Toxic Parent Sabotaging My Life; Tries to Control My Decisions

Dear Troubleshooter:

I’m a female part-time worker in my 30s. I’m a single mother of two children. Both of my parents have interfered with my life to an abnormal degree, and my mother is especially bad. I would call her a toxic parent.

My mother’s words and actions truly annoy me. I want to be self-reliant, but I can’t. When I did not contact her for a while, she told my children, “Grandma is losing her mind.” She tends to excessively rely on my family as well.

I have a partner with whom I have begun to share my life. I met him over the internet, but my mother told me, “You’re being tricked,” and “I can’t introduce him to anybody.” She demands I tell her more detailed personal information about him.

I grew up being yelled at and beaten, rarely being praised. When I was young, I could not go out to have fun even though I wanted to, and I had no choice but to start lying to her. But the lies led her to declare, “I can’t trust you.”

As I think about how I’m going to live in the future, I hope my mother will come to respect and trust me a little more.

— S, Wakayama Prefecture

Dear Ms. S:

It pains me to imagine how heavy your burden has been. It’s admirable that you’ve endured for so long.

A light has finally come into your life. What a delight it is that you happened upon your new partner.

Because you use the word “partner,” instead of boyfriend or lover, I understand that your relationship is not transient but one where the two of you are trying to accomplish something.

It’s natural that you can’t respect your mother, since she verbally abuses you and intends to shut the door on your future.

I think this is a great time to send a letter. You need to write down everything you have been holding back all these years. For example, you can write that you have to keep your distance if your mother continues to distrust you. You need to write with your honest feelings.

As for the relationship with your partner, it’s not a matter that your parents have any right to judge. It’s a matter for you to decide on your own.

Because you seem to have lived while watching out for your parents since childhood, you may be afraid to make a big decision about your life without permission from them.

But regardless of the outcome, your parents have no responsibility for your future decisions. You are the only person who can take control of your life.

Your parents can and must think about what they will do after their daughter moves on without them. I hope you step forward with confidence.

— Hazuki Saisho, writer