AE here. I need to vent, and perhaps get some advice.
My mom and I butt heads frequently, and when we do, she (exaggeratedly) expresses her displeasure and disapproval of me to friends and family. I'm to a point where I don't know if I can take it any more and I'm not sure what to do.
Every chance she gets she vocalizes what a difficult child I was (I never got into ANY trouble and was very obedient, yet I managed to stress her out all the time just by existing) and what a burdensome adult child I am now (because she tries to control me and I resist). I admit, I'm defensive and react easily when she criticizes me or tries to tell me what to do, but I did everything she said until I was 18, and then expected some respect as an adult, which still hasn't totally come in 12 years.
There was a period of time when our disputes would cause me so much distress that I nearly resorted to self-injury (I think I actually did on one or two occasions). When she would bring me to the breaking point, I would beg her to relax because she was making me want to hurt myself, and she would just yell at me telling me that was awful and she didn't like hearing me talk like that. I'm mentally in a better place now where self-injury is not an issue, but she still angers me on a regular basis.
During my wedding planning process, she was unbearable and wanted things her way. She told all her friends and family what a bridezilla I was. I wasn't; I swear (ask anyone but her!!). I mean, I like things my way, which are definitely not her way, but her calling me bridezilla stemmed from issues such as my insistence that we follow etiquette by inviting all shower guests to the wedding, provide options for guests with allergies (who happened to be VIP guests), etc. She would throw fits about how unreasonable it was for me to go out of my way to get a specific kind of cake that my MOH and a handful of other guests could eat (with my own money, in addition to "regular" cake), how we couldn't afford to invite 15 extra people to the wedding (then don't invite them to the shower!!) or other random things like how it worried her to the point of getting physically ill that I didn't want to deal with a florist (we did candles instead). Of course, the only thing she tells everyone is that I'm such a bridezilla and the wedding is causing her stress.
She's always been overly ashamed of me (or something) when I make choices she disagrees with. Years ago, I took time off college because it was wearing on me and I was depressed. In social situations when we were together, I would be asked what I do, and I'd answer that I worked at such-and-such place, and she would jump in to clarify (interrupt) that "She's a college drop-out and it was not my idea. I'm not proud." Personally, I'm very proud of my decision to leave college, because it saved my life and steered it into the direction it is today, but it's always hurt me how publicly ashamed she was of me.
I've since graduated with a bachelor's degree, which I suppose pleased her while I was working in my chosen field. Recently, though, I quit my "career" job because I wasn't happy, and have been working part time in a service job I absolutely love. My mom disapproves of this move, even though my finances totally allow me this luxury. I found out my mom not only expresses her unsolicited disapproval to my in-laws, but has on more than one occasion apologized to my MIL (who, for the record, has no issue with my working status) for having a daughter who doesn't work full time, as it must put a lot of pressure on her son. I guess she feels that because I make less than 1/4 of what my husband does, I'm a gold-digger, and that reflects poorly on her as a mother. So she has to make sure everyone knows she doesn't like it.
I'm very happy with my life right now, but her criticisms are really affecting me. My high self-esteem has been hanging by a thread for 30 years because of her. Even her positive comments are back-handed (Things like she was surprised and never had faith I could cook or be a good hostess until she tried my lasagna at a dinner I hosted, or "I was always worried you wouldn't be a good mother until I saw how good you are to your cat.") I frequently consider cutting her out of my life, but she's my mom. Any advice on how to deal?