Saturday, November 30, 2013

"I can live the rest of my life without letting my toxic family back in..."

From a person who wants to be identified as "Jenny":

I just wanted to express my gratitude for creating such a brilliant and supportive resource online. I am 22 years old, and I finally found the resources and connections to move out while being able to support myself. At first I felt obligated to keep in contact with my mom, believing her initial promises about teaching my younger sister (18 years old) to stop swearing at me and putting me down, and that she would prevent my dad from hitting me anymore. I've put up with, and even believed in the things my parents have told me, including that I am mentally retarded (I believed I had a learning and social disability). When I began to refuse to give up and just tell them what they wanted to hear (that they are always right and I am always wrong, that their abuse is deserved) I was told that I have a attitude problem on a pathological level. My mom does not acknowledge that what I've been through is 22 years of abuse. Some proof of this would be her telling me "Well your dad doesn't hit you every day" while she does not acknowledge that he threatens me everyday, and uses condescending profanities to refer to me, not even using my given name.

My sister was there the first time I truly felt my life was threatened, and was also there when I ran out the house to call the police on my dad. The first time I had the guts to verbally defend myself to him "Go ahead, throw that at me. I WILL call the police with this cell phone right here" --- the next day when my mom confronted him about it, he said "Do you know what that BITCH did to ME?" And he never apologized for traumatizing me over having 2 plates in the sink. After days like this, he looks at me when I come back from work or school and asks me in a sickeningly sweet tone, "Did you have a good day?" as though the abuse the day before didn't happen. Or perhaps to show he had "forgiven" me for whatever upset him that day. Yet she had the nerve to tell me "Mom and dad care and when you say they hate you you're putting words in to their mouths. Get a reality check, and go talk to your therapist." That was the last of her words to me, basically telling me not to talk to her. I've lost all trust in my family and since then I've realized how utterly foolish it will be to go back to a place where I will once again, not have the sanity or peace of mind to form my own identity and personality. She was never hit my either of my parents, and for some reason, my parents only attacked me physically, verbally,  and emotionally.

There are not that many resources for children of toxic parents on the web or out there in general, and the loudest message out there so far is that I owe my parents the chance to stay in contact with me because they've raised me. But there is a reason I felt it necessary to move out, and I stand by my choice. The choice to cut all ties with my family who denies having hurt me, is also one I will stand by.

Emotionally, it is still overwhelming because I've been under the denial that my family will always be around no matter what, and that the abuse is just a part of being cared about fervently. My mind knows that there is no justification for the physical, mental and emotional abuse I've gone through. However my heart is broken because I had a thread of hope left in my mom when she said she understands me. I called her at a desperate time of need for my mom to hear me and understand me, and she just told me this: "Listen, it's me first, THEN you. Got it? Do you want me dead? I need to take care of myself before your needs are met" --- the fact that she said this to me while I called her crying my eyes out in a rented room hours away from a place that I used to call home, made me realize my reality once and for all. 

Thank you again for creating such a supportive website. It's like a lighthouse for me. I want to keep believing that I can live the rest of my life without letting my toxic family back in to walk all over me as they have. 

9 comments:

  1. First off, I would like to tell you that you should be very proud of yourself for being so strong, in spite of being so broken (understandably), at the same time, and that is a true testament to your character. You will survive this. What you have gone through is wrong, without question. It's hard to accept because our parents are supposed to be the people on this planet who love us unconditionally and be the last people on earth who would ever hurt or damage us in any way - be it verbally, emotionally, or physically. It's important to remember one simple fact though: our parents are people who are flawed, just like other people in the world, they just happen to be our parents, and will not always behave the way they are supposed to. Once you realize that, it makes it easier to stop focusing on the "how could they treat me this way?" and instead on, "how am I going to be smart about this and get through it?" People are the way they are for a number of combined reasons - undoubtedly to do with their past and upbringing - things that have nothing to do with you, and are out of your control. You also have to mourn the fact that you've been robbed of the healthy upbringing that you deserved. And due to the fact that there are many reasons for you to have damaged self-esteem, problems with confidence, feeling valued, etc., you are going to have to work on yourself and develop those things on your own, and it will be the best gift you will give yourself. The pain will never go away, but you will get better and smarter with how to deal with it, and get around it. It's important that you do, because you have a life ahead of you that can include many wonderful things; such as finding the love of your life, getting married, having beautiful children that will give you more joy than you can even imagine, having a successful career, enjoying your friends, travelling, etc. Life is exciting and don't ever let anyone stand in the way of the opportunities that lie ahead for you. Stay focused on that.

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    1. Thank you for sharing your story. I'm so sorry for the pain you have dealt with at the hands of your mother. If you see this, let me know if you would be ok with me publishing your story as a post on this blog. You can reply here or email me parentfreebychoice@gmail.com.

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  2. ...Continued from the previous post, due to length (starting with 'First off...'):

    You remind me of me 20 years ago, and I am still dealing with many similar problems due to a narcissistic mother who is incredibly cruel to me, even as an adult (39 yrs old), constantly judges me, is critical, says horribly nasty, hurtful things, and then shows no remorse whatsoever, and zero empathy, even if I am crying in devastation. She has done this for most of my life. Instead of feeling bad, like a normal healthy mother would, she will tell me that I am being dramatic, overreacting, and I'm an actress who should win an academy award. What she's doing in invalidating my feelings, which are real. She also blatantly lies about things she has said, or says she doesn't remember saying them. The nastiness always happens when we are alone, no witnesses. She is incredibly helpful and nice to me when other people are around and watching. She never allows me to express my side of things after an argument occurs (which are always due to her picking on me & being unreasonable), cuts me off, accuses me of being abusive and disrespectful, etc. She is old school Italian, and expects to be able to say anything she wants to me, and I'm supposed to just accept it, out of respect. It's a power thing, and she thinks that being my mother gives her a free pass to verbally assault me any way she wants, & I'm to accept it because 'she is my mother.' Anything she is guilty of, she accuses me of, as she is always deflecting, and projecting her bad behaviour onto me; trying to convince herself that I'm the one behaving badly, so in her own mind, it lets her off the hook. She's manipulative, and says things to make me feel like the whole world is against me - the opposite of what a mother is supposed to do with her daughter. They're supposed to build you up; not tear you down. She does not do this with my brother - at all. I recently told her that I have a good relationship with my brother, & she told me that I am "dreaming," trying to make me feel like she knows something I don't, but then won't elaborate on what she means. It's game playing, and there's only one rule: that I can't win. She calls me delusional all the time, & says that I need help, when she knows deep down inside she is the one who needs help, but will never admit it. She has been mistreated by her parents (especially father), & is repeating the cycle. Just they way they only abused the daughters in the house & not the sons, she has done the same with my brother and I, as that is what she knows. When I point this out to her, she freaks out, & forbids me not to talk about that, when other times she has complained about it to me. She takes no accountability. She recently called me 'retarded' during an argument, even though I was being calm and respectful, not raising my voice, etc. Didn't matter. She still had to get nasty. And then she'll act like nothing happened - sweep it under the rug, like your dad has done. She'll make up with me, only to sting me harder the next time.

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  3. ...Continued from previous post due to length (starting with 'You remind me of me 20 yrs ago,' which cont'd from 'First off...'):

    My relationship with my father is good now, we never argue - unless its over things that have happened with my mother, as he feels stuck in the middle and just wants peace in the family. But never a problem between him and I. But this is a healed relationship that used to be toxic as well; my father used to hit me - and get quite violent with me, from the time I was twelve, right into my early twenties. At one point I was prescribed Attivan by my doctor to help calm my nerves that were shot, as every time a physical attack would happen, which got worse and worse as I got older, I would cry and shake uncontrollably, & couldn't soothe myself anymore. I've been hit, kicked, pushed, hair pulled out my head where I'm screaming for mercy, knocked in the jaw hard enough to leave a bruise, called horrible names, thrown outside on the pavement, had things thrown at me, been pinned against the wall, constantly intimidated, etc. - and always told that I deserved it, I caused it, I pushed his buttons, etc. - typical things that an abuser says. The only thing I ever did was argue back to defend myself, and raise my voice, but I never said nasty things, swore at them, nothing like that - nothing to justify what would happen to me. Sometimes my mom would come to my defense during these attacks, but most often she would stay out of it. I felt very alone. You feel guilty if you tell anyone about what's going on because you don't want to make your parents look bad, especially if you are an avid 'family person' like myself, who is also very loyal. I went through hell with my dad, and it's amazing that I even speak to him after all that happened over that many years - when I believe he was going through a mid-life crisis, drinking too much at that time, trying to deal with losing a long-time job, was frustrated that his little girl was growing up, etc. He didn't deal with all those stresses well, and I was always the 'scapegoat' in the family - whether it was for my mother or my father. Whenever either one of them goes through stress, it's me who takes the brunt of it, and my brother is left out of it. That happens to this day. The interesting thing is that I am the one who is more committed to my family - attending every family event, being supportive & attentive to any one who needs assistance (i.e. - sick grandparents, etc), and my brother is more the one who focuses on himself & what's going on in his world. But I am the one they are always frustrated with. They'll tell me, "well he doesn't argue with us the way you do." That's because he doesn't have to. He keeps a healthy distance & they also don't give him a hard time, so he doesn't need to constantly defend himself. Do some research on 'Narcissistic Parents' & family dynamics where there is a 'scapegoat child' in the family (you & I), and a 'golden child' in the family (your sister & my brother). Just google this stuff & read a bunch of articles on it. You will relate to it all so well.

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  4. ...Continued from previous post due to length (starting with 'My relationship with my father is good now...' & this is the final instalment):

    My father and I are fine now, as that was a chapter that opened, & then closed, and I chose not to hold a grudge (although I am constantly accused of being a grudgeful person, which is ridiculous), but with my mom, I always knew something wasn't right from the time I was quite young, and it has continued to get worse with time. I believe she suffers from Narcissistic Personality Disorder, and that is something that never heals, just gets worse, & the person almost always refuses to admit there's a problem, or agrees to get help. We will never be able to be truly close because of this, and it breaks my heart. Girls need their mothers, & it's a big void when you don't have that healthy relationship with your mom. But for the record, I never fell apart, turned to drugs, or engaged in any self-destructive behaviour that would have further screwed up my life, which is a common result with people who have suffered repeated emotional trauma. I beat the odds. I studied hard and started a great career, have been happily married to an amazing man for a decade now, we have 3 beautiful children - whom I have excellent relationships with (I have successfully broken the cycle), we live in a beautiful home, have wonderful friends, live productive lives, and we are happy. I am still standing, and I am strong - tough as nails. I've had to be, in order to get through all this, and prosper in my life regardless of the obstacles I've had to over come. You can do the same. Hang in there, and you will be okay. I can tell by reading your post, that you have it in you to get through this, and you have enough self-awareness, common sense and intelligence to understand that you need to make a change to protect yourself from this toxicity. So good for you for doing that, & for recognizing your self-worth. It's not easy under the circumstances, but your pushing through. Continue to be good to yourself. Sometimes, other people won't be, but you can always count on yourself, & you will be stronger because of it. One further word of advice: be careful not to become too much of a 'people pleaser,' or an 'over pleaser,' as I have - which I am now realizing, & the reasons behind it, and learning to fix that. Because you have always been deprived of your parents' approval, you are a prime candidate to become someone who goes out of your way too much for others, to the point where you get taken for granted, & taken advantage of, because you are trying to compensate by acquiring as much approval as you can from the rest of the world. You think you are being this wonderful, giving person who goes out of her way for everyone, because it makes you feel good, & that you will be appreciated & loved for it, & then ended up feeling empty when people take you for granted, & it hurts. It's a common after-effect of someone in your position. I'm not saying to be cold and only out for yourself, because that is definitely no good either. Just be care of taking it to extremes. I know this post was long, but hopefully it will help you. You deserve as much support as possible, & if this can help you, & you can get something out of it that will serve you well, then even though you are a stranger to me, I am happy to take the time to write this post to you. Soldier on my dear! Best of luck to you. xo

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  5. Just wanted to comment that I just found this blog and I am grateful.

    I cut ties with my mother over the years a few times, finally completing the job about 6 years ago. I stopped talking to my father a few months ago. After cutting ties with my mother, I had a child that I always wanted, got my graduate degree and married a man that neither of my parents met who I believe truly loves me.

    My parents were melancholy during my early childhood and separated (they were never married) just before I was 13. My mother was a victim to everyone - my father, her mother, people at work... She favored my sister and although she attempted to cover it up verbally, her actions were obvious. She would have lunch with my sister by never invite me to come along; she continuously likened me to her mother when it suited her (who she maligned as superficial, self-centered, narcisistic, abusive to her); when I chose to go away to school, and paid for it all with financial aid, she maligned my choice of school, calling it a "drug school" and laughed about it. She even got my sibling to join in the fun at me expense; When I told her I was seeing a therapist up at school, she made fun of this activity, saying things like "Is that what Mary told you?"; She stole $800 in student loan money from an account that I had for school and, in my trusting way, gave her an atm card for "just in case"; She aligned herself with my ex-husband and kept contact with him after we were apart including inviting him to holiday parties- he detached himself from our marriage and that was the cause of my leaving BUT noone in my family wanted to hear or recognize that fact; She made me feel like a burden - I couldn't do anything right - but managed to get this opinion out indirectly to siblings and family so that I could not pin her down on it; She destoyed any relationships I will ever have with my siblings. My sister is devoted to her and my brother doesn't speak with her anymore but his wife keeps making attempts. I have no idea what stories about my life she chose to tell to others but I am apparently the family "f*ck up and I am treated this way by both my siblings.

    She stole credit cards from the mail at her job and used them to buy herself and her then boyfriend shoes, clothes and outings; She cheated on two men for years while my sister and I had to be witness to this, including spending time with both and keeping our mouths shut; She took off to Palm Springs for a week leaving me (13) and my sister (14) on our own; She consistently chased after he married boyfriend in the middle of the night, leaving me and my sister home alone (13 and 14); She told my father and my grandmother she needed money to pay for college for me WHEN IN FACT I was on 100% financial aid - to the point where I got money back for books and extras. I asked her for money maybe once in college and mysteriously, it never arrived. She claimed someone in the dorm stole it from the mail; When I asked he to invite my father to my college graduation - BIG MISTAKE - she never did it and I didn't find out until graduation day. When I railed at her for this, she was the poor victim, gave me $80 for dinner and left... (continued below)

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    1. Thank you for your comment. I'm so sorry for all you have gone through, and glad you have taken steps to protect yourself. You might not see this but let me know if you would be ok with me publishing your story as a post on this blog. You can reply here or email me parentfreebychoice@gmail.com.

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  6. All this treatment originated because I was the child that had the courage to speak up when I saw things that looked wrong. I had the courage to live my life in my own direction. I was NEVER a bad kid, never in trouble in school or otherwise - I was never a "burden". Nobody paid my rent or bills. I didn't bring any unwanted children home or have crazy parties. No police activity or arrests. NO DRUGS!! I never caused more trouble to my mother or my family than any regular child would cause - coming home late from friends etc. Because of her lies, my family is under the impression that my mother has financially supported me in school and in my life WHEN IN REALITY I left home at 17 to go to college and barely returned. I was out by the time I was 21. My siblings lived at home until they were 26 and 28 respectively. How am I the burden?

    At my grandmother's dying request, I made contact with my mother again when my daughter was about 6 months old. My mother and her husband bought a bunch of clothes - FROM A CONSIGNMENT STORE!! BUT when invited to other birthday parties, my mother spent time and money to bring brand new gifts for children, some of whom weren't even blood relatives.

    My father is and was woefully inadequate as a parent and has favored my brother since he is the only boy. Once, when I was a single mother living over an hour away from my brother's house, my father called me to pick him up from my brothers home to drive him to the train station, 5 minutes away from brothers home. See, my brother was having an argument with his wife and my father didn't want to bother him...So he called me an hour away to pick him up and drop him off!!

    At least he helped with a great deal of cash after my daughter was born and I was struggling to find work. But I rationalize this with the fact that he NEVER paid child support after my parents broke up. I know this because both of then corroborated this story.

    My brother is a self-centered, self-serving idiot with a wife that fits and my sister is completely devoted to my mother. Although I miss my sister there is no way to mend this seriously damaged relationships.

    Eventually, between my two parents who had made their choices for favorites, denying it the whole way, I decided they just weren't good enough for my daughter or me. I have found after I got rid of this constant negativity that my life has been more decisive, confident and positive. I succeed or fail, I do things right or wrong and I accept myself as they never did. I know now that no matter how much I tried to make them proud, they just never were going to feel that way about me. When I gave up trying to get that pride from them and my siblings, I found it in myself.

    Many people don't understand. They are possibly lucky that they have parents who are proud of them no matter what choices they make in life and stick by them no matter what. I still feel angry at the family I apparently never had but everyday I see my daughter and a husband that loves and supports me I realize I have that family I have always strived for. And the other one cannot belittle it or take it from me.

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  7. I quit talking to my father 7 years ago- I was dragged back in by a call from a girlfriend trying to unload him while in the hospital now I FEAR the state will force me to care for him while in his assisted living.. he was a dangerous man. threatened to kill us, abuse, narcissism all of it very very bad. he has mellowed in old age but the crazy still resides.

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