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Adult survivor of parental abuse

(9 Posts)
Downmum2017 Fri 19-May-17 19:34:06

My father had mental health problems during my childhood and continues to now. I am the eldest and from and early age I can remember witnessing domestic violence between my dad and mum. He was aggressive towards us too in that it was punishment for us being badly behaved. In my teenage years, my dad left work and things became worse, repeated suicide attempts, I worried about leaving my mum at home and tried to protect my siblings from it.

I underachieved at school, blundered through uni, developed self esteem issues and struggled with using food as a coping mechanism. Then I met someone new in a long line of dysfunctional relationships and had my DD and DS. Then our relationship broke down as he cheated on me. My parents on the surface appear very supportive helping me out financially and practically. I'll admit I struggled with my mood etc in the aftermath of it. I have since had another failed relationship, again where they 'saved' me afterwards.

Since then I've worked hard, refrained, I have a good job, my kids are doing well at school and I have lots of friends. I have occasional (dysfunctional) short term relationships with men but I don't reveal these to my family as my relationship history is treated as a joke.

Throughout my adult like my parents have always made comments about my weight, my failed relationship and the fact that they have had to help me out so much. At times when I have pointed out that I too was in that situation as a child, they discount that and make me feel bad because my dad was 'ill'. They make comments about me not being able to survive without them and that they have had to help me bring up my children. However, when they are in crisis, like periods when my dad is ill, they expect me to swoop in and help them. I feel this is co-dependency and have recently tried to make a move to separate from them somewhat and establish some healthier boundaries but they see this as ungrateful given everything they have done for me.

It isn't that I am not grateful for their help as I am. I just feel that as an adult I should be able to make my own way in life and not have to continue to do as they say and / or listen to their comments about my 'inadequacies' because they have helped me out. I don't ask this if them as I am happy to help but it feels like they think they have a right to tell me how to live my life because they have helped. Am I being unfair??

muckypup73 Fri 19-May-17 19:38:10

Well its uptoyou, you want to keep putting up with it? if not cutyour ties, I grew up in a family just like yours, I cutmy ties for a long time, made upwith my mother before she died, I do not see my father even though he has cancer, Like I say the choice is yours xxx

RockPaperCut Fri 19-May-17 19:39:14

As long as they keep 'saving' you, they will feel as though they have a right to have a say in your life IMO. It sounds like you've had a pretty tough time of it. Have you had any therapy?

Downmum2017 Fri 19-May-17 19:47:41

They believe me to be the issue. Even though I have very few problems outside of my family other than my romantic relationships. I have had some counselling which helped me get to the point where I could see maybe I wasn't the entire problem and that they may have some responsibility.

The 'saving' me isn't always asked for by me. It is offered in a kind way but later down the line it is thrown back in my face if I don't fall in line when they expect me to.

I dream about having a life of my own with a partner where I can see my parents socially but I'm so distrusting of men and believe myself to be so unworthy - my dad has also sabotaged previous relationships in different ways - although neither of them will admit to this, again stating it's me being over sensitive and too harsh. I'm being referred for counselling again in the hope this might help but at 38 I fear I won't get where I want to be x

OddBoots Fri 19-May-17 19:50:44

Your situation sounds like my mum's - she had we now recognise as an abusive childhood with both her parents abusing her in different ways. She developed mental health problems including anxiety and panic attacks and as such became dependent on them even when she was married and a mother herself.

In her case she only became free of it when they died, it doesn't have to be that way with you though. It sounds like it is worth seeing if your GP will send you for some CBT to help you learn how to process things and find the best way for you to cope.

RockPaperCut Fri 19-May-17 20:03:34

I know the 'saving' isn't asked for, but you must always appear very very grateful for the rest of your life. hmm I know because it sounds exactly like my mum.

I'm sorry it sounds like you've had an awful time of it. If you can afford it I would pay for private counselling sessions. I found it helpful that I had continuity with one trusted therapist as opposed to being limited to 6-8 sessions or whatever it is you get on the NHS. It will take an awfully long time to unpick, one year on and I have barely scratched the surface.

Downmum2017 Fri 19-May-17 20:13:10

I'm going to get some through work which isn't limited as with NHS so hopefully this will help. I feel like I want them to understand their behaviour and the impact it has had but maybe this is unrealistic.

Downmum2017 Sat 20-May-17 11:21:46

Can anyone recommend any helpful reading on this subject?

bellasuewow Sat 20-May-17 12:41:58

You owe them nothing op. Try Susan forward toxic parents I really liked it. Also look at the opening post of the stately homes thread on here there are some incredibly intelligent and insightful posts on there as well from other survivors, there are a lot of us about.....
Also google parental emeshment, attachment theory, dysfunctional families and personality disorders. Good luck op, it does get better.

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