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I think my parents are EA, and it's fucking with my mental health

(46 Posts)
sconebonjovi Tue 17-May-16 23:25:34

I've been struggling with some things about my upbringing, and am considering going at least low contact with my parents. I feel like they were perhaps emotionally abusive. I know that, sadly, so many of you are very knowledgable about this stuff. Just a couple of incidents that have been playing on my mind:

My mother walked in on me in the shower (as she always did) at 17 and saw I'd shaved off my pubic hair. She was horrified, called me a pervert, and was nasty to me about it for days.

When I was about 15 I went through a phase of getting blood on my underwear during my (very heavy) periods. During a row my father called me a child because I still couldn't manage to not get 'shit on my pants'. My mother used to inspect my clothes when they went in the wash, and regularly shame me about this.

We used to have vicious fights, that would often turn physical in some way. They would only draw to a close when my precious little brother would get angry and then hyperventilate. My parents would say 'enough is enough, your brother is getting upset'. What would have happened during these rows is that they would have been screaming at me, and my brother on one occasion threw a clay ornament at my head. It was I who would have been causing the upset by not doing exactly what that wanted. During another argument, my father kicked through my classical guitar, snapping it in two, before grabbing me by the neck of my dressing gown, spitting in my face and saying 'I'd punch you if you were a man'.

My phone was in my mothers name, she paid for it until I was 18, but kept it in her name until I was 20. She used to use my online phone bill to keep tabs on me. Ditto with my bank account. She also used to frequently go through my phone, and went through diaries numerous times, from when I was 13-20. I feel like I had no privacy. She still asks me every month if my period has come, and keeps asking until it has, all the whilst saying 'I hope you're not PREGNANT'.

When I told her I'd had bulimia for years, after allowing her to take me for tests to investigate why I was being sick all the time, she said 'how could you do this to me, I can't believe you lied to me'. She also insinuated that she did not believe me. My parents have been and always have been obsessed with me lying to them, and not trusting me. They never considered the fact that I did not trust them.

At 22 I travelled to go on a date with my now husband and didn't tell them. My mum found my train ticket, flipped out, called me a slut etc. She emptied out my handbag to 'see what else I had been lying about' and found my anti depressants. Flipped out further. When I got angry she started yelling 'you're insane, she's crazy!!' My father and brother got involved. It ended up with my brother force feeding me a bunch of my anti depressants, and me letting him. He also broke my finger that night. I was not allowed to seek medical help for either of these things, as we've known the local dr since I was born, and what would they think of my brother? I should have perhaps called the police, but a) they wouldn't have let me make the call, and b) I was worried they'd get me sectioned, even though I was fine, except depressed!

I don't know what to do. In many ways they are your archetypal caring parents, who sacrificed stuff for me, spoiled me, and always do things because they care. I feel so down about it all, my mental health is in a bit of a state and I can't move past this stuff, and the rest. I'm also afraid of being emotionally unavailable to my daughter. I don't know what to do.

sconebonjovi Tue 17-May-16 23:31:08

Sorry that was so long and badly types do, am v tired. Even if nobody reads or has any advice, it felt cathartic to write it all out.

TheSilveryPussycat Tue 17-May-16 23:41:24

I don't think they do things because they care about you. About themselves, more likely. Have a look at the Stately Homes thread.

HooseRice Tue 17-May-16 23:46:26

You were abused terribly. I'm sorry.

Universeofmaterials Tue 17-May-16 23:48:17

I could have written that.

I have too much to say about how awful they have been to you. But all I can tell you is that you should seek out some therapy to deal with what has happened (not because there is anything wrong with you - the problem is with them.)

Kr1stina Tue 17-May-16 23:50:43

They DO sound abusive and you're right it does fuck with your mental health .

You CAN move past this, it just takes a bit of work/ time, making some hard decisions , looking after yourself and getting support to make sense of it all .

You CAN and WILL be a good mother to your daughter .

Come over to the stately homes threads . There's lots of chat , support , links to Websites and book suggestions.

What is REALLY FREAKY is that you will read about parents who are exactly like yours in some weird ways . You will wonder if your siblings are posting .

Then you will understand that it's NOT YOU it's them .

TheBouquets Tue 17-May-16 23:50:53

I hope someone will give you better answers than me very soon. I think there is something very wrong with the scenarios you described. I could never imagine my parents doing any of these things to us kids.
They are maybe very over stressed themselves with all the checking up on you. It is not normal I don't think to be constantly enquiring about your periods or checking phones or handbags.
I could not live like that and I am very happy to hear that you are now married and I am sure that because of your experiences you will be different with your daughter. There are times when I think being a parent is a lot harder than I first thought so I always look to see if "bad" parents were people who were a bit shocked at finding themselves responsible for DC or many DCs who maybe just got things wrong.

sconebonjovi Tue 17-May-16 23:57:33

Thank you, it's really validating to know other people think this behaviour isn't right. Something that troubles me is that if I suggested to them that they are emotionally abusive they'd think it was lunacy! They'd claim that the things I've listed are isolated incidents, which they are not. I'm just not sure whether the fact I had a relatively privileged upbringing in many ways, and that there were some good times negates the stuff that's bothering me. Anyone who knows my family would think it laughable that I feel they were abusive, and I feel like if I cut them off the narrative would be that it's because I'm selfish and, even at 26 have not grown out of being difficult like I was as s teenager. Thank you for your replies flowers

PovertyPain Tue 17-May-16 23:58:33

I'm sorry OP. Your parents were rotten, stinking bastards. They abused you mentally and physically and I really hope you keep your child away from them. They also trained your brother to abuse you. It doesn't matter if you were, which it doesn't sound like, a rebellious child/teenager. Their treatment of you was horrendous. I hope you have a loving and supportive husband. flowers

sconebonjovi Wed 18-May-16 00:00:34

Povertypain, I do smile. And thank you

PovertyPain Wed 18-May-16 00:00:37

It doesn't matter if any of those things only happened once, it was still abuse, OP.

Would you do any of those things, even once, to your child?

sconebonjovi Wed 18-May-16 00:02:41

No, having a child is what really started me thinking about all of this. I know how much I love her, and it devastates me that they've been able to behave like this towards me.

PovertyPain Wed 18-May-16 00:04:07

I'm so glad you found a good husband. I came from a privileged abusive background and it took me a long time to recognise a healthy relationship. I had over twenty years with my DH and soul mate. It's amazing how a healthy relationship opens your eyes to how bad your past relationships were.

MusicIsMedicine Wed 18-May-16 02:16:48

They are horrible, cruel bastards. Get them out of your and your child's life. flowers

tribpot Wed 18-May-16 06:17:23

You're not maintaining any contact with these dreadful people, are you? Most of them deserve to be in prison.

ItsLikeRainOnYourWeddingDay Wed 18-May-16 06:37:48

Low contact?! I would be going no contact with that bunch of abusing arseholes! Sorry for what you've been through.

RiceCrispieTreats Wed 18-May-16 08:46:43

"Something that troubles me is that if I suggested to them that they are emotionally abusive they'd think it was lunacy!"

That's right: they will never admit that they were in the wrong. If they were able to, they wouldn't be abusive in the first place. Abusers abuse in order to feel powerful, to try and make up for their own deep insecurities. Those insecurities make it impossible for them to take an honest look at their own behaviour, or take responsibility for their own actions.

So, while it's natural for you to seek closure by getting some kind of resolution from your parents and brother, that will not happen. You can, however, get your experience and your feelings validated in therapy, in a support group, and here on MN. We all understand how you feel, and we know your feelings are valid. In fact, you are still underplaying the true awfulness of your experience, IMO.

Feel free to get angry at how you were treated. This is a safe space for you to do so. Do seek therapy - it will help to lance the boil, and maybe it can also help you to have a professional with whom you can discuss how you are going to keep your childhood from impacting your own parenting.

And feel free to go NC with your family if you think it is the best thing to protect your own mental health and your own DC. You are here to look after yourself and your DC, and not your FOO's feelings or reputation. Take care of yourself first and foremost.

I'm sorry you went through such awful things. You deserved better.

sconebonjovi Wed 18-May-16 08:47:24

I am still in contact with them, I speak to my mother every day and worry if she doesn't contact me incase I've done something wrong.
Thank you for your posts so far. I feel like I've been disingenuous because until I turned 13 they were just normal loving parents. I think it was only really when I started forging some independence and becoming my own person that this stuff started to happen.

KinkyAfro Wed 18-May-16 08:56:21

I think it's time to start lowering contact scone, there's no need to speak every day. Do you think you could stop answering her calls every once in a while?

AttilaTheMeerkat Wed 18-May-16 09:01:18

Your family of origin should be behind bars frankly for what they did to you.

I would also think that your life before the age of 13 was "better" (I use that word advisedly because I think you've always been less favoured compared to your brother) primarily and only because they were able to control you more easily. When you hit teenage years (which is normally around the time that children start to push boundaries with parents) that is when the abuse ramped up as a further means of wanting total power and control over you.

Fear, obligation and guilt are but three of many damaging legacies such abusive people leave their now adult children. You are still very much in FOG with regards to them, particularly your mother.

You are very much conditioned by them and a part of that is still actively seek your mother's approval. Approval that she will never give you. These people will never be the nice people you so want them to be.

Its not your fault they are like this; you did not do that to them.

No contact as of now is the option of choice going forward but if you really cannot face at present then is there any way you can start a small but significant boundary here by not actually calling her every day?. Say perhaps every other day to start with then further lowering the frequency of calls.

I would speak also to someone like NAPAC: this is an organisation for people who were abused in childhood.

AttilaTheMeerkat Wed 18-May-16 09:04:06

It goes without saying that you need to keep your DD well away from them as well. They were not good parents to you (understatement) and they will not be decent grandparent sorts to your child either. Toxic people do not fundamentally alter.

Do read and post on the "well we took you to Stately Homes" thread on these pages too.

RiceCrispieTreats Wed 18-May-16 09:06:43

"I think it was only really when I started forging some independence and becoming my own person that this stuff started to happen."

Yes. Abuse is about power and control. When you hit your teens, you started seeking more independence in thought and deed, as is the totally normal developmental thing to do at that age. But your independence is terrifying to an abuser, who needs you under their thumb.

You don't need to speak to your mother every day. It's especially telling that you fear she is seeking to punish you if she doesn't. You are still living in fear of her. Whereas actually you are an independent person in your right -- just what 13 year old you was seeking to establish! -- and you don't need to have any concern about what she thinks of you, at all.

She can think what she wants. The only thing that matters is how you choose to conduct your own life. No-one else gets a say in the matter but you.

So, for starters, decide how often you want to speak to her on the phone, and stick to that. It can be every day, once a week, or never again. You decide.

Just because someone dials your number, doesn't mean you need to pick up.

sconebonjovi Wed 18-May-16 09:32:36

I'm going to start by ignoring every other phone call.

Yesterday my grandfather offered me £150 towards my DDs nursery fees. My mother was angry about this as she doesn't currently get on with my grandfather, and suggested it was because he's feeling guilty about something he's done to upset her (which is bogus anyway). I've woken up to see my mother has put £150 in my account instead of my grandfather. I'm not sure if this is me being spoilt, but I feel like this is just her trying to be in control, and make it so I have to be grateful to her.

sconebonjovi Wed 18-May-16 09:33:40

Just to add, I didn't expect the money from either of them, it was a kind gesture from my grandad.

I am taking in everything you're all telling me, thank you so much. It's just very hard to process flowers

RunRabbitRunRabbit Wed 18-May-16 09:35:21

Can you stop contacting your mother every day? It is weird, even for people who get along great with their mothers. It is a way for her to keep a hold on your mind.

They'll never accept that they are wrong and you are normal. All you can do is distance yourself. Low contact sounds like a good idea.

I'm low contact with my DM. It's great. If I talked to her every day my mind would be fucked. It actually gives me a chill just thinking about having to talk to her every day. Eurgh.

When you reduce the contact, you will likely find that your mind gets clearer quite quickly. It will feel weird at first though. Imagine you had been hitting your head against the wall repeatedly for ages. It would feel weird at first when you stop, maybe even a little dizzy. It might be like that.

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