Reply To: Adult adhd (inattentive) diagnosis and relationship with aging parents

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Dear Waffles,

I hate to break it to you, but I don’t think your adult ADHD has anything to do with your father not respecting your boundaries. I have adult ADD and have a mother in her 60’s who is officially diagnosed with Borderline personality disorder and has a lot of characteristics of Narcissistic personality disorder as well. As a result others boundaries just don’t exist to her. She will either subconsciously violate them or just because she thinks you are stupid for putting them up in the first place (e.g. I was simply sharing my worries about you when I blabbed your private issues to anyone who would listen, why would you need privacy in the bathroom or your bedroom since we are all women here etc.).

I have worked with my therapist to improve things from my end (since there is no use expecting her to improve) and perhaps you might get some use out of the tips she gave me.

First put your father (or better both parents) on an information diet when it comes to area’s of your mental health, your job search/prospects and your marriage. Practice sentences with as little personal information as possible. So when your father asks about your sessions with your therapist (or something) say that you had a productive session, are working hard to improve the quality of your life, that the sessions are giving you a lot to think about and process in the next days etc. Vary, rinse and repeat. This way you tell a lot, but give them zero real personal (perhaps painful) information.

Secondly, let go of idealization and take a critical look at your parents and their actions toward you (from childhood on). As a child, no matter how old you are, you crave an emotional intimate relationship with your parents, but when sharing details of your life leads to your boundaries being violated and you being worse off because of it, it’s best to take a huge step back (or so my therapist explained). She helped me see that I was clinging to an ideal of the mother I would have liked to have (and would have deserved), but that the sad reality was that I did not have such a mother, had never had such a mother, and would never have such a mother.

I have mourned (and sometimes still mourn) the relationship that never was and never will be, but creating some emotional distance and opening my eyes to what my mother is and isn’t capable of has improved my mental health tremendously.