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Author Topic: New relationship and anxiety triggered by family's expectations  (Read 267 times)

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Offline jadd

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New relationship and anxiety triggered by family's expectations
« on: December 24, 2013, 04:49:15 AM »
Hi everyone, I'm brand new to anxiety zone and hoping to find some comfortable discussion with people who understand.

I'm not officially diagnosed with anxiety, but my recent visit to the doctor revealed that almost all of my digestive problems and depressive mood were due to stress and my lack of abilty to control it. When I get stressed about something I have episodes of trembling as if I'm freezing cold, having nausea, extreme loss of appetite and trouble sleeping.

I recently started a romantic relationship, it's been 2.5 months. I've known this person for a year and it took me a while to admit myself that I was in love (which took long periods of anxiety attacks and sleepless nights) and now our relationship is going pretty well. I actually think about marrying this person and him being the perfect match, but the pressure of putting things in order and handling my family's expectations of me leaves me crippled with anxiety.

I was raised as a perfectionist. I cried over bad grades and stressed for exams so much so that I would have nausea up to 2 days before the exams. I stopped being friends with people my family didn't approve. Always aimed for schools and jobs they would approve and stressed over job offers because I thought they weren't up to my family's standarts. I usually give in to their demands even though I'm not comfortable doing so, but rarely question their methods. These things led me to being a "all or nothing" person as well. I start doing something, anything, like writing a book, and whenever I hit a bump on the road I stop writing altogether.

I'm afraid this all or nothing attitude is affecting my outlook on the relationship I have. I'm very happy and content when I'm with my boyfriend, but when I come home and talk about him with my mother, a single negative remark makes me question my feelings. I just want to end everything, stay home for weeks and not having to talk to my mother about anything relating to my feelings whatsoever.

And I know they are trivial things and when I'm on my own I have strong opinions against her judgements; like she asks me if I ever pay for dinners when we go out and one time I made the mistake of telling her I actually do sometimes, because we were partners with my boyfriend and this was 2013, and she scolded me about it, told me a real boyfriend would pay for EVERYTHING on a date. I find this idea very archaic, very wrong, but when I argue this with my mother we can't meet in the middle which then leads me to lying to her about stuff and not sharing details of my relationship with her. She feels like I'm distancing myself from her which is the ugly truth and she questions my happiness. I keep telling her I am, but it feels like she doesn't believe me. This also leads me to believe the relationship I have is not perfect and if I'm keeping things from my mother there must be something wrong with us and we should therefore break up. Worst case scenario. All or nothing. Either everyone is happy about everyhing or I should stop doing whatever I'm doing just to avoid conflict.

We come from a very traditional background and even though my parents seem like the most hip and modern people, they are not. I can understand some of her worries about my relationship. I don't show my feelings openly, mostly because I'm afraid of being judged. For example I am happy to see my boyfriend's family, chat with them and spend time with them which is, according to my mom, very wrong, since we're not even engaged and they would think less of me in time if I spend too much time in the "man's home". Once again, I can't argue. When I try to defend my boyfriend's parents and try to tell her that my "reputation" is safe with them, she thinks I like them more and consider her as my enemy whereas my boyfriend's family as my allies. She might be feeling a bit of guilt, because she is not that affectionate towards my boyfriend.

She met him last month and he was at his best behavior, all polite and quiet and thankful. I thought things were going great, but a week later, mom told me she and my dad thought he was a weak character compared to me and couldn't figure out why I was with him. I told her he was just being polite and thought she accepted this, but apparently she didn't and she keeps telling me how weak my boyfriend was when we had him over for breakfast. She wants to meet him for dinner this week, his treat, and it gives me endless anxiety, because her approach is so negative.

She keeps telling me to do whatever makes me happy and when I do she finds something wrong in it and tries to warn me about it. Everytime she wants to talk about something related to my relationship I have an anxiety attack because;

1. I can't argue with my mother, she thinks she knows best in every aspect of life.
2. She expects me to relay her demands to my boyfriend as MINE which is something I struggle with so much.
3. She gives examples from her own relationship with my father which is not perfect and knowing her woes in her marriage saddens me even more.
4. Finally, I hate having so much anxiety over this therefore I think of the worst and find myself breaking up with my boyfriend in my mind.

I really don't want to be affected this much from my mother's outlook on my life, but I am. I had an anxiety attack yesterday, because I told her I was politely invited to my boyfriend's house by her sister to chat and spend some time and she told me I made a mistake accepting the invite due to reasons I mentioned before. I couldn't argue, I just got sad and wanted to get away from the conversation as soon as possible (wrong, I know, but by the time she stopped talking to give me a chance to speak, I was trembling inside). After we were done I completely closed myself off. Didn't pet my cat, almost forgot to take my birth control pill (which I religiously do take on time), didn't call my boyfriend (which I do every night to say goodnight and talk about our day) and told him I was feeling sick (which was true in some form).

I couldn't sleep all night because I thought about my future in this relationship and saw my mother hovering over my shoulder, watching my every move, trying to put them all in order according to her rules. I feel weak and ashamed of feeling weak and in the end I find myself blaming my relationship for all of this anxiety. I had a dream where he dumped me because I was weak and thoughtless, and that dream actually relieved me for a moment, because I thought yes, I am weak and thoughtless, therefore deserve to be dumped. Being alone would be easier, on my own, doing whatever my family expects of me, maybe even marrying someone my mother found for me and obeying the rules, having no conflict whatsoever, no trigger for anxiety.

Don't get me wrong, my boyfriend is a great guy with a good job and our outlook in life is very similiar. We have so much fun, sex is good, our sense of humor is almost identical and we have a ton of things in common. I just can't find a balance between my feelings, needs and my family's demands.

Does anyone have anything positive to offer? I'm trying to keep things slow, but sometimes I just want to get away from all of this. Take my boyfriend with me and move to another country, so we can do whatever we want. This is avoidance, I know, I should be more proactive and handle my anxiety before I handle my mother and my relationship, I just don't know how.
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Offline Cuchculan

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Re: New relationship and anxiety triggered by family's expectations
« Reply #1 on: December 24, 2013, 01:11:35 PM »
Forgive me for been honest here. But you are a mature person. Or so I would like to think so. As a mature person you make your own choices in life. Your mother can't always be the one living your life for you. Picking out what you should and should not do. Great when you were a kid. Bad when you are an adult. Here you are. The man of your dreams. A man you say you might even marry. Now look at your mother's life. What do you see? For starters she has a life. I bet she made her own choices when she hit a certain age. Or else she wouldn't be living any sort of life at all. So you always had high expectations for yourself. Your family had the exact same expectations for you too it seems. There is no law that says this man doesn't fit into what you might class as your perfect life. He is going make that life of yours more perfect for you. Are you going to let anybody else get in the way of this? Tell you he is not the one for you? This is a time to follow your heart. Not your family's expectations. Look inside yourself. Deep within. You are in love. Time to step outside the box for once. Time to do something for you. That something is keeping this man you are in love with. Don't lose him. You do that and in ten years time you will look back and regret what you done. You can't be expected to remain single till the perfect man in your mother's eyes comes along. She is not the person with the feelings inside of her. You have the feelings and you need to follow them. Sorry if I sound harsh. Don't want to see you throw away a good thing. You mother will always still talk to you no matter what you do. This may be a hard shout to have to tell your mother you are doing your own thing. But it has to be done. This is your life and your future. Don't let it pass you by.
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Offline jadd

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Re: New relationship and anxiety triggered by family's expectations
« Reply #2 on: December 25, 2013, 01:48:00 AM »
I'm feeling a lot better today and you don't sound harsh at all. It's the truth, sometimes I just lose the perspective. Thanks for that! :)
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Offline stephtronic

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Re: New relationship and anxiety triggered by family's expectations
« Reply #3 on: December 28, 2013, 03:53:52 AM »
I agree completely with what was said above. Your mother is not living your life. You are. You have to do what makes YOU happy. Not everyone else. I made the decision to move in with my fiance against my parents' wishes because it made me happy. They told me again and again the relationship would fail. Now? We've lived together happily for two years and are getting married, and my parents are happy for me and accept it. Even if they were still unhappy, I would still do it. It makes me happy, and its my life. I wasted too much time and opportunities for happiness by catering to what others wanted. I finally realized that I had to make my feelings the priority. You have to realize this too.
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Offline jadd

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Re: New relationship and anxiety triggered by family's expectations
« Reply #4 on: December 30, 2013, 03:24:08 AM »
Thank you stephtronic, I'm feeling a lot better, hopeful and confident. Also, congrats on your upcoming wedding! :)
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