updates: boss wants to talk about her feelings all the time, mother is a destructive force in my professional life, and more

Continuing our annual December “where are they now” series, here are four more updates from people who had their questions answered here this year.

1. My boss wants to talk about her feelings all the time

Thank you so much for printing my letter. I must say, the first thing it did was give me some solace that I wasn’t the one losing my mind. Myself and another coworker who was in the same boat read through the comments and breathed a deep, deep sigh of relief. In situations like that one, you can have all the rational perspective about what is happening around you and still start to wonder if it’s your fault or if the situation really isn’t as bad as it seemed.

I’m happy to report that conditions improved.

I went to my manager’s boss and laid out what was happening – using also the great advice from your readers to frame it as, “I want to to be as productive as possible and these circumstances are preventing me from doing my best work.”

He was responsive. He couldn’t just reassign her, unfortunately, and stop having her supervise humans. But he made some positive changes – including talking to her about that kind of inappropriate behavior and having another manager step in to work with those of us that were catching the brunt of her freak outs. Creating a workaround is probably not the best solution, but it kept the rank-and-file employees from losing their minds. (It also resulted him having other teammates who were not her direct reports work with her, who in turn had the same horrible experience and affirmed for him that it was she was the problem, not us.)

A lot of readers asked whether her bad leadership was going to result in the project getting dragged out. That isn’t the case. We are wrapping up our work. And other managers have begun to manage the team as we transition.

In fact, I was reassigned to another boss for a temporary project as part of the transition for the next two months. Hooray! I may end up going back and reporting to the horrible manager again. But as we wrap up, I think more people are making the higher ups aware of the problems. And that is leading to some rethinking of management structures.

My big take away – speak up. I lived in fear that saying something was going to make me branded a complainer or a trouble maker. I worried that it would make the situation worse. And even in retrospect that was a real possibility. Had it gotten worse though, it probably would have forced someone else to address it. And instead, it only got better.

2. My mother is a destructive force in my professional life

I wanted to send you an update and let you know that my situation is SO much better now.

I eventually managed to get a job because of my own skills – thankfully NOT through my mother’s constant barrage of “please hire my daughter” tweets/messages. She didn’t carry through with her threat of creating a Twitter account in my name, and stopped the Facebook messages/tweets as soon as I got my new job.

Since the letter was published, I’ve gone through a couple of jobs, and I’ve actually just landed my dream job working in social media. (Oh the irony.) I’m much happier now, and in a much better place both emotionally and mentally than I was in last year.

Two quick things I just wanted to clarify;

1), Your readers seemed a bit confused/torn about where I’m from, because of the words I used in my letter. I’m from Scotland :)

2) Both you and a lot of readers were wondering if my mother is controlling in other aspects of my life. You are all 100% correct; growing up, she was VERY overprotective, and is still slightly controlling. She financially controls me – I have very limited access to my bank account. She takes an insane amount of rent money out of my bank account every month, and I have no way of stopping her. She goes crazy when I don’t answer my phone and blows up my texts/Facebook wall/spams me with texts and FB messages if she can’t get a hold of me. I also have to ask for permission to go out, and she doesn’t like me being out later than 10pm, even on weekends. She demanded I give her my work schedule, and now knows when I’m working and when I’m off. I’d understand this if I was 16, but I’m almost 23. (For personal reasons, moving out is impossible for the time being.)

There’s so many other things that I deal with, but I’d practically end up writing a novel about it.

The important thing is that I use my job to block out everything I deal with at home. I finally have a job that I love, a steady group of friends that I made through work, and for the first time in my life, I can honestly say that I’m very content with my life.

Thank you so much for the all the advice you and your readers both gave me. It really helped, and I really appreciate every single person who took the time to read my letter and write out a reply. You and your readers are the best!

3. I think my employee’s emotional outbursts might be hormone-related (this was the letter from a manager who’d noticed that a staff member had emotional outbursts every four weeks)

Thank you so much for posting / answering my questions about our dealing with an employee’s emotional outbursts. The impact from the post and responses was immediate and I wanted to provide you with an update. In thinking about the situation before I submitted my questions, I believed that I had given the situation enough consideration and that I had been as objective as possible; however, upon reading my submission as a public post with the responses (both yours and fellow readers) I felt completely (and appropriately) mortified.

Prior to reading it as a public post, I believed that my observations and logical approach combined with my genuine intention to be helpful and supportive to the employee justified my thinking and questions. However, reading the public post and responses gave me an immediate reality check and clarity (and a lot of horrified cringing!).

Reading the responses, I realized that this whole time I’d had a nagging inner voice asking how I would handle it / handle it differently if I were a male boss in this same situation. I think I was giving myself more license to “support” her (without her knowledge) because I am empathetic about the situation (assuming it is true) as a woman and because we have a small team in a casual environment.

Thanks to both you, Alison, and your readers for providing me with guidance and a big dose of perspective! I want to be a true leader and a great boss, and your website is an amazing resource for this journey.

4. Etiquette for the office gym — changing, showering, attire, and other terrifying questions (this was an “ask the readers” question)

Turns out my fears were unfounded and the advice given by readers was great! I go to the gym early in the morning and there are very few students or staff who work out that early. I do take extra thought in wearing more conservative work out attire and I don’t talk about work with staff who I might see exercising since we’re all off the clock. Just a quick hello in passing. It might feel more uncomfortable if the students I advise used the gym but so far I haven’t seen any when I’m working out. Showering and getting ready in the women’s locker room was strange at first, but now it just feels like any other gym–all of the staff who use the gym are professional about it and it isn’t a big deal to see people changing. There is talk lately about updating the men’s locker room so there are individual showers (the women’s locker room already has individual showers). My comfort level would be much lower if I had to shower in front of others.

Thanks to the readers for their advice! I’m glad to be able to use the gym and I’m saving a ton of money by not having to purchase a gym membership.

{ 220 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    Hey all. The advice for letter-writer #2 is getting very repetitive. If you don’t have anything new to add to what other commenters have already said, I’m sure the other updaters would appreciate attention to them as well :)

    (My fault for not realizing #2 would draw all the attention.)

    1. BioPharma*

      I’ve often wondered if/how/when you decide to post a question in a group vs on its own. My guess is that you predict which ones will incite a lot of discussion (or maybe it’s the length of the story/question). I also wondered if being a stand-alone generates more discussion in some sort of psychological way. Lastly, I sometimes wonder why not separate out all questions so that comments would be better separated/organized. Love the site!

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I love inside baseball questions like this!

        For the standalone questions, I’m looking for questions that I think are nuanced or interesting enough to require a longer answer, but also interesting enough that I think it can support a post all on its own. (That is not to say the others aren’t interesting too because I find them all interesting.)

        With the posts where I group a bunch of questions, I try to get something of a balance. I don’t want them all to be super straightforward; I want there to be at least one or two that are trickier or more nuanced, so that there’s some variety when people are reading.

        I do the groupings rather than posting them all individually for a few reasons: First, some of the really short/simple questions aren’t really enough to justify a whole post, and so those would end up never getting answers. Second, I worry about cluttering the site with an overwhelming number of posts. (Right now I usually answer seven questions a day in three posts — the morning post with five short answer posts and two standalone questions. So splitting them all out would mean seven separate posts a day.)

        1. New Bee*

          I’m late, but I would love another “inside baseball” post! I have questions like, have you ever been recognized by a reader on the street, has a letter ever been submitted by someone you work or consulted with, how often do you know the company the reader describes (from their email address or the context) and does it impact your answer? All of the questions!

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Never been recognized, although I did once see someone reading AAM on a plane.

            And no to the other questions (as far as I can recall).

            It may be time for me to do another “ask me anything” post!

  2. ZSD*

    #2, I’m glad you’ve found a job you love! Are you able to start your own checking account in just your name and make sure that your paychecks are direct-deposited into that account from now on? I understand that you can’t move out, but you can at least take control of your own money. (I hope…)

    1. Collie*

      +1 — I was really concerned when I heard this. My mom had access to my first bank account, but I later opened one on my own. I don’t have the same issues as #2 with my mom, and I kept that old bank account just because the service was so wonderful there (and I keep money aside in it for emergencies), but I opened a new one, as well. Maybe you can do an electronic transfer of funds from your new bank account to your old one so your mother can continue withdrawing rent, if that’s how she insists on doing it, while maintaining control over the remainder of your funds?

      1. Artemesia*

        If you can’t move out, I would do this. Open an account and direct deposit to it and then transfer the rent to the old account. Nothing prevents you from making any of the moves you need to make to become an independent person, more than this financial control. If you displease her, she can steal your money.

        Since she is taking a large amount of rent, I hope you can focus on how to move out — you won’t be a free and independent person until you can do that. I understand there are reasons you haven’t done that — consider some therapy where you might creatively think about ways to deal with those issues in ways that don’t make you an adult prisoner of a helicopter mother. You deserve a life.

        1. Jessesgirl72*

          Yes, exactly what I was thinking. She needs her own account with access to her own money. Her mother can take the rest from the other account.

    2. VGN*

      At some places you can divide your direct deposit between bank accounts. Maybe you could have enough deposited into the account your mom sees that she wouldn’t notice, but still save up for moving out in a second account.

          1. Terrene*

            I am a mother of three grown children, I am very disturbed of the control your mother is doing to you, anyway you look at it, it is wrong!
            I strongly agree, and suggest the multiple advice you gotten here, you need to change your bank account immediately, and if you’re already paying rent to your mother, you should be able to do it on your own. Instead of letting her take the rent out as soon as your new account starts, use that money and maybe find a room to rent, and you can either block her on your social media completely and she cannot find you, or you can start a new one and block her before she even knows!!
            Your mother sounds like my sister, she has two daughters and I have seen the distraction she has done to her girls and it sickens me, they both made a decision to move 10 hours away from her and they’re both with me, they are now grown women, very happy with their own lives !! They were able to set new boundaries, and invite her when “they” want too !! As a mother my heart aches for you, it is not fair. It sounds like your mother is narcissistic !!!!!
            Please find a counselor that can help your little heart, change the bank account, block her on your social media, and find a place to live! It may not be the perfect dream at first. But I know you can do this on your own.
            ” if there’s a will-there is away”
            Best of luck to you and may God bless you

        1. BPT*

          But if she opened a new account, her mom would have no reason to be on there (i.e. OP would have to consent to add her mom, which she definitely shouldn’t do). OP#2, I would REALLY suggest you open a new account and start depositing your money there. I know people suggested this last time, but it’s still very true. You will never be able to move out if you don’t start keeping your own money. Your mother will obviously take enough money for you to always be dependent on living with her.

      1. Elizabeth*

        A lot of parents open accounts for their kids when they’re young, which I’d put money on being the case here. My parents did the same for me and stayed on my account for ages, which in our case was more of a laziness thing since my mom wasn’t touching the money at all. (Though I think it also worked so that she could only deposit money into the account, not take money out, which was also helpful during university!)

        1. TootsNYC*

          That’s what has happened w/ my kids.

          Plus, their low-balance checking accounts are free–no service fees–because they’re linked to my higher-balance savings.

          1. anonynon*

            One word of caution on this: it’s ideal to not have people on your accounts who don’t need to be, even if there’s no ill intent. My coworker still used the checking account her mom was on, which wasn’t an issue since her mom never touched the account. Recently, her mom’s wallet was stolen, and the thief used her ID to access the account and take money. It’s been a huge nightmare for my coworker (especially since her mom lives in another state, so they’ve had to get multiple police departments involved). Not something I would have considered before! Also I imagine if you were on your child’s account and were sued or something, those assets would potentially be up for grabs.

            1. Natalie*

              It can also become an issue if one account holder loses a judgment, files bankruptcy, etc – they own some portion of that money, so it is an asset that will be taken into account.

                1. Not So NewReader*

                  Unpaid taxes. Not saying your mom would skip town, OP. I have seen instances such as prolonged illness and the taxes got forgotten. Then the second party was on the hook for the taxes.

                2. JayemGriffin*

                  This. My mom opened a bank account for me when I was very young, and passed control over to me when I turned 18. It never occurred to us to take her name off the account… until she died. The account wasn’t frozen, but sorting everything out was a bureaucratic nightmare at a time when I really didn’t need it.

          2. TL -*

            Yup. I still have a bank account that my mom is on (it’s not my main account and has the minimum balance in it) and it’s connected to a credit card I only use for auto-charging things.

            Eventually, I will get around to closing it, but I’m in a state where they have no branches, and I’m not sure about my credit card (if I’d have to close it and open a new one). I’m also grandfathered in to a lot of benefits on that account that I would lose if I reopened an account at the same bank.

            Basically, I’m lazy :) but it’s not a large enough amount of money to significantly affect Mom’s life by any means and she doesn’t have access to the accounts that get deposited into. (And Mom’ll never touch the money, anyways.)

        2. MashaKasha*

          Right. I was required to be on my kids’ accounts too. And I sometimes transferred money into their accounts, too (that was before venmo). Then when one of them moved out, I took myself off his account. The other opened a new account of his own. That it would even occur to a mother to systematically siphon money out of her child’s account, blows my mind. This is not a healthy situation and I think OP needs to at least start planning her exit. This is not normal.

      1. MillersSpring*

        I’m hoping that one of the OP’s new friends could become a roommate. I’m so sad that the OP cannot move out at this time. My fingers are crossed that it can change soon.

    3. Rando*

      Another vote for getting your own account. Get a new account, keep all your money in it, keep the debit card away from her (at work if you need to!), get paperless statements only. Never give her any details about the account – not even the bank it is in!

    4. TootsNYC*

      And feel free to lie to your mom. Tell her they cut your pay, and then transfer a much smaller amount from your private bank account into the account your mom has access to.

      You *can* also close that account completely, and say to your mom, “It’s time for me to take charge of all my money things so I get the practice–what’s a rent that would be fair?” and then write her a check every week. Of course, how she’ll handle that might be more than you want to deal with.

      I’m sorry your mom is such a pill!

      My kids both have accounts linked with mine, which gets them totally free checking, etc., and saves them money. It also makes it super easy for me to transfer money *into* their account. (And, if they were paying rent, it would make it easy for them to set up an autopay.)

      1. Undine*

        +1000 Because your mom is so controlling, it is unlikely that she will kick you out just because you can only afford less rent. She may rant and scream and threaten to call work about it, so if you are really worried, you can give your boss/HR a heads up, even before you create your new account. I had a friend who had to do some damage control at work over domestic control, and they were very understanding.

      2. LQ*

        I have to strongly support the lie to mom point.

        Often it is so drilled into us (by our moms sometimes…) that we should never lie that we sometimes neglect to do so when it is for our own health. This lie is for your own health. If that is about where you are going or why you are out (going to the library when you are really going to open a bank account) etc. That is protecting yourself. If you can’t handle the truth, or if your mom refuses the truth, then lie. Protect yourself.

    5. Erin*

      Thank you for posting this advice ZSD.

      Only child with overbearing mom here. My mother read my diary for years, grounded me until I was 19, and has otherwise been overly involved, although these things have gotten significantly better with time. She does still do things like message me on multiple platforms like yours does if she can’t get a hold of me now, and things of that nature. (I’m 31.)

      But never did she have control/access to my bank accounts like that. This is fairly horrifying and has way worse implications than her bugging you with Facebook messages. I understand you can’t move out, which is fine. I understand it’s probably very difficult to deny her access out of your current bank account, so, okay.

      But please start a new checking account, and preferably also a savings account and start squirreling away money on your own. You may never need it. She may have completely good intentions with your money and nothing will ever go significantly wrong with this set up. But dear God, if it does, you will be so glad you have your own safety net tucked away.

      1. MashaKasha*

        Same here. Mine is just beginning to slow down, and I’ll be fifty next year! As for the diaries, it is one of my biggest regrets that I destroyed all of the diaries I’d kept in school and college, over a 15-year period, after my mom told me that she’d read them all regularly. I was 30 at the time and a parent myself. She then had the gall to complain that my diaries were boring. (?????) I wish I had them with me now so I could re-read them and maybe show parts of them to my own children, but after her confession I just snapped and destroyed them all so she wouldn’t be able to read them again.

        BUT she never took any of my money. She could do the opposite, ie help around the house or financially without being asked or when I asked her not to. But she would never ever help herself to any of my possessions. This is not being controlling, it’s… I don’t know… stealing from your own child? Unbelievable.

      2. Temperance*

        Yep. I have a crazy, overbearing mother, and she regularly looted my bank account and then would lie to me about it and insist that the bank had given someone else my money (?). I asked them to close it, and they refused without her permission. Of course she wouldn’t GIVE her permission, she was stealing!

    6. Caroline*

      Nthing the “open your own account” vote here.

      OP, you are 23 years old. If your mom is insisting on having access to (and removing money however she see fits from) your account without your consent (or with your coerced consent), that is financial abuse. It’s totally reasonable for her to ask you to contribute financially to the household if you are a working adult living there, but it is not reasonable for her to help herself to the pot.

      I know that you said there are personal reasons keeping you from moving out, but your situation is alarming, and it might be time to take a look at trying to resolve those personal reasons so that you can move forward with your life that is not living under your mother’s control. This is really important for your future well-being, both emotionally and financially. I know too many young people with abusive parents like this who ended up taking on undue financial responsibilities for their families, which ended up preventing their own financial stability. Are you in counseling to try to resolve these issues? Abusive parents like this have a way of gaslighting their children into thinking that they (the children) are not capable of or allowed to separating themselves and being independent, and trying to get yourself out of that cycle can be really emotionally fraught. I know, I’ve been there. Please, please take some of these steps for yourself while you are still young. I can tell you from my own personal experience that abusive parents like these do not reach a point when they say “OK, my child is now a grown up and can make decisions on her own, and I will be respectful of that.” There is no magic number of age that you will reach, if you haven’t already reached it at 23, that this dynamic will change unless you yourself fight for the change.

      1. Miss Displaced*

        This is a very good point. Helicopter parent all aside, the taking the money and controlling the finances is quite alarming, and doubly makes it even harder for the OP to leave and begin a life of her own.
        Please setup your own account and have direct deposit of your paycheck to it. You can direct deposit to more than one account usually, so if you want to, you can still deposit $x into the one your mom has access to to cover your room & board.

    7. Tim Tam Girl*

      OP2, I understand that you said that moving out isn’t an option now, and I 100% trust your judgement on that. I will echo other commenters’ urgings to do so as soon as you can, though.

      And while moving out may seem financially daunting, you said that your mother is deducting ‘insane’ rent from you now. If you can stop her accessing your bank account (which you absolutely can, by opening a new account – ideally at a different bank entirely – and direct-depositing your pay to the new account), you would then have a good amount of money that you could put toward other accommodation. Initially you could look for short-term rentals (sublets, etc.) so that you wouldn’t have to pay bond etc. up front – this would get you out of your mother’s house faster – and then you could save up for something longer-term.

      I say all this not only so you can start an escape plan, but also so that you can have an emergency back-up plan in case your mother threatens to kick you out. Again, I am not challenging that you have personal reasons that make staying with her the safer option for you right now: you are the best judge of yourself and your life. But it would not surprise me if she tried to use the threat of kicking you out as leverage, and real talk: as long as you get your pay going to a new bank account *first*, you will be able to manage living on your own. Even if you need to look for a shelter or hotel for the first few nights, you will be able to manage. Hers is NOT the only house you can survive in.

      Also, while getting your personal documents would be ideal, you can also get these reissued. It’s not always easy, but… people lose things, or have them stolen, or get them burnt up in a fire. There are systems in place to help restore those things. The critical piece is to notify the agencies (government office, bank, etc.) as soon as possible so that the originals can be cancelled, so that she can’t use them herself for any reason. If you explain that you were in an unsafe situation at home and had to leave urgently (that should be all the detail you need to give), they will work with you.

      Good luck, OP2. I hope we’ll hear more good news from you soon.

      1. Tim Tam Girl*

        The OP stated in her letter that she ‘had no way of stopping’ her mother from withdrawing money from the account, and also said in her original letter/replies that she was unsure of how to go about addressing her bank account security issues. I believe it is those comments to which people are responding with advice of ways to get around her mother’s access to her current account.

        I can say for myself, and I am confident that this is the case for AAM commenters generally, that it was in *no* way my intention to suggest that the OP wouldn’t have realized that her ability to stay at her mother’s house is directly contingent on her mother’s continued access to the OP’s account, or in any way imply that the OP isn’t capable of assessing or handling her situation. The OP is the expert on her own life, full stop, and if my wording left that in doubt in any way, I am very sorry and fully apologize. The logistical advice was intended to provide options and resources for making that change if/when the OP feels it is reasonable and safe to do so.

        And just to be 100% clear: OP2, we think you are awesome. You are resourceful and capable, and have accomplished so much just in the year between letters! Please continue to check in, and know that you have people who care and who want you to achieve all the goals on your List of Awesome Things.

    8. Norman*

      It seems reasonble to conclude that Mom’s position is access to OP2’s bank account is a condition of her continuing to live at home. OP seems more than intelligent enough to understand that she could theoretically open her own bank account.

      1. Cristina in England*

        Yes, this. Surely OP has thought of this before. OP is an abused person and she is protecting herself as best she can.

  3. FD*

    #2- While I can’t provide advice here, several other readers have dealt with getting out of very controlling situations. They might be able to provide you with some practical advice for gaining your financial freedom.

    Internet hugs, this is so unfair and unreasonable of your mom.

  4. Violetta*

    #2 This is crazy. Your mother’s control over you is completely abnormal, if not abusive. Why does she have access to your bank account? Please ask your bank to take her off the account. Use the money you save tp move out.

    1. Temperance*

      Not LW2, but speaking as someone with a very controlling mother: when you’re raised a certain way, you think it’s normal. Her mother has blocked outside viewpoints. Her mother has been gaslighting LW for her entire life.

      1. StrikingFalcon*

        Yes this. OP #2, if you’re not familiar with the blog Captain Awkward, you may find it a very good resource for recalibrating your sense of normal and developing strategies for dealing with this kind of controlling environment. I’m sorry you’re dealing with this.

        1. Librarianna*

          Seconding this! Captain Awkward talks about something called the F-U account. Its basically an account where you have enough money that you can leave a bad situation. It sounds like OP#2 needs one.

    2. CU*

      I agree, this is abusive. I’m not sure about the laws in Scotland, but in the US if you let the bank know that you’re being financially abused, and they’re required to investigate. It’s worth mentioning it to a banker to see if they can help.

    3. paul*

      Yeah, there’s enough red flags there to make me think she needs to GTFO, ASAP, even if it means room-mates in a crappy flat somewhere.

    4. Chwie*

      Also, a lot of banks require both parties to be at the bank to take one person off the account. It is much easier for the OP to open a new account, transfer the money, and simply stop using the old account, especially if her mother is not interested in being removed from the original account.

      1. Been there, done that*

        She would still need to be careful though. My ex-husband ran all our joint accounts into overdraft after I left him and the bank had me on the hook since both of our names were on the accounts. It took a court order for the bank to remove him from the accounts (so I could close them) and give me back the money they took from the new account I opened to cover the overdrafts.

        1. Engineer Girl*

          My sister did this. My Dad had me on his account. My sister demanded that she be on it too. She of course started to drain it. When Dad died my sister ran it up into overdraft protection (and showed up with a new phone). The bank wouldn’t let me close the account unless I paid up. I refused on principle. In retrospect I wish I had done it.
          What I did do: I took my name off the account and kept the paperwork for it. Later on my sister again went into overdraft. The bank came after me, claiming I “co-signed” on the account. I noted to them that the debt was incurred AFTER I signed off on it. I still had to deal with some debt collectors.
          So OP, get a new account and then sign off on the old one. Make sure that you have a statement from the bank that you are no longer responsible for debts incurred AFTER you sign off.

    5. Jadelyn*

      It is abusive, but please also try to understand that a person who is in an abusive situation is kind of operating all the time in damage control mode. There’s a very delicate balance that you’re trying to maintain so you don’t piss off your abuser, because then they’ll make your life even worse. If the OP just goes to the bank and says “Get her off my account”, Mom will throw a fit, complete with abusive language and threats to ruin OP’s life (for example, by kicking her out). Sometimes even making the request – “Mom, I really think it’s time for me to have independent control of my own finances; I’ll start paying rent by check each month just as anyone else would, but it’s time for me to have my own bank account without it being in your name too.” – is enough to trigger the abuser into starting something, because they see even the fact that you’re *thinking* about independence from them as a threat to their authority and control over you.

      I think a lot of these are good suggestions for the OP – especially stuff like “get your own account without telling Mom and start siphoning off money into the private account” which is a lot more subtle and less likely to start a major incident than “take Mom off your account” would be – but I also want to caution people that what seem like normal and reasonable suggestions to you may not be at all possible for the OP’s situation, and the OP is the only one who can make that call because they’re the one who knows Mom and what Mom’s capable of better than anyone else.

      1. Marche*

        This is exactly right. Escaping from a situation like this can be difficult, because even a whiff of freedom can set an abuser off. Down below someone suggests reducing the amount deposited into OP’s current account, and claiming that her pay is being cut at work – that’s a really good strategy. Lying can be hard, but in cases like this, it can be very necessary.

      2. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

        Thank you, this is exactly right, and what I was trying to say but couldn’t get the right words.

      3. Temperance*

        Yep. When I graduated college, my parents had the expectation that they would be bringing me “home” after graduation – as in, literally, I would leave town and move back in with them that very day, and stay there until I married the man of their choosing, basically. I would have been sharing a bedroom with my 6- and 17-year-old sisters, and have to get approval to go out with friends while also paying them rent and maintaining the house. Mandatory evangelical church was also part of the deal.

        I declined to do so, and told them, in the weeks leading up to graduation, that I would not be moving back in or leaving town that day. My parents and grandparents responded by calling me a dozen times each day, demanding that I give in. My parents couldn’t get me to agree, and instead I told them not to come to my graduation, so they thought I would give in to my grandfather. (Nope.) They couldn’t stand not having that control over my life. At college, I had friends they didn’t know! It was a repeat pattern, BTW: they’d demand my finals schedule and pick me up right after my last exam, because that way, I wasn’t able to spend time with boys or my friends.

        I was in a slightly better situation because I was and had always been financially independent. I was paying my rent, bills, and tuition, and knew that they just wanted domestic labor and control over my life, and that I couldn’t ever be a decent person or happy under their thumb. So … I bowed out. It wasn’t easy, though, and I definitely gave in more than I should have.

      4. seejay*

        Yep, this. My mother wasn’t totally controlling and abusive but she was extremely high maintenance in a lot of ways. As a result, my sister and I learned what fights to pick because you just didn’t know which ones would send her off on a tangent and would drain you mentally and emotionally and weren’t worth all the energy to handle. If you triggered a fight, you didn’t know if it was going to lead to a screaming match, silence for two weeks, a constant barrage of orders about what you needed to do to make your life better according to her ™ or what.

        When you’re further away from the situation (moved out, living far away, etc) you can put up better barriers, but until then (and sometimes regardless of the distance), you really have to figure out what’s worth fighting and what’s worth going along with. It’s not a matter of putting up with the abuse, it’s just knowing how much you can handle so you can fight/survive longer.

  5. Hear you*

    For #2 – What is keeping you from getting a new bank account? While it may be hard you need to sit down with your mother and discuss finances and expectations.

    1. Undine*

      There is no way you can discuss something with a mother like this. She will not hear and it can be very traumatic to try.

      1. Misc*

        Yeah. My parents are normally fine, but my dad gets very, very controlling especially when money is involved (it’s an easy way to track control). If he decides a thing should be a certain way (e.g. how much rent I ‘owed’, how I should pay back loans – this has been a recurring pattern), then that’s it, and any questioning or attempts to renegotiate are me trying to Take Advantage.

        (For example, I can’t currently afford our informal loan repayments – used to be fine, they don’t want me to be struggling etc! – which has turned into ‘I am trying to sneakily save half my income and deny them money’ in his head, so even trying to discuss it starts an instant fight. He KNOWS how much I earn a year, it’s just not translating in his head because he ‘feels’ a certain amount is fair, and he can afford this stuff, and he is fair, and therefore me changing it is me cheating him because how could it not be fair if he decided this amount was fine? He’s been demanding evidence that I’m not saving lately – i.e. he wants access to my bank accounts – and me refusing that is Proof I Am Cheating Him.

        He used to overcharge me on rent, and I wasn’t allowed to call it rent, it was ‘contribution to living costs’, except it was WAY higher than bills alone would have been, it was basically just rent. I definitely wasn’t given the option of negotiating at the time, it was ‘we think you should pay, this is the amount you cost us’ which I know now is bollocks (to be fair, he may have had no idea how much I cost them as they didn’t exactly track individuals amongst the entire family and was going on ‘this feels right’ which has been a consistent issue as well. Me doing research is Questioning His Authority).

        It’s not just me – he had a shared bank account with my younger brother (set up that way – by comparison, my mother set me up with a savings account that was entirely mine years before), never did anything bad with it, he just wanted the option of control.

        When I was younger and didn’t have a mortgage I used to save a LOT (to head off my impulsive spending) and this bugged him too; I was ‘hoarding’ and refusing to share/give my siblings money on demand. he had no reason to ask for it, and never did, but he really didn’t like that I had money that I wouldn’t share (except when he was proud of me for being smart/proactive…. I never know which it will be).

        The only way to easily deal with this sort of thing is to avoid the issue entirely – don’t owe money, don’t be in a position where you ‘should’ pay them anything – and make sure that you have boundaries in place to prevent them just taking it. This sort of person can’t Be Wrong, so they can always justify being unfair because if they want it, it must be right. And you can’t talk that kind of thing out.

  6. fposte*

    A good collection–yay!

    On #2–OP, I’d start a second bank account at an entirely different bank; handle it all online. Start putting some of your money in that account instead of the joint bank account, especially if you get a raise or a bonus, which can all go elsewhere without raising suspicion. Otherwise I fear your mother is going to make sure you never have enough money in your joint account to move out.

    1. Marche*


      Save your money in that second account and move out when it’s possible, OP. This sort of controlling behaviour is really not okay. It’s not okay at 16 and definitely horrible at 22.

    2. BRR*

      “Otherwise I fear your mother is going to make sure you never have enough money in your joint account to move out.” I’m concerned about that as well (on top of a lot of things). I hope the LW is in a position soon to establish boundaries with her mother.

    3. AnotherAlison*

      I am guessing the “raising suspicion” part of your comment is why the OP hasn’t been able to open a covert second account yet. I wouldn’t be surprised if this mother insisted on seeing pay stubs, and wants explanations for her own spending of her own money. The mother can hold this over her head and threaten to throw her out if she doesn’t obey the rules. I hate that the OP is stuck in this situation.

      1. fposte*

        Or it hasn’t occurred to her, which I hear with surprising frequency. (Somebody in the UK will have to clarify if paper pay information is really a thing there.)

        Regardless, money is the engine of possibility, so I would prioritize opening a new account even if I had to sell something to do it.

        1. Cece*

          Yes, paper pay information is really a thing in the UK. Depending on the employer, pay stubs will be posted to you, or handed out in the office. Other places I’ve worked have outsourced payroll, and the pay stub is available through an online management system.

          1. JustAnotherNonProfitManager*

            Argh – reply below should have nested here. Everywhere I’ve worked in the last few years (granted mostly largeish orgs) has transitioned to online statements recently thanks to live reporting as it makes life easier for them

            1. Cece*

              Earlier this year I was juggling three p/t posts – each month, one gave me a paper slip at my desk, one posted it out to my flat, and the third had the pleasantly modern online system.

      2. JustAnotherNonProfitManager*

        UK based (ex HR) – you have to receive a pay slip however the vast majority of organisations have moved to an online system which emails it to whatever email address you give your organisation because HMRC ( IRS equivalent, stands for Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs) now require live information, rather than an annual summary.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              I think the goal here is to set up a tax system where NO ONE is ever correct. The exceptions to the exceptions have exceptions. No one else besides the IRS thinks and writes this way.

    4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Absolutely this. OP #2, I am so happy for your new dream job. The reason folks are reacting so strongly, however, is because your mom’s conduct (and financial control over you) is way way beyond the pale. This is not overprotectiveness—it is about her having control over your life in draining and destructive ways.

      Please do consider opening an account and not telling her about it and having your checks direct deposited to that account, in addition to the steps Sibley laid out below. As others mentioned, this is often called “financial abuse” in the U.S., and it’s designed to leave you feeling disempowered or incapable. It’s also important to know that your mother is not going to voluntarily stop essentially stealing your money (please don’t let her try to justify it by calling it “rent” when the amount removed sounds like it’s way above market).

      Please be careful and take care of yourself, and consider creating an exit strategy. I am worried that your mother will continue misappropriating your money and trying to control your life.

    5. animaniactoo*

      This is exactly what I was going to say – as long as she can take an insane amount of your money out for rent (I’m assuming that you’re talking above standard for the accommodation), you’ll never be able to move out, because the money to do so will already be gone.

      Open a separate account, deposit only the amount she sees is *currently* charging for rent in the one she has access to, and the minute you move out, remove your name from that account. You can’t get them to remove her from it, but you can remove *you* from it, leaving yourself with no shared account with her and only your own separate account that you have setup.

      Think this through – unless there are other factors going on here, the worst she can do is throw you out if you insist on this, right?… at which point you can use your next few paychecks to find a place of your own. You can even rent furnished if you need to for awhile while you build up enough savings to be able to start buying your own furniture. It sounds like furnished will still be less than your mom is “charging” you for rent now.

    6. NotAnotherManager!*

      Nthing this suggestion. You need to start squirreling away for you or you will never have the means to be independent from your mother. If your employer can split your pay to arouse less suspicion, all the better, but there is no reason to have her on your accounts at 23. It a means of controlling you.

      (I went to college when I was 17 and had to have my mom on my account. She made me go close it and open a new one the day I turned 18 so that it wasn’t included amongst her assets in her very contentious divorce from my father, who was such a jerk, he would have absolutely taken my money to spite my mom.)

  7. Dina*

    #2, in the States what your mother is doing is called financial abuse and can be seen as a form of domestic violence/abuse. I don’t know about Scotland’s laws, but you might want to look into that, to at least get her to back off?

  8. child of helicopter parents*

    Congratulations on your job OP #2!

    Re: your mother and her controlling, overbearing behavior…it’s not normal. I know what it’s like, I really do. You need to run. Run far far away. It’s hard, and it’s scary but in the end you will be better for it. It’s your life and your money and your mother has NO right to take it or control you this way. Your mother is awful and you deserve better. Good luck with your future endeavors and congrats again on the job.

  9. Temperance*

    LW2: I’m so happy to hear that you found new employment, but very sad to hear that your mother is a huge battle-axe in other forms of your life.

    I highly recommend getting your own bank account and stashing savings in there. Don’t tell her it exists. I’m sorry that you’re stuck living with her now, but maybe the secret account can help you eventually break away.

    Also, on a practical note, from someone with a controlling mother … what I did was lie, lie, lie about everything in my personal life. I’d pretend to be working and would be on dates or with friends. A friend of mine used to claim he was going to church and would come hang out with us instead. It made my mother angry when she didn’t have information about me, but she never caught me out when I said I was at work (and she regularly checked).

  10. StellaMaris*

    OP #2, I’m so happy to hear about your job and that things on that front have turned out so well!

    I echo all the comments above mine saying that I am very concerned about your financial situation. Perhaps you could have your pay cheque go into a different bank account (should be easy for your work to do that once you give them the details) and then you could transfer money to your mother as necessary instead of her taking what she wants.

    I would also recommend CaptainAwkward (google her) and her amazing advice column if you are looking for scripts or advice around toxic relationships with family members.

    Good luck!

    1. Elizabeth*

      +1 to Captain Awkward. She has SO MUCH stuff on this topic (and related ones) that will be helpful to getting out from under your mother’s control, financial or otherwise.

    2. Adulting*

      OP #2, Another +1 to Captain Awkward! Congrats on the new job. I also want to echo other folks who are suggesting you get an additional account to provide yourself some financial security/autonomy while coming up with a longterm plan to make sure you have control over your own life decisions/financial decisions/etc..

  11. ELEMDoubleU*

    For #1, “I want to to be as productive as possible and these circumstances are preventing me from doing my best work.” Hard for anyone to argue with that and it will fit a multitude of workplace situations.

    1. Artemesia*

      This is absolutely the best way to approach any workplace complaint. I have used the formula in several situations entirely different from the one in this post. when you have a complaint you just seem conscientious rather than whiney when you focus on doing a good job and needing the resources or situation or whatever to do that rather than ‘I don’t like this’ or ‘I want this.’ It really is golden.

  12. Katie the Fed*

    Uh, OP#2 – you need to get the heck out. Please make that a New Year’s resolution. That’s not healthy. You should have control over your own money and whereabouts. I would move out ASAP – hopefully you have enough money available to you to put a deposit down. And time to open a new account – she shouldn’t be able take money from yours. That’s not loving or normal. That’s bizarre and controlling.

    1. 2 Cents*

      I couldn’t decide if OP #2 was being facetious when she said her mother “..is still slightly controlling.” That’s like saying Antarctica in winter is a “bit nippy.”

      OP #2, you are not helping your mom OR yourself if she continues to exert this control over you. The more you give up in autonomy, the more she’s going to take. I’d also google Carolyn Hax, who has great advice columns about creating boundaries (and enforcing them) with loved ones.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        My impression is that OP #2’s mom has been so controlling all her life that she may not realize the magnitude of badness that is her mom’s conduct.

        1. Engineer Girl*

          This. She knows her mother is more controlling that other mothers, but she isn’t aware of the magnitude of it. When she moves out and sees the truth there is going to be a lot of anger there. OP should also look for low cost counseling when she moves out. She’s going to need it.

  13. Theirway11*

    LW2- you should absolutely open a bank account of your own. You’re an adult and you should have control of your own finances. I have my mother on my account, but that’s because I’m a Peace Corps Volunteer in rural Africa and I need someone to be able to deal with issues with the bank should they arise, but she is going back off of it immediately as soon as I get back into a place with regular phone service. Plus, I trust her and she only touches with my explicit permission. There is no need for a parent to have control over an adult child’s finances. This is abusive behavior.

  14. Sibley*

    #2 – OP, glad you’ve got a job you like!

    In addition to the advice about getting a new bank account, some other things to think about:
    –change all electronic passwords, and don’t let your mom know what they are.
    –consider setting privacy controls on Facebook to limit what she can tag you in, post to your wall, etc. Similar with other social media sites
    –formalize with your mom how much rent you should pay. Do some research to find out what the market rate is for a room/apt in your area. That should be your guide. No, she’s not going to like this. But if you’re paying 2x what you should be, you need to know that.
    –get your official documentation from her, in secret if necessary (probably will be from what you said). Birth certificate, id cards, etc. I don’t know what they are in Scotland, but resources for people in abusive relationships will probably help you identify these if you need help. Store them at a friend’s house if you need to or something.
    –Read Captain Awkward’s blog. Seriously, read it. She has done multiple posts about abusive relationships and how to get out, how to set and enforce boundaries with people, etc. Even if you don’t change anything for a little while, having the knowledge will help you when you’re ready.

    I know I’m mentioning abusive relationships, because this is what it is. In a healthy relationship, an adult doesn’t have to ask permission to leave the house. I get that she’s your mother and you love her, but you are capable of standing on your own two feet and taking care of yourself, even if your mother isn’t capable of seeing that. I wish you the best of luck in that journey.

  15. Britta*

    LW #2 I am in the UK. When my marriage went bad I was able to get my ex removed from a joint bank account without his signatures by going into a bank branch and laying out the whole story. They did some ‘computer says no’ and I collapsed in tears, after which they could not have been more helpful or supportive. Go to whoever you bank with and use that technique to get your mother off your bank account today. If for some reason you cannot do this, go into a different bank branch and open a different bank account in your sole name and tell your wonderful employers to pay your salary into that new account. Then go to the first bank and close the account your mother has access to. You are an adult and she has no legal right to do help herself to your money. It’s going to be difficult to stand up to her but you can do it. Good luck.

    1. lionelrichiesclayhead*

      So first of all, good for you for not taking No as the final answer in such a difficult situation. But I mostly came here to give you some internet love for the “computer says no” line. I’m in the US and while there are many anglophiles here, I don’t get to trade that type of humor as often as I’d like.

      1. animaniactoo*

        She can remove herself from it, which she should do so that she’s not legally responsible for anything that her mother does with it after she stops using it.

        1. Mononymous*

          +1 I can totally see OP2’s mother continuing to try to withdraw the huge rent amount each month, racking up a bunch of overdraft fees, and then OP2 being on the hook for those fees if her name is still on the account.

          1. SarahKay*

            This is definitely a risk. In the UK usually everyone named on the account is liable for all debt incurred on an account. Depending on how it is set up, though, I think it’ll only require approval from one of the account holders to close the account – certainly that was the case when I needed to close a joint bank account, which was a pleasant surprise.

    2. TL -*

      Honestly, if you can convince your mom the bank made you take your name off the account, that’d be best. See if you can work something out.

  16. Amtelope*

    LW#2: Please, please, open a new bank account in your name only. Have your paychecks direct deposited to that account. Move “looking for a roommate and saving money to move out” to the top of your list of priorities. What you describe is not being “slightly controlling.” It’s abusive and wrong.

  17. Anonna*

    OP#2, what your mother is doing is WRONG. It’s called financial abuse. It’s a type of domestic abuse (there are types that are not physical). If you are trapped and can’t move out there are social resources and shelters that can help you. You’re mother is gaslighting you. The way she is acting is not even close to normal. No one should treat another this way. If you saw a friend or loved one be treated this way by their significant other or partner you would tell them to leave because they’re partner was being abusive or controlling right? It’s the same concept. Your mother doesn’t have your best interests at heart. It’s your life and you done deserve to have anyone treat you this way.

  18. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

    OP #2 – Congratulations on your new job! That’s wonderful news.

    I completely understand about your situation, as I and other friends had similar relationships with our families. Second the advice to lie about everything. If you’re bad at lying, practice with a friend. Unfortunately, I was honest, and my family’s interference had a very negative impact on my career that I’m still dealing with today. (My siblings lied through their teeth and are all enjoying good careers.)

    What she doesn’t realise is that she’s going to drive you away completely. Her behaviour is abusive and designed to keep you tied to her. But it’s going to have the opposite effect, and she’s going to lose you. I completely understand that you can’t leave now. It’s not easy to walk away. This is only a reminder that you’ve taken the first step towards your freedom. One day, you’ll be completely free and it’ll be amazing.

    (Re: bank account – if you’re over eighteen and have your own account, you can ask the bank to cut off her access to it. However, don’t do this if it puts you in danger. Your safety comes first. Create a secret account and have the statements/correspondence sent to a friend’s address. Good luck.)

    1. A.J.*

      I don’t know banking law in Scotland, but in the U.S. both parties must consent to being removed from an account. The only way around this is to open a new account. (Which is probably for the better for LW2 anyway.)

      I also second all the responses that this is financial abuse. If your mother is charging you an absurd amount of rent, perhaps you can find something more affordable (and/or a roomie?)

      Good luck.

    2. Marcela*

      I almost cried when I saw your comment, Ariel, for that’s exactly what happened with me and my mother. She could not take money from me : I didn’t have any. But she was as controlling in all other stuff as OP’s mom. End result? I moved away to the other side of the world, away in distance and time. More importantly, though, away in any possible relationship. We don’t have any. I just simply can’t anymore.

      1. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*


        We must be long-lost twins, because I did exactly the same. Moved halfway across the world and never looked back. But that doesn't mean it didn't hurt.

        More importantly, though, away in any possible relationship. We don’t have any. I just simply can’t anymore.

        You get it. This is exactly right. This is what devastated me. I simply didn’t have the energy to deal with them. And no matter how much you explain that their behaviour hurt you in the past, and that they’re still hurting you today, they don’t listen.

        It would have been much easier if my parents were simply evil. But they were very broken people who were suffering. I hate that they’re still in pain. But if someone refuses help, and takes out their anger on you, all you can do is walk away. It hurts so much to not have a relationship with any of them. People always ask about my family and I lie through my teeth and say everything’s fine and we talk all the time on Skype. I envy people who say they always talk to their family and look forward to visits.

        I’m just an internet stranger, but I’m really proud of you. You absolutely did the right thing by looking after yourself and put yourself first. It wasn’t easy, but you did it. I hope you have stacks of cash and a happy life now <3

  19. Tempest*

    Op two, please get a new bank account. If the current one is in your name you can simply ring the new bank (or it’s really easy to do online these days and if you work in social media you must be internet savvy) and open a new account. If you have a standard UK bank account (not a basic one) they promise to have all your direct debits switched from old to new inside a week with no further effort from you required. If they cause you to bounce any direct debits they will pay compensation. The bank handle all of it under some kind of switch guaranty. Switch the details your work have for paying you and problem solved. Then you can either withdraw cash and pay your mother a reasonable rent you agree, you can set up a standing order to do it electronically or you can move out and rent a room in another house where you will get to make all these decisions for yourself. But as I don’t know if that is possible/best for you at this point in your life, I will accept that it might make better sense for you to continue living with your mum. But please don’t feel that you have to let her control your bank account if you don’t want to let her. If your rent isn’t reasonable and you don’t want to move, you can always do some research into what a room in a shared house would cost and use these adverts to negotiate a more fair board. But as long as she isn’t the named party on the account she really can’t stop you changing it.

    Glad to hear that you are in a job that makes you happy though. Good for you!

  20. Annie Moose*

    LW #3, props to you for listening to Alison/the comments! It’s easy sometimes to buckle down and go, well, other people just don’t understand this situation, I’m the only one who fully gets it, so I know best… and it’s hard to change your mind. So I’m glad you’ve been so open-minded about this! And even if the way you were approaching it was wrong, it’s certainly still a good thing that you are concerned about your employees’ health and well-being.

    1. TootsNYC*

      I agree!

      So glad you were open to hearing alternate perspectives (which, well, you wrote in, so you must be; commenters sometimes forget that).

    2. AthenaC*

      Did I miss something with LW #3? She mentioned her changed perspective on the situation, but I don’t see any discussion of whether the actual situation has changed regarding the emotional outbursts.

        1. OP #3*

          It is definitely still evolving, but we did have something interesting happen shortly after my update. The employee had another emotional outburst, but she independently recognized it and sent us an email recognizing that it was inappropriate and that she would be sure to “leave it at the door” and thanked us for our understanding. I was stunned by this progress and growth in her.

          Thanks so much for the support!

    3. OP #3*

      Thanks so much for the feedback, Annie Moose! The feedback and support (and perspective) provided by AAM and commenters has been truly remarkably helpful. I felt so overwhelmed by the mirror being held up for me to see everything more clearly.

  21. Wow*

    Glad you found a job that you like LW #2, but you need to get out of that situation. Your mother’s behaviour isn’t healthy in the slightest and frankly she sounds awful. Since you’re and adult you have have your own bank account without her on it and if you feel unsafe or she does anything to harm or threaten you, call the police.

    I’m sorry you are going through this. It shouldn’t be happening.

  22. Leatherwings*

    OP#3, It sounds like you are well on your way to becoming a great leader/boss/supportive team member. Bravo for reading all the comments and taking all that in.

      1. OP #3*

        A great question, SpaceySteph. Initially I just observed and gathered my thoughts and concerns so that I could re-frame them as strictly business oriented – both in my own mind and in having a plan to address the problem. It turned out that the employee really only needed a nudge about appropriateness / professionalism to start moving in the right direction. She has had some outbursts since, but she is definitely making a real effort to not let it happen and when it does to get control of herself and recover quickly. Our “nudge” seemed to provide HER with clarity, just like this amazing community provided ME with clarity!

  23. Been there, done that*

    LW2, I was compelled to comment after reading your letter and the update.

    Your mother is not “slightly controlling”, she is abusive. It might be hard for you to see, but that is what she is. Just because it’s not hitting (I hope she doesn’t) doesn’t mean that it is not abusive or that it is okay. It’s not.

    I’ve been where you are, with both my mother and within my former marriage. You can get out. You deserve to get out. You are a worthwhile person. Getting out was by the far the most difficult thing that I ever did but my life is better than I ever imagined.

    There are people and agencies who can help if you aren’t sure what to do. Please reach out. You have your while life ahead of you.

  24. thebluecastle*

    OP#2 – First of all congratulations on your job!! Secondly, what your mom is doing is not normal and its not healthy. Might I suggest looking into low cost housing in your city/surrounding area/near your job? Sometimes women’s shelters or aid organizations/urban housing leagues may have low cost housing available. Especially if you go through an organization like that you may be able to get into housing with assistance and very little start up costs.

    I would recommend doing this AFTER you have gone through the steps that Sibley mentions above like getting all of your official documents from her. I’m sure you will have to do this all secretly but you can do this. I would highly highly recommend doing all your preparation secretly while seeming to “go along with” her crazy plans to avoid any suspicion. If she gets suspicious or senses you pushing back she may come down harder on you.

    After going through all the other preparation steps, getting documents, setting up housing, then to avoid suspicion you can switch your direct deposit to another bank account so she no longer has access to your money and GTFO. Like just leave one day for “work” or when you know she’s out of the house and don’t come back. Shut off your phone and block her on social media if you have to but just GO. You deserve a safe, healthy, happy life. Please do this for yourself. Find friends who can help you and encourage you. There are all kinds of support organizations that are trained and equipped to help you escape an abusive environment like this.

    Its hard with parents because even when they treat us badly we still come back to “oh but they love me, they want the best for me” this is not how people who love you and genuinely want the best for you act. This is how people who want to own you and control you and torment you act. Good luck and please keep us updated.

    1. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

      Its hard with parents because even when they treat us badly we still come back to “oh but they love me, they want the best for me” this is not how people who love you and genuinely want the best for you act. This is how people who want to own you and control you and torment you act. Good luck and please keep us updated.

      This is so exactly right.

      1. the_scientist*

        Indeed. Letter writer #2, I went back to the original post and read your long comment at the end and just want to let you know that I am rooting for you! You have been strong and survived so far, and you can continue to survive and thrive independently, I know you can :)

    2. Engineer Girl*

      OP could tell their mother that they need the documents for work – maybe because they are working on a new project. Then take the documents to a lockbox at the new bank with the new bank account. Tell mom that work still has the docs and is slow at processing them, that you “forgot” to bring them home, etc.

  25. Murphy*

    OP1: Great update! So glad that’s going better for you. That sounded like a nightmare…

    Op2: As everyone else has said, please do what you can do to get your mother out of your bank account at the very least.

  26. Clever Name*

    OMG, the FeelingsBoss. I shared an office with a coworker who would dump her feelings constantly, and it was awful. It’s so hard to know how to deal with something like that because while it is truly awful to have to deal with, there is a concern about sounding complain-y or cold. I’m so glad you were able to deal with it effectively!

  27. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP #3, I’m glad the comments provided an opportunity for reflection. It sounds like you did an amazing job processing the feedback you received, and I hope things even out for Kristine.

  28. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

    #2 – If this were a significant other treating you this way we’d call it abusive. Your mother is out of control and you need to start taking steps to remove her extreme influence in your life. Open a new bank account she doesn’t have access to. Calculate a fair rent payment based on a small percentage of space and utilities. Report her to Twitter and Facebook for harassment if she continues posting about you.

    Make no mistake, she is doing this to control you. To keep you from moving out. To make you dependent on her. It is not normal behavior and should not be treated as though it is just an annoyance.

    Are your other family members this way? Do they support her or tolerate her? If it is the latter, perhaps a united front is one way to get her to scale back the crazy.

  29. Merida May*

    Really appreciate all these updates, couple of thoughts:

    #2: You know your situation best, but do you think it would be possible now that you’re working to start transitioning away from the bank account your mother controls? If you’re concerned about her finding out you have another bank account or have removed her access there are non-banking options like Bluebird where you can directly deposit paychecks and have something that essentially functions like a debit card without dealing with a bank. You can pick them up at grocery stores and the ‘account setup/management’ is done online, so there’s less of a paper trail for your mother to pick up on. I don’t think this is an excellent long term solution, ultimately removing your mother from *your* accounts is what should happen, but if you feel safer starting small this might be a good option for you to look in to. Setting boundaries with someone who has literally raised you to not have them at all is very difficult, and you’re doing a great job with what you’ve already accomplished. I think some people here have recommended Captain Awkward and I’ll cosign that endorsement, there’s a lot of great further reading on boundary setting with loved ones.

    #3: So glad that you wrote in and the responses were helpful to you. One of the things I enjoy most about AAM is the volume of thoughtful commenters that frequent this site. It’s a pretty eclectic group so you often get a nice gradient of viewpoints. As someone who, at times, is literally the bear meme with the tagline ‘photo of me jumping to conclusions’, just reading through responses to posts has been helpful in me slowing my roll and considering other avenues.

  30. Robbenmel*

    I don’t have much to add for OP #2 that others have not already said, but I really hope we get another update: a LIFE update!

  31. asteramella*

    OP #2, you may find value in the raisedbynarcissists subreddit.

    The behaviors you’ve described here are abnormal and abusive. I hope you can save up and move out ASAP.

    1. Schmooples and the Binkie-Boo*

      I used to help moderate that sub and was coming onto this thread to make the same suggestion.

  32. Fire*

    OP #2, I’m going to agree with everyone that what’s going on is NOT NORMAL and ABUSE, and also do something very rare and point you towards Reddit. The “raisedbynarcissists” subreddit is excellent, and even if your mother isn’t quite a Narc (ie has different motivations for abusing you), there is a ton of excellent information on there about safely escaping from abusive parents.

  33. Blue Anne*

    #2 – AlligatorSky, it’s so good to hear from you.

    This sounds like an improvement. I’m so glad. But the offer is still open if you need help. I don’t live in Scotland any more, but I have friends in both Glasgow and Edinburgh who bonded with me over parental experiences like yours. They would be so glad to help. We can get you a bank account set up, with electronic statements so that your mum doesn’t see statements showing up. You have every right to have control over your money.

    Please let me know if I can help. I’m sootika on reddit.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Oh my! This is AS? I had forgotten the story line. I remember us randomly posting looking for AS.

      Alligator, please keep reading here and read CA/Hax. You can do this. You can make the jump and live an independent life. You sound really happy about your job, I am so happy for you, Congrats.

      Please do as others have suggested, become familiar with the rents in your area so you know- 1) market rates compared to what you are paying now and 2) what you need to sustain yourself on your own.

      Blue Anne, ;)

  34. Ask a Manager* Post author

    I put this up top, but I’ll put it down here as well:

    The advice for letter-writer #2 is getting very repetitive. If you don’t have anything new to add to what other commenters have already said, I’m sure the other updaters would appreciate attention to them as well :)

    (My fault for not realizing #2 would draw all the attention.)

    1. Cristina in England*

      Alison, I sent you an email privately about this, but I am sure others might be thinking the same, in wanting to help OP2. I would like to send her an Amazon gift voucher, and she can make a temporary email account if she prefers to receive it so she doesn’t have to reveal personal info. Actually if she has a Paypal email address I would be happy to donate to her Get Out Fund. Thanks! (Sorry if others have already suggested this, I haven’t read through all the comments)

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I’ve been inundated by people asking me to relay various offers to letter-writers this month, which is incredibly kind of people but isn’t something I’m equipped to be able to field on my own (because there are so many of them). So doing it through the comments or some other method is definitely better!

        1. Cristina in England*

          Ok, no problem. Sorry I am doing things kind of out of order. I will make a burner email account to post publicly, trusting that only the OP will reply to it!

  35. Jessesgirl72*

    OP2, I am hoping, as you spend more time with your new friends and get a sense of what is and isn’t normal, you get the tools you need to move out. You might not be able to afford a place on your own (although, if the rent is already high…) but one of your new friends might be willing to get a flat with you. The more you can get away and establish boundaries, the easier it will become.

    And I encourage you to start thinking about the direction you’d like to see your life go, and what you need to do to accomplish that, even if your mother would disagree.

  36. JustAnotherNonProfitManager*

    OP#2 Congratulations on the new job (and having worked in media-adjacent fields in Scotland particularly well done for breaking into a tough field)
    In Scotland you have more protection, and more options, than you might think – Shelter Scotland has some good advice about establishing boundaries when you live with your parents as an adult and advice for what to do if it’s not going well – google and find the “living with your parents” section. It also has a section on domestic abuse if you feel up to having a read through it.
    If you’re under 25 there are Youth Foyers and other supported housing services for young adults at risk of homelessness or leaving abusive households, however you will probably have to visit your local authority and explain the situation in order to be able to access this type of service. If you can’t move out for reasons of support, disability or something else then social services may be able to help (whether you’re a carer for your mum or whether your mum provides care to you). If it’s about money then check if you might be eligible for any benefits which would make living alone or in a shared house possible.
    No one can stop you opening a new bank account, it’s easy as pie and all you need to do is apply. If your mum checks your internet history on a PC or laptop then do it from your mobile or pop into a bricks and mortar branch of a bank. Use a different banking group completely from the one your mum has access to – so if you’re with RBS go to Bank of Scotland, Santander or the Co-Op and vice versa because they will usually set up online access across all of your accounts. Ask for online statements only and no post to be delivered, including your new card (tell them you don’t have reliable access to your post and they will have it held at a branch for you)
    At an absolute minimum, you can set up online banking on your current current account and then transfer money into an instant saver or another type of account which is yours and yours alone as soon as you get paid. This will at least give you more access to your money. Work will pay your salary into any account you ask them to.
    Good luck, it’s an absolutely rubbish situation to find yourself in (understatement of the week) but there is light at the end of the tunnel.

  37. No, please*

    OP #2, I’m so glad you found a great new job! Congratulations! On a personal note, I had a dad a lot like your mother. I’m sorry that she is controlling and abusing you in this way. I had a hard time realizing how bad it was until I got my first place. I chose that basement apartment on the side of a mountain because it was super cheap and I could move in immediately. It was kind of scary and I felt like I had done something wrong. But I did exactly the right thing, as it turned out. I never regretted it. My dad was a jerk, refused to see my first place, called me non-stop- but it was freeing. The longer you’re living life on your terms the easier it becomes. I hope you can find your own version of my basement apartment!

  38. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

    #1 – I hope you are able to get on a permanent team away from Feelings Manager – that sounds utterly exhausting and completely disruptive. I am glad your grandboss heard you out and actively tried to correct the issue

    #3 – I hope you still plan to address the outbursts with the employee though. Obviously don’t try and tie it to anything, but they are still unacceptable, no matter the reason. She might not even be aware that they are happening to the degree they are.

    #4 – I am so glad you were able to get to a comfortable place!

    1. SarahKay*

      OP3, I second this advice about addressing the behaviour. At university I was unhappy about a home relationship, but hadn’t realised that this was making me bad-tempered with my uni friends until one of them rather crossly (and entirely justifiedly) told me to stop taking my feelings out on them. It was a total eye-opener for me that bad temper externally is my reaction to unhappiness internally, and something I’ve taken care to watch out for ever since. From my experience, I’d say it’s entirely possible she has no idea how noticeable her outbursts are to those around her. While I was very embarrassed at the time, I’ve been grateful for the insight pretty much ever since.

      1. Ama*

        I have commented here before about how I was unaware how visible my frustration had become at a job with a very high workload — or that my coworkers were interpreting my frustration as being directed at them. It wasn’t pleasant to be called on it by my boss and I still have some irritation with how she chose to tell me, but it really ended up helping me both in the short-term and long-term as I’ve become more mindful of how and when I express myself at work when I’m stressed or frustrated.

        1. OP #3*

          Oh, yes, Ama! I remember the very painful and embarrassing experience of learning this as well (myself)! I wish my very first boss or friend or someone had told me how my behavior / frustration was being perceived, rather than 4 jobs later!

      2. OP #3*

        You’re so right, SarahKay! She knew she was having these outbursts, but she didn’t realize the impact they have on the team and on the opinion of her / her professionalism.

    2. OP #3*

      Yes! It was really challenging to address it, but there have been improvements. Initially I just observed and gathered my thoughts and concerns so that I could re-frame them as strictly business oriented – both in my own mind and in having a plan to address the problem. It turned out that the employee really only needed a nudge about appropriateness / professionalism to start moving in the right direction. She has had some outbursts since, but she is definitely making a real effort to not let it happen and when it does to get control of herself and recover quickly. Our “nudge” seemed to provide HER with clarity, just like this amazing community provided ME with clarity!

  39. Jessesgirl72*

    OP1: That is great news! Not only that your manager’s boss believed you and took the appropriate steps, but that he was able to gather corroborating evidence .

    Often times, the work around actually is the best solution.

    I wouldn’t be surprised of the bad manager wasn’t encouraged to move on before you need to transfer back to her.

  40. KarenD*

    The gym update was a good one too! I kinda wish we could have a similar boundaries here – we don’t have an office gym but there’s a private gym nearby that a large number of us use. It’s inexpensive, clean and well-managed – but it really has turned into “Work Jr.” I know a lot of people would like that to stop but it’s just not ever going to happen.

  41. Jessesgirl72*

    OP3: Don’t be too hard on yourself. You could even be correct in your guess. The real message I hope you received is that the reason behind the behavior is immaterial. Just focus on the behavior and what you need her to change. Don’t be easier or harder on her for any specific perceived reason.

  42. Vin Packer*

    Yay #3!! That can’t have been easy to read. I totally see how good intentions could lead you to a weird place here–go you for being cool and thoughtful about the tough feedback. I would totally work for you!

  43. LQ*

    I’m really glad you took all the words to heart, but what did you end up doing/saying if anything? (Did I miss it buried in there somewhere?)

  44. Prismatic Professional*

    OP 1 – I am so glad you were able to say something AND that it had a positive result. Yay for Big Boss! I sincerely hope you are in a less stressful place now and get to stay there!

    OP3 – You sound very mature for being open to feedback and recognizing it as not a personal attack but a learning opportunity. I’ll be honest, I learned a lot on that thread too! Thank you for the update and I hope you’re still going to address the behavior as it is still unacceptable.

    OP4 – Getting to the gym early is a good way to avoid students and I’m glad you are comfortable using the resources at your job! :-)

    1. OP #3*

      Thank you so much, Prismatic! As I get older it gets easier and easier to be open to feedback and to be open-minded. That might conflict with the stereotype of as people age they become more set in their ways, but at 42 years old I have a lot of clarity about what I do and don’t know and what I know that I don’t know is a lot more than I thought I didn’t know at 25 years old. LOL

  45. Punkin*

    I can’t help it – I love the AAM community (wasn’t there a country song “I Love this Bar”?).
    I am so appreciative of:

    1. The letter writers who bare their souls and open themselves up to scrutiny

    2. Alison & her awesome advice

    3. The commenters & their openness to different perspectives.

    1. Jean the Recovering Packrat*

      +1 on your sentiments and the song (co-written by Toby Keith and Scotty Emerick; performed by Keith on his 2003 album “Shock’n Y’All”).

      I knew off the top of my head that Toby Keith performed it. Found everything else by doing a Google search for who wrote and sang “I Love This Bar”. The Internet is truly amazing.

      1. Jessesgirl72*

        For future reference, if you guess that Toby wrote any song he sings, with Scotty Emerick, you’d guess correctly like 95% of the time. ;)

  46. mccoma*

    #2 – I’m pretty sure this is a bit of different advice

    Your first step towards independence is going to get a mail box. I would get one at a UPS store or somewhere that makes it look like an actual address not the Post Office. Opening a bank account, etc. leaves a trail that would make for a bad day if it all gets mailed to a place where someone is likely to read it.

    I would actually do the mailbox thing then open a Bluebird account (AmEx card). Put money in it via a local WalMart or have part of your check direct deposited. Build up some cash, then open the bank account.

    1. Kate, short for Bob*

      In the UK a Post Office box has to be tied to a physical address, so it’s not as untraceable as in the US. Refuge organisations can help if you can get a place though.

      1. Anony Mouse*

        In the U.S. a post office box has to be tied to a physical address, too. It least it was for me.

        1. Sensual Shirtwaist*

          Yeah, me too. I mean the whole reason I needed a PO Box was because I *didn’t* have a permanent address

          1. mccoma*

            Strange, last time I got an actual PO box, I didn’t have a physical address to tie it to. In the US, UPS store will do boxes withs a “Suite” address.

            I missed the UK part the first time I read it. It would be nice if a friend could receive the mail.

            Thinking about it, there are Post Offices in the US without a possibility of a physical address. I grew up on a reservation and there were no street names except those know by the power company (which I think was an internal thing). 911 (the phone number not the date) changed some rules, but that really didn’t help anyone but police / fire. I remember putting a house number with the phrase “Behind the School” for an address for UPS who knew where everyone was. FedEx was a just a pain.

  47. Formica Dinette*

    OP #2, it’ll be a process to find a balance with your mother, but it sounds like you’re making good progress. Best of luck to you!

  48. Chomps*

    OP 1: I’m so glad this has worked out for you! It makes me angry when people dump their feelings on me all the time. It’s their responsibility to handle it, not mine. And, of course, it’s extra inappropriate when it’s your boss!

    1. Observer*

      It’s even worse because she wasn’t just dumping her feelings, she was making her feelings THEIR responsibility, blaming them for her feelings and expecting them to react “perfectly” despite the fact that NO reaction they could produce would have been “right”.

  49. AFRC*

    #2 – I hope this isn’t repetitive, but I really just want to support you fully in your move towards independence from your mom. I know how overwhelming it can be. I wanted to congratulate you on your job (that is AWESOME!!) and let you know that we’re sending you good vibes. Very best wishes to you!!

  50. Akcipitrokulo*

    LW2 – three words – Data Protection Act ;-) Might be useful to have a wee word with bank about that!

    Whereabouts are you if you don’t mind? Local housing association/council might have some options. (I’m from Glasgow, currently in England)

  51. GovWorker*

    OP#2, I read the original post from a year ago. Things don’t seem that different from then. Just like with this update, you got many suggestions regarding how to set up your own bank account. Not only haven’t you done it, but you still live in an abusive house hold with an out of control mom. So you have a better job, but very serious issues have not been addressed. You say for personal reasons, you can’t move out, but sorry, that sounds weak. Two posters in Scotland offered to help you, did you take them up on it? In the original thread, it seemed like you were going to.

    I’m happy you like your job but your mom is taking all your money! Seriously, employment concerns are the least of your worries. I hope you address your real issues instead of working to escape them. Best of luck to you.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yep. It’s not easy to escape an abuser. It’s just not that straightforward at all. LW 2, keep going with the advice of others who talk about stepping through the process.

    1. AlligatorSky*

      I’m sorry if I sound weak to you. I’m really sorry that I have Aspergers that affects me on a daily basis, and that I struggle to function on my own. I’m also really sorry that I have severe mental health issues that were so bad that for the last year, the only thing that’s been on my mind is killing myself. I was so depressed that I didn’t even care about opening a new bank account or moving out, I just wanted to die. I did take up the offers of help from the other posters in Scotland. I talked to BlueAnne on Reddit a lot and we also texted often.

      Oh I am going to address my issues, believe me, I have many of them. Although I’m very happy with my life right now, my depression is never going to go away. Manic depression makes it hard to push through life, even on the brightest of days. You’re totally right, employment concerns are the least of my worries. To be perfectly honest, my main concern right now in life is staying alive, and ignoring the thoughts in my head that make me think about ending my life, every single day.

      1. LeRainDrop*

        AlligatorSky, I hope you can let the harsh comment from GovWorker roll right off your back. You have the full support of (nearly) everyone here on AAM and I’m sure in other parts of your life, as well — we really do care about you. You sound like a very kind and conscientious person. Please make sure that you take care of yourself as best as you can, including getting treatment for your illness. Don’t ever give up, and remind yourself often that there is always hope for a brighter future. Congrats on your good news on the job front!

      2. Observer*

        That’s really rough.

        I’d like to point something out. I’m betting that your mother won’t allow you to get therapy, and one of the reasons she’s taking so much money is to keep you from paying for it yourself. If you manage to open your own account, you’ll be able to use your money to get some much needed help.

        1. Cristina in England*

          Actually therapy will be free for AlligatorSky on the NHS, although waiting times can be long. Some councils do have contracts for online therapy! If you can get to your GP, AlligatorSky, they will be able to tell you what’s available, but some local authorities allow self-referrals. Google: online mental health services NHS

      3. halpful*

        *jedi hugs*

        something my therapist mentioned once… depression doesn’t come from being “weak”, it comes from being strong for too long. You’re still here in spite of it, and that’s an accomplishment (although it probably doesn’t feel like it).

        FWIW, while my depression technically isn’t gone, I’ve sort of… made peace with it. it’s asleep most of the time now, and doesn’t wake up for more than a few days at a time – usually to protect me from overwhelming emotional pain. I don’t know if manic-depression can do that, but, maybe there’s hope? Happiness was definitely worth fighting for.

        I’m also beginning to wonder if my mum led me to believe my aspergers was more of a problem than it needed to be – learning about boundaries has helped so much in not feeling like crap about having needs most people don’t understand, and in figuring out social things. Or maybe it was all the scripts I learnt from Captain Awkward. :) The more coping skills I collect, the less overwhelming life gets.

      4. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

        You are absolutely not weak and that person’s comment was way out of line and really gross. As halpful said, depression is a result of being strong for too long. You were not allowed to care for yourself nor did you get the love and support you need and deserve.

        You are taking steps to change your life. Change doesn’t always come quickly. You are doing your best and you’re a good and amazing person.

      5. fleur*

        I grew up in Scotland a very controlling mother. By age 18 I started to push back, after a blazing row and physical violence against me, she told me to leave. I ended up alone in a crummy bed sit knowing I had no safety net, I had to be completely reliant on myself. The overly protective upbringing left me very unprepared, I had hardly any money, and was terrified. Overall, the first few months were really hard.

        Over time, I found my feet, moved into a better place and became very independent and so, so much happier. Awful as it was, it forged me into a stronger person. But I don’t know if I’d have had the nerve to do it if she hadn’t flipped and told me to go.

        It isn’t easy to break free, but freedom is amazing! Best of luck to you.

    2. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

      This attitude is exactly why people are scared to ask for help. Please don’t say something like this again. You can be angry at the abuser, but don’t attack the person in the abusive situation. They are always doing the best they can. You owe the OP an apology.

  52. Marshmallow Bunny*

    Long-time lurker, first-time commenter. OP #2’s story brought me out of the woodwork.

    OP #2, I really feel for you. Part of that’s because I understand a lot of what you’re going through–I’ve been there myself (I’m an only child, a daughter of a verbally and emotionally abusive mother). So many people here have left you really helpful comments/advice (I wholeheartedly agree with everyone’s idea of opening another bank account on the sly and starting to use that instead). I have a few additional pieces of advice that I hope may help you.

    1. You may be a little rattled by seeing the word “abusive” so much in these comments. You may have known for a while that something is wrong, but you may not have known exactly what was wrong, or even known a term for it. While yes, this behavior is abusive, it’s hard for victims of abuse from parents to realize that at first (it took me YEARS to come to terms with using that word), because we’ve grown up with this behavior and it seems normal to us–plus, we often tend to minimize the behavior because we feel guilty thinking badly of our mothers. You may feel overwhelmed with all of this new knowledge, and it may take you a little time to feel comfortable using the word “abuse” to define your situation, and that’s okay. No matter what you call it, you know you need to take action, and that’s what matters.

    2. Please, if you don’t already have a strong support system, build one. Are there any family members you trust and can talk to about this? Are you comfortable talking to your friends about it? Abuse can sometimes happen more often when you are alone with the abuser or when nobody else realizes you’re being abused; the abuser often thrives on isolation and secrecy. While you still live with her, can you take steps to reduce your alone time with her? Abusers often behave better when there are witnesses, so consider having someone(s) you trust around when you’re with her. Or, it may be a great time to work late a few nights a week, visit Grandma or your college roommate, or take a weekend trip with a friend!

    3. Whether you already have a strong family/friend support network or not, I urge you to check out other support resources too. While loved ones provide one type of necessary support, you may also need the support of people who you don’t already know but who have a deep understanding of these types of situations. Finding a therapist is crucial. I realize that if you’re on your mother’s health insurance, that may not be possible (assuming you want to keep the therapy secret from your mother, which seems like a very wise move given the circumstances). There are also a few great online resources that have helped me, which I think could also help you. One is the Out of the Fog online forum (choose the board focused on PD parents). While this site focuses on coping with parents who have personality disorders (and I have no idea and am not speculating about whether your mom does, nor does it even matter for this purpose), a lot of the people on that forum have been in abusive situations with their parents. Their stories and support may help you. In addition, I recommend checking out articles by Peg Streep, who gives advice and coping tactics about unloving/abusive mothers. She has a bunch of articles on the Psychology Today and Psych Central websites that you may find helpful.

    4. I know that making changes to free yourself from this abuse is seriously stressful and scary. Change is often scary anyway, but having to change while someone’s making your life harder because you’re changing is even worse. Life will likely feel tougher for you before it gets better. Even though it’s hard and uncomfortable and scary, please keep making those changes and doing the things that are right for you and that keep you mentally, physically, and financially safe. You are worth it and you don’t deserve to suffer from this behavior anymore.

    Sending love and warm fuzzies to you. I hope so much that things get better for you.

  53. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    #2 – two comments – once, I was an assistant manager at a gas station. I did the payroll for some of the employees. One guy’s mom came in and insisted that we make her son’s paycheck out to her. No can do. She also would come in and try to pick up his check – we could not give it to her. Employee was 19. We can only hand it to HIM. She was overcontrolling… I would guess…

    Segue to a situation often discussed – and when I was thinking of becoming a minister, this topic was a hot counseling topic = parents who cannot let go.

    A young man or woman graduates from high school, then goes on to college or the workplace. While that young adult was in high school, there was a lot of control that parents could exert. But now that he/she is earning an income, and doing a lot more away from the home, and away from the family – it is a difficult time for THE PARENT(S) TO HANDLE.

    “Baby” has grown up, has a mind of his/her own, has developed interests that may differ with those of Mom and Dad, and they cannot handle the fact that they have an adult – with an adult mind – living under their roof (or away). And the stress is taken out by the parent(s) onto the adult child.

    Often in counseling sessions – the young adult is advised to tolerate the situation as best has he/she can – it’s the parents who need guidance, usually. This is not to say that the child is always right – indeed, parents may want to legitimately steer their kids away from self-destructive behavior, but more frequently it’s the parents who can’t accept the change in their childrens’ lives.

  54. AlligatorSky*

    OP #2 here again.

    Thank you so much for all the amazing comments! This was published whilst I was at work yesterday, (slow day, no slacking!) and I quickly skimmed through the comments – every time I refreshed the page there would be about 5-10 more comments, which completely blew me away. I also read some more comments on my way home yesterday, and I almost started tearing up at the amount of people who are rooting for me and giving me advice.

    A couple of things I wanted to mention:

    1. The main thing everyone was talking about – I’m definitely going to look into getting another bank account. Even just a savings account, so I have somewhere to start. I’m currently putting a little bit aside every month, my mum thinks this is for my upcoming holiday/vacation in March, but it’s actually for my ‘get the hell outta the house’ fund. She doesn’t know where I keep the money, so it’s currently all good. I honestly have no idea how to open up a savings account, I did try googling it a few times, but it was so overwhelming that I found myself just shutting the tabs down. I’m really hoping that I can calm myself down and as Shia Labeouf once said; “JUST DO IT!”.

    2. Moving out. A large majority of people were saying that I should just get the heck out of the house. I wish I could, it’s sadly not that easy. I said that for ‘personal reasons’, I can’t move out. I wasn’t going to mention it, because 1, it’s very personal, and 2, I was scared if I said why, people would judge me. The thing is, I have Aspergers, and struggle with basic tasks. (This confuses me, because at work, I know what I’m doing and I fly through things, yet at home, my brain just can’t function.) My Aspergers affects me on a daily basis, and it sucks. I get no sympathy from my mum, and she calls me a ‘freak’. I can usually hide my symptoms, because I’ve been told that you can’t really tell I have it, unless you either spend a lot of time with me, or I tell someone. It frustrates me, because I wish I could be just like other people. I wish I could pick up on social cues, and that I wasn’t awkward when it comes to eye contact. It also frustrates me that my own mother refused to take me to a doctor when I was a kid, even though I was showing a ridiculous amount of symptoms, and that even her friends and my Grandma were begging her to take me to the doctor. I could’ve had help years ago, but instead I’ve had to struggle with it my whole life, all alone.

    I am working on moving out though, and I have a great close friend who’s helping me work on my basic skills and tasks. She’s helping me with things like making food and budgeting, because as ridiculous as it sounds, I have very limited knowledge of how to do these things. I’m hoping to move out in 2017.

    I have to run to work now, but I’ll be back on later, because there’s a lot of comments I want to reply to, and people I want to catch up with/talk to.

    Thanks so much everyone!

    1. Observer*

      This makes me so sad. Here’s the deal – you can STILL get professional help. It’s great that your friend is helping you, but some skilled help would be great as well. If you are on your own insurance, you can do this without ever saying anything to your mother. Otherwise, you’ll need to get your money out of your mother’s clutches to be able to pay for it till you move out and can then be on your own, medically speaking.

      As for opening an account – I’m in the US, but I’m pretty sure the basics are the same. Just walk into any bank – as long as it’s a real bank and NOT the same bank as your account, and ask to open an account. Seriously, any halfway decent place will walk you through the paperwork. You’re not committed to that bank for life, but it will help you take that first step.

      1. Cristina in England*

        Below I suggested the opposite, that she open an account in the same bank (because she might not be able to easily provide ID documents). Why do you think she should avoid the bank? If her mother is not on the new account, she isn’t on the account.

        1. Observer*

          Because some idiot might do her a “favor” and link her two accounts. That is the LAST thing she needs!

          1. Cristina in England*

            Do you mean in the event of her mum logging into the online bank and then having both accounts show up? I’ve never heard of that being a problem here, but now that OP has heard pros/cons I’m sure she can ask about it.

            1. Absotively*

              I think that’s part of it. But also if her mom finds out about the new account somehow, she might well go down to the bank and demand that they add her to the new account, and use the old account as evidence that she’s supposed to have access to AlligatorSky’s finances. The bank ought to refuse to add her, obviously, but I’ve heard of bank employees getting this wrong. Going to a different bank removes the opportunity for this to happen.

    2. halpful*

      “This confuses me, because at work, I know what I’m doing and I fly through things, yet at home, my brain just can’t function.”

      “I get no sympathy from my mum, and she calls me a ‘freak’.”

      There’s your answer. :/ (aaand the mean word I avoided using in my previous comment. my mum made me feel that way too.)

      as for banking, if you don’t want to do it in person (I find the internet much easier myself), I find that sometimes getting out paper and pencil (or whiteboard and a rainbow of shiny markers) helps me sort through overwhelming information. or just typing to myself about what it is I’m trying to do and the pros and cons of various options. my brain does not have a “just do it” function (although adhd meds may be building one…), but it usually has a “what’s one of the requirements for this?” if I can sneak past the OMGFEELINGSBOMB ;)

    3. Misc*

      “I honestly have no idea how to open up a savings account, I did try googling it a few times, but it was so overwhelming that I found myself just shutting the tabs down. ”

      There’s this sneaky adulting hack called ‘there are people whose job is to tell you this stuff’. Go to a bank, be clear about what you want, and someone will tell you what to do. It’s literally their job :D

      It certainly *helps* to know exactly what you need in advance, go in, do it on the spot, leave, but you don’t *have* to and once you’ve set up your account, it won’t matter how much someone had to help you – you’ll have the account, and it’s all sorted.

      And yeah, you’ll probably find doing things your way while living on your own will be a) stressful, because sharing living tasks is always easier and you’ll have to learn a whole bunch of new routines and skills, b) so much easier because you can figure out YOUR way and just… outsource a lot of stuff (can’t cook right? just eat out!) without judgement or someone else depending on you getting it right. And a parent trying to enforce you doing things to their specific standards makes things three times harder even when they’re completely on your side. Which your mother isn’t.

      (Flatmates are also easier than parents, usually, because – usually – you’re equals who mostly officially Are Not Each Other’s Problem and everyone has to negotiate rules (like dishes rosters) (which means that people with Asperger’s are often desirable flatmates because they’re more reliable around rules) rather than ordering someone else to do them to specific specifications, the way a parent generally would, and you can just walk away if you don’t like living with them because there are no emotional strings).

    4. Tim Tam Girl*

      AS, I’d bet the house that the reason you struggle so much with Home Tasks is that home is an unsafe-feeling environment where your mother has spent your entire life being the exact opposite of helpful. It is in her interest to keep you feeling incapable because that keeps you dependent on her, but you clearly *are* totally capable because you’re doing it and you’ve found help along the way. You’re a badass, you know that?

      You keep fighting. You’ve come so far through your ability to assess your situation and ask for help, and your sheer force of will, and you’re continuing to plan for a better, happier, healthier future. That is huge, and I hope you’re able to acknowledge all you’ve accomplished (in the face of substantial obstacles) and feel proud of it. It’s truly impressive.

      I hope you’ll keep asking for help and using the resources available to you when the time is right for you, and that you’ll check in with us periodically – even if it’s just to say hi or ask a question in the Friday Frees. It’s just nice to hear from you.

    5. Cristina in England*

      Hello! Thank you very much for the update, I know a lot of us have been wondering how you’re doing.

      I would really like to send you an Amazon gift e-voucher, or even better, contribute to a Get Out Fund via Paypal, all I need is an email address to send it to (even if it is a temporary one or a newly-created one if you don’t want to reveal your personal info). I don’t know how best to go about it, maybe if you ask Alison to give you my email address which she can see linked in my comment?

      I suspect that you don’t feel competent at home because for your whole life, your mother has been teaching you that you are not competent.

      In order to open another secret account you will need proof of ID and proof of address. This might be tricky if your mother is that controlling, you might not have anything else in your name. If that’s the case, go into the bank where you already have an account, and ask to open a second one. If you are already a customer it will be MUCH easier than if you are new to them. Of course ask for paperless everything, etc. If you can log in online to your own account, or do telephone banking, even better since you can apply for another account that way in most cases.

      Once the account is active, you want not to leave a paper trail for your mum to follow, so try to take out cash from one account and deposit it in the other account, do not do it electronically or she will be able to see that.

      Please please keep us updated, and best of luck xxx

      1. Cristina in England*

        I’ve just seen that Alison says above she has very many requests to be a go-between for things like this, so please feel free to email me at cristinainengland at gmail dot com. I have just made this email for this purpose (I don’t normally post my own email address online!) and I am just going to trust the lovely AAM commentariat that no one is going to pretend to be you. I wish I could come up with a secret handshake or something, like ask some question that only someone who lives in Scotland would know (I lived there for 8 years).

      2. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

        This is so kind of you, Cristina. I’m going to ask some friends of mine in the UK if they have any advice or suggestions for organisations. If anything comes up, I’ll post her or send you an email.

        OP, thank you for updating us! We’re cheering you on and will help how we can. You’re awesome in every way, always remember that <3

    6. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

      I’m absolutely appalled that someone could call their child such a name. You are amazing, a beautiful human being and you deserve all the good things in life.

      There is absolutely no judgement here, although I do understand why you were reluctant to share.

      What is interesting about your comment is that say you do really well at work but not at home. That says so much.

      It’s not at all ridiculous to not know these things (budgeting etc). These are skills everyone has to learn, and they take time.

      Have you contacted organisations that work with people with Asperger’s? They may be able to give you advice and support as well. No one is born knowing how to cook or budget.

      Friend, you are simply wonderful. I am glad you are on your way to independence. Thank you for updating us. Your story has touched many of us and there are people all over the world cheering you on.

    7. JMegan*

      Oh, I have been wondering about you – thanks so much for writing in! I’m glad to hear that things are getting better, even if it’s happening slowly. It has taken you a lifetime to get into this situation, so it’s going to take at least a year or two to get out of it. But the important thing is that you’re doing it – yay you!

    8. Cristina in England*

      Hey AlligatorSky. Just a thought, maybe you could covertly switch GPs (or even surgeries, if there are a lot near you), so you are not at the same one as your mum? Then you can ask about mental health services and get a referral (you might not even need one you can sometimes self refer). Anyway, mental health self care might be difficult for you if you’re at your mum’s GP, so that might be another way to separate yourself further.

    9. FD*

      Hi, AlligatorSky!

      It sounds like you’re actually taking some really good steps so far!

      I have several younger siblings who’ve been diagnosed with Aspbergers, and have some traits myself (though not enough to be quite on the spectrum), so here’s my two cents on some strategies.

      1. It’s fairly common for people with ASD to have trouble figuring out what ‘normal’ behavior really is, because many people’s behavior seems random and unpredictable. This can make it harder to tell if someone’s behavior is off the wall or if you are having trouble understanding the obscure social rules behind it. Some of my siblings have found it helpful to have a trusted confidante who they can ask “Hey, does this behavior make sense to you?” For the purposes of this, I hope that seeing the reactions to your mother’s behavior helps you conclude that her behavior isn’t within a normal range of parental behaviors.

      2. I’m sure you know this, but plans are your friend! When you have to perform an unfamiliar social task, it can be helpful to break it down into components. For example, your end goal is to open a savings account. You can break this into steps:

      Filter your bank by criteria. First, they should have a paperless option, because you don’t want your mother to see any mail from them. Second, they should have a savings account with no minimum balance, no fees, and a pretty low starting balance. Third, they shouldn’t be the bank your current account is at. Many banks will fit these, just pick the first one you find for now that fits all three criteria.

      Second, you need to gather your information. You live in Scotland, so the requirements will be different than the ones I know from the US. When you pick your bank, find the “Open an Account” link. They’ll tell you what you need to provide, and whether you can do it online or must come into a branch. Be sure you know if they must send any documents to your home, and if they do, make a plan to intercept them.

      Caveat: If your mother controls your personal documents, you may have to get a bit creative to get copies. I don’t know how to get them in Scotland, but there should be ways to obtain it.

      Third, you apply for the account. If you must do this in person, here’s what will likely happen. You’ll make an appointment to meet with a banker. You’ll show up and wait for a few minutes. You’ll see the banker, who will probably make some small talk. You’ll sign any documents and probably give him or her the starting money for your account. You might feel a bit awkward, but they’ve seen that before. Most people are a bit nervous about financial maters.

      Good luck, I’m rooting for you!

    10. FD*

      Also, bear this in mind. I work with a small group of unbelievably talented people, and at least half of them can’t budget or cook. At all.

      So bear in mind that not knowing how to do those things yet isn’t a personal failing (although it will help you to learn them).

    11. The _artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

      “2. Moving out. A large majority of people were saying that I should just get the heck out of the house. I wish I could, it’s sadly not that easy. I said that for ‘personal reasons’, I can’t move out. I wasn’t going to mention it, because 1, it’s very personal, and 2, I was scared if I said why, people would judge me. The thing is, I have Aspergers, and struggle with basic tasks. (This confuses me, because at work, I know what I’m doing and I fly through things, yet at home, my brain just can’t function.) “

      Perhaps it’s the home environment causing your problems? I don’t know – proceed with caution in this area, and I don’t know your individual circumstance.

      What you’re saying is you can’t move out because you have trouble, but the only place where that trouble happens is the one you can’t move out of.

      This is too much life advice from a stranger on a bulletin board, but DO check that out.

  55. v*

    “She takes an insane amount of rent money out of my bank account every month, and I have no way of stopping her.”

    This is what’s referred to as an abusive relationship. You are an adult, and so you do have ways to stop her. If not by moving out, then by setting up a personal bank account she has no access to, and changing your income to be directly deposited there.

    1. CanCan*

      Note that some banks may charge monthly fees and/or fees for withdrawing cash from a bank machine. Most bank in my country do, – only one or two offer free banking. So you may want to check out your options before singing up with a bank just because it’s in a convenient location.

      Also, this could be different in Scotland, but where I am, you would open a chequing account first. That is the account that can be used to direct-deposit your pay. Or if you don’t want your mum to blow up when she finds out you’ve done that, just make large withdrawals on pay day.

  56. Another Emily*

    Thanks to the four letter writers who provided updates.
    AlligatorSky, 98% of the advice from others is spot on (ignore the few harsh comments, you’re doing great).
    I just wanted to offer some encouragement and admiration. Solely based on your posts, you sound like an amazing, talented, conscientious, intelligent, strong, capable and lovely person. When you move out people will be thrilled to be your friend and flatmate. You’ll look back on this difficult time and be blown away by how far you’ve come.
    One commenter mentioned this but if you need something, ask for it from your friends and the people you do business with. People love helping others because it makes them feel like a hero. Also less selfishly, people like you and helping you makes them feel good.
    For example you did your best trying to figure out how to open a savings account. Walk up to the teller and say “Hello, I’d like to open a savings account please.” They will be happy to help, I guarantee.
    General script for asking for help, “Hi, I was wondering if you’d mind helping me with _____?” Or “Hi, would it be okay if you could show me _____?”
    If I sound condescending I’m so sorry. I don’t know anyone with Aspberger’s but I read that many people with it like things explained logically and in full.
    I’m wishing you all the best. I wish I was in Scotland too so we could hang out. You sound like such an awesome person!

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