Question: Dear Luise: I know you get many pleas for advice from people with overprotective parents. Mine is the same. I’m a 22 yr old girl from a small east asian country. As a child i was heavily protected by my mom; NO to sports, friends, going out of the house, boyfriends, the usual. My mom got married at 18 (customary here to get married young), against her parents wishes and got divorced at 22, 2 yrs after i was born. My dad is a great guy but their personalities didnt match. i have talked to my dad about the over-protectiveness of my mom and he told me that her irrational worrying and fears were what drove a chup unti their marriage as well. My mom raised me ever since the divorce (my dad was a background figure in my childhood, we only saw each other a few times every yr). She got married to my stepdad who was great as well, but a very silent character and their marriage also ended, for the same reasons. My mother is very narrow minded, many of my family members have tried to talk to her and so have i, but everytime she picks out things ive done wrong that displeased her and turns everything into a huge fight. Most of my family is just as conservative as she is and so im kind of blacklisted in the family. of course there are ppl in my family that are ‘worse’… that they consider as horrible people even though i know they arent. last yr i got married to a man she chose for me. it didnt go well, our marriage is already on the rocks. i got married to her choice because by then i felt defeated. i finished my degree in 2009 but even after that, she continues to treat me the same as always. i know she loves me and shes worried about me, and its all for love but, i have hopes and dreams for my future and i realize now that i want to pursue them, and that i have every right to write my own story. even when i was in college she was with me. for the 3 yrs that i studied abroad she lived with me and continued to forbid me from going out and socialising. she hasnt approved of any of my friends and thinks friends in general are backbiting bundles of trouble who mooch off people and use them and then discard them. so it goes without saying that she hated anyone ive dated too. so after college, in a job, forced to breakup with my boyfriend of 2 yrs, she proposed that i get married and, spirit broken, i gave in. then i rediscovered my zest for life, and im so glad, but there’s no way i can go ahead in life without hurting her deeply, and causing anger and disappointment to my family. the only person i believe will understand me is my dad, i have talked to him before, as i mentioned earlier. but he is afraid to meddle because since he was such a non-involved parent when i was growing up, he feels he has no right to say anything. Do you have any advice for me? Please, i feel so torn. Do i follow my dreams at the price of losing my family, at least until i prove my worth, which could talk years (and i have no guarantee that they will ever admit i didnt fail in life), or do i keep my family happy and sacrifice my happiness? Neither sounds right! E.
Answer: Dear E.: More often than most of us realize, we find we have to choose between two courses of action, neither of which appeals to us. We want things to be different, so we can have different choices.
I happen to believe in the value and dignity of every human being. I think you do, too, or you would have knuckled under your mother’s rule to please your family…instead of writing to me.
They have the right, all of them, including your mother, to their point of view and they may all disown you. However, to keep that from happening you are going to have to disown yourself. You are a precious being. Everyone is. Your mom is, too, but/and she has elected to follow a course of action that is abusive…in the name of love. You and I know it is abuse.
You are an adult with a college degree and you have a dad that understands what you are up against. Your decision to get on with your life is yours to make because as an adult it is now entirely your business. There is good reason your dad didn’t participate in your upbringing, how could he?
If you have the courage, and I think you do, honor and respect yourself and move out of what can only be described as a pathological environment. You deserve so much better. Give it to yourself. Blessings, Luise