I Think my Mom is Running Away

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

For the past few weeks there has been a lot of tension in my house with my brother returning from college (he has dropped out of his university and is now attending community college). Everyday is a ticking time bomb and and fights/arguments are unpredictable. My mom is the most distraught during arguments she will get up and leave, scream, cry, and tell us that she wants to die. She becomes hysterical and begin throwing objects and sometimes even using violence. When we try to talk out the problem she begins crying again and pushes everyone away and we end up just ignoring the problem again. I understand that this behavior and interaction is unhealthy and dysfunctional but I think the way to solve the problem is to simply talk and communicate freely and openly. However, my mom never wants to talk about it but resorts to crying and isolating herself in the dark. Today, she is packing to go on a 6 month vacation to get time to herself but I feel like she is just running away.

A: It sounds to me like your mother may be depressed. Unable to cope with what she perceives as failures, she lashes out or goes underground.

You’re right that these tactics never solve anything. Sadly, the way she is handling the problems in the family is alienating her from the people who love her.

If you had the right words and the right approach to get through to her, you would have succeeded already. Since she is now taking off, it’s clear that you are at an impasse.

I think you need outside help at this point. Please consider contacting a family therapist to help you. Tell your mother how much you love her and how much you want to solve the problems. Ask her to join you in going to a therapist to work it out. If she won’t go, you and your brother can still get a lot out of going. You may be able to learn new ways to communicate with your mother. You might learn some important things about yourselves.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 12 Sep 2012

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2012). I Think my Mom is Running Away. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 25, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2012/09/12/i-think-my-mom-is-running-away/