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could I ask for some help please? sorry, long.(14 Posts)
I'm not really sure of where this will lead but it's becoming more and more apparent that it's high time that I dealt with some "mother" issues. reading the thread about whether my mum likes me or not has acted as a catalyst to bring things to a head, however it has been clear for quite some time that I have been hoping that this part of my life will fix itself. it won't.
I've taken part in counselling in the past, two short ish courses but I really don't think it helped me, I've confronted my parents too but that just caused a lot of hurt and bewilderment all round, and no conclusion.
To me, a life lived well and happy is the best type of closure (I hate that word, such a none word), raking up or running away from the past doesn't help (me at least). All well and good you might say, but I'm not moving on, I seem to be stuck in a cycle of faking it until I make it, and I'm not making it, if I'm honest, I'm stuck and more than a bit lost.
In some ways I am so lucky, although not materially rich my mum and dad do and did love us so much growing up and I know they did their best. I also know that for whatever reason they did us damage when we were kids that we've not been able to undo this as adults.
There are 5 of us, I am number 3 in the line, and there is a big ish gap between me and my next sibling. By the time the younger two were born, mum and dad had changed and everything was so different for the better, the little two have no idea how it was for us and are living their lives to their potential, at least my parents got that right. But for us three older kids the differences in our upbringing make it more even apparent that things went wrong with us.
My childhood was over half a lifetime ago, and I don't agree with holding it over my parents, they are products of their own dysfunctional pasts and this was not malicious, my older siblings resent our childhoods and it causes them so much misery and heartache. My parents, particularly my mum seem to have a lot of guilt and denial over all of this, it is the big elephant in the room. The reality is that I don't think my mum really loved me until I was in my twenties, and then it hit her that she missed out on so much and it was too late. My dad always loved me, but wanted obedience and worried to much about what the neighbours thought.
There is nothing to be gained from trying to obtain any kind of resolution from within the family, it won't happen and even if my mum said "hey, I know that things were shitty, and the things we did were damaging, I'm sorry" it wouldn't undo things.
I need to find a way to make peace with the past and undo some of that damage. I have such fucked up ideas about my self worth, even though rationally I know that I'm "good enough". On the outside I look so sorted (fake it until you make it, right?) but the reality is that I define my self worth from how much I earn and career success. I don't trust anybody, ever. I have major control issues. I can't form meaningful relationships, to the point where I find forming attachments so hard that I don't bother. I have intimacy issues, boundary issues, I'm insecure, outside of work, I can't communicate effectively - aaarghh.
I don't have many friends, I have a few women friends (3/4) who know me properly and they do love me. I really struggle to form proper, healthy friendships with women though and either gravitate towards a mother figure or someone as messed up as me. Most of my friends are men, because then things are at a superficial level and I can pretend not to be the freak in the room. Romantic relationships are such a farce that I haven't bothered for a long time, I can't really remember what it was like, generally I don't do physical contact any more.
I'm 35 this year, and it all feels like a lost cause, but I don't want it to be, you're a long time dead and I want to know that I gave sorting my head out a proper go. In today's world, I am loved, I'm doing the damage now and need to find a way to get to normal, I just don't know how to do it. I hate talking about this stuff but nothing will change unless I change it. I won't have many chances to have a family now, and I would at least like to think that I gave having a proper relationship a go. If it's not going to happen, I want to know I tried.
I'm sorry this is so long, I started typing and it all came tumbling out, I would be grateful for any thoughts on how I could deal with some of this. Thanks so much.
Wow. You have so eloquently written something that I have been trying to write for months. I can't offer much in the way of solution but please know that you are not alone.
I have struggled for many years with my upbringing, I compartmentalise quite well. I'm trying to deal with it still (late 30s) but even now I don't want to upset the applecart. My parents are well aware of their failings but they don't know the actual impact. They no not of the years I have suffered with self esteem issues, destructive behaviours and absolute self loathing.
They know that I can fall apart quite quickly and spectacularly, but what they don't know is that it's really because of them. They will though occasionally apologise though (when armed with enough red wine).
I peruse the "stately homes" thread which is a great source of comfort and information, have you seen it?
It's helped me immensely even without pouring my heart out (something I find hard to do).
Like I said, I can't really offer any help but do know that you are not alone.
I do hope that you find some peace.
Hello, I'm not sure what the answer is, but wanted at least to reply, since I started the thread that got you thinking.
The things that (sort of!) work for me are; acceptance, and self-compassion, but I can relate to the feeling of "fake it until you make it." I'm sorry that you are going through this.
thank you - I was worried that I wasn't making much sense. but also, I find it so sad that there are so many voices on that thread, talking about similar experiences.
I've been working on the acceptance and being kind to yourself stuff for a while, in some ways it has worked well enough for me to be vaguely functioning and I have more awareness and am more content in some ways than ever. I do have peace of mind in my own little bubble, it's the interaction with the real world that I just can't deal with. if nothing else, I am finally comfortable in my own skin, and have some awareness of my self worth. At least I am able to protect myself now, it's just that there is nothing now, that I need protecting from.
Believe it or not I was so much more damaged ten years ago, but I seem not to be able to get to the next stage, whatever it is.
stately homes for me was the first time I had seen in writing that other people had been down this road, it's taken me about 5 years of lurking to get to a point where I can articulate this stuff.
where I struggle is that there is a lot of focus on there of labelling of potential disorders and discussions about gaslighting and so on. all of this is valid and relevant but for me I can't deal with living in the past any longer. being reminded of how horrible my childhood was hasn't helped me to manage as an adult. conversely, pretending it was all fairies and fluffy unicorns hasn't done much either, there must be another way.
I am sorry. My DM had similar family dynamics. They were six of them. The eldest had no childhood, were made to work hard, taking care of their siblings from a very early age, could get nothing right, limited allowances, etc.
the youngest children enjoyed less responsibilities, more toys, time, freedoms, etc.
These disparities created a massive rift in our family with the eldest resenting the young ones for having it easy and the young ones for resenting their parents always saying the eldest were harder working. This has also damaged my uncles and aunties relationships I think.
Anyhow, all this to say that I am sorry you lived through this. My DM is still dealing with this through counselling/therapies/discussion groups. I do hope you find your own acceptance.
My goodness brik are you me. I am one of 5 and was unloved and verbally and physically abused and neglected by my outwardly posh parents. I have esteem and relationship issues. I am career successful and no one at work would ever think I had any problems. I have intimacy shame and anger issues and I am on be verge of divorce. I am unstable and have anxiety and I am 36 and still trying to get through it. Counselling did not work for me as i really found it hard to drag it all up. Stately homes thread and Susan forwards book are the best things I have tried but when something bad happens in my life that is when I really cannot cope. I wish I had some better answers for you.
Brik, again I could've written your second post. I am perhaps some years behind you in addressing things.....
Are you happy day to day? That's how I manage,just daily thinking that I've had some small victory because I am what I am. I AM a good person. I am a good mother, I am a good wife. I have (sort of) overcome. I realised some time ago that my issues will never be resolved because my parents will never accept what they have done. Like I said, they know they have wronged me and apologise but they do not know the extent and how much it still influences me.
It's hard to put down without going into so much, sorry if it seems I am hijacking.
If faking it makes you ultimately happy then surely that is better? Works for me, like I said I compartmentalise because I know I will NEVER get answers.
I've also had quite a bit of red wine tonight!
You have struck a chord and got me thinking tho.
frequent - your comment about family dynamics is interesting, inadvertently my parents have played us off against each other a lot over the years, we argue but are as thick as thieves between the five of us, if nothing else, we are resilient as a little unit. at least on my part there is no resentment of the younger two, all of us deserve to be happy, i would never begrudge them theirs.
hearing words like neglect and abuse is hard, I suppose I was but it's so difficult to label it as that. I do have some real issues being specific about it all. a bit like, because things were better for the little two, what happened to us wasn't that bad as look how loving our parents were with them . . . but one of the posters on the other thread was talking about her mum worrying about bruises being noticed after being beaten, i had forgotten how things like that had made me feel. being complicit in your own abuse is not good and realising i have forgotten or buried so much has really unsettled me, I know that I worked hard to let go because it felt wrong to hold on to it, but actually memories being triggered like that, just horrible.
thank you bella for posting, I have just downloaded toxic parents and will work through it. i have an almost pathological aversion to self help books, I can't even explain why, something to do with weakness, I guess. but if it's mentioned on here a lot, so I should give it a go.
the anxiety thing is the worst symptom of this, I can go months thinking I have finally got past the faking it thing, and then boom, seemingly the smallest thing and take me back to square one.
I feel lucky that at least you guys are listening, I wouldn't even know where to start in the real world. thank you, again.
Are you happy day to day?
at a superficial level yes, if you met me you would think that I was the sunniest, most positive and confident person you knew. when I smile, I mean it, in the moment I am happy, and I know I can light up a room, but that's all at a superficial level.
beyond that I can't relate, because if I get too close to anyone, they would actually have to get to know the real me, there I falter, I don't know how to do it
I can barely hug someone without flinching, I'm not used to that, I never have been. forget about properly looking in someone's eyes. the things I do so I look like I am but really I'm not. if over the years I had put as much effort into healing as I had into pretending to be not a freak, I would be better, I think. But where I'm from, you never show weakness, it's simply not done.
there is so much emphasis on being strong and courageous. but really, I cry at the smallest things, it's all such a facade - and so exhausting
actually, i don't think i've answered your question properly, far to go
the real answer is while I am happy on a superficial level and materially am doing okay, financial independence and security are so important to me. as I get older, i am more and more aware of how much life i am missing because of my inability to take part in a proper relationship, and that awareness makes me unhappy.
i thought i could go through life on my tod, and eventually someone who could deal with me would appear in my life, but can't see how I would be capable of dealing with and not scare someone away without fixing some damage. no one else is going to wave a magic wand, so it has to be in my hands.
Brik, you do sound very similar to me. Your post makes me want to weep because you describe how I am snd I thought I had buried that. I weep for you, for me and for all of us with 'toxic parents'
You are braver than I am because I can't bring myself to download that book. I am hiding and I've realised that I can't face up to it. I hope I can do a better job with my daughter,fuck knows I'll try my damned hardest.
(My default setting of humour)xx
i'm so sorry for bringing back rubbish memories for you all, it really wasn't my intention
if nothing else I am brave, all death or glory me . . . and I share the really black sense of humour, it's the only way to get through it but I really think this is something that we shouldn't face until we are ready, I know now that I've been building up to this for a year or so, but my closest friend has tried to get me to make big changes for years, sometimes you're just not ready
in my usual death or glory style, I've decided that I need to get past this one thing, I want children and I want a proper grown up non damaging relationship, so I need to deal with this or it won't happen
ps i'm sure you are an amazing mum, the fact that you have the emotional intelligence to know how to behave differently to your parents is everything
They know that I can fall apart quite quickly and spectacularly, but what they don't know is that it's really because of them. just reading this again, it's like only they know how to push that button that makes us fall apart but we're being unreasonable for getting upset.
gosh, it's taken me 5 odd years to start a post on here, and suddenly all of this comes out.
thanks so much for listening, it is really something learning that I'm not such a freak after all
I very much relate to this BSH. Particularly the facade of being confident and okay. Having someone that you have to keep that up in front of really is so exhausting.
As for missing out on life, have you thought of having children on your own?
Also have you thought of counselling? I actually saw one today for the first time but I don't think they are the right person for me to talk to, too many issues of their own! So not sure where I go to from here. Perhaps trying another counsellor but it took me about 6 months to work up the courage to get to this one. But I so desperately want the next 20 years to be better than the last 20. Otherwise I don't think I want to bother. And that is a very sad feeling - to add to the myriad sadness of everything else, just for a change!
indeed bunchoffives, and I don't want to keep the facade up any longer
in terms of children, I argue with myself about this, I could go down the single adoption route, I don't know if it would be fair on any child, it wasn't fair on any of us.
feeling like I live half a life is still better than fucking up another life, one way or another I will find a way to live with and make peace with myself, a child wouldn't have that choice. I'm too much like my mum, I guess.
I hated counselling before, it was like picking at a scab that never quite healed, I guess that I'll need to consider some kind of therapy eventually though, don't know where to start in finding one that will help.
I echo the next 20 years needing to be better, there has been such heartache over this
just realised that I forgot to name change - I'm such a doily.
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