22nd May 2020 at 9:53 am #104050
I’ve posted a few times about abusive behaviour from my dad and there’s something else on my mind. My mum used to have really serious anxiety and a lot of her anxieties focused on me and something bad happening to me. When I moved out of my parents’ home I had to text good morning and good night so she knew I was okay. I used to feel that I had to have my phone on and be contactable all the time in case she needed me. It went on for years and sometimes I’d get phonecalls and texts from her and my dad if I didn’t text or I was late texting. It started to be where I would have to text when I got home from work as well and at some times during the early evening I’d get messages asking whether I was home yet. My dad told mr how good it was that we had “constant contact” even though it used to drive me mad. I got anxiety attacks when I wasn’t home by a certain time and I felt so guilty if I hadn’t messaged. I know it was because she was scared and anxious about me but it felt like being under surveillance sometimes. Has anyone else experienced this? I don’t think it was abuse because I don’t think the intent was to control me but it was traumatic and I think I just need to get that out there somewhere.
22nd May 2020 at 8:44 pm #104090LisaMain Moderator
Sorry to hear about you going through this; it must be so confusing because it’s your mum. Are you still in touch with her? That constant checking up on you/ surveillance type behaviour could be considered harassment. There are lots of people with anxiety who don’t exhibit this behaviour. It would probably be worth speaking it through with the National Stalking and Harassment Helpline on 0808 802 0300, especially if it’s still happening.
22nd May 2020 at 9:02 pm #104093Wants To HelpParticipant
Have you told your parents how this makes you feel? I’m not sure if you are an only child or not, but it may be that when you moved out your parents didn’t know how to stop treating you like a little girl and they could only rest when they knew you were home safe? Your mum’s anxiety could make her live with the feeling that something bad is always going to happen, and the ‘something bad’ would be something happening to you.
I know when my son passed his driving test I asked him to promise to text me as soon as he arrived somewhere, and if he didn’t, I would leave it about 10 minutes until I knew he should have arrived and then I’d ring him. He’d answer and say “Yeah, sorry, I forget to text you.” Admittedly, I only did this for about a month, and then I relaxed a bit and now I don’t text him at all and just assume he has arrived safe, but when he went out at night I did lie in bed and worry about the doorbell going in case it was the Police coming with that dreaded news!
Your mum’s anxiety is an illness. Personally, I don’t believe her need for assurance to know you are safe amounts to harassment (not criminal harassment anyway). Perhaps you just need to have a chat with her and let her know that you are an adult with a life to lead and you don’t need to check in with each other morning and night on a daily basis. She might agree with you and back off a bit.
22nd May 2020 at 9:55 pm #104097
Thank you both for your replies. They’ve both passed away now, and I did talk to my mum about these things, I think she did understand, I always felt the problem was more my dad because he was the one who had the more controlling and uncompromising attitude about things. I sort of felt that he reinforced it rather than supporting me to live my life and supporting my mum to manage her anxiety better. So the situation is resolved now as I don’t have to do those things anymore, it was just something that had been rattling around in my mind.
31st May 2020 at 12:25 am #104737SandeParticipant
Yes, something very similar here. Sadly still ongoing to a degree. One of my parents has anxiety and one of the many this manifests is multiple daily texts asking if I’m ok. Lots of people with anxiety dont do this but then “anxiety” is a very large field.
I personally feel its deeply unhealthy and have worked very, very hard to put in some serious boundaries around how I’m happy to be communicated with (no you cant call me in the middle of the night if it’s not an emergency, please only contact me by one app not 4 simultaneously, if I dont reply immediately I may be busy, sending me multiple messages is a short space of time wont make me reply quicker etc etc etc).
To me the lack of respect for privacy, space and autonomy is exhausting and inappropriate, though I dont know I’d call it abuse.
I’m so glad to read that your mum understood towards the end. Mine certainly does not and finds all my “rules” confusing. Sadly my dad reaction to me asserting myself could be classed as abusive. But I hope my mum does come to understand.
1st June 2020 at 9:54 pm #104864OveewhelmedParticipant
Hi again starqueen.
My mum has had debilitating OCD for many years. OCD is borne from Anxiety and she didn’t have the handwashing or checking version, it was the “something bad will happen to someone” version. It is always to us and not to herself, these “bad” events would happen to. It would be so hard at times as you can’t really talk someone out of OCD, Anxiety has a lot t answer for doesn’t it. I only really experienced true anxiety after bereavement. Take care and keep going.
7th June 2020 at 9:27 am #105368
Thank you both, so sorry to hear you’re both going through some hard times with this too. Sande, I agree that it’s inappropriate and exhausting. Sometimes I struggle with knowing what is mental illness and what is abuse, especially as my dad used his own mental health issues as an excuse not to be accountable for his behaviour. I think after reading Lundy Bancroft’s book I’m starting to get clearer on where that line is though: I use the idea of control, deference, entitlement and freedom from accountability as a guide. It was difficult to deal with all the anxiety etc and it did have an impact on me, but my dad was the one who wanted everything to go the way he thought it should, sought control, tried to impose his will on people, threw tantrums when he couldn’t get what he wanted and tried to dodge accountability for his actions. I sometimes think that if my mum had had a different partner, things could have been a lot different for her and for me. I hope you both find some peace. <3
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