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My Mother Is Ruining My Life


Undoubtedly, you probably get a number of questions about parents. But I have to ask. It’s my mother, she has caused me to lose a number of friends, as well as girlfriends. She constantly calls (like 15 times a day) and thinks that the whole world is against her. My mother is very manipulative, and it has finally come to the point where I have told her that I want nothing else to do with her until she seeks help. Case in point, last night she calls my house. I have a new answering machine and I haven’t figured out how to change the message from the womans voice. She begins yelling at my roomate, demanding why her voice is on the machine. My roomate tells her its not hers, and my mother calls her a liar. She then calls back like 7 times asking for me ( I was out on a date) then begins to call my cell phone. I have tried to discuss this with my father, but it is useless. She has always been this way, and I believe it has even affected my social life. I just don’t want to bring an innocent into this mess. About 2 years ago I was seriously in love with a girl, and she ended up leaving because she ‘didn’t like who I would become around my mother’. She also couldn’t handle my mothers constant interuptions. My older brother has been totally destroyed, he is now a crack addict and criminal. She has no life, no friends, and just sits in her room or constantly goes to a number of physicians for a number of various health issues, though I wonder ofter how much is real, and how much is just a way of getting attention. And they, of course just feed her healthcare addiction with multiple diagnoses of different problems. What can I do? I don’t know how much longer I can take this.

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What you’re dealing with here is technically called a ‘boundary issue’. A boundary is a line around something that separates it from other things. There are boundaries around the cells in our bodies (called cell membranes), and these boundaries (like all good boundaries) are working properly when they let certain things in (like food) and keep other things out (like poison and waste). It turns out that social and family relationships have boundaries just like cells do, and these social boundaries need to be balanced properly between what they’ll let in and what they’ll keep out just like cells if a person’s relationships are to function effectively. A given person’s boundaries need to let in people who are loving, and keep out people who are harmful and abusive. You can probably see where I’m going with this.


p> In your case, it appears that your mother is quite invasive and has either stompped down your healthy boundaries, or was invasive from such an early time in your development that you never had a chance to grow a healthy boundary. If your boundary was healthy, you’d reject dealing with someone who would invade your space as your mother is described to do. Instead, you are letting her abuse you. There very well may be reasons why your mother is the way she is that are beyond her ability to control. For instance, she may be more than a little bit paranoid, or hypocondriacal. You might be tempted to say, “well, I’ll just have to put up with it if she isn’t able to control it”, but that would be a mistake. For whatever reason your mother acts abusively, it is not your role or responsability in life to let her harm you.


p> My suggestion to you is to get yourself into a psychotherapy situation. Either individual or group therapy would be fine so long as it will focus on helping you to understand (and role-play) assertiveness skills, and to learn about healthy relationship boundaries. I also think you may need to limit the access your mother has to your life. For example, consider getting an unlisted number and having your own number blocked from display on CallerID units. Move to a place far enough away that it isn’t convenient for her to just come over unannounced. You may experience guilt feelings if you do these things, but that is okay. Talk about the guilt feelings in your therapy, and do them anyway. What you are describing is not healthy and you need to take some steps to protect yourself.

More "Ask Dr. Dombeck" View Columnists

  • vance

    my mother is trying to ruin my marriage using my daughter. They will not include her in any way, just gossip and name-calling what do I do ?

  • Anonymous-1

    I, too, have a mother who behaves exactly the same way as you've described yours does. I've cut mine from my life,and it isn't as simple as feeling guilty.

    When rejected, these woman become insane! My mother has stalked my friends, called my employer, contacted my friends parents (I'm 35) and even hired a private investigator.

    When she couldn't find me she resorted to making outlandish stories up about me. She defamed me to my friends and relatives as a way to protect her ego.

    I believe it is more than a boundary issue and more likely a personality disorder.

  • Anonymous-2

    my mom is always in my personal space and trying to know where i am and what im doing all the time.

    i cant even have a good relationship with my friends anymore because of her and her obsessive ways. I think if she would just stay out of my life and my business we would be fine

    but she just cant do that, im only 16, and already i dont like how she is controlling my social life.

    who has an answer?

  • some guy

    my mom is like u say, is always calling me, don't let me work, don't let me have a girlfriend. won't let me get married. just want me to stay with her for ever, i don't know what to do, sometimes i feel like i wanna kill myself. i want to live at my own , but i'm scary as hell. god help me please.

  • Jordan

    i am having the same problem, my mom calls me every hour to see where i am and only wants me to stay home, she is ruining my relation ,well she ruined it, she never even met my girlfriend but decides to go threw my phone and call her and curse her out for no reason, now my once happy life with my girlfriend is gone, my girl dosent even want to be with me anymore because of my mom, and this girl is someone i really love, and care about, and my mom tore everything apart , im just trying to make everything work but it feels like it my heart hurts everyday now, hopefully we can stay together

  • esther

    My mother is ruining my life, she has destroyed friendships romantic relationships, interfered and created huge problems for me including making me lose jobs and housing by harrassing landlords and employers and spreading un truths about me, ruined me in communities and so forth with my family as well....telling them i am pregnant, called the state dcf and elder servces on me filing abuse complaints...i am not sure what to do an need help i am thinking about movingn myself and children to another country she is sure to hire a pi next. I moved father away from her and am soon going to change my hpone number but am terrified she sill frigure out where i live i tried to get ro's against her but she is so great like a bpd person at convincing law enforcement that she is a sint and victim. please help, anything advice suggestions...

  • Tom

    My mom is so dependant it is insane. I want to start going to church, but every chruch I go to she wants to go to. I feel like I have to babysit her and God forbid somebody says something without thinking. Then I have to hear her cry about it for an hour or so. I understand being supportive, but I can't felllowship and enjoy other people if I have to keep my mom stable all the time.

    I think I'm going to start going to church and not tell her in hopes that she won't follow me again.

  • Ellen

    My Mother was verably and physically abusive to me as a child. In my teens she would physically harm me, verbally abuse me and embarass me in front of anyone she could. By 14 years old she stopped beating me, but the verbal abuse and embarassment went on until 3 years ago when she got sober and off of the RX that her many Dr's gave her.

    ( The pill shopping is another issue that makes me quite angry with the medical society- I won't go there).

    Mother would call me up and leave drunken, sluring messaages on my home and office voice mail. One time my office administrator rid my office phone of 7 of the most disgusting messages.... I was so embarassed. She cursed me and said vile things....She just kept calling back and leaving these long, ugly, drunken, cursing messages...7 times, one right after the other. Good thing the business is mine and I'm well liked and respected by my administrator or my whole company would know.

    Eventually, I moved our facility and refused to give her the new address and phone and when I see her number on caller ID at home or on my cell, I choose when/if I take the call.

    I am 45 years old and truly can't stand her..I feel like I can't breath around her. Her new thing is to "cry" on the phone to me the few times we do speake. I just shut her down, ignore the tears. She did not feel any pity for me when she was hurting me...I feel no pity for her now when she cries, just disgust.

    I know this will read as hateful, but she is 72 years old now and sober 3 years. Her friends have left her and she does not have her wine bottle or pills for comfort. BTW: It was forced upon her to quit drinking or she would die..Mother, you see, is afraid of death, so she quit.

    Now she wants a relationship with me and I want to gag. The thought of being with this weak, miserable sad old woman after what she has done..(Much, much more than I could ever write here) is too much for me. She cost me a lot, and I am very angry with her. Mother has never said or acknowledged she was sorry for what she has done...

    Oh, there were three kids in our family... I have an older and a younger brother, whom she loved and showered affection on...I was the middle, girl child, that she told daily between beatings "I wish I never had you".

    I find it amusing that she wants me now... Yes, I am bitter and very angry. Here is a zinger for you...Mother was a school teacher, she taught the learning disabled for years and is a Phd. She is not a trailer park single mother, her parents were good to her and did not abuse her.

    Mother was an only child and her parents gave her love and she loved them. The only one she showed this evil side to is me. I am her target. She can't beat or curse me now, but she tries to manipulate me with tears. All this does is disgust me.

    Let this be a lesson to you mothers who "choose" to abuse your children. When you are old and by yourself, we will not love you or be there for you.

  • Woe to my Mother

    She will curse me over and over 12 hours a day for any tiny thing that is not the way she wants it. She said, you will be a beggar for the rest of your life, taking your dog to groomer is one way leading you into poverty, and you will never be able to handle money, your life have no value, because you don't know how to make a lots of money. You are a waste, trash, or even worse, you will never do anything sucessfully because you never did any small things well in your life, you don't even know how to put a towel in the right place! on and on and on....

    I want this woman leaving me alone but feeling guilty if I have to send her back to her hometown. She will have to stick with me all the time,won't let me do my own thing, won't allow me have good activities for my children such as visiting prestigeous colleges! She cried, yelled, nagged, criticized, never stop of her verbal abuse, I feel like my brain is about to rupture!

    I am 41 years old, a mother of three wonderful chldren. But my own mother still treat me as a trash that she would never be satisfied with me just because I can not satisfy her vanity by making good money for her to show-off. She always compare me with her friends' daughter who is sucessful in everything, thus, disppointment and hateful speech just naturally come out of her mouth as I were the worst creature of the world.


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