Q When I was a kid my mum would take any money I had in my piggy bank – from my birthdays, odd jobs, babysitting, my paper round etc. If I mentioned it she went ballistic and shouted that I owed her my life and the least I could do was ‘chip in’ with the household bills (she was a single parent and I was an only child).
This made me really mad but there was nothing I could do except try to keep some money a secret. This has left me still being secretive about money with my partner.
What’s even more strange is that I keep giving money away to others who I think deserve it more than I do. I can see the link but it’s hard to give it up. I feel bad either way. My mum still expects me to pay for things for her and she gives me a sob story if I try to avoid doing so. She never did get married and is still single and alone, and is now in bad health too. It’s as if she’s still entitled to anything that’s mine – and she’s draining my life! What can I do?
A She reminds me of a child who feels entitled to what others have – and who hasn’t grown out of that fantasy! She seems narcissistic and self-centred – but I very much doubt she’d see it like that 🙂
You’ve already made the link between the past conditioning you’ve had around money, entitlement, paying your dues, and being generous even when it costs you too much. The next step is to break that association and create a different one, that serves you better.
Your mother has been emotionally blackmailing you and that is abusive. You had little choice (other than to be secretive) as a child – but you DO have more choice nowadays.
I suggest that you think about what you can do differently and how you will let her know that. At the very least it will be about setting a boundary with her around what (if anything) you are willing to give to her and what you aren’t.
I think you might also look at how you’ve transferred this over-generosity to other people. No one is more ‘deserving’ than you are. Please don’t believe otherwise. That was a lie that you came to believe years ago – it isn’t the truth.
You’ve mentioned how angry you felt at being so disrespected as a child and I think it would be of benefit to you to talk a bit more about that.
You could do that with a therapist. Or you could become your own therapist and listen and empathise with your inner child and her struggles with feeling responsible, used, and denied what was rightly hers.
It may also help to draw these feelings on paper (as this accesses the right brain and implicit memories)…just a childlike sketch will do.
Then speak with your inner child as a loving and caring parent would. Let her know that she has rights too and that you will be listening to what she wants and you will ensure from now on that her needs come first and that you will hold the boundaries for her.
Your mother only has the power over you that you allow her to have.
I know that old habits become ingrained but they can be changed. She has had her own way for a very long time so you can expect a lot of resistance to change!
Be strong and determined and focus upon building your own future. That’s not to say that you become selfish and mean… just that you are now coming from a place of self-worth, self-care and a more balanced sense of responsibility.
Maxine Harley (MSc Psychotherapy)
www.maxineharley.com – where you’ll find a page of FREE RESOURCES including How To S.H.I.E.L.D. Yourself From A Toxic Mother – there’s also an e-booklet for sale (£2.99) called How To Detox From A Toxic Mother