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I fyou felt as a child that you had zero emotional support from your parent(s) etc

(411 Posts)
SoleSource Sun 19-Jan-14 16:47:24

How has this affected how you deal with your emotions as an adult?

Do you find emotions hard to deal with?

Are you afraid of asking for help or just being yourself or not know how to word your feelings from being afraid of being vulnerable and attacked?

As I do I had zero emotional support as a child and was emotionally abused and verbally attacked constantly by my Father. I have been NC for nine years now.

I'm single and have had a course of therapy but feel I have been hurt far too much and am scared of letting others 'in'.

RandomMess Sun 19-Jan-14 16:50:08

Do you find emotions hard to deal with? YES

Are you afraid of asking for help YES

or just being yourself YES

or not know how to word your feelings from being afraid of being vulnerable and attacked? YES

SoleSource Sun 19-Jan-14 16:51:16

Bad isn't it Random. The fucking damage they do... On purpose too my therapist said. Evil.

Madlizzy Sun 19-Jan-14 16:51:39

It's made me more independent and self sufficient, I suppose. I'm not an emotional person really and will find it difficult to articulate how I feel sometimes. I've learned to ask for help when I need it though.

RandomMess Sun 19-Jan-14 16:55:04

I have some how shut down my emotions until situations have made them fever pitch and I've then imploded.

I become so independent and self sufficient I have not been able to learn how to ask for help yet. So in other ways I am incredibly vulnerable.

I am currently in an emotionally void/avoidant marriage and it's slowly killing me...

SoleSource Sun 19-Jan-14 16:56:36

Yes more independent and self sufficient here too. But would be nice to have emotional support too. I have asked for help wrt my disabled DS. ~I'm proud of myself for that.

SoleSource Sun 19-Jan-14 16:58:04

Oh Random sad

Talk about it here if you want to x

Can you not leave? sad How sad I feel for you x

desperatelyseekingsolace Sun 19-Jan-14 17:00:40

I had zero emotional support from my parents. They weren't abusive, just didn't want to involve themselves in my emotional life, in a very embarrassed, English way. For example my DM never talked to me about periods or gave me the sex talk and when my first proper boyfriend dumped me (age about 18), it was just not mentioned.

It has left me with lifelong problems: I basically don't consider my emotional needs to be important. I also feel the most intense, overwhelming sense of shame when discussing personal issues with family and most friends.

It's very damaging. My mum, bless her, was very repressed and it wasn't really her fault but for my sake I wish she had sorted herself out with therapy when she had a chance.

WeGotTheKrunk Sun 19-Jan-14 17:02:14

Hi SoleSource, I don't know how much help I can be but didn't want to read without replying!

You don't say in your OP your age, or what stage of life you're at - do you work, are you at university?

My parents were not very emotionally demonstrative, and my mother in particular was a bit unpredictable in how she responded to things (now I look back I can see that she relied too much on us children for emotional support rather than my dad, and that she'd sometimes fly into rages at the tiniest things)

All very difficult to process because it wasn't until recently, when I saw friends having small children, that I realised there was anything unusual about my mum's parenting skills (or lack thereof).

Since then I've started to realise that I've been a bit of a doormat in some of my personal relationships, perhaps because of all the years I spent appeasing my mother, and I'm still working through how I can stay assertive without being offensive, and keeping boundaries about things that matter to me.

I'd had therapy before I realised all this about my mum - but I'd thought at the time that she was just a 'powerful woman' (as I told my therapist) it wasn't until afterwards, seeing my friends with their children, that I realised that my mother was actually quite overbearing and intrusive.

Luckily my partner has helped me a lot, observing how his family operate has really helped, and I've got some great friends who have helped me learn things about what's socially acceptable and things - watching others has really helped me a lot.

Sometimes I struggle to know whether I'm standing up to myself enough - or too much - I fear sometimes that I'm crossing the line over into being controlling, like my mother often was, and I never know whether when I'm being accommodating whether I'm letting people take advantage of me IYSWIM?

In my experience, it helps so much though when you can see what you've been through and how it has affected the development of your personality. Good luck op - it's not easy biscuit

lemonmuffin Sun 19-Jan-14 17:03:28

its affected me a lot.

my parents are lovely people but very old fashioned and had no idea how to deal with emotional stuff.

it did a lot of harm.

RandomMess Sun 19-Jan-14 17:03:35

I think I may leave.

We used to be close but he pushed me away to his own issues a number of years ago. Our relationship is dead, I have mourned in much pain alone for it's loss. I have been asking for the last 2 years for him to do something about his issues as I deal with mine.

He has done nothing, so I guess I really may need to go.

Difficult one, I still care for him a great deal but we have nothing in common, he refuses to be there for me, he refuses to let me in so what's the point confused. I can't stand the thought that this is for the next x years of my life sad

BrennanHasAMangina Sun 19-Jan-14 17:08:51

desperately are you me? I was just going to write the same regarding my mother. She hasn't changed much over the years and certain topics are still off-limits. Fortunately, I recognized this sometime ago and have resolved to err on the side of overshare with my own DC...I'll let you know how that goes wink.

SoleSource Sun 19-Jan-14 17:08:52

I think you will leave when you are ready Random. You're better and worth so much more than to stay much longer. You have us too xxx

thedogwakesuptoodamnearly Sun 19-Jan-14 17:10:14

Hi SoleSource - yes to all. The worst thing is that I have no idea what I want or what makes me happy.

HereIsMee Sun 19-Jan-14 17:11:21

I think I've passed that hurdle through therapy and doing things to gain independence. But still come up against all sorts of prejudice and difficulties because when people realise that you have been at a vulnerable point they can try to impose unwanted help. I went NC a few years ago only to find that someone (I don't know who still) had been accessing my house without my consent. My ex and and social circle I'm guessing my family too seemed to collude to be present in my life. My mail was redirected too and I only recieved some of the letters. I started self employment and they kept trying to interrupt all the things I needed to do. I needed privacy to start up, it's strange how no one ever considers a family to be toxic.

Help is great when you know it's good for you. The trick I always try is imagine what you would do if you are trying to help some one else. See yourself as a concerned friend and imagine what you'd do for that friend and do it.

That has worked for me up to a point but at the moment because of being more or less bullied by a group of people. It has not been difficult knowing what I want. Just difficult asking for specific help instead of having it forced on me so I could fit in with dysfunctional people.

SoleSource Sun 19-Jan-14 17:11:29

I'm a lone parent/Carer of a severely disabled fifteen year old Son. Currently not working/studying.

I'm shit scared of being hurt again by close friend or lover, I stay alone.

I also sabotage relationships as that is what I'm used to, them going bad.

RandomMess Sun 19-Jan-14 17:11:57

See it has taken me nearly 4 years of heart break to be able to even share it on here. Madness or what.

I thought I was going insane, he withdrew and when I asked what was wrong kept denying it. My emotional intelligence is so crap I really didn't understand what was going on at all.

Of course his refusal to address it just feeds into my sense of "no-one loves me for who I am" so I continue to keep my feelings to myself where they can't be criticised.

RandomMess Sun 19-Jan-14 17:14:11

The worst thing is that I have no idea what I want or what makes me happy. YES YES YES in spades, it helps keep me stuck here because I have no idea what I enjoy and no-one to encourage me to do new things.

I am neither single nor "married" stuck in limbo.

WeGotTheKrunk Sun 19-Jan-14 17:18:14

Glad you managed to ask for help with your son - hope you manage to get respite or some help coming in, even if just for a few hours.

I guess the question now is, what do you want to do next? Enjoy having a few extra hours for yourself? Meet new people? Can you ever see a point where you have a group of friends / a single friendship that is fulfilling & enjoyable?

SoleSource Sun 19-Jan-14 17:19:15

Maybe because we as children were subjected to emotional neglect and that felt so raw and upsetting as adults we are able to endure more of the same. Other healthier people might cut off that treatment much earlier than we are able to do so as they recognise bad treatment to be just that and do not accept it.

We waste a lot of time waiting and hiding our true feelings because we were not given an outlet as children and this sets us up in adulthood for more of the same..

LOL at people saying I have no idea what I want or what makes me happy

So many of us

Se the pattern?

I am the same......maybe we also have been conditioned to believe we do not deserve to know what can make us happy, what we WANT and pursue it...

MatildaWhispers Sun 19-Jan-14 17:26:36

I am similar. I also find it very hard to talk about my feelings face to facewith someone else. When I was in an abusive relationship I couldn't recognise and 'feel' how bad it was because I had become so used to denying myself negative feelings. My parents were great in lots of ways, but they never talked about negative feelings, bad stuff was always swept under the carpet.

RandomMess Sun 19-Jan-14 17:27:29

A mate said go the art galleries and museums but tbh I just don't know how to take pleasure in things I think.

I put on my happy cheerful face for work, try and be helpful and light but inside everyting is just grey. I like people, I'm a people person but that doesn't fit with everything else IYSWIM. Mixing with people means lots of potential rejection - real or perceived.

SoleSource Sun 19-Jan-14 17:29:36

Oh yes Random I do feel what you mean

So what can we do to change this state we are in?

RandomMess Sun 19-Jan-14 17:31:24

No idea!!!

How to level my responsibilities as a mother and those I have to myself to learn how to be joyful (content) and learn to live so they have a positive example in their life.

I'm back in therapy at the moment <<sigh>>

desperatelyseekingsolace Sun 19-Jan-14 17:32:03

Brennan ditto. I am very different with my dd. There are probably dangers in going too far in the other direction too which I try to keep in mind. But above all I want her to feel she can come to me with her emotional issues.

JennyOnAPlate Sun 19-Jan-14 17:32:55

Yes to all.

My dps werent abusive in any way but were very distant and unemotional. They didn't do hugs or I love you's. If I cried I was told off or ignored rather than comforted.

Food was my comfort from a very young age (still is). I find hugs very difficult. Poor dh hardly ever gets one, although I do cuddle my dc. Sometimes I really have to fight the urge to push them away though.

I can't talk about personal things which had made making friends very difficult. Also can't ask for help, which makes my life a lot harder than it needs to be.

RandomMess Sun 19-Jan-14 17:33:38

Also I can rationally explain something to someone I trust and decide a course of appropriate action, but when it comes down to it my automatic reaction is the unhealthy one - and one that leads to more pain. I have the inibility to put my true emotional needs first, I end up doing what other people want (or what I think they want).

SoleSource Sun 19-Jan-14 17:34:50

I think I need to go back to therapy Random. What type of therapy are you having, if you do not mind me asking you

Everybody here says virtually similar things...

Have to break out of this cycle and get out there and stop hiding, waste of life if I do not try.

RandomMess Sun 19-Jan-14 17:38:03

Group psycotherapy. The group (minus me) regularly collude to avoid "feeling" emotions. Drives me up the wall - LOL. Put that is all part and parcel of it.

I guess I grew up in an atmosphere of pretending everything was fine and I'm back in one, the huge elephants are just ignored. Can't stand it. Struggling to get angry at dh over his inaction over it, perhaps too much empathy for why he is the way he is?

BakingBad Sun 19-Jan-14 17:40:02

Me too sad

My parents made sure we were well fed and nicely dressed but couldn't deal with our emotions - so we learned not to express them.

I have no idea whatsoever what would make me happy.

BeCool Sun 19-Jan-14 17:40:32

I went into therapy aged 35 and struggled then to identify with ANY emotions bar anger and hurt. Completely desensitised. Psychotherapy helped moved me forward but I still feel unloveable deep down 10 years on from there.

BakingBad Sun 19-Jan-14 17:41:19

I've had two abusive marriages and I think that speaks volumes sad

SoleSource Sun 19-Jan-14 17:43:32

If there is anybody reading this thinking get a grip victims, we are not victims we have not been given the tools in childhood we needed to deal with emotions.

SoleSource Sun 19-Jan-14 17:44:37

Yes Baking, it does... emotionally abusive relationships here too.

Have to try not to attract abusive cunts

WeGotTheKrunk Sun 19-Jan-14 17:45:48

I can't talk about personal things which had made making friends very difficult. Also can't ask for help, which makes my life a lot harder than it needs to be.

YY to this Jenny. I've lost a lot of friends over the years due to this - people think you're aloof if you don't share things about yourself, or if you never ask them to help you out. I sometimes feel a bit like I don't know where to start with talking about personal things - even with my very closest friends (getting better at this though)

WeGotTheKrunk Sun 19-Jan-14 17:47:10

we are not victims

I don't feel like a victim any more. Used to, before I realised where it all stemmed from. It was the realising that helped me move forward.

RandomMess Sun 19-Jan-14 17:47:45

SoleSource that is very accurate.

I found parenting my younger dc when they were pre-schoolers ok. I learnt how to via my first dh on my first dc. They are fairly easy, kisses and cuddles, respond to tears, give reassurance.

However now they are older again it is a huge struggle, partly the marriage situation and partly because I have no clue what emotional support actually is let alone how to offer it. When they display difficult behaviour I am terrified that something is going on that is making them unhappy and I'm failing them. Sometimes they are probably just being moody hormonal pre-teens, or had a bad day at school and don't need to share, or just knackered.

I am also truly amazed at how much "stuff" they tell me I am shock that they want to spend time with me and that they tell me ANYTHING.

PortofinoRevisited Sun 19-Jan-14 17:49:09

My mother died when I was small and I was brought up my maternal GPs. My dad had us at weekends etc. I suffered no abuse, but don't really remember cuddles either. As we got older we were made to feel that we were a bit of a hindrance. I didn't really open up to anyone during my teenage years at all. My GM didn't do emotional stuff. I used to write copious diaries. As an adult it has made me very independent and self-reliant I think. I don't trust people very easily. I would find it very hard to ask for help. I feel somewhat detached - it's like I built a wall so that if people leave me/hurt me I won't care anymore, sort of thing.....?

SoleSource Sun 19-Jan-14 17:50:48

I feel we have all made progress. random the fear is very real and you shall get passed this, you're too amazing and intelligent for that not to happen.

SoleSource Sun 19-Jan-14 17:53:35

Also by reading the posts here....

Maybe our parents were also not taight how to deal with emoions and passed that onto us. Their experience may be been a lot worse than ours. Stiff upper lip and as one poster stated 'The English Way'

I am envious of people who are not like me in this way and have had emotional support and a close family. sad Bad trait. In fact I feel it is just not fucking fair and I feel out in the cold.

FrauMoose Sun 19-Jan-14 17:55:10

I was talking with my partner about this.

I think it gets easier as I get older. There can be times when that old feeling of utter isolation engulfs me. Moods of despair and/or being swallowed up by the past.

However I've been with my partner for 18 years, get on well with my stepchildren and my own teenage daughter is thriving.

I do have some lovely friends, but am aware that if I feel sad I tend to withdraw from other people, thinking that they won't want to know.

When I was younger I think I took refuge in the world of books. (Also classical music.) Both books and music continue to give me enormous pleasure.

SoleSource Sun 19-Jan-14 17:57:10

In ways therapy helped me a lot but I find that when I talk to people/make an effort they then start to use my experiences against me and feel superior. I hate that trait in others and I am far too polite to cut the friendship off straight away.

GW297 Sun 19-Jan-14 17:57:24

I have built a protective wall around myself and keep everyone at a distance. I do have lots of close friends now but find relationships and trust very difficult. It had affected me deeply and impacts my daily life. I have had counselling in the recent past. If I have children in the future their emotional welfare will be given as high a regard as their physical welfare. History will not repeat itself.

GW297 Sun 19-Jan-14 17:58:23

I also feel jealous of people who say they had a lovely, safe, happy and loving childhood (although I'd never begrudge anyone this obviously!)

RandomMess Sun 19-Jan-14 17:59:47

"I am envious of people who are not like me in this way and have had emotional support and a close family. sad Bad trait. In fact I feel it is just not fucking fair and I feel out in the cold." YES

I think something I really struggled with is that my parents refuse to accept it, they really thought it was fine to expect me to play happy families when it suited them when completely ignoring me the rest of the year confused They honestly chose and choose to believe that the family dynamics were "normal".

There have been several major opportunities to support me since becoming an adult - they ran like the wind. I'm pretty much NC now for my own sanity.

It's that constant awareness that not even your parents like or approve of you, that you have no-one there for you - it hurts.

SoleSource Sun 19-Jan-14 18:04:36

Yes, spot on Random.

To manage this feeling of disapproval fear of rejection is so damn difficult and ever present.

coffeeistheanswer Sun 19-Jan-14 18:05:00

Random - you sound like me.

Long story short - I left my DH, found a lovely man who recognises my feelings as valid, encourages me to tell him about them and just wants to make me happy. It's lovely.

The fear I used to experience at being upset about something and not being able to tell him... It turned out I told him...he responded, recognised my feelings and even apologised if he was wrong and tried to make it better!

There can be another world out there

WeGotTheKrunk Sun 19-Jan-14 18:05:25

As an adult it has made me very independent and self-reliant I think.

if I feel sad I tend to withdraw from other people

Can totally relate to both of these. Self-reliance is good in a lot of ways - but it's a bit double edged - I sometimes have times where I feel like I've looked after myself so well, at the points in time where I've really needed some emotional help, I didn't know where to go to get it!

I do agree with you FrauMoose that things improve as you get older. These days I do have a good solid friendship group, but I had to work hard to develop that. It was a bit like learning a foreign language - watching what other people did, how they supported one another, etc. Did not come naturally to me at all, not in the way it seems to come naturally to others (and I found myself being a bit envious of the fact that other people 'knew' what to do to develop and hold onto friendships)

RandomMess Sun 19-Jan-14 18:07:30

Yes coffee I know.

This will be the 2nd dh I'll have left for the same reason though - how utterly crap of me. utterly petrified that I was just make the same mistake, utterly petrified that I won't cope with being single.

Heaps of guilt being poured on from those childhood voices, what will people think! I supposed to achieve things and make them proud, being happy was never a consideration...


SoleSource Sun 19-Jan-14 18:08:29

Also if we are independent and self reliant others see us as never needing help and can 'put upon us' IYSWIM.

We are then afraid to ask for help as we do not appear to need to help to others and people then start to question who we are...does that make sense to anybody? I have experienced this.

ParsleyTheLioness Sun 19-Jan-14 18:09:05

Sole I struggle too, and identify with much of what has been said already been said. What I would say would be I am learning to trust more who I can trust with my 'stuff', ie who will not abuse it. This lesson has come hard, and with much therapy, and old age...

frugalfuzzpig Sun 19-Jan-14 18:11:38

I think the main impact it's had on me is zero self esteem. I just don't think I'm worth standing up for. Because if my parents didn't, then... who would?

I am pretty much the opposite in my parenting though. I'm doing well on that front I think (hope!)

RandomMess Sun 19-Jan-14 18:12:05

Also if we are independent and self reliant others see us as never needing help and can 'put upon us' IYSWIM - YES

I think what I do is hide my vulnerability, so I appear independent and self reliant but truly I'm not I just don't know how else to be?

SoleSource Sun 19-Jan-14 18:12:37

Yes, I am too open as well. Probably loneliness.... and wanting to connect with others and then they take the piss.

RandomMess Sun 19-Jan-14 18:13:40

frugal - zero self-esteem - YES.

No wonder I feel doomed at times!

RandomMess Sun 19-Jan-14 18:14:47

" I am too open as well. Probably loneliness.... and wanting to connect with others " YES

I am lonely, lost and alone. Yet married with dc so everyone sees a confident woman who has support.

frugalfuzzpig Sun 19-Jan-14 18:17:50

I was dealing with this in therapy recently. I've had a work issue where I was being denied training that I should be entitled to, for very tenuous reasons (related to disability/illness) - but I found it so, so hard to be assertive. I just convinced myself that they didn't want me to do it because of some other flaw.

I'm happy to say though that I did confront it - shaking like a bloody leaf and burst into tears on my colleague after - but I DID IT.

And am now getting my training smile

RandomMess Sun 19-Jan-14 18:25:57

Well done you frugal.

I was about to post

"see I over shared and everyone has deserted me" grin

SoleSource Sun 19-Jan-14 18:27:21

Great progress *fruga#

to everybody on this thread thanks

I totally empathise with each of you

SoleSource Sun 19-Jan-14 18:28:56

Not me Random, not ever!!!!

RandomMess Sun 19-Jan-14 18:29:13

Off to eat roast dinner that my loving, kind, wonderful dh has made - see I'm a bitch for moaning about him...

SoleSource Sun 19-Jan-14 18:34:25

LOL random - nope you are not!!!! a bitch

Leverette Sun 19-Jan-14 18:37:01

Recognising and relating to everything posted so far flowers

I was trained to be hyper aware of my mother's feelings and state of mind; I had to be because she was hugely verbally and physically abusive and I learned to read the danger signs well. But in addition, she treated me as a confidante (massively inappropriately at 14 I had to accompany her to hospital for the day while she had a termination for example).

So I can be astute at reading other people, recognising their feelings and responding in a helpful and soothing way. But my own feelings? I have never felt I have the 'right' to stand up for myself, insist on something going 'my' way, ask for help or support. I've been in at least two emotionally abusive relationships with men as a direct result of my learned attitudes and way of being.

I've been treated badly at work because I'm so contained and inexpressive facially - I have learnt to use words to convey warmth to others but my overall demeanour is quite steely and firm - useful at times but totally belies the self loathing jelly beneath.

Leverette Sun 19-Jan-14 18:41:20


wish I could find that normal place between being too open and rigidly closed!

RandomMess Sun 19-Jan-14 18:42:18

I have learnt to use words to convey warmth to others but my overall demeanour is quite steely and firm - useful at times but totally belies the self loathing jelly beneath. YES

So I can be astute at reading other people, recognising their feelings and responding in a helpful and soothing way. But my own feelings? I have never felt I have the 'right' to stand up for myself, insist on something going 'my' way, ask for help or support. YES

This is quite freaky!

RandomMess Sun 19-Jan-14 18:42:41

wish I could find that normal place between being too open and rigidly closed! - YES

WeGotTheKrunk Sun 19-Jan-14 18:45:50

It's so good to connect with others who've had similar / the same experiences!

Totally recognise the two work experiences - about getting 'passed over' for stuff and not feeling able to assert yourself - and that feeling of your feelings not being 'important' - I've suffered EA from 2 particularly twatty ex-boyfriends for exactly that!

Going offline for the rest of the evening now but thanks to everyone on the thread (and anyone lurking and recognising themselves - some thanks for you too)

RandomMess Sun 19-Jan-14 18:50:42

I wanted to ask you all - do you find it easier to be more open on here, faceless, written down than in real life?

I certainly do - somehow I physically struggle to say the words in RL, somehow makes me feel much more vulnerable than on here where I can hide behind a screen and username.
shoots off to namechange quick

bongobaby Sun 19-Jan-14 18:51:55

I cannot deal with my emotions and withdraw from people as I won't get hurt by anyone this way. I never ask for help and stubbornly struggle through. My mother was verbally,emotionally and physically abusive daily. She would often tell me how she wished she had aborted me and that I was a fucking bitch whilst landing another beating on me and my siblings.
I find it hard looking in the mirror at myself as I am ugly, she left me with scars on my face from physical abuse.
I was thick at school and do not like to open my mouth for fear of being laughed at in offering opinions and my grammar. Always told to get to the back of the classroom. She always told me I was a thick shit and useless. Never got cuddles or I love you just beatings and humiliation. I fucking hate her and how she has affected my life. It's not fair that I feel rubbish about me but is all I deserve really as I know no better.
Had a thread going a while ago about letting her back into our lives again, must of been having a weak moment. I never ever want to see or hear of her again. It's bad enough that I still see her in my nightmares at my age.

RandomMess Sun 19-Jan-14 18:55:11

bongobaby - huge hugs, nope never let her back in your life.

You are worth more, easy to say but oh so hard to grasp with both hands and believe. If I knew how to install that in you I would because your mother was a liar and thief.

TawdryTatou Sun 19-Jan-14 19:03:21

Haven't read whole thread, but my answer to each question is 'yes' , with the added bonus of not being able to trust anyone, ever. Not their motivations, their love, nothing.

DP is chipping away at my armour, but it doesn't take much for the defences to fly up hmm

TawdryTatou Sun 19-Jan-14 19:04:42

Reading thread now - it's like coming home.

Leverette Sun 19-Jan-14 19:05:19

Yes definitely easier to be more open here than in RL. Partly I think because messaging on here is a stark communication unaffected by assessments and judgements about mannerisms, appearance, other characteristics and life events etc. I've spent life being told I have a really quiet speaking voice - I've tried to 'speak up' but it's so alien and I think my vocal expression is strangled by anxiety. As described upthread it's the all-pervasive fear of disapproval and rejection manifesting itself.

Thank you Sole for starting his thread. It has made me feel more connected to others apart from my DCs than I have in a very long time.

TawdryTatou Sun 19-Jan-14 19:05:22

Leverette - I could have written your post.

AllDirections Sun 19-Jan-14 19:06:22

I had zero emotional support from my parents. They were quite abusive and played mind games in order to punish and belittle us. I found it really difficult as a child because I respond to logic and consistency and I got neither in childhood.

As an adult I don't find emotions hard to deal with. I'm happy to state how I'm feeling but because I'm so independent and self-assured people don't seem to get that I need support sometimes. Asking for support rarely happens because it's rarely on offer. Sometimes I still feel like that small child who has stopped crying because it makes no difference because no-one responds anyway!

Leverette Sun 19-Jan-14 19:07:09

Bongo - I get what you're saying and am sending you strength and support.

bongobaby Sun 19-Jan-14 19:08:09

Yes random she is a thief she has stolen my childhood and what should of been normal, nice and loving. She has fucked up my life at every turn still to this day. I said in my other thread that I have never addressed the issue of her behaviour towards me and that when I bumped into her a few months ago I became a quivering mess again. Even though I am nearly forty it took me back to being that scared little girl again.
I blocked it out and was ashamed. I have always felt not worthy of being loved. Hence why all my past relationships have been domestic violence and emotionally abusive and I took it all because it is all I am used to from people. My last few nights have been awful again with night sweats and crying and panic she is coming to get me again.
This post is dragging it out for me but helping in a way. I fucking fucking hate her.

RandomMess Sun 19-Jan-14 19:14:04

Bongo have you got any RL support from professionals? It does help.

winkywinkola Sun 19-Jan-14 19:18:27

I know my parents love me but they weren't really at all interested in me and what was going on. Nothing like some of the awful things that are on this thread.

Bongo hmmhmmhmmhmm

Until I fucked up my 'O' levels, then they panicked and I was the centre of attention for a while. I hate being the focus of anything - it makes me cry with shame and embarrassment even now. I didn't mess up my exams on purpose. I did very well in the end after they put me in private school for two years.

I refuse help from anyone. I feel quite detached from my dcs sometimes although I always hug them and tell them I love them. My dh is ott loving and affectionate and I know he thinks I'm a bit chilly.

sulkygirl Sun 19-Jan-14 19:22:29

Desperatelyseekingsolace are you also me? My mum was like yours, no mention of anything. My parents were not abusive they just advocated keeping your head under the parapet, don't draw attention to yourself, don't expect too much then you won't be disappointed. There were no words for any bodily parts or functions in our family. Also cannot, would never still, discuss personal issues or emotional stuff.

CraftyBuddhist Sun 19-Jan-14 19:26:01

Op I would answer yes to your questions.

Desperately I could have written your first post word for word. I have had therapy and can now recognise the source of my low self esteem- feeling invisible. Emotions ignored and/minimised. I phrased it in my journal as being abandoned to the elements. I had no guidance. No support. No words of wisdom. No arm round the shoulder. No sex talk. No periods or body talk. No boyfriend talk. No relationship talk. No discussion of my social relationships. No acknowledging of my suffering in clear sight over many years.

Yet they are ostensibly loving parents.

bongobaby Sun 19-Jan-14 19:28:59

Not yet random I seem to put it off. Think it the fear of talking about it face to face. I like to come here for support and know that others have been through the same with toxic patents. It's given me some comfort. I am however having a bad grumpy day of it as it still makes me angry.
How dare a mother make her child feel this way. I would never treat my ds who is my heartbeat like that, ever.

CraftyBuddhist Sun 19-Jan-14 19:29:02

I should also add that the environment in which I was raised meant I could never tell my mum how my cousin sexually assaulted me when I was a child. I couldn't even tell her j had started my periods let alone something like that. Instead I blamed myself for years. sad.

SoleSource Sun 19-Jan-14 19:31:11


I have a very good, loving relationship with DS. I too can feel distance towards him.

My Mother told me she never really wanted children but my Father did.

When I was small my Mother was unhappy. I hardly had anytime with her one-one and added to that my Father is a very jealous, insecure, emotionally messed up person. Verbally and emotionally abusive. Called me a nutcase every single day, thick, useless etc

RandomMess Sun 19-Jan-14 19:35:14

Crafty I was never able to tell my parents about my brother, yet our behaviour towards each other showed that things were "not okay" he was vile to me

Leverette Sun 19-Jan-14 19:37:20

I'm feeling very protective of ourselves when we were children. I always discount my own abuse but reading others' descriptions has me bristling with fury. No wonder I have always been passionate about supporting the underdog.

I wish I could storm into the room and apprehend one of these fuckers and make it stop.

I think that's what I've waited for actually <breakthrough>

How do we rescue ourselves?

bongobaby Sun 19-Jan-14 19:48:34

Crafty that was the fault of your cousin and not you. How awful for you to of gone through that. Hugs.
Random your brother had no right to be vile to you.
We are here for each other now it's good to let it all out.

CraftyBuddhist Sun 19-Jan-14 20:05:43

Random I think that is a huge reason i had a meltdown after having a daughter. My son had suddenly become, in my distorted mind, a threat to my daughter. I plan to do everything in my power to teach my son about sexual propriety. To teach respect. And to teach my daughter the same. You must have suffered terribly. My best wishes to you.

Bongo thank you for your kind words.

RandomMess Sun 19-Jan-14 20:12:05

I only ever wanted daughters, fortunately that was what I was given. Although with my youngest and agreed final I would have coped emotionally with having a son. People can't understand why I am NC with my family, I mean what are you supposed to do - air your dirty laundery in public?

They don't understand that it makes no difference as they were no support at all anyway, it's just one less source of constant anxiety removed from your head.

Homebird11 Sun 19-Jan-14 20:19:24

Thank you for this thread. No real abuse or horror stories, but I grew up with parents who didn't talk about anything ( and still won't) . Mum was very much in control and hers was the only opinion that counted and I have a fantastic ability to read people as a by product so I could read her moods and plicate them.
I'm finding it hard to parent teenagers as I don't know what normal is.
Work is hard too, someone asked me what I wanted to do long term and what my goals were and I realised that I just didn't know how to make that decision. I come across as hard, but really I'm just waiting for someone to tell me I'm going it all wrong.

SoleSource Sun 19-Jan-14 20:39:12

If I feel people get to know me too much I withdraw from people also or try and change the subject or it feels odd to me.

I'm not used to people getting to know the real me.

Very scary. Always been in my own world of berating and blaming myself.

Therapy has eased this a lot but the anxiety I feel is due to my Ds and my weight. I am tackling my weight at last and am doing really well.

FolkGirl Sun 19-Jan-14 21:05:11

Hello SoleSource <waves>

I've read this thread with interest. I started off wanting to c&p all the thoughts I agreed with, but then I realised it was pretty much all of them.

I've realised that my whole marriage was a sham, not only because of what my exh did, but also because I realised yesterday that I only married him to try and prove to my mother that I was lovable, whilst knowing that the man I was marrying didn't really love me at all. We were very good friends and I think we both just thought that would be enough. Sounds terribly wrong and irresponsible now, but I really didn't know any different.

I thought if she thought someone could see something positive or good in me, then she might look for it too. But it didn't make any difference. sad

lovemenot Sun 19-Jan-14 21:11:02

Another one who is seeing myself in this thread. My parents were not abusive but I was one of 6 kids, my mum had an infant and toddlers when I was a teenager. They were "of their generation", in their 80's now, and I remember my mother always being concerned about "what the neighbours might think". So, like you all I became very self-reliant and somewhat closed off.

Now approaching 50, I have a great and trusted group of girlfriends and I have learnt to be open with them. But I still retreat behind my safety wall quite often. My marriage is almost over and I'm finding it hard to deal with the emotional loss...I can't cry, I can't even let the emotional pain come anywhere near the surface.

The irony is that I always sensed he was very self-contained and it would never have been an emotionally demanding marriage. That felt safe. But regardless of that, he turned out to be a misogynist and is verbally abusive. On a good note, I have managed to have a good emotional relationship with my daughter.

RandomMess Sun 19-Jan-14 21:11:03

Welcome FolkGirl.

It took me a long long time to stop seeking my parents approval and accept that they're just not that into me I guess, they never were.

FolkGirl Sun 19-Jan-14 21:12:57

Thanks Random smile

they're just not that into me

That's the bottom line really, isn't it?

Immenowithink Sun 19-Jan-14 21:13:40

It's taken me 4 hours to read this thread. .. I've had to keep breaking off...Because I've recognised me and my feelings and also I'm glad I'm not alone in feeling like this although at the same time sorry that others feel this way.
In regards to being more open on here. .. No I'm not, I'm scared to death that others will recognise who I am and my real life deception of being confident and un needy will be discovered. I needed to post though to let you know there's another one who feels the same. .. support in numbers I suppose.

AnyFucker Sun 19-Jan-14 21:15:10

I feel a sense of belonging on this thread too

Emotionally abusive father

Man pleasing mother who chose her "love" for him over the emotional safety of her children

I am nearly 50 and the effects are far reaching

Leverette Sun 19-Jan-14 21:15:11

That is it isn't it.

GarlicReturns Sun 19-Jan-14 21:27:31

I didn't feel as a child that I had zero emotional support from my parents, I thought that what they gave me was emotional support. It afflicted me in all areas of adult life, and still does - although the type of affliction has changed since doing masses of therapy.

I find it very hard to ask for help, yes, and to accept it when offered. Most people - even professional helpers, like doctors and therapists - seem to underestimate the amount of help I want & need. My "I'm OK, thanks" mask must be too good.

I am learning to care properly about myself. It's astonishingly difficult.

It's good to see you looking into this, Sole, and reaching out. Lots of people on here love you, you know, me included! You don't have to believe or justify this, just accept it as a random fact.


Lavenderhoney Sun 19-Jan-14 21:31:49

Very interesting thread. My df was a drunk and gambler with his own business so didn't see much of him, and I know nothing about him.

My dm was very controlling, didn't like anyone to have friends, didn't like my siblings and I talking to each other and encouraged nc, didn't discuss anything like periods, boys, friends, homework, life after school. She just said " I'll decide"

I remember wanting a kiss goodnight when I put myself to bed at 9 years and she told me no, I was too old for that. And always being blamed if things went wrong. My LTR had an affair with a married woman and she said it was my fault as I didn't cook him enough hot dinnerssmile
She went nc with me as I refused to take him back. Even he was horrified and he was a selfish tosspot.

I have low self esteem. You wouldn't think so because everyone tells me how chatty I am, friendly, self confident. I make myself. However if anyone messes me about I'm useless at seeing it- I assume they are having a bad day, its just them etc etc. a few times other friends have expressed amazement I still talk to these people. I just don't see they are horrible, iyswim.

I too immersed myself in books from an early age, to block out the yelling and all round miserable atmosphere.

I purposely don't have many book now. I must face things.

Oh- and I carefully married late, very sure dh wasn't like my parents. Superb fuck up. He even looks like my dadsad

paisley256 Sun 19-Jan-14 21:37:26

Thank you for starting this thread I feel very at home here.

Very emotionally unavailable mother, everyone else's opinions are and were more important, especially the neighbours and people she didn't know that might be looking and judging.

Would never stand up for me so I kind of got the message I wasn't worth it and I've always settled for crap in life and relationships.

Massive identity issues, always in internal conflict, should I please me or the critical voice in my head.

Never thought my issues were worthy of therapy cos I hadn't been abused - til I began therapy last year and at 39 I am finally getting to know who I am.

Lavenderhoney Sun 19-Jan-14 21:45:36

Oh yes! So judgy and worried about what people would think.

I had an endoscopy at 15 as I had serious pains and they couldn't work out what it was. She was so worried people would think I was having an abortion! I didn't even have a boyfriend til I was 18

Turned out to be stress related. Took matters into my own hands and whilst she was in hospital answered an ad in the the lady for a mothers help and left. Df drove me. She went ballistic. At him worse I expect but me- shitsad

ALovelyBunch0fCoconuts Sun 19-Jan-14 21:47:38

Yes same here.

I think it's made me quite a cold, hard person. I'm not very tactile, find it hard to show emotion and refuse to ask for help. I dont know how to be any different.

Bikeandbird Sun 19-Jan-14 21:50:59

This is interesting and timely reading. I am having therapy at the moment to try and deal with the fallout and damage from having a childhood where my feelings were totally ignored. In fact it was my life and my development, relationships etc that would be ignored.

Someone said earlier about there being no talk about relationships, feelings, friendships. Nothing. I would be met with a change of subject or a feeling that I was embarrassing her or a blank look and at best an 'I don't know darling '.

Her moods however ruled the house and I too learned how to keep quiet and how to placate to try and bring some calm back to the house.

What I am struggling with now is how I parent. I find the DC's emotions difficult to deal with. I either fall back on what she did (just try and 'stop' their feelings ) or I try very hard to get it right and I go over and over it in my mind and am terrified I will get it wrong and fuck them up.

As an adult I have good, healthy relationships. Listen well, give good advice. But when it comes to my kids I am floundering with how to raise them in an emotionally healthy way confused

FolkGirl Sun 19-Jan-14 21:56:36

I actually feel like shit this evening. I've been out all weekend. I got home at about 4pm today, I've had a fantastic weekend and I've cried pretty much the whole time I've been home.


I shall tell you.

For the past 3 months I have been 'sort of seeing' a man. I am only child free alternate weekends so that's the only time I see him but even then, we haven't spent a huge amount of time together. I really like him - he is kind, thoughtful, polite, attentive and considerate. He arranged to finish work early and travel some distance on the train after work to see me perform in a charity concert before Christmas just so that he could see me doing something I loved; he's slept on my living room floor (no bedroom to speak of currently) and thought it was romantic; he doesn't play games; he gave me a jumper of his so that I could wear it and think of him during the 2 weeks he was visiting his family overseas...

Despite all this, there had been no talk about what 'this' was, or how we felt or anything. We had a lovely time when we were together and it was perfect, but when we weren't together, I didn't really miss him, we didn't really talk much...

This weekend, we've spent the whole weekend together. It was lovely. He referred to me indirectly as his girlfriend (we haven't discussed what we are so this was the first time it had been said), he said he really likes me, he wanted to talk so that he could find out more about me... I think I might actually really quite like him...

And I've got home and now all I can do is think about how I need to end it because I'm scared of falling in love with him and can't risk getting hurt; I can't process/accept that he might really like me. And I know that now I will start to look for evidence that he doesn't like me. It was easier when I didn't know what it was or what he thought of me because I didn't have any expectations and didn't feel an emotional attachment and couldn't have been hurt. But now I'm just waiting for him to realise that actually I'm not all that afterall... I feel like I was keeping him at arms length and now he's got too close sad

I've got a thread at the moment about how I don't feel lovable and can't even think of myself in terms of being loved because of issues with my parents.

RandomMess Sun 19-Jan-14 21:59:49

sad for you FolkGirl

Vixxxen Sun 19-Jan-14 22:00:57


For me I feel like emotional neglect is all I know and I fear what I don't know (being really really loving, warm towards someone). People will describe me as cold if you ask them.

Also the belief that I simply don't deserve

I spend my life sabotaging myself and being unhappy when things are going ok. I feel guilty because I don't deserve anything good.

Gosh I need counselling asap.

FolkGirl Sun 19-Jan-14 22:04:06

Man pleasing mother who chose her "love" for him over the emotional safety of her children

Very emotionally unavailable mother, everyone else's opinions are and were more important, especially the neighbours and people she didn't know that might be looking and judging.

I think it's made me quite a cold, hard person. I'm not very tactile, find it hard to show emotion and refuse to ask for help. I dont know how to be any different.

Yes, yes, yes and then some.

"what will the neighbours think, FG?"

Her worry about what the neighbours would think meant that when I was 24 and single because my LTR had cheated on me when I was pregnant, she arranged for me to go into a 'mother and baby home' when I was in hospital having my son so that the neighbours wouldn't know her daughter was an unmarried mother. This was only 15 years ago. The opinions of strangers and neighbours meant more to her than her own daughter and grandson.

AnyFucker Sun 19-Jan-14 22:07:22

That is truly terrible, FG

FolkGirl Sun 19-Jan-14 22:09:04

I wish I'd gone NC with her at the time AF. It took another 13 years and some stuff I can't talk about for 'legal reasons' to actually make the final cut!

AnyFucker Sun 19-Jan-14 22:11:48

I am so sorry thanks

LoisPuddingLane Sun 19-Jan-14 22:12:09

I had zero support in any way; quite the opposite in fact. My parents are now dead and I am glad. The damage they did, whether deliberately or not, has never gone away.

RandomMess Sun 19-Jan-14 22:18:28

FG I was told I was not to ever come home pregnant so when it happened (despite using contracepton) I got married to my ex-h and stayed hundreds of miles away. I had actually wanted to go a mother and baby home but he felt guilty for the way he had treated me so in the end I agreed confused

When I had to start working when my baby was 9 weeks old my parents were so pleased... My dc welfare doesn't matter only my "career", unsurprisingly I haven't had one.

My over riding memory is being afraid of my father, no idea why, only that there was no emotional support going on between anyone in our family.

FolkGirl Sun 19-Jan-14 22:23:40

Random sad I just don't understand what these parents thought they were going to achieve.

I don't want to be a 'victim' but it's just impossible to get past somethings.

I have a first class degree and a PG qualification. I'm an educated professional, yet I'm now in the process of looking for less demanding work because I don't trust myself, my judgement, or my initiative.

I sometimes think I couldn't work in McDonalds because I couldn't cope with an angry customer!

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Bikeandbird Sun 19-Jan-14 22:24:32

Balls. Name change didn't stick. I give up.

3mum Sun 19-Jan-14 22:25:41

Gosh it's scary how many of us had similar childhoods and the similar consequences for us. I feel quite panicky now about my ability to bring up my children alone as a single parent.

Looking back at my ex-H I knew that I consciously chose him because he was ostensibly so different from my emotionally withdrawn, dictatorial parents. To my naive young eyes he was warm, popular and very sociable with a wide circle of friends. In fact, the man I chose was a complete narc who was incapable of looking at the world any way other than through a me first filter, who put all his effort into his public persona and never gave me any emotional support, or even basic kindness all the years we were together. I find it very alarming that, even whilst trying to move away from my background, I married a man who reconfirmed it for me over and over again. I really feel I can't trust my judgement about people so I daren't let anyone close to me.

Not surprisingly I also have issues with self esteem and with food abuse.

PortofinoRevisited Sun 19-Jan-14 22:27:31

My nan used to tell random people eg the bus driver, oh Porto's going to the Grammar School, Porto's going to work at the Foreign Office as she is good at languages. She never once told me she was proud of me or listened to me about what I was interested in. All o the above was a means to meet highly paid men. I am 45 now - and she asks about dh's job, has he been promoted recently etc? My career is not that shabby, thanks, but she asks only how I manage to get my washing done. And if I visit she only mentions that I have put on weight. So I don't visit.

CraftyBuddhist Sun 19-Jan-14 22:28:18

Some really familiar accounts here. Sole thankyou for starting this thread.

I have found reading 'the emotionally absent mother' very helpful. Much of it resonates with me. My maternal grandmother was cruel and distant from my mother. My mother met and married my father and became in thrall to him. Deferred to him. On everything. I feel that he completely abrogated her responsibility to provide emotional guidance to her daughters. My father was hopeless and often physically absent.

No subject of any complexity was ever broached with me. No grief talk after the death of my grandparents to whom I was very close. The palpable radio silence when I was dumped by the love of my life. I wonder sometimes what hurts more. That they noticed I suffered at times and ignored it or that they simply didn't notice.

As a parent I hope to anticipate the common problems that my children will face. I want to help them face them. I want to show them that there is no shame in feeling anger or feeling sad. That sometimes people can mistreat you but that it is not ok and certainly not your fault.

My parents provided the mechanical support of parenthood. We were fed. Clothed. Schooled. But crickey we were emotionally neglected. Unless someone has been in a similar situation I'm not sure they would understand what that can do to a person.

RandomMess Sun 19-Jan-14 22:29:58

Bikeandbird -nooooooooooooooo

You've obviously got something right! I think a lot of it is involved "just" listening???

I found reading the books "How to listen so kids with talk and talk so kids will listen" and "Siblings without rivalry" helpful.

I too feel clueless in how to parent my dcs. I spend most of my time failing to look after myself confused

FolkGirl Sun 19-Jan-14 22:30:04

I find it very alarming that, even whilst trying to move away from my background, I married a man who reconfirmed it for me over and over again. I really feel I can't trust my judgement about people so I daren't let anyone close to me.

I know what you mean, 3mum I even think that must be part of what it is with this man I've been seeing now that he claims to 'like' me.

FolkGirl Sun 19-Jan-14 22:32:10

My parents provided the mechanical support of parenthood. We were fed. Clothed. Schooled. But crickey we were emotionally neglected. Unless someone has been in a similar situation I'm not sure they would understand what that can do to a person.


Leverette Sun 19-Jan-14 22:33:24

My mother physically attacked me when I told her I was pregnant, aged 18. Kicked in the stomach so that I fell backwards and she sneered she hoped I would lose my baby. Within the hour she'd flipped into 'we can raise it together, we don't need men' etc as she realised that she had the perfect opportunity to re-establish me in a vulnerable position for her to use.

I had my grandparents, aunt and uncle on the phone telling me I had to "have it adopted".

Then it was the "you made your bed you lie in it" punishment, judgement and lack of is of that they tried little to reverse my decision a few years ago to go NC - beyond sending the police to my workplace saying they were concerned for my wellbeing. A blatant attempt to force me to subjugate my experience and feelings to their authority.

I've raised a fantastic son and daughter. But I don't know who I am outside a role where I'm caring for someone else. I've spent 20 years of adult life not knowing how to recognise when someone's awful and suffering greatly as a result. I get scared of people I identify as 'normal' and properly successful, convincing myself they wouldn't want to know me as I'm defective, faulty, strange.

CraftyBuddhist Sun 19-Jan-14 22:35:59

Bike and bird don't think you've been ignored! I completely agree with you. I second 'how to talk'.

From a personally point of view I also found 'if the Buddha had kids' completely excellent. But my nn probably explains why!

Leverette Sun 19-Jan-14 22:37:08

princerogersnelson - you didn't get anything wrong - there is no wrong on this thread flowers You don't need to be hard on yourself here

Vixxxen Sun 19-Jan-14 22:38:19

I was told I was not to ever come home pregnant

I was told something similar to:

Not to ever get pregnant because children are a wasting of time and money and they are liability. Children spoils adult's life* My mum said she would be very unhappy if she was ever to become a grandmother. She never wanted to be a mother in the first place, nevermind a grandmother..

So when I got pregnant by surprise at 30 year of age, I felt like a vulnerable teenager, I felt wrong and ashamed. I thought everyone was judging me and that I finally managed to fuck up and ruin my life.
Luckily Dh who was a Dp at the time was very supportive and positive and looking forward for the baby, but I have to make a very big effort to have a normal relationship with dd. It is not very natural but it is getting easier.

I was also told not to get married or have relationship with men as they are all the same and they are all bad and awful.

Guess how much I was attracted to bad boys who didn't respect me one little bit?

I managed to shoo away all the good guys.

But Dh is ok. I am sure he is a lot better than I can see.

SoleSource Sun 19-Jan-14 22:41:14

I can't find PrinceRoger's post

To you all thanks xxx

feltpaperchains Sun 19-Jan-14 22:41:29

I can relate strongly to what has been said here. I used food to numb my feelings from a young age. I then started going to Overeaters Anonymous which is a 12 step programme like AA. Going sonewhere to proses and talk about my emotions has stopped me taking refuge in food and encouraged me to nurture and raise that8 year old girl inside of me.
I found therapy very helpful too.
Now I'm much happier. Youre not alone

PortofinoRevisited Sun 19-Jan-14 22:45:23

Yes I was told to not come home PG too. Aged 35, owning my own home, the response to me announcing I was PG with dd, was "oh my god, I thought you were past all that stuf, how will you possibly manage, you will have to give up work etc"

AnyFucker Sun 19-Jan-14 22:45:32

SS, PrinceRoger messed up a namechange, BikeandBird is what to look

AnyFucker Sun 19-Jan-14 22:45:43


Vixxxen Sun 19-Jan-14 22:52:32

As an adult I have good, healthy relationships. Listen well, give good advice. But when it comes to my kids I am floundering with how to raise them in an emotionally healthy way

I struggle with this too BikeandBird

I so need to change quickly.

Onlyjoking Sun 19-Jan-14 22:55:35

Blimey, I've been non stop nodding reading this thread.
So many things resonated with me.
I grew up in the so called care system, abusive childhood on so many levels.
I had no one to do any actual parenting of me. No one to turn to, someone to talk too. I knew I was In the way.

I suppose as a result I'm very conscious of my parenting skills, i stick with being honest respective, non shouty! Giver of hugs kisses, and then there's the praise, I give it to the teens a lot, but only recently realised,that as a child I was never the Recipient

As I guide my teens through the murky adolescent years, which is made some what more interesting by their autism.

DespicableJean Sun 19-Jan-14 22:57:51

I'm so glad to find this thread! My mother spent my whole childhood telling me I was stupid and worthless and that having me had ruined her life. There was no affection, no love, just a continual feeling that I would never be any good. If i was ever upset there was no comfort, just shouting that everything was my fault and I'd upset my mum. She used to tell me "when you get married and have children you'll be miserable too and see what it's like." Even though I couldn't make friends at school (didn't know how) nobody did anything, I assume because I was clean, clothed and did well in class.

So I emotionally divorced myself from them as a teenager and now I have real trouble dealing with (or even recognising) emotions. Sometimes my colleagues tell me I seem very relaxed, or happy, when I think I'm feeling stressed or miserable and I don't understand what I'm really feeling. I'm also very self-sufficient and can't ask for help even when I'm really struggling. I feel like it would confirm that I'm useless and can't cope and everyone would think less of me.

I've also had problems with touch, due to lack of affection. My friend's mum hugged me when I was 10 and I was terrified, I had no idea what she was doing. i couldn't let a man near me until I was 30 and had done 6 months of counselling because I was so uncomfortable with anybody touching me. Has anybody else experienced this? I don't have any memories of sexual abuse (but I don't have many memories of my childhood at all).

It's hard to feel compassion for myself, but so much easier to feel compassion for others in a similar situation, so thanks to everyone on the thread.

paisley256 Sun 19-Jan-14 22:59:42

I have also found parenting terribly difficult. Worst thing is that I've also been hung up on the "what will people think" shit when it comes to my kids and I'm paranoid I've fucked them up by giving them the same messages I got - other people's opinions are more important than your own, other people are right you are wrong, other people especially men must be pleased.

Since beginning therapy I've become more self aware and I'm doing things differently but what if it's too late and I've already given them self doubt issues.

I want to be a strong figure in their life - solid, stable, safe and dependable but I find it so hard I feel like a different person every day of the week and find it impossible to trust my own judgement on anything.

I love my children to bits but wish I was a better mother to them I wish I could just be me without questioning every decision I make, and then worrying I've made the wrong choice for them and their development. I just crave feeling comfortable in my own skin and want that so badly for them - I just don't want them to turn out like me.

PrinceRogersNelson - you sure your post sent I couldn't see it (love ur name by the way!)

Bikeandbird Sun 19-Jan-14 23:07:11

Sorry for the small emotional outburst. blush

Paisley - I agree with a lot if what you say. I know the kind of parent I want to be. But I struggle to stay stable and what you said about being a different person each day rings true aswell

I know my Grandmother inflicted damage in my Mum and my Mum on me and I just hope that by trying at least to recognise the kind of parent I am I can break the cycle a bit more and my DC can relax and enjoy their parenting in a way I can't

My mum has no idea what she's like. She tells me to tell her if she gets like her mum and I think, but you already are.

RandomMess Sun 19-Jan-14 23:15:44

Bike, we allow emotions on this thread grin

Have a hug flowers

AnyFucker Sun 19-Jan-14 23:17:03

B+B, my father is just like his father who gave him an absolutely shit time as a child

I am determined to not perpetuate the pattern

paisley256 Sun 19-Jan-14 23:38:04

Yeah I'm glad that therapy has shown me the cycle and I'm conscious of breaking it too. I was brought up by my mum and grandparents and i think the 'shame' of my mum having me out of wedlock was seen in their eyes as a massive failing on their part so they went massively overboard on the importance of others opinions so it didn't happen again - that just made me rebel and move away at the first opportunity.

Sunflower49 Sun 19-Jan-14 23:39:21

How has this affected how you deal with your emotions a an adult?
I had very low self-esteem for years. I thought everybody was somehow 'better' than me and as such I let people walk all over me as a child and young adult.

Do you find emotions hard to deal with?
I've gone the other way and am seriously empathic. I worry about other people's feelings all the time, to the point of coming across a little neurotic!
I've also made emotions my 'thing' and am training to be a counsellor. I use my experiences productively. Is there perhaps a way you could find to do that?

Are you afraid of asking for help or just being yourself or not know how to word your feelings from being afraid of being vulnerable and attacked?

I used to be like this, 100%! I thought I was 'weak' and didnt' want to show it. I never had affection as a child and never showed emotion. If I was hurt I didn't show it, happy I didn't show it-even now I struggle with being enthusiastic about anything, I have to rehearse reactions and am wary of coming across as sullen. As for asking for help and voicing my needs, my current partner, a lovely, lovely man-sorted me out good and proper! I'm a bit of a diva nowadays, or should I say I have found my personality and learnt that being me is fine, I do not have to be anybody else. It's okay to be upset or sensitive. It's okay to make myself clear about what I want from others-in fact, it works out better for other people, too!

As I do I had zero emotional support as a child and was emotionally abused and verbally attacked constantly by my Father. I have been NC for nine years now.
What's NC, sorry?I had an identical experience coupled with physical abuse.

I'm single and have had a course of therapy but feel I have been hurt far too much and am scared of letting others 'in'.

Don't worry like that, easier said than done I know!It manifests itself. Concentrate on knowing your worth, It's as much as that of anybody else. You survived that as a child, your capabilities are even more so now!

Have you had psychotherapy? Have you got good people in your life now?
I read a few books 'The Secret' helped me a LOT. I put most of it down to my man though.
PM me if you think it may help.

RandomMess Sun 19-Jan-14 23:44:33

NC = no contact

MiscellaneousAssortment Sun 19-Jan-14 23:46:47

Alot of what people are saying rings a bell.

I hope I've already done one thing right as I've done the unconditional love thing for my Ds consistently and wholeheartedly, although he's just a preschooler so it's very easy to love. I hope he's already a step ahead of me in terms of brain formation.

Sunflower49 Sun 19-Jan-14 23:49:26

The touch thing as well I can relate to. As a child I hated physical affection from anybody!I hated being tickled, cuddled, holding an adults hand, anything.I wanted to be 'grown up' and not be weak enough to need it.
Now,I'm sometimes socially awkward if people go to hug/kiss/shake hands but I get through it okay. With DP however, I'm very, very cuddly now, making up for lost time perhaps?
It's quite bittersweet to read this thread.

ghostinthecanvas Mon 20-Jan-14 00:15:41

This thread pretty much sums up my life. Right down to immersing myself in books as a child.
I use my constant reading to help me understand life. I find as I get older I isolate myself more. It is easier than having to figure out if new people are who they appear to be. This thread is also very timely for me as I have realised my marriage is in need of some strengthening. I have been very independent all my life and this was reflected in my marriage. My health has been deteriorating over the last couple of years and I have needed to lean more on DH. He isn't managing this well and i have realised that he is emotionally unavailable. Thanks to this thread I have started talking to him tonight (I cannot do confrontation) and, strangely, realising we are both seriously messed up, it's easier to be honest and go forward together. I hope.
Thank you all for being so honest and making me realise I am not alone. I had thought i had processed and moved on when I hit my 40s. Turns out as I approach 50 here I am again. sad

paisley256 Mon 20-Jan-14 00:22:51

I've had awful self esteem, spent most of my earlier life trying to self medicate the emotions away with drink and drugs.

I'm training to be a counsellor too, I think the only thing I've ever felt good at was other people and their emotional state.

I'm at a better place now since beginning dpsychotherapy last year but i don't have many people in my life, especially women, I think cos my mum and nan were so critical I have often felt safer with men. Saying that, all my relationships have been abusive except one - and I ended that because it didn't feel right!

Thankfully now I can recognise that there has been a pattern to my life but it's scary making the changes. Learning to trust is my biggest issue I think.

I will look up the book The Secret, thanks.

Sunflower49 Mon 20-Jan-14 00:57:34

The trust thing IS difficult because literally in life, the only person you can truly trust is yourself...Up to a point.
That point is when you realise somebody else really puts you first. Make sure you tread water with people, not as in setting up tests or anything!But it helped me to think of it like that.

When I met DP I was careful, honest, and took it casual at first. 'Luckily' I had a couple of situations where I was needing help (e.g a friend and I fell out,minor health issues a tradesman let me down)and DP stepped up to be with me and help me in all those minor situations. So slowly but surely I 'let him in'.

I learned from that, it isn't a situation where worrying will help. Being honest with future partners about how you feel will filter the ones worthy.
Andyes I've had abusive relationships before him, too.
If I've managed it, you can too.

paisley256 Mon 20-Jan-14 01:27:24

Yeah worrying doesn't help at all and im learning to stop reaching for the stick to beat myself with because that doesn't help either.

Interesting what your said about knowing your self worth cos for me it's always felt wrong to put myself first or up there with everyone else, but im conscious of being 'seen' to value myself by my children so that they hopefully learn that they matter and that they count, through my example.

BronzeHorseman Mon 20-Jan-14 07:04:36

Yes, always. I never talk to anybody now or ask for help and have gone through child and adulthood as a loner without friends because of it. I prefer it that way now though. Even getting married didn't improve it and we'll be divorcing before long I expect.

DeckSwabber Mon 20-Jan-14 08:37:17

I'm fighting off a bout of depression right now, in my late forties, because of this.

My mum isn't a bad person but she lets herself be influenced by other people instead of making her own mind up, and she also treated my brother as the golden child. She didn't have much insight into my emotional needs and did some very hurtful and damaging things over the years.

My strategy was always to be 'good' (because I saw other people in my family behaving very badly and thought she'd like me more if I was not like them). Utter waste of time. Sadly I just ended up feeling resentful towards the people who continued to behave badly.

The impact on me is that I have sometimes treated people badly because I have difficulty believing anyone cares what I do or say and have not always understood that my actions or words have any impact. (I have only recently realised this!). I also lack confidence at work and with friends, assuming everyone thinks I'm rubbish, and I find it hard to take compliments or thanks because I tend to think these words are not meant sincerely. I find it almost impossible to love myself.

akawisey Mon 20-Jan-14 08:40:45

Another one here who had an emotionally barren mum and an unfaithful father. They gave me to the care system when I was 7 - I got in the way.

So I struggle with codependency and always have, married a man just like my dad, struggled to understand and connect with my emotions, tend to over analyse the bejeesus out of everything and I give myself SUCH a hard time.

I'm in therapy for the umpteenth time as I'm now feeling like I'm almost there with forgiving me for putting myself through endless and repetitive and self defeating patterns of behaviour. I really connect with a lot that's been said here, especially the bit about being either too closed or too open. It's easier to say it here because I could walk by you in the street today and you'd never know it was me.

Good thread.

CraftyBuddhist Mon 20-Jan-14 09:46:52

Morning everyone. I was thinking of a lot of your posts last night and reading again this morning was another feeling of nod nod nod yes yes to much of what had been said.

I too have always immerse myself in books. Particularly as a child I found books to be my frien and guide. As adult I read a lot about emotions, psychology, philosophy, buddhism (obviously) and self help. It has given me more insight into where my parents went wrong and how I am not a terrible unworthy invisible insignificant person.

Like pp I too plan on becoming a counselling psychotherapist or counselli psychologist. My friends have all said when I've mentioned that's what I want to do that it will suit me down to the ground. Strange really- I've been kind to others, thoughtful of their experiences and needs yet for many many years had zero understanding of myself.

I'm so glad you started this thread op. Sometimes I don't feel able to say anything about my personal experiences for fear of derailing threads or detracting from an op but you have created a lovely safe haven for people just to get ir 'out there'. Thank you.

CraftyBuddhist Mon 20-Jan-14 09:47:59

I should add that being in personal therapy has helped no end and feel quite evangelical about its benefits nowadays!

ghostinthecanvas Mon 20-Jan-14 10:15:29

CraftyBuddha, when I have light bulb moments, moments of self awareness and adjust my life to suit, my mother is so fast at trying to bring me down. My brothers too. Course one of my moments was when I realised I was like them and started making sure that when I had things to say, they were positive things. They didn't like that. I think my younger brother is realising that his negativity is affecting his children and is trying to adjust his behaviour to suit.
My DH and I talked last night til 2am. I won't put details on as he wouldn't like me to talk about him here but I will say again - thank you all for your honesty, thank you sole for starting the thread.

wellieboots Mon 20-Jan-14 10:24:53

God this thread has made me cry. I always thought my DM was a bit crazy and selfish but a lot of your stories resonate with me, so maybe it was more. Who knows?! Sorry, just very thoughtful hmm

Andro Mon 20-Jan-14 12:11:07

Do you find emotions hard to deal with? No, no tin general.

Are you afraid of asking for help? Not afraid to ask for help, but not accustomed to having the option so completely self reliant (I'm not as bed now, but occasionally backslide and DH has to remind me that I don't have to manage everything anymore).

or just being yourself? No, quite the opposite, I am who I am in respect of my likes, dislikes, beliefs, principle etc. What you see is what you get, it just isn't the whole story in general.

or not know how to word your feelings from being afraid of being vulnerable and attacked? Not so much not knowing how to word my feelings, but I didn't (and don't) trust easily. Not many people know the woman behind the PhD's and social polish.

My background is pretty mixed though; my father was fantastic when he was there (worked away a lot), my mother was so 'supportive' she told me she wishes she'd aborted me. I spent several years at boarding school (against my father's wishes) and as result became very self reliant, emotionally though I always had the rest of my extended family so I wasn't emotionally isolated.

I have an icily polite relationship with my mother because I'm unwilling to go NC - I'd end up nc with my entire family and I don't want that - I have not relationship with the twins (my mother's perfect little angles and the reasons I ended up being sent away).

Sunflower49 Mon 20-Jan-14 13:50:52

Andro your story's just got me teary, what a horrible thing to happen sad

CailinDana Mon 20-Jan-14 18:08:10

My parents, mother in particular, seem to fear anything that isn't mundane routine and "normal" and their way of dealing with it is to just pretend it isn't happening. I wonder if that's a survival mechanism as they both had pretty terrible childhoods. I think they were so desperate for a "normal" straightforward family life that they were terrified of dealing with anything any way difficult. They pretty much ignored my sister's disability, so much so that she didn't know what was wrong and had to look it up herself. Even positive things were ignored.

I credit my wonderful dh with helping me to develop. I have very little contact with my parents.

IAmMine Mon 20-Jan-14 18:16:11

Hello all,
ive read all this brilliant thread and sobbed through most of it, its all too much.sad
Ive been searching my soul for a while now regarding my upbringing. My df is abusive. I think thats why I ended up married to a similar man.
My db and ds are twins and I was always pushed out as the odd one who was a constant disappointment.
My dm was/ is subservient to my df and emotionally retarded when it came to hugs or telling me she loved me or any other emotions. I too have turned to self medication in the past. I too buried my head in books as an escape. I especially loved biographies anything tragic Marylin Monroe to Sylvia Plath.
So glad you started this thread sole thanks, even though its been a difficult read.
Im going to go now as its uoset me. I may be back to offload as yes posting on here does, has and will help

AnyFucker Mon 20-Jan-14 18:42:26

Take care of yourself, IAmMine thanks

WhoGivesAMonkey Mon 20-Jan-14 20:08:45

My parents don't really do emotions and it has led to problems for me.

I think the most hurtful thing is their refusal to discuss this aspect of our lives - they just get angry when I try to talk about it.

Leverette Mon 20-Jan-14 20:15:44

dear all, I hope everyone's ok tonight.
Lots of painful memories and thoughts being stirred up
flowers to all this evening

Lahti Mon 20-Jan-14 20:26:25

Can I join? My background is similar to many on here. My parents don't do emotions except anger and sadness. I'm sure they love me, but I've never heard them say it. I don't remember hugs in my childhood. I've just divorced an EA husband, but I wonder how much of that was due to me?
All through school and university it was a running joke that I didn't do emotions- I didn't get outwardly upset etc, but the really sad part is I was proud of it. I just didn't understand how people could overreact to stuff.... turns out I just massively underreact because that's all I knew.
I have a DD and I'm really trying hard not to repeat the pattern. Difficult though when I don't always understand how I should feel about something or even what I am feeling.

RandomMess Mon 20-Jan-14 20:38:41

I have the rage today, at least I'm feeling something. Somehow it's cathertic writing sharing here but it's also a reminder of just how "dead" I feel inside. So difficult to get in touch with any feelings - have had to really focus on it.

Onesiegoddess Mon 20-Jan-14 20:39:25

Mine weren't abusive but they weren't supportive at all. They gave zero attention. It's been hard because my other siblings received lots of help. However, it has made me very self sufficient, it has made me treat my own children very differently and it has made my close friends just more important then relatives.

SoleSource Mon 20-Jan-14 20:46:40

Hi everybody x

Read every single post thanks

Had the rage too today....this morning.....felt so frustrated, weird but glad I am letting out emotion. Has to come out in someway.

Homebird11 Mon 20-Jan-14 20:59:45

Sole, I think it is healthy to feel angry at what has happened to you. You will be able to move on from this and it does not have to define you

For me, I had a sudden realisation that I was 'stuck' as a teenager and very reactive in some situations, and emotionally destructive in others. It's been a long hard road dealing with it, but it is slowly getting better.

SoleSource Tue 21-Jan-14 13:37:50

Thank you Homebird11 ;0

I also have a nasty habit of attracting verbally abusive and emotionally unavailable men. At least I know they are wrong or me and can now make a decision to cut them out of my life, but I keep attracting them...


Whatalie Tue 21-Jan-14 13:54:33

Me too! I was never hugged or told "I loveyou". My parents made sure I was fed but I have always felt quite lonely. I have basically had to parent them. From when I was quite young they always had a medical issue that I needed to help them with.

Its only as I have become a parent myself and my DC are now growing up that I see how I dysfunctional my childhood was.

I also can't ask anyone for help. I never ask my parents and as the oldest child I feel I have not only patented my parents but also my siblings.

mypussyiscalledCaramel Tue 21-Jan-14 14:23:39

I have an emotionally unavailable Mum. I don't remember anything positive about her from my childhood. She always focused on the negatives. Left my Dad when I was 17 and expected me to cope in the real world without ANY support.

I first married when I was 20 because I was afraid of being alone. He got himself a younger model when our son was 3.

Got married again when I was 34 to an emotionally abusive arsehole. Left him when DS2 was 3.

My Mum was very good at being the avenging Angel, but once she felt I was on an even keel and settled, she would back off.

I have about 4 true friends, who I would trust with my life, wouldn't trust any of my family as far as I could throw them.

As a consequence of my Mum being an emotional brick wall my relationship with my boys is fantastic. I chose to change that side of me.

I am still crap at choosing men, but I spot the weird signs earlier and these men are all warned from the start that all I want is friendship and nothing else.

Now I am going through a hard phase with my Mum as she was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease in 2012. I am not her carer, she has her partner for that, but I see her at least once a week. She can't speak, she can't eat and now needs help to walk anywhere. She probably won't last until next year.

I am seeing a counsellor because I don't know how I will feel. I have a horrible feeling that I will be happy when she dies and won't grieve for her.

SoleSource Tue 21-Jan-14 14:42:58

Caramel good on you for seeing a counsellor and thank you for sharing.

Thank you to everybody here.

It is a heavy thread but at least we know we are not alone.

just had this in my newsfeed on Facebook

Some of us including myself might be able to relate to it..

'There's a little voice inside me that tells me I can't possibly be good enough to become more than I am'.

That's a voice I want to silence

I'm getting there very gradually.....

SoleSource Tue 21-Jan-14 14:46:35

I am almost 40 years old. I do not want to continue to carry around the emotional damage and sadness at not having love and support throughout my childhood and to continue to act it out. I really do not want to look back on my life and realise I didn't achieve anything I wanted to achieve anything because that damage held me back.

That is scary. I'm going to have to force myself to gradually ease back in to real life.

desperatelyseekingsolace Tue 21-Jan-14 15:19:31

Just coming back to this after not having looked at it for a few days... its really topical for me now because my H and I have agreed to split up and are discussing logistics....

the weird thing is that though obviously I'm not at my happiest and I feel a bit low and am very worried about my DD and the future and so forth, I'm not at my lowest ebb. I've basically accepted that the marriage is over and am feeling the green shoots of optimism about a future without him, looking forward to more freedom, less arguing, more fun etc.

The thing that is literally making my quake with fear, the one thing I literally cannot face at the moment is telling my dad, who thinks everything is hunkydory. (My mum is quite ill and past the point where I would be able to meaningfully engage with her on something like this.)

I've been planning to tell him for nearly 10 days and have spoken to him nearly every day during that period and have bottled it at every opportunity. I get an actual physical reaction -- sweaty and feel cold and nauseous -- at the thought of telling him. I'm more scared of telling him than I am of how my dd reacts.

I know this is lunacy... my dad isn't particularly scary or judgemental. He will be sad for me and probably worried for my DD but he's not the type to tell me I'm being stupid or should stand by my man or anything like that. He will be supportive and loving -- probably a bit distracted and crap but he'll basically be there for me.

So why does the thought of telling him evoke a visceral panic in me? Is it to do with this sense of shame at talking about personal stuff? I reckon it must be....

SoleSource Tue 21-Jan-14 15:45:58

I think your gut instinct is correct desparately - talking about your true emotions and intentions is too much for you right now. You'll get there in your own time. It is still a shock I imagine and you are slowly building up to the truth and might feel a little numb to it all as well a positive about your new future. Go with it and don't be so hard on yourself as you seem in control and a new future is exciting too.

CailinDana Tue 21-Jan-14 16:20:51

Desperately - when you say he'll be "distracted and crap," what do you mean?

desperatelyseekingsolace Tue 21-Jan-14 16:32:15

Cailin just that he is crap at being empathetic in situations like this. He is a) a certain type of elderly English gent and b) naturally very self centred (although has become less so) and not very inclined to listen to people as opposed to speak about himself.

He genuinely tries to be loving but he won't want to actually engage with the range of emotions I'm going through or the practical impact that it will have on my life. So it will just be a case of "oh I'm sorry, how sad" and then he will probably not want to talk about it any more. Which is probably for the best in a way. But it does make me feel, subconsciously, that my emotions are not valid.

My mum was no better, by the way....

headinhands Tue 21-Jan-14 16:36:11

Neither of my parents were emotionally responsive, not in a positive way that is. I still find it difficult to open up and be vulnerable because I find it hard to believe people want that from me. Because of this I bottle worries up sometimes.

headinhands Tue 21-Jan-14 16:42:21

Lousy reading the thread and nodding along, especially the shame. I feel deep shame when I feel vulnerable. I feel ashamed of having problems which makes them worse. I do think, on a positive, that as I've got older and seen others be open about their worries it's helped me My dad is ALL front. ALL appearance. His house and garden are immaculate but emotionally he's vacant. Does anyone identify with that? Parents that are all about how things appear but hollow in substance?

headinhands Tue 21-Jan-14 16:44:22

Lousy!? Typed lucky.

headinhands Tue 21-Jan-14 16:48:45

ATM my dad isn't well and has been quite nasty. I haven't been able to speak to him since he was last horrible. So I'm stuck feeling guilty but not wanting to put myself in a situation where he can upset me. It a bit shit really.

CailinDana Tue 21-Jan-14 16:48:59

I wonder if the knowledge of how crap he'll be is what's making you dread telling him? I have a civil relationship with my parents but I actively dread anything going wrong in my life, not because of the impact that that thing will have but because if and when I tell my parents about it I'll be once again reminded of how little they really care. In fact I hid my PND from them after DD was born because having to deal with their disinterest would have made things a lot worse. If something really awful happened, like the death of dh or one of the dcs I'd have to have someone else telk them and then go no contact because their reaction would be too hard to deal with. I suspect the same would be true if I were in your position. The crapness, even though it's predictable and expected is still a slap in the face. It's the last thing you need when you're already suffering.

desperatelyseekingsolace Tue 21-Jan-14 17:00:14

SoleSource you are right about being kind to yourself etc -- and thanks - but there also comes a point where you need to face up to it and telling people helps move the process on and makes it more real.

desperatelyseekingsolace Tue 21-Jan-14 17:05:19

Cailin it's not quite as simple as him not caring... I am sorry to hear that yours are so crap by the way...

It's harder to put a finger on. Partly because we were brought up to sweep stuff like this under the carpet I think he gets really panicky when confronted with things like this and shuts down...

It's hard to explain. It just feels really wrong at some very deep, primal level, to talk about things like this .

SoleSource Tue 21-Jan-14 17:06:32

Yes that is true Solace. You'll get there.

CailinDana Tue 21-Jan-14 17:13:10

So do you think you'll feel shame/embarrassment when telling him?

FolkGirl Tue 21-Jan-14 17:21:37

I went to counselling again today.

I told the counsellor that I was desperately, desperately sad as a child and I probably 'acted out' at home. Never anywhere else, I was always a model child everywhere else, but at home I probably did things that were construed as 'naughty' or 'unhingled' (actually, I know they were construed as both). But all I wanted was for someone to put their arms round me, tell me it would be ok and that they loved me.

I remember one evening. I couldn't reach the light switch in the hallway so I must have been about 5 or 6 and I'd come downstairs because I was feeling scared. My parents didn't want to be bothered with me so they left me in the pitch dark hallway with no lights in any of the rooms or from upstairs and I was trying to get into the living room but I couldn't because they'd put an arm chair across the door to block it.

I remember vividly banging on the door and screaming and begging them to let me in. They used that as one of their examples of there being "something wrong" with me, but I remember it so vividly and all I actually wanted was for someone to open the living room door, ask if I was ok, put their arms round me, tell me they loved me and carry me back up to bed.

I didn't want to go back upstairs because I was scared, I had clearly worked myself up into a state and I didn't want them to not let me in and not love me. I was just so, so desperate to be loved.

I still feel like that. But at the same time, I think it's probably too late for me now. But I still feel like I'm banging on the door and crying for someone to love me sad

SoleSource Tue 21-Jan-14 17:28:16

FolkGirl thanks

I know the exact feeling. You are releasing the emotion which is a very positive action for your new future. I'm proud of you x

RandomMess Tue 21-Jan-14 17:31:36

FG that is really sad, and I know what you mean about still banging on the door and crying for someone to love (or even like) me.

I still have the rage - so aware at how angry I am at my h for abandoning me deliberately. Still so undecided on how to move forward confused

So tired of maintaining an outward appearance for the world at large.

desperatelyseekingsolace Tue 21-Jan-14 17:40:27

FolkGirl it's never too late. You are coming to terms with how badly you have been treated which is a big step.

I am sorry you had to go through this.

Cailin YES. Shame. Deep, intense shame. Not rational as I haven't done anything wrong. Just fear of being scrutinized, pitied.

mypussyiscalledCaramel Tue 21-Jan-14 17:57:10

Bollox, just lost a long post.

Ds2 taught me how to love both my kids, he is VERY cuddly, sometimes he throws himself at me for a limpet cuddle, he's 8 :D. Ds1 isn't very cuddly, but that's because he was born in a difficult time of my life. But we are close in other ways and I touch his face a lot.

Its taken me years to accept compliments. I started by saying thanks, but not believing it, now, most of the time I believe it.

My Mum was very clinical when I was ever ill, I twisted my ankle once and she told me I was fine and to carry on walking. That has helped in some ways, I don't do headless chicken when my kids are hurt. She also made me wait 24 hours when I was stung by a wasp. I am allergic to them and had to wear boots that were 3 sizes too big.

BabyMummy29 Tue 21-Jan-14 17:59:55

My mother never showed me any love, never had a hug from her or told me that I was good at anything.

This has made me the total opposite with my own children as I don't want them growing up to hate me as much as I hate my mother/

SicknSpan Tue 21-Jan-14 18:06:10

Just found this thread. So sorry lots of us have had desperately sad experiences.

I had a childhood that I remember very fondly. There were lots of positives and I love my mum in particular very much. However, it was a very stiff upper lip type upbringing and my dsis and I often joke that even if mums head fell off into a big muddy puddle, as long as she managed to smile when sticking it back on again there was no harm done. So we are very conditioned to allow happy emotions, joy and happiness and love and all the good stuff- but anything negative is "nasty" and we need to push it away.

So I can only do the "oh everything is absolutely fine! Marvellous in fact!" stuff and do not how to put negative stuff into proportion. Which makes me feel like a drama queen as I am never quite sure whether I am over reacting when I do try out expressing my feelings. And means i cannot ask for help as can't gauge what is reasonable to ask.

Think its been even more damaging for my younger sister who is totally unable to challenge mum (or me) or be challenged herself on anything even tiny without heaving racking sobs and getting terribly upset and distressed.

(Eg we once had some minor cross words when we bumped into a friend of mine who told us the happy news that she was pregnant- my sis was unusually dismissive and I thought a little rude. I told her this afterwards and she got so upset that she couldnt drive for the physical impact of the crying)

But I'm never quite sure how proportionate other people's reactions are so it's just a big old mess!

Oddly, I am terribly good at picking up on what other people are feeling though and being able to tailor my own behaviour to suit the situation. Quite handy at work in a corporate environment that relies on relationship management where I have no emotional investment, not so useful in my personal life where I am always scared of doing or saying the wrong thing or being the wrong person.

Creative outlets have helped enormously over the last few years though, writing poetry and some prose has been a delight.

SicknSpan Tue 21-Jan-14 18:10:02

I am also guilty of not knowing when to stop talking about my feelings when I do start- not having learnt yet at 37 what is appropriate- sorry for long long post!

babyMummy I know what you mean about being keen not to do the same with our own children- I always encourage them to talk about any feelings whether they feel good or bad or undecided. They're probably dying for me to stop asking!

Andro Tue 21-Jan-14 18:23:27

Oddly, I am terribly good at picking up on what other people are feeling though and being able to tailor my own behaviour to suit the situation

That's not odd within the context you describe, you've always had to be able to smooth the way so that nothing 'nasty' happens/is spoken of etc so you have developed the ability to read and mirror what others are feeling - it's a skill which gives a air of polish and sophistication (it also inspires confidence in a professional setting)

desperatelyseekingsolace Tue 21-Jan-14 18:25:00

Sicknspan you have exactly described my upbringing and my life. You could be me.

AllDirections Tue 21-Jan-14 19:00:32

FolkGirl Your example from when you were small worries me because DD3 plays up a lot at bedtime saying that she's scared and I end up shouting at her eventually because I just need to rest by then. I've got fibromyalgia and after a day at work, then kids, cooking, tidying up, etc. I need her to go bed without a fuss. I leave lights on upstairs and a lamp on in her bedroom and I usually potter about upstairs until she goes to sleep so she's not on her own. BUT I worry that later on in life she could use this to show that she was emotionally neglected when she was scared. Oh shit, am I screwing up my DD? The last thing I'd want is for her to grow up feeling like she wasn't loved sad

SicknSpan Tue 21-Jan-14 19:14:50

desperately sorry that this has been your truth too.

Andro I have wondered whether my mum's inability to openly express criticisms constructively and in a loving way has lead to this, yes. I realised very early on I expect what the pursed lip or sharp tone of voice actually meant even when the words did not match. Her behaviour told me when she was not happy!

FolkGirl Tue 21-Jan-14 19:17:08

AllDirections Please don't worry smile

I was also locked in the back garden, barefoot and with frost on the ground in my nightie; threatened with being locked in the garage in the dark with the spiders; I was locked in the porch; my mother used to lift me up and smack my bare bum in front of the living room window "so that the neighbours could see what a naughty girl" I was...

You know that wrenching feeling of heartbreak? That's how I felt pretty much all the time. I cannot convey just how sad I was.

The thing is, I'm now 39. I haven't seen my mother for nearly 2 years. By the time I was an adult, she was quite open about the fact that she didn't love me and never had done.

If your daughter knows you love her, she will stand a bit of shouting when you're exhausted and in pain smile

AllDirections Tue 21-Jan-14 19:29:45

Thanks FolkGirl I was hoping you'd say it wasn't an isolated incident that has made you feel the way you do now but more a pattern of behaviour from your parents. I had a similar childhood to yours so I tend to question myself more than is usual about whether the way I parent can cause any long lasting emotional damage to my DC.

FolkGirl Tue 21-Jan-14 19:42:13

AllDirections I did English A Level and for my extended essay wrote about "suicide in literature". I did a piece of creative writing for which I got 40/40 and was then entered into a creative writing competition by the school, which I subsequently won and the piece was displayed for people to read...

The teacher's comment was that I'd "shown a remarkable insight into the mind of a suicidal person".

I wasn't really suicidal, I just wanted someone to notice how unhappy I was sad They didn't; I suppose it was different times then.

But it was no different to 5/6 year old me banging on the door.

I think it's many, many examples (some of which involve other people and are completely innocent) that all act as supporting evidence for what my parents were 'saying' to me. So not only did I listen to my parents and what they said, I found/looked for evidence to support it in the rest of my life too.

I had lots of ONS in my early 20s because I felt worth something for that short time; I felt I was only worth anything to anyone if they 'fancied' me because it's so much more primal and superficial than someone 'liking' you.

Leverette Tue 21-Jan-14 19:48:08

sorry that some parents were so deficient in conscience and basic humanity to have been like this. folkgirl I am so glad to hear you keep your mother away, but sorry that you have to. I haven't had any contact with mine for about 12 years now and it has helped enormously.

I think we were victims of mothers who did not love us but didn't have the strength to seek some kind of help; instead choosing to abuse behind closed doors.

FolkGirl Tue 21-Jan-14 20:03:30

Sole Thank you smile

solace I want to hope you're right about it not being too late. I'm not going to close my self off to the possibilities, but the more I think about it all now (because of the counselling really) the more convinced I am that I'm just a bit too broken. The way I feel at the moment, I don't want to even open myself to the possibility of it, really.

I've been 'sort of seeing' a man for the past 3 months but because of the physical distance between us and the fact I'm only child-free alternate weekends, we don't see a huge amount of each other. I like it like that. I feel that the physical distance is maintaining an emotional distance which is what I'm comfortable with at the moment.

HoneyandRum Tue 21-Jan-14 20:39:01

Not me but DH. His family can seem so fun and lively in many ways but at the same time;

They show no real physical affection (unless to very small children)
They do not acknowledge many emotions or feelings
Traumatic and disturbing events can pass without comment
Appearances and appearing happy are important

They love my husband and in many ways he is the Golden Child, yet at the same time it's like they don't truly know him or they try and bend his will to their desires.

It feels like an emotional desert in their company.

altogetherwonderful Tue 21-Jan-14 20:42:39

Marking place - really helpful thread in many ways a comfort to know others here are finding their own way of dealing with the astonishing 'lack'

Mine are the only people on the planet to create so much pain, panic & anxiety in me. I have lowered contact greatly in recent months after f grabbed my wrists & blocked my way out of a room whilst I was 6mths pregnant. It was in front of my 2 little DCs. Appalled at his behaviour & Dm also, who seems to enjoy a drama & enjoys seeing me upset.

I find strength in the lack of contact - I am not obliged to keep a strong relationship of regular 'fake' communication going just to please them. It is time to listen to my needs for once.

Andro Tue 21-Jan-14 23:30:12

SicknSpan - sounds about right that you'll have picked it up from the way your mother handled (or didn't as the case may be) situations.

My mother didn't hide in the same way, but I was taught 'correct' social mannerisms from an early age - if I were two faced enough I could walk into a room full of people I hated and leave an observer thinking I adored them all - the social 'game' was and is important to her.

The whole charade is crazy and dangerous, without a very strong sense of self you can very easily lose the real you.

The really (from a distance) amusing part is that if anyone from this thread actually met my mother, I can almost guarantee they'd think she was one of the warmest, most emotionally aware people they's ever met. They'd be correct as well...except as relates to me. She would be genuinely horrified at the way so many children have been treated, but she wouldn't make the link to her own treatment of me.

ghostinthecanvas Tue 21-Jan-14 23:33:04

I had been feeling the rage just before this thread started. That has passed and I have spent a lot of time reflecting on my life now. On the people in it. On my past. I realised years ago that both my parents came from abusive backgrounds. My father's was very, very bad. I guess by them not being as extreme as their parents, they thought they were doing a good job. They weren't. We were feral. My mother kept us well presented, we were fed. There was no affection, no interaction with us. Unless we were being verbally abused or hit. I have an okay relationship with my mother now believe it or not. She has acknowledged that she could have done a lot better and she does try to be better. When I have a bad day in my head I hate her. I cannot cope with confrontation (unless for someone else) and if I think there may be raised voices I feel I may vomit. Now though, I have good friends and a very settled life. Except I feel worthless. Which would shock everyone who knows me. Coincidentally, all my close friends come from abusive childhoods. It just seems to have worked out like that for me. Maybe I sense kindred spirits!

ghostinthecanvas Tue 21-Jan-14 23:35:06

Just read back up the thread. flowers wine for everyone

InsanityandBeyond Tue 21-Jan-14 23:58:40

I went a few months with massive wads of tissue in my knickers and washing them secretly in the bathroom with shampoo after my periods started at the age of 12. I could not tell my mother. It took my sister seeing blood on my legs when I climbed over a wall for it to come out. I got into big trouble (for being filthy, why I did not say anything was not explored). To this day I cannot understand it especially having a DD myself. Father was not around. I have come to understand that his 'abandoning me' as a young child may be at the root of my self-destructiveness in that I know what I want but I purposely fuck up my chances of getting it. I have punished myself for him 'rejecting' me but I was also conditioned to hate myself by my mother.

I am a emotional waterfall though (I feel things very deeply which really frustrates me, sometimes I wish I did not feel anything). Yes, my childhood is to blame.

InsanityandBeyond Wed 22-Jan-14 00:02:08

God, I remember having a stilted hug off my mother when I was about 37 and it felt weird because I had never remembered her ever hugging me before that. My DC have to fight me off quite often or I could bite them grin.

MovingOnUpduffed Wed 22-Jan-14 07:20:34

This thread things true for me too, hard to read for me but validating to see so many people feel the same.

My parents think they were great parents and did their best, but we're always emotionally unavailable. My dad sees emotions as weakness, my mum gets overly involved and makes it all about her own feelings, leaving me ignored. My mum was ill when I was a teenager and in hospital for a year- a year I spent looking after myself with nobody asking if I was ok. I eventually was arrested for shoplifting as a cry for help, I got caught on purpose. My parents never talked to me about it again after picking me up, I just went upstairs and carried on reading my book. After a recent drama where they have been equally crap I am trying to reduce contact, it sucks.

I think a huge problem is that this behaviour causes low self esteem and causes us to doubt the validity of our own feelings. I have spent a long time feeling like I was the problem- my parents were just normal people trying their best and it was me who was difficult and unloveable. This just reinforces the whole thing. It is only through counselling in the last year I have realised this isn't true, and my god it hurts.

Uptidy Wed 22-Jan-14 07:29:42

Sorry for the huge post. Sorry you have all had his shit too. NC for his because it makes me feel vulnerable that this thread has struck a nerve. It's uncanny all the aspects I recognise in myself and my parents from all of your posts.

They had the classic English sent away to school never mention emotions (DF) and major physical and mental abuse from parents (DM) plus search then rejection by second 'real' mother when she found out first mother had adopted her. Never had a happy relationship with a man ever and to this day, 'all men are bustards' (thanks spellcheck!) Even my baby daughter is told that which makes me feel ill. On paper I can see exactly why they are how they are though.

I still find it upsetting how they didn't protect me from their own feelings though- it's affected my life deeply and has really made the process of becoming a mother myself very fraught. I always question my parenting and fear emotionally harming my child inadvertantly.

My parents split when I was a baby and still don't speak. Their rage at each other was the dominant feature of my childhood. I was fought over legally and it was all about winning against the other. They wanted me to hate the other as much as they did. They would tell me in detail about the others bad behaviour including infidelities, physical abuse, lack of maintenance money to support me- nothing was ever held back at all. The only way I know they must have loved me is because they went to such efforts to challenge each other for my custody. My mum used to tell me how much her lawyers were costing her and how she couldn't afford it.

They never hugged me and have never told me they loved me. I am ashamed to say I remember feeling really happy on crowded trains as a child and realising it was comforting to feel the physical proximity to other huma beings. I never mentioned my emotional state or problems because they were either ignored literally or told (by DM) how much worse she had had it. I certainly have never told them how their behaviour has made me feel.

It's just so horrible to look back on now I am a mother - however angry I was with an ex I just don't think I could put my child through all that. Because they had this big self righteous battle to win against each other, for each of them, me the supposed object if the fight was the projection of their feelings not a real person with my own needs or wants. They never ever asked me how it made me feel. I couldn't have friends really because I was hardly available as I had to be with whoever's turn it was to have me. I find friendships very hard now- people think am aloof and cold. I reject any attempts at emotinal closeness with friends despite desperately wishing for it. I find physical closeness very awkward with adults - can just about airkiss if I really have to but that's it. As others have said I couldn't talk about my needs to my parents as I wasn't going to get any help - I didn't mention my period starting for months, sorted out my own first bras and so on.

I literally didn't know who I was from teens to very recently in adulthood- I tried everything and went through every phase imaginable. I treated others badly especially boyfriends as it literally never occurred to me that me or my actions could have meant anything to them. I too was drawn to seek out fun outgoing people who turned out to be emotionally abusive dangerous narcissists as has been experienced up thread. I empathise hugely with others experiences on here and wish you all the best in dealing with the problems you've felt. It's really hard but talking (or posting at least) helps. flowers

Uptidy Wed 22-Jan-14 07:35:39

moving - just read your post. Sorry that you have had all this too. Mine would also say they have been great parents- especially my DM who says it a lot now I am a mum.. 'Even though she has had so much pain to deal with'. hmm

DeckSwabber Wed 22-Jan-14 08:12:01

My mum doesn't talk about our childhood, or her experience of parenting/being a parent, at all.

I'm another one that doesn't remember getting any hugs from my mum. I used to cuddle up to my dad, but he died when I was a young teenager.

I think my mum was quite insecure and spent a lot of time comparing herself to me. So if I was good at something she would get sniffy that I was 'so clever', and if I was bad at something she would enjoy being better at it herself.

Once I organised some unpaid work experience for myself over the summer holiday to improve my CV. A shy girl, it was a big deal to walk in to strangers and seal the deal. My mum told me I should be ashamed of myself for taking paid work from people who had families to feed.

It left me feeling as if I couldn't do anything right and never made her proud or gave her joy.

AnneElliott Wed 22-Jan-14 08:14:56

I can identify with everything that others have said. Crap parents but always wanted to keep up appearances, and they still do. Am so glad I found MN as before that I thought I was the only one that had ever felt like this.

AllDirections Wed 22-Jan-14 08:20:24

and if I think there may be raised voices I feel I may vomit.

I can identify with this. I'm 44 and in my head I can still clearly hear my dad's key turning in the lock when he got home from work. It also took me 10 years of being an adult after I moved out to be able to leave any food on my plate and to not be terrified when I heard a door slam or footsteps on the stairs.

Even now I always (if I can) sit with my back against a wall so in a café or restaurant or classroom I choose my table/seat according to whether I can be hit from behind.

AllDirections Wed 22-Jan-14 08:21:20

Oh, and everyone wanted a dad like mine hmm

FolkGirl Wed 22-Jan-14 08:38:37

Even now I always (if I can) sit with my back against a wall so in a café or restaurant or classroom I choose my table/seat according to whether I can be hit from behind.

I never sit with my back to a room, ever. It makes me feel incredibly nervous/uncomfortable.

desperatelyseekingsolace Wed 22-Jan-14 08:44:13

Insanity I had this exact same experience with the tissue paper. I had to buy my own sanitary products in the end out of pocket money.

My mum finally gave me the period talk when I was about 15 (and was already sexually active.) Too little, way too late.

bikeandbird Wed 22-Jan-14 08:55:29

Gosh this is such interesting reading.

It is interesting that everyone has slightly different experiences, yet the impact of emotions not being dealt with effectively is clearly ongoing for so many people.

I am slowly picking apart the emotional landscape of my childhood (with the help of a fantaxtic counsellour).

There were emotions in my home as a child. My Mum was massively emotional and how she felt would dictate the mood of the house.
She was also OK at talking to me about me if it directly involves her. So she is OK at talking about my kids for example as she is interested. However she will not talk about how things feel for me. Especially if she hasn't directly experienced it herself. However as soon as it becomes about me and she is not directly involved then it as desperatelyseekingsolace describes. I am just met with disinterest and the subject is changed. As an adult this is annoying, but as a child it meant that I was left floundering with my emotions and with no help as to how to process or deal with them.
Yet DM emotions were there for everyone to see and to deal with.
I am seen as an extension of her I think and anything that seperates me from her is ignored and buried. I don't really feel like I have a sense of self at all.

People think we are close because I call her a lot and try and talk things through. Yet everytime it is because I am desperate for her to validate me this time and time after time I am dissapointed.

I have quite a lot to work through I think confused

Alwayscheerful Wed 22-Jan-14 09:13:32

Gosh, such a good word, but where to start?

"Keeping up appearances" is where is all starts.

Chigley1 Wed 22-Jan-14 09:15:23

A sad thread. I recognise myself in much of what I have read hmm although have never really thought about it before. My parents divorced and I lived with my mother and grandmother, both of whom had some degree of MH problems. I was an only child and spent much time alone, my mother was loving but undemonstrative I don't remember much physical affection. My husband had a similar childhood.
It's made both of us very independent, although I'm way too much of a 'pleaser'. We are both quite stiff-upper lip and I hate confrontation. but make a massive effort with the children as we want them to have better memories.
So sorry for everyone here hmm

mypussyiscalledCaramel Wed 22-Jan-14 09:40:21

My Mum is a 'man hater'. I know a little about her childhood. She was the eldest of 2 girls and her sister was ill alot, so her Mum didn't really have time for her. Plus my Nanna was very victorian and well to do.

My Dad was her first and only boyfriend and she was pushed into marrying him 'because he had good prospects'. They were married for 22 years before my Mum found another woman.

I was 17 when she left and not very worldly, my sister was 19 and had already left home. My sister has been emotionally unavailable for as long as I can remember. I tried to live with my Mum, but because she was in love all the kids were ignored. Plus living in a house with thin walls and hearing sounds that I didn't want to was horrible.

My Dad was working offshore, 2 weeks on, 2 weeks off. Those 2 weeks onshore were spent in France. I married an x boyfriend because I felt unloved and unwanted, his Mum was good to me.

When I split from him I vowed that I would be independant (at 28). By this time my Dad was more available and my relationship got better with him.

I can talk about that period of my life easily now, because I understand it. But I don't remember a great deal of my childhood, only the negative bits. I will only talk face to face about it if I trust the other person and the fact that my Mum is a lesbian is only ever mentioned in a round about way, which generally makes people question what I have said.

I will never forgive or forget what my Mum has done to me, but I have accepted that she is happy. She has been with my Stepmum for 24 years.

CailinDana Wed 22-Jan-14 10:16:01

A vivid memory I have from when I was about 10 - We were visiting my mum's aunt on the coast and we went for a walk on the rickety old pier. I was terrified but said nothing just walked and imagined us all plunging into the sea and dying. No one seemed to notice how afraid I was, which says a lot in itself. When we had walked back to the house I commented on how terrifying I found the pier. And they praised me for saying nothing. I very rarely got any praise as a child despite doing very well at school etc but the one incidence of praise I can remember was for being terrified and telling no one. A small thing but really significant. Even at the time as a 10 year old I found it odd and disappointing. With my own dcs I would tell them they could always say if they were frightened and I would help them.

I had an interesting conversation with my mum and younger sister recently. My mum was doing the whole "don't come to me if you get pregnant" spiel (said lightheartedly but the message is clear). Without really thinking I said "of course if you did get pregnant you could just come and live with me and I would help you." I only said it because it's a fact, not to get at my mum but her face fell and she looked really stricken. It's about the only time I've seen anything like that hit home with her - I think she realised that what I had said was what she should be saying and that her "joke" was actually quite nasty. It was a strange moment. But of course nothing else was said.

CrispyHedgeHog Wed 22-Jan-14 10:30:43

My mum has never been good at emotional support or affection but I think that's because she never had it herself.. her upbringing simply didn't have it. Practically though she was always fabulous.. looking after my kids when they were little etc - she's 85 now and a bit limited physically but she's improved on the emotional stuff, she will now tell me and my dc that she loves us but you can tell she's not comfortable saying it.

It's affected me inasmuch as I'm not good at showing my feelings or being demonstrative with hugs etc.. I can do it as a greeting but not when it needs to be meaningful if that makes sense? I do sometimes wonder if that's contributed to my 23yo dd's issues (bpd, drug abuse, eating disorders, sh) and I do feel terribly guilty about it.

I find that I'm not good at expressing my own needs either, so in relationships I'd quietly seethe when the dp in question couldn't read my mind and realise what I wanted/needed. I'm also really crap at asserting myself and can be a bit of a doormat.. I am growing a spine now but it's a slow process, simply because I don't have the confidence to speak up for myself.

Not sure also whether me being an only child has also contributed to that because I never had a sibling to fight with, negotiate with etc etc.

Interesting question and given me lots to think about.

SoleSource Wed 22-Jan-14 12:19:34

Good God I never imagined this thread would turn out this way.

I thought I would be told to get a life a grip and to fuck off.

If a counsellor or therapist ius reading could you write a few words or us?

I think most of us would be very grateful

To you all thanks

Very grateful to you all or posting and you are all courageous and battle on. I hope we all feel that bit less alone.

Hugs, love and best wishes for each of us.. I mean that.

altogetherwonderful Wed 22-Jan-14 12:25:45

Just thinking about this again & there are so many similarities with other posters:
- mother's mood dictated atmosphere in the house
- expected to do lots of household chores & criticised heavily for how they were done (because she had to as a child) but it has made me more relaxed about my own home & how I view chores as non essential
- periods: she sent me into shop to buy sanitary pads, with 'it doesn't make you feel dirty does it?' I had no reply.
- no talk about the body/changes/relationships
- witnessing her violent moods, beating sibling with a stick she chose to keep behind the sofa
- knowing, just knowing that there was no point in asking why or disagreeing with her. All he'll would break loose, & then my dad would find out. So I never used my voice. Became a HUGE people pleaser later in life/in jobs. Full of self doubt. Why would anyone want to employ me/befriend me/ do nice things for me.

Realising only now that I actually am of value - but I do have to tell myself regularly, and even then feeling guilty at putting my needs first, rather than pushing them out of the way.

Reluctant also to open up to new friends also, wondering why the hell they would be interested in anything I have to say.

A lot of unseen damage seems to have been done

desperatelyseekingsolace Wed 22-Jan-14 12:55:56

Cailin again your post struck a chord: I remember when my sister (who has had a couple of bouts of depression), was about 16 she had a panic attack while out on a walk with my parents and I.

Although it was clear she was in distress, they seemed to assume she was laying it on for attention and were more angry with her for creating "drama", than they were concerned.

My dsis was quite hard work to live with at that point and we didn't see eye to eye (though we get on well now), but it was obvious to me then that their response was neurotic and wildly inappropriate.

Lemonylemon Wed 22-Jan-14 12:55:59

May I join?

I feel ashamed at the emotional wreck I was in my 20's and 30's. I am completely embarrassed about the way I have treated some people I had relationships (or not) with. I have apologised to one in particular. I have also had various EA relationships. I can't say "I love you" to another person without feeling like a twat.

I spent my childhood without hugs and kisses from either parent - especially my Mum. I spent my 9th birthday crying because I was so depressed. We were subjected to physical punishment (ie cane on the back of the knees).

The only people I felt comfortable cuddling and kissing are my DC's. They are/were really huggy people.

My father had a life threatening condition which meant that we, realistically, could not go that near him. His near-death experience while on the operating table years later, totally changed his personality. He tried to make amends.

My Mum, however, is still here. She's a recovering alcoholic who was given about 6 months to live about 2 years ago.

I think that I had hysterical personality disorder which, from what I can recall, gets less severe in your 40's and 50's. I'm sure that this was a result of lack of empathy/sympathy/affection blah, blah as a child. It has never been professional diagnosed. I have been on anti-depressants twice (in my 20's and 30's).

I shy away from people wanting to give me comfort or letting people in. It just leaves me too vulnerable. I cope, for the most part, on my own.

There. I've said a little bit.

AllDirections Wed 22-Jan-14 13:04:26

After reading some of the stately homes threads on here I had a chat with my teen DDs. I said that I wanted to deal with anything that I was or wasn't doing now that would affect their emotional health as adults. They couldn't think of anything so maybe it's something that children can only do as adults and in hindsight. Maybe children are not emotionally mature enough to articulate in this way or, maybe, just maybe, there isn't anything that I'm doing so wrong, which is very possible since my DC are, erm, vocal about anything and everything. All I can do as a parent is to make sure that home is a nice place to be and that I am available to them and I do stuff with them. I hope that's enough smile

Mumto3dc Wed 22-Jan-14 13:39:33

How has this affected how you deal with your emotions as an adult?
I feel very little, I find it hard to even feel emotion, let alone express it!

Do you find emotions hard to deal with?
Yes, I don’t feel my emotions are valid. I find other peoples’ emotions hard to deal with, I want them to pretend to feel nothing, or actually feel nothing.

Are you afraid of asking for help or just being yourself or not know how to word your feelings from being afraid of being vulnerable and attacked?
I find it very difficult to ask for help or confide in anybody. I don’t feel safe expressing how I feel. If I do open up to someone I feel terrible about it afterwards, very vulnerable and exposed. I feel much better if I say nothing, even if at the time of sharing it feels good. I am afraid of being myself, I’m not sure I even know who I am.

Thank you SoleSource for starting this thread, I have read nearly every post and it has helped me, to read so much I can identify with. It has really helped validate my experiences and my feelings.

It is very hard to express what my childhood was like. My father was physically and emotionally distant. He kind of expressed love but not in any concrete way, he didn’t give time or emotional support. I have 2 memories of doing anything with him. He gave me my only parental conversation of help or advice, when I was 16 or so – “Don’t get pregnant.” He had an eating disorder my whole childhood which led him to starve/binge and exercise obsessively, he was extremely emotionally abusive towards my mother over her weight. No surprises but I have spent my entire adult life struggling with an eating disorder. I cannot do anything but tie up my weight and appearance with being loveable.
I do think he loves me in his way, but his way is very shallow. It doesn’t mean he can or will give any time or emotional support and will always put himself first.

My mother…… Is veeeery hard to explain. She’s like a shell of a person, there really is no humanity there, she doesn’t see other people as real people separate to her. It is like the world is her stage and everyone on it is a character of her creation. She has no friends, but sort of latches onto acquaintances and then kind of makes up a person for them who she talks about. She does this for me, so talks about me as a child, but it is not anyone I would recognise, just her own creation. A bizarre manifestation of this is that, in real life, she takes no interest in my children, she really does not care about them at all. But my parents have photographs of the dc in their house and when I see her she will talk about the photographs, as if they are the people and my actual dc are the photos... It is so weird....

Her world revolves around her. As a child I had to be good, well-behaved and do exactly what she wanted me to do. She had no time or patience for me being anything other than exactly as she wanted. She simply would not acknowledge or deal with anything negative or stressful. I was allowed no feelings or emotions of my own. At anything difficult she would just cry or ignore. Like many people who have already posted, there was no conversation about periods or puberty, I just had to work it all out for myself. I have never once in my entire life had any support from her for anything. I have gone through many things as an adult and she has simply not cared. I know in my heart or hearts she does not love me as she has shown me this in so many different ways.

Probably the most obvious example is from a couple of years ago when I really badly sprained a muscle in my calf, I literally could not walk for weeks and was in such agony I did not sleep for 2 weeks (no exaggeration). My parents dropped in on their way back from somewhere and I was crawling round the kitchen. I asked my mum to make herself a cup of tea, she looked at me on the floor, with a really pained expression and said she was tired from the journey. She went and sat in the living room and waited for my dh to make her one. It literally did not touch her that her daughter was on the floor in agony. They offered no help or support and didn’t ring me to see how I was in the weeks that followed. I had 3 young children to look after. I feel like crying just thinking about it.

One of my friends observed a time at my ds1’s birthday party in the park. My dd was a baby and was crawling around my mum’s feet. My friend said my mum literally did not look at my dd or acknowledge her presence at all. She was really shocked at how unnatural her reactions were, from anyone, let alone the child’s grandmother.

As a child I was cared for physically, but also in a quite neglectful way. I was not given guidance over teeth cleaning, or personal hygiene. I had my first tooth abcess at 6. My father used to steal food from the back of supermarkets – this was a source of immense shame for me as I was so worried about people finding out, also it meant most of our food was old and out of date. I often had mouldy bread for my lunches and a rancid water bottle that wasn’t properly cleaned out. They were very tight with money (despite having plenty) so I only had clothes from charity shops, which I was mortified by.

Now as an adult I avoid anything that reminds me of the past, to the point that I will only listen to Radio 1 because I don’t want to hear old music.

I still have contact with my parents but I really wish I didn’t. I truly cannot bear being in the same room as my mother. My father is ok but I just hate the way I am continually let down by them. Seeing them really drags me down.

I have 3 children and they have never cared about any of them. I could fill up this whole thread with examples of my mum’s breath-taking selfishness and lack of interest in them. That is a constant source of pain for me, not that I know I should expect any different from them, but that it is just so far from what I and my dc should be able to expect from their grandparents.

Sorry, I know this is long and of course I feel terrible and guilty and horribly uncomfortable about sharing….

Mumto3dc Wed 22-Jan-14 13:54:20

Actually it does feel really good to have written all that down!!

I keep thinking about counselling. I have had a couple of sessions over the years but I think it would be more helpful now. It has taken me until the last year or so to really understand what was so bad about my childhood and my adult relationship with my parents. The lack of physical or sexual abuse and no obvious emotional abuse has made it really hard for me to realise it actually was abusive - they were basically really neglectful.

I've really struggled with the cognitive dissonance of being told, oh your parents love you in their own way, oh they were not abusive, and yet knowing deep down in my heart that they didn't really love or care for me and there was a huge hole where a normal parent/child relationship should exist.

ghostinthecanvas Wed 22-Jan-14 13:58:58

Mumto3dc sad
Have you thought about having no contact? Would you feel better for it? You owe them nothing and the children would be fine without them. No contact doesn't have to be dramatic if you don't want confrontation. Phase them out. I went nc for 5 years. Lovely and peaceful. Or you could tell them they are a pair of <insert suitable word> and you will be very happy without them in your life.
Writing it down and sharing is nothing to feel guilty about. It's good for you.

Mumto3dc Wed 22-Jan-14 14:01:28

Sorry, I'm on a roll now...
With my own dc I try really really hard to be emotionally available to them, to talk about how they are feeling and how I am feeling. I try to always see things from their point of view, to see them as a person, in a way I never was seen. I know many people think I am stupid, I do co-sleeping with my youngest and if the other two wake in the night, they come in with me, I lie with all of them til they fall asleep. It is so important to me that I acknowledge their feelings and their fears and their desires. I cannot leave any of them if they need or want me.

I have never felt like a person to my parents, never felt that I matter. I hated being a child, I felt so powerless. I never want my children to feel the way I did.

Mumto3dc Wed 22-Jan-14 14:04:08

Sorry ghost, xpost.
Thank you for taking the time to read. I would really really love to go NC, but just don't know how I would do it. I don't want to open myself up to them to tell how they make me feel. I don't feel they deserve to know anything of my pain. Does that make sense?

CantSayItAsMe Wed 22-Jan-14 14:09:09

As the name suggests I've had to nc for this.

My parents are just plain odd in this way. My father doesn't know how to show love so tends to do it by buying stuff, though he is a nicer person when my mother isn't around.

It's hard trying to explain what my mum is like. I think she'd say we have a great relationship and are close and talk all the time. Yet, I know we're really not close and that person she talks to is the made up person she wants me to be sad. I'm the much wanted golden child who isn't allowed to be anything less than perfect. If I have a bad day I can't show it to them, if I do something that isn't good enough they pretend that it's better than it was (e.g. mum tells people I have a better degree than I have). I've struggled as an adult because in a way I've been trained to make out nothing ever goes wrong and I think people see me as looking down at them. I also can't ask for help for similar reasons.

Like many of you I'm noticing the extent of it as my own children grow up. I've seen Dh tell people about silly mistakes he's made and daft things he's done (little everyday things, like leaving a bank card in the machine at a shop or similar) and each time I think how I wouldn't have done that. I'd have kept it quiet and hoped nobody found out. But everyone likes him and I'm the one that hasn't got many friends. In the last few weeks, when it's been relevant, I've mentioned mistakes I've made and each time it's turned into a chat and that's when I realise that I'm the odd, broken, damaged one.

I read the relationships threads on here and I have the loveliest DH in the world (he is always there for me and he's the one person I can say anything to eventually, I sometimes have to build myself up to it ) but I know that it's down to luck. I can so easily see how I could have ended up in the same position as so many of them. I know that I wouldn't leave because I couldn't face telling my parents or showing the world my relationship was anything less than perfect.

CraftyBuddhist Wed 22-Jan-14 14:13:17

I have tried to read all the posts- it's very emotional!

Thankyou pps for sharing- and please, no apologies here. Mumto3dc please don't say sorry for sharing, you have every right to be here. It's hard habit to break I know.

One of the things coming out of all our stories is how we all wish to break free from our past- for our children's sake and our own. Surely that is the first and most important step for our own healing. And one our children will benefit from.

Mumto3dc Wed 22-Jan-14 14:18:30

hi craftybuddhist and thanks for your words.
Great that you found your dh! Yes, to breaking free from the past!

CantSayItAsMe Wed 22-Jan-14 14:18:38

Crafty That's something I struggle with. I treat my dc as individual people (one prefers cuddles, the other prefers to sit and talk) and I try to make sure they know I love them no matter what. I know that when I'm tired or stressed I slip into being that person my mum was because it's so...I don't know....familiar? normal (to me)? entrenched (in me)?

beingacow Wed 22-Jan-14 14:20:00

I'm so sad to read your stories, but they have really struck a chord with me and made me reassess my childhood. If you asked me, I usually would say that my childhood was fairly happy, parents were loving and generally kind, and I wasn't abused or neglected in any way. But, in reality, they gave me little or no real support, and anything difficult or uncomfortable, or not on their terms was swiftly swept under the carpet. I was an only child. My mother was (and still is) rather like how Mumto3dc described hers: she would create characters from people but never really seemed to understand that anyone other than her is actually real. She worked, but was hugely sheltered, never having to pay a bill or deal with anything in the world. My dad was popular, one of the lads, successful, funny, and I adored him (still do), but he didn't really talk about emotions, and found it easiest to buy into my mum's fantasy world-view.
ll this meant that I was left to my own devices. I was not a happy child. I was bullied at school as I didn't really fit in, and they did nothing to help me deal with it constructively. So I dealt with it by becoming a bit of a rebel, unsuitable boyfriends, a bit of self harm that was never addressed, smoking; low level stuff but none of it was ever noticed. Or if it was, it was never acknowledged. I was treated very badly by a string of boyfriends, all of whom were older than me, and my parents did nothing to protect me even though at 17 I was still pretty much a child.
I did ok, got to university and worked hard. They were only proud of me when I was passing exams, which I was good at. Nothing else seemed to matter. I had no support or advice about finding a career, and as I effectively left home as soon as I finished school, I was "out of sight out of mind".

My parents laid on a lavish wedding for me, despite (as I subsequently learned), having reservations about my (now ex) husband. It was keeping up appearances, and if we had been able to talk about anything, I could have told them why I was marrying him and maybe they could have helped me not to do it. When we split up after years of emotional abuse, it took me months to tell my parents. I was terrified of disappointing them.

Small things, like at school I was captain of the hockey team and we won county titles. A few years ago my dad made a comment in front of some friends about how useless at sports I was at school! As though his construction of my childhood was completely different from what actually happened.

Fast forward to now: I know I have problems processing emotions. I'm either too emotional for the wrong reasons, or not emotional enough about things that really matter. I deal terribly with rejection, and have to constantly battle with myself not to sabotage my relationships through expecting emotional withdrawal. I had that from my ex husband, and from my parents I have learned that they loved the image of me that they created more than the reality of me, which could never live up to the perfect image. So I was never good enough for them, leading me to believe that I can never be good enough for anyone else. It is draining, and I know my current partner finds that part of me very difficult to cope with.

SwimmingClose Wed 22-Jan-14 14:20:08

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ghostinthecanvas Wed 22-Jan-14 14:21:37

First of all, you are not stupid. People won't be thinking that. They may have a different view to yours. You need to start realising and remembering that. God, listen to me, all well - rounded! <ignores worthless comment up thread>
It makes sense that you don't want to open up to them. Would less contact be a start? A gradual phasing out? I bet there are others here who could give more advice. I went no contact after I exploded. I never recognised myself, never knew I was so angry. I am an adult ffs, they had no right to make me feel the way I did. Felt I had sunk to their level though....not my best moment. It was also spectacular! My dad was shock shock i am secretly a little proud too!

Leverette Wed 22-Jan-14 14:21:38

Totally makes sense. When I 'left' my birth family I just stopped contacting them and ignored phone calls and letters. Not that there were many, and what there was, was blatant manipulation and abusive bullying eg

"the rest of the family will think you're mentally ill"
"one day your children will do this to you"
"you won't have grandparents forever you know"

They KNOW that I was insanely physically, verbally, psychologically and financially abused by my mother. They KNOW that I was fucked by my uncle from age 5-7 (told them when I was 17 as unsurprisingly it was weighing on my mind).

Did they come with me to talk to the police?
Did they help me find professionals to talk to, perhaps a GP appointment?
Of course not. Instead they put their shame, embarrassment and "keeping up appearances" act on and decided the best way forward was to simply visit him and his young family frequently to act as some kind of magical sexual abuse preventative/detective. They actually realised that maybe his own children were at risk and still did nothing concrete and effective. I hate them for their two-faced cowardice paired with over-inflated sense of power.

I felt that they'd already broken the 'deal' that applies to healthy relationships IFYSWIM, so it was easy to just 'walk'.

No wonder I feel ashamed; no-one stood up for me, protected me, defended me. Logically I know that that was THEIR failure...but surely if I'd been wanted and valued enough they would have been different. It's SO hard to overturn the deep feeling of inadequacy and inherent defective ness and unworthiness.

Hugs and brew to all here.

This thread is a really big deal for me. I have tried counselling but the first time, I got scared after a few sessions and couldn't go on. The second time, I felt criticised by the counsellor as she was aghast that I could describe terrible events in a very flat, monotonous way. I see why that is disturbing and indicative of harm but at the time I felt as though I was expected to soothe her because she was so distressed by what I said and how sad

beingacow Wed 22-Jan-14 14:24:00

CantSayItAsMe: spot on about your mum talking to the person she wants you to be, rather than you as you are. Mine is the same, and she too would say that we had a good relationship. We do talk, but I would never raise anything that could be construed as negative in any way. And I totally empathise with struggling with admitting mistakes. I can't do that either. If I do make a normal mistake I react out of all proportion because it cracks the image of the "perfect" me that is what they want to see.

CraftyBuddhist Wed 22-Jan-14 14:25:01

Can'tsay yes yes to slipping. But I'm trying to see that as basically a temporary flawed mood. It is not in you- we are all flawed. We all have ups and downs. We are allowed that as human beings! The problem is when a parent's default mode is unavailable or abusive or cruel or neglectful or whatever.

I always tell my children sorry if I have been curt or if I'm sad I say so and why. And I will never ever say to them 'don't be sad' or 'don't cry' or 'don't be upset'. They have every right to their emotions. But I can try to guide them into how to deal with them. Not denial. Avoidance. Minimisation.

Fifyfomum Wed 22-Jan-14 14:26:57

I find it difficult to feel free to be excited about things, anything I was passionate about was used against me or to mock me so it is difficult for me to share joy.

Because of this I am very secretive about the music I listen to or the films I watch.

I don't trust anyone, I just have my husband and my kids and I find it very hard to trust anyone else at all.

Leverette Wed 22-Jan-14 14:29:40

Yy to the secrecy and need for privacy.

SwimmingClose Wed 22-Jan-14 14:30:12

I am often secretive about the things I love most. Books, films, music. Ironically I feel so intensely passionate about them ... but I am scared not understood...

CantSayItAsMe Wed 22-Jan-14 14:31:53

beingacow "If I do make a normal mistake I react out of all proportion"

Totally this. I struggle so much with anxiety and I think a lot of it is down to knowing that the slightest mistake or problem will affect me so much. At its worst I was pretty much agoraphobic because my brain went into overdrive with all the tiny things that could happen.

ghostinthecanvas Wed 22-Jan-14 14:32:14

That was to Mumto3dc
blimey it's got busy. I for one am feeling a bit more....determined I think. Making more effort to be positive, move forward with my DH. Try to be more honest about how i feel. I am plucking up courage to share a bit more but just thinking about some of it makes me cry. Better out than in tho'. I have learned that much over the last couple of days

CraftyBuddhist Wed 22-Jan-14 14:34:26

Leverette shock at the counsellor. What a way to make it all about them. I hope you manage to find someone you gel with. And who knows rule 101 of successful emotional support : it's not about you, stoopid!

Mumto3dc Wed 22-Jan-14 14:35:17

Leverette, so sad for you. How terribly you were let down...

It has always been at the back of my mind that I know my parents would've reacted the same as yours if anything like that had happened to me. They simply would not have wanted to acknowledge that something bad had happened. They allowed me to be in deeply risky situations as a child without worrying about me at all. What I took at the time to be a laid back attitude, I now, as a parent, see as simply neglectful and not caring.

How horrible that your counsellor did not understand you.... I hope you keep sharing here. I have learnt so much about my own life from reading threads on mumsnet. Thanks all.

Wow ghost!!!!!! Yay you on standing up to your parents!!! I totally understand re the rage. I do feel if I once said one thing to my mum I just would never be able to stop. The rage and bitterness I feel towards her is immense.

I have reduced contact quite a lot, basically it was mostly my efforts and I have pretty much stopped putting in the effort. Periodically they ring up to meet - always, always last minute because they fit it in with their own plans...... - and I always jump.

I think I will stop jumping... And you have made me seriously consider NC, I think I've always worried it was an overreaction...

Leverette Wed 22-Jan-14 14:35:36

I see two main problems - the lack of solid, self assured identity and the lack of feeling safe

Mumto3dc Wed 22-Jan-14 14:41:37

I have to go get my dc now and won't be able to be back til much later.

thanks to everyone here.

Lonelycakes Wed 22-Jan-14 14:53:12

My parents are very distant, although they would deny it completely. Dad always had a very full life (work/hobbies) so no time for me and I suspect he is on the autistic spectrum (his brother is) - He just can't fake an interest in anything that isn't about his interests, so as a result, unless I make an effort about his hobbies, there is no interaction.

My mum though is very odd though - I know she has had MH difficulties in the past (depression), so maybe that's part of it, but she is very hot and cold with me, depending on whether she wants to impress anyone.

She was very very controlling when I was a child - little things that were of no importance, like tying my shoes a certain way. She refused to let me join in with normal childhood activities and set these arbitrary age limits much higher than anyone else - like not being allowed to cross the road without her until I was 13 and not going to any parties or school trips unless supervised by her. If she ever saw that I was enjoying myself, she would drag me aside and tell me I looked stupid and that everyone was laughing at my ridiculous dancing/eating/bouncing on a bouncy castle. Which of course made me very self conscious, but then she would sneer at me and ask why on earth i thought anyone would want to look at me.

She didn't tell me about periods until I was 16, even though she knew I'd started at 13 (I told her). When told her this, she said 'well, I thought you might be wondering what was going on'! I never had the sex talk. Every problem I had that she found out about, she was furious with me for causing her stress and 'embarrassment'. When I was at college, I was stalked for two years and never said a word to her, because when one of my teachers at secondary school told her I was being bullied, she was furious at ME and said I must have been annoying the bullies. The idea of turning to my mum for support is alien to me - she would either sneer, diminish it, be angry or cry for herself having to hear the problem.

Thankfully, I have a great DH who is very kind and patient with me, even though I tend to hide and not say a word about any problems. I still don't like any physical contact really - my DC and DH are ok, but not other women; I feel sick when women get huggy at work. I don't have any close female friends - I've had a handful of friends, but I just can't bring myself to share anything more than general chat with them, so the friendships never really get past the acquaintance stage. My gut feeling with people is that they screw you over and humiliate you if they can, so I'll keep my distance. I know it's not true, but to me, it is ....

Sorry for the ramble, it was cathartic. Dh doesn't really get it, his family actually like one another confused

altogetherwonderful Wed 22-Jan-14 15:41:02

Mumof3dc - yy to your description of the neglectful hygiene, teeth cleaning/presentation, grooming never never never she lay in bed all morning was never up to check if we were ok before our 50 min bus journey to college in our teens. Was never there when we got home, even though her job was only local
(teacher) kept up appearances for herself though...narcissist behaviour

Emotionally I feel intense rage towards them since having our own DCs. Cannot fathom why they chose to parent the way they did. I'm so angry & it has come flooding out recently towards them - but I am being made out to be the one who has done wrong by having an outburst of emotion /confronting them, and I am expected to FORGIVE them (they are fervently religious as though this gives them permission for their appalling domestic behaviour)

I'm so tired of them. Low contact has been a real healing time for me. Grateful for my gentle DH that we make our home calm & his perspective on life/problems etc always soothes me. I feel lucky to have found him (even though Dm did her best to tell me to break up with him many times!)

Andro Wed 22-Jan-14 16:37:37

* I know that when I'm tired or stressed I slip into being that person my mum was because it's so...I don't know....familiar? normal (to me)? entrenched (in me)?*

Early lessons are learnt well, there is comfort (and an often false sense of control) in familiarity...even when that familiarity is not healthy.

I occasionally slide back to the mentality I had at boarding school, complete and utter reliance on myself to the exclusion of everyone else. Fortunately my DH is amazing and has a way of gently reminding me that he's there, that he wants to help and that he can see me but he can't reach me - it's enough to bring me back because I don't mean to shut him out.

AllDirections Wed 22-Jan-14 16:49:44

Sounds like some of you have lovely DHs smile

mypussyiscalledCaramel Wed 22-Jan-14 17:44:58

Looking back at how I was with my kids, made me realise that I was the opposite to what my Mum was. When I had a job when ds1 was tiny I worked part time in the evenings. When I split from his dad, I gave up my job so I could be be with him all the time and have been a SAHM ever since.

My Mum had a p/t job during the day and during school holidays we were left to fend for ourselves.

I don't remember having the sex talk with her, I can't even remember when my periods started. I was sexually active at 15 but not promiscuous. I did mess about with some lads, but never went all the way.

I was also pursued by a neighbour, I was flattered, but fortunately I liked his wife. I still carry the guilt of him going as far as he did, to this day.

This was all caused by lack of emotions from my parents.

beingacow Wed 22-Jan-14 17:59:57

I think that I am extremely lucky that nothing very bad did happen to me, like it did to some posters on this thread. I was allowed to put myself in some extremely risky situations as a teenager. Older married men, sex in cars that was only just consensual, that sort of thing. It was before the heightened awareness that society has now but even in the early 90s surely it would have been suspect?

But my parents found it much easier to turn a blind eye. I do think that if anything awful had happened, that too would have been ignored, or I would have hidden it.

My mother considers herself a feminist, the house was full of feminist books and she helped out at a tape crisis centre. I struggle to comprehend her attitude to me compared to her external work and awareness. So strange, and to be honest it has made me wary of people who are stridently part of any movement or belief. My mum will talk politics with me for hours but will never dream of asking how my relationship is.....

beingacow Wed 22-Jan-14 18:00:46

Err, rape crisis centre. Sorry.

CraftyBuddhist Wed 22-Jan-14 21:20:21

cow I can relate to your post. My parents were politically active. Many discussions about politics, death penalty, blah blah blah. Mum worked full time.

Sometimes I wonder why they bothered having us. Where was the relationship. The mother-daughter relationship? I felt totally abandoned.

I hope that we can all start to be kind to ourselves. I was brought up to use good manners. Not to inconvenience others. But I never realised I could be kind and compassionate to myself. That is a huge healing step for me.

BibiBebe Wed 22-Jan-14 21:40:03

I see two main problems - the lack of solid, self assured identity and the lack of feeling safe

I have that

Littleen Wed 22-Jan-14 23:07:13

Similar issues here (with my mum) and got major relationship issues because of it. Going to counselling really helps for me - but it will take time.
Opening up always comes with a risk of rejection, but I think it's a risk worth taking. When you find someone you feel safe with and can open up with, it's the best thing in the world. It doesn't have to be many - just one will do smile

Also, I think that in a new, future relationship, if you work really hard at it, you can learn to open up. I've managed to do this to my other half very very slowly, though often still resort to writing cards or notes to open up rather than talk face to face which I still find really hard. It tends to be a few sentences rather than a proper conversation. You have to push yourself and risk the rejection,

TheSmallClanger Wed 22-Jan-14 23:15:46

I wouldn't describe my parents as actively abusive, but there's a lot here I can relate to.
Mum frequently held the whole house to ransom with her moods and demands. Her favourite little trick was to time her precious afternoon nap to coincide with me coming home from school, when I normally most wanted to talk. If I woke her up when she was sleeping, all hell would break loose and she sometimes wouldn't talk to me for the rest of the day.

She would pour scorn on things that I loved, like a few others on here. This was either overtly, or worse, she would feign vague interest, then later start ridiculing whatever it was with others, in front of me. Often, this was relatives, whose opinion was paramount. I had a hidden collection of "subversive" books (George Orwell, Albert Camus, JG Ballard -nothing actually that unusual for a teenager) and music which I wanted to protect from her derision.

I am quite a sensitive, serious person by nature, but both mum and dad believe in "tough love", and reserved the right to wind me up, ridicule me and denigrate my activities, without me being able to retaliate or get upset. I was more used to this sort of behaviour from bullies at school, and it further reinforced my belief that mum especially didn't like me that much. She has never told me she loves me outright - she considers this ridiculous and needy behaviour, and does not understand that I might need reassurance. Dad was almost never the instigator, but he never, ever stood up to mum once.

Oh, and the ridicule involved taking the piss out of, and occasionally imitating, my slight limp. Fucking charming.

Both of them, however, seemed to enjoy saying "no" to my brother and me. They still claim now that they were destitute, but they weren't. They just preferred to spend money on boring holidays, "quality" home goods and age-inappropriate clothes. I often had to wear clothes that set me apart from my peers, and various normal social activities were also forbidden (including helping out at a charity jumble sale, because mum "didn't believe in kids buying and selling things").

If I did get upset, I was either told not to "turn on the tears", or told that the situation was inappropriate for me to be upset, or that we "didn't have time".

Some of this seemed to get less severe and frequent as we got older. Dad has desisted totally from this stuff for years, although now we aren't there, Mum has turned all of her bullying urges onto him. I get on reasonably well with her, although I rarely spend more than a day in her company, and she certainly has her diva moments still.

AndTheBandPlayedOn Wed 22-Jan-14 23:29:43

Yes, so much here resonates with me as well.
I was emotionally numb for as long as I can remember. I have had counselling and can cry, a little, so some improvement --especially since going NC with my sister who felt it her duty to keep me in my role in the family myth. For ages I thought my "even keel" was stability, something to be proud of blush. Cried five minutes when my mum died when I was 18. I was an invisible child, so not much connection there.

The identity idea is a part of the foundation, or lack there of. I see "people of walmart" type of folks around town and got to say I feel a little respect for them as they at least know who they are (same for sports fans). And at the same time I can at least identify myself as not being that...and I do not mean that in a snobby way...but it still does not answer.

I also agree with safety concerns. Which also, for me, spill over into 'how will this go wrong' even if I am in a nonpressure circumstance like a hobby...then get frozen in the process with that! confused

Professional paranoia with liability issues and feeling like I would be targeted/manipulated into mistakes (architecture); it was a relief to become a stay at home mum. And I was toast in office politics...what a disaster. sad

And my dh is ace, too. smile
Thanks for the thread, SoleSource

Lemonylemon Thu 23-Jan-14 09:08:23

"I find it difficult to feel free to be excited about things, anything I was passionate about was used against me or to mock me so it is difficult for me to share joy. "

God, yes. I was "dramatic"; made to feel like I was strange for being emotional.

After my OH died, I have shut people out and kept the intense pain to myself, at a huge cost. sad

Fifyfomum Thu 23-Jan-14 09:29:00

Hugs lemony

It comes out in other ways doesn't it. So destructive to keep emotions in but I have been trained to do that so I am sort of between a rock and a hard place.

Abbykins1 Thu 23-Jan-14 09:34:46

Not only no emotional support but physical,sexual and emotional abuse.

Does it affect me now?
You betcha!
On a daily,hourly and moment to moment basis.

desperatelyseekingsolace Thu 23-Jan-14 09:43:13

beingacow your observation about your mother is very interesting and strikes a chord with me -- I came from a very "liberal" upbringing and while my mother wasn't really a strident feminist (she didn't work so she would have been a bit of a hypcrite) she did take a totally hands-off approach to mine and my sister's emotional life... she literally didn't want to know about my sexual/emotional life at all and totally turned a blind eye to it.

I did quite a lot of things as a teenager which I now regret -- nothing really dangerous or scary but just a lot of casual sex, staying out very late etc. She made no attempt either to stop me or even to talk to me about it. At the time I thought I was very lucky, it wasn't until much later that I realised how damaging it had been.

I don't think it was about not caring -- I think it was a toxic combination of having come from a very repressed upbringing where emotional lives just weren't discussed and then seguing into the 60s and the whole free love thing where the dogma was that anything went. Those two things, meeting head on, led her to the odd belief that a teenage girl doesn't need her parents "interfering" in her life.

With the benefit of hindsight I can now understand how she might have got to this position, but it was very very bad for me emotionally -- it led to a subconscious belief that my emotional life didn't matter at all.

It wasn't abuse and it certainly wasn't deliberate. And although my life isn't perfect I haven't suffered any serious long term harm. But one thing I have learned from this is that you ignore your children's emotional lives at your peril.

jenuwhine Thu 23-Jan-14 10:06:42

Crying as I read all your posts... so many of your experiences resonate with me...
starting periods at 12 was given a panty-liner and nothing more was said
sex talk was non-existent
crying frowned upon
they nicknamed me 'vesuvius' due to my temper
I chased guys for sex/validation/attention which of course never came; only stopping when I met my DH and got pregnant.

I cant articulate my feelings or emotions at all well... like others have said I don't believe I am worthy of praise/support etc.
I bend over backwards to try to please people and was brought up to think of others. (noble sentiment but to an unhealthy extreme)
I pinball between career/SAHM arguments with myself and feel desperately unfulfilled. I love my children so much it sometimes feels like a physical sensation... I encourage them to let their emotions out - nothing is off limits. We talk and I don't judge. As adults they will not know my pain and sense of not knowing where to put myself... if I can help it.

I console myself that I am breaking the cycle... now to sort myself out... Reliant on anti-d's to hold down my job/exist; drink, smoke and eat too much; morbidly obese, self-esteem in the dumps... too much to contemplate really and I don't know how/where to start.

I'd be angry if I wasn't so worn out.

altogetherwonderful Thu 23-Jan-14 10:35:27

Although I've been low contact for last 6 mths it now looks & feels like I'm being hounded by her. Ive just come back to find she has posted me a card, which is one of those' I'm here for you if you ever need to talk, I can give you a hug, be at peace ...

I feel sick & have ripped it up

As if I would go anywhere near her to talk about anything bothering me. How dare she think that NOW she can have an insight into my emotional life-well being!?! She must have so much free time now to actually want to think about me since I was ignored so much back then.

She knows about my being on Prozac last yr, ( she feigned interest) so she is prob assuming I am shutting her out due to mental health issues- how could it be because of anything she has said/done


altogetherwonderful Thu 23-Jan-14 10:39:20

Jenuwhine - I understand every single thing you have just written. We must console ourselves somehow that we have achieved much because we have created completely different homes and our children will know a happier, different life. That is to your credit.

we are unnecessarily hard on ourselves though, that is a common theme here it seems

CantSayItAsMe Thu 23-Jan-14 10:42:05

I pinball between career/SAHM arguments with myself and feel desperately unfulfilled.

God yes. That is me. I'm unfulfilled with being a SAHM and want to have a successful career because I feel like it would make me feel happier and show the dc that women are equal to men, etc. Then on the other hand I worry about not being there for the dc. My mum is incredibly negative about childcare, making me feel guilty. I know that I shouldn't let it affect me but it does. Actually thinking about it she often tells me how terrible my parenting is for all sorts of bizarre reasons (the most regular one is saying she should call social services because I'm cruel giving my kids pasta hmm WTF??? She thinks she's a great parent for letting me eat chocolate biscuits for breakfast).

CantSayItAsMe Thu 23-Jan-14 10:44:39

altogetherwonderful Yes to feigning interest in MH issues. My mum wondered why I didn't tell her I had pnd. One week later "I don't understand why you have pnd. I mean there isn't any reason for it, is there?" <sigh>

Belgianchox Thu 23-Jan-14 10:45:58

My parents were too wrapped up in their own problems to give me and my siblings any emotional care and attention. I literally have one memory of my dm calling me a 'pet lamb' in the supermarket, and I thought she was talking to someone else. Never any kisses or hugs, she's never told me she loves me. My df was better at that, but very demanding in other ways, everything had to be perfect (or at least appear that way to others), he was obsessively concerned by the outward impression we were giving as a family. My dm expected us to take care of just about all household chores, and our younger sister. She took no notice whatsoever of school work,etc, completely resented me going to university, told me more than once that it was a waste of time for someone like me (who was only ever going to get married and have children). She was jealous of the relationship I had with df, which tbh wasn't very healthy either. Now we have limited contact, helped by not living in the same country. She's an alcoholic and that really marred my childhood, and continues to spoil life today, although i'm much more detached about it. So much to say, and so sorry to see so many have struggled with emotionally detached or abusive parents.

Lemonylemon Thu 23-Jan-14 11:05:21

"starting periods at 12 was given a panty-liner and nothing more was said"

That rings a bell. My Mum bought me a packet of Kotex and a kind of suspender belt that you buttoned to the pad. (This was in the mid-70's). I was told what they were and nothing more was said by her. It fell to my Dad to "have the talk" with me. To be fair, it was my Dad who told me the facts of life and about periods etc. Poor man. It must have been hard for him having been brought up by a very harsh Victorian mother to then have to tell his daughter about the birds and the bees.

jenuwhine Thu 23-Jan-14 11:23:41

is it bad to say I am relieved that you all understand and can relate? I mean its shitty that you can because it's borne out of a difficult childhood and we would all prefer things were different (probably)
cantsayitasme - I am now of the conviction that this is not the time to do anything radical career-wise. Until my baby is at school I will maintain the status quo and work on myself x
altogetherwonderful - thank you.

jenuwhine Thu 23-Jan-14 11:26:25

oh yes and when I might be a bit disagreeable/down in the dumps its because I have PMT and need to learn to manage it OR there has been a full moon recently.


ghostinthecanvas Thu 23-Jan-14 11:47:13

I remember the day I started my period vividly. It was in the summer holidays and I I was so excited <if only I knew blush > I rushed upstairs to tell my mum. She grunted. She was in bed, it was midday. She had 4 kids. I immediately felt squashed and unimportant. Shamed as well. To have thought she would be interested. I may ask her does she remember the day I started my period. Knowing that I am not the only one whose mother minimised such an important step is a huge help.

Uptidy Thu 23-Jan-14 11:49:58

solace and being a cow I completely agree with the 1960s thing. I think my mum and dad actually didn't really care because they were too self absorbed, but they would probably have justified all this with some hippyish idea of being not repressed or of not caring about pointless things such as appearances. So I was always dirty and inappropriately dressed for the weather in winter for example. They let me go to clubs in London from the age of 14 onwards and while we did not discuss it they could surely not have been ignorant of what went on there- I took a lot of LSD (as it was cheap) and alcohol and sex, older blokes etc.

Mum didn't want the hassle of boys/ men staying over at hers so she could have peace and privacy in the morning - so I either stayed friends or at boys houses, or travelled around across London on night buses to get back home from clubs or stayed with 'boyfriends' at friends houses whose parents were away. I put myself at massive risk and was very lucky no serious harm came of it. There was no sex drugs drink talk from either parent. As a teenager I basically managed to get myself adopted by a school friend's family who were very kind and let me stay over a lot whe I should have been at my mums. But that was painful too seeing them all be affectionate to each other.

Likewise to other posters with the personal hygiene stuff- neither parent taught me or talked about this. I bought my own sanitary towels with pocket money- having been told off for 'taking' my mum's. I had tooth abcesses from 8 years old well into secondary school which smelt awful and was always teased at primary because I had yellow teeth. It took me years to realise that was because I wasn't cleaning them properly.

At primary my teachers brushed my hair in he morning and tied my hair back for me- again, I didn't know that this was abnorma even though I was the only kid they did this for. I used to get very painful cystitis very regularly too in primary which the teachers did ask me about - I suppose they suspected abuse- but I think it was the combination of my high anxiety, being cold a lot of the time and very rarely having baths. Nothing was done about it anyhow. I managed to get my dad to buy me Cymalon when I saw him but my Mum had had it all before much worse hersel of course so I just had to get on wth it.

I did well at school (looking for approval of course) so my parents never questioned whether anything was amiss. But there was never by any career chat or interest in what I would do as an adult so I prioritised my social/love life in my 20s (with rotten self esteem) and messed up my chance at higher education. my job prospects now have obviously suffered for that. I am very far the over way of affectionate attention giving with my daughter who is still little and desperately want to do a better job with her when she is a teenager especially. Sorry for venting. It really helps to get this down. Thanks for sharing you experiences in all of your posts. They have been very sad reading but I am pleased that many of you have been able to find some support with your awful experiences and move forward. flowers to everyone and good luck.

altogetherwonderful Thu 23-Jan-14 12:42:11

Oh uptidy. So much of what you say is similar - you were not alone. Many of my friends have 'celebrated' their dd first period with a mum daughter day out & have bought them little period packs, so the dd won't be embarrassed with tampons etc when out & about. Makes me sad to hear those stories.

I was often told by Dm usually in front of someone visiting out home that I smelt funny & needed a shower - even though there was NEVER hot water for baths showers & to ask to have a bath was akin to asking for £500 cash

bishbashboosh Thu 23-Jan-14 12:59:37

I so relate to all of this, bt on the other hand it makes me furious as I am the opposite with my 4 children. My Mother never wanted daughters and i was the disappointment 3rd.

I spent my whole life trying to prove myself, overachieving, anorexia, running marathons, degree after degree...only to be told it is my fault now as I am too good for them.

I remember when I strated mt periods my Mother posted me a sanitary towel that had been sent for free with a 30p of coupon

I am so envious of those with stability in their parental relationships but I am eternally grateful that I learnt very early on that the relationship and acceptance of your parents is pivotal to EVERYTHING

bishbashboosh Thu 23-Jan-14 13:00:38

I also remember my Dad hitting me and making me walk on the other side of the road because I stank. I was still at primary school. I ate crisps of the floor, sweets, everything

Lemonylemon Thu 23-Jan-14 13:04:20

Uptidy have a huge {}

altogetherwonderful - your story about showering made me smile. I have showered DS every day since, oh, the year dot, I guess. I always told him how important it was to shower every day and especially to wash under his arms and his bits really well and to always do this as I didn't want to have an embarrassing conversation with him about him being smelly when he was a teenager. Fast forward a few years and DS is now 16. The other night I went into his room and was nearly blown away by the smell. I said to him "Remember when you were little and when you showered I said that it was really important to wash really well and so I didn't have to have an embarrassing conversation with you when you were a teenager?" "Yes." "Well, you need to have a shower.... Nuff said." He took it well. smile

SicknSpan Thu 23-Jan-14 13:09:59

Thanks for kind words and validation up thread. It does mean something to have other people who (sadly) know what I'm on about.

For what it's worth, I don't feel that I experienced emotional abuse when I was young, More like emotional neglect. There was just never any discussion of how to deal with feelings at all, nor a role model that I could learn from- as a result it still makes me unsettled if I feel any sort of emotion other that the pretend happiness that is so important to plaster on. I'm getting better at dealing with it and allowing it but it is terribly hard to let people in and even now after 19 years of being together I've only just recently let dh "see" some of the real me and express what I really think about stuff rather than what I think I should feel. And he still loves me! Which I find amazing, that I might have opinions and tastes that he doesn't share but still is here and showing me that I am important without laughing or pooh poohing my taste in music or books or whatever

I made some unwise choices when young (like previous posters have experienced, I was sexually active far too early and had far too many inappropriate relationships/ one night stands etc) and had no guidance on life choices. Uni? Not uni? What subjects? Nobody visited me when I did move away to study and it really did feel that once I left home to go to uni, that's it I was an adult- their job was done and my dad has even said this to me as if it was something to be proud of.

Neither of my parents are bad people. They divorced when I was 18 and both remarried very quickly, I have a good relationship with my mum and her husband but don't see my dad or his wife much. They were just (and still are) emotionally inadequate. I am grateful for some of the things their behaviour has produced in me- I have a high tolerance for putting up with stuff and can be quite thick skinned and stoic for example, and am very self sufficient and can compartmentalise stuff to great effect- but I feel sad for the little girl and young adult that I was. We missed out on so much and I wish that we were closer as a family, could rely upon each other more.

I can't imagine a time in my life when I will not be interested and wondering about my beautiful two sons (plus dc3 that I'm cooking for a May arrival!) and hoping to help smooth their brow or ease their fears, listen to their worries and hopes and dreams and joys- I want to be allowed to help guide them into adulthood with the knowledge that me and dh will always catch them if they fall on the way, and even when they are all grown with lives and partners of their own if they need us. Planning on being a lovely mother in law not a psycho mind you ;)

Mum and dad didn't do anything "wrong". But there were massive chunks missed out of my upbringing that they SO should have covered.

SicknSpan Thu 23-Jan-14 13:15:44

Bishbash and uptidy - and everyone else- you have been through such a lot. Wish I could scoop up the lot of you when you were little and look after you with love x

Alwayscheerful Thu 23-Jan-14 13:48:01

Sicknspan - yours is such a familiar story to me.

I already know that discussing my feelings with my mother would lead to outrage or ridicule, how comforting to read about it here.

beingacow Thu 23-Jan-14 13:52:01

I wonder about something: my partner's parents were, by all accounts, worse than mine: emotionally unavailable, cold, odd, uncaring and totally uninterested or supportive. He's fine, apart from a bit confused by his mum at times, he really doesn't struggle with the effects of a rather strange childhood.
I do.
Why has it had such an impact on me and the way I behave and relate as an adult, and not on him?

altogetherwonderful Thu 23-Jan-14 13:57:25

Cow- that's interesting. Maybe he has put it in a 'box' & kept it there?

The most frustrating part of it all is their (parents) denial - as far as they know, they did their best/did nothing wrong. It means the relationship is very FAKE & I can't do fake with them. Either it's low contact or nothing.

Alwayscheerful Thu 23-Jan-14 13:59:42

I Can't or won't do fake either, why are they so happy with fake?

altogetherwonderful Thu 23-Jan-14 14:00:26

Plus, Cow, there isn't a blueprint reaction to it, my sister for example is in complete denial, in a bid to ensure she is still kept in their inheritance!

For me, no amount of their money could clear my hard drive of shitty memories

Your DH - maybe he struggles and doesn't want to burden you with it, knowing you are already trying to deal with your own?

altogetherwonderful Thu 23-Jan-14 14:03:27

Always- I don't know. Maybe they realise how awful they were & try to keep up the appearance as to admit to anything would wreck their seemingly perfect family? It's really weird. They had their chances, didn't bother to invest emotionally back then, and NOW want to be involved?!?!? No chance. See, it makes me very angry, sorry.

bishbashboosh Thu 23-Jan-14 14:46:19

thinks that have helped me are time and cutting my Mother off. Also I was lucky to form some good friendships (all with older women) and a lovely hubby too, I focus everything o n them

Alwayscheerful Thu 23-Jan-14 15:09:37

Minimising contact with my DM and some wonderful friendships with older ladies have helped me enormously. Other ladies have been my role models and taught me about family and friendship.

altogetherwonderful Thu 23-Jan-14 15:53:15

Yy to strong relationships with older females & low Dm interaction - it has been healing. I wouldn't tolerate behaviour like theirs from friends ()I would avoid) so why am I expected to with parents?

I also cultivate a simple cosy life at home with our DCs

I'm learning to be gentle with myself, managing negative self talk with positive affirmations (the quotes board on Pinterest is helpful)

AllDirections Thu 23-Jan-14 16:03:13

I'm like your DH beingacow My childhood was awful but I don't think it's caused me any real issues as an adult. I'm probably on the ASD spectrum somewhere so maybe this has helped me to process what happened in a very factual way, rather than an emotional way. I do miss having a family, but I don't miss my family if that makes any sense.

NotmyusualNN Thu 23-Jan-14 16:21:41

Can I join in?

I’ve never really spoken to anyone about my childhood and lasting problems with my parents for fear that I’ll be told to get a grip and grow up. I suppose that’s what my parents themselves would say. On a few occasions I have mentioned to DH and a couple of very close friends that I find my parents difficult and they are very understanding – maybe I should try getting this out in the open a little more.

I could join up each and every post on this long thread and it would come close to the story of my own life. There are some differences, no physical abuse from my parents and I am sure I was loved and wanted – they just never talked in these terms and emotion was all but banned in our house. I completely relate to the poster upthread who mentioned keeping up appearances; our house was like a showhome and every aspect of our appearance was groomed to perfection – it was all an empty façade,

I don’t recall hearing the word “love” at home but neither too could sadness be expressed. My parents were a good generation, and possibly more in my dad’ case, older than any of my peer group and I think this made a difference in their attitudes towards parenting and the differences I could see in the way my friends interacted with their parents.

I must have been wanted; I know my parents tried for a baby for a long time and my mother ended up have some kind of pioneering fertility treatment in the late 70s which obviously worked. I don’t know what this involved – some kind of early stage IVF? Talking about anything remotely revolving sex or reproduction was “dirty” and “disgusting”. This is evidence, though, that I was a wanted child. I have half-siblings from my dad’s first marriage and they were held up by both parents as the golden children and from an early age I remember being told it was a shame I would never be as pretty, clever, successful, kind etc as them.

As with another poster early in the thread, there were no words for our private parts or for any bodily functions. Everything to do with that was secretive and shameful. I suffered from excruciating bouts of thrush and cystitis as a child and eventually my mother took me to a doctor although she made me feel small, dirty and degraded for “wanting” to talk about these things and “making” the doctor examine at me. She then refused to help me with the cream I was prescribed. I must have been around 5-6 years old. I still find it extremely difficult to talk to medical professionals about any intimate issues and am lucky to have found an amazing and supportive GP in recent years who understands when I talk around things – she is slowly helping me to be able to talk about and take ownership of my body. Despite suffering from the most crippling period pains from the age of 11 and regularly fainting with the pain at school, my mother also refused to allow me to speak to a doctor about such dirty things. I was 30 before the aforementioned wonderful GP finally helped me through the necessary stages to diagnose endometriosis.

I was abused by a regular babysitter as a child. I never told my parents. How can you do that when you are not allowed to talk about these parts of your body or when any kind of touch is seen as shameful and inappropriate? I guess he knew that and his threats of how angry my parents would be with me were enough to buy my silence. I also believed, into my 30s, that I had, in some way, offered myself to him and made him do these things to me.

I was badly bullied at primary school and I vividly remember one night, being unable to sleep and sobbing my heart out in my room at the thought of going to school the next day. My bedroom door flew open and my father demanded to know what the racket was all about. I broke down and told him how bad things were; I showed him the bruises from where I had been held down and kicked in the ribs. He said “is that all” and told me to toughen up and stop disturbing his sleep. I took that in my stride at the time as it didn’t occur to me that any other parent would react differently but as an adult I am sickened by his reaction.

As mentioned by another poster, I have countless memories of being scared in various scenarios and then afterwards being praised for not letting it show. I suppose that was easier than having to comfort me and god forbid, being seen in public hugging a small child. Sadness was also not allowed and the scorn poured on me or anyone else who “turned on the waterworks” was awful. Despite these difficulties with my parents, I did have an exceptionally close relationship with my maternal grandmother and was obviously upset when she died. My father actually hustled my out of her funeral and made me sit in a car so that nobody would see me crying.

Stupidly, the only time I have ever tackled them on this was, of all things, watching the X-Factor on one occasion and both parents were getting quite het up about the levels of emotion shown as the contestants were waiting to hear who was being sent home. That was the one time I snapped and shouted at them that people are allowed to cry, it is better than bottling up emotion.

My own first period was, like others, a traumatic experience. I was eleven and having never spoken to my mother about any of that stuff, was more scared that she would be angry that I knew what a period was. I couldn’t possibly say we had spoken about it at school. I tried to keep it secret but didn’t even last a full day. I was so frightened and upset about what was happening to me that she noticed something was wrong and eventually wheedled it out of my between sobs. This time I didn’t get into trouble for crying and my mother was actually pretty amazing, giving me all the products and information I needed but that window was soon shut again. As I mentioned, my periods were bad and I often leaked (stupid cheap unreliable sanpro that she bought) and she would often burst into my room with the bloodied underwear from the laundry basket, telling me that I was disgusting.

All of this has definitely affected my emotions as an adult. I still find it extremely difficult to ask for help or to admit when I am worried or scared about something. I don’t really feel comfortable with public displays of affection and often take criticism badly. Even when it is obviously constructive such as the trainer at the gym suggesting I adopt a different position to make things a little easier or if someone in my team suggests a different way of doing things at work, all I can hear is that voice telling me that I’m useless and can’t get anything right.

I haven't gone NC but I dread spending time with my parents. Like others, the consequences of doing so would be too much - I know I would lose my entire family so I grin and bear it even though I am still criticised for my appearance, choice of career and every single aspect of my lifestyle.

SicknSpan Thu 23-Jan-14 16:56:02

Here's a brew Notmyusual. There are so many of us regular folks going about our regular business whilst carrying heavy loads our parents have given us. Glad you are managing to let a bit of it out in rl too.

desperatelyseekingsolace Thu 23-Jan-14 17:10:58

Uptidy yes. I can totally relate to this.

Notmyusual that sounds truly horrendous. Reading this thread has actually made me feel fairly privileged. Some of you have gone through some really awful stuff.

feltpaperchains Thu 23-Jan-14 17:43:51

uptidy Your story could have been written by me, in places word for word, I too plan to do a much better job with DC's,well done for coming through it with your sanity intact, I hope like mine,your self esteem grows every day.

Andro Thu 23-Jan-14 17:55:29

The most frustrating part of it all is their (parents) denial - as far as they know, they did their best/did nothing wrong.

Here's one area where my mother is very different to most on here, she doesn't deny that she's been vile to me. Her view of things though is that she never wanted me so it doesn't matter!

At least she never got away with it around my father - and he called her on any instance he found out about.

InsanityandBeyond Thu 23-Jan-14 18:17:43

Not feeling safe is my biggest problem. I have realised that it is myself that I don't feel safe with. After all, being told that I was basically a psychopath my whole childhood by not only my mother, but my siblings too, can do that to you.

My family nickname was 'psycho' and the 'nutter'. Still stings 30 years later as I know I did absolutely nothing to deserve that name apart from look at my mum with a 'sneer' (according to her). That was probably because, being the deeply sensitive kid I was, I knew her physical and emotional abuse of me was very wrong and I was very angry at her due to her preventing contact with my dad and her being aware I was being sexually abused by an older sibling but doing absolutely nothing about it!

It has taken me all this while to accept that I am actually perfectly sane (despite the NN grin).

I am another one with a DH who doesn't get it. I mean he tells his sisters on the phone 'love you' when he hangs up shock. That to me is totally weird! I can't remember anyone from my family (including mother) hugging me after my DC2 died at birth. They came to the funeral, yes, but that was just for 'show' unfortunately. I don't blame my siblings for the way we were brought up though.

This is what makes MM amazing IMO. Us kindred souls can come together and share experiences and how we feel that we couldn't in RL. We know it's not 'just us'. Much cake and wine to everyone x

InsanityandBeyond Thu 23-Jan-14 18:20:10

Duurrr not MM - MN (Mumsnet).

GarlicReturns Thu 23-Jan-14 18:48:31

Just read all the posts up to last night. What an amazing bunch of women flowers

You know, I don't think "victim" is an insult. It wasn't until I grasped that I was/am a victim of dysfunctional parenting that I could engage properly with my therapies. I'm recovering from psychological/emotional injuries sustained as a child; inflicted by my parents. I am their victim, therefore, with injuries requiring treatment.

Which, fortunately, is easier to come by these days than when they were young!

amverytired Thu 23-Jan-14 20:44:10

I've been following this thread with interest.
My own parents were fairly detached parents. I never remember being hugged, getting a kiss or being told I was loved. They meant well but emotionally neglected us. No period talks, no relationship discussions nothing that would count as support bar schooling, food and clothing. I was always told to stop being upset, never offered comfort in any situation (that I can remember, I find I can't remember a lot). I was bullied in school, rebelled as a result, did well in exams eventually and went onto do v. well academically. I realised I could connect with my parents at this level at least. I've been in abusive relationships, suffered low-self esteem, depression and anxiety from when I entered my teens.
Like many others here I have a difficult time knowing what I 'like', I've had a lot of counselling which has helped.
When I started counselling I remember describing my childhood as pretty perfect. My parents were strict, but I knew I was loved. They just had a hard time showing me that. Over the years of talking things through I know it really wasn't perfect, having children of my own really brought things to a head for me, especially seeing the rather heavy handed approach that my mother had with my own children. Their emotional needs were so obviously being ignored, I had a glimpse of what it must have been like for me and my siblings.
I come across as being a tough independent woman, but the stress of keeping up that facade has meant many years of depression.
What makes it more complicated is having a child with ASD/aspergers, realising that I have many of those traits myself and then seeing the same in my mother. I'm still trying to process this.
I know now that many of the difficulties I've had have their origins in my upbringing, but it is sobering to see so many others on this thread put into words exactly how I've felt growing up and being an adult.
I hope that everyone else here can get some comfort from this, as I have done, in that strange sort of way that comes from sharing difficult experiences.

MrCabDriver Thu 23-Jan-14 20:49:37

I had zero emotional support.
Don't think my mum was intentionally "emotionally abusive" but she was more occupied with her drinking lifestyle so we just didn't get any attention.

I cannot ask anyone for help. The thought of it makes me clam up and get so embarrassed.

I am very independent and self sufficient. I find it really uncomfortable and awkward when people try to do things for me.

I'm notorious amongst my friends for not dealing with my emotions!
I do not open up to anyone, ever. Only on here have I ever opened up and even that made me feel really uncomfortable.

MrCabDriver Thu 23-Jan-14 20:51:03

And yes to the no hugging. Have never hugged my mum. Have only really started being comfortable hugging my friends

ghostinthecanvas Thu 23-Jan-14 21:01:38

I always used to say I had never rebelled......then recently one of my friends pointed out that I got pregnant at 17..... blush grin grin
One of the few pieces of parental advice I ever got was to keep my legs shut. Best 'mistake' I never made!

SicknSpan Thu 23-Jan-14 21:27:31

MrCabDriver your post struck many a chord with me. I could have written your lines about not asking for help/ self sufficiency/notoriety for avoiding emotions. thanks for you.

smartiepantsgirl Thu 23-Jan-14 22:19:18

Delurking to say hi and thanks to everyone who has posted. I could have written so many of these posts and up until tonight I've never really looked and analysed my own situation. I've always put it down to 'well that's just how I am'.

My upbringing was good. Fed, watered, dressed, educated, but can only ever remember my mum hugging me once on the night my dad left when I was a teenager. No emotions. Not talks about anything personal. I kept myself to myself and spent so much of my teenage year in my bedroom. Dad was a workaholic.

I'm fiercely independent. Will never ask for help. Find it awkward when friends talk about feelings or ask questions about my childhood. I've made some amazing friends over the years whom I have opened up to a certain extent on occasions in conversations, but I'd never instigate those chats and still find them very uncomfortable.

Married to a lovely dh who just accepts me as I am! I am loving but not gushing with him and could probably be described as a bit chilly! I'm very black and white & matter of fact. My friends joke about it, how 'straightforward' I am. In contrast I'm super affectionate with the dc. Always hugging and kissing them and love that dd want's to chat about anything and everything even at her young age.

So thank you to you all for giving me the insight to think about why I am this way and how I can try to adjust in my relationships with others.

Alwayscheerful Thu 23-Jan-14 23:13:09

Smartiepants - you have just described me.

MrCabDriver Thu 23-Jan-14 23:27:49

Thank you Sick - you too.

I totally agree smartie pants. I've never thought about it either.

I just came across the thread, started reading and thought wow. ..that's me!

Every partner I've had has complained about my "coldness" !

smartiepantsgirl Fri 24-Jan-14 07:19:48

Yep me too. Possibly the most useful thread I've read on here. What terrifies me is the effect I could inadvertently have on my dc. I've never seen myself as having a 'problem' as such, and it's only after meeting people who are so not like me that I think I probably do need to work on how I interact with other adults, particularly those I'm closest too.

I'm also def guilty of a general lack of empathy to others, particularly with illness or people having a 'bad day' and can often be heard muttering 'oh fgs, just get on with it!'

Loads of food for thought there. Thanks.

DuskAndShiver Fri 24-Jan-14 07:41:41

What a great thread. So sorry to hear from you all who have had such awful experiences

I was not abused but had no emotional support. As a child I was often ganged up on by my sister whenever other children were there. I was always terrified of cousins or other families where the adults would get together and with the children, the game would be to gang up on me. I used to try to hide and run away and get away from it all but they enjoyed it and would find me and continue to torment me. I would always end up getting a bollocking from my mother for not playing nicely with the others. I was always trying so hard not to cry as I knew it would make my mum furious and scuttling around strange houses trying to find hiding places.
I had lichen sclerosis (I found out years later) and didn't tell anyone because I would be told off. It was excruciating at times and I was very ashamed.
I tried to tell my mum about my periods 6 times in 6 months when I was 13 and couldn't get it out. Eventually when I did tell her, as if it was the first, it was because I was exhausted and skint with buying sanpro in secret and finding ways of hiding it and I hoped she would deal with that, just put stuff in the bathroom or something. Instead I still had to ask and I found that so hard I went back to getting my own. (the other reason I knew I had to tell her was I was afraid she would be hurt when she realised I must have started)
I was bullied at school and knew not to talk about it at home as it would be understood to be my fault.
I had serious mental health issues from about 15 onwards and it literally did not occur to me to attempt to tell anyone anything.
When I was 20 my newly ex bf (whom I was still in love with and thought we would get back together) killed himself. I lost the plot. I fell apart and had no help at all. One day my mum walked into the room and found me crying, playing the piano, I was usually crying and played the piano a lot to attempt to distract myself. I remember how cross she was when she snapped again and again, "What's the matter?" and I couldn't speak for crying. I didn't even know.
I always had to pretend everything was fine even when I was suicidal.

Various other things happened to do with having no self esteem and no balance.

Nowadays I assume whenever anything happens that everyone thinks it is my fault. I assume whenever any resources are being discussed that I won't get any. I struggle to ask for what I need and even at work when I am only thinking what I need to do my job, I over think massively asking for anything. I have no inner sense that what I need matters. I struggle massively with anger because there is another inner voice that thinks fuck this noise, I am a person too, and the one that is telling it to shut up and the "fuck this" voice are always always fighting and it is unresolved and leads to massive anger issues

I look alright from the the outside, probably only dp knows I am a massive fuck up and I am always afraid he will get sick of it and leave (although he benefits from it too as I do not assert my needs)

failedexperiment Fri 24-Jan-14 08:12:49

I learned about basic "how the normal life should looks like from books"

Unfortunately I hate to admit I've read to many wrong one

I've always had wrong expectations
It is a very hard lesson which never end!

FolkGirl Fri 24-Jan-14 08:13:01

Just thought of a couple more. I was knocked off my bike when I was about 10 or 11. I wasn't injured, but the bike was damaged. I was cycling up the main road and a stationary car pulled out from a side street into me. No idea what he was thinking, I think he probably thought he had enough time afterall, and I sped up so he wasn't waiting so long...

He got out of the car to check I was ok, a couple of passersby stopped to check I was ok but I didn't want to tell my parents because I didn't want to get told off for damaging my bike. I walked the bike home, my parents noticed, I had to explain exactly what happened. I was told off. It wasn't even a shock response followed by cuddles and are you ok? The latter part didn't happen. My parents were more concerned I might have inconvenienced an adult.

Another time, I was 17 and had gone to the pub with a friend of mine. She had wanted to meet a boy from a sailing club she was a member of and take a friend for support. He also took a friend. A really ugly boy I definitely wasn't flirting with. My friend and the boy disappeared for "a few minutes" - god knows where, never found out. I was left on my own with the other boy until closing when I had no choice but to leave the pub with him after realising my friend wasn't returning after all. He dragged me off the street behind the pub and tried to force himself on me. I managed to get away. I told my mum and she told me it was my own fault for being in a pub with a boy in the first place.

Mumto3dc Fri 24-Jan-14 10:29:25

Duskandshiver hmm for you.
You say at the start of your post you weren't abused, but it's painful reading...
It certainly sounds neglectful.

I've come to the conclusion in my own life that emotional neglect is abusive in its way. Certainly the effects are painful and far-reaching.

It's a refusal to engage with a necessary part of parenting. They didn't do what parents were supposed to do...

Mumto3dc Fri 24-Jan-14 10:30:48

Folkgirl, when I fell off my bike as a child my mum was annoyed I ripped my coat. And laughed at the fact she was worried about my coat and not me.

It's just not how parents should react...

SwimmingClose Fri 24-Jan-14 14:06:07

Is there not a level of emotional neglect in our society, generally, expressed through the absence of "the feminine" in some specific but undefined way? All these body disorders and so forth ...

I am also thinking that the people who have posted should not be ashamed of their suffering, but be clear that perhaps they have seen a truth that nobody else wants to see.

By coincidence yesterday, I picked off a book from my bookshelf called "Conscious Femininity" by Marion Woodman, which I have not looked at for years. She is an aged analysist in the Jungian tradition I think. Anyway, it made strange reading, as I saw so many revelatory passages. Just wanted to share this now (and I would really recommend this book).


SwimmingClose Fri 24-Jan-14 14:18:07

But none of what I have just said is meant to detract from the personal experiences of people or what they have been through.

CailinDana Fri 24-Jan-14 14:19:35

I wonder how much of this rubbish parenting is down to the general culture of parenting at the time? I know when I was born the attitude where I lived was that children were manipulative and you had to show them who's boss. Babies were only to be fed four hourly and put in their own cot from birth. It's only my own half-baked theory but I imagine listening to your baby scream and scream and feeling like you're "not allowed" to comfort them must be torturous and do some sort of psychological damage, not just to the child but to the parent too. I think it's likely that a parent in that situation would feel helpless and angry when faced with their crying child. It would stand to reason that over time the parent would develop a strong aversion to their child showing emotion and even start to hate the child for crying so much even though they did everything "right."As the child grows up the standard response of the parent to the child being upset would be to ignore them, tell them to stop or get angry at them.

CailinDana Fri 24-Jan-14 14:26:52

I accept that some people would be shit parents no matter what. But I know a few older people who seem normal and kind but have atrocious relationships with their children. A couple have said they put their newborns in a cot, closed the door and didn't return till morning because that's what you did. To separate yourself from your tiny helpless baby like that and just ignore their screaming takes a lot of emotional gymnastics that can't be good for you. I can see it having a huge impact on the whole relationship.

I wonder if current and future generations, brought up in a less harsh way, will be emtionally healthier and have a better relationship with their parents?

CailinDana Fri 24-Jan-14 14:33:31

X-post with you swimming. I definitely think shit practises like not letting mothers hold stillborn babies, putting newborns in the hospital nursery and not allowing mothers to feed them on demand, as well as the other crappy parenting theories I mentioned definitely denied feminine instinct. Everything seemed to be geared towards breaking that strong bond between mother and child. Why? Because men didn't understand it or were jealous of it? Because men wanted women to be available to service them rather than a child? Whatever it was I absolutely do not think any healthy mother left to her own devices would ever ignore her baby's cries.

DuskAndShiver Fri 24-Jan-14 14:34:38

CailinDana, I think there is a lot of truth in all that. I think my mother honestly did her best and my father didn't even know that anything was expected of him.
On the other side of my strict upbringing, I have been thinking a lot lately about how absolutely fucking awful some (most?) counter-cultural parents must have been. I would love to know what happened to their children although I am sure it is often very sad. Neal Cassady - the model for Dean Moriarty in On the Road - had 3 wives and 3 children and when he was 40-odd he took a 19 year old man aside and said (I paraphase) "don't do what I did, 20 years of fast living have taken their toll and my kids are all screwed up". he died not long after. His children must be a bit older than my sister and I dread to think what their childhoods must have been like and I wonder how they are now. It's sad that he knew his children were "all screwed up" - tho not sadder than that they were.

Anyway my mum didn't go off and take drugs and neither did my dad, leaving my mum with us with no money. We had food, heat, education and boundaries. Better than nothing and a lot better than many of the time

CailinDana Fri 24-Jan-14 14:42:40

I feel sad for those mothers too though Duck. I definitely get the sense from my mother and MIL that they envy the fact that I'm "allowed" to "mollycoddle" my children. Of course what "mollycoddle" means simply responding to them, treating them with kindness and respect. My mother only had 3 months' maternity leave - it must have been hard for her to leave such a young baby for 40 hours a week. To do that without it crushing you requires a certain amount of detachment I think.

DuskAndShiver Fri 24-Jan-14 14:45:33

yes and of course they had no help from their husbands and were expected to exalt their comfort at all times.

DuskAndShiver Fri 24-Jan-14 14:47:24

One of the posters said that her mother was unhealthily reliant on her children for her own emotional support. My mum definitely wasn't like that with us, but having so little support of a practical or emotional nature from my dad, she didn't have much to spare. She in no way expected us to look after her, but she needed us to get out of her space and headspace to make sure she was "doing her job" vis a vis making sure that there would be ZERO demands on my dad

Andro Fri 24-Jan-14 15:29:59

I think there are probably almost as many reasons for crap parenting as there are crap parents; some of it is possibly the neglect/abuse cycle repeating its self, some of it is possibly personality (disorder?) based, some is possibly sheer mental and emotional exhaustion...too many to mention.

I've never worked out the root cause behind my mother's issues; she can be very caring/affectionate/involved because she's a mama tiger with the twins - even if their upbringing on the maternal side is also very unhealthy (spoiled rotten and thinking it's a woman's job to wait on them hand and foot) - yet she treated me like crap because she didn't want a girl (and certainly not a defective freak like me - her words).

CailinDana Fri 24-Jan-14 15:42:28

Andro - since becoming a mum myself it has shocked me to see the differing attitudes people have to boys and girls. I know in my mum's family the four boys got everything they wanted while the five girls were expected to cook clean and provide childcare. My MIL who only had boys made a lot of weird comments when she found out I was having a girl - all very negative. In the end I had to tell her to stop. Again being brought up in a society that devalues women so much can't help an already difficult parent/daughter relationship. I wonder if it's more common for girls to feel invisible than boys?

GarlicReturns Fri 24-Jan-14 16:38:56

Under-entitlement was a big problem for me, too. Frustratingly, most of my therapists assumed I had an inflated sense of entitlement (that "I'm fine" mask again hmm,) and I would have to spend the first few sessions working through their own prejudice! I'm currently negotiating my inner belief that I do not deserve benefits - I'm by no means 'cured' yet, and the harm this does me is real & quantifiable.

I really want lots of posters here to understand that emotional neglect is emotional abuse! Abuse doesn't have to be maliciously & deliberately enacted; there are all sorts of reasons why it happens. The cause doesn't mitigate the effect. (I wish my mother had known this ...)

CailinDana speaks much sense on this thread.

altogetherwonderful Fri 24-Jan-14 17:26:42

Swimming - no, I have to disagree there isn't a level of emotional neglect in society in general, and this cannot be used as their defence

Behaviour is a choice - they knew well what they were doing, eg my mother was in charge of nspcc issues in her school, but yet at home...

I couldn't say that it is just one of those things in society for people to be emotionally neglectful of their own children - it is a deliberate choice to parent harshly or selfishly

altogetherwonderful Fri 24-Jan-14 17:31:46

And while I'm sure yes leaving their babies to cry and cry was common, and psychologically damaging how was it that many of my friends homes were calm, warm safe places with parents who didn't create noisy violent arguments with their children over whether the dishes were washed by the children immediately after a meal or not?

FolkGirl Fri 24-Jan-14 21:23:53

Even if you were right, swimming, it wouldn't explain why some parents derived so much pleasure out of causing their children emotional distress.

GarlicReturns Fri 24-Jan-14 21:52:02

Agreed with altogether and Folk. Dr Spock's advice caused a lot of miserable episodes for babies of my generation, but wasn't by any means adhered to rigidly. (My own DM, with her many faults, breast-fed for six months on demand, as did other mums who valued their peace!) The commonplace view of children as imperfect little adults, who must be trained & controlled, suited those whose own issues led them to brutality. The majority of parents managed to teach & nurture their kids, regardless.

This is a bit like those websites that claim Victorian children were all emotionally neglected, regularly beaten and strictly constrained. It's rubbish. Loads of Victorian adults were kind & caring towards children, raising them with considerate good humour. It says something that the 'experts' who bully children are the ones who write lengthy books about it! They have to, because they are the ones going against the majority. Sadly, their legacy of words leaves a false impression about parenting strategies of their times.

altogetherwonderful Fri 24-Jan-14 22:30:55

Garlic - yy to 'those whose own issues led them to brutality'

They did clearly have issues, just reading this thread is evidence that there were plenty of cruel by choice /wilfully neglectful parents out there.

Something rings loudly with me though that I don't particularly have any want or need to try & work out WHY they chose to parent & run our 'home' the way they did

they clearly knew the proper way to do it, but yes, their own issues definitely prevented them from actually implementing correct & safe parenting techniques. They don't deserve my sympathies or empathy right now, given the invisible damage caused.

DuskAndShiver Sat 25-Jan-14 00:07:22

Big hugs ((())) to all of you

there is such a wide range of experiences on this thread. I do think some of it (my stuff) is forgiveable cultural stuff. Not all of it. Some of it is not.

Hugs and kisses to you all xxx OOO xxx

DeckSwabber Sat 25-Jan-14 09:28:02

The sense of not being entitled to anything runs deep with me and really affected my career. I just couldn't take credit for anything I had done. Bosses would find it hard to give me positive feedback because it made me so uncomfortable. I think it was because my mum would always cut me down if I did something well, and would tell me I was greedy and selfish if I did stuff for myself or even if I did stuff for others.

Strangely, I function better when I'm around people who try to take the credit for things I have done - my sense of justice takes over and I and able to say, 'actually, that was something I did well'.

I wonder now if it was because my older (and only) brother was the 'golden child' and got very jealous if I got any attention. This is becoming evident now in my late 40's - my brother wants something to happen and is pressurising my elderly mum. My mum has told me she doesn't like his idea but she 'doesn't want an unhappy son'. I have tried to explain to her that she just needs to say 'no' and that will be the end of it, but she just can't, even though its making her very distressed. The decision my brother wants her to make will have a direct and negative impact on me and my family, so its hard for me to get involved without sounding self-interested, but of course that is when the panic sets in because I've been taught from all early age that my feelings don't count. The stupid thing is that my brother is behaving so badly that everyone thinks he's a dick, so it would be better for him as well if she just said 'no'.