and tired of being sick and tired, your excuses will fall away and you will do something. You've indicated there are people who are in your corner. Go to them now, and make the arrangements to leave. I didn't have any backup myself, but if I did I probably would've left my guardian's house earlier than 18. And you have money. Bonus!

Your life is what's important now, not hers. Remember that. I think you know what to do, you just have to do it. So do it. It's OK. We're rooting for you.
posted by droplet at 7:47 AM on August 22, 2008 [2 favorites]

Why are you waiting so long to get your full license? If you need more practice use some of your 10K or some of the other 50K to buy lessons. Buy several lessons a day if that's what you need. Take your test as soon as humanly possible, then move the hell out of your mother's house.

Renting is not the black hole that you think it is, and you can't buy a condo with a down payment and no income in any case. If you don't want to pay a lot of rent, find a roommate.

posted by jacquilynne at 7:52 AM on August 22, 2008

Like fshgirl wrote, I really don't think you have the experience you need to jump into the deep water of home ownership just yet. Seriously, there is nothing wrong with renting an apartment for a year or so until you get on your feet and realise what it is like to be on your own. You've never had utilities in your name, you have no furniture, you have no credit, you have no job. Even with that money from your Dad socked away, a mortgage company is not going to be so willing to give you a loan without any sort of credit/job/renter history. They just won't. Especially in light of the current economic environment (that is, unless your brother or aunt co-signs for you).

Get a job, any job. Hell, Whole Foods pays well and has insurance. And with regard to no insurance company 'touching you', it's not a matter of them not touching you. I'm pretty sure it's a matter of them not covering your thyroid problem as a pre-existing condition. And unless you've been institutionalised or treated in-patient for depression, it really shouldn't be a big deal. I think you'd be surprised at how common depression treatment really is. You won't know till you try. And at the very least, go and apply for some work. It will help your self esteem and get you the hell out of the crazy house.

Why are you still hiding contact with your aunt? You're an *adult*, it's not like your mother can ground you. Yeah, she can give you shit, but it's not like she can prevent you from associating with whom you choose. You need to make the decision to surround yourself with positive non-parasitic people. Your mother definitely doesn't qualify as a contender in that respect.

Have you discussed your plans with your older brother or is this all still manifesting in your head? I bet if you bounced some of this off of him he would probably have some better insight. He's one of the only people that's shared the same situations as you. That's one of the upsides of having siblings in a psycho family (I have a brother, and he's the only one that 'gets it', kwim?).

I've been where you are, however I moved out when I was 17 - complete with the cat, and two jobs to keep afloat. The only difference is that I had about $2000 when I walked out (I ate a LOT of ramen...). I made the decision, found the apartment, signed the lease, packed my stuff and was on my own in less than 72hrs.

Don't let your mother's drama become yours. Find the line of separation and just get out. Stop making excuses. Because, really, you do have the strength to do it. If you want to.

Good luck.
posted by dancinglamb at 8:01 AM on August 22, 2008

You need to move out now. You have far more wealth than most people your age do. Your mother is toxic and her bad behavior is spreading to you.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 8:25 AM on August 22, 2008

Nthing the "move out" advice. Rent is not a black hole if you're paying to be somewhere you want to be that also allows you to have a healthy lifestyle. Think of it as investing in your life and personal development.

Plus, it takes the pressure off you to find just the right property to purchase - you can rent in a number of different places until you find the one you like best (could be a house, or a condo, or a co-op). Your number one priority right now should not be purchasing property - it should be getting the hell out and healing yourself.
posted by cadge at 8:51 AM on August 22, 2008

Wow, the poster doesn't deserve to be completely harshed on. I think people who have been abused for a long time really have trouble seeing the possibility of escape, so maybe lay off on the immature/causing your own problems/stupid vein, y'all.

Honey. Take your money. Move out. Find a therapist. I promise it will get better and I know it will be terrifying, but you can do it.
posted by liketitanic at 8:52 AM on August 22, 2008 [5 favorites]

liketitanic, FTW.
Start making plans RIGHT NOW.
In a couple of weeks it will be September, and that always feels like a new beginning, right?
(at least it still does for me - and I've been out of school for 15 years)

Promise us that this September your new beginning means "moving out".
Do it.
As a friend once told me about leaving a bad situation: "if anything falls off your car as you pull away - keep going, you probably didn't need it anyways".
Or something like that.
posted by Tbola at 9:54 AM on August 22, 2008

You don't even need to own a car in San Francisco, just sayin'. (And car ownership is a much bigger black hole for money than rent.)
posted by salvia at 9:58 AM on August 22, 2008

What the hell are you waiting for? Get on with your life. You're a grown up person. Move out of your mom's house. You don't need to "wait to save up towards moving out," you already have lots more money than most people do when starting out.

If the library page thing doesn't work out (or if it doesn't fill enough time) just go to a temp agency. If you're even vaguely computer-literate you can always get data-entry work or some such; it's usually not exciting work but it's good work experience (you get to see the inside of lots of different offices, and learn how they operate) and can sometimes be kind of fun.)

Also, do this today: go to the DMV, get their little drivers' info packet, practice some parallel parking, and take your license test already. It's not that hard; there's no reason you need to wait until September. If you fail -- I did, first time (I was lazy about memorizing the stopping distances) -- you have to wait a whole week before you do it again. Not exactly the end of the world.

Of course, any visits will have to be done in secret

No they don't. You're a grown up person. Visit whoever you want to.

I had even entertained the thought of anonymously contacting my mother's supervisor to see if they could compel her into some sort of counseling

No. Your job is not to fix your mother's life. Your job is to fix your own life.

she really would find some way to take my car away

Your car. Which you paid for. The only way she can take it away is if you allow it. By all means get her name off the title, but the very fact that you expect her to be able to browbeat you into giving up something that's yours is a sign that you're focusing too much on her and not enough on yourself.

how does one cope?

GET. OUT. OF. THERE. Live your own life. Let her live hers. Somewhere where you aren't.
posted by ook at 10:51 AM on August 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

God. I get so angry when I read some of these AskMe questions, and I end up sounding like an asshole. Sorry about that. If you can, try to take what I said in that last post, and ignore the way I said it. If it makes any difference, I'm angry on your behalf.

Here's the thing -- your mom sounds really unhappy, and the way she's decided to justify it to herself is by making it everyone else's fault: the people at work are out to get her, her relatives are out to get her, psychologists are out to get her -- it's crazy, literally, but it's a way for her to avoid acknowledging that she's responsible for her own happiness. And you've let yourself stay trapped in her orbit; you're spending all your time worrying about what she thinks and what she might do, instead of thinking about what you can do.

It doesn't have to be that way, is what I was trying to say. You can start living your own life now. It's time.
posted by ook at 12:17 PM on August 22, 2008

(And no, you don't deserve this crap, and no, you're not a whiny spoiled person. And you should stop paying your mom's vet bills. (!) And you should rent, don't buy (even a co-op). Home ownership is complicated, maintenance ends up costing almost as much as rent does, rent money isn't really the black hole you think it is, and right now the flexibility of a short-term lease is probably more important than the perceived stability of owning. And I should stop now; triple-posting is kind of lame. But seriously: move. Start apartment-hunting today. There is nothing, nothing you need to wait for.)
posted by ook at 12:34 PM on August 22, 2008

n-th ing the don't worry about buying bit. Most of the people I know in finance are renting right now, as are the majority of people I know who (like myself) can afford to buy. It's really not a good time to buy, especially in California (of course you'll find real estate people telling you that we've hit bottom and it's a great time, but there's no reason to think thats true). Especially if you're having trouble getting work -- housing is a very long term commitment, and until you get further along your career and can have some prediction of how your income will go over the next decade or two, don't do it. Unlike the old days, you can't assume you can just sell and pay off the mortgage if you can't make the payments, since your condo/house/whatever could easily drop in value.

My wife had a similar relationship with her mother, and also delayed moving out due to various perceived factors. Only when she finally did could her life start to improve, so really that is the number one answer in the short term.

However, these sorts of things don't go away just because you move. This was 12 years ago, and she still has nightmares and such. Once you get settled, I'd look at counseling, or something - while moving out will staunch the bleeding, it won't be a panacea.
posted by wildcrdj at 1:21 PM on August 22, 2008

Move out ASAP. In the meantime:

Check your credit right now. It's free.

Continue to keep a very close eye on your credit, your mother has shown herself to be financially exploitative in the past and she is obviously not responsible with money. And, of course, she knows your mother's maiden name. From there it's very, very easy for her to open cards in your name.

Pack a bag that has all your necessary items--social security card, birth certificate, checkbook, photos, car keys--and give it to a trusted friend, or put it in a safety deposit box. She will hold these hostage if she gets the chance.

Good luck--we're pulling for you.
posted by sondrialiac at 4:51 PM on August 22, 2008

I know I'm late to the party, but having been in the same position (license at 23, crazy mom), I have to agree that it's something you need to do as soon as possible. You can't change what doesn't want to change, and sometimes the only way to save your own sanity is to cut and run.

You have money, you have people who love you (in a healthy way). It seems hard, I know. If baby-steps help you, take baby-steps, but start making things happen. Get your license, get an apartment, reconnect with your relatives, accept favors from friends. It will be hard at times, it will be scary, but it will be so worth it when you look back and know it's the best thing that ever happened to you, and you were the one to make it happen.

Personally, my only regret is that I didn't do it sooner.
posted by wimpdork at 8:36 PM on August 24, 2008

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