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I can't live like this anymore(37 Posts)
Have NC'ed for this. It will be very long. Am just writing my thoughts down, I have been struggling recently with being able to verbalise what I mean, so apologies if it doesn't seem to make sense.
I'm 18 and live at home with my mum. My parents split up when I was 9, I still see my Dad regularly.
For a long, long time, me and my mum have argued nearly constantly. It goes in cycles where we get on for a few days, then are at each other's throats.
I don't (didn't) know why we argue- my mum says that I'm a nasty person with an attitude problem and has in the past attempted to get me a diagnosis of Asperger's syndrome. The doctor didn't think I had Aspergers, but referred me to a counsellor, I didn't really understand why, but I went once and didn't see the point of it so never went back.
I find that I'm angry a lot of the time, and I have never been able to put my finger on why. My anger is always directed at my mum, I am fine when I have arguments with my dad/sister/friends etc.
This has come to a head recently with a lot of arguments and a seemingly trivial argument meant that my mum told me to get out of the house and not come back. I couldn't get anywhere that night, but the next night I went straight from college to a friend's house. I didn't let anyone know where I was staying, and my mum tried contacting me and then ended up emailing my form tutor at midnight because she was "concerned about where I was". I honestly don't believe this was out of concern, I feel this is due to her need to control everything. She is a control freak and can't stand it if things are not done "her" way- This is a widely accepted view in our family, not just my opinion. She has since made out to lots of people that she never told me "not to come back" - she did, she's denying it, and she does it all the time, and not just with me. She denies stuff that I know she has said, and makes me feel like I'm going crazy. She also says I haven't told her things when I know 100% that have. I think this is called gaslighting?
My mum has always worked in child care and recently started fostering. Lots of arguments resulted from a recent fostering placement, as it was clearly an unsuitable placement for our family for lots of reasons and my mum placed unreasonable expectations on me (whilst I had lots of college work to do) whilst she had this placement. The child is no longer with us. She has always had a very strong "safeguarding children" ethos to the children in her care, and has on several occasions gone beyond the call of duty to report concerns/ possible risks to the children from certain people etc, to the relevant authorities. In short- she tries her utmost to ensure the children she has a professional relationship with are safeguarded.
Now obviously, this is a good thing, BUT...
About 7 years ago (I was 11) I was sexually abused by a much older friend that I had made in an unusual living situation (think commune/isolated community type thing, where people of all ages interact. I moved away from this situation before the abuse started). The abuse took place over several months. It was eventually stopped after my mum "discovered" it. The man was arrested, convicted and placed on the sex offenders register. It is difficult to describe as it was not a "typical" sexual abuse case, but it did affect me and the way I view my position in relationships with men, and I now think it affected me a lot more than I have previously realised.
I have always, over the past 7 years, vaguely wondered why the abuse was able to happen, as certain aspects of the relationship I had with this man were obviously inappropriate and were aspects that I made no secret of. They were warning signs, I suppose. An example of this is the fact that we used to text extremely often, and I was always open with people about who I was texting (I didn't see anything wrong with it at the time). Other family members voiced concerns about my relationship with this man and our frequent texting, but my mum made no attempt to stop it.
Fast forward to recently (in the last year or so) when my mum has been involved in numerous safeguarding incidents professionally. This has made my resentment of her and the fact that no one was there to protect me from the abuse I suffered grow. This has coincided with my relationship with my mum and my behaviour deteriorating. I have avoided, over the last 7 years, asking her why she didn't step in sooner when I was being abused, as I didn't want to upset her.
After I was "thrown out" by my mum the other day, I came back to talk things over with her, in the presence of my dad, about two days ago. The conversation quickly turned into an argument about numerous issues we'd been having. My mum constantly describes me as always "having a massive chip on my shoulder". She asked me again, what was my problem, she told me I have a privileged life, I'm very lucky, get everything I want etc, (this is true) so what's my big problem? After 7 years of holding in what was causing me to be so angry and resentful, I finally blurted out, "You let X abuse me." She stood up, told me I had problems and needed to see a counsellor, and walked out. I haven't spoken to her since and am currently staying at my dad's house.
My dad came into my room a minute ago to speak to me about how I am going to "sort things out with Mum". When I told him I felt that she let me down regarding the abuse, and this is doubly painful because of how attentive she is to the children in her care, I got a load of excuses such as, "well people learn from their mistakes", "hindsight is a wonderful thing" and "well we could have taken your phone away but you wouldn't have liked that". I can say that I would much rather they took my phone away from me rather than let me keep it and it be used to abuse me through!!
There was also one other situation, when I was about 15, when my mum got into a relationship with a man who was recently released from prison for drug offences (he moved in with us as soon as he was released) and I was left alone with him while she was at work. He was a lovely man and I did get on well with him, but he tried to give me drugs. I never told my mum this, but I think this is another example of where she has let me down, as he could quite easily have been sexually abusive, proving she doesn't "learn from her mistakes" as my dad told me she did. In the conversation I just had with my dad, I told him for the first time that my mum's previous partner had offered me drugs, and he said, "Oh, I didn't know that." He wasn't in the least bit shocked, or bothered, or anything.
I can't live like this anymore. I am angry and resentful towards my mum that she wasn't there to protect me like she is with the children she cares for, and I can't deal with the arguments we have. My college work is suffering and my attendance is poor- I was a straight A*/A student at GCSE, and I'm barely scraping Cs now. I have 5 university offers and I know I can get the grades, but I need to turn my life around NOW and start working if I'm going to pull it off. I'm always tired as I barely sleep, and I eat really unhealthily (though I'm not overweight). I don't feel I can make positive changes to my sleeping/eating habits/grades if I don't repair my relationship with my mum first, as this is at the root of my unhappiness. I do wonder if I'm possibly depressed- I have no motivation to do anything and I often feel surrounded by a cloud of fog- recently I can't seem to say what I mean- everytime I try and talk to someone about my problems, I either cry, or feel like I'm in the middle of a crowded room, screaming, and no one is even looking. I can't seem to make my voice heard and get people to understand how I'm feeling.
This is what I want to happen:
1. I want my mum to face up to what happened to me and admit she was wrong (she will NEVER ever admit she is wrong, which is one of the things we argue about).
2. I want to try and repair my relationship with my mum, I love her so much and when we get on it's fantastic. I don't want to resent her anymore.
3. I think seeing a counsellor might help, but only if I sort things out with my mum as well.
4. I want my Dad to stop taking my mum's side about everything and stop making excuses for her.
5. I want to get good grades and go to university.
6. I want to sort my life out- eating and sleeping.
7. I want the fog to lift and I want to feel like "me" again- the funny, intelligent, loving person I know I am, somewhere deep down.
8. I want someone, anyone, to acknowledge that the way I behave and the person I am is not ALL my fault, that I am not a nasty, vindictive bitch, but that I'm struggling.
I'm not even sure why I'm posting this, but I guess I'm just trying to order my thoughts and get some impartial advice. This is a cry for help I suppose, I can't sort this out all by myself.
I don't know what I'm asking for, but any support, or advice, or even if you just tell me to stop being a horrible bitch and pull myself together, at least then I'll know definitively that this is my fault.
I just want someone to hear me and acknowledge what I'm saying. Sorry it's so long.
You are obviously very smart, very lonely and struggling with issues that go back a long time. This may seem a bit wacko but I am pasting in a link to an article that I think may interest you. www.nytimes.com/2011/06/23/health/23lives.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
Marsha Linehan has done so much fabulous work for people like you and me who have long-term trauma to deal with. Her style of therapy has been introduced in many mental health practices around the world. Without going into a lot of detail, I relate to a lot of what you have disclosed. I saw this counsellor and that cbt practitioner blah blah but it wasn't until I completed a Linehan programme that I got better, well and truly better.
I hope this is helpful to you. Sorry if it isn't!
Sarah, you could be me at 18, my mum was not as bad as yours but we did not get on and I felt very angry after a childhood of sexual abuse. My previously A grades dropped as yours did.
But I asked myself a question - if I failed then who was I hurting? Only myself. The best way to show people and yourself you are a valuable person is to achieve.
I pulled myself out of depression and anorexia to get into Uni and become a vet. Believe me graduating was the biggest 'fuck you' to my abuser/doubters than anything.
Maybe you won't ever get the relationship you want with your parents. Maybe (likely) your mum will never say sorry etc. it doesn't matter. You can do this on your own.
Do it. Start working hard at college. Go to Uni. Get help from a nice gp (I was on antidepressants at your age and they did help).
Then achieve what you are worth despite the crap.
Dig deep. This is the worst bit. You will get through it.
izzy is right. The choice is yours. You can make the decision to be the person you feel you are rather than the one your Mum says you are.
For ten years I was told I was stupid, ugly, that arguments were my fault, I was fat, that I was lucky to have have someone like my X-H. I thought he was right. But then I got a new job and the people at work looked at me like I wasn't any of these things which got me thinking that it wasn't me, I wasn't these things and actually all it was was him saying I was. He was controlling. He used gaslighting. He had eroded my self esteem. Since I left I have never felt fat, ugly or stupid. And I haven't shouted at a partner in eight years. I chose to be the person I thought I was rather than the one he said I was.
We believe you and that you can be the person you think you are. Now get your ass to the GP and take the first step in taking control of your own values, personality and being the person you think you are.
sarahbean I was in the same situation as you but more exaggerated when I was a teenager. It took me about 20 years to finally get my family member to admit their complicity in the abuse I suffered for years. I found going for counselling very helpful, it helped me understand some of the complicated emotions I was feeling, that I didn't need to feel guilty and that it wasn't my fault. Once I understood that I think it made it easier to talk about it without getting very angry and upset and it helped me express myself differently.
I suppose what I am trying to say is that you might need to accept that it will take some time -maybe years - to deal with this and it is normal to feel as angry as you do. Don't listen to the wankers who wade in with their stupid opinions; they don't know what happened and you do. It sounds like your mum is selfish and quite needy, which is why she brings these foster children in. She can be in control of them and feel like a 'good person'.
You will be ok and you have time to work this out. You seem very articulate and I'm sure you can do well in your a-levels whatever happens. If all else fails you can blag your way through, the exams are not that difficult and you are clearly very bright.
Pm me if you want - I have been through such a similar situation and I do know how you are feeling.
You have a choice. You can believe everything your mum says about you and live up to her opinion of you as an inherently lazy, selfish and at times downright nasty person.
Or you can believe what your inner self is telling you about yourself which is that, once you've escaped the shackles of your dysfunctional childhood, you can become all that you want to be.
I know what I'd rather choose. How about you?
We're complex creatures, honey. With very few exceptions, we'll all got the ability to do good to ourselves and others, coupled with the equal ability to cause harm to ourselves and others.
Recognising and reconciling our various opposing qualities enables us to build our self-esteem and self-respect and become individuals who are worthy of the esteem and respect of others.
This is a golden opportunity for you to resolve not to compromise your personal integrity and to go all out to achieve your goals and ambitions - and make this your maxim for life.
Thanks for the hug, I could definitely do with one.
What if this is all in my head, what if all this is just an excuse for me being an inherently lazy, selfish and at times downright nasty person?
If my mum read this she would say exactly that, albeit in slightly less blunt terms. She has a way with people, she always manages to get people to believe her about things and she always talks people around to her way of thinking.
My mum is never wrong and I'm struggling to believe, that actually, she might be.
My biggest fear is that what I feel isn't the truth and I'm getting all of your lovely advice and sympathy almost fraudulently.
Is it possible that the problems I'm having with maintaining a relationship with my mum are down to me and not linked to the things I described in my OP at all?
I'm afraid to go to the GP, in case my mum is right.
<and squeezes sarah in a hug because I think you need one>
sarahbean your GP or welfare support should be able to put you in touch with your local CAMHs service where you will be able to explore everything from the abuse you've experienced, your parents reactions and your own behaviour.
You have very clearly articulated some clear goals and your background here. I would suggest taking this with you as you might find it difficult to verbally articulate so much information at once as saying it all might make it all very overwhelming.
I'm not sure whether you feel it worthwhile, but on point 4 - your Dad. Can you sit down with him and say what you'd like to happen with him? You seem to be happy to talk to him. I understand why doing it with your mother would be too hard.
Do you have any adult that you trust in RL? Not that you aren't yourself, of course, but having someone with life experience that may be able to coach and mentor you over the course of the next few years may help motivate you and keep you on track.
Would it be possible to spend 3 nights a week with your Dad and 4 with your Mum to give you and them a bit of space? I know it'll involve a commute early Monday morning and late Friday night (or other days you choose) but you might find it allows you to detach, nod and smile easier.
Let us know how you get on with your first step.
I feel like I'm in limbo at the moment, I hate not being at home and having all my stuff. Feeling rather down today
Of course you can! Remember the mumsnet mantra for toxicity - detach, nod and smile, detach, nod and smile.
And work your socks off to recover your grades!
Thank you plinkyplonks.
You are right, I can do this. I can achieve despite this.
Couldn't just read this and not comment.
sarahbean123 my parents put me through a lot of abuse growing up and it took me a long time to stop viewing my parents as parents and instead as two very complex human beings that just happened to conceive me. My parents never set out to be bad people. They brought me up the best they could in very difficult circumstances. It has taken them years (over 15 years!!) to acknowledge that they had made mistakes. They were so defensive because they loved me and could only see life from their perspective. I've never been under any doubt my parents loved me, and I know if they had their time again they would never do the things they did. People do make mistakes, your parents are just human. We may look up to them and hold them to the highest standard, but at the end of the day they have and will still may mistakes like all of us.
Your parents may never be able to see or accept that they failed you. They may only see the sacrifices and good things they have done to bring you up and into this world.
I have friend's whose parents are nice as pie to other children but yet have set some ridiculous, unrealistic expectations on their own children (which has led to depression, self harm, low self esteem, underachievement in school and in work life).
You may love your parents, but you don't necessarily have to like them all the time. Counselling will help you move on from the anger you feel towards your mum in particular. But she may never see your point of you and you have to prepare for the idea she may never apologise for failing to protect you.
Judging from your posts, there is no doubt you are a bright, capable human being. There is no reason at all you can't pass your exams. You have in life two choices - i.e. to look for the reasons why you didn't achieve something, b. to find a way to achieve something despite difficulties.
Life, as you have already experienced, is not perfect. There will always be obstacles placed in your way by people you love, respect, people you care little for, people who have never met at all... Being able to succeed despite all the hurdles is a massive achievement. My friends have made themselves proud by what they have achieved in life - it matters very little what their parents think now. If their parents were happy for them, then that would simply be a bonus.
Your parents are your parents, not much you can do to change them. You are an adult now. I agree with the previous posters you need to inform the school as to what is going on (not in detail obviously unless that is what you want). If you don't feel like your parents can protect you, it's time to start protecting yourself.
You have all the tools to succeed in life. Your mum and dad's opinions - they are completely out of your control. Concentrate on the things you can control - turning up for lessons, working hard in school, studying outside of school, eating well, exercising, counselling if you feel you need it. Create some goals for yourself.
Just think, in a year, you could be moving away from home. Uni is a brilliant, challenging adventure - you are going to learn so much and build a new life for yourself. When I was in your position, I couldn't cope with the dual threat of a rubbish bf and both parents making my life a living hell. I was on for As in my A levels, i left with rubbish grades. Ended up going to a not great uni. It's taken me years to get back into the position I should have been at your age both professionally and at a personal level. You have such a huge opportunity to make your life great. The next steps you make in school and at university are life changers.
Over time you may find you can forgive your parents for being the imperfect humans they are. There is no excusing their behaviour. But you may find they are being defensive because it must be hard for them to accept they failed you too.
Whatever you decide to do, best of luck to you.
Thanks everyone, you are so lovely and making me cry now It's all I seem to do recently.
I think my form tutor doesn't like me very much because she can't intimidate or threaten me like she does with other people in our form. She's formed an opinion of me in her head and I don't think I can change that. She's a very negative person, I remember when I'd made a massive (for me) decision to completely change my career plan and therefore degree choice last summer and I told her that I didn't have the passion for that path anymore (I had wanted to study veterinary medicine since I was about 8) she just cut me off with, "I don't think you're passionate about anything." She says about how stroppy I am and how I never smile, but she only sees me for 10 minutes a day.
With regards to the uni thing, I have an offer from one of my unis to take part in an access course over the summer, which if I pass will lower my offer by two grades. This is going to be my lifesaver I think, so I am aiming to meet that lower offer (obviously going to try my best and hope for higher) but I think that that will save my bacon and get me to university. I'll be going to university over 200 miles away wherever I go, so plenty of room between me and the home situation. I just have to last until September now.
The thing that's bothering me now though, is that are the reasons I've given enough to explain 7 years of shitty behaviour? I'm scared that I will be met with a "six of one, half a dozen of the other" type answer from whoever I talk to now, in that yes, my mum was wrong, but I haven't been easy to live with for the last 7 years so we are both at fault and should just move on. This appears to be my dad's line of thinking on the subject- everytime I raise a point, he answers with "yes, but..." I know it is difficult for him, as he doesn't want to explicitly state my mum was wrong and then face her wrath, but I don't think I am being unreasonable to expect him to show some solidarity towards his daughter.
The saddest thing is, my mum is so brilliant with young children- watching her with children in her care, and knowing that a lot of my intelligence is due to how fantastically she interacted with me as a baby and a young child, yet she can't seem to continue this now that I am older. It's just a shame what happened to me wasn't a few years earlier- perhaps she would have been more on the ball.
Thank you all so much for your support, I'm starting to feel less alone and like I might actually be able to tackle this.
I would not normally post in a thread like this as I have nothing helpful to add - so many other posters can advise you so much better. On this occasion though your post has inspired me not to just lurk. I would like you to know
1) You can get back the "real" you - the funny, intelligent, loving you. Please speak to your GP - you can get help for the fog to be lifted and it is so worth. I speak from having been to my GP very recently and my depression is being treated. Already I can feel me coming through the fog. The heavy weight on the top of my head is lighter everyday. Go.
2) Your post was one of the clearest and most articulate I have ever read on here. You sound amazing. You are clearly intelligent and lovely. Huge admiration for you for posting.
And I want to hug you and wish I could offer something more constructive to help you fulfil your potential. Stay strong. And as another poster said, be kind to yourself.
And again, go to the GP. It could prove vital if you miss your grades.
I'm a form tutor in a sixth form college. I think you need to have a word with someone in student services or whatever you have that's similar in school. Have a quiet word and say, "I know my mother has been in touch with Mrs X over my behaviour and attitude. I don't want to go into it with you as it's a highly sensitive and upsetting matter, but I would just like to say that I am having serious problems at home due to things that are not under my control. These problems involve me having medical help. Please would you tell Mrs X that I will attend every lesson now and will do my best but I would appreciate it if she spoke to me about any concerns she has and not my mother. I am 18 and I am an adult. I do not give permission for teachers to speak to my mother about my private life."
If it's too difficult for you to say, then you could email it.
She would not be allowed, legally, to discuss you with your mum, given you are 18.
Also as an A level teacher, it's really hard when students don't attend, because on the day of that exam it's so difficult to watch someone who is clever and articulate sit there desperately trying to answer questions that they don't know the answer to. It's really frustrating and upsetting. If you give the teacher a clue that all is not well at home, that you're not just a sulky child, but that you have serious problems, they should do everything they can to help.
Crikey, form tutor not good. I'd second the posts above - see your GP.
Might be a start in tackling the college situation - so you have it "official" that you are having a rough time of it at the moment, you don't go into every little detail if you don't want to.
Don't be scared of the GP. Your mother sounds like a fucking manipulative piece of work in terms of getting the Aspergers diagnosis on you to justify her own failings. If you don't want to see the same one you saw before, which I could imagine you might feel - re-register with another local surgery, possibly close to your dads? Explain to them about her potentially trying to access your records or contact them to put "her side" of things, which I can imagine her doing, so they "know the score".
I'll leave you with a Sylvia Plath quote....^"the pain you are born into is not yours"^. NONE of this is your fault.
Sweetheart, well done for recognising things need to change. I agree with previous posters saying get back to the gp. Getting some counselling could give you the strength to get past this and get to uni where a whole new life will open up for you.
Who can you talk to in real life? Do you think your mum might listen to you if you talk to her solely about how you felt uncared for? Maybe leave talking about abuse for now, until your relationship is improved? Think it is putting her on the defensive so she won't discuss anything.
I imagine this is going round and around in your head. Are you managing to put in the time for studying? I know it is so hard, but I find allowing myself only limited amounts of time (eg 10 mins twice per day) to think about shit let's me focus more on study and life in general.
Great list! Number 6: get more veg and fruit and eat it! Even if you eat crap as well, veg is low calorie and will make you feel better in just one day, promise!
I had to speak to my form tutor the other day, she pulled me out of lesson after my mum emailed her the night before.
She basically told me to stop having an attitude towards my mum and that my attendance and commitment aren't good enough, there's no way they are going to let me go back to do a 3rd year at sixth form so I better sort myself out now.
College don't know about the abuse or anything, I don't want to make a big deal at college because my mum will tell them I'm lying I think, or that I have an 'opinion' on what happened which isn't necessarily the truth.
There's a website called daughtersofnarcissisticmothers.com/ and I think you might find it interesting, in particular the "glossary" of that they say.
Perhaps the stately homes thread too (which also has other resources listed at the beginning of each new thread) might be of interest.
Definitely speak to your college though. Is there a tutor or someone you can trust there? Perhaps print this thread out to let them understand. I had a difficult time with some things before I went to Uni and it all started coming up again about this time of year in my final year. I told my department officially and a note was put somewhere (in a dated sealed envelope) so that if I freaked out in finals they had something to excuse any ropey marks (like dropping a few grades in an exam). I didn't want them to have to open the envelope, but in the end it saved me. I don't know if this can work with A levels, but you don't lose much by checking.
You can't change the past and you can't change your mum but you can change how it/she makes you feel and impacts on your life. Counseling can help you with that, learning acceptance And letting go. X
You have had incredible courage in posting this, and it shows, and I have read your story from first to last word, and I acknowledge it. The feelings that you have are authentic and please don't let anyone devalue them!
Can I just add one thought that's come straight to mind? Regarding the university places, your situation in life etc?
I struggled with studying due to comparable personal issues at your age, and I did think I had to take advantage of the offers whilst they were there as I'm quite academically bright and I didn't want to fall behind, plus I saw university as an escape from my family life!
I started university feeling "disconnected" to the other students - I was worrying about my family whilst they were partying - and dropped out subsequently. My life now is fine - but I don't have that good degree from a good university or the experience that I could have got.
Just to say, there's NO BIG DEAL if you take a year or two out from studying? Work and save some money, travel, volunteer at something like WWOOFF. It's down to you and just one of many options, but seriously, it's NO BIG DEAL
Reading between the lines I would say that it looks as if your Mum focuseed on her foster children and didn't spot what was going on under her own nose with her own child. She may even have had an idea but been so horrified that something like that was happening to you that she ignored it because it was too hard to deal with. Really, the only way you can rebuild your relationship is if this is all out in the open and you both have counselling together to mend your relationship. I know you say your Mum won't accept the part she played in what happened, and maybe she won't right now/immediately, but I think to be true to yourself then you should consider showing her this 'letter' or an edited version of it and hopefully she will want to address this with you, though it may take her some time to digest it, process it and accept it.
I really wish you loads of luck and if you need to take a break from education and have some time to address these personal issues, you can do that. There is always 6th form college or the option to go back as an adult learner in a yer or two.
Be kind to yourself, xx
Just to say well done in writing all that is worrying you. Hopefully by doing that & reading the comments on here you will be able to begin to move forward. Good luck & I'm sure you will succeed. You sound like a lovely person xx
You have so much emotional fog around you, that's why you're finding studying so hard.
Please talk to the college, perhaps they can suggest something for you, somewhere to stay etc. You'll get through this, you'll make it, and it'll make you stronger.
You were let down by your parents, but now you get to take charge and you can take it from here, you really can!
You can be whoever you want to be, but you have to put yourself first.
Your parents will never see their errors, not in a million years, but that is a reflection on them, not you. Use this justifiable fury you have to fuel your success, be clinical and decisive with what you know is right and wrong.
Whenever you need to be heard, we're here!
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