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Old 03-26-2007
LittleMissMuffet's Avatar
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How many of you can relate to this story.....?

One thing that I noticed today is how much anxiety is a family problem for me. Despite being the only one to come-out with officially having anxiety, it is a problem that has festered in my family for at least 3 generations.

IT's usually like that. Not only is is genetically inherited -for me this is true- but along with this you also grow up exposed to this mood and way of thinking being around you. So it seems like having two loads to carry, that of your genes and the influence of family.

I had to visit the doctor today with my mother. She was in a very agitated mood. It is difficult because such a state rubs off on others, and this is more the case when one has their own anxiety to deal with.

At one stage, I was lining-up to withdraw money from an ATM and standing there, I caught how not only does she often take with her a state of anxious brooding (she becomes so wrapped-up in her problems that she even forgets basic grooming) but she also sometimes takes out her own insecurities and obsessive worries on me. I caught her eyeing me with such scrutiny -watching my every move with critical appraisal. She was literally judging my worth and performance.
And the thing is, that she does this regularly. SHe does it to all her children. And perhaps this in part is why both my brother and me are dealing with anxiety issues.

I don't blame her for all my problems. I do however notice that it doesn't make things easier when a member of your family, especially a parent, influences the growth a a problem or particular negative approach. And she is so wrapped-up in herself she obviosuly is unaware of what effect she has on me.

I honestly try to forgive her. To observe how similar she is to me in her self-absorption. I just also note how hard it is to do this 'thinking of others' when it comes to people in ones family. The load seems that much heavier for some reason.

Maybe it is like Jesus said: "A man's worst enemies will be the members of his own family."

I find that I need to take time out from her as her inner tension is too easily spread to me -and as we all know, I already have a problem with inner tension.

One last thing: how many 28 year olds still get corrected in public by their parents? My mother did this to me over the most trivial and insignificant "mistake" -being that it wasn't even a mistake. She was simply acting out in accordance with her critical evaluation on my performance.

I won't take the scapegoat and blame the generation before me. ANd I do have a wisdom about how to go about seeing such problems -being that to see a shared problem is the only way to be free of others effecting you negatively. It is hard though -more so, I think, when it comes to one's parents. (It is easier to forgive strangers than it is to distance oneself from one's parents)

I supposed that I cannot change her of bring her to a realisation of her own problems. BUt in the meantime, because I am not strong enough to share the load for both of us, I decline her offers to stay out shopping for longer than is necessary.
I'd like to be able to carry her load as well as mine -then I know I would be cured. At the moment, I'm not this strong yet. And I feel the need to not be around her as much in public.
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Old 03-26-2007

Hey again Missmuffet

I can definatley relate to this so so much... because my dad was severley ill with various mental problems and if im honest a twisted troubled person and was controlling,manipulative ,narctisstic and physcialy/mentally very abusive.. and my mum coming from an awfull abusive background with her own mental problems.. and also ill cos of the way my farther was with her she then took this out on us kids and was abusive.I grew up in a very tense anxious volatile enviroment which im pretty sure contributed if not caused the majority of my problems and the behaviours learnt heavily influenced me.Whats more damagin i think about these type of situations is as a kid you dont know any different and have nothing much to compare your up bringing to and you dont think to... specialy i would say from like till bout the age of your late teens when you start buildin up your own life sperate from the fammily unit.So you see it as "normal" specialy if outside influences stand by and do nothing.

Even now it affects me simlar to what you wrote.. my dad i have limited contact with because as ive said before is a troubled person and even if i wanted to any healthy none damaging relationship with him just isnt realistic.But i have alot of contact with my mum now... i pretty much took over looking after her when my dad left,and without his influence she was alot better and we were able to become quite close despite how it was at home with her... and is sorry for how she treated me and my sis at home even tho i dont think she really understands what she did.But yeah she still has various problems such as bipolar and still is anxious as shes always been..She really does have my best intrests at heart but without her realising she still tries to influence me in certain ways.. i struggle to explain it cos i dont understand really.. but sometimes i have to back off even tho not intenionaly shes hard to be around and deal with cos of how she is and acts towards me.

"ANd I do have a wisdom about how to go about seeing such problems -being that to see a shared problem is the only way to be free of others effecting you negatively. It is hard though -more so, I think, when it comes to one's parents. (It is easier to forgive strangers than it is to distance oneself from one's parents)"

Could you explain this a little more Littlemissmuffet cos my childhood and parents are somthing which till this day affect me so much and is one of my biggest problems to overcome.. to be honest things are that messy the whole issue is still a problem to understand.So any views on how to approach it im intrested in.

Anyway thanks for posting this,i think its a really intresting and important topic.. and probaly alot of people can relate to.And i dont want to get too emotional or personal on somthing like this cos thats when your emotions can cloud your thinking but im sorry for what you have been through and well still dealing with.And i think your doing so well to look at the situation constructivley as you are doing without getting mad and upset.. because i know how hard it is to try and move on and forgive somthing which has had such a big impact on our lives.
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Old 03-26-2007
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My situation has been and is quite different from yours, although I can empathise with your situation. My mother suffers from anxiety issues as well and I have often wondered whether she has played much part in nurturing my SA.

My mum is not judgemental or critical of me or my family, but she seems to give out the wrong type of support. As a teen, if I didn't want to go to school 'cause of SA, I could quite often convince her to let me off for the day for example and right now my 28 year old brother takes advantage of her daily as she bails him out for his debts and looks after his child.

Unlike the restraint and patience you show with you mother, I can quite easily get frustrated and squabble with her, although I do get on well with her for the most part.

For me as a 21 year old workng towards my degree, I don't have much choice as to whether I should live at home or not but I can see that I would benefit greatly from living outside of the family home. I'm sure I'd get on much better with my mum too.

I don't know what your situation is like, but maybe that's something you should consider also. I think to grow as a person, individuals need their own space and they need to look after their own affairs. If I was in a position to do it, I'd be out of my house already.

Good luck!
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Old 03-26-2007
LittleMissMuffet's Avatar
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Hi Danfalc and Ham and Cheese,

Danfalc: you make me feel like a bit of a whinger. You see, my mother has her moods and she can be very self-absorbed, gloomy and critical. However, I get the jist that you have to deal with a substantial bit more than me.

So as far as me giving you advice -I'd probably just tell you to keep doing what you are doing because you seem to be dealing pretty well with such things.

After having gotten how I felt off my chest I felt a bit better later. Then it occurred to me that in a way it is actually a good thing that my mother has anxiety issues. Even if it has affected me (although I still think that for me, my problems are at least 50% genetic) how her personality has rubbed-off onto me -well, things like this can be greeted. When you have someone in your life who has characteristics that you wish to tame in yourself, your relationship with that person can be a tool for you getting over your own problems. ...MAybe that sounds selfish but it isn't and doesn't have to be.

Maybe this just proved that my character is still weak, and that when dealing with someone similar to me, it gets to me. And the last thing I want to do is to blame my parents because this is what my parents would probably do themselves -and is why the cycle doesn't end. So, yeah, if its possible and within reach, it is best to feel compassion and see my parents as an extension of me. And see how when she is critical it is because of her own insecurities and self-absorption -instead of my taking it personally.
My mother kind of does this but sometimes in ways that are not best -I mean how some parents see you as them and put their hang-ups onto you. Instead, I could try to see how her anxiousness, self-absorption and even criticism are all part of me. -whether I like it or not, I've asborbed this and the rest is in my genes.

Because I think that this is how 'life moves' -it isn't fair and the individual has to take the load of two people in order to carry their own weight.
So, the only thing I say by way of "advice" is just this reminder -because it is just a reminder- that life is this way; by 'sharing the problem' I guess I mean that whether we like it or not, we always do. Everyone does.

....but I don't mean to put up with abuse or to not call it quits and take time out when its needed. There's no point in doing more than a person is able to do at the time. And taking abuse does noone any good.
I suppose that in the case of my mother annoying me or being critical and gloomy that I just have to build my self up -and look towards being able to forgive such negativity in her, recognising that it is another expression of an anxiety problem. this may not mean that certain things she does are 'right', but what she does won't get to me and I'll also know what to say to her and how to say it -which is also really important when dealing with such situations (my mother would likely get very angry and point the finger at me).

Anyhow, Danfalc, I really think you have it harder than me. And compared to you I really have been whinging. -I hope that you see that I was mostly getting things off my chest. ...and I think that that is another thing to sometimes do when things get to you; because it is tough getting past anxiety problems.
and like I said: I think you appear to be doing quite a good job already. You must be quite a tough person when it comes down to it to be as patient and forgiving as you are.
I think I should be asking YOU for advice instead!
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Old 03-26-2007
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I think you appear to be doing quite a good job already. You must be quite a tough person when it comes down to it to be as patient and forgiving as you are.
can i just say that is so so true, i dont think ive ever told you that dan but i so totally admire you for forgiving your mum in the biggest way you can..its such a brave thing to do and im not sure i could do that meself. so yeah good job babe
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Old 03-27-2007
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I'm probably a bit older than you guys and mostly over my SA. In time it usually becomes less of a problem, I think, you learn to live with it. I kind of envy you having the internet as an anonymous support. In the seventies & eighties, when I did most of my 'struggling', we didn't have that.

Anyway. I became more interested in my old phobia when I had a little son last year. Phobias run in my family (mother/brother) and I'd hate the thought of passing it on to him.

My GF started to study as a psychologist a few years ago, which is very useful to me now. Whenever she finds something interesting about SA she gives it to me to read. Recently I read a chapter from a text book by Barlow on the causes of SA.

Apparently, nowadays SA is thought to be caused by a mix of three factors. The first obviously is a genetic - inherited - vulnerability. Without that, you won't develop SA, but many people with the vulnerability won't develop SA anyway. The second factor is your early upbringing. Certain styles of parenting are associated with SA later in life. The third factor is some kind of trigger when you're older. Could be the death or separation of a parent or some other factor. SA usually surfaces in ****rty/adolescence, but the foundation is laid before that.

The first and third factors can't be helped. Shit happens, as they say... But the second is interesting for you and for me. Certain behavior of your parents may prime you for SA later in life. I noticed some of the posts above talk about a 'controlling' parent, they're right on target.

A major factor in developing SA seems to be a feeling of helplessness, of not being in control. (you'll recognize the feeling when you're having an attack) This is encouraged by certain parenting styles. Parents who are intrusive, controlling and over-protective have more children who go on to develop SA. The feeling of being in control over your environment is what they call 'locus of control'. If a child develops an internal locus of control, it feels in control of its own destiny. If your locus of control is external you feel as if you're a victim of your environment. (I'm typing this from memory so I may get things wrong) The conclusion seems to be that you can help your (vulnerable) child to avoid developing SA by learning it to be independent. Let it do it's own thing and be there whenever it signals that it needs you. Well, that's what I'm trying to do right now. Oops, he just bumped his head

My mother was (is) pretty controlling and intrusive I guess. When my father died when I was 9, she did her very best to remain in control, which cannot have been easy. Her SA struck a few years later. I had a loving childhood, that wasn't the problem. My mother did the best she could, but unfortunately good intentions aren't always enough. When I see her with her (only) grandchild I see what she must've been like. She's always picking him up, playing with him, singing with him. Not what you'd consider a bad (grand)mother, but you can easily imagine that the child grows up feeling more like an actor than a director. Add a genetic propensity to SA and the result is what you see in this forum.

Lets hope we can avoid it for my son. Thankfully, he has half his mother's genes, so I figure his chances are pretty good...

Greetings, X.

Amazon Amazon
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Old 03-27-2007
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That's interesting, Xerxes.

All the females in my family are control freaks. They also all have anxiety issues. (The males tend to be spoilt, inconsiderate and selfish -largely because of how they are raised. -but there is some silent contract that they enter into which means that they are not required to take responsibility like the women are supposed to.)

I think that, just as your mother developed anxiety herself, that control is the issue. And as usual, weak genes tend to be shared among family members and then we get that power difference where one member is the 'weak' one and the others the 'strong', and this is of course a way by which the 'strong ones' deal with having the same or similar problem. For example, controlling others is a way in which to deal with anxiety and sense of lack of control.

And in this way, a person grows up 'bouncing off' their family members so that the part of them that had potential to be weak then does become "weak" at the expense of those that are "strong". our families can definetly shape our major problems.

And, also, I guess what I am identifying is a way by which people mask anxiety -namely through controlling others and their environment.
My grandmother most definetly and absolutely was this way. (in fact, if what your information says is right, it is surprising that her children didn't suffer from social anxiety specifically)

One of my earliest childhood memories was of my grandmother asserting her ultimate power over the whole family by forbidding me from being allowed to go out for a walk with the rest of my siblings and cousins. This was done supposedly on the basis that I fell over a lot as a child and she wanted to protect me. I remember this so well because of the sheer frustration and powerlessness that being stopped from going out into the world had on me. It was essentially like being told that I was too weak and fragile to handle the outside world.
I think that my grandmother sensed within me the same basic fragility that she had, and unfortunately enhanced this feeling within me by not allowing me to go outside and fall over.
And, like my grandmother, the other females in my family share this controlling pattern of dealing with things.

The genetic side, however, plays a big part in my problems.
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Old 03-27-2007

Thanks littlemissmuffet... and dont think your whinging in the slightest cos your not at all.. and yeah i understand you were getting things off your chest..glad you did cos it helped me 2 aswell i didnt mean to make ya feel like you were moaning..just cos someones problems seem greater it doesnt make ya own go away.. it would be like doctors saying snap out of your depression because theres kids in africa dying of aids and hunger so really we have it easy.. might make ya reflect a little but doesnt make ya problems go away.

I think we undermestimate the controll/influence out parents have over us sometimes. so yeah while some of my upbringing was quite extreme in some regards.. i can really relate to the situation with ya mum cos its simlar to mine and i think that this kinda relationship can be more damagin than we realise cos its very subtle.But thanks for what you wrote and your advice.. its made me think on certain things,

i dont want to get too much more into this topic.. but i wanted to say your not weak of character at all..its kind of like role reversal.. thats how me and my sister felt anyway.. because our parents were so controlling.. and everything else we constantly had to meet there expectations.. deal with there moods..mental illness anger ect it was like we were the parents sometimesand i think thats the case with you and your mum in a way 2... and it isnt easy at all.. and i think if you didnt get mad or find it hard you wouldnt be human.I find it kinda hard to explain but i think you will know what im getting at.

Anyway im gonna but back out of this convo cos its getting a bit to technical for my poor brain hehe.Littlemissmuffet i know this really might not be feasable or realstic at all.. but maybe some blunt honesty might open somedoor ways with ya mum to making some progress.. it might upset her if she realises that some of what shes doing affects you like it does.But i can remember whan i had an argument with an old mate.... and he turned round and went... Dan you can be a right miserable ******* sometimes.. and thet cut deep and really upset me... but only cos it was true and it really made me make an effort.

An aw thanks Chaz for that your so damm sweet sometimes.. well all the time ha *hugz* thank you.. but it helps having someone to talk to and someone who cares and is bothered :wink:
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