Heather wrote:Hey there, belled.
Before I say more, can I ask you to say a little about what YOU feel and think about the answer to that last question? How do you feel about this? Is this something that mostly makes you feel good about yourself? Does it feel like it benefits your life, or is keeping you from it? Do you feel like you have a good handle on boundaries here, and on the power/investment differential in this relationship, as it were? Does it feel healthy to you or not?
Sofi wrote:Hi belled,
Honestly, I don't think this is "weird" or out of line. First of all, you are clearly aware of this being a crush and not an actual relationship, and also you're respectful of boundaries. Sure, you spend a lot of time thinking about her, but you respect her when you do talk to her and that's important. I understand your feelings of not wanting to objectify her, but keep in mind she doesn't know you think of her in a sexual or romantic way, so you aren't disrespecting her by simply having fantasies about her. Clearly you really like her but you also know you aren't actually dating her and that is how you're drawing a line that is crucial here. Too, as you mentioned, we see this behavior all the time with straight girls and it isn't looked down on; just because your crush is a woman, doesn't change anything. You did bring up an interesting point about perhaps wanting this idea of a relationship, without the arguments and sacifices etc. If you feel that's what's going on here, does that bother you particularly? Again, it doesn't seem you're doing anything unhealthy to yourself or to her. As long as those boundaries are respected, there's nothing wrong with having a big time crush on a celeb!
Heather wrote:You know, I just want to add my two cents, which you can take or leave.
I do feel a little concerned that if you don't make *some* distance and space from this, you might start to find it harder and harder to move away from your fantasy relationship to pursue actual relationships which can offer you a whole lot more than something so one-sided and so full of projection can. I have a thought about that: how might you feel about passing on the management of the fan page to someone else? That way, it's not something you have to be SO involved with -- and that you have an excuse to literally obsess about -- but you can still have your crush. That way, you get some space you don't have right now that might allow you to start thinking about people you can actually have mutual and intimate relationships with, now or eventually, and opening yourself up to that, but you still can crush out here, it just becomes less of your whole life.
You say there are no strings attached, but from where I am sitting, you look very, very attached to me.
Heather wrote:If you want to talk about managing your rights and your parents around dating, I'm happy to. You probably don't need me to tell you that at 18, unless she has extended legal guardianship over you, your mother doesn't actually get to decide that for you anymore, and so obviously there's some kind of agreement here (I can only presume). If you're not okay with that and it isn't something you want, we can talk about it anytime. If not, that's okay, too!
I am sorry to hear you sounding so low on yourself. You know, what we have the maturity for can very much be based on...well, what we have the maturity for. We can have emotionally intimate relationships at every age, even as children. We can make them to match our own readiness and our own abilities and limits, you know? It's not like they are at some given level we have to rise to meet. Between this and what I said above, and the fact that it sounds like you don't *want* to be without that kind of companionship for years more, I just want you to know that you don't have to go without it. Truly.
I can totally understand the spot you got in with your crush, and while it sounds like it's perhaps gotten to the point where some of it might not be so great for you, and some adjustments might be a good idea, it certainly doesn't sound like it's been a bad thing for you up until now. It sounds like it has, indeed, offered you quite a lot!
Heather wrote:belled, thanks for being so open and sharing all of that with me.
I'm so sorry that this has been the situation and dynamic you have been living with for so long. You're so empathetic and caring towards your mother: I really admire how kind you are and how understanding, even when her own issues have had such an impact on you. It takes quite a person to be that way. That said, I do think that it's important that you start doing what you can to become less enmeshed so that you can become independent from her, move into your own life, and be able to care for and about her without also being so controlled.
I agree with you, it sounds like your mother could really use the help of a therapist. It doesn't sound likely that she'll do that while you're still home, but perhaps when you go, she might be more inclined. I went to college with a very emotionally dependent parent, and was wholly unprepared for how they'd react, so when the time comes closer for you to go, if you'd like some tips from someone who's been there on how you might manage that in advance so it doesn't make your college life very difficult, please know I'm happy to help. I didn't have any help with it, and boy, could I ever have used it. I do think that at the very least, as you get closer to going, you'll want to agree on some better limits and boundaries with her, like NOT having a call every night. You deserve to have a college experience and a life that doesn't stay centered on your mother, and she needs to find a way to start giving you that. She owes you that, truly. Learning to let go so your child can be independent is part of parenting, one of the most important parts.
I think I see some ways I can help, and I'd be happy to. I am 100% here for writing out instructables about doing laundry and dishes (and let me just tell you that you are nowhere near the only person your age who doesn't know how to do this stuff, I promise). We also love to cook around here as a staff, so I know that if you tell us what you like to eat, I bet we could all easily come up with a small cache of easy how-to's for cooking some meals you like. We all need to know how to do these things, and it's making you feel bad: help like this is easy to give and seems one way we can help you start to improve your situation with a light lift on our part. So, if that sounds good, say the word, and we'll hop on it.
Another thing that I think might help is for YOU to get into therapy for yourself. Some help learning how to separate from your mother some emotionally and how to set healthy limits and boundaries would probably really help you out, as would, I suspect, another supportive person you could talk to. It might also help you some with your social confidence, too. If that's something you're open to, I'd be happy to help you look into your options there.
I don't want to overwhelm you with too much at once, but I want you to know that I'm rooting for you, and you are welcome to use the support here as much as you like. We've sometimes had users here who use this for years as a way to get through complex situations and life transitions like this, and that's always one option if it's useful. I'm open to helping you however we can: I really feel for the spot you're in, and I want to do whatever we can to help you transition into a life that actually feels like yours where you can start to pursue the intimate relationships you want to and other parts of life you're hungry for.
I hope you know that doing that isn't a betrayal of your mother, even though it's entirely possible that in some part of this, it might feel that way to her and she might even present it that way from a place of fear and hurt. But as things have been absolutely isn't healthy or good for either of you, so honestly, you transitioning into your own independent life is ultimately likely to be the very best thing for both of you AND your relationship with each other. <3
Siân wrote:Hi belled,
Heather may have more to add when they get in, but I just wanted to add another voice saying that creating some independence sounds like a really good thing for you, and hopefully college will help you do that. Even simple things like switching some of those phonecalls for texts might help you set boundaries and find some space for yourself.
As for those fears, I think that it's easy to look at other people taking on big challenges and assume that they are fearless. Secretly though, I'm pretty sure most of them are feeling the fear and doing it anyway. Those concerns can help you make better plans too. Sure Stanford is hard to get into, so what can you do in your next couple of years of college to make your application even better? I can't tell you how many of your concerns come from your mom, but you have them now, so which ones are going to help you make better plans, and which ones fall apart on closer inspection?
Heather wrote:Hey there. Thanks for filling me in some more.
I think that one thing you're going to have to keep in mind is that you can't control your mother's feelings or responses. I know she has certainly given you the idea that you can, but you actually can't, and trying to do things in such a way that you try is where this dynamic goes from dysfunctional to outrightly emotionally abusive, with you trying to do what you can to keep your mother from having reactions that do you harm or control you. Know what I mean?
That said, if getting out of your home is something where you feel like you do have to play this that way, it might actually be helpful to make an actual safety plan. Obviously, in your case we're not talking about physical or sexual abuse, but about emotional control, but some of the same tactics to leave those kinds of relationships safely and effectively may come in handy, so it might be worth taking a look at them as we talk about this: The Scarleteen Safety Plan.
I also hear you in that it probably is a good strategy to make more space for yourself after you're gone than to try and make agreements with her to give it to you before you leave, particularly since the latter will probably result in her putting more pressure on you not to leave at all, which you obviously don't need.
Per therapy, every therapist isn't the same, and it sounds like yours wasn't a good fit for you and didn't suit your needs. If you are interested in trying again to find someone else who does, I'm happy to help. If not, and something like our service and other kinds of support seem to do the job for you, that's cool, too!
I agree with what Siân said about Stanford and California. I also think that you probably don't have a realistic sense of your own abilities yet because you a) haven't been allowed to actually try them on, whether we're talking about things like daily life activities or living on your own in another state, and b) have been living in a dynamic where that dynamic basically requires you to think you're less capable than you are. My gut tells me that once you're out on your own, you're going to surprise yourself and find that you're a lot more capable than you've been led to think and believe you are.
On that note, I wonder if one of the smaller steps you can take with your Mom is to set a limit where you insist that she let you do things like your own laundry and cooking sometimes. You can let her know that you don't feel good about yourself not knowing how, and so you get that she has a way she likes to do it, but that you really need to start learning YOUR ways for your self-esteem. If you center it on you in that way rather than making it about her control, she might be receptive?
Also, let me know about any daily life things you want instructions written out for. I grew up in much the opposite way as you have, having to fend for myself when I was really young and do all this stuff very early, so it's all pretty rote for me, especially in my advanced years!
Heather wrote:If we've been raised to believe that we're responsible for someone else's feelings, it's hard to see that. It sounds like your mother absolutely doesn't mean to do you harm, but she very clearly has her own work to do on whatever has her stuck in this emotional spot and keeps her creating her part of this dynamic, including asking you to try and manage her feelings rather than taking responsibility for them herself, and doing her best to keep them from limiting you. <3
I totally hear you with all you've said in your second paragraph, and that sounds really healthy to me. When and if that time comes, you do certainly have the right to set those kinds of limits with her, eg, "I want to have a relationship with you, but I can only keep in contact if you give me the space and independence I'm asking you for." I can also understand what you've said about therapy. I'm glad this and other things like this work for you.
Good luck with those asks. You know where to find us if/as you need any more support or help. We're rooting for you!
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