My Mother Clipped My Wings But I Forged My Own Path

“I’ve gained the courage to live coherently, to behave as I feel, and I’ve never been happier.” – Alicia*


How did your relationship with your mother affect you emotionally and mentally?

I was never one to party, drink, or stay out late. But during the first few months of my job after graduation, I started hanging out more with my friends. Each time, at about 11pm, I would receive an angry text from my mother, telling me that it was late and asking when I was going to leave. My heart would start racing, and I would start to feel my cheeks heat up. At 24 years old, I still had a curfew. It was maddening. I wanted the autonomy to decide when I wanted to leave, on my own terms. I didn’t know why my body reacted this way. All I knew was that I wanted it to stop.

What made you take the leap to start going for counselling?

I had been considering going for counselling for more than a year, especially towards the end of the circuit breaker period. Right before Covid broke out, I was in Europe for my exchange programme. Six weeks in, we were called back, and lockdown began one day after my quarantine ended. I didn’t cope well with the abrupt change in lifestyle, from one of almost complete autonomy to one where I was never alone. But it was only until my wings were still being clipped at a stage where I thought I’d be considered an “adult”, did I take the first step.

Did counselling help you?
To say that counselling changed my life would be an understatement. I remember breaking down for the entire hour that first session. I never realised how much resentment and hurt I’d bottled up over the years, and how much I yearned to be heard.

How has going for counselling helped you?

The most helpful part of the counselling sessions with my counsellor was understanding why I behave in certain ways. She often offers a more scientific perspective, and it helps me to view my situation with a degree of objectivity. Analysing human behaviour in this manner has helped me to be less hard on myself and the people around me.

She has helped me to recognise that a lot of my reactions have been hardwired into my brain since I was a toddler. My knee-jerk reactions to my mother’s anger were to ensure my own survival, but the dangers that threatened my safety as a helpless human baby don’t exist anymore. This understanding has also improved my self-awareness, and I’m better able to identify my emotional state in various situations. This has been extremely helpful for me so far: being able to identify when I’m triggered and consequently being able to delay my response.

More importantly, counselling has equipped me with the necessary skills to not only understand my behaviours, but to also respond appropriately. With my counsellor’s constant encouragement throughout this journey, I’ve gained the courage to live coherently, to behave as I feel, and I’ve never been happier.

How are you now?
Although I went into counselling with the aim of improving my relationship with myself and with my mother, I grew in more ways than expected. The skills I learnt and the emotional maturity I gained have helped me in all other areas of my life, personally and professionally. I know this sounds like an exaggeration, but going for counselling is truly the best decision I’ve made in my life.


*Not her actual name

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