What should I do when I have toxic parents?

I finished my graduate study and returned to live with my parents but it has been fraught with conflict. They want to interfere with my decisions, big and small, from whether or not to cut my hair to my future career. I recently traveled to another city for work (business trip), however, during a recent phone call my mother made it clear that she despises the work I love, wants me to do what she wants me to do, doesn't want me to move, insults me for looking ugly (in fact, when I see my friends they often say I haven't changed, haven't aged, or that I have become more cheerful). When I speak in a rational tone about my motivations and the causes and consequences of events, the response is "Why don't you do a different kind of work?" our conversations tend to become more uncontrollable. I would get impatient and start criticizing her stereotypical and narrow-minded values. I struggled with this because I didn't want my mostly happy day to end with a bad family conversation.
It is exhausting to be around them, and I rarely get their understanding and support. In my memories of growing up, my family was like a shadow that formed a wound in my personality and life, and I didn't know how to deal with that part and the hard feelings it gave me.
Asked by Bella

Hi there,

I am sorry that you are in this difficult time of your life. I cannot imagine how hard it must be to constantly feel at odds with your parents. As human beings we want our parents to be proud of us and to support us in our life. It sounds like your parents have a very black and white view of what they hoped you would be in your adult years. It also sounds like they expected you to act and look a certain way from a very young age. This could be why you feel shadowed as a child. You were not allowed to be who you wanted and that in turn dimmed your light. As we get older it is natural, and appropriate for us to be able to make decisions without our parents input. At this point in your life it is not acceptable for them to be so rigid and demanding of what you should or shouldn't do.

The hard part is going to be setting boundaries with them going forward. This will be difficult because it appears that is not something that they would like, or that you are accustomed to doing. Setting boundaries is important in our lives with all people we allow close to us. Boundaries are simply "what's ok, and what's not ok." For you. In your life. There is a good book by Brene' Brown titled "atlas of the heart" that may be a good read for you.

Going forward I would suggest that you tell your parents very clearly how you wish to live. What you wish to do to for a career. How you wish to look. And let them know you love and respect their opinion, but that at this age in your life you are asking for them to love, respect, and support your decisions. Not to constantly put you down, or cast negative judgement on you. Let them know that you will have to limit contact with them if they continue to choose not to respect you. Each time they cross a boundary it will be important for you to remind them of your wishes. 

I wish you all the best,