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Emotionally 'abusive' mother, messed up childhood yet i feel guilty

(23 Posts)
Sounsure777 Wed 01-Nov-17 19:19:28

As a child i suffered depression and cried myself to sleep regularly :-/ My family looked 'normal' from the outside but it wasnt a happy family. My mum and dad argued consantly, often just bickering but on occasion my dad couldnt cope with my mums constant put downs and he'd start shouting "you cow face b***h, im packing my bags and leaving". He never did leave though.

I think my mum felt frustrated with my dad and was incredibly critical of him. They both worked very hard..both full time and my mum seemed fed up with working ft and doing all house work etc. Once i was 17 and one eve over dinner following a huge argument between my mum and dad my mum said to me "you're lucky youre escaping this hell".. referring to me going off to uni... such an unhappy home yet i felt guilty for leaving (she encouraged me to go to uni tho.. strong work ethic wanted me to live life and get a good job etc but i always felt sad for her as clearly she was and is quite unhappy with her choice of hudband.

As well as the arguments between her n my dad she seemed constantly frustrated and disapointed with me as well as him.. i was a slightly chubby teenager but not fat.. she would say "your getting a 'stomach'" and you shouldnt eat choc etc. She once was horrified at my school pic.. a very unflattering photo of my face...i looked ugly. She never called me that but often remarked that x y z of my friends were pretty. I was a very sensitive child so u can imagine how depressed and how much of a failure i felt. I often wished id go to sleep and not wake up. I genuinely thought my parents didnt love me and that no one ever would

On top of this as a young child My mum and dad both worked full time and back then i felt like i was only child in playground not picked up by mum. I felt down and sad even as young as a 5 yr old(i wonder if i had depression anyway but exascerbated by parents or if parents were the cause.

As an adult i realised they do love me... they helped me learn to drive and paid for uni. Cleared my debts and when i became a single mum they gave me a huge deposit to buy a house. They help me massively with my house, garden diy etc however my mum is still very critical eg tuts and comments if i drink wine or eat junk and once caled me a "tub of lard". Im a size 14 (tall and shapely and a few pounds over weight but not obese!).

I live near them but want to see much less of them and this xmas i just dont want to spend xmas day with them... them arguing and me feeling like i cant relax... i feel guilty tho.. theyll be on their own xmas day but im at the point i dont care. I feel torn tho and really down that i dont have a loving and happy relationship with them. My mum and i would never do a spa day or shopping and coffee etc and constantly feeling like a disapointment is making me very down. Apart from my young son and one friend who lives an hour away i have no one and feel really alone.

Ive sort help thru gp for anti deps but prob counselling would help i know

However my q is does anyone elae have these type of family issues?

Lissette Wed 01-Nov-17 19:26:39

flowers yes I do have a difficult family; my parents don't get on and it's distorted every other relationship in our family. I've tried to concentrate on building my own family and friend network and I have control over how I react to the past.

Don't feel guilty. You are not responsible for their relationship or their behaviour.

Sounsure777 Wed 01-Nov-17 19:26:53

I should say they did amd o also praise me sometimes .. eg you did great in gcses and uni n job etc.. so they can give praise but mostly re acedimic type stuff...both heavily obsessed with education and having a good job rather than emotional stability and affection.. never once as a child did they say the words i love you

Lissette Wed 01-Nov-17 19:30:31

That's exactly what my parents were like. They never hugged us or told us they loved us. They did, of course. They found each other difficult which was upsetting for me as a child. I'm sure you are very different with your kids OP.

Sounsure777 Wed 01-Nov-17 19:35:02

Yes lissette very diff.. i put my mums lack of affection down to her tough childhood.. boarding school run by strict nuns and then both parents died by time she was 21 BUT 5 yrs ago i had my son and dispite my child hood im very loving to him so i cant see that her child hood is an 'excuse ' etc.

One other point when i was very ill and depressed a few yrs ago she screamed "youve had everything!! We couldmt have done more for you!!.. at your age i had no parents and no help financially etc".. again making me feel guilty for being depressed/ not being a "success" in her eyes

StaplesCorner Wed 01-Nov-17 19:47:08

Ok well it was good they were able to help you at some point in your life, but these are things parents usually do for their adult children and basically its still crap. They were the adults, they chose then, as they choose now, how to treat you. And yes I think other people have similar issues; my H and I don't get on and I know full well it affects the kids.

I lavish mine with every care and love, but that only goes so far to mitigate the effect of H and I arguing all the time, particularly when they were small. I wonder when I look at the future, if H stays around will my kids, like you, really ever want to come home for Christmas?

There is no excuse for the way your mum speaks to you.

Lissette Wed 01-Nov-17 19:52:28

I get 'after all we've done for you' from my parents! Sounds like your poor Mum's not good with emotions. It's not you. What about some counselling to give you strategies to deal with their behaviour? Don't feel guilty about being depressed or the way you feel. Sometimes talking to someone neutral, like a counsellor, would help you see the dynamic that's going on in your family.

Sickoffamilydrama Wed 01-Nov-17 20:00:41

I grow up with parents that constantly argued don't underestimate how traumatic that is for a young child.
Your parents are also emotionally and physically distant so at a time when you were learning about emotions you had something frightening happening and no one to help you deal with the emotions associated.
No wonder you've had depression.
Counseling has really helped me and realising that it's OK to feel angry at them. I'm also learning to put boundaries up sometimes it's distance sometimes it's not absorbing the parents nonsense, like when I'm reminded by my mum about the time I laughed about her new haircut, I was about 10, I now turn round and day I was a child mum they say stupid and hurtful things. Whatever works to make myself more emotionally balanced.
It's hard to reconcile the fact that they love you with the hurt they cause but I've come to realise they probably copied their parents.

Lissette Wed 01-Nov-17 20:05:13

sick may I ask what strategies the counsellor suggested? I've never had counselling and was wondering about it. My strategy is to put in boundaries around acceptable treatment of me and to realise that.i can't control their behaviour, only my response.

Sickoffamilydrama Wed 01-Nov-17 20:41:51

Lissette My counsellor didn't really give me any strategies, I think because I was building my own, I suppose those will stick much better than ones that have been given to me by someone else.
I'm lucky that my sister is on the same journey so we often act as a sounding board to each other it does help to have someone in real life who you can say is this normal to or that was rubbish wasn't it. I know some people aren't as lucky as we are to have each other to share our childhood trauma.
My counsellor did tell me that I am lucky to be as sane as I am which is always good grin. I used her more for bouncing off my thoughts and feelings about something.
They seem to be led by you and I know from experience that you have to click with them.

RunRabbitRunRabbit Wed 01-Nov-17 21:08:50

I moved to live very very far away. Distance made it much easier to heal.

Lissette Wed 01-Nov-17 22:09:12

sick thanks for the response. That's really useful and I wish you and your sister all the best.

They moved thousands of miles away from me runrabbit! Been the best thing ever grin

oldguygirl Thu 02-Nov-17 09:34:58

I had a similar childhood. Parents arguing constantly. Never to,d that they loved me. Made to feel that nothing was ever good enough. Moaned if they had to go to any school event or it was too much trouble to take me anywhere. Never walked to or from school even at 5 years old- both parents left for work at 7 am so had to get myself up and dressed for school. No encouragement about anything, always negative. My older sisters had all the help (mainly because their lives were a disaster) and being younger I watched this and wanted to be nothing like them. They have only ever given me a bit of second hand furniture. When I went to uni all my dad did was moan about giving me a lift there and have always made everything about them. Even when I had a traumatic 33 hour labour with my son all they did was complain that my husband had not rung them. I have suffered from massive anxiety problems and it all came to a head when my mum became ill with dementia. I got ill too as the guilt was ridiculous. I saw a councellor as I realised that anti d's would help but I needed to get to the route of the problem which was their narcissistic emotional abuse. The counsellor was amazing and gave me strategies to help with the anxiety but also made me realise that they will never change but they way they I react to it can. I have distanced myself massively, I don't call as much and I am wise to the emotional blackmail . I still have days when they get to me but on the whole I deal with it much better.

Sounsure777 Thu 02-Nov-17 17:12:33

Thanks everyone for sharing. Makes me feel better knowing im not alone.

SummerKelly Thu 02-Nov-17 17:25:14

Me too sad.

I was having a conversation with someone earlier who said she just couldn’t bear to leave anyone alone at Christmas, whatever they’ve done, and I just think yeah that’s fine for you to say but if someone had abused your kids and caused over 20 years of self harm, starting from when they were about 5 years old, would you really welcome them for Christmas? I don’t think so, but that is basically my life. People just don’t get it unless they have some experience of it and ironically that reinforces the isolation you have as a child having to keep it quiet. My dad was worse, but my mum stayed and didn’t protect us, I had to take care of her when he abused her. They’ve both done nice things for me since but basically they stole the life I should have had, and they will never be able to make up for the years of hell I have had.

Sorry for you OP and to everyone else this has happened to flowers

TheWererabbit Thu 02-Nov-17 18:34:26

My parents were and are still emotionally neglectful and abusive.
I found reading Pete Walkers website about CPTSD extremely helpful. His book (cant remember the title but its his 2nd one) was really helpful too.
You're an adult parent now. Their equal. Your opinions, feelings, and happiness matters just as much as theirs. Think about how you would deal with a friend who spoke to you how your mum does? Just because you're their child doesn't mean you owe them anything.
I say limit contact and have assertive words with your Mum the next time she says anything insulting. You don't have to put up with it.

StaplesCorner Thu 02-Nov-17 19:01:54

Just googled CPTSD on the Mind website - good call Wererabbit:

www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd/complex-ptsd/#.WftrJbZ0djQ

Sounsure777 Thu 02-Nov-17 19:19:44

Thanks wererabbit that is so helpful. Thx for link staples. Wereabbit i love what u said ie if a friend spoke to u like that.. god no id not want to be there friend or around them..wouldnt put up with the inaults and same with parents.

I think re xmas day she can manage a day with no insults ao xmas day could be criticism free but i still dont want to go as they argue alot and i just dont fancy my xmas day around the bickering .. its the norm tho and to not go xmas day cos of that theyd just not understand but im now at stage where i think why should i spend a special day around the arguing :-/

Sounsure777 Thu 02-Nov-17 19:25:42

Ive looked into cptsd and its very interesting... altho i never was physically abused etc i think my mum was mildlt unintentionally emotinally 'abusive' and i think the arguments between my parents caused me some mild 'trauma' i guess.. very interesting to read as id never heard of cptsd...

TheWererabbit Thu 02-Nov-17 20:43:22

I've been to counselling and it was so helpful. Life changing in fact.
I understand when you say you're upset that you don't have a normal loving relationship with them. My counsellor told me that I'll need to grieve for the parents that i wanted and deserved but will never have because my parents aren't capable. Its heartbreaking and so hard. I am so jealous of people who have normal, supportive parents. Id love to have a mum who came to spas with me, mine "couldn't be bothered" when I asked if she'd like to have a look at my wedding dress.
I'm not sure if that will ever not hurt but its a day by day process.
Theres a thread on this board called 'but we took you to stately homes' and its for people to talk about their family problems. Theres lots of links and book recommendations and I've found it helpful to read other people's stories, it helps me not feel guilty and some posters on there are so insightful and articulate.
Dont feel bad about Christmas. You worry about them being hurt but they dont offer you the same courtesy. Just this one year make an excuse or be honest and have a special little Christmas for you and your boy. Its your Christmas too.

elliemillie Thu 02-Nov-17 20:44:06

My mum was just like yours. She had an unhappy marriage but did quiet a lot for me although she was emotionally unavailable.

I read the five languages of love a while back and it helped me realise that people show love differently. For my mum buying me things and making sure I had a good education and a house was the way she showed her love.

My friend's parents are the emotional sort and there is a lot of hugs and I love yous, but they think their financial responsibilities ended when she became an adult so although they are able to help her with a deposit for a first house they haven't, she is just turning 40 and still renting. She gets more hugs and I love yous that I ever would from my mum but inspite of my mum's inability to do those things she has made me feel secure about my future because she always helps financially.

A lot of the time when I feel anxious and depressed I do want to blame it on my mum's emotional unavailability when I was little. But I am an adult now, after 4 decades on this earth I have to take some responsibility for my own mental health. CBT helps as does a bit of Buddhism. My mum is still the way she is. When I am with her I make a conscious effort to hug her a lot and overtime she has started hugging me too, not as much as I hug her but she is trying. Now that she doesn't have the responsibility of children she is a great friend to me.

It's been a difficult journey and I know everyone is different, but being a parent now I know that it doesn't come with a manual and some of the parents I know who were convinced their parenting was faultless now have 20 year olds who absolutely hate them. My mum did the best she could under the circumstances for me.

I understand why people move away and it may be the only way for some. I am glad I didn't give up on my mum though. We are very good friends now but it had to take a lot of forgiveness on my part and mothering her in a way she was never mothered herself.

ScruffbagsRUs Thu 02-Nov-17 21:08:03

I totally relate to what you've been through OP. In my case, it was my mum doing most of the damage with name calling, constant put-downs, emotional and mental unavailability etc.

It has taken over 2 decades to get to where I am now, and for 20yrs I lived with it, scared that I would be ostracised by my family should I tell all. Well, that happened. Mum and my brother made sure I was never included in any plans with the family. Days out, family meals etc. Not even the DC were included.

I've got to the point where I'm not going to keep their sordid/cheating/nasty/horrible behaviour to myself, for the sake of "Family Image". They can ostracise me, call me names etc. Do I give a f***??? Absolutely not. I spent my life being made to feel like and absolute inconvenience to the family, so them kicking me out save me the hassle of fucking them off out of my life.

I'm moving to another part of the country, but I'm say zip all to them. If they're not interested in keeping in touch, then I'm not interested in telling them when and where we'll be moving to.

It's kind of funny because I never really knew what a good loving mother/daughter relationship was until I met my wonderful late MIL. Then I realised that my mum was insanely jealous of my closeness to my MIL, to the point where mum would be 2-faced about MIL, saying nasty things about her behind her back, then be nice to her face.

I realise now that being kicked out of the family is not necessarily a bad thing. It's very liberating to feel so free from the shackles of negative familial conditioning.

Anyway, so sorry for the hijack OP. As you were grin

coldlocation Thu 02-Nov-17 22:09:59

I'd recommend a book called "children of the self absorbed" by nina Brown. Very helpful.

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