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Why does this part of my childhood hurt more as I get older?

(51 Posts)
Lollysuns Sun 01-Jan-17 09:36:30

I'm posting this as it's something that's bothered me increasingly as I've got older. I'm in my 30s now and can see friends with kids which has made me think about it even more. It is going to sound like such a small thing, but here goes..

My patents have never given me time to talk about anything. Examples; when I was bullied st school I stopped wanting to go in and one evening they went mad shouting and saying you should have talked to us. I began to talk to them and within minutes my mum said it was bedtime now and she was too tired to talk and I should have talked earlier. Maybe she had a point, but I was only 12 and it was something I was embarrassed about and hadn't talked about it until that point. The following day I tried to talk to them again and we did talk, but it was on a strict time frame. What I mean by that is as soon as ANYTHING happened that my mum or dad preferred to address, the conversation would stop. For instance, the phone would ring or they would seemingly get bored and want to 'get on with their day.' I don't mean general chats, I mean times when I needed my mum or dad to talk to about something specific. Another time I wanted to talk to my mum about being worried about swimming at school, and I began telling her in the car one day to the supermarket. As soon as we arrived she wanted the conversation to stop immediately. It always felt as if I was in the way, or was in a strict time frame and therefore not important enough for her to give to her time to talk. Other times she would shut a conversation down for coronation street or emerdale, and would explicitly tell me we could 'speak again in the ad breaks.'

It still happens now, and of course I'm old enough to seek support elsewhere but it stings that my parents cannot provide it. Recently I had a terrible time at work and I broke down one afternoon one weekend when they asked about it over lunch at their house. This was unusual for me as I rarely talk to my parents anymore about such things. The first four or five minutes they listened and engaged with me about it, then my mum said 'don't ruin lunch now, think about something else,' and just got up from her seat to get a drink. At this point I was in tears and wished I had pretended all was well.

I know this sounds so petty. And I'm lucky to even have family around me, and I know that if I don't like the way my family provide soppprt, then it's up to me to find it from friends - and I have some brilliant friends who do just that. I don't know why I struggle with it so much. I guess it's always felt I was an inconvenience, that I would be fitted in rather than prioritised. As I've got older I've found that strange as I don't see it in my friends with their children. But my parents certainly weren't bad parents.

I suppose my question really is... am I being too sensitive about this? Why does it feel worse as I get older and think back?

flumpybear Sun 01-Jan-17 09:43:55

You need to tell them they're shutting you off mid conversation - don't let them get away with it by just allowing it to happen. It would annoy me too! Good luck!

Lollysuns Sun 01-Jan-17 09:46:41

Flumpy - I have done that many times, in my twenties. It doesn't change, and I end up feeling like I've begged my mum to talk, which defeats the object of feeling I can rely on her. She won't change but I wish I could not let it bother me so much.

isthismummy Sun 01-Jan-17 10:04:58

I can relate OP. My mum is a little bit the same.

I believe that it stems from an inability to express emotions properly. I suspect my DM and probably your parents were raised in a way where healthy emotional expression was not allowed. In my DM case she seems almost embarrassed by emotions. I've lost count of the number of times I was told to stop getting hysterical as a child.

I now just point out to her when she's cutting me off. I will very politely say "I don't know if you realise but..." Usually she's genuinely unaware she's doing it. I feel like I've at least asserted my right to be heard then. It still feels shit, just not quite so shit iyswim?

I would allow yourself to feel your hurt, but try and practice some compassion too. Your parents were made the way they are and how life limiting it must be to be unable to show your feelings.

Be grateful that you have broken the cycle and are not following the same path in life. It is a really hard thing to deal with though. I've found counselling invaluable for helping me process stuff to do with my childhood.

Lollysuns Sun 01-Jan-17 10:13:20

Thanks so much. I do need some compassion here I think. Neither parent had a good childhood in terms of emotional support, and I know this.

It's hard knowing my mum will never give me her time for a conversation on emotions and feelings. She's great with practical solutions actually.

I guess it's something I have to accept. Sometimes I feel angry I never had that secuirty in my emotions. Funnily enough, although I'm very aware of feeling and tend to be understanding with others on an emotional level (probably more so than the average person), I have a bit of a block where my parents are concerned. I don't tell them much anymore.

Quarterlifecrisis27 Sun 01-Jan-17 10:17:03

My parents are the same OP. If I want to talk about something making me upset their stock response is 'we don't want to talk about that now'. I went through a very difficult break up last year but they didn't want to hear about it. Their stock response is that it upsets them too much. They don't seem to be able to separate their own emotions from mine.

I don't really have any advice as I've come to think I just can't talk to them but I sympathise.

Lollysuns Sun 01-Jan-17 10:21:31

Thanks, and I'm sorry you've experienced similar!

Talking about relationships with my parents is a big no. Unless it's lighthearted. I know I need to let it go, but when I think of my insecurity as a child it makes me angry they didn't provide that support. Dwelling on it is only hurting myself though.

Stradbroke Sun 01-Jan-17 10:27:24

My mum is very similar. Will wander off, change the subject, will seem embarrassed if I express emotions etc. It is because she cannot handle any emotion at all. Doesn't know what to do with them. Even her own. She has emotions, but they are not handled well (inappropriate showing of them to me as a child, her emotions were more important that anyone else's etc). It is really hard and when I see other mothers helping their adult children with emotions there is a real pang as I would love that. But it's not going to happen for me.

Quarterlifecrisis27 Sun 01-Jan-17 10:37:46

I think the parents emotions being more important than anyone's is a big thing in my family. Basically at the start of last year my dp at the time who I worked with cheated on me and got together with another girl we worked with. I had lived with him in his house so I was also homeless and living on couches etc. I was saying to my parents that the first few months of 2016 were the hardest I've had to deal with (because of that) and their only response is 'yes and you made it very hard for us too'.

It's as if they can't recognise that I'm an adult with difficult times too.

tinglyfing Sun 01-Jan-17 10:49:06

Same with my mother. Seems there's a lot of it about OP! x

Lollysuns Sun 01-Jan-17 10:50:20

Quarter - that's EXACTLY what my parents said about a break up I had around a year ago. I lived with him and it was an awful few months. My parents actually said 'yes and we all knew about it, you were a misery to be around' (accusational tone).

I would NEVER speak to anyone that way. It's as if I'm not allowed to feel upset, I'm just their daughter and my life begins and ends there. It's hard to accept because you realise a support network that is often taken for granted, actually isn't there at all.

Lollysuns Sun 01-Jan-17 10:52:31

Quarter, I know that must have been really hard for you - I have to admit I'm comforted by the fact I'm not alone. It's so similar to my parents that I don't feel it's MY fault as much, now I know others have experienced similar. Thank you for sharing.

DorotheaHomeAlone Sun 01-Jan-17 10:54:12

Lolly my family aren't like this but I can really see why it would hurt. I think pp are probably right that they can't separate their emotions from yours so find it distressing and difficult to process.

But I think you have every right to feel angry and sad whatever the reasons are for their behaviour. They've let you down and it's ok to really recognise that and take the time to feel crappy and angry about it before you start focusing on them again and trying to be compassionate. If you need to tell them this (for you, they won't change) or just take a bit of space from them while you work through it that would be ok too.

I really feel for little girl Lolly. It must have been hurtful and hard for her. flowers

CauliflowerSqueeze Sun 01-Jan-17 10:58:48

I think it's rooted in a fear of not knowing how best to handle emotion. Better off avoided.

Lollysuns Sun 01-Jan-17 11:01:27

Thanks Dorothea. I know my parents did many good things, but there were big big gaps here with emotional understanding. They never had time, or, they had lots of time but not for a conversation the 8 year old worrier in me needed to have.

Even now, I have to happy permanently to avoid a remark like 'oh cheer up now,' as if my time limit for being upset has ran out. Or as if I shouldn't even be upset.

My mum didn't work when I was growing up. I feel resentful that many working parents put all their spare time aside for their kids and my mum couldn't give me what I needed. Like I've said, they're not bad parents. But even now, I'm not alllowed emotion. My feelings are dismissed.

Last year when I found out my ex who I lived with had cheated on me, I drove to my mums in floods of tears, and when I got there she told me she would talk shortly as she was about to start some painting in the living room.... I feel so hurt about that even now. I will never go to her again and feel resentful that I'm ok to spend time with only if I'm happy.

Finola1step Sun 01-Jan-17 11:04:58

Yep, there is a lot of this about. My DM had a terrible start with her biological mother. Then a lukewarm relationship with her SM. Growing up, my DM was great at all the practical stuff. We were clean, well fed, good shoes etc despite having very little money. But the emotional nurturing side was severely lacking. It is not that she didn't care or love us, its just that once we were at secondary school, she saw us as mini adults who could fend for themselves.

It is very common. I learnt through counselling and from being on here how to accept the situation. I can't change the way I was brought up but I can limit the impact it has on my relationship with my own dc.

My relationship with my DM is a bit better now because she is a good GM to my dc. Also due to the fact that I no longer rely on her for anything. I have learnt to expect very little so that I am never disappointed. We don't really talk about anything apart from the dc but that's ok.

WrongTrouser Sun 01-Jan-17 11:07:02

I suppose my question really is... am I being too sensitive about this? Why does it feel worse as I get older and think back?

I don't think it is a small thing, and I don't think you should question your sensitivity to it. There are two issues, though - what happened in the past and how you deal with the current situation.

In terms of the present, I think it is very hurtful if someone we expect to try to listen and help cuts us off. It seems that this is what you can expect from your DM. In your place, I would avoid sharing anything of an upsetting or emotional nature, as every time you do, the same will happen. You could try challenging her, but really if your DM hasn't got the emotional resources to respond supportively, she hasn't, and I don't think you will get far.

You now have other people who can support you when you need and you sound like you can/will be supportive to other people in your life, so you have overcome the emotional lack on this score in your childhood (not well phrased but I hope that makes sense).

Why is it harder to deal with now? Perhaps just because it is clearer to you that this is not how all families are and you see other parents responding differently. When we are children, we don't know differently to our own family.

TwinkleTwinkleLittleBat Sun 01-Jan-17 11:09:03

sad This is something I've had with my parents too, so now I never discuss anything to do with me/us in anything other than the most general terms.

The clincher for me was around 14 years ago when I was crumbling and struggling with three dc under 3yrs. Eventually I went to the GP who said I was probably depressed. As for many who finally get up the courage to try and get help, this was a huge step for me to take. I told my parents in the spirit of being open and hoping for some support. But although they nodded politely they clearly didn't want to discuss it with me further and never mentioned it to me again. Not once. Nor did they seem to want to help much regarding this either. That episode crystallised for me how they'd always been.

They've never been open about discussing emotional difficulties or mental health in much other than disparaging terms. I was never expected to cause them a problem or take up time or have a problem that might need their help. So Id always tried very hard to fit this expectation.

Not so with them though. They have had endless health and relationship issues of their own, many of which have been transitory and which they have expected me to be very involved in. I feel angry that they seem unable to process problems in detail for anyone other than themselves. They are incredibly self absorbed basically. I suppose it's just how they are.

My dc are teens now, and I've tried very hard to listen to what they tell me. I know I don't always get it right, but I want them to know I am at least listening and will do all I can to help and give them time to talk things through. Also that they don't need to put on a front of managing an emotional crisis and looking perfect and certainly not for my sake.

AddictedtoLovely Sun 01-Jan-17 11:29:23

Do you harp on and on about your problems? If so I can see why your parents react that way?

Lollysuns Sun 01-Jan-17 11:37:02

Thank you for the replies, it's nice to know I'm not alone.

Addicted, I don't think so. As I mentioned above, I don't generally talk to my parents about anything anymore where I need emotional support. When I was a child I don't think I harped on about my problems, but I did worry a lot, and was very anxious growing up. I don't know if that was actually due to not being able to talk about my feelings, though. My parents do seem to dislike it if I'm even mildly unhappy so you may have a point in that perhaps I haven't made enough effort to hide it, and that's why they react as they do.

Stradbroke Sun 01-Jan-17 11:51:19

Bloody hell addicted. That's pretty harsh. It is clear there are lots of us here who have experienced similar growing up. Not having your emotions met by parents is very difficult.

AddictedtoLovely Sun 01-Jan-17 13:54:38

Sorry just exploring the possibility? After all some are me, me,me. Not tge op it seems.

Lollysuns Sun 01-Jan-17 14:00:48

Appreciate any comments! I don't think I do that but then I suppose if I were doing it I may not realise it. X

Finola1step Sun 01-Jan-17 14:01:30

Thanks Addicted just what people need to hear. A big dollop of reality eh? And your timing on NYD is exquisite. In fact, are you sure you're not my mother?

MotherFuckingChainsaw Sun 01-Jan-17 14:08:38


Nah, I think she's my mother.

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