The mailbox was a source of conflict throughout my life. NM guarded it as if it were the secret path to the Land of Milk and Honey. There was one key to the mailbox located in the lobby of the building in which I spent my childhood. She had the key and made every attempt to keep it from us. And when she picked up the mail, I never had any. At least that is what I was told. Even mail with my name on it was hers. She opened everything and at first, I did not think any thing of it. I mean I was a kid and my mother was opening my mail. But then something changed.
When I went to college and opened credit card accounts, made friends from other countries, and began a life outside her control, she continued to open my mail. She questioned me about purchases despite the fact that I was paying off my own credit cards and working two jobs to do so. She opened letters from friends and used the information that she gathered as ammo in many of our heated arguments. And she made a point to remind me that she had a right to see/read what was being sent to her house…. Privacy did not exist as my diary, my mail, my phone conversations were all open to her perusal.
After I moved in with my husband I began to see how my NM’s behavior had a lasting effect. I used to open my husband’s mail. I would let him know what it said, but I always read it with no regard for his privacy. He didn’t care at first and he never really brought it up. Then my NM accused me of driving 4 hours to her house to steal her tax refund check. I told him about her obsession with mail and he pointed our that I open his mail.
It was a shock but not because I was ashamed to do it. Nope, the shock came because my mom had trained me to believe that this is how things are – you live in a house with someone, you know everything even if that means reading their mail. I immediately began checking my behavior because the violation of privacy is unforgivable.
What I have learned is that NMs do not believe that you have the right to live your life without their involvement. In fact, they don’t believe that you have a life. They believe that they control what you do, think, feel, say and want. Privacy is in direct violation of that control so the first thing they do, is remove. It is calculated and the purpose is to keep you weak.
I no longer open his mail without asking him. I don’t feel entitled and allow my husband and my daughter, who is 5, as much privacy as needed for them to maintain and in my daughter’s case, develop, their own identities. I will never be my NM! Never.