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Can parents be emotionally abusive?

(11 Posts)
Serioussteve Sun 15-Nov-15 07:14:35

My mother has long-standing mental health issues, I remember being a young age of perhaps six or seven, and distinctly remember seeing her slicing a hanging curtain to ribbons. She spent time institutionalised when I was 11. MH issues have been strongly reoccurring this past few years.

Comments I remember through the age of 16-17 include repeatedly telling me I should have been a girl, how it wasn't fair I wasn't a girl and how much she'd really wanted a girl. Planting seeds that caused me to retract within myself and be sunkenly introverted with no self-esteem, no self-value and no self-worth.

Then telling me I was not going to university and college. (Was my dream as a kid to teach, was academically very strong then she pissed on my fire. I start my OU degree next year...old man teacher incoming....)

But, I don't know how to deal with these issues. I'm 37 and don't know how to make friends, how to love myself, or how to deal with ripping my dream away and my gender!

Aussiemum78 Sun 15-Nov-15 07:18:19

Yes certainly parents can be emotionally abusive. Your mother has been cruel and unsupportive. I'm sorry that happened to you.

I'm glad you are now pursuing your dream and seeing your self worth. Maybe a counsellor could also help?

ThisIsStillFolkGirl Sun 15-Nov-15 07:50:28

Yes, my mother was.

I was told I was unloveable, there was something 'wrong' with me and no one would want me for pretty much my whole life and she qualified this with detailed critiques of pretty much every aspect of my physical appearance, personality, skills...

Good for you for pursuing your dream, it's a positive step. But teaching is demanding and takes a lot out of you personally (requires a lot of self belief and confidence), so just make sure you get some therapy in too so that by the time you're qualified you've sorted that bit too.

Good luck x

NoArmaniNoPunani Sun 15-Nov-15 09:03:22

Yes they can, there's an ongoing thread on here that might help

www.mumsnet.com/Talk/relationships/2383800-But-we-took-you-to-Stately-Homes-Survivors-of-Dystfunctional-Families

allwineismine Sun 15-Nov-15 09:11:09

Of course they can be. Just realising this and openly admitting it happened to you is a great first step. Counselling or support groups can be useful, really really useful.
Good luck pursuing your dream flowers

RiceCrispieTreats Sun 15-Nov-15 09:22:04

Yes, and far too many are.

Would you like to talk these issues through with a therapist? It can be extremely helpful

dunfightin Sun 15-Nov-15 09:38:32

Yes, they can but you say MH issues so was the ill person the same person as the sane one? Being abusive imo is having some deliberate control over your actions - you are seeking to humiliate or manipulate someone for your own gains. Being ill can make you a very different person from the one you are when well so your mother may not have intentionally wanted to behave as she did.
Finding out what your mother's diagnosis is and working through issues with a good therapist, seems like a very good idea. Get as much information about your family dynamic as you can via other relatives who may know more about what your mother was like before you were born, what triggered her MH issues, how she was treated when in hospital etc, etc is important.
And also finding out what is a more 'normal' or supportive parental relationship looks like so that you can actively work on the bits you missed - that is vitally important for your future relationships and parenting

ShebaShimmyShake Sun 15-Nov-15 09:45:39

Yes, they can. My father's emotional abuse (telling me explicitly that he favoured my sister, calling me every name under the sun, trying to kick me out at 15, blaming me for his physical abuse and so on) has caused as much damage as the physical.

I didn't find counselling helped me personally, but I know a lot of people who have definitely found it healing. It helped me to come to realise that his problems were his failings, not mine, that while I might have been irritating I was the child and he was the adult, and it's not my fault if he never grasped that. It may be your problem, but it's your mother's failing. Not yours. Perhaps she couldn't help it if she was mentally ill, but if she couldn't help it, you certainly couldn't.

Try to let go of guilt. I have generally found it to be a pointless emotion unless it stirs you to right a wrong. It rarely does in people, and in cases like yours, there is a) nothing to feel guilty about and b) nothing you can do to right the wrongs done to you. So try to let it go.

I wish you all the best.

hefzi Sun 15-Nov-15 13:33:15

Absolutely - mine is :-)

Check out the book "Toxic Parents" - if you add it to your Amazon basket (without necessarily buying it) you will also get more recommendations on your screen for similar books.

Well done for not letting your dream die to be a teacher - and think seriously about counselling to assist not only with this but any MH issues, whether they stem from it (and I am sure they will!) or not.

Good luck!

NoTechnologicalBreakdown Sun 15-Nov-15 16:44:24

Yep, welcome to the club of toxic family survivors. Definitely check out that stately home thread. Good luck with the teaching, I've recently been told that it's better to be older to teach well. You certainly have life experience to share!

Serioussteve Sun 15-Nov-15 23:34:29

Oh wow, I posted and then was out until late-ish. Thanks so much for the quality replies.

I guess a huge part for me was admitting to myself that whilst I love my parents unconditionally, something was not right. Thinking back today I'd say 99% stemmed from my mother - yet my father could have dealt with things privately or in front of me. I've tucked these feelings away for so long and it becomes emotionally draining to a point where damage begins to occur. I've been in super denial about it, but now I've admitted things weren't right I can hopefully begin to heal.

My mother had a period of severe mental illness when I was young, I remember the curtain slashing, throwing things, swearing profusely around 6-7 then her being institutionalised when I was around 11 - I remember they allowed her home one Christmas Eve and she had to be taken back on Christmas Day as she couldn't cope - one of the reasons I find Christmas hard, this will likely out me but my birthday in Dec 26th too, so was very hard to take.

From age 14-15 she was at home but with outpatient appointments and the comments started. I've tried to talk to her about it but it's like talking to a brick wall.

I became severely disabled with M.E. five years ago, leaving me bedbound and with shit mobility - every joint and muscle in my body is permanently on fire and I have to use a wheelchair. Periods of insane stress can manifest like this - another reason I need to heal.

Teaching was my calling, after being told I could not study, I self taught myself into a very narrow niche in IT (web coding when nobody knew what the web was - and functioned myself a good career as a result, until my DP became severely ill during pregnancy, yet I never received any praise). Actually, regardless of what I did, praise was never forthcoming.

I have self-referred to two therapy services - we don't need to go through the GP initially - so will see what they say. I will pick Toxic Parents up and read with interest.

Humbly, from a guy perspective, thank you for the empathy. I'm equally sure many of you have had problems with admitting something was wrong initially and this thread has helped educate and open my eyes. I will definitely head over to stately homes.

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