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Do I have to stay with Mom?

My mom moved 1,400 km for a job but I just want to go home! Is that wrong?

Not at all, says our elder.

Dear EWC

A few months back, five months to be exact. I packed up my bags and moved with my mother to a whole new state. It’s just me and my mom; my sister has her own life and career with kids and a husband. I started a job about two years ago, and I flourished. I have always been reserved and have been diagnosed with severe depression and anxiety disorder. It took me a while to get to my feet and actually stick to a job. and when I found this job, I hit the jackpot. I was cherished and good at my job. I even started getting new friends and maintaining these friendships, which has always been hard for me. Just a quick background on me and my mom. When I was 11, my mom lost my dad, grandmother and her job all within the span of a year. She hit rock bottom and was severely depressed. Depressed enough to not get out of bed, cook food, do housework, sign my school letters or tests. I had to learn to cope, get up on my own, make lunch, dinner on my own, get to school on time and faking signatures left right and center because I was getting detention like nobody’s business.

Forward five years, and she has a job again, she’s happy again and she can support me mentally again. I had a massive mental breakdown and she had to support me for a few years. She lost her job and I coped, we coped, and then a year and a half in, my mom gets a job offers 1400 km away and I gave up everything and moved with her. I found a job rather quickly which I should be grateful for. but I hate it. I’m not coping; I’m definitely retreating back to old me and things are just kinda bad. Financially it’s good, better than in a while, but mentally I just feel like I gave up so much because I feel guilty letting my mother of 56 live alone in a strange place that’s 1400 km away. I want to go back. I know I’ll have a job and a place to stay. But can I leave my mom? Is it wrong that I am angry at her?

Alexandra replies

Of course, I can’t tell you what to do, but I can tell from your letter that you’re not at all happy in your current situation. I understand that you and your mom have both struggled with depression in the past, but it sounds as if you were both able to overcome it. That tells me that you both have good inner strength, although it may not always feel that way.

Your mother chose to take this job. I’m wondering if there was any real discussion at the time as to whether you would go with her or not? Did she ask you to give up everything to move with her, or was it your decision because you felt she should not be ‘alone in a strange place.’ Your mother, at 56, is still a relatively young woman — I hope she is enjoying her new job, making friends and becoming familiar with the new community. I think that is what you should be encouraging her to do.

In my opinion, you should not stay there in a job that you hate, becoming more and more depressed and angry with your mom (which is quite normal and understandable, by the way.) You’re 23 and you say you have a job and a place to stay, back where you were happy and thriving. If I were you, I would discuss this with your mother and tell her that, much as you love her, you are not happy there and you want to go ‘home’.

Frankly, it isn’t healthy for either of you if you become dependent on each other. You have supported each other through some very difficult times, which is really commendable, but I think these hard times are in the past now and you have to think of the future. You have your whole life ahead of you and your mom will probably have many more years, too. There’s an old expression that we should raise our children with ‘roots and wings’. Your mom will always be your ‘roots’, but perhaps now is the time for you to spread your wings. I don’t think there is any reason for you to feel guilty. Your sister has become independent — isn’t it your turn now?

I hope this helps a little — the choice is yours, of course, but this is the advice I would give to my grandson, who is your age if he was in your situation. I wish you the very, very best now and always, and I hope you’ll feel free to write back if you want to talk more. We’re always here to listen.

Letter #: 435483
Category: Family

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