Sometimes all it takes is some support for someone to be able to make the right decision. There are times when you are trapped and don’t know how to make the best decision for yourself. And there may be someone else who comes along to offer some advice and it changes how you see the problem. Or something in your life changes big time and it’s time to make an important decision.
Parents can be a touchy subject for some. Were your parents supportive of every choice you made? Are you supportive of your children’s decisions? Will you want what is best for them even if it means you have to change up your life to accommodate their choices? And would you expect your parents to do the same?
“Ryan” has been struggling to stand up for himself in his situation, living with his mother. But now there is an incredible milestone about to happen and his mom might just need to get over it.
Let’s talk about Ryan and his predicament. He’s 24 and living at home with his disabled, divorced, 62-year-old mother. He has wanted to move out for years. He graduated from college in 2019 and then of course when the world shut down he was trapped. His mom, “Cindy,” had “stopped working as much as a substitute teacher,” so he had to step up to the plate to help out. It was not easy, and Cindy never understood how much Ryan was truly doing for her. She also never wanted him to leave. Cindy called it “contributing to the cause” and expected Ryan to help provide for her in what she thought was her lowest.
She would make a show of it whenever Ryan would bring up leaving. Wailing and whining about how he was abandoning her and “she doesn’t want her baby to leave her.” But was it about the company and keeping her son close? Or was it about the money and how willing Ryan was to make sure she was taken care of?
Ryan says it’s more than just the crocodile tears, she ties guilt into the whole thing. She’s even said, “if you move out, I won’t be able to afford to live in the house anymore. I’ll have to get rid of the cat and the dog. I might end up homeless. Or have to move into a housing authority.”
This seems more like a parent who doesn’t know how to live on their own and has been pampered for too long. Cindy has no friends other than a sister and relies on Ryan for companionship. He feels as though his mother is treating him more like her therapist rather than a son.
Ryan admits he’s never stood up to Cindy before. He has tried to have conversations about how she is making him feel guilty for wanting to leave, but she replies, “I’m not trying to make you feel guilty, I just need you to know the facts.”
This whole thing sounds like a guilt trip. I wouldn’t want to live with someone who makes it difficult to live with them. And Ryan so badly wants to get out so he can live his life.
And one really important thing happened which might just make it possible.
The Important Stuff
Ryan has had a partner for four years and has fallen in love. And recently, on their four-year anniversary, “Chris” proposed. It was a small affair, but wonderfully meaningful to Ryan and Chris. It was on a Friday before a weekend they would spend with Chris’ parents. The two of them were in their favorite game store. Chris had a surprise for Ryan. Chris had commissioned a familiar artist to design a picture depicting two characters. These characters were special characters Chris and Ryan had made for the games they played. In the picture, Chris’ character was proposing to Ryan’s character.
Chris had the image sent to Ryan’s phone. Ryan received the notification while they were in the store they loved. He looked at it in slight confusion, but it dawned on him when he turned to see his partner on one knee.
The whole thing was romantic and heartfelt, just what anyone would want from a proposal.
With tears in his eyes, Ryan said yes when Chris asked those familiar words, “Will you marry me?”
This was one of the best moments of their lives. If only it wasn’t going to be ruined by Ryan’s mother.
It was 12:30 am by the time Ryan was able to build the courage to tell his mother. He was rightfully worried about her response. He was anticipating fake “tears of joy” and then a slew of questions. Ryan expected the topic of his living plans to come up and braced for the waterworks.
There weren’t many directions this phone call could take with how his mother usually reacted to things. Such as his high school and college graduations, where she wailed at both.
Something makes me think she just really needs some emotional attention and has trouble seeing her baby boy leave the nest. It’s sad to see them leave, but isn’t watching them be happy worth it?
Ryan texted Cindy making sure she was awake. Even though it was late he knew she would want to hear about it right away. She did love him and cared about the important things.
And then he called her, bracing for the worst.
Things went well at first. She was so excited for the two of them. Cindy reacted how a mother should react; with warmth and excitement. But then she had to ruin it with just a few words.
She said, “I guess that means you’ll be moving out”
Immediately, Ryan knew where she would take this conversation. She would start to make it as dramatic as possible. Cindy would try to say, “you’ll be able to save more if you don’t pay rent” and try and convince Ryan to have Chris move in as well. One happy family. A married couple and Ryan’s mom. This didn’t sit well with Ryan, as it hadn’t any other time she brought the topic up. He was also upset every time she brought this up because he was making his “contribution” every month and it was racking up to be over $1000 at this point.
After everything he was doing to provide for them and make sure they were taken care of, she still played it off as though this was a better living situation than he’d have elsewhere. But Ryan knew better, he just hadn’t found a way to say it yet.
Ryan gathered a bit of courage and stopped her before there could be any melodramatics.
He said, “Can we not talk about that stuff right now please?”
Somehow it worked and “she backed off.”
While he was surprised, Ryan was also relieved. He could now spend his weekend in peace with his soon-to-be in-laws. Well, at least he was hoping he could.
Once The Weekend Was Over
It was a lovely weekend. It had been pre-planned and perfectly timed. Chris’ family had moved to town while he and Ryan were together. However, Chris was in a similar situation with his family. He was still living at home with his parents who were relying on him.
Basically, they were in a pickle. However, this one weekend was supposed to be calm and relaxing. They were celebrating. And it turned out to be a wonderful weekend. They ended up visiting an aquarium and spending time together as a family.
All good things come to an end though. And Sunday was the day.
When the weekend was over Ryan went home to his mom. On the way, he picked up some of her favorite food. He was really hoping for the best but knew she was going to act up.
But then she surprised him again.
There was no “flurry of questions and drama.”
Cindy said, “I’m happy for you.” And left it there. Suspicious.
Ryan said it was “weird, but better than what I was expecting.”
But then it was after dinner and time for bed. It was time for Cindy to reveal her true thoughts on the matter.
At first, it was fine, just questions about the proposal. But then it turned out to be exactly what Ryan expected.
Cindy asked, “So when are you going to move out?”
The dreaded question. Ryan didn’t want to ruin his weekend. Why couldn’t this have waited until later? Or even not at all? Didn’t he deserve to be happy and just excited about his engagement? Why did she have to ruin things?
Ryan and Chris had talked about when they might get the ball rolling. They anticipated a few months would be good to get them in the right space for both of them to move out of their respective situations. But Ryan wasn’t sure how to break this to Cindy. He wanted to defend himself against her guilt trips, but he was “in damage control mode.” He wanted to ease through this, to “deflect and change the subject.” Ryan just wanted to have a whole weekend without stressing over what his mom thought.
It was too late though. There was no chance he was making it out of this conversation now it had started.
Ryan told Cindy he and Chris had discussed soon-ish so they could save for a wedding and a house. The two of them wanted to save together, obviously starting their new journey as fiances.
Cindy countered with the argument she’d had for years, “well, you could save more if you both lived here and didn’t pay rent.”
She was forgetting about the lump sum Ryan had to contribute every month to make sure they were taken care of.
But this wasn’t even the worst part. He wanted to move out to get away from his mother. He didn’t want to see her suffer or lose anything, but he wanted his own life. And he was about to share it with another person, so it only made sense to move out and move on. Ryan felt like he was being “driven to insanity.”
Chris had said he would move in with Ryan and Cindy but as a last resort. Ryan could tell Chris hated the thought and Ryan would never want to put his partner through what he was experiencing. Not to mention how hard moving would be on Chris. It would be a new town and a longer commute to work. All around it just wasn’t practical for Chris and Ryan to live with Cindy. And Ryan needed to get out as soon as he could.
Ryan had tried explaining all of this and more to Cindy, but she combatted everything, every time.
She even said, as they were discussing him moving out, “I’m sorry but becoming homeless is kind of a big deal for me.”
Ryan knew this was a tactic, she wouldn’t become homeless, she just didn’t want him to leave. He made sure not to encourage the conversation, but he also didn’t fully stand up for himself. He was stuck in between. And he was angry she couldn’t have even lasted a few hours before making the situation all about herself.
However, Ryan said his engagement has given him “newfound strength.” He feels as though something has changed within him. He “didn’t stand up to her, but [he] also didn’t engage.” This is a huge step for him.
So now the question is what does he do from now on? What does he decide? Will he and Chris be able to move out from their narcissistic parents’ places and live happily ever after? What do you think Ryan should say to Cindy?
Personally, I think he did the best he could under the circumstances, but he has a lot more room for growth. However, he is making progress. And to Cindy I say, stop holding onto your grown son, it’s time he was able to live his life without feeling the burden of yours too.