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My Mother Plays a Victim and She Always Wants Me to Save Her

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My mother is a great person, very talented, bright, amazing woman. But all her life was unstable, and have done a lot of things she seems to regret… My father especially, who she talks ill every single day. That’s where I come in for her. She calls me everyday, or wants me to call her and talk to her for hours. She wants me to support her financially ( I only turned 24) and I did support her for years now, and I never have enough to live myself! She is in good health does absolutely nothing but sits and does art and nothing else. She is in good health, she is very bright. But she doesn’t want to work, doesn’t want to do anything. She has no friend because she says that people are boring and man useless and boring to her. She tells me I am the only person that understands her! I feel we are like twins, she is always here! I cannot have my own life! She lives in Egypt and me here in LA, and still I feel her energy all the time. Draining me, so much sometimes I just want to disappear. I really want her to be happy, and to find her own life, her own path and leave me alone. I am so tired of being her whole life. I want my life back, I want to be me, I want to live. But every day I have to listen to all this problems. To how unhappy se is, how bored, how she hates relying on everyone for money, how no-one loves her. And all if it is not true! I mean it is because she made it this way, but it is not really. She can change everything. She loves playing the victim. But I feel I have to carry this life she CHOOSE for herself. And I don’t want to! Am I selfish to want my own life? To be free? To just call to say hello and chat, and be happy and light… Does it have to be so hard? Do I have to curry this burden… I just feel I do not live, I feel like I am just running around trying to apologize for her own choices… I am so tired of this. Please tell me what can I do…

My Mother Plays a Victim and She Always Wants Me to Save Her

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A.

Moving forward will require a bit of bravery from you. It is not your mother holding you back — it is your feelings of guilt that you are not making her life happy that keeps you locked in. Until you change, there is no reason for your mother to change. If she thinks it is okay to call you and drain your energy and time by talking to you for hours each day then she’ll continue to do it. You are enabling her poor behavior by not setting limits that honor your own life.

You do not have to listen to your mom. You are 24 years old. If your mom believes you are the only one who can save her and understand her, then she’ll react that way. In the end, a system like this isn’t going to work because your mother needs to become more self-reliant. This isn’t something she’ll see as good for her — or that she’ll want to do. It is your job to set the limit in honor of your own life. I’d begin with severely limiting the phone calls and the money. I would start with keeping the conversation to a timed minimum and announcing in the beginning of the call that you will only be able to stay on the phone for half hour. State it again during the call and at the end of the time tell her you have to go and that you will talk with her tomorrow. Do not give specific information about what you have to do- or where you have to be. Just say ‘I only have a half hour for our call’ and let her deal with the situation. Your mom, unfortunately, doesn’t have enough anxiety about the right things. Believing she can take your time and money is a sign of her own lack of appreciation of your needs. You are not negotiating with your mom, you are letting her know your needs are as important as hers.

Next is the money. Again, this isn’t a negotiation, this is a statement and information you are delivering to your mom. Pick a number that is significantly less than what you are giving now and let your mom know that your situation has changed and this is all you are going to be able to give. Remember, this isn’t a negotiation — it is information you are letting your mom know. We can predict that she will be upset by this, but this is necessary to help her become more self-reliant.

I would also start talking about yourself more on the phone calls. My guess is you are only listening. Start changing the dynamics by talking more about your dreams and accomplishments. If I am right about this, this may be the most difficult part. Your mother sounds like she is only used to taking from you and not being there for you. Letting her know you have needs from her would be important.

Finally, the way it is going now can’t work because it can only lead to resentment on your part. Your mother will feel upset by all of this, which is natural and predictable. But you not taking care of your own growth and development.

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

My Mother Plays a Victim and She Always Wants Me to Save Her

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

Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: http://www.dare2behappy.com/. He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2018). My Mother Plays a Victim and She Always Wants Me to Save Her. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 19, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2018/07/08/my-mother-plays-a-victim-and-she-always-wants-me-to-save-her/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Jul 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 6 Jul 2018
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