Monday, 22 January 2018

On emotional abuse (long read)

This blog was supposed to be my place to talk about the good things in life. But lately, in between the good moments, I have been struggling with my emotions and anxieties and if I'm honest I really need to vent.

I have always suffered from social anxiety and I have always been very emotional. I don't want to go on about how it's been affecting my life lately. I want to talk about the underlying cause.

I want to talk about my relationship with my mum.  She had me at 21 as a university student; completely unprepared for starting a family. She never hid the fact that I was unwanted and she always rejected me; sometimes (I think) subconsciously and without realising that I could absorb those emotions even if I didn't understand them as a baby or toddler. She didn't want me so bad that  at one point she gave me away to her mum/ my gran, and it wasn't until my dad started protesting against other people raising his child that my parents got me back.

My mum always told me what a terrible obstacle I was to her life plans. How much she suffered because of me. And I spent my entire childhood and youth apologising for my existence; trying to earn her acceptance, her affection - but I was never good enough. I was literally the best student in my primary school, but my mum always said I could have done better. I was the quietest, most obedient child you could imagine, but my mum would always find faults in me, the most common ones being ''why don't you ever smile'' and ''stop being so shy''. It's true that I was extremely shy as a child. I still have social anxiety, but have by now learnt to live with it. Back in my early primary school days though I was paralysed by fear whenever my mum made me go to the shop or to the doctor's by myself. But the more I cried about it, the angrier my mum got.

She would always find ways to humiliate me, and disguise it as ''good advice'' or ''motivation''. I vividly remember a photo of me (not the one below) taken when I was 12 or 13. I was standing in our garden under a pear tree on a beautiful summer day, smiling and looking happy. I was wearing shorts. My mum refused to put that picture in the photo album, because ''my thighs looked too fat'' in it. It was the last time in my life I wore anything short. On a side note, I was never fat as a child. I was perfectly normal, as evidenced by many photos. But I always believed I was too fat - I must have been if mum said so. I became overweight as an adult in my mid 20's and I can't help but wonder if I'm just filling out the image of myself that my mum made me build in my head.

I remember so many similar stories throughout the first 19 years of my life... There was the time when my cousin, who's my age, stayed with us during the summer holidays. My mum would take her shopping, buy her stuff, take her places, always leaving me behind and making me feel like she wished my cousin was her daughter, not me. Then there was the day my mum, who at the time was my primary school teacher, humiliated me in front of the entire class and kicked me out of the room, because I was answering her questions before the other kids got a chance (that was me trying to prove to her that I was better than others and make her like me).

I was never allowed to be seen when my parents had guests round.
I was never allowed to play with my dolls, all of which my mum hung up on my bedroom wall and I was only allowed to look at them. The only permitted toys were books.
I was never allowed to speak unless I was spoken to.
I was never allowed to trust my feelings, e.g. when I was no longer hungry but had to finish my dinner, or when I was deeply hurt but wasn't allowed to cry.

The most painful side of it all was that whenever I showed any weakness, i.e. cried, she would dismiss and/or ridicule my feelings; tell me I'm all ''slimy'' and wash my face with cold water, and complain about having such a stupid, useless child.

All of this has left a giant mark on my personality. I have huge difficulties in making friends, or human interaction in general. I have no confidence and very little self esteem. I am not assertive; I need constant validation; I work hard not because I like it but because I need an excuse for my existence. I have this weird inner anger towards children, because I think deep inside I'm jealous that ''everyone loves kids'' while I was the only one who didn't deserve love. I have had difficulties in my relationships with men; it's a miracle that I have eventually found one who has enough love and patience to put up with my issues.

I have always wanted to see a psychologist. This is no joke; as a child I asked my mum several times if I could see one, but I was just told to stop being ridiculous. Finally at 34 I decided that enough is enough and I need to fix my head before I fall apart.

I recently started therapy and it wasn't until a few days ago that I realised that the way my mum treated me was emotional abuse. Whether she did it consciously or whether she had the best intentions I will never know, but it doesn't really matter - it doesn't change anything. There is no nice way to put it. I was emotionally abused by my mum and I now suffer the consequences of it. My mum doesn't know about my therapy and I have no intention of telling her - or ever confronting her about this. It wouldn't help either of us.

My therapist believes I can get better. I want to get better - for myself and for my relationship. I feel that this is my last chance.


  1. stick to therapy but do a lot of self help reading on your own. my mom died when i was very young and my father was crazy. he abused me physically and psychologically and i was a mess for a long time. but then i decided that i had no control what happened to me when i was young but i sure could control what happened to me after i got out of that house of horrors. you can do it! a lot of it is letting go of the past and finding who you really are. parents sure can mess up kids!

    1. Thank you for this comment, you said some really important stuff there. I'm so sorry you had to go through those things, nobody deserves that! But, as much as I can tell from your blog, you're a great, warm and wise person so maybe those tough experiences don't have to define who we are! Hugs!

  2. Thank you for sharing something so personal. I think many of us either experience or know someone that has gone through something similar. I had a cold and distant parent that was emotionally abusive. It affects my self image and self confidence to this day. Jaz is right, parents sure can mess up kids. :(

  3. Hang in there for as long as it takes. I went for 10 years and I am happy I did. I agree with Joyce Read all the self help books you can. You are worth it. Good luck

  4. That must have taken a heck of a lot of courage to share that story. I'm so sorry you were abused as a child and I'm glad you're seeking help now. You deserve to be happy. Prayers and positive thoughts are coming your way. The picture you shared shows you were a beautiful child and I imagine a very beautiful woman.

  5. I hear you, as a daughter of a bullying mother for whom nothing I did was right. They have no idea the effect of their behaviour has on their child. I have difficulty interacting with people, trusting people and have had therapy, been on medication and ultimately she and I haven't seen each other for 7 years and then I started to put myself back together. It's still not easy, it's affected the whole family, my kids, my relationship with other members of my family. I do hope you find the therapy helpful and as others have said there are other things to try too. I got to 40 and thought I cannot spend the rest of my life as I've spent the first half and made an effort to sort myself out. We all deserve peace of mind and happiness, Wishing you all the best x

  6. I was the middle child in a very dysfunctional family, many were just plain bat crap crazy, they called me names and asked me for money for drugs, etc. I left the area & them at 18 & never looked back, having nothing to do with them I am almost 70 this year and to tell you the truth I am far happier I think then any of them..My wonderful husband is loving and kind and would never ever talk and treat me like they did, our only child is loving and kind and sweet..I say seize the day and get on with ones life and be with people who make you feel alive and happy..No one gets to choose the family they come into this life with, my Mom passed early and my dad was absent and I lived with many many people the good ones were far and few between and I went to live with my grandmother and she only lived not even 3 years when I got there but she was kind and sweet..You can make a good life and choose who you consider your family. I saw psychiatrists and felt they did not do much I am just basically an up person and believe I deserve only the very best..keep your chin up and get on with your life and be very very happy, forget people who tear you down it speaks volumns of what is wrong with them and it isn't you..believe me it is very happy, seek love and have love it will heal a multitude of the heartache you experienced it has for me!!!!!!!!!!!!!