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Old 17 January 2019, 09:07 PM
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Esprise Me Esprise Me is online now
Join Date: 02 October 2005
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Posts: 6,945

Also, thanks everyone for the input on the thing with my mom. (I meant to post that in LTTAY, but I did want feedback!) I think you're all correct, and it's all part of a larger pattern that's at best manageable, not fixable.

My mom loves to entertain but it always stresses her out, often to the point of tears. When I was growing up, she took pride and pleasure in hosting Thanksgiving for a group of ~20 of their friends every year. I came to hate the holiday because she would always have a meltdown during the preparation, sometimes over something like burning a dish, sometimes at me for not cleaning my room well enough. She took a large role in planning my wedding, which was held in my parents' backyard, and which almost destroyed our relationship. (Later we had another fun go at it over her involvement in planning a surprise party for my husband, which I complained about here.) I've noticed a bit of this behavior in myself now, too, when I throw parties, and I'm working on it because I don't want to be like that.

Lack of boundaries is another recurring theme in our relationship. She realizes intellectually that I am a different person, but can't consistently deduce that I will not necessarily like everything she likes (even if she really really really likes it.) Nor has she truly accepted that we don't always need to fight each other's battles. To avoid a confrontation over my housewarming party last year, which she assumed she would not only be invited to but would co-host with equal input on the menu, date/time, etc., I held two parties; one for her, other family members, and a handful of close friends of mine she knows, which I let her have her way on, and one with just my friends and co-workers, which I didn't tell her about. When I was venting to my husband the other day about her getting on my case to get my friends to come to her house concert, he drew an astute comparison between this and an MLM situation--these house concerts are her essential oils, and she really believes in them and doesn't understand why I don't want to buy them, much less help sell them.

I don't believe she's being manipulative on purpose, but she has definitely manipulated me a lot over the years. Yesterday I got an email from my dad asking me to help out with a plan to give her a little birthday celebration at the house concert I'm coming to this weekend, as opposed to the one I'm not going to next month, which is closer to her birthday. He mentioned that she was sad and stressed about having relatively few people signed up for the one next month and having to plan her own birthday. I'm pretty sure he doesn't know about all the emails she sent me about next month's concert (he usually sticks up for me when she acts like this), and I'm pretty sure she didn't sulk in front of him with the specific intent to weaponize him against me, but it still pissed me off so much.

I think I need to explain to her in no uncertain terms that 1) these concerts are not the joy for me that they are for her; when she invites me and my friends she is not giving us a gift but asking a favor, and 2) she needs to, at a minimum, acknowledge that when she asks instead of trying to tell me how much I'll like this artist. She cycles between justifications, and I'm OK with her having lots of reasons my presence would benefit HER, but it's a little gaslight-y for her to keep insisting this is for my benefit too. I think that would go a long way toward easing my frustration.
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