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My mother is coming to visit which is giving me anxiety

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by Penny2007, Aug 20, 2017.

  1. Penny2007

    Penny2007 formerly Pain2007

    My mother and I live far away from each other (on different continents) so I see her very infrequently. She is coming to visit in a few weeks and will be staying with me for about 10 days. She isn't nasty or demanding but she triggers me in many ways. Every time she comes it's OK for the first couple of days and then she starts to drive me crazy. When she leaves I always get a TMS attack :(.

    She can't do anything on her own when here. If I take her to a mall she will get lost and will literally start crying when I find her. She is nosy and asks me a million questions a day. She was a bag of problems when I was growing up and gave me very little attention and didn't protect me from emotional and other abuse by other family members. She has poor judgment and is not particularly intelligent so it usually feels like I am the parent and she is the child.

    Any tips on how to prepare for her visit or how to deal with here when she is here? I am generally very nice to her on the outside but going crazy on the inside. I believe she feels we have a good relationship :rolleyes:
    Lily Rose and Everly like this.
  2. birdsetfree

    birdsetfree Well known member

    I can understand why you feel anxious about this. I would say that you definitely have a conditioned response to your mother in a lot of ways from the past. So now that you are aware of this you can prepare by mindfully emotionally separating from her triggering behaviours during her stay.

    Stay grounded around your mom and take breaks when you need to so that you are not drawn into the intense interactions with her. Prepare yourself before she arrives by reassuring yourself that you can handle this situation, that it is not dangerous and your mind does not need to protect you from anything.

    This is no different to any other tms trigger. Hope this helps.
    Penny2007 likes this.
  3. Everly

    Everly Peer Supporter

    I can relate. A therapist once told me to observe her with curiosity not personal emotional reactions. Mindfully really, just take a step back and observe how she is and sometimes also how it makes you feel, but do not engage in these negative feelings. Like somatic tracking but mom tracking. It took time, but I can do it now almost always and don't blow up like I used to.

    Do some meditations about her before she comes, where you can imagine being around her unfazed, remind yourself you are a grown adult now and perfectly capable of living your life how you want etc. Good luck!
    karinabrown, Lainey and plum like this.
  4. Penny2007

    Penny2007 formerly Pain2007

    @birdsetfree & @Elina - Great suggestions. I especially like the "mom tracking" :). I'm just not sure I can do it. Just thinking about it is making me anxious.
    Everly likes this.
  5. Everly

    Everly Peer Supporter

    Well, I think you can do it. You have couple weeks to prepare. Do some journalling about it if you havent, perhaps. Good luck!
  6. Penny2007

    Penny2007 formerly Pain2007

    I don't have any experience with journaling. How does that work?

    I think the hard part is to "observe how she is and sometimes also how it makes you feel, but do not engage in these negative feelings".
  7. Everly

    Everly Peer Supporter

    Well, first you write about your mom, like in a diary, about the experiences in your childhood, in recent past, how she makes you feel, what makes you angry at her, what makes you love her. Everything. So there is no repressed feelings, maybe write a letter to your mom, but don't send it and such. Or talk to someone about her. If you dont have anyone available, send me a message.

    And that observing part is definitely hard, but its possible. When I get in a sticky situation with my mother, I mentally take a step back, recognize the feelings I have at that moment, realize how the current situation triggers some previous experiences with her and my general rejection issues and then breath and decide consciously either to speak up or let it go. Also you can try watch the situation as if you are watching a movie and then you gain a bit of perspective and dont get very upset. Anyways, mother/child relationships are a huge issue in anybodys life and even more so if you have TMS and the mom is one of triggers, so it will take some time to figure it out, but it should be very worth it.
    Penny2007 likes this.
  8. Lily Rose

    Lily Rose Beloved Grand Eagle

    Perceptions and expectations can unhinge us when confronted with a situation that 'always' turns out badly. By removing the parent/child expectation, you may be able to view her as simply another human being who has many issues. Asking a million questions may be her way of trying to know you, even if it seems 'nosy'. If she gets lost easily, how terrifying the world might seem to her.

    If you were confronted with an older person who had diminished capacities ..... how would you treat that person? It is more complicated with a parent because we have deep expectations and sometimes even deeper disappointments. But she is still her own person, outside of being your parent. She may even know you are more intelligent and this may add to her insecurities.

    Essentially, I am suggesting you imagine yourself in her world.

    Lately, I have really been practicing this with my own beloved Mother. She is a functioning alcoholic. Eight years ago, she had a massive brain aneurysm, and made a miraculous recovery. But there was some brain damage from this. Especially memory issues. Her history is severely wrought with traumas from her own mother and she has been running from that all of her life, trying to bury that pain. Her self-hatred is deep. This is worsened further by aging. In her 'day', she was a beauty (when she was 21, Hugh Hefner of the Playboy magazine saw her in a restaurant and invited her to become a Playboy model. She declined as she was in a custody battle.) Women who have had a great deal of beauty in their youth suffer more as they age. From all this, she will sometimes lash out with piercing barbs. She isn't meaning to hurt me, necessarily. She is just so hurt herself, and she lacks a verbal censor, that what she feels flows right out. She is always sorry, of course. But I have noticed she often forgets it ever happened (intentionally or not). It is hard not to feel hurt when she behaves this way, but I work hard to remind myself where it is coming from. And yes, I still will often have a pain flare from it. But not ... always.

    It is a practice. Everything we do is a practice. Sometimes we get it right, sometimes not so much, but eventually we improve our skills.

    Most parents are not perfect, and our perceptions of them are often still through the eyes of our childhood feelings.

    We cannot change our parents, but we can choose to realize they have struggles, just as we do.

    Shifting perspectives to view others with compassion will help us in our healing journey.

    Be Love <3

    ..... with Love and Compassion ^_^
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 8, 2017
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  9. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    When I'm having difficulty with a specific person, I like to use the Loving Kindness Meditation. It has helped me through situations like yours. Here are the instructions from the Metta Institute:

    The practice of Metta meditation is a beautiful support to other awareness practices. One recites specific words and phrases evoking a "boundless warm-hearted feeling." The strength of this feeling is not limited to or by family, religion, or social class. We begin with our self and gradually extend the wish for well-being happiness to all beings.

    There are different descriptions of the practice. The following is a basic set of instructions from the book "The Issue at Hand" by Gil Fronsdal written as a gift to the community. It is freely given.

    Brief Instructions for Loving-Kindness Meditation
    To practice loving-kindness meditation, sit in a comfortable and relaxed manner. Take two or three deep breaths with slow, long and complete exhalations. Let go of any concerns or preoccupations. For a few minutes, feel or imagine the breath moving through the center of your chest - in the area of your heart.

    Metta is first practiced toward oneself, since we often have difficulty loving others without first loving ourselves. Sitting quietly, mentally repeat, slowly and steadily, the following or similar phrases:

    May I be happy. May I be well. May I be safe. May I be peaceful and at ease.

    While you say these phrases, allow yourself to sink into the intentions they express. Loving-kindness meditation consists primarily of connecting to the intention of wishing ourselves or others happiness. However, if feelings of warmth, friendliness, or love arise in the body or mind, connect to them, allowing them to grow as you repeat the phrases. As an aid to the meditation, you might hold an image of yourself in your mind's eye. This helps reinforce the intentions expressed in the phrases.

    After a period of directing loving-kindness toward yourself, bring to mind a friend or someone in your life who has deeply cared for you. Then slowly repeat phrases of loving-kindness toward them:

    May you be happy. May you be well. May you be safe. May you be peaceful and at ease.

    As you say these phrases, again sink into their intention or heartfelt meaning. And, if any feelings of loving-kindness arise, connect the feelings with the phrases so that the feelings may become stronger as you repeat the words.

    As you continue the meditation, you can bring to mind other friends, neighbors, acquaintances, strangers, animals, and finally people with whom you have difficulty. You can either use the same phrases, repeating them again and again, or make up phrases that better represent the loving-kindness you feel toward these beings. In addition to simple and perhaps personal and creative forms of metta practice, there is a classic and systematic approach to metta as an intensive meditation practice. Because the classic meditation is fairly elaborate, it is usually undertaken during periods of intensive metta practice on retreat.

    Sometimes during loving-kindness meditation, seemingly opposite feelings such as anger, grief, or sadness may arise. Take these to be signs that your heart is softening, revealing what is held there. You can either shift to mindfulness practice or you can—with whatever patience, acceptance, and kindness you can muster for such feelings—direct loving-kindness toward them. Above all, remember that there is no need to judge yourself for having these feelings.

    Excerpts gratefully reprinted from the book The Issue at Hand by Gil Fronsdal, guiding teacher of Insight Meditation Center. Click here to view full text or download a PDF format.

    copyright © 2011 Metta Institute

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
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  10. Penny2007

    Penny2007 formerly Pain2007

    This is very helpful. Trying to view her as just another human being and not my mother resonates with me. Every time I've done that in the past (not on purpose) I felt bad for her because she had an even more dysfunctional childhood then I had.

    It's very difficult to feel like you are the parent to your parent. Growing up, I had to take care of myself in many ways and had no one to protect me from difficult situations and just in general. I realize now that I felt very unsafe as a child but compensated by being ultra independent. I am now a mother and a grandmother and the fact that I have always had to be the adult and never had an adult to keep me safe, makes me very sad and if I'm honest, even resentful sometimes.

    It's true that most people just see her as a bit of an eccentric old lady and find her idiosyncrasies amusing. I however am horrified sometimes by her behavior because, as you wrote, I have different perceptions and expectations as her daughter. When she gets lost and cries it totally unhinges me as it so clearly makes her seem like a little child when she is supposed to be my mother. I resent that I have to mother her instead of the other way around.

    I will try to to remove the parent/child expectation and view her like she's just an old aunt or something. I hope this will help.

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  11. Lily Rose

    Lily Rose Beloved Grand Eagle

    I was never a ... child. When my brother was born, I became his second mom. I was two years old and I knew how to fold diapers. When I was six, I learned to cook. My Mom was always working, and she believed we had to earn our keep, so we had many chores (we never were given any allowances, ever). I was more my Mom's friend than her daughter. She told me things that most adults would not tell children (I know that now). I held her when she cried. As damaged as I was, I viewed her as more fragile, and I would never share anything with her that might hurt her. She was my world and I would have done anything for her. In the early years, anyone my age who met my Mom thought she was the coolest of cool Mom's. And she was. She never treated anyone like a child.

    I never resented it, but I think because I loved her so utterly and completely and even fiercely. Perhaps you can imagine the tremendous and thunderous crashing sound when she finally fell from the pedestal I had placed her on. It took a very long time before I could see her clearly through the debris of that crash.

    Now, I just love her. Simply that. She is who she is and she does the very best that she can. She even tries hard to accommodate my passion for reducing our imprint on this very beautiful world we live on.

    You might find that your relationship will change pretty dramatically (and for the better) when you see her as her own person, and not someone who 'belongs to you'.

    You might even find that you like her ;)

    .... with Love and Gratitude ^_^
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 8, 2017
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  12. Penny2007

    Penny2007 formerly Pain2007

    @Lily Rose - wow. Thanks for sharing your story. It's lovely that you can love your Mom. I have never had that dynamic. She has never been my world as you described. I think part of that for you is feeling respect for her. She made you feel like her equal which probably made you feel good as a kid. Only later did you realize that it wasn't supposed to be like that.

    I try very hard to honor my mother out of duty. I am never unkind and do not explode in front of her. My brothers can be very nasty to her and it always disgusts me. But it's always been hard to respect her because of some objectively bad things that she has done and also because I feel that she abandoned me and dumped her responsibilities on me (she left the family home when I was a teenager and I ended up caring for my sick father and taking care of the house i.e. I was a housewife without a husband). She viewed child rearing as something you do until the child can physically take care of themselves. Sort of like a cat who takes care of her kittens for 2 months and then they go off on their own.

    Whenever I have been able to remind myself that she has done the best that she can, I can tolerate her a little better. You can't expect a car with a weak motor to be able to drive fast up a hill. She has done the best with the resources she has which were compromised because of the dysfunctional family she grew up in.

    I hope all of the input on this thread will help me to deal with her when she's here. I'll keep you posted!
    Lily Rose likes this.
  13. Penny2007

    Penny2007 formerly Pain2007

    Well my mother has been here for a week and my TMS pain is so bad I've had to get strong pain killers from the doctor :( It is very intense having her stay with me. She triggers me in so many ways. My dynamic with her is that I'm like the mother and she is like the child and I guess I have a lot of rage and resentment about this. I'd like to be mothered for once even though I'm a grown woman. She is a person who can't do anything for herself when she visits, has very bad judgement and who simply acts like a child much of the time, speaking her thoughts without filtering them and generally acting strange. It is extremely difficult to have a discussion with her because she floats from topic to topic - total free association. I look at her sometimes with utter horror that we have the same genes.

    Intellectually I know that none of this is her fault. She had a more dysfunctional upbringing then I did and it's amazing she can function as well as she does. But the child in me doesn't care. The child in me is still angry that she didn't kept me safe or pay attention to me growing up and that I often had to look out for her and still have to. :(
  14. JoeHealingTms

    JoeHealingTms Peer Supporter

    When I get into that situation I take a few steps backs and remember that my mom was raised in her own abusive family situation. Those were other times, much worse, and for all I know my mom did her best with the tools she had at hand. Maybe in your case, the abuse your mom had was actually what modeled her thoughts about child rearing and about letting you have all those responsibilities as a child. I am not saying that you dont deserve your attention. Sometimes my mom says and do things, and comes with a way of thinking that I want to scream at her with anger, but them I remember. I just take a few breaths and calm down and try to see from a point of mercy and not anger. Maybe all you need to do is hug her and tell her you love her. Maybe when you do, you should tell her in a soft way that you missed her a lot in many different ways. You have now the opportunity to be with your mom the mom you never had. And that should fill you with pride. The child in us wont ever be happy. It does not matter if your childhood was perfect, it will always find another thing to complain about. There is people here that claim to have perfect childhood with loving parents and still they have tms, and still in some way they complain about something that was missing. The inner child is narcissistic. Not everyone can do what you do. That means that you are strong in many ways. You should feel proud.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 8, 2017
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