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To feel envious of people who grew up in non abusive homes with loving parents and therefore have good self esteem?

(93 Posts)
SpeckledLily Mon 29-Feb-16 12:42:28

I've namechanged as I know it is not good to be envious but I can't help it.

My parents were very emotionally and physically abusive when I was a child; both narcissists with anger issues with my sister as the golden child. I was hit, called names, told I was useless, and just generally lived in fear. I was not really allowed friends as a)I was told that they would one day find out what I was really like and would not want to know me and b)because my parents used to go mad if I was friendly with someone and say I was disloyal to the family etc and they wouldn't talk to me for days if I'd been to a friend's house. It was weird, they wanted to crush me but didn't want anyone else to 'have' me.

I was very badly bullied all through high school, after we moved areas and I left my childhood friends behind. I was probably bullied for being weird. I also was conscious of the things my parents told me so if someone did want to be my friend then I couldn't quite commit to being a total, proper friend, for fear of what my parents might say or do. So therefore I never had a chance to develop that proper strong network of friends, and have struggled all of my life to make and maintain friendships. I feel so envious of people who have a huge core of solid, good friends that they've known since childhood.

I also feel envious of those that had decent, loving parents who brought them up to have good self esteem. I am now non contact with my parents and sister, and have had counselling but being realistic, I am never going to have normal, healthy self esteem that someone who has grown up in a rock solid loving home and been allowed to be themselves has. I will just have to make do with the self esteem that I have managed to develop for myself and accept the fact that I will always struggle with friendships.

AIBU to feel like this? Has anyone had similar experiences?

InsufficientlyCaffeinated Mon 29-Feb-16 12:46:25

flowers That sounds all too familiar except I was the golden child for one parent and the scapegoat for the other. YADNBU to feel how you do. Have you had any therapy to help you deal with your upbringing?

AlwaysDancing1234 Mon 29-Feb-16 12:46:50

I don't think you are being unreasonable to feel that way. I had a very abusive upbringing and sometimes I think "it's not fair, why couldn't I have a normal childhood". But it has made me the strong person I am today. Don't let the past destroy you, don't let them destroy your adult life as well as your childhood. flowers

pastmyduedate0208 Mon 29-Feb-16 12:48:56

You need to get over it though. For your own mental health.

Obs2016 Mon 29-Feb-16 12:49:46

Don't be jealous or envious. That just gives time and emotions back to that person, who doesn't deserve it. Try to take pleasure that you are a better person than them, take pleasure it all the good things you do have.

glueandstick Mon 29-Feb-16 12:51:18

To start, they haven't destroyed you as you're here talking about it. That's a massive thing. You've probably got a much better handle on the human condition and understand people a lot better as a result.

But it is massively shit and not unreasonable at all to feel like that. I hope you find whatever it is that fixes this shit. If there was a magic wand it would be waved, I promise. flowers

pastmyduedate0208 Mon 29-Feb-16 12:51:32

I had to endure years of incestual CSA.
My adulthood has been fairly fucked up.
The amount of times I could feel envious of childhood friends or family members who were 'spared'. You end up driving yourself insane.

Owllady Mon 29-Feb-16 12:53:17

I don't think you can get over it though, you just have to work through it. It's too simplistic to say you'll get over it.

I've had psychotherapy which really helped and it has been Fourteen year nc but still things can trigger feelings I thought I no longer had, or no longer had time for. We are only human beings after all, not robots.

Owllady Mon 29-Feb-16 12:56:13

I do think envy and jealousy are pointless emotions though. I always tend to think it's ok to feel sad as sad is normal. It's normal to feel sad about something you didn't have that should be so basic. But if you look at it from the other side you should feel happy you no longer have to see them, to feel punished by them. You feel lucky you've had that choice and made that decision

hesterton Mon 29-Feb-16 12:57:30

I think you're wise to realise that your disadvantageous start to life has had a lasting and indelible affect on your self esteem. You will carry those scars forever.


Equally, you can recognise how this impacts on relationships and work at strategies to overcome this. You can also draw on your strengths to replace those areas where you feel you have deficiencies.

Recognition of the damage is inevitable and the damage is undeniable for someone brought up as you have been. Acceptance of it in a passive way is your choice.

You would be amazed by the level to which you are not alone.


RitaVinTease Mon 29-Feb-16 13:01:53

YANBU, but you have to deal with this.
There is no such thing as a perfect home or childhood, I strongly recommend cognitive behaviour therapy and assertiveness training. And keep going back and working at it.

My brother was the golden child and I vowed not to let it ruin my life. I could have been eaten up with jealousy. I've made my own way instead. flowers

mollyonthemove Mon 29-Feb-16 13:05:07

I had an unusual childhood in that I had no father from a very young age, a mother who was quite clearly constantly depressed and I spent many many weeks over 15 years in hospital having unnecessary surgery. I grew up with no idea how to relate to men or what having a happy family was all about. My first marriage completely failed and my eldest went through some very tough times as I had no idea how to be a mother and relied on my own mother who was not the best role model.. Now I have been happily married to a wonderful man for 16 years, have two more children and can see that what happened to me was all very abnormal. he had an idyllic childhood, with parents who were together and happy and siblings. All very normal. I do sometimes resent people who had that - spent a lot of years burying my resentment and anger with alcohol but now I am working through it. It's hard and it hurts but it makes life much easier., We can't change the past sadly.

Jackie0 Mon 29-Feb-16 13:05:34

To be honest when I look at my friends and family no one had a childhood I would envy.
Maybe Igravitate towards like-minded people or maybe these perfect "normal" families are the exception rather than the norm.
I'm NC with my disgraceful parents 20+ years now , one friend is also nc, another spent a significant time in care . I know someone that grew up with parents who were mentally unwell another whose parents were alcoholics, another is having treatment for sexual abuse she suffered as a child .

I don't compare my self to others because no matter how rosey things might look on the surface , you just don't know.

I can think of one person who had a lovely childhood but sadly her father died and she till struggles with the loss.

When I think about my life I feel proud that I made this life for myself, lucky that I have my dh and angry at what they got away with it.

Living well is the best revenge.

I grew up in a pretty angry home and lost a parent as a teenager and for years I would have agreed with you. However, as I have got older (and time has dulled the memory a bit,) my views are changing. Why will you never develop good self esteem? Why do you still believe what your parents said when it is clear that they were abusive liars?

I am not saying that to be harsh I am just asking you why you are allowing your parents to still control how you feel about yourself even though you are non contact. You have a choice now about how you face the world and how you feel about yourself, please don't hand that choice back to your parents by focusing on the past, on what ifs...

Recognise what you have achieved without your parents support and help, maybe in the face of their active opposition. You have had the courage to pull away from your parent's malign influence and to build your own life. You should be proud of yourself.

It is hard if you are not used to doing it, but have a look back at what you have done, despite your parents, and start to give yourself credit for how far you have come. I suspect you are more in the habit of focussing on what you haven't done well and second guessing others than acknowledging what you have done well and focussing on your own needs. So I will say it for you - you have done a remarkable job of protecting yourself from your toxic family - hold your head up high.

maggiethemagpie Mon 29-Feb-16 13:15:11

Well I used to have very poor self esteem but after a lot of therapy and work on myself I now have good self esteem so YABU to say that you are never going to have normal healthy self esteem.

It may not have been given to you on a plate but it is still there for the taking.

CreamofTartar Mon 29-Feb-16 13:18:01

Yanbu of course to feel sad. But honestly, I think it's unhelpful (from the point of view of your own mental health) to compare your own obviously abusive upbringing to what you perceive to be others' happy experiences.

I think that the 'good strong network of friends' is a myth for many people, whatever their upbringings were like. I've simply moved around the world too much to have one, for instance, and am very isolated where I currently live. It's nothing to do with my self-esteem, simply that I'm a poor fit for the place.

My parents had no conscious intent to 'crush' or be cruel -- and they think they did a fine job with their children, and there's certainly nothing to be gained from telling them otherwise now -- but they were illiterate, barely socialised themselves, could in no way afford four children, were from very impoverished and dysfunctional backgrounds themselves, and had no idea of what constituted normal parenting, an acceptable home environment (in terms of space, privacy, nutritious and enough food, basic hygiene, help with homework etc). We were never able to invite anyone home - there was never spare food, apart from anything else - and stood out at school in ways that made our lives very difficult.

It was not consciously abusive, but love in no way makes up for ignorance (of, for instance, free local things that could have enriched our childhoods, benefits for which we would have qualified, that small children need help with homework). I had a dysfunctional, difficult, miserable childhood, and have had to create my adult self-esteem from scratch. It can be done, OP, but it takes work. With sympathy, and in the nicest possible way, you need to draw a line somewhere under mourning for the childhood you never had, and the imaginary group of friends you didn't keep from that fictional childhood - recognise that a lot of other people from rosier backgrounds don't have them either. You should have had help, and you didn't, but now it's down to you. You sound like a survivor. Best wishes.

squishee Mon 29-Feb-16 14:10:30

What CreamofTartar said. Growing up in a non-abusive home with loving parents is no guarantee of good self-esteem.

And as others have said, you didn't choose your upbringing but you can, with the right support, choose how you now respond to it.

Theladyloriana Mon 29-Feb-16 14:21:51

Lovely post cream. Op, I can totally relate. I have found reading the pete Walker book, complex ptsd, the single most useful thing to help me.
What he says about self abandonment, among many many other jewels of wisdom struck such a chord regarding my own self esteem.very best wishes op flowers

DawnOfTheDoggers Mon 29-Feb-16 14:48:28

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

HormonalHeap Mon 29-Feb-16 15:12:47

I think self esteem is formed throughout our lives continuously, not just in childhood. I grew up with parents who loved me and eachother, but I don't think I have very high self esteem.

My dd on the other hand, till age 7, saw vile abusive behaviour from her dad towards me and her too. He is still abusive in milder ways to her such as financial, (thankfully she now has a brilliant stepdad). Guess what? She has a much more healthy self esteem than me.

mollyonthemove Mon 29-Feb-16 15:40:24

Dawn grieving is the very word. I feel very confused when I watch programmes like 'Back in time for the weekend' about the 70's and 80's and see these 'normal' families (I know it's a tv show, but I remember various things!) with stuff like the mother 'finally' having a job -my mother had to work from the moment my dad died, and the kids doing things with their dad etc. It just doesn't mean anything to me, and I get very very sad.

JapaneseSlipper Mon 29-Feb-16 15:44:52

What you went through sounds awful. No advice but I can totally see why you feel jealous. People who grew up in supportive families have a huge advantage, no doubt about it.

Hope you can build some friendships and forge ahead. Good luck x

notagiraffe Mon 29-Feb-16 15:50:47

YANBU at all. But to give some perspective to your envy: DS2 has serious issues with self esteem. He has grown up in a calm, loving, stable home of happily married parents who adore him and show it and allow him to be himself and fully accept him exactly as he is. But somehow he doesn't accept himself. We spend time discussing how to feel better about himself, how to be kind and unjudgemental and take good care of himself. I sincerely hope that the years he's spent at home mean he'll come away as an adult with reasonably healthy self esteem, but it's not a given even if you do come from a secure, loving and accepting environment.

TychosNose Mon 29-Feb-16 16:01:55

YANBU to feel envy but you can develop healthy self esteem through hard work with the right help.
I'm sorry to hear so many stories of people with low self esteem who had loving stable homes to grow up in. Most of my friends had decent supportive parents and have healthy self esteem as adults. Its clearly very complicated.
Good luck OP you can heal

DontAskIDontKnow Mon 29-Feb-16 16:09:02

I had a childhood to be envious of; as good parents as you could ask for who provided a loving home, financial stability and believed in me.

I still have issues. Depression and anxiety as a teenager that left me isolated and friendless. There is no reason for me to be that way, but I still am.

Age and experience has given me confidence and a belief in my own strength. Perhaps having no one/nothing to blame makes it easier to be at peace with who I am.

Please don't think I'm trying to minimise your experience. I'm sure it will have affected you in ways I will never understand. I'm just trying to say that good parenting does not always equate to a well-balanced child. I doubt I'd have survived your childhood, so maybe you're stronger than you think.

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