Dear Thelma: Mum is nice to strangers but horrible to her own family

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Dear Thelma,

My mum is forcing me to be with someone I don’t love.

I’ve spoken to the guy, and we are going our separate ways. But my mum still disturbs him about this issue. Even he is so tired or her.

I do not have a good relationship with my mum. She’s too strict and controlling.

She works hard and if she has the money, she would help people. It gives her satisfaction. She gets respect from them, she says.

She keeps talking about the same thing over and over again, of the help that she has rendered to some needy people many years ago.

But with her family, she tears us down instead of giving us the support to progress in life. She is nice to strangers but horrible to her own family.

She’s the reason I stopped everything I was doing, and the reason my mind has been jumbled up all this time.

Because of her, I’m doing some short-term courses just to get out of the house.I secretly go out of the house to meet my friends, visit my cousins and have fun. My mum would never let me out of the house if she knew.

At odds with mum

Your mum doesn’t care whether you’re happy or not, she wants you married. She doesn’t care about your prospective partner’s wishes or needs, either. She’s happy to nag you both into a relationship that neither of you want and that’s certain to make you miserable.

I don’t say this often, but oh my goodness, what on earth is she thinking?

Practically speaking, your mum can moan as much as she likes, but she can’t force you to marry. From the sound of it, there isn’t even a willing bloke in the picture, so please put your mind at rest. You can stay single if that’s what you want.

However, as you’re being harassed constantly, it’s not surprising that you’re becoming ill.

I don’t think this is about marriage; your mum sounds controlling and abusive. She wants what she wants, and she’s not interested in anything else.

If you want, you can try and talk to someone she respects. Perhaps an older male relative? I don’t hold out a lot of hope for change, but if you want to make sure in your own mind that you’ve done all you can, have a go at finding a champion.

The reason I don’t think it will work is because your mum’s focus is only on her own needs. Even small things like helping out someone who’s not been as lucky in life on a single occasion in the past is a matter for constant self-aggrandisement.

Frankly, I think your mum would benefit from some personal reflection. She’s already losing you, and if she continues in this way, she’ll end up old and alone. That’s a very sad fate, but sometimes people really do make their own troubles.

But let’s talk about you. Unless your mum has a moment of enlightenment and changes, I suspect that she will just keep bullying you. As you can’t change others, I suggest you become independent.

Do a course that gives you a solid skill, get a job, and move into your own place. Ask your cousins to help. If you don’t know what to do, consult an older relative or a career counselling centre to discover your options.

Moving away from an abuser typically causes a huge fight. Although people who are bullied at home often think in black and white terms, as in “stay and nothing changes” or “leave and we never talk again”, the truth is that it’s sometimes possible to improve relationships after leaving.

When you leave, you may be no or low contact for a while. However, you might then have enough distance and time to reconnect in a healthier way.

I’m not saying that will happen, but that it’s important not to see moving out as a final cut-off.

As dealing with this kind of situation can be taxing, talking to a mental health professional skilled in dealing with toxic and abusive families might offer you more insight and support based on your circumstances.

Good luck and know I’m thinking of you.

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