What do you do when non-violent communication does not work in your family?!
Before school started, Mom was already constantly asking me about work habits, etc. On one hand, considering last semester, she has valid concerns. On the other hand, her constant nagging is frustrating, unhelpful, and anxiety-provoking. I attempted to express myself using the DEAR MAN cognitive behavior therapy skill, which I learned in inpatient treatment because (as I’m realizing more and more!) my family fails at communication. It helped a tiny bit for the first day, but Friday and last night she was at it again, with renewed vigor. I appreciate her advice. Also, I realize she knows more than me. However, I resent her micro-management. It is one thing to suggest I start homework on Saturday morning instead of Sunday night. It is an entirely different thing to suggest that once and then continue suggesting and/or asking how much work I completed every few hours all night! I was mad, but I tried using skills. When you ask me the same question numerous times and make the same suggestions over and over, I feel annoyed, angry, and resentful. I need you to only make a suggestion once and let me decide whether or not to heed your advice and please ask about progress less often. Fine, I did not include the “please”, but that is the essence of my plea.
It didn’t work. She just got angrier and yelled at me, hitting the table hard enough to break some fragile glass ornaments left there from Christmas. Then I started crying, yelling, and cursing. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve cursed at my parents. I feel like a teenager! On one hand, I am living under her roof rent-free. Plus, I admit the eating disorder stunted my emotional growth because once I started using eating disordered behaviors, I stopped learning to deal with emotions healthily. Therefore, although I’ve made tremendous progress over the years, I still view myself as a little behind my peers in emotional maturity. I’ve had more than one therapist tell me this and I know my parents agreed, but no one has said it for a few years. Perhaps I am on par with other early 20-somethings now.
On the other hand, I am 23! I am not a teenager! I am old enough and capable enough to make my own mistakes. Hell, I made a ton last semester, but I am aware of that! I know what I need to do differently and just because I did not study last night, does not mean I am not fixing my mistakes!
I feel suffocated. At the moment, when I see her my first thought is:
It wasn’t just last night. If it was just one night of needling, I wouldn’t be angry. Even so, I don’t know if I am right to be annoyed or not. Maybe this is that whole teenage-rebellion stage coming a few years late and I should simply listen to her…BUT I am not a teenager and I should be able to make my own choices. I know I owe a lot to her, I know my parents are extremely kind to pay for my first year of grad school and let me live at home without rent. Yet, their generosity doesn’t change the fact that I am an adult.
Ha, the problem is this post feels so whiney! It IS whiney and that is characteristic of a teenager. On the other hand, sometimes people have legitimate reasons to complain.
Last night moving out sounded nice. At this point, it is not worth the extra few thousand in student loans. Inevitably, I’ll have student loans, but I can avoid ~$12,000/year by living at home until the end of school.
I know I can’t give an objective view of all our interactions, the scope, or the frequency of the interactions, but based on what little albeit biased information you have, what should I do differently? Did I do something wrong in my initial attempt to use non-violent communication skills? How can I make things go more smoothly (I.e., no fighting, yelling, screaming, hitting of tables – or people)?
Her advice has merit. In fact, I know it is the best course of action. The way she tried to change my behavior is irritating. Should I do what she says, don’t procrastinate, just to avoid conflict?
I think I’m over-reacting. Then again, I wasn’t the first one to yell, cry, etc.!