In this counseling answer:
• Seek a therapist.
• Sit down with your mom and discuss what is on your mind. Discuss the things that you admire and love her. Even if there are not many happy memories sister, I would try to write down as many as possible that you remember.
As Salaam Alaykum sister,
Thank you for writing to us with your most important concerns. You sound like a very intelligent as well as insightful young lady. I am sorry to hear about the difficulties you had and are having with your mom.
Emotional/Mental Abuse and Mental Health Outcomes
You described how you had the obsessive-compulsive disorder at the age of 12 and you washed your hands almost 20 times after using the washroom or for wudu. Your mother made fun of you and told everybody you were crazy which made you feel embarrassed. I am sure that it also hurt you. This is most certainly an unnatural response from a mother. I’m so sorry that your mother reacted that way.
Your mom should have been more sympathetic and tried to help you with your OCD. Being 12 years old is hard enough as you’re going through a lot of changes, but when you’re suffering from a disorder such as OCD you become even more self-conscious and aware of yourself. Again, your mother should have comforted you, assisted you in getting help with the OCD and tried to build up your self-esteem instead of tearing it down.
As far as your current mental health status, sister you had also mentioned that there are certain sounds that irritate you, such as when people chew food loudly, or sip tea or snores or when your mom shuffles her feet across the floor. You did state that this is a real problem and that you cannot help it. It could be that this is related to the OCD.
While you said that the OCD had gone away at a certain age, it seems to have been replaced by this misophonia. I will kindly suggest sister that for this you see a therapist. It appears to be interfering with your daily life and causing problems with family members (your mom).
Both OCD and misophonia are anxiety disorders and can be treated. There is no point sister and going through life experiencing these types of discomforts when you don’t have to.
As you are now a grown woman you are still experiencing emotional abuse from your mom. You state that she still taunts you and criticizes you and she never even tastes your cooking which you love to do. She is also rude to your husband, backbites your dad and threatens you /blackmails you into moving back to your home country. This is not healthy for your sister, as you know.
You have come to a place in your heart where the pain is so deep that you are developing a “hate”. This is not an actual hate dear sister, but it is often times normal reaction to intense hurt, disappointment or ongoing mistreatment in which we feel hopeless to resolve.
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Sister, it sounds like your mom is suffering from depression and possibly other mental health issues. She mistreated you as a child and made fun of you. She did not provide loving support as a mom would and instead was either in “competition” with you or sought to tear you down. It is a probability that she does suffer from some forms of mental illness although I cannot diagnose or say for sure.
Your mom’s issues could be rooted from far back concerning her relationship with her mom. Often times mothers treat their daughters how their mothers treated them. In cases wherein the relationship is abusive, they never learned adequate parenting skills. Some daughters grow up and do learn these skills. They often gain insight concerning their relationships with their moms and they heal from the absence of support or from abuse. Not always but sometimes.
In your case, it appears that your mom is constantly depending on you for validation of herself. For instance, you stated she was always in competition with you for looks, clothing, and things like that. This is indicative of someone who does admire you, who does think that you are beautiful and seeks your approval.
However, as you are her daughter, it goes beyond jealousy and low self-esteem. It also is indicative of a lack of identity as a mother. Despite all this, sister, while her behaviors may indicate otherwise I am sure your mom is very proud of you and loves you very much.
While the contradiction in her behaviors may be confusing, you have to understand that she is not coming from a place that is healthy. While you talked a lot about your mom, you really didn’t speak much about your father.
I am wondering what kind of relationship that your mom and dad have. Is your dad kind to your mom are they close; do they do things together? From what you’ve written it seems as if your mom has always wanted to do things with you as if you were the only person she had.
While reading your question, I was wondering why your dad wasn’t doing these things with her. It appears that your mom has been very lonely for a long time. Sadly, she has taken out her sadness and frustrations on you, even as a child.
Alhamdulillah, you found a very nice husband. Through all of the hurt and the pain that you had discussed in your question when I read that I smiled. Your husband loves you very much and he treats you good. It seems that you were both are striving to get closer to Allah and create a wonderful little family. May Allah swt bless you both in your efforts and provide ease regarding your mom.
I would kindly suggest that insha’Allah, you sit down with your mom and discuss what is on your mind. Discuss the things that you admire and love her. Even if there are not many happy memories sister, I would try to write down as many as possible that you remember.
Talk to her about the fun times you and she had shared, special things she may have taught you and good times between the two of you. I would also ask you to write down a list of the things that are currently not acceptable such as her being rude to your husband, her backbiting, etc.
You could discuss these with her in the context of her making changes so that the family unit more close and happy insha’Allah. You may also want to mention that you’re worried about her being depressed and that you understand and want to help. Insha’Allah, she will respond positively.
Sister, you will be having your baby soon. It is important that you try to resolve the situation now as your mom is staying in your home.
Additionally, as you and your husband are very close and love each other, it is critical that you do not let your mother get in between you and your husband. Your husband is very respectful of your mom, but I am sure her treatment of him hurts him very much. It should not be allowed to go on. This is an additional point that I would discuss with your mom. You may wish to bring hadiths and Quranic proofs as to how family members are to treat one another.
AboutIslam states “in a hadith narrated by Abud Darda’, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
“Shall I not inform you of something more excellent in degree than fasting, prayer and almsgiving (sadaqah)? The people replied: Yes, Prophet of Allah! He said: It is putting things right between people, spoiling them is the shaver (destructive).” [Sunan Abi Dawud]
In this hadith, sister, we can see the importance of trying to resolve any conflict among people, especially our families.
Another hadith that is especially important for your situation states that,
“Iblis places his throne upon water; he then sends detachments (for creating dissension); the nearer to him in rank are those who are most notorious in creating dissension. One of them comes and says: “I did so and so.” And he says: “You have done nothing.” Then one amongst them comes and says: “I did not spare so and so until I sowed the seed of discord between a husband and a wife.” The Satan goes near him and says: “You have done well.” A’mash said: He then embraces him.” [Sahih Muslim]
Sister, it could be perhaps that your mom is jealous. She may feel that she does not have someone who loves her. Again, I don’t know the relationship between your mom and your dad. However, whatever the case, your mom needs to understand that you love her but you are married and you also love your husband very much. Insha’Allah she will be mindful of the seriousness of these two hadiths.
Options for Mom
As your mom is in another country (with you), everything is strange to her. It may be that when she came to stay with you her depression increased because of the change and the stress associated with the move. You have to remember she’s not about anything that is familiar to her anymore.
While you are trying to teach her new things such as how to use the electric stove properly, she may feel incompetent and she may feel as if she is not as smart as you.
I asked you to please be patient with her regarding these issues because it is all new to her. Despite your feelings of being hurt and angry over her behavior and the way she’s treated you all of your life, she still needs assistance learning new things.
Sister, I will kindly suggest that insha’Allah, if your mother is going to be with you for a while, you and her go for counseling. Insha’Allah tries to find an Islamic Center that offers to counsel. If there are no centers around you, please do seek out a qualified family therapist to work with you and your mom to work through some of your issues. You may talk to her about this at the time that you talk to her about some of your concerns as well as pointing out some of the joys you’ve shared with her.
By discussing both topics together, you are illustrating that you really care about her and you care about the relationship. Insha’Allah she will be agreeable to this. This would be an optimal situation because when you go for family therapy the therapist can kind of feel out your mom and see if there are any issues with her that need to be addressed privately with a separate therapist. This may be a gateway to get your mom help.
She definitely is not happy. You are not happy. At some point soon this all has to be resolved. You are bringing a precious new baby into the world and insha’Allah, you want the household to be filled with warmth, Joy, and good relations.
Lastly, I will kindly suggest that you speak to your siblings. They are quite capable of helping out with your mom. In fact, it is incumbent upon them to help your mom. Responsibility does not just lie with you. Insha’allah your mom will agree to go to family counseling and you can work things out as a family. If not and she refuses to cooperate, you can send her back home as she is probably more familiar and comfortable there anyhow and your siblings can take care of her.
This does not mean that you don’t love her. This is not mean that you’re not taking care of her. In fact, if she is truly that unhappy and miserable in your home – in another country, you’re actually helping her by sending her back home to where she is comfortable and familiar. From that point, you and your husband may be able to help her better. There will not be the tension, stress, anger, and hurt of the everyday drama.
You could always check up on her, provide financial support as you are able and as is needed. You can send her small gifts. You can Skype with her on the computer and still maintain a relationship. Perhaps if it is not possible in the same household if she refuses to help change things, then from a distance insha’Allah you’ll be able to build a more healthy relationship with her.
Please do insha’Allah get counseling for your ongoing anxiety/mental health issues as well as for coping with possible depression due to the strained relationship with your mom. Try to talk to your mom to resolve the issues that are currently going on now in the home. Utilize your options for resolution is she fails to respond. Do try to go to the Masjid for spiritual nourishment as often as possible, as well as keep close to Allah through prayer and dkhir. Allah is most merciful and does love you, sister.
We wish you the best sister. You are in our prayers.
Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.