anxiety · family · life · ramblings · social anxiety

Problems with My Parents

It is hard to describe my state of mind right now. I feel quite fired up thinking about the kind of “advice” my own parents gave me hours earlier. They think they’re helping me but they’re really not. Instead I feel belittled and almost as if they are treating me like a child or that they assume I don’t have any common sense at all.

If you read one of my previous posts entitled “No End to Anxiety”, you’d know that I had an upcoming in-person meeting with a potential employer, Alan. I went in on Monday and later received a call from him that evening. I got hired and I start training this Wednesday. Believe me when I say there were multiple times prior to the meeting I kept wanting to find a reason to avoid the situation. It rained during the whole morning, but the worst was the bottom cuffs of my slacks got soaked, in addition to my shoes giving me heel blisters. All this while I had to walk more than five blocks (from the subway stop I got off on) in order to get to Alan. I was not familiar with the area so I had taken a subway route provided by a transit app on my phone, though I later realized taking the bus would have made for a smoother commute.

I thought about calling it quits when I hadn’t walked halfway there yet, and then considered the same thing when I was a block away from my destination. The blisters were excruciating at this point, particularly as my wet pant cuffs slapped against the open wounds with each step I took. I don’t know what made me keep going. I was of two minds with one part of me urging me to just call Alan and tell him I couldn’t make the appointment, and the other part pushing me to continue along since I’ve been through worse pain than a couple of blisters. I hobbled past a corner and ducked into an open door hallway after I was unable to find the building entrance. Again I thought about giving up. Why? Because I felt stupid for not being able to find the entrance on my own, and because I felt pangs of fear knowing the next logical thing to do was to call Alan for help. In the moment, I was doubtful he would assist me. I know now that this was my anxiety converting my fear into a faux reality. I believed it so much that I failed to even recall that, days earlier when he and I spoke on the phone to set up the appointment, I had asked if I could call him if I got lost and he affirmed that this was completely fine. I ended up calling because it was a few minutes until noon and I’d be late if I didn’t do something.

Anyway, fast forwarding to the issue with my parents. Sigh. I don’t even know anymore. I know I sound melodramatic and whiny, unfortunately, but for whoever is willing to listen, here is what happened. Over dinner, I told my parents about getting hired. I was elated, anxious, and giddy that I took a chance on this job opportunity and it paid off for once. However, I did not express these sentiments to my parents.

If you must know one major thing about my relationship with my parents, I flip flop between wanting to be a good daughter and be open with them or wanting them to fuck off and out of my life. I am very uncomfortable talking to them most of the time. Sometimes I try to make an effort in conversation, but often I find myself retreating if one of them asks me a question I perceive as a challenge or if it’s something I don’t want to share with them. An example might be if I’m going to hang out with people at a meetup event. The most I will say is I’m going out, or that I’m meeting friends. I do not feel the need to elaborate anything more to them than that. It’s my father peppering of questions about who I was with and what I did that annoys me. I believe I get anxiety from him asking me questions, but it’s hard to tell since the annoyance I feel is like a knee-jerk reaction. Other times I am frustrated by some of his questions I see little to no value in (such as his infamous, “Were there other Chinese people there?” bit that I’ve ranted to death about in some prior posts) and then I want so badly to assert myself by saying, “I don’t understand why you always ask me that.” You could say I have anxiety about sharing details about my activities to my parents. I suppose any parent who cares about their child, no matter how old the child is, wants to be in the loop about their kid. The second part of this anxiety is when I feel defensive when they say something that makes me on-guard, and my instinct is to say something back to assert myself but I don’t have the self-confidence for it. That is when the anger kicks in. Suddenly I’m angry at whichever parent said the stuff that upset me in the first place and I’m also angry at myself for being too scared to give my own opinion. For so long I was content to keep my mouth closed and just nod and go along with what my parents wanted.

Back to what my parents actually said after I told them I got hired, the both of them started prattling off advice about how I should behave on the job. Honestly, some of it was really dumb and I am now wondering if my parents actually think I’m simple-minded and/or stupid. My mother: “You have to say good morning to people when you go into work”. “Be polite to people when you answer the work phone.” My father: “Don’t be uncomfortable if you run into a problem that isn’t that serious.” “Remember to smile a lot and people will like you.” Are they fucking kidding me? I don’t know if this is some Asian culture thing where parents still treat their kids like children when they are adults (I am 27) but it’s hard for me not to place that label on them. Especially since this isn’t the first time my parents have given me “advice” like this. Maybe they assume because I’m quiet around them that this is how I act around other people too. Wrong. What grates on my nerves even more than both my parents telling me how to act as if I’m some five-year-old who has no common sense is my father telling me to “not be uncomfortable”. What does he think; that it’s humanly possible to not be uncomfortable? Also, did it ever occur to them that I didn’t get the job for free and it wasn’t like I sat in front of Alan like a scared mouse and hardly uttered a word? Had I done that, I wouldn’t have even gotten hired.

More and more I understand my parents less and less as I have made awkward and sometimes successful attempts to let the outside world into my life. I’ve become embittered about the constant language barrier between myself and them that nothing can help to bridge it. I have tried to become more fluent in Mandarin in the past to cope with their inability to comprehend complex English. Now I don’t care for it because I see I was trying to be someone I am not to please my parents. The downside to this is I do feel I may be using their lack of understanding of English as an excuse for why I deliberately don’t mention certain things in my life or just omit it out entirely from the conversation because I wouldn’t know how to explain it to them in Mandarin so they can get what I’m talking about.

Then I also see my father may be overstepping my boundaries as an adult. I get that some parents will continually see their children as their babies even if the children are grown and can think/make decisions on their own. I also didn’t say my father isn’t allowed to not care about me. I just do not care for certain reactions he has where he behaves like it’s his responsibility to worry or think on my behalf. Example: He actually told me I could leave for work a bit earlier if I was taking the bus. After saying this, he proceeded to tell me out loud how long it might take me to get there and when I might arrive.

I honestly do not know what he is thinking. I’ve observed him act this way whenever my mom goes anywhere by train or bus, except she seems to not mind his “advice” as she relies on him for information she would otherwise not really care to look up herself. In the past when my brother started at his first real job that required him to travel to other work locations, my father also would often advise him on what time to leave the house or what subway line to take. Eventually, it got to the point my brother told him off every time my father tried to be a know-it-all. I know I sound harsh, but it seems my father apparently doesn’t realize how his behavior is annoying. When he spits out information like that to me, it makes me feel as if he doesn’t believe I am capable of finding out the same info on my own and that he is talking down to me. This, coupled with my frustration over not being financially independent plus still living with my parents, kind of fuels how I perceive my father keeps treating me like I’m not a competent adult.

What do you think? Am I being oversensitive about my parents or are some of my complaints about them valid?

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11 thoughts on “Problems with My Parents

  1. Congratulations on the new job! I empathize with wanting to say you couldn’t make it, good for you for going anyway.

    Don’t worry, you are not the only person whose parents treat her like a child. I think some of it might be living at home. My relationship with my parents got a lot better when I was finally able to move out and get some independence. I stay with my parents regularly, but at least it’s not my main home any more. Also, the questions might be a way of showing interest or avoiding pauses in the conversation. Some people feel really uncomfortable even with natural pauses.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree, the living at home factor is one I would take great pleasure in getting rid of, but right now I have to be patient and earn money. I feel as if I definitely do not have all my freedom while still residing with them. I loath having to notify them if I’m going out, even if it’s just to take a walk to the nearby library or convinence store. And if I leave while they are away and I come home, it rubs me the wrong way for the first question they ask is, “where were you?”

      I’m not so sure about the natural pauses thing. My parents have become phone obsessed, even more than me. Sometimes I’ll walk in the kitchen and one of them will be sitting there on their phone but I won’t even be acknowledged or greeted. My mom is retired now so she is home a lot. I thought she was introverted but she’s even more so now. There are days where most of what she does is playing on her ipad or browsing Facebook. It is extremely awkward for me, as a socially anxious person, to talk to her when sometimes all she says to me is “hi” and “what do you want to eat” before lapsing into silence and continuing to scroll or focus her attention on her ipad screen.

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  2. ‘“You have to say good morning to people when you go into work”. “Be polite to people when you answer the work phone.”…..’ Your parents and my parents are very similar. Though I am a full-fledged adult, my parents never tire of saying these things to me and telling me to do this and that, be this and that. My dad is also the opinionated kind and in my family whenever the male speaks, they are always correct. It drives me absolutely nuts because it feels like I am not allowed to have an opinion. I think sometimes parents think that we are who we are when we around them. Often there’s the thought that you are most comfortable around family, like the family you are born into, and that’s when you show your true colours. That is not the case for some of us and I think a part of society looks down on that.

    Congrats on the job and I hope it turns out well 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank goodness I’m not the only one with crazy Asian parents. I too feel like I’m not allowed to have an opinion, and it’s not just work related business that they see fit to tell me what to do. I stay out till 10:30 pm on some Sundays to watch the new Game of Thrones episode with others in a bar. Beforehand I had dinner by myself at a nearby place. I thought if I sent them photos of my meal that it would reassure them more that I wasn’t like starving or something. Instead my dad messaged me like, “Don’t take drinks from other people”. He loves to warn me about not accepting drinks from strangers or always keeping an eye on my drink to ensure no one tries to drug me. Apparently the picture of ny yogurt looked like beer to him, so he jumped to that conclusion, which he didn’t even tell me until much later. Then there’s the naysaying I always have to hear from him about not walking down the street alone and to stick with other people. As if this is supposed to help me if and when anything actually happens. He texted me this on my way home that night and I didn’t bother replying at all. Next day, my mom asks me about where I was the previous night. She knew I would be out late but not where. So I said I was out watching a new television episode with other people. She looked at me like she couldn’t believe I would bother staying out that late for something like that. Her reaction bothered me bc it was like she was silently disapproving but didn’t say it. It was extremely awkward for me because she is not familiar with most mainstream American shows, especially not Game of Thrones, so telling her the tv show title probably would have elicited a blank look from her. Later my dad acted similarly, even saying, “no one was out late except you.” I refuse to cower to them. Staying out late is not a crime, and I won’t apologize for spending time having fun. This, coming from the me who could barely leave the house or never went anywhere during evenings because of anxiety.

      The stupid part is I think on some level my father knows how parents are towards their children in the Asian culture is wrong. One time I blew up on him for basically infantizing me and he reluctantly stated that it’s no wonder children take longer to grow up since parents coddle them too much. It irked me to no end that even after this he still continued as he was.

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      1. ‘ I won’t apologize for spending time having fun.’ I like this so much, and good on you for standing up for who you are and doing what you do bit by bit. With anxiety, it feels like an achievement when you go out and do something, and you really don’t need anyone to bring you down.

        Like your dad, my dad likes me to not to this and that – like telling me the world is one big danger. Anything and everything really you do there is some degree of risk to it, and so long as we know where we are going and are careful, we should be fine. Sometimes I think typical Asian parents like to cottonwool their children overly much. It’s one thing to be protective and sheltered, but another to be mollycoddling. It’s a fine line.

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  3. Congrats on the job! ❤️ Great news! I have faith that you will do good, another tip is to be open about your anxiety at some point with your boss – as it might help in work situations. But see how your boss is and everything like that.

    I have kind of a similar thing with my mom, I discussed the situation with my psychologist. She is a kind, warm and understanding psychologist. “Pick your battles” was her advice, it might seem like a good idea to grab your family by the horns – but you will have to live with the consequences.

    So keep swallowing camels in different shapes, sizes and sometimes flocks when it comes to my mom.

    And my mom does not get what anxiety is, how bad it can be and that I have had it most of my life “don’t know how that happened, can’t be anything we did”, no matter how much I sometimes I just wish to explain and talk to her about it I have given up.

    But again, hurrah you have a job! I’m rooting for you! ❤️🎈

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hmm, I might consider telling my boss about my anxiety at some point, but I’m unsure if I’ll ever have the privacy to do it since the office doesn’t separate me from the other employees nearby. I don’t know if there ever will be a day I get to know him well that we end up grabbing lunch together or something, but that could be my opportunity to open up to him.

      Yeah, I can see how confronting my parents about how they keep treating me like a child is probably not going to do much because they will just keep seeing their behavior as “right”. It upsets me to think my opinion might go unheeded even if I say something to them about them backing off a little.

      Agree about parents not getting what anxiety is. I am almost certain my own father knows at it, at least partially because I used to see a social worker when I was a teenager and her sister would sometimes accompany us and talk to the social worker to help translate for my dad since his English is not good. So it’s possible she might have also said in Mandarin what anxiety is. It does piss me off on the inside whenever my father tells me to “not be uncomfortable” because I feel like that’s an indirect jab at my anxiety and he seems to just think I’ll be fine if I just pretend.

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      1. It’s ok to give the “telling the boss” bit some time, just to see the lay of the land. But it can actually be helpful that they are informed 🙂

        Even if your dad knows, it doesn’t automatically mean he understands. My knowledge about the people around me so far, is that they don’t understand because they can’t relate.

        I get it, oh trust me I get it.

        But remember to breathe and that I belive in you. You did a good job getting this job! So just remember that I belive in you 🙂 ❤

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yeah, meeting my boss in person, I can say my impression of him so far is that he is really nice and chill. I hope I can continue to establish a good rapport with him.

        Knowing you believe in me, this is the one thought I will hold onto tomorrow at my first day at work if I feel myself losing myself to anxiety.

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      3. I was in your shoes four weeks a go, even if I belive my anxiety might be a bit milder most of the time. I belive that you too have the strength and ability to get through tomorrow. One day at the time.

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  4. Congrats on the job! I don’t think you’re being over sensitive; whatever you feel is wrong is probably wrong. Stay strong 💞

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