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How can I move on from a rubbish childhood?

(17 Posts)
NaraDeer Tue 24-May-16 17:52:58

My DM has been through various tests recently for memory problems and is currently seeing a psychologist as they believe there to be other issues.
I need to be with her for these psychology sessions as (mainly) she wants me to and also due to her memory she can't answer all their questions and sometimes they ask me to expand/explain her answers.

It's having a really negative effect on me since it started. Having to go through my rubbish childhood and having to tell/explain things to DM that she has forgotten over the years is very hard.
DM has no empathy, I'm not being mean, she's lovely and I love her to bits, she's not a horrible person but she just does not understand that other people have emotions and never has. So we sit there and go through all the crap from the past, and we focus on how to help her and when we leave it doesn't occur to her to ask how I am or how it's affecting me.

Since its started I've been feeling really low and distant.
So what can I do to stop this feeling?
I'm sure that my childhood still influences me everyday and I want, I need it, to stop.
I'm almost 30 and I feel pathetic to let the past do this to me.
I read on here about the truly awful things that some people go through as children and I feel even more pathetic to still have baggage when other people go through so much worse.

OurBlanche Tue 24-May-16 17:57:52

Your first step could be to ask the psychologist for suggestions based on what they have heard you and your mum say.

Then your GP.

It is hard to do, you have to make some hard decisions, like letting it all go, lay the blame for how you feel on your mum's actions, not her as a person, and deciding that you won't let it define you.

I was luck (I think) in that DHs childhood was also totally shit. We played Top Trumps for a number of years, told each other how much we thought the other family had been wrong, but were in a worse place than we were, we had each other and understood how it felt.

It never leaves you but it can be consigned to Doesn't Matter, if you are lucky and work at it.

Good luck.

RiceCrispieTreats Tue 24-May-16 18:02:32

Perhaps this is taking too big a toll on you, and you could cease going to these psychologists' sessions for her.

You say that you are mainly doing it because she wants you there. Well, if you don't want to be there, you don't have to be. If you didn't exist, the professionals would work out their own method of understanding her answers, asking her to expand all by themselves.

You never need to help another person when the cost to yourself is too high.

goddessofsmallthings Tue 24-May-16 18:12:30

Even a small bag of negative childhood memories can feel as if you're toting a heavy suitcase when the issues they invoke haven't been resolved.

You need a safe place to debrief after your dm's sessions.

Do you have a trusted friend you can confide in? If not, ask your GP to refer you for counselling, or use this or the Stately Homes thread to vent your feelings.

NaraDeer Tue 24-May-16 20:13:04

Yes you're right OurBlanche. I should go back to my GP really. A couple of months ago, before this all started, I managed to wean myself off of antidepressants for the first time in years.
I expect they'll put me straight back on them which I really don't want as I hate how they make me feel.
I don't try to hold on to things, and I don't really think about everything that happened itself. But when I act like a rubbish human and I ask myself why I'm doing it I feel like it's due to the past and then I feel stupid for acting that way due to it.
DH didn't have a great childhood either, he's currently seeing a therapist weekly to deal with his issues.

I really, really, really don't want to go there, RiceCrispieTreats.
But if I don't go, she won't go.
If she doesn't go then she won't get a diagnosis.
I do a lot for her, and for my own sanity I need to know what's going on in her head and why and what I can do to help so I need her to get diagnosed with whatever it is.
Sorry that's a bit of a drop feed isn't it. I should of said.

I don't think my friends really get it and I'm not sure I can really explain it, goddess.
IRL I minimise everything and I can't even fully explain when I've had CBT or seen a therapist myself (although that was as a child) I can't articulate how the secrets and abuse made me feel or the impact they have today.

Sorry I've made it seem like my DMs fault and it's really not.
She causes me a lot of stress in day to day life but she can't help how she is.

I feel so low. I can't cope with day to day life anymore. As soon as I wake up I'm just wishing away the hours until I can go back to bed again.

greenleaf1 Tue 24-May-16 20:33:13

OP - you sound really lovely, but I'm afraid this thread is making me very cross.

You have absolutely NO obligation to go to your mothers therapy sessions with her, especially as it's obviously having such a bad effect on your own mental health. Are you really facing going back onto antidepressants to cope with this, when they make you feel so rubbish?

Your mothers problems are her own issues, there's very little you can or should do to help. And I'm shocked her psychologist thinks this is ok that you're roped in too (though sadly not surprised - have come across many mental health professionals who just don't get abusive childhoods, or the hideous, long term damage they cause.)

Please - put yourself first. You matter a lot, and you deserve better, and if that means leaving your mother to untangle her own psychological issues, then so be it.

You say you had a crap childhood, and you can bet your 'D'M had a big part to play in that.

Wishing you loads of strength flowers

greenleaf1 Tue 24-May-16 20:45:11

Sorry OP - my post above sounded very blunt and harsh. I didn't mean that.

I'm just sad you describe yourself as pathetic and a rubbish human, when you really, really aren't.

Look after yourself flowers

AttilaTheMeerkat Tue 24-May-16 20:51:03

What the other respondents have said; you are really under no obligation to attend such sessions and I would no longer attend them. Its really a bad idea to sit with a parent in these types of sessions; it should no longer happen. I would question why she wants you there at all; perhaps she wants the psychiatrist to attribute blame to you for what happened to you.

Has she really made you feel obligated, many adult children of toxic parents have fear, obligation and guilt in spades.

I am certain as well that your mother does remember what happened but has instead chosen to believe her own potted version of history instead. Such toxic people really do not apologise or take any responsibility for their actions.

What do you mean that she cannot help being like she is. That's an excuse and a poor one at that, I would not let her off that easily at all. She has had a lifetime to make a difference when it came to you as her
daughter and she has not bothered one iota.

What if anything do you know about her own childhood, that often provides clues.

You state she has no empathy; people who are narcissistic have no empathy. Do you think she actually has some form of untreated and perhaps even untreatable personality disorder?. I am wondering if you have read up on narcissistic personality disorder to see how much if any of that fits in with your own experiences re your mother. These sessions are still all about her really and if she is a narcissist in terms of personality then she will not do well in therapy.

You do not mention your dad so was wondering if he still in your life at all?. Where is he?.

Do read and post on the "well we took you to Stately Homes" thread on these pages. That could help you as well.

RiceCrispieTreats Tue 24-May-16 21:17:40

I'm really sorry you feel so low. It doesn't have to be that way.

I think you need to take a long look at what falls under the banner of "my problem, my responsibility," and "someone else's problem, someone else's responsbility."

Eg., if your mother won't go to her own appointments, that is her problem.
If she doesn't get a diagnosis, that is her problem.
If there are things she needs done that she relies on you for, again, that is her responsibility to pick up, not yours.

NaraDeer Tue 24-May-16 21:32:21

I'm really sorry I think I've said all the wrong things sad
My DM is lovely, honestly she's not toxic or narcissistic but she undoubtedly has mental health issues.
She had a nervous break down as a child and then met my "D"F who emotionally, mentally, physically and sexually abused her.
He tore her down and then divorced her when I was a child.
She has an awful memory now, that's why they were looking at diagnosing her with Alzheimer's but they uncovered her history during this process and feel it needs to be looked into further.
She's a broken, elderly woman who needs a lot of emotional support to get through the day and I feel like I owe that to her.
It's hard work looking after her, she needs constant reassurance and things explained to her but I will not stop it.
She's not the worlds best mum, as I said she doesn't understand that others have emotions, so she doesn't understand that everything that happened had an effect on me too but that's not because she's a toxic person, she's broken and needs help.

I'm sorry I've made people angry. I should of explained myself better.

greenleaf1 Tue 24-May-16 22:02:11

NaraDeer please don't apologise, you haven't said the wrong thing at all, and im so sorry if you feel you have made people angry, because you really haven't done that at all.

I can understand how protective you feel towards your elderly mum because you are a lovely, compassionate person. But please, please remember that YOU matter too.

You asked in the OP how to move on from a rubbish childhood, and really knowing that your needs count for something is the first step. We actually don't "owe" our parents anything. Take care of yourself - it's like the safety briefing in the plane - fit your own oxygen mask before helping others.

The fact you've reached out for support here is a great first step. Best of luck with the next flowers

springydaffs Tue 24-May-16 22:51:48

I'm not far off 60 and my crap childhood still has an effect on me. This stuff doesn't go away just because you think it's silly or you 'should' be over it by now. It doesn't work like that.

These sessions are traumatising you all over again - as if the first time wasn't bad enough flowers

Perhaps talk to your GP to that effect. There is no shame in being traumatised by your childhood - it's not your fault, it was done to you and has nothing to do with choosing not to let it affect you. Too late, it already did way back. The damage is done - and if you visit the site again it's going to affect you all over again.

Unfortunately, there is no easy way around this. I have had a lot of therapy etc over the years and I am no longer as damaged as I was iyswim. But the effects never fully go away - though that's not to say we can't lead a fulfilling and happy life. If you were, say, seriously hurt in a car accident when you were a child and feel the effects to the present day, it is not unlike the damage that was done to you in our childhood. Just because it was invisible doesn't mean it hasn't left scars. To be a witness to abuse is to also be abused - plus you were a child and had no power to do anything about it sad

Go easy on yourself. Read up about damaging childhoods; if possible get into therapy, find out about the effects of childhood abuse, or a child who witnessed the abuse of a parent.

There are a lot of us out here btw, you are far from alone. We need to take care of ourselves flowers

RiceCrispieTreats Wed 25-May-16 13:28:15

You didn't explain yourself at all badly, and you don't need to apologise.

Your mother doesn't have to be a demon for you to need to keep some distance from her therapy sessions. That's not the equation. It's not :

if Mum is a good person, then Nara should sacrifice herself for her, versus
if Mum is a bad person, then Nara should distance herself from her.

The question is: Is the sacrifice costing you too much?

It sounds like it is. Your mental health and stability matter. Very much. And you are the only person who can safeguard it.

You can care for your mother very much, and still put in safeguards and distance from things that are too much for you. Then you won't need to post here in distress. The fact that you are posting here in distress, means that the current situation is not working for you. And that's ok. You just need to find a new set-up that does work for you.

You can care for your Mum, without accompanying her to her psychologist sessions. Truly.

NaraDeer Wed 25-May-16 19:55:42

I've booked a GP appointment for tomorrow after having some very dark thoughts yesterday. I don't know what I need but I can't cope with anything.
Things are hard with DD, DH and I'm constantly upset and angry with life.

I know what you're all saying is right, and I do need to learn to move my own needs higher up the ladder.
But if at the end of all of this she gets some form of diagnosis then it will have been worth it.
The only way I can really try and explain how it feels is that I look after her like I look after my DD. Tbh she acts like she has the mental age of a child. I know that's wrong, but DM is not well and since I was 10 I've really had to look after her as if I was the mother. We're so close to getting an answer now as to why she's like she is that I cannot stop going.
I know that probably makes me sound weak and pathetic that I can't put myself first and step away, but it is like looking after your DC. You can't just say it's too hard and stop, you keep going.

We had another session today, she talked about everything that happened long before I was born but it was still quite hard.
She started crying as soon as she walked in, saying she wanted to talk about her marriage, but then as the psychologist wanted to do it in a timeline DM got all confused and just ended up saying how happy she was when she got married and had young kids, which is far from the truth.

This is the problem she has when talking to doctors or whatever. She needs to be explained things almost like you would to a child. She calls herself "stupid" and "thick" because she doesn't understand if sentences go on to long, or complicated words are used, and then she gets confused and upset. But other people don't seem to pick up on the fact that they need to simplify it. I'm tempted to call up the psychologist and explain this to her but I don't want to overstep the mark.

RiceCrispieTreats Wed 25-May-16 20:02:05

Well done for calling the GP for an appointment. I'm sorry to hear that you're having dark thoughts, but it's fantastic that you're turning to a professional to help you.

greenleaf1 Wed 25-May-16 20:04:10

Nara I'm so sorry, that sounds miserable.

It's good you're going to see your GP tomorrow - hope he/she is sympathetic and helpful.

I'm curious - why do you think getting a diagnosis for your mother would help?

NaraDeer Wed 25-May-16 20:24:12

DM herself obviously wants to know as she's been telling herself her whole life that she's stupid, thick, a waste of space.
I think if she actually found out it was an illness causing her problems then she might start to accept herself and also of course there's the hope that a diagnosis could mean treatment to help her.

Personally greenleaf, apart from the hope of getting her better, I just want to know why.
Why she is like she is.
Why I've had to look after her for 20 years. Why she struggles with life so much.
At the moment there's no answers but I just feel like if someone said "She has X illness" then if nothing else I would know that everything she puts me through is because of that.
Also, I suppose, I'm hoping that having a diagnosis will mean that, for example,when she goes to her GP and doesn't understand/refuses medicine then the GP will understand that she's ill and treat her with care and respect instead of just getting pissed off at her for not listening to them.

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