Mother Still Tells Me What to Do

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

“”You will take your father’s place, as the bread earner of the family”. This was told to me by my mother when I was in sixth grade. Repetition of this statement confirmed my aim for the future, to become a mechanical engineer, just like my father. NED University was my target. I let my mom take control of my life and did everything accordingly.

The gradual change began in ninth grade. My isolation had just started and went on for 4 years. Books were my friends now; with no one to talk to, I now have no speaking and social skills. My hard work got paid alright, got very good grades. But my parents, in a sense of greediness for perfection, they wanted me to be a perfect model child, crystal clear and scratch less. Unfortunately, I’m none of that. But I still kept my aim and strived towards it. With each of my result being announced, I noticed my parents did not have much enthusiasm and happiness that I had hoped for. In my 2nd year papers, my only thoughts were, If I get up and leave, no one will care. But I had my aim to live for.
My prayers and hard work got me into NED University. One day, my inside shouted at me, “Is this you really wanted? All you did was follow orders, now what?” I looked around the class of 43 guys 2 girls, coming from a religious family; my parents were disappointed in me, for choosing petroleum as my field instead of CIS, the one for girls. Eventually, my life got miserable. Taunts from my mother were a part of my progressing depression. Life looked meaningless. I couldn’t find my future anymore.

Then one day, my mother urges me to take IBAs test, since IBA graduates get jobs easily and get married soon. The irony of my life, I passed my test even though I didn’t prepare or study for it. Now, my life has become a joke, only understood by me. These changes left me quite insensitive and ungrateful. And IBA made my isolation, complete. Paying an enormous fees is a burden to them (my parents), but not paying my brothers expensive tuition fees. Life is now all about living in fantasy, as reality can shatter you. Not a day goes by when I feel that I’d wake up from this nightmare. Suicide was also in my mind, yet here I am writing about it.

Life is not a bed of roses, true. But when it’s all thorns and bushes, it makes you a person you never want to be. An introvert, insensitive, ungrateful and depressed person now sits in this world writing about it. Sometimes, inner peace is greater than basic needs.
Remarks by my teacher: I felt sad reading your essay. But believe me you’ll do very well in life. Just have faith in God and courage to live according to your convictions. I’m sure one day I’ll be talking to the CEO of a huge company!!
After reading this remark, I felt disgusted. I felt pitied, why?

A: Why? Because you are in such a negative spin that you can’t even hear a positive remark without turning it into something bad. You’ve been listening to orders, negativity, and criticism so long you have lost your perspective. However – writing to us is a positive step, even if you don’t think so. It’s a start. Grab onto that beginning, even if with only the barest of a grasp. It is something to build on.

Your biggest challenge right now is to decide what is good for you – regardless of whether your parents like it. As an adult, only you are responsible for your choices. Your parents can have their opinions. Some of those opinions may even be very good ones. But your job is to take enough distance from the emotional power of what they say so that you can independently evaluate the message. It’s not a matter of whether you “win” or “lose” in an old argument with your family. It’s about deciding what you, personally, want to do. You might even like IBA. (I don’t know what that is so please don’t take this as an opinion one way or another. It’s not.) The point is this: It’s your life. You can drop the argument with your parents and make your own choices about your profession.

The same is true for whether you stay an “introvert, insensitive, ungrateful and depressed person.” You can decide to give yourself a different approach to life. Yes, it will take some work. Yes, your parents may even take credit for it. But that shouldn’t matter. What matters is what kind of person you want to be and what you want to do with the life you’ve been given.

You may find it helpful to talk with a counselor to help you make new choices. It’s time to stop blaming your parents and to be an active architect of your life. A counselor can help you stay on track and give you the support you need while you build a different identity and a more healthy approach to life.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 1 Feb 2013

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2013). Mother Still Tells Me What to Do. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 29, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2013/02/01/mother-still-tells-me-what-to-do/