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The older I get, the more I question if this was a form of abuse by my parents. Opinions very much welcome.

(105 Posts)
somesortofpaint Sun 20-Mar-16 15:59:26

I'm not sure where to begin with this, so if I have given irrelevant information, it's just because I'm trying to set the scene. And I'm sorry for the ramble!

Before I go into it, I have no idea if these things constitute abuse, or anything else untoward, or even if it is something that should affect me now (I'm 29). As I have got older, I've started questioning my parents behavior towards me as a child but also as an adult now, and it's made me see my childhood in a very different light. I'm not here for sympathy, I would really like honest opinions as to whether this is 'normal.' If I mentioned ANY of this to my parents, the answers would be:

- you were a difficult child
- everyone thought you were difficult and a handful
- you were never happy with anything
- you weren't like your sister
- oh don't be so ridiculous (laughing it off)
- oh we were awful parents weren't we (said dismissively, then they'd laugh together)

These things will probably sound very minimal, and are nothing compared to some of the things on other threads. I know this and appreciate that fact. Again, I'm looking for brutal honesty - perhaps I was just a nightmare child!!!

My parents, but mainly my dad, would kick me, pull me by my hair all the way up the stairs and slap me around the head if I wouldn't go to bed (I remember I wouldn't go to bed A LOT, so this must have been awful for them as parents and I have sympathy). But this sort of approach made me feel worthless, and I remember self harming after it happened (I don't do this anymore and havent for years).

I never had any privacy. There were NEVER locks on the bathroom door, and I remember many times my dad would walk in if he was angry about something or needed to talk to me or wanted me to get out of the bath because I was using too much hot water. He would just walk in. I hated it.

Every day I was at school, my mum would go through my room completely, throwing things away (that she believed to be rubbish) and taking my diary to read with my dad. I used to find my diary in their room very often, and other times they would pretend they hadn't read it but I could tell it had been moved from where I left it in my room that morning.

When I was 7, my mum told me I had ruined their holiday because I was awfully behaved and I would cause her and my dad to get divorced if I carried on. This wasn't something I believed, but any time they argued I was told it was my fault.

My younger sister was extremely good at ballet and we used to travel round every weekend to take her to uk competitions. I hated this and remember making a fuss...I would ask to stay at home or ask if my mum would spend the day with me instead...so this must have been hassling for my parents. However, when I think about this as an adult, I dont think i would ever make one child spend all their time so focused on a sibling's success.

At university, my parents would read all my post sent to their address. One year they opened a card from an ex boyfriend (I had been devastated to break up with), and didn' give it to me,. I found out a year later. This broke my trust in my mum completely.

Now, as an adult, I struggle to be around my parents. I find them very controlling. For instance, if I travel to see them for lunch on a Sunday, they will say it's at say, 2pm, and I will have arranged to be home by 6 to do work for the next day (my job is very demanding and they know this), then I will arrive at 1, and they will suddenly tell me they can't cook until 4 and i 'shouldnt be so dramatic' about needing to be back, and 'you're so self centred'. There are countless examples of this sort of thing..practical things where my parents seem to ignore I even have a life that isn't run by them. I feel utterly worthless around my parents most of the time I am with them.

Generally, my parents are critical of people. They always seem to think they are right. For instance, an electrician will visit and explain what needs doing, and after they leave, my parents will analyse the entire thing... why he was late, was he looking at their antique furniture ..and all these strange introverted things that I realise now as an adult are quite odd. They seem to enjoy drama.

While I have listed all of that, my parents have been good to me...I went to a brilliant school and they were very supportive of me academically and as a result I have a good job now with good prospects.They are generous mostly, and they have a good set of friends. I've had everything I ever needed and more. When it comes down to it, they are kind and want me to be happy. I love my sister dearly and we do have some nice family days. But I rarely leave my parents' presence now without feeling some form of anger or just dispapoitnment at the way they treat me - I have never felt respected by them, and struggle a lot with my self esteem where they are concenred. It hurts even more than on the few times I have mentioned anything remotely related to what I have described here, they just seem to mock me. They see me as dramatic, self obsessed and over the top. Perhaps I am deluded, but I don't see myself that way, yet I see all those traits in them. They're not bad people, but they make me feel bad a lot of the time, and it makes me sad.

MistressWeatherwax Sun 20-Mar-16 16:06:06

I'm absolutely no expert but yep, I'd say they behaved abusively towards you. Awful experiences. I'm sorry you went through that OP and hope you can get some support to work through it in time.

wol1968 Sun 20-Mar-16 16:13:53

I'm just shock reading all this. It's abuse, absolutely, and if anything, you're minimising it because you've grown up with it all your life. Dragging you by the hair? Slapping around the head? I've heard of kids getting taken into care for far less than that. This sort of stuff fits right into the Stately Homes thread which I'm sure someone will properly link to soon. So sorry you've had to handle all this. Messed up doesn't even begin to describe it.

pigeonpoo Sun 20-Mar-16 16:17:52

Definitely abuse. It negates their accepting any responsibity for how they parented you.

I was a difficult child too. Lots of people thought so. But I became a difficult child as a direct result of how I was parented

665TheNeighbourOfTheBeast Sun 20-Mar-16 16:18:21

You describe them as supporting your happiness, yet mocking you. Does the mocking mostly happen when you do things that extend you beyond their experience and when you disagree with them
and the support is just stuff that reflects well on them ?

somesortofpaint Sun 20-Mar-16 16:18:28

The hair pulling and slapping, I was always told that they didnt want to do that but they had no choice beacuse I wouldnt stop screaming or being mis behaved. And I have memories of screaming my head off and not going to bed, and feeling SO insecure the whole time, that I do believe they didnt want to do these things to me, but they must have felt they had no choice as I was such a handful. I dont think I was an easy child.

FanjofortheMammaries Sun 20-Mar-16 16:20:39

It's sad you feel that way sad

My DD is very challenging at bedtime. She yells and hits walls and kicks off. She has severe AsD.

I have never lifted a finger to her.

They were very wrong indeed.

somesortofpaint Sun 20-Mar-16 16:21:00

665 The mocking comes when I had ever mentioned any of the above. My mum does it mostly, with the diary or the going through my personal things. She'll claim she has no knowledge and then laugh it off. My dad was less jokey and seemed to be embarrassed almost at what they did, but not enough to actually apologise, and i've never really mentioned the physical stuff as I would find it too upsetting.

TJEckleburg Sun 20-Mar-16 16:21:16

Please buy and read Toxic parents by susan forward. Yes this behaviour was abusive and it will have definitely affected you into adulthood

FanjofortheMammaries Sun 20-Mar-16 16:21:20

I imagine you were a scared child and not a "difficult" one.

pigeonpoo Sun 20-Mar-16 16:22:16

You need to forgive that child to see things clearer. A child is a child.

Would you expect your child to take responsibility the way you'd expect yourself to? Hopefully the answer is no, because being a child they don't yet have the maturity and understanding to do so.

BettyBi0 Sun 20-Mar-16 16:23:51

Even without the physical stuff, what you describe sounds like horrible emotional abuse.

Have you talked to a trained therapist about this? Even though you are an independent adult now it is clearly still upsetting you and having an impact on your life. I think talking to a therapist might help you to make some clear boundaries about what kind of relationship you want with them going forward

somesortofpaint Sun 20-Mar-16 16:24:24

665 i dont know if it is relevant, but anytime I have planned a holiday or something youd class as a 'luxury' initially they seem to struggle with the idea... then after making various comments about cost, they will be excited for me. it's a bit strange. growing up i had ENORMOUS guilt for any form of enjoyment. it's only recently i've began to 'allow' myself to have a nice time.

one ocassion my mum had seen photos on facebook of my ex boyfriend taking me to a spa for valentines day, and she text me to say "So you can take time off to go to a spa with ex-bf then but cant come for lunch?' (when I was doing my exams and said i couldnt see htem for a couple of weeks). felt guilty all weekend for that one.

MrsKCastle Sun 20-Mar-16 16:27:10

You don't sound like a difficult child. Not really. You sound like a very insecure child who was desperate for love.

Yes, they were abusive and I don't think anyone would blame you if you decided not to see them any more.

pigeonpoo Sun 20-Mar-16 16:27:17

That's a familiar trick OP - making you responsible for their happiness

somesortofpaint Sun 20-Mar-16 16:28:21

fanjo my oparents would say that i didn;t have AsD and so had no excuse for the behaviour.

sometimes out of the blue now, they'll suddenly say 'you were a difficult child to bring up you know.'

I was an unhappy child, and as awful as it sounds and i would never admit to my parents, I was SO happy to go to a school where my day was consumed from 8am to 6pm with people who treated me with respect. sometimes i think that was the only thing that saved me from being completely messed up as an adult. at least i know what it is to be treated right by adults as a child and to have been in that environment, even if it wasnt from my parents.

FanjofortheMammaries Sun 20-Mar-16 16:29:23

Be sure that they were WRONG and no matter how difficult you were you didn't deserve that. And if you did act in a difficult way you had reason to.

Tiggywinkler Sun 20-Mar-16 16:29:25

They were abusive. flowers for you - the realisation can't come easy.

Do you think you might benefit from some counselling? Having experienced similar parenting techniques I can recommend talking it through in order to let it go and be able to construct a semblance of self-esteem out of it all.

Remember, no matter what you were like as a child - however 'difficult' they said you were, you did NOT deserve to be treated like that. Hold onto that thought.

665TheNeighbourOfTheBeast Sun 20-Mar-16 16:29:27

They have to minimise it, pass the blame for their behaviour to you, or admit they were wrong, that they were shitty parents
Seems theyve made a choice and stuck with it for 29 years, whatever the consequences to you might be..
That's pretty abusive,
Please understand no child is ever responsible for a parents abuse..ever
Ever....ever...so you did not deserve it

babyboomersrock Sun 20-Mar-16 16:32:21

I've had everything I ever needed and more. When it comes down to it, they are kind and want me to be happy

You haven't had everything you needed, OP. What a child needs is to feel cared for and loved unconditionally. You didn't get that when you were a child and you aren't getting it now.

Do some reading about abuse and its consequences and think seriously about lessening the influence they have in your life. It's natural for you to defend them (I note you say they're not bad people but be assured - the way they treated you, and continue to treat you, is not the action of good people) but you may have to let go some of your wishful thinking.

You need to learn to look after yourself and put your feelings before theirs, and that isn't going to be easy. If you can afford it, think about some counselling. If not, start reading (a previous poster has already made a suggestion above).

Take care, OP flowers

somesortofpaint Sun 20-Mar-16 16:33:21

They're good people and they've done so many things right by me. They've always been there financially, and they've driven to collect me from uni last minute and I had every opportunity in the world...I could have had horse riding lessons, played an instrument...nothing was too much trouble for them.

I feel guilty that I wish I could exhange all those good things for a healthy emotional relatiosnhip with them, that i am beginning to realise i will never actually have...and never did have.

somesortofpaint Sun 20-Mar-16 16:34:28

thank you everyone for all your kind messages xx

NotDavidTennant Sun 20-Mar-16 16:35:36

I don't think you can really trust anything your parents tell you about your childhood. As with all abusers, their aim will be to justify and continue their abuse of you.

NewMinouMinou Sun 20-Mar-16 16:38:12

Oof, OP.
My DD (seven in a couple of weeks) was a real handful - didn't sleep more than two-three hours at a time until she was nearly four, screaming her head off all day and night, miserable and angry all the time. She'd scream and shout for anything up to three hours, even at the age of four. Several nursery staff said she was the most challenging child they'd had to deal with.
Couldn't find anything physically wrong, and she just grew out of it and is a real character now...a delight to be around.
Yes, she was fucking awful challenging, and I confess that I fantasised about throwing her off a cliff and shouted at her in desperation, but there's a line and your m&d crossed it. The fact that you say several times that you were difficult means you're blaming yourself for their appalling reactions to your childhood behaviours.

I never dragged DD by the hair anywhere, never kicked her or smacked her. We ever got to the bottom of her behaviour - she was a real shock compared to DS - but we waited it out and it stopped.
It seems like your m&d didn't have the skills to cope (not saying we did a great job...we almost went under), and took it out on you, setting up a vicious circle.
Yes, I'd say they were abusive and you shouldn't accept them brushing it off.

We had a similar dynamic, with the golden-boy older brother, but we were aware that was happening and tried not to show that we found him easier to be around.

Are your m&d very rigid? They thought maybe that you'd be a carbon copy of your sister?

I'm waffling, but I see some similarities between your parents' experience and our own, but the big difference is that we didn't physically punish DD and we talk about her "difficult years" with her, not at her IYSWIM.

Joysmum Sun 20-Mar-16 16:40:02

Willingness to spend money doesn't mean they were good parents when they didn't even get the basics right sad

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