1. Alan has completed the new Pain Recovery Program. To read or share it, use this link: http://go.tmswiki.org/newprogram
    Dismiss Notice

Daniel L. Dealing with a difficult parent

Discussion in 'Ask a TMS Therapist' started by Guest, May 18, 2015.

  1. Guest

    Guest Guest

    This question was submitted via our Ask a TMS Therapist program. To submit your question, click here.

    Question
    A lot of my TMS is triggered by being around/thinking about my mother, who was abusive and neglectful towards me growing up. When I am near her, regardless of if we are interacting or are even in the same room, I switch over to a state of fight/flight/freeze which does a number on my body and my mind. I am college-aged and living at home, so I'm around her on a day-to-day basis and am at a total loss on how to interact with her in a way that won't be destructive for either of us. When I am her friend, things are more peaceful but my health becomes awful. When I am more aloof around her, I have less pain but feel extremely angry and panic-ridden. She has proven to be incapable of love and genuine interaction due to how she was raised, so I feel like I can't hold her accountable for how she is / how she was. I suppose I hate her unconsciously, but feel guilty about it because what I hate her for seems to be outside of her control.

    Do you have any suggestions on how to approach this? I want to preserve myself without hurting her.
     
    Penny2007, Nin, Melb1971 and 2 others like this.
  2. Daniel G Lyman LCSW

    Daniel G Lyman LCSW TMS Therapist

    Answer
    This is a really interesting question. I haven’t been asked a question like this in quite a while, so thanks for mixing it up!

    What I really truly love about TMS and TMS therapy is that through a process of learning how to treat ourselves in the face of physical pain, we’re able to use that experiential knowledge in other parts of our lives.

    What? I’ll explain. When a client comes to me in pain, whether it’s foot pain, back pain, head pain, or any other kind of pain, the first thing we work on is training our brain to not let that pain overwhelm and frighten us. We do that by first making sure that we are 100% sure that the pain is TMS. This is important because it significantly reduces fear and tells us that we don’t need to be afraid of the pain meaning anything more than it does: it’s just pain, and not a broken back, foot, neck, etc.

    Once we’re confident that the pain we’re in will not have long-term ramifications, it becomes much easier to deal with.

    How does this relate to your mother? I’ll explain.

    You say that you try and be her friend, or you try and be aloof around her. Neither of those really work.

    Your mother is incapable of love and genuine interaction, and so there’s no use in trying to change her.

    Your mother is your TMS pain. And when that pain shows up, you have to be as nice to yourself as possible. Don’t think that when your pain shows up that it’s going to mean anything catastrophic for the future. All it means is that you’re experiencing pain and that you should be patient, yet not overly accommodating to that pain. You need to put your needs first and when the pain gets in the way, do what you can to minimize the pain in the moment by reminding yourself that you’re safe and focus on your breathing.

    Practice Outcome Independence with your pain (again, your pain is your mother – appropriate, no?). When your pain is the worst, it’s important to recognize that it’s not the end of the world, and that your pain will go away. Nothing is permanent. Talk to yourself when your pain is around.

    This is about you meeting your emotional needs first – before you meet your mothers.

    I’m sure you have lots of rage towards your mother, and that’s just fine. I’d encourage you to journal about how angry you are, and don’t hold back. Let yourself express your anger without any judgment at all. Don’t just try it once – try it a handful of times. Your anger with your mother is 100% acceptable.

    And, if all psychological advice fails, sometimes the most practical advice is the most useful: limit the time you spend with her. Get out of the house as much as possible.


    Any advice or information provided here does not and is not intended to be and should not be taken to constitute specific professional or psychological advice given to any group or individual. This general advice is provided with the guidance that any person who believes that they may be suffering from any medical, psychological, or mindbody condition should seek professional advice from a qualified, registered/licensed physician and/or psychotherapist who has the opportunity to meet with the patient, take a history, possibly examine the patient, review medical and/or mental health records, and provide specific advice and/or treatment based on their experience diagnosing and treating that condition or range of conditions. No general advice provided here should be taken to replace or in any way contradict advice provided by a qualified, registered/licensed physician and/or psychotherapist who has the opportunity to meet with the patient, take a history, possibly examine the patient, review medical and/or mental health records, and provide specific advice and/or treatment based on their experience diagnosing and treating that condition or range of conditions.

    The general advice and information provided in this format is for informational purposes only and cannot serve as a way to screen for, identify, or diagnose depression, anxiety, or other psychological conditions. If you feel you may be suffering from any of these conditions please contact a licensed mental health practitioner for an in-person consultation.

    Questions may be edited for brevity and/or readability.

     
  3. Walt Oleksy

    Walt Oleksy Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi, Guest.
    When my mother became a senior citizen and I tried to care for her for two years, she was hard to please. Make that impossible to please.
    She sent me out in a blizzard to get her groceries which included a can of sourkraut. When I returned, after losing my parking place which it
    took me an hour to shovel out of snow, she looked at me and groaned, saying "Oh, I wanted it with carroway seeds!" That did it and I asked
    my older brother to take her for a while. He passed her on to someone else and said, "I love Mom, but I don't like her!"

    We do what we can for our parents. It ain't easy.
     
    Ollin likes this.
  4. Stella

    Stella Well known member

    I deal with my Mother too. I have my phone set to go off at 7:30 every evening to remind me to journal. I can not express the anger I feel. Journaling does it for me. And I may have to do it over multiple days to get rid of a symptom. I feel guilty when I feel like I am not being the perfect daughter, or sister or friend. Oh that perfection lifts it ugly head. I try to find a balance between staying for lunch with my Mother (and feeling resentful) or not going to lunch with my Mother (and feeling guilty). Then have to journal to get out my anger.

    Also one of my traits is being "compulsively dutiful". I place others always as more important than me. I have to manage this trait all the time to stay healthy. You can do it. Think about participating in the 42 day program on this site. I have learned so many tools to help me manage myself.
     
    plum, Fabi, Kathleen and 1 other person like this.
  5. Ollin

    Ollin Peer Supporter

    To join the "children of difficult mothers club", I've just had a most difficult few days with mine. She's not particularly abusive, despite instilling in me an ongoing sense of guilt about not doing enough to help her - she's been ill for most of her life, at least all my life. But when I get out of my way to support her, it's not welcome because she doesn't like feeling dependent, I feel embarassed for being so "compulsively dutiful", and we both get resentful. I know that her illness is not my fault, but still - when her condition deteriorates I can't shake off the subconscious feeling that I've contributed to it with my selfishness or carelessness.

    I started to wonder if my TMS symptom isn't a way to escape this guilt, as it gives me something to feel sorry for myself ("Hey, I am unwell too!" - a distraction). I need to find a way of feeling deserving of self-care and putting my needs first without feeling guilty about it.
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2015
    Kathleen likes this.
  6. Bunneh

    Bunneh Peer Supporter

    I live with my mother who's bipolar. I was also neglected as a child due to her unpredictable mania/depression cycles. This instilled anxiety that I have to face on daily basis. I am terrified whenever I think of moving out, as her psychiatrist once told me that manic states are triggered by strong emotions. I can imagine it will be pretty tough for her to see her only child leave the nest.
    I highly recommend a book called "Toxic parents" by Susan Forward and Craig Buck. It saved my sanity. It offers nice techniques of coping with difficult parents (at the psychological level) without feeling guilty. ;)
     
    Kathleen and Melb1971 like this.
  7. Kathleen

    Kathleen New Member

     
  8. Kathleen

    Kathleen New Member

    Just feel good about your self care. And Throw out the guilty feelings..your in charge of how you feel! Thats maybe why you have tms, you're a goodist. You Are Ultimately All You Have To Care For you, right?. And you can't truly love anyone more than you love yourself. Your mom is responsible for her own care....TMS self care is what she needs to do as well and if she refuses then thats on her not you. Try to find a win/win.
     
    Ollin likes this.
  9. map76

    map76 New Member

    I am from the "children of difficult fathers club." My Dad was, and continues to be, a very intimidating, controlling person in my life.

    I work for a company that he founded, so I have always felt financially dependent on him. This makes it difficult to feel and express my anger toward him. I feel like an ungrateful prick for hating someone who has done so much to help me out in life.

    But, how do I really feel? Like he never cared about my happiness, just worried about public perception. Like he had a ton of rage that he took out on his kids. Like I had to become a perfectionist and goodist to please him. Like I wasn't allowed to have feelings or anger because there was already too much of that being thrown at me every day.
     
    intense50 and Kathleen like this.
  10. Ollin

    Ollin Peer Supporter

    Sorry to hear you had an abusive father - this must have caused you a lot of scars from your difficult childhood. I think a part of why we repress feeling of anger etc. is because of the conflict between our 'responsible adult self' and the wounded inner child who still lives in us and cries for being heard and acknowledged. You need to distinguish both voices. Yes - he helped you, and may have, and still does, love you in his own way, but do you FEEL loved? As a kid you probably weren't so pragmatic to care about how much he can provide you with financially, you wanted a father who would respect, support you and care about your feelings. It's good to express your inner child and validate all that he experienced, and how he learnt to act as a result of the traumatic past. Don't try to reconcile your child and adult selves - this will only suppress one of them.
     
    Kathleen and map76 like this.
  11. jennaTMS516

    jennaTMS516 New Member

    I use to think that about my mother too. But I realized I hated myself more for no being able to "please and control" her in the "right" way. It took a hella lot of work to that insight. I find finding insights about myself helps me understand why im in fear. In that case I noticed I was being inconsiderate to myself so I was able to let that go and let God. I started with journaling to get my thoughts and feelings out.
     
  12. Fabi

    Fabi Well known member

    I belong to the abusive mom and dad club! My mom I "solved" it by moving 1400 km away. My dad came to live to my city when they broke up. He is angry at me he tells me everything l do wrong and he says l am exactly like her.
    I listen to him with more distance and compassion these days. He lives in constant pain with arthritis.
    My therapist says l broke the pattern. My son is proof of it.
    But l am caught in pain. Ignoring my mom helps halfway. Limiting my dad's talks reduces the times l have to endure that.
    May we be safe, comforted and healthy.
     
    Maribel likes this.
  13. bennet

    bennet Peer Supporter

    I really relate to this. My father has narcissistic personality disorder and my mother is codependant/enabling/chronically depressed. I had to move back in with them after college, and that's when my TMS hit me as hard as it could. I've moved out and have been in a safer home for almost a year now. It's still very, very difficult. I find myself entirely preoccupied with thinking about my family traumas. I feel angry at both of them -- my father for causing me so much lasting damage, and my mother for obliviously letting it happen. I want to maintain a relationship with my mother but it is so, so painful to even see her. I have cut off my father but I still feel ashamed of the pain it causes him --he is incapable of seeing me as a person, and incapable of personal reflection on himself, so he cannot comprehend what is going on and makes up cruel explanations that blame me, calling me mean and twisted. It's all a projection. But anyway, YES, I really, really relate. Finally being able to move away helps a LOT. I do think there is a point where it gets worse before it gets better. While you live with toxic parents, even though you feel horrible all the time, there is still a lot of repression going on. That came crashing down on me a few months after leaving. It really hit me how truly horrible my upbringing had been. Having a therapist there to support me through this has been essential. I wish you support, strength and opportunities.
     
    Maribel likes this.
  14. Fabi

    Fabi Well known member

    I do understand every word you wrote. I don´t know how old you are, or if it is a matter of age, but near my 49th birthday, I was able to play a role that helped me to deal with my parents and not harm myself. No matter how far I am, the patterns are inside me, and it is me who I need to work on, mainly through acceptance and recognition for being able to desire and choose a different life. Acceptance of yourself is key.
    May you be safe, may you be peaceful, may you live with ease. May I also be safe, may I also be peaceful and may I also live with ease.
     
    plum likes this.
  15. bennet

    bennet Peer Supporter

    Hi Fabi-- thank you for reaching out to me so thoughtfully. I'm 24. It still feels very present, as I only recently moved out from my parents' house, but I'm still uncomfortably near to them. I'm doing a lot of emotional work, and I know for sure that a lot more is ahead of me. I agree with you: I can't change other people, but I can thoughtfully examine the past and how it shaped me, and use that to learn new thought patterns and ways to live. I'm still at a very hard stage, though. I expect I'm going to be angry for a while still. I'm trying to let anger be ok. I love that you signed off with "May you be safe, may you be peaceful, may you live with ease." I use that mantra often myself. ^_^ Wishing you well, Bennet
     
    Fabi likes this.
  16. Maribel

    Maribel New Member

    I will also join the "children of difficult mothers club",


    As I am digging out my past i am starting to think that my mum had postpartum depression -"I know that her illness is not my fault, but still - when her condition deteriorates I can't shake off the subconscious feeling that I've contributed to it with my selfishness or carelessness."


    'I started to wonder if my TMS symptom isn't a way to escape this guilt, as it gives me something to feel sorry for myself ("Hey, I am unwell too!" - a distraction). I need to find a way of feeling deserving of self-care and putting my needs first without feeling guilty about it.'
    I remember thinking I am not going to feel guilty for not caring for you and dad - I need to survive this problem - I am a priority!
     
    Fabi likes this.
  17. Maribel

    Maribel New Member

    "You do not have to be good.
    You do not have to walk on your knees
    for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
    You only have to let the soft animal of your body
    love what it loves." -Mary Oliver, 'Wild Geese'

    I LOVE THIS POEM
     
    BloodMoon, plum, Fabi and 1 other person like this.
  18. Maribel

    Maribel New Member

    No matter how far I am, the patterns are inside me, and it is me who I need to work on, mainly through acceptance and recognition for being able to desire and choose a different life. Acceptance of yourself is key.
    May you be safe, may you be peaceful, may you live with ease. May I also be safe, may I also be peaceful and may I also live with ease.

    I am 51 and it killed me to realize that i was living their abuse pattern through the husband I had chosen. Its not them, its me, its the echo of the pain i experienced as a kid that had defined who I was and I didn't even know I was doing it!!!
     
  19. Maribel

    Maribel New Member

    What I need to do is stop breath and see my emotional pattern I am sliding in and decide if it serves me or not. choose every time a reaction based on the present time not on what i learned as a child.
     
    bennet likes this.
  20. Fabi

    Fabi Well known member

    Maribel,
    You may think words are just words, but I would be careful when saying "It killed me that...". First I would think of the feeling behind those words, and I know it is a very well known expressions. And expressions make up our inner world. I would sense that feeling and then ask myself "Is this how I want to phrase it?"
    What defines me today is what I am able to choose every minute, thankfully.
    A lot of water has passed (almost literally!) and I am able to choose a different position that I had when I was just reacting.
    Three weeks ago I spent a week with one of my parents and brother, who usually were the worst experiences for me. I was able to put myself in a diffferent position. I don´t know how I did it. It happened. I know it was not chance, it was the result of many things, this forum included.
    May you be safe. May I be safe.
     
    Maribel likes this.

Share This Page