Question from a reader:
“My question has to do with how to heal and make these healthy boundaries while my mom lives with me and my family (husband and two boys who are 12 and 10). She has so much of her own baggage and ”wears” it as indecisiveness, assumptions, insecurities, fears, enmeshment, one-upping. I find myself unable to breathe. My life has become her life. She is 70, very healthy and able.
I have expressed my need for boundaries but, she hears only what she wants to hear. She doesn’t hear/act on the expression of my heart and my needs. I avoid coming home so I don’t have to talk needlessly about ridiculous things, like her desires for me to value her making scrambled eggs for herself, or the dog that barks a few houses down, or how the birds chirp and wake her, or how tasty the avocado she ate was…its exhausting!
She needs constant validation but I can’t be the one to mother her. I try to be civil and act interested, but I end up acting like I feel: I don’t give a crap. Can you help? If she didn’t live here, the situation and my ability to handle it, would be healthier. I would appreciate your insight. Her finances do not permit her to move out. *sigh* Thank you!”
It’s hard to have healthy boundaries when you’re frustrated (and that’s my interpretation of how you feel based on what you wrote).
The good news is that she doesn’t have to change in order for you to no longer feel frustrated. This is good news because if she had to change in order to feel better, you might be waiting for a very long time.
Now, that’s not to say that you should sit and listen to her talk about scrambled eggs, barking dogs, chirping birds, and tasty avocado for hours on end every day. Or at all.
So consider that the only person who has to honor your boundaries is you. Your mother isn’t responsible for hearing or acting on the expression of your heart and you needs. You are.
How do you do that while she’s living in your house?
“Clear is kind. Unclear is unkind.” ~ Brené Brown
Healthy boundaries are clear and kind for both of you.
Maybe, for example, you want an hour alone when you come home from work. Let her know that.
“Mom, I’d like an hour of alone time when I get home from work.”
Know ahead of time what action you will take if she ignores your request. Perhaps you go to your bedroom and close the door. There doesn’t have to be a lot of drama. Your actions will speak for you, and if your actions are informed by kindness (for both her and yourself), they will be clear.
(This is the request-result boundaries model outlined in Chapter 13 of Difficult Mothers, Adult Daughters: A Guide For Separation, Liberation & Inspiration).
You can also use the request-benefit model. In this case, you know and can clearly articulate the benefit of having this boundary: greater peace of mind for you, which will then enable you to show up with her in a way that feels good to you.
You can communicate this to her. Or not. In the end, your actions will communicate how you feel.
As you so aptly put it: “I end up acting like I feel: I don’t give a crap.”
How about this instead: “I end up acting like I feel: clear and kind about my needs and preferences.”
What do you think?
Much, much love,
P.S. I made something just for you!
How To Set Boundaries With Your Difficult Mother, WITHOUT Guilt & Anxiety…
…and with love and respect for yourself.
Saturday, March 30
10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Eastern
We tend to think of boundaries as a way of keeping bad things out. And they can definitely be that. They can also be a way to determine what you want to keep in. Truly healthy boundaries help you like and respect yourself more, so you can love others more completely and authentically, even if you do not see or talk to them.
What you will come away with from this online workshop…
:: practical ways to set boundaries with your mother (and/or your own daughter)
:: an understanding of why mothers and daughters struggle and the dynamics at play
:: practical and energetic boundary setting skills
:: ways to mitigate guilt, anxiety, overwhelm, etc. when setting boundaries
:: energetic practices you can do on your own that will reduce the amount of anxiety and guilt you feel
:: skills and scripts that you can use to set boundaries with your mother
:: an understanding that these skills are about more than your personal mother-daughter relationship, they’re about gender equality
:: knowing that you can be okay no matter what happens in the relationship
:: the feeling that you just did some mind-blowing and soul-nourishing work
:: hope for the future of your relationship(s)
:: a handout with all the pertinent information
:: a recording of the workshop
You’ll want to take this workshop because…
:: I will teach you everything you need to know about setting boundaries, including WHY it feels so hard
:: we will brainstorm solutions to your specific boundary challenges
:: I will teach you grounding techniques that calm your nervous system so you can be more effective at the actual boundary-setting piece
:: setting boundaries doesn’t have to feel bad
:: we’re going to have a lot of fun
I’ll say it again: setting healthy boundaries doesn’t have to feel bad. Let me show you the way.
Due to the interactive nature of this workshop, attendance is limited to 12.
Workshop price is $300
Early bird price until March 1: $250
Click below to register.