Great to have you with us and that you are looking for ways to support your boyfriend . . .
Let me start with a bit of a cautionary statement for you . . . you can support your boyfriend, but he has a combination of issues that only a professional may be able to help him resolve . . .
Now, my advice is . . . be kind to yourself as the process of recovery, especially what I sense is dysfunctional entrenched in dysfunctional, will be long and probably difficult for both you and your boyfriend . . .
The issue is a 24-year long history with a Mom who is over protective to the point of being controlling. She uses tools of guilt and fear to control your boyfriend because she herself probably has unaddressed issues. Could be anything from guilt (what did I do during the pregnancy that contributed to him being a Type 1 Diabetic) to unfulfilled goals of her own. For me, the bottom line is that you stand to be collateral damage (and, for that reason, you may also want to get some professional guidance). By collateral damage, I mean that his Mom with comments that you are only with him for the money, she is trying to manipulate him into leaving you or you into leaving him by causing rifts in your relationship . . .
Next suggestion to consider is that you have to realize that his Mom sees you as competition . . . if you engage her on her terms (i.e. guilt, anger, etc.), you are only providing her with more ammunition . . .. Until your boyfriend decides to make a stand, I would suggest something along the following lines:
Rather than be in competition, take a couple of steps back . . .For example:
Why don't you take me (his Mom) out to dinner? --- Well, name of boyfriend, if you would like to spend some time with your Mom over dinner, that's fine with me. I am going to do x, y, or z as I know your Mom likes to have 100% of your attention. Then, this weekend, how about you and I going to a, b, c.
About the dangers out there --- Well, name of boyfriend, I can understand why your Mom may be worried but maybe you need to reassure her that we cannot control the future and that it is best to live in the present. You are very careful about driving and taking care of yourself.
About her back hurting --- Well, name of boyfriend, can you refer her to a reputable physician? If she does not want to go, perhaps her back is not the issue.
About his career choice --- Well, name of boyfriend, what would you like to do? Nursing has many transferable skill sets. Perhaps we need to see about a different choice of career that you might like to move into. Perhaps, though, to save your Mom from worrying, we work on it. [This buys time for him to work with his therapist to start developing a healthier attitude towards Mom].
You asked for my opinion . . .after 7 years of this behaviour (if he is now 26, then you started with him when he was 19), you know what is probably in store for you if therapy for him does not reframe his relationship with Mom into an adult relationship (to me, it is still very much a parent-child relationship) . . . you may need to consider what * your * goals are . . . no, I am not saying break up tomorrow, but I am not sure that I would be able to maintain this type of a relationship . . . it's not a matter of saying it is either me or Mom (because 99.999% of the time, the guy will probably choose Mom out of guilt, a sense of loyalty for past favours, etc.) . . . but, ultimately, the decision to engage in a recovery process (not just go through the motions, but make decisions and follow through and persevere through the reactions because Mom will have very aggressive and dramatic reactions to her son establishing independence) is his . . . then it is your decision as to what you want to do . . . yes, I understand that if you decide to separate, Mom will use this as fuel for the "I told you so" ploy with her son . . . you have to understand that no matter what you decide to do, Mom will make it into an issue to use to maintain control . . .
You asked for insights . . . .I have been on both sides of the coin . . . my own anxiety and trying to help someone with anxiety . . . until a person with anxiety is prepared to make some difficult choices and deal with the fall out, there is often collateral damage . . . the issue is what are you prepared to put up with and for how long to help your boyfriend establish himself in a healthy relationship with his Mom . . . and, quite frankly, Mom is in need of therapy also . . . I am not being funny when I say that this is a Dr. Phil moment where you are caught between Mom and boyfriend and he is caught between you and Mom . . . . but, from my experience, if you engage with Mom, then you are going to end up sacrificing your life as an individual and your life as a couple just to allow Mom to continue in her dysfunctional relationship and this, again, from experience can create anxiety in you . . .so it is an issue of compounding and intensifying the anxiety all the way around . ..
So, if you can get professional help, then do it. If you decide to continue to support your boyfriend, then do it in such a fashion that you don't get sucked into this Mom vortex . . . I know that this is probably not what you wanted to hear, but I have to be truthful based on my experiences . . . I am all for supporting and being supported in the recovery process, but everyone involved has to be committed to the process and be supported by professional intervention . . . I am sure that others will offer their perspectives and mine is just that of one person . . . whatever you decide, please know that we will do our best to support you in helping your boyfriend so please come back here as often as you can . . .your commitment to your boyfriend is admirable, just make sure to take care of yourself also . . . KC