My mother will not let me go.

By Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

I want to leave though. This post is more about my mother and the fact that she may have separation anxiety. After high school, I agreed with my mother to attend community college for 2 years and save money. This year, she even said I was emotionally ready to live on my own too. I realized last year that I needed to get a job because I had a feeling she was not going to have the time to save money. My mom refused to let me get a job and so I had to find one on my own and tell her I got a job after I was hired.

To give a little background information, I never really lived a normal teen life. I have never been to a dance and even missed prom because my mother would not let me. I never had slept over a friend’s house nor have I attended parties on my own. The moment I got a guy friend in college, she stalked him on facebook and even threatened him to never talk to me again. I have never hung out with friends either. I now go out with this guy (who is an amazing and nice guy) who I never told my mom about because I know she would make us break up. We have been together for a year now and I still refuse to tell her about him. She mentioned that if I ever got a boyfriend she would make us break up.

Anyways, I have recently been accepted to a few colleges to transfer to. I got into my number 1 college which I am so happy about. I told my mother I wanted to go there and she immediately said I was aiming low and that I was stupid for not applying to Ivy League universities. She then went on to say I would not be where I am today if it was not for her and that I could never live without her. She then went on pointing out all the mistakes I did in my life. She said I was belittling myself for wanting to go to this college (number 2 college in Virginia) and that I was going to become a low life. She said I could not go to this college….

I cried the night I did not go to homecoming, I cried the night I missed prom, I cried the night my mother said I had to stay home at a community college and I cry every night because she said I could not transfer to my desired college. She wont let me go and it is making me feel like I will never have freedom. My mom has supported me and she is a good mom but…she is controlling, manipulative and two faced. The moment I want to do my own thing, she turns the whole situation around and makes everything seem it is my fault and makes me feel bad. I am going crazy because just thinking about the fact that I may be living at home for another 2 years tears me inside and makes me want to cry. I feel like I will never be able to grow as a person if I stay here any longer. I hope I don’t sound selfish. I want to make mistakes and I want to learn and grow but I will never get to do that if I live with her for much longer. I have nobody to talk to about this. I can’t even go to my mother about personal things because she always end up judging everything I do and makes me feel stupid for doing things wrong. In the beginning of the year she said I was emotionally ready to leave and the moment I get into my favorite college, she turns around and says I am not ready…

“It is not possible to eat me without insisting that I sing praises of my devourer?”
Dostoyevsky

A: What a tough spot to be in. It doesn’t sound as if your mother knows how to adequately nurture you and let you go. There is a difference between encouragement and imposing conditions of worth. The messages you are receiving from your mom are filled with criticism disguised as help in your best interest. This is unhealthy and it is the time for you to individuate: No more crying over missing the events in your life.

You can’t share the joys of your growth and natural evolution with her. You must limit your joy on sharing about your boyfriend, your job, your acceptance into the college of your choice (congratulations!) In each instance she doesn’t see who you are, which is unfortunate and frustrating. You will not be able to ask her for permission to grow up and be yourself. You will have to find a way to love her as you pay more attention to your own needs.

I would encourage you to make use of the counseling center at the college you are at now to gain some support during this transition. You mother wants the best for you –I am sure. It just seems as if he doesn’t know how to acknowledge that you may be a more accurate judge of this than she.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 29 Apr 2011

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2011). My mother will not let me go.. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 31, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2011/04/29/my-mother-will-not-let-me-go/