I feel I’ve spent my life walking on egg shells. When I was at school I would drag out my journey home for as long as possible because I didn’t know what my mother’s mood was going to be or how she would react to anything I said. Sometimes she wouldn't even register that I had arrived, which was fine, but more often than not she'd criticise me for something trivial.
In some form or other that feeling of dread has stayed with me even though I am now middle aged and have a family of my own. Like most of us I believe it is important to respect peoples’ views and I know that many people find it hard to be tactful in social situations when they feel passionately about whatever is being discussed. For example you would not rave about Brexit when you know your hosts who have invited you to dinner are Remainers. But then you usually know were they stand in advance. In contrast mother’s views are so unpredictable that the feeling of apprehension can be overwhelming.
I should be old enough by now to be able to manage but because she shouted at me so much when I was a child I have a horror of arguments. Luckily my husband is very even tempered, but on the rare occasions he is annoyed by something I've done, I fear he could abandon me at any moment.
I don’t want to walk away and have nothing to do with my mother, not least because that is the sort of thing she does and I do my best not to follow her example. I just need to learn how to conquer my anxiety.
That feeling of dread is a form of anxiety and a natural reaction to anticipating a fearful situation, especially when you don’t know how your parent will react. Prepare yourself in advance. Take a look at the coping page. We suggest for example:
Keep your breathing slow and steady. Think of a distraction like a calming image. Write down your experience. Remind yourself that this is not your fault. Try to have someone with you.