One of the biggest problems I have with my mother is being able to stick up for myself. When she starts berating me, Iím more like a dog with its tail between its legs. I feel like a weakling to admit that Iíd rather run and hide, then confront my mother.
I have that problem with others, too, but with my mother, it is the worst. I donít know what it is about her, about the way she is and the way she talks, that makes me feel so panicky.
I know that her molesting me when I was 10 had something to do with it. Repeatedly I asked her to stop. She didnít, not until I had asked her many times. But then, to walk away and ignore me?
I felt rejected. I felt like I wasnít the little girl she wanted. Over time I felt like I would never be the daughter she wanted. But thereís more.
When it happened, I spoke up. I didnít stay silent. I kept asking her to stop. And when she did, her reaction was to reject me.
Dr H thinks that my lack of assertiveness, my fear of confrontation, stems from that. How she reacted when I tried to stand up for myself then, is what Dr H thinks I fear will happen if I stand up for myself now. And not just with my mother, but with everyone.
I donít know if my mother would reject me now if I stood up to her. If I want to be honest, I think itís very possible that she would.
I wonder if working on how to stand up to my mother will help me be able to stand up to others. Since she is the one I have to deal with right now, Dr H thinks she is the one I should start with.
But why is it so hard?
Every time I think about being assertive with her, all I can see is her face. That look she gets on her face, when something Iíve said or done doesnít meet her approval. Or when, in her opinion, the way she sees it is the only way it should be.
Things were much easier for me when I cut her out of my life. I didnít worry about what she would think. I didnít get that feeling in my stomach when I was going to see her. But now I know I was only running from the problem. And it didnít make anything any easier for me now. In fact, it might have made things worse, because over time everythingís built up to now.
So, Iím supposed to imagine a typical conversation with her, and how I would handle it once she starts in on me. What kinds of things Iíd say, and what she would say in return. And then, how I would assert myself to stop her behavior.
Cut her off by telling her I was through talking about it (whatever it is). That I wasnít going to talk about it anymore. That I donít want to hear what she has to say. Or change the subject, and not let her go back to whatever it was. Say it doesnít feel right to talk about it.
Or, these Dr H suggested. Tell her to leave my house. Or just hang up the phone on her. Yeah, right.
I canít imagine telling her I donít want to talk about it anymore, let alone tell her to leave my house. How do I do any of that?
Like I said, just thinking about standing up to her makes me anxious. I have run the options through my mind many times. I have tried to imagine what she would say in return.
Sheíd give me the ďOh, (my name)Ē, or sheíd say I was being ridiculous. Or, the one sheís best at--when her back is in the corner, she likes to bring up things from my past, things Iíve done that I shouldnít have, or that I didnít do right. And remind me of them, over and over.
Sheís really good at ridiculing me, or repeatedly telling me the things Iíve done wrong in my life. At several different points in my life, I have said to myself that I would never tell her anything again. I kept a relationship with her, but kept all of my conversation ďsurfaceĒ. Nothing personal or important.
I thought it was a way to safeguard myself, and to keep the anxiety away. But I still got anxious. Just thinking about seeing her or talking to her can make me very anxious.
I know Iíve written briefly about this before, but itís been on my mind all day, and I think maybe I need to keep writing about it. Maybe if I keep thinking about how to stand up to her, and imagining the conversation, it will become easier to actually do. And maybe after I do it once or twice, it will be a lot easier.
I really need to try and stand up to her. Because the more I let her get to me and donít say anything for myself, the more problems Iím going to have with anxiety, and feeling weak and powerless against her. I know I need to feel self confident and strong, and I canít get to feeling that if I keep having this problem with my mother. I also think that if I can work on standing up to her, and succeed, that it will help me be more assertive with others.
I just have to keep trying.